H. Tom Hall, 77, a painter and an illustrator, died of melanoma Saturday, May 1, at his home in East Nantmeal.

For 40 years, Mr. Hall produced hundreds of covers for paperback romance novels, painting voluptuous women and their handsome lovers against backgrounds of stately mansions, ships tossed in roiling seas, or tropical foliage.

His commissions included best sellers Shanna and Ashes in the Wind, by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss; The Thorn Birds, by Colleen McCullough; and Anne Rice's Interview With the Vampire.

In 1981, Bantam Books art director Don Munson told the Associated Press that Mr. Hall "is a remarkably fine artist. His attention to realistic detail reminds me of the Hudson River Valley painters and his evocative style recalls the French impressionists."

Mr. Hall made a living illustrating children's books until receiving his first book-cover commission for a reprint of John Steinbeck's Cup of Gold in 1971. That year, he also "realized a dream" when he did a series of drawings to accompany short fiction pieces for the Saturday Evening Post. He told the AP that he admired and sought to emulate prominent Saturday Evening Post illustrators Ben Stahl, Edwin Austin Abbey, and N.C. Wyeth.

While producing paperback art, Mr. Hall did illustrations for Reader's Digest and National Geographic publications and for several Discovery Channel documentaries.

In recent years, he focused more on painting for pleasure. His subjects included Chester County landscapes and American Indian and historical subjects. He also continued to paint his "lovely ladies." The models for his lush painting of two belly dancers were his daughter-in-law Pam and his granddaughter, Dilys.

Mr. Hall's paintings are included in the collections of the National Museum of American Illustration, the Coast Guard, the National Geographic Society, the Delaware Art Museum, and many private collectors. He exhibited in group shows in Japan, New York City, Salt Lake City, and Tucson, Ariz., and in local galleries.

He participated in the annual Historic Yellow Springs Art Show and the Immaculata University Art Show. Those shows and Maureen's Gallery in Exton recently sponsored a retrospective of his work.

Mr. Hall grew up in Prospect Park and graduated from Ridley Park High School, where he met his future wife, H. Janet Scott.

He studied at Temple University's Tyler School of Art and earned a bachelor's degree in fine art from the Philadelphia College of Art, now the University of the Arts.

While serving in the Army in Japan, he wrote and illustrated a children's book, The Golden Tomba, about a Japanese boy and a dragonfly. Knopf published the book in 1959, and his career as an illustrator was launched.

In addition to his wife of 54 years, Mr. Hall is survived by sons Thomas, Steven, and D. Lance; two brothers; a sister; and two grandchildren.

Mr. Hall's life and art will be celebrated from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday, May 22, at the Washington Building, Historic Yellow Springs, 1685 Art School Rd., Chester Springs.

Memorial donations may be made to Historic Yellow Springs, Box 62, Chester Springs, Pa. 19425.