Friday, 24 January 2014

Book Sketches 2009/2010 - (part 4) - Layouts/Backgrounds

Ok, last post to do with the book, I promise, for real this time, honest it’ll be at least two whole posts until I mention it again.

This one is all about the layouts I created way back when, so it will be art heavy, dealing with my initial concepts of what the places in this tale might look like. Many of these are largely unfinished, they vary in quality and handling, some have suffered bleed through or dreaded tea spillages over the years. The ideas are still sound even if tea drenched intentionally or otherwise so let’s take a walk around.

First up, gates to Draygun city: those are meant to be huge stone dragons. I imagine these gates to be colossal but like most things on the isle of Niam rather broken and rundown.

A rough layout of the city centre within Draygun, showing the glass spire that gives this blog its name.

So this one is a little confusing due to my choice of warped perspective; to explain, there are tunnels running beneath the houses of Draygun city, these are primarily lit by glowing moss (the blue bits here) and this is a semi down shot of a tight bend in one of those tunnels.

A complex close up within Niam’s city centre, I worked on this many times and actually only just finished it this year – yikes! Hehe and yes for those who have visited my website, (here) those are the two shops I mention in my welcome write up ^_^

Above are the first three renditions and below is the final. I might have a go at colouring this at some point, at present the different coloured pencils merely served to help me get less confused in the myriad of lines.

Niam’s wastelands and Tine canyon; Fao and Amber live here and yes this was intentional usage of aforementioned tea staining.

Below is an idea for the entrance to Amber’s cave within the Tine.

Knuks is a small town outside not far from the major city of Draygun. Below is a very very clean (by Knuks standard) example of a street.

Another example of a street this time in a town called Odel which is not on the island of Niam.

A very basic room; I imagine this room to be in the very seedy ‘hotel’ in Odel.

Yet another confusing down-shot, guess I must be a fan of those. This is a small cylindrical tower in one of Dirzryn’s hideouts, a place I imagine he goes to sit and drink tea and brood.

The location of this dungeon is not known, however I imagine it to be a place where vampires keep their thralls and just you know generally torture people.

Speaking of torture, below is an early concept for a place affectionately called ‘the room of the dead,’ I’ll let your imagination run with the reasons why it’s called that.

This had both bleed through and tea-spills – oh joy, oddly the bleed through on it is actually from the first portrait sketch of Dirzryn.

Last but not least, well I couldn’t leave without posting up our lovely Cold harbour dungeon.
This sketch was created for a written role-play we set in The Elder Scrolls universe, specifically the daedric realm of Cold harbour because none of the games at that point had any playable content in that realm. The role-play began in an empty cellar, hence this sketch. Also it seems even more appropriate to mention it again now since the makers of the Elder Scrolls games are soon to release their new MMO which is set in …yep, Cold harbour!

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Book Sketches 2008/2009 - (part 3) - 3rd Party Contributions :D

Ok last of the character book sketch posts because if I wrote about all of them I’d be here forever.

This time specifically looking at a couple more of the early characters, two of whom ended up being the basis for a species called extropians. In my usual half-cocked fashion this group were first named teks because it was the easiest title to say what I needed whilst getting on with the actual writing. 

Once the initial writing and art had settled in I did some homework and voila, there is such a thing as extropianism.

Dealing with that first here are Bug and Elgar our two main extropians thus far.

Another loveable early was Kha’Rii, still only a bit character at present but certainly worth noting.

This post is also set to give credit to external contributors to this project. I’d like to give a nod to those people who submitted a written character sheet that I then took hold of and both visually and narratively designed.

In no particular order then, the bit-chars, the donated small players in narrative that I decided to make portraits of are as follows:

Left to right: Zak, Klay and Braus

Left to right again: Nico (normal form), Nico (wolf form) and Orin. 

None of these characters had pre-sketches or doodles prior to their portraits; feel free to click their names to read their interviews over on Black Wednesday Isle.

On top of that we have had two major contributors whose praises I continue to sing.
My wonderful ‘online little brother,’ a Finnish fellow named Lauri Kouvivaara and my most marvellously mad ‘online little sister,’ an American named Dan Johnson. Now Dan is actually male and I was quite annoyed that Facebook wouldn’t let me list him as my sister!
I have dubbed them my siblings because I am an only child and because we have at one time or another worked quite closely on these characters together. The reason Dan is a sister rather than another brother is because he makes fantastic female characters. 
I on the other hand seem to make better male characters.

This becomes quite amusing or confusing depending on how you look at it as Dan has his own narratives and we sometimes do instant role-play via messenger to explore our characters, I always play a man and he always plays a woman.

Dan’s biggest addition to this body of work has been Zyaxine. Naturally, I took the character and with his permission made it my own.


Another thing Dan excels at, a point I am not too well versed in, is that of mecca or android-esq characters. He has been a great help in smoothing out the finer points, has written insanely detailed backstories and continues to guide me in the right direction regarding the characters he submitted. Zya is a concept I find very interesting. I always double check that Dan is happy and confident in how I portray her and have gained confidence in writing about ‘teks’ from that experience. Karst is another of his characters I haven’t drawn many times but have a good feel for since she is one he often uses in our role-play bounces.

Karst, far right Karst and Kale

Oh yes, in those instances I played Kale. The two make parallel foils because they are both utterly insane. Dan’s most recent addition has been a conversion of his character Fedura. To put it simply she is a prostitute and we converted her to be a drek elf by species in order to fit this universe. I look forward to working her into the mire, boy he does like to set me challenge!

As for ‘little brother,’ aka Lauri, well he is a poet no doubt. I am in awe and envy that he can phrase so well in a second language. He’s showed me Finnish many times and my brain almost exploded trying to fathom it. You win the smarts there little bro.

Most importantly Lauri, or as his screen-name was once, Adeth, gifted me a character by the same name. I can scarce predict how these additions will evolve but this one has become most involved. Whether he likes it or not (I am assured he does) the character he submitted became integral. Much like the very first submission by lovely Ross Hvidsten, who became our hero of tale bearing the same surname this character has demanded space.

There are stages of exploration and progression with all of the main characters I create before I can really hone down who they are and how they will act or react to the planned scenarios. One thing I love about writing this way is that the characters continue to surprise me, once dropped into the given setting and social situations I cannot predict how the scene will pan out and I swear some of the things that come out of their mouths are not written by me!!

Whilst this method of writing is interesting and does delight me, it can cause obstacles that make it difficult to move the plot forward. It is very easy for me to happily scribe their idle chatter and forget that I am actually trying to tell a larger tale alongside showing all their foibles.

Art-wise it is fair to say that sometimes characters evolve in this same unplanned way, things occasionally appear out of no-where and transform into new in-world creatures and unexpected personalities.