Share this project


Share this project

Contribute to help us give the Deluxe Exalted 3rd Edition a leather bound, embossed+, metallic-edged, full-color, deluxe treatment.
4,368 backers pledged $684,755 to help bring this project to life.

Where We Start the Art Updates

Posted by Richard Thomas (Creator)

But first, an Update on EX3:

Holden says: 

"The book's manuscript is being edited. Art is coming in and corrections are being sent out. Arms of the Chosen is in redlines." 

So, to go a bit deeper, every bit of text is in editing except for one bit of fiction that we expect any day now. We don't yet know how long the entire text will take to edit and then combine into a whole manuscript, but like the writing, we want our trusty editor to take the time to do the tightest job possible before anything gets laid out. Far simpler to fix things before they are turned into pages.

Also, ARMS OF THE CHOSEN is in redlines! Redlines are the first developer pass over the first draft of the text, so called because editors and developers used to use red pens to write their notes. 

Maria Cabardo is continuing to assign art from the first batch of 90+ art descriptions, and we are now seeing and approving sketches (see below).

Matt Forbeck's EX3 Novel is being written and the EX3 Anthology is in second drafts with the editor. Composer James Semple (he created the music we used in the KS video) and I talked and he is working on new material finally for the EX3 Music Suites. Writing is being done on the EX3 Quickstart (although it seems that has been slowed down by the EX3 editing). 

And last regular news before the sketches is a reminder that we now have an Onyx Path Mailing List that you can sign up for on the Onyx Path website. A lot of backers have asked us for this so they can be alerted to our new Kickstarters. By signing up we will email you alerts for upcoming and running Kickstarters, PDF and PoD releases, and other news and announcements. Each week we'll email you the Monday Meeting Notes blog that contains our weekly project updates so you can see how your favorite games are progressing. Sign up and start getting those little email gifts of knowledge and love!

And now, Our first set of sketches:

As I've mentioned here and in our weekly updates on projects in the Monday Meeting Notes blog on the Onyx Path site, Maria Cabardo, world renowned and award winning art director, has been contacting illustrators around the globe in order to involve them in creating art for EX3. It is no simple task to arrange for over a hundred pieces of art for any single project. In addition, one of the reasons I asked Maria to art direct this is because she has contacts with a much wider range of artists than usually work in the tabletop RPG biz and getting them to work on our illustration project rather than more film or computer game concept art has been rough. 

I know that sounds unbelievable to some of you as getting to work on Exalted art is a pretty cool gig, but when they are super busy, on million dollar projects that easily pay ten times what any paper RPG could afford, it takes an art director who knows artists to get them on board. Fortunately, Maria is one of the best ADs I've ever worked with, so things are proceeding apace.

So how does this whole art process work anyway, I hear someone out there ask? First, we get the raw art descriptions from the Developers based on the amount of art and parts of the text they'd like illustrations for. We have various formulas based on number of words for how many half-page pieces which the Devs followed, including bulking up the number of pieces as we said during the Kickstarter. 

I read through those descriptions and take notes on questions of clarity and description and fire those questions back to the Devs. It helps to read them as a freelance illustrator like I've been for so many years, to see where the writer thought the description made sense but it didn't, and that sort of stuff. I also note where any reference might be found in the notes, and start assembling those images for Maria to send on to the artists.

Here are the four descriptions that we have the first sketches in for:

1- The Divine Revolution (Vertical half-page illustration, full color)  

The wall of an ancient temple depicts the Exalted in combat against the ancient, cosmic god-monsters that created the world. The piece should be highly stylized, somewhere between hieroglyphics and Mesoamerican temple art—the temple wall is carved as well as painted. A Solar Exalted champion is foremost in the battle, glorious in golden armor and carrying a magical, golden blade, with lesser Chosen supporting him (a beast-like Lunar Exalt, a mystical Sidereal, and several Terrestrial soldiers in jade armor of various colors—red, white, blue, black, green). The enemy of the Exalted is a vast and terrible titan, one of those monsters that wrought the world and created the gods, and whose age the Exalted brought to an end by steel and spell. The depiction should be action-centric, rather than two forces posing before one another; the Solar hero should be striking a blow against his vastly greater foe, leading his fellows to victory.

4- Heaven (Horizontal half-page illustration, full color)  

“Once the home of the world’s creators, the great celestial island of Yu-Shan floats beyond the world in an endless sea of quicksilver. Heaven is a city the size of a continent, teeming with ten million gods of all rank and title. At its center, in the Jade Pleasure Dome, the Incarnae wile away the centuries playing turns at the Games of Divinity, while the highest-ranking gods observe and wager from the stands.” I want an image of the Jade Pleasure Dome rising above the skyline of Yu-Shan. Give the spires and temples and pyramids rising up around the dome a mystical look, rather than a technological one. Draw futuristic chariots and airships in the skies around the dome. To show its enormity, show a sorcerer or two zooming around on flying clouds. Any aircraft in this picture should look ancient, and powered by magic. Nothing in this picture should have an overwhelming Sci-Fi logic to its design.

6- Eyre of the Sleepwalker (Horizontal half-page illustration, full color)

“In the Time Before, a young man lay on his sickbed, locked in the grip of the sleeping death. One cold night, as Saturn passed through the constellation of the Sorcerer, he awakened with starlight in his eyes, and was borne away on the wings of omen-birds. They say that this is how Rakan Thulio, the Sleepwalker, entered the service of Endings. What little they know for certain is this: Rakan Thulio Exalted in the first days, and was a hero amongst the Chosen. But when the love of his life chose another, he came to believe that Heaven had done him a great injustice. Believing his destiny had been written by another, his resentment for the cruel hands of fate became hatred for the entire Celestial Bureaucracy. Using forbidden martial techniques, he tapped into a power feared even by the Demon Princes, and marked himself as an enemy of Heaven. When Saturn made her Sign against him, he turned it aside with blasphemous power, and tore the thread of his destiny from the Loom of Fate. For this, Thulio was cast out of Heaven. Only then did Yu-Shan learn the scope of his ambitions. Thulio has not aged a day since then. Yu-Shan fears what he has in store for the world, even as information on his plans is frustratingly sparse. What is known for sure is that Thulio loathes Heaven, and has sent his agents to tear it apart, piece by piece.” This illustration depicts Rakan Thulio in the foreground, from the waist up. His head is slightly bowed, as he considers a supernaturally gleaming violet thread suspended between his hands—the stolen thread of his destiny. The backdrop is a moonless sky full of stars. Behind Thulio and to either side are a handful of dimly-seen figures in white, hooded robes, of varying heights and genders; their profile and the cut of their clothes should suggest martial artists, rather than mystics. Visual reference for Rakan Thulio can be found in the Exalted Third Edition comic, on pages 9 and 10, though draw him with his hood drawn back and his hair shorter and more controlled than the comic’s art (REFERENCE).

7- The Five Dragon Throne (half page horizontal illustration)

Do a cover of the picture on page 33 of the Exalted second edition corebook (REFERENCE), of the Empress sitting on the Five Dragon Throne. The austere old man immediately to the Empress’s right is Chejop Kejak, and the taller, more ornately clad character is one of his Sidereal aides. Instead of the Roseblack (kneeling) draw an original Exalted character kneeling there. Have the Empress holding and inspecting this character’s daiklave. This character may be male or female. Have them clad in a very anime-stylish combat ready outfit. Do not deck this character’s armor out in elemental designs as shown on that of the Roseblack and Cainan (standing, flame armor). This character should be an Exigent, strangely-armored, perhaps wearing a mask and with exotic weapons on his/her belt. Overall, vary the characters who are surrounding the Empress. You may enhance or modify the Empress’s attire, though her hair and headdress need to remain the same, and she should always be wearing a crimson jacket with gold flames over her robes. Her face is perfect; get as close to that look as possible.

These sketches below were deliberately sent to us from a studio of illustrators in Manilla in various stages - from very sketchy to very tight and colored - in order to show how they work in stages. This is important as we hope to use these talented guys in further pieces and both sides are getting used to each other.

The Divine Revolution Sketch
The Divine Revolution Sketch
Heaven Sketch
Heaven Sketch
Eyre of the Sleepwalker Sketch
Eyre of the Sleepwalker Sketch
5 Dragon Throne Sketch
5 Dragon Throne Sketch

 You'll note that the art is protected by a watermark used by the studio to prevent their work being walked off with. 

Our notes back were these, compiled with the Devs' and my thoughts on the sketches:

The Divine Revolution: Would like the hieroglyphics to 'pop' more at first glance -- as it stands I have to lean in and squint to tell what's being shown, they're sort of washed out by the (gorgeous) jungle lighting. Can the primordial world-forger to be more of a vast and monstrous presence in the piece, being thwarted by the Solar-- right now it seems a bit more like some random monster.  

Heaven: The aesthetic of the city is spot-on. Let's limit the flying craft to only a single dirigible-style design. Can we add in a few more fantastical designs, such as decks rising from captured stormclouds, or barques being pulled by majestic birds wrought of flame and lightning-- that sort of thing.  

Eyre of the Sleepwalker: Looking good so far, although Thulio's hair should be a less exaggerated version of what's depicted in the EX3 comic (Hanzo's very anime-esque style showed it as being a bit thicker and longer than we want to be the norm), not shorn off entirely. And let's get rid of the Caste Mark on Thulio's forehead.  

The 5 Dragon Throne: Love it. Only issue: Kejak's hand looks weirdly chunky. Can we get a small fix on that?

You'll note that our notes back try not and use setting info that the artists probably are not keyed in on, but very direct instructions and concerns. Ambiguous or slang notes are the bane of artists everywhere.

So there you go, we'll see what the results are in a later post. Thanks!

Adam Carter, Eric Schalk, and 26 more people like this update.


Only backers can post comments. Log In
    1. Coyotekin

      Thanks for this thorough update and deeper look into the art process.

    2. Glen Blosser on

      The dragon throne pic seems really off. It's like someone took a really interesting picture (the Empress and her advisors/allies in a tense meeting with an Exigent) and slapped some egregious fanservice on top. The Empress's leg and the Exigent's skimpy armor seem to be from entirely different pieces of art than the rest of it, so it just sticks out more. Either cut back on the sexiness in what should be a piece about power, or at least make it fit in with the scene better.

    3. Daniel Moore on

      I'm 100% behind more Mayan and MezoAmerican influences in pretty much all things, though. Keep that up!

      Also more Greek/Ancient Byzantium/Carthaginian influences.

    4. Daniel Moore on

      ACtually really digging the Divine Revolution, but the mess at their feet is kinda... childish. Like a child scrawled on the artwork.

      Heaven is blah.

      Eyre has potential.

      The 5 Dragon Throne is a mess. BUTTS FOR THE BUTT EMPRESS. And where is her other leg?

    5. Roy Havens on

      Just chiming in to say thanks for posting this Rich :)

    6. Andrew Hows on

      Only thing I don't really like is the angle on the throne pick - why do I have to tilt my head to make out all the pretty people?

    7. Missing avatar

      Ben Stewart

      The art is impressive and kudos to the artists for making their work available for us to see at this stage of the draft!

      I'm curious as to why Rakan Thulio's origin was included in the art description? It seems to me that it doesn't provide specific notes about the piece.

    8. Paul Gibbon on

      Wuse: I assume the Lunars are the vaguely ram- and bird-like people on the second row, and the Terrestrials are the ones getting trampled.

    9. Galen Mullins on

      Not a big fan of the airships in the Heaven sketch. Having to use gas-bags to stay afloat speaks "baroque technology" to me instead of "divine power". Right now it doesn't give the impression of "home of the gods" as much as "standard magitech city X" which is disappointing.

      I think making the airships less like dirigibles and more like skiffs that float of their own volition would go a long way to correcting that.

    10. Missing avatar

      Aaron Daniels on

      @Christian: Thanks!

    11. Missing avatar

      Christian on

      Look to the right side of the page, under Richs picture, there is a button labeled "Contact me".

    12. Missing avatar

      Aaron Daniels on

      I need to communicate with the Kickstarter manager for this project about a couple of issues. Does anyone know how I do that?

    13. Martin Nerurkar on

      I love the fact that I can't tell whether the person kneeling in front of the empress is male or female :D

    14. Christophe Loyce on

      Amazing update - really looking forward to the release of the project.

    15. Missing avatar

      Adam on

      There really are a remarkable number of dudes standing behind Thulio.

    16. Missing avatar


      Too many dudes...

      Also, what is up with the Empress's leg?

    17. Missing avatar

      Saul Escobar on

      The Empress and Chun-Li must be related.

    18. Naz on

      Really liking the ruins-overrun-by-jungle art in The Divine Revolution. Thank you for the write-up on the art process, Rich.

      And since it is topical: The Scarlet Empress' proportions look good here (I know, I know, opinion ahhhh!). I'm looking at this like she is one person who does not skip leg day at the gym. :D

    19. Missing avatar

      William Sked on

      I'm fine with how the Empress was depicted here.

    20. Missing avatar

      Nicholas Scott on

      So, we're just waiting for that one piece of fiction to come back before you post the preview here?

    21. Josh Kroger

      Wait, Rakan is a Chosen of Endings? Not of Serenity? Poo.

    22. WuseMajor

      The Empress's thigh also looks big and chunky to me too. I also very much agree that Yu-Shan needs more mystic air craft and fewer dirigibles. I don't see any Lunars or Terrestials in the first one either which..... kinda works, I guess, since Solar Pride was a big thing after awhile and they stopped wanting to give the other Exalted credit for stuff, but that might not fit the propose of the piece.

      Otherwise they look pretty cool to me.

    23. WuseMajor

      Presumably they've been sent reference drawings and such.

    24. Missing avatar

      Simon Geard on

      > You'll note that our notes back try not and use setting info that the artists probably are not keyed in on, but very direct instructions and concerns

      That said, the artists are obviously well acquainted with what went before - most of the figures in the "5 Dragon Throne" image are immediately recognisable from 1e and 2e depictions.

    25. Matthew Tridento on

      @Ryan after centuries of founding a dynasty, I'd expect the Empress to have some hips on her! :-p

    26. Granite26 on

      Awesome... thanks

    27. Ryan McCarter on

      The Empress' thigh is huge in that last picture.

    28. Adam Carter on

      I gotta admit the art has always been one of the things that drew me in to Exalted in the first place, and I really like these. I really dig the mayan temple piece. Can only hope it all turns out as nice as these.