Where We Start the Art Updates
But first, an Update on EX3:
"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. http://theonyxpath.com/ 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.
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!