After quite the life-changing summer (Among other things, I got engaged!), I'm so excited to get in touch and show you some first detailed images of the ZBrush work I've been doing for the book.
The first image, which you may recognize as Zeke's samurai avatar, Prodigytal, is effectively a looks exploration for how we can take 3D-modeled character renders from ZBrush and push them through Photoshop to get an interesting, shadow-heavy look. This isn't a final image for the book — there will be a graphical overlay for the game environment provided by Audrey (who, as I understand, knows a thing or two about this), and I may yet do a few finishing touches. However, we think it shows some really cool potential for what we can do.
You'll also see several images of Dom's model straight out of ZBrush with a simple shader attached. Dom was probably the trickiest character for us to design, since he has to be powerful, looming, and embodying a sort of Roman stonemason feel, but for all his strength he also must convey a certain vulnerability as well — this is, after all, a huge Eastern European man who shadows a little girl whom he believes to be a reincarnation of his beloved. We're feeling good about this approach to him, and I'll be posing him into compositions starting this week.
The biggest challenge for me right now is boiling the storyboards down into 3D and 2D elements, and making sure we do the 3D parts in such a way that they convey depth and texture while being reasonably quick to create.
I hope you'll forgive us that the illustration process is taking longer than we originally planned, and hopefully this update helps to remind you of what a cool project you're supporting. I'd absolutely love to hear your feedback, so feel free to comment or message us to let us know what you think. Thanks again for making this project happen, and we'll be back with more soon!
After looking through a number of other illustrated fantasy and science fiction books, Ian and I have decided to print the hardcover version of Realms Unreel with a horizontal aspect ratio, probably with a 9-inch spine height to match the paperback. With that key decision made, I have been able to get started preparing the hardcover print layout.
It was not quite a year ago that I was preparing the print layout for the paperback, and I'm glad to be putting those skills to work again. Because of your generous support, this time we have a lot more printing options; paper size and quality, color printing, cover printing, and binding style are all under our control. These new printing variables — and, more significantly, placing full-page illustrations in the midst of the text — will make the layout process more complex. Nonetheless, I'm really looking forward to this phase of the project. Since my alter ego spends so much of her time creating digital things, it's wonderful to engage with a physical medium.
As far as timing goes, Ian and I are putting together a calendar for the remainder of this year with the goal of completing the illustrations and print layout by the end of 2012. The printer will need some lead time after we've submitted our layout files to produce the first hardcover proof, so I don't know yet exactly how long the printing will take after we've finalized the layout, but I will post that information for you once I have a time estimate from the printer. For any of you who have changed addresses since you originally backed us: don't worry, I'll confirm your current shipping address with you before we put your hardcover book in the mail.
Thanks again for all your support!
Zeke's Prodigytal Avatar
Zeke Eckerd first appears to Emmie Bridges in the form of his samurai avatar, Prodigytal, in the game domain Mysteries of Eleusis.
Dom's Zbrush Model
Dom's model with shader, full length, facing right
Dom's model with shader, full length, facing left
Dom's model with shader, full length, zoomed in
Dom's model with shader, portrait detail, facing left
Dom's model with shader, portrait detail, facing forward