What's in a scene
Dear Kickstarter backers,
Over the past two months, we've continued to refine the method we're using to create the look and feel of our illustrations. Here's an illustration from Chapter 2 — where Dom encounters Serapen in Musaion — and the story about how it came together.
Storyboards laid the foundation
In our original storyboards, we selected the scenes we felt captured key parts of the story arc. Those storyboards showed us the characters, environments, and poses we would need to capture in our illustrations, and it also gave us a place to develop a color palette to help differentiate our primary "realms" — Dulai, Earth, and the alternet. (Dulai, in this case, takes on a violet cast.)
Here's the original storyboard for this illustration:
Sketches set our direction for overall look-and-feel
Early on, we decided based on some of Ian's exploratory sketches that we wanted to achieve a look that was shadow heavy, as we liked the dramatic simplicity that comes with lots of darkness.
More sketches brought our characters to life
For key characters in the storyboards, we developed the unique look of each character through sketches. Here's a collection of sketches that led to the final look for Serapen.
Zbrush added the third dimension
The next step — selecting which elements and characters to model in Zbrush — has been the trickiest aspect of the project so far. Three-dimensionality adds a lot of visual interest and depth to a scene, but modeling is far more time-consuming than sketching. Too much modeling also risks reducing the graphic novel quality of the images. Although we like how three-dimensionality evokes the idea of the alternet, we don't want the illustrations to look simply like a screen capture of a virtual world.
Since Dom's character appears in so many scenes, and because his physique is so distinctive, he became the testing ground for many of Ian's experiments in Zbrush, from modeling to posing to shading.
Trial and error, Photoshop, and plenty of elbow grease combined 3D and 2D elements into the final result
The high-fidelity model of Dom allowed us to work on scenes that feature him alongside elements we intended to have a more hand-drawn quality. Here are a few of the elements we combined into the final image.
The final result:
Hardcover Shipping Update
Based on all we've learned this year, we now have a solid grasp of the time required to complete the remaining illustrations. We're committed to finalizing the illustrations and sending off the book file to the printer by April 7, 2013.
Allowing time for the printer to produce the first print proof, for us to review the proof, and for the printer to complete the full print run, we expect to have the completed hardcovers in our hands by mid-May. That means we expect all of our backers whose reward includes a hardcover book will have their books in hand by the end of May 2013.
For those of you with additional rewards, we'll contact you once all the illustration artwork is complete in March to discuss what you'd like to see in your signed prints.
Thanks again so much for making this project possible — we're in the home stretch!
Audrey & Ian