Posts Tagged ‘Sketchbook’

BONUS CONTENT: Sketchbook: Kaagan-Vas Outfit

November 11, 2010

As I mentioned in the Commentary for The Big Snow Job #4, Page 11, the Kaagan-Vas outfits were a bit of a challenge since I wanted a somewhat unified look while still having the flexibility to fit over various alien body shapes. In my head, I was picturing something reminiscent of the Uruk Hai and Sauron’s orc army from The Lord of the Rings movies, which explains the first sketch, which is VERY Uruk Hai-ish. I’ll often do that sort of thing: if I know what the starting point is, I’ll usually draw that first just to get it out of my system and have it on the page so that I can start to veer AWAY from it and not make it too similar.

With the later versions, I started liking the idea of having the outfits themselves cut like very stylized versions of the KV symbol, where the areas of red would mirror the different shapes of the symbol. I worry that it straddles that Project Runway line of being interesting and showy without being too “costume-y,” but ultimately, I think it’s subtle enough as to not be too hokey. But as I said in the other Commentary, it does add a bit more red to the outfits than I originally envisioned.

However, I do like that it solves the problem of giving them a unified and instantly recognizable look from the front, especially since the telltale KV symbol itself (and their chief means of recognition) is only visible from the back, a design problem I only realized waaayyy too late!

Anyway, like I said, I’m not 100% sold on this design due to the amount of red. I think in a large group, it will start to look too uniform-y. So I might tweak it a bit in the future, but for the most part, I do like the concept enough to keep the gist of it.

BONUS CONTENT: Sketchbook: Kaagan-Vas Weapon

November 18, 2010

Here we have sketches for the Kaagan-Vas weapon of choice: the firestaff, as described in the Commentary for The Big Snow Job #4, Page 12. Part blaster rifle, part flame thrower, part stabby-stick, and all fun. I knew going in that it would be a really big and cumbersome weapon, but I also like it for that reason as it enhances the bad-assery of the Kaagan-Vas. Basically, it’s a big, heavy, manly weapon that most others wouldn’t even want to try to pick up, let alone carry around into battle.

The idea was for it to be a heavy weapon that you carry low, somewhere around the waist. So it doesn’t have a gun sight and it’s not used for precise shooting like a sniper rifle. It’s more of a beast meant to inflict maximum carnage and firepower, kinda like the big guns used by Vasquez and Drake in Aliens.

The design of it was pretty tough since I wanted the user interface to fit with how it would actually be employed. Basically, some ways of holding it worked well for the rifle/flamethrower aspect, but then felt awkward with the blade slicing and/or thrusting motions. In the end, I think the secondary grip spanning the two barrels perpendicularly seemed to work best since it can be used to shoot, thrust, and slice with the least amount of awkwardness in any of those actions. And the grip also separates the two barrels a bit since you probably don’t want the flamethrower parts and blaster parts right up on each other.

I find it kinda funny that in one of the sketches, I even added a bludgeon to the back end. Because three weapons in one isn’t quite enough. Sure, you can shoot someone, set him on fire, and cut him up. But what if you really want to beat him down too? Well then your weapon is just lacking a little bit.

Anyway, with all that being said and all the thought that went into the design of the thing, you never actually see the KV firestaffs in any real detail in the sequence! Yay! Time well spent.

BONUS CONTENT: Sketchbook: Ciceron

November 25, 2010

It’s catch-up time!

The next few sketchbook pages are some of the earliest designs I did for the Snow Job story arc to try to settle on the look of the planet Ciceron itself. I knew I wanted the story to take place on a snowy planet, but I didn’t want it to look like Hoth. So I decided to give the planet some wooded and rocky areas instead of just having huge expanses of snow. Plus, for a story that had the crew tailing another group for a bit, I guess you kinda need stuff to hide behind.

This page was mostly about drawing real-life rock formations. As I mentioned in an earlier post, if I have a starting point in my head, I like to get it down on paper so that I can then go from there and either draw inspiration from it or deliberately try to make it different visually.

BONUS CONTENT: Sketchbook: Ciceron

December 2, 2010

More sketches for the look of Ciceron. I really liked the look of the top-heavy mushroom-shaped rock formations, since they seemed very weird and alien to me. Now that I think about it, I never really drew any of the larger free-standing formations. Mostly the rock formations in the story are all of the bigger, mountainous variety. Bummer. Some free standing ones would have been cool to see.

I also did some sketches here for the Ciceron trees. I thought it would be interesting to have trees that develop supporting structures, given the snow loads they have to carry. But early on, I realized that it would be a real bear to try to draw those kinds of trees, especially in the foreground, since they would end up blocking too much of what’s behind them due to their oversized footprints.

BONUS CONTENT: Sketchbook: Ciceron

December 9, 2010

After ditching the idea of the multi-trunk trees, I tried to at least make some free-standing trees that looked a bit different and alien. I do like the diamond-shaped designs at the bottom, with the dense top canopies and sparser branches below that form the bottom halves of the diamonds. In the final art, I don’t think I ever really followed through and showed much of the trees.

On this page, I also did some other types of shrubs and growth on Ciceron, not that many of those made it into the final artwork either.

BONUS CONTENT: Sketchbook: Yak

December 16, 2010

The Ciceron yak were pretty fun to design since every sketch had something going for it. It’s pretty rare that I like something about every concept and then just have the luxury of picking the one I like the most. More often it’s, “Ugh, ugh, horrible, okay, ugh, that’s it!” The main thing with the yak was settling on something that looked big and bulky without looking too aggressive. Some of the designs ended up looking a bit more domesticated than others, so those are the ones I went with.

BONUS CONTENT: Sketchbook: Yak

December 23, 2010

Once I had the general look of the Ciceron Yak down, I spent a little time refining it, especially the head. Again, I pretty much liked all of the designs to some degree, so it all just came down to which one I liked best. Interestingly, in these sketches and in some of the earlier pages of the actual story art, the yak always looked a bit weird to me. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but they were just off somehow. And then I realized it…necks! I had been drawing them without necks! Once I figured that out, they started to look much better to me, but in the early pages, you can still see them looking weird.

BONUS CONTENT: Sketchbook: Ulon Dosi Head

December 30, 2010

I knew I wanted the Ulon Dosi to have a goat-like appearance, so that made for an easy starting point. In general, with aliens, I don’t mind drawing inspiration from actual animals, but I’m not a big fan of just putting straight-up animal heads on human bodies. I prefer to play around with features, mixing and matching them between different animals (or making them up), and I always try to play around with different proportions.

The Ulon Dosi had the extra challenge in that I knew they were going to be major characters in the story arc and needed to be sympathetic and look like intelligent beings, so I didn’t want them to look TOO animalistic. So I deliberately kept the snouts from being too long and tried to straddle that line between animal and human proportions in the face.

As a random note, back in 2007, I did a freelance comic project called The House of IL for a corporate anniversary event. The 3-issue comic was distributed among the company employees but was not made available to the masses. It was a fun D&D-type story about a band of adventurers and I really liked the different character designs I did for that series since the characters all had armor based on different historical styles, and each set of armor was distinctive and had its own telltale, instantly recognizable features. Anyway, one of the characters had tiny beads in his hair, and I always liked that look, so those beads made it into the Ulon Dosi as war beads that the fighting males of the village wear.

You can check out some pages from The House of IL, as well as the character sheets here. If, for some reason, you’d like to buy a set of the comics, just shoot me an email through my Contact page.

BONUS CONTENT: Sketchbook: Ulon Dosi Body

January 6, 2011

With the Ulon Dosi head settled, I then tackled the body. As a side note, sometimes I sketch the entire body and head at the same time if I’m going for an interesting overall silhouette. In this case, I wanted to establish the personality of the race with the head first, and then use that to derive the body.

I wanted the Ulon Dosi to be beefy and intimidating, so the broad shoulders and slightly hunched bodies were there from the get-go. I also thought about having different striped patterns in the fur, a concept that I either abandoned or forgot about once I got to the coloring stage (oops).

Early on, I stumbled upon the idea of the fur capes, which was something I really liked since I personally had never seen that kind of concept before. You can read some of my comments about the fur capes back on The Big Snow Job #3, Pages 14-15. Of course those fur capes made the clothing much more awkward to design since the clothes now couldn’t wrap around or under the arms the way normal shirts can. More on the clothing in the next post…

BONUS CONTENT: Sketchbook: Ulon Dosi Clothes

January 13, 2011

The Ulon Dosi clothes were a fun design challenge since I had to work with the constraints of the fur capes and try to make clothing that would believably work with those bodies. I always planned for the race to be fairly low tech, so early on I settled on pretty basic leather hide tunics and wraps. I did try a couple other looks in the first few sketches but they definitely looked a bit too fancy for me, so they were quickly abandoned. I think the rough edges and visible stitching really pulled together the hand-made, frontier look I was going for.

In the cases of the body-crossing wraps, the idea is that the clothing wraps around the neck and down the chest, continues around the back of the waist (underneath the fur cape), and then ties in the front. Basically, I wanted the clothing to fit the body while still leaving the fur cape clear to hang in the back.

BONUS CONTENT: Sketchbook: Ulon Dosi Clothes

January 20, 2011

A few more Ulon Dosi clothing concepts, including the rifle bandoliers that the village warriors would wear. With this, I had enough samples done that I could just mix and match different elements once I got to the actual drawing stage. The only Ulon Dosi characters that got specific outfit designs were Keyla, Clem, and Goshen. I’ll go into Keyla’s design in the next post, and the Goshen and Clem sketches will be popping up in the Bonus Features for The Big Snow Job #5.

BONUS CONTENT: Sketchbook: Keyla

January 27, 2011

I talked a little bit about designing the Ulon Dosi females in the Commentary for The Big Snow Job #4, Page 6. Here we have the sketches I did to flesh out Keyla, especially her outfit. Obviously I wanted to make her clothing similar in “language” to the other Ulon Dosi, but it needed to be a slightly more feminine version of the standard hide tunics. And as I mentioned in the other Commentary, the yellow color of her outfit was to make it a bit “softer” visually than the tan and natural tones of the other Ulon Dosi.

Keyla’s cloak also needed to stand out, since in many of her earlier panels, only a small portion of her would be showing and I needed the look to be, more or less, instantly and easily recognizable. I liked the patchwork enough that it eventually made it into Clem’s outfit as well. As for the white fuzzy fur, I also incorporated that into Goshen’s look to visually connect them since they’re related as father and daughter.

BONUS CONTENT: Sketchbook: Ulon Dosi Village

February 3, 2011

The next several Sketchbook entries will focus on the Ulon Dosi village, expanding a little on the Commentary I did back on The Big Snow Job #3, Page 21. This page shows the very first sketches I did to kick around some ideas for the look of the huts. I knew from the start that I wanted the huts to be low-tech, round in shape, and made up of some combination of stone, wood, and leather hides. Fairly early on, I settled on the mushroom-shaped overhanging roof, which got me around 80% there for the design. But it was missing that little bit of visual “oomf” so I kept playing with it here and there…

BONUS CONTENT: Sketchbook: Ulon Dosi Village

February 10, 2011

At this point, I decided to play around with the general layout of the village on a larger scale than just individual huts to see if that might provide me with a little more direction in the design of the huts themselves. I really needed the village to look a bit dilapidated and run-down, so I decided to sprinkle the village with various crude shacks and shanty huts.

I toyed with the idea of a village center or plaza, since I knew the final shootout would take place in a semi-open space. But ultimately, I thought a plaza would make the village a bit bigger and more refined than I wanted it to be.

BONUS CONTENT: Sketchbook: Ulon Dosi Hut Details

February 17, 2011

Here I finally settled on the Ulon Dosi hut design, as well as some hut details (which I apparently abandoned once I got to the actual drawing of the pages!). For me, the breakthrough was in adding the long curving wood beam “ribs” all around the huts that emerge from the rock base and curve up around the edges of the roof. I think those gave the huts a very distinctive look they’d been missing.

For variety, I came up with several different window frame patterns, so that all the huts didn’t look the same. I also realized that in a snowy environment, you wouldn’t want the windows open to the elements all the time, so I designed different kinds of shutters that could be lowered to close the window openings. In the end, I pretty much just cheesed out and drew the same hut over and over again with the open windows. It was just easier that way, and as background buildings, I figured drawing those kinds of shutter details weren’t really necessary.

BONUS CONTENT: Sketchbook: Ulon Dosi Village Layout

February 24, 2011

This was my general list of design aesthetics for the Ulon Dosi village, which I decided to jot down to keep track of things myself. I also did a few more sketches to play around with the terraced look of the village and how the huts would sit at different levels. At this point, I added some cliffside huts, since I thought it would be cool to see a few huts here and there built into the actual surrounding rock walls. I thought rickety wooden slats built into the rock walls to form steps would be pretty cool, especially since I would never EVER have the nerve to walk on anything remotely like that myself.