Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Test of Freedom - Story Notes and Concept Art

Yesterday was the first episode of Test of Freedom, so I don't have  a lot to say in terms of story notes, except for about the art, and also a spoiler warning:

If you are reading Wife of Freedom -- or are interested in reading it soon -- and if spoilers matter to you: Thursday's episode contains a spoiler for certain events that happen in the middle section of Wife of Freedom.

In the meantime....

I was very unhappy with the illo for yesterday's episode.  (Here it is for those who don't want to click back and look.)  I have too many different style ideas in my head.  I wanted to go for a more abstract, more primitive, and more contrasty look. I ended up with the opposite of nearly everything I was going for.

My original goal was to create an illustrated cap with the episode number in it.  I wanted it to be a woodcut, and to capture the awkward roughness of period woodcuts.   But I didn't account for the fact that period woodcuts were often AWFUL designs -- especially when they are an actual illustration, and not purely decorative.  They don't often make good use of negative space (that is, the space between things) and don't have a lot of contrast either -- working with line rather than shape a lot of the time.

Modern woodcuts (or woodcut-style design) are what I really should have been going for.

I also had decided that I would create black and white designs.... and when I got the thing mostly done, I found it too low contrast. It was boring, so I added a wash of color.  Originally like some hand painted woodcut prints I had seen, but I decided to go with colors that were compatible with the blog design.  And to make them brighter.  The fact is, both color schemes were ugly.

And since I had this spiffing idea for a representational illo, I also chose to do something too complicated.  And because it was complicated, I made my biggest mistake: I created it at a higher resolution, so I could get more control over the 'etching' marks.  But I lost too much detail in downsizing.  These dingbats are not going for print, I need to create them at the size they will be.  That's the only way to get the detail level right.

I figure I have two choices.  One is to go for the colorful style of the book covers for the series, which I might do, but I think the better choice would be to go back to black and white - and if I want anything more, might add a shade of flat gray.  I'm going to play with the style for the next couple of weeks.  I really do want to create some repeating motifs that make use of black and white.

Concept Covers!

In the meantime, I mocked up a draft of the cover for the ebook version of Test of Freedom.  I've got a lot of work to do on the image of the bowed prisoners on the lower left.  I like the concept of the one looking up, while the others are down, but I don't like the composition yet -- it's too busy.  It looked really good in a pencil sketch, but it's hard to do that kind of overlapping repeating shape in the simple color scheme I've chosen.  (I also did a better job with the pose in the pencil sketch. I'll have to look at it again, and consider how to translate it.)

What I really do like, though is the red figure up top.  That's Rocken, a character you will meet somewhere around Episode 13, I think. (I may reorder some episodes.)  He's an important character: dangerous, scary, and ... oddly reasonable.  A self-aware villain.

The chemistry between Rocken and Jackie drive an awful lot of what goes on for the whole trilogy of stories.  Which is why this image is like it is.  The other figures are bowed, with one looking up.  But he's not just looking up, he's looking at Rocken.

The Misplaced Hero Cover Mock-up

I also did a mock up cover for The Misplaced Hero.  This is truly just a mock up, because I basically just grabbed figures from the various illustrations I posted here.  But that led me to see what I wanted the concept to be.  Those little individual figures are like little bits of story. An abstraction of the idea of a serial -- bits of episodes.

I want to go for this "visual anthology" look.

I'm still working on every aspect of it, from the colors and composition to the fonts, but I do like the concept.  (I am unhappy with the idea that the font which worked so well for a web graphic logo simply doesn't resize well enough to be an ebook cover.  I may fiddle it in Illustrator, though, and see if I can save it.)

One old-timey concept that could work with this design is to have an oval at the upper center, which would make the figure of Alex with the sword stand out more -- and then have the tiny figures arranged around that.  (I'll probably make those tiny figures larger, though they don't have to fully recognizable in the tinier thumbnail.)

The last thing I need to do is see if I can get a sub-title in there.  I third bit of text tends to look good on a book cover -- especially this banded style of book cover.  I still haven't decided on the series name, though.  I will probably go with some blurb about being the collected episodes of a web serial.

In the meantime, I need to get to bed.

See you in the funny papers.

No comments: