Friday, February 19, 2010

Protagonist sculpting progress

I think I have done some good progress on the ZBrush sculpting of the protagonist. The version from the last post looks totally creepy to me now. It would be better to post this stuff not until it had rested for a bit. Well, this version is from today and - again - I like it right at the moment but hey - I liked the first one, too. So I guess there's still some stuff to improve on this one. Your input is greatly appreciated, by the way! Right now I think that maybe the eyebrow is a bit too heavy. However, I'm starting to like the little fella. He looks like he could stand some adventure but he also shows a certain fragility. Well, I'm not going to rely heavily on sculptings like this for the production of the graphic novel artwork. I'm going to use them for general lighting reference and in fact it's not too important to totally nail the character in this 3D version. But right at the moment it's a fun way for me to learn more about this guy. I'm going to send him through some serious trouble and, well ... I hope he doesn't get too mad at me.

Hey, and I learned to split my progress into smaller postings!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Gaining momentum again!

Ok, nearly 3 weeks (no wait ... exactly 3 weeks!) after my accident, my arm has mostly grown back. I was able to use it for typing two weeks ago and one week ago I was able to start drawing and painting stuff again. So I tried to use my time as far as it was possible and I was able to get quite some stuff done.

I've arranged test readings of the first chapter with some friends here at home and I really must say that this step is absolutely essential. The most important thing is, that I was able to identify some problems with the storytelling. At some points some readers stumbled over things that I took for granted and it was really helpful to get input on these points. Also, I was able to stop the time the test readers needed to read the first chapter. I arrived at a good 10 minutes average which is really cool. I thought, it would be much less. And what also really matters to me is, that until now every test reader had really enjoyed the ride and that even in the current rough layout stage. That's extremely motivating, especially because I was even able to entertain test readers that normally don't read comics at all. Of course, I'm really looking forward to publish the first chapter now in full color but for the moment, it's only two more grayscale panels from the layout:

Then, I have finished the first draft of the second chapter script. Like I wrote in the last post, it first was a weird thought for me to work on the comic in pure writing. But when I started to write the script it very soon felt like describing the pictures to myself and taking notes of what I'm seeing and what was happening. I was totally able to get into the flow - in Word! It took me 6 hours to create the first draft of the script and I'm really happy that I took that step because I stumbled over a few things in chapter 2 that called for changes in chapter 1. I incorporated these changes (and some other minor changes) into the chapter 1 layout today and I'm now officially ready to begin with the final artwork for the first chapter.

I've already started do do some concept artwork for the main characters. Since I'm not going for a pure cartoon style in which the characters are defined by characteristic lines but more for an illuminated style where the forms and the patterns of light determine the look of the characters, I'm going to create small ZBrush sculptings of the most important characters. That way I'll be able to preview the shading especially on the faces. In the end I'm going to draw and paint all characters by hand and simplify the lighting but sculptings like these help to find good lighting angles and the shapes of backlights and stuff like that. This sculpting here is a first draft of the main character:

I'm not 100% satisfied with this sculpting yet but it's a good start I think. In recent times I've made the experience that it works quite well for me to make a first draft, then forget about it for a few days and then come back to it with a fresh view. When the sculpting is ready I plan do do some emotion sculptings as well.

I hope I'll come up with some more colorful stuff in the near future!