Friday, December 31, 2010

Over 10.000 reads - Thank you so much!

The end of the year comes close and I just want to thank all of you for your support over the last 12 month. Your comments on my progress and your encouraging words helped me a great deal on my way. It really means a lot to me!

The last 6 days I was overwhelmed by your feedback. The first chapter has already been read over 10.000 times in less then a week. That in my eyes is a tremendous achievement for the starting week of a webcomic. I want to thank every single one of you who spread the word and I also want to thank all the donators who have already created a nice budget for my first advertising run. The next thing on my list now is the opening of the prints shop which you can expect within the next two weeks.

But now it's time to lean back a bit and celebrate the new year! I wish everyone a happy new year 2011 and I hope to see you all around!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Chapter 1 - Here it is!

I don't want to bother you with too much talk here. The first chapter of the Wormworld Saga Online Graphic Novel is waiting for you! To read it, please visit the brand new Wormworld Saga website at:

I hope you enjoy it and I'd love to read your comments here on the blog.

I hope you all are having nice Holidays!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Wormworld Saga begins on 25th December

This year you can look forward to an additional Christmas present! On 25th December I'm going to launch the brand new Wormworld Saga website and the first chapter of the Wormworld Saga Online Graphic Novel which is titled "The Last Day Of School". I have finished the online formatting of the graphic novel and now I only have to prepare the rest of the content of the website. Here is a preview for those who are curious:

As you can see, I'm going for a compact layout. The whole startpage fits onto an iPad screen which I currently consider to be the best hardware to enjoy the Wormworld Saga Online Graphic Novel. Of course you will be able to read it on any other hardware, too. Together with the Wormworld Saga website I'm going to launch a Facebook fanpage and I'll update my Deviantart gallery with panel artwork for those who want to enjoy the artwork without word ballons. This blog will remain to be the centre of all news about the Wormworld Saga and the most direct way for you to give me your feedback.

In January I'm going to open up the prints shop. From that point on the Wormworld Saga themed artwork that is currently on sale on will be sold exclusively on the new website. Ordering the prints will be much easier in the new shop and there will be many new artworks at various price points available.

You may wonder why I chose to launch the Wormworld Saga Online Graphic Novel on a date on which most people will be offline. Most internet creators are on hiatus over the holidays and would tell you that it's not worth the effort because nobody watches anyway. I considered to hurry up and launch the website before everybody disappears into the holidays. I also considered to delay the launch and start in January when everybody is back at work and hungry for new content. But ultimately I realized that it just would be nice to launch on Christmas. I imagine that everyone who learns about the launch will be happy to have this little additional Christmas treat. And when if not during the holidays might you find some spare time to sit down, relax and dive into a story? Hopefully in a cosy place with some cookies and a hot cup of tea.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Milestone 5 accomplished - It's done!

Today is the day! The day I was not able to imagine at the beginning of the year when I had finished my layout and saw how much work lied before me. You might remember:

But it happened - I finished the last panel today and it feels unreal to me. I cannot imagine NOT to head straight to my computer after work and painting until I'm too tired. Fortunately there's still a lot of work to do before I can present you the first chapter of the Wormworld Saga Online Graphic Novel. This is my list of tasks that have to be completed before the release can happen:
  • Rework of some panels (I'll keep this brief and stay away from the perfectionism trap).
  • Finetuning of the writing and preparing a document for proofreading
  • Layouting the word balloons
  • Composing and color correcting the final artwork
  • Creating the website
I have no experience with most of these points and therefore have no idea how long it will take me. My goal is to have the main bulk of work done by the end of November and doing last touches to the website in early December. I definitely want to have everything online before the holidays so we are closing in.

I'll keep you updated!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Digitalartconvention 2010

I'm the admin of a german digital art online community and every year we have a convention (normally in Frankfurt). We had three wonderful days of creativity and inspiration and I want to share a small video with you in which community member Caccaduu has collected some impressions from this year's event.

Caccaduu is also known under the name of Kemane Bâ and he is hell of a creative mind. Illustration, animation, music and film - he does everything with passion and his results are always a joy to watch. You should definitely take a lok at his blog at:

And in case you're wondering what all these updates are about when instead I should be busy working on the Wormworld Saga I can appeace you: I'm sitting at the last panel right now so expect the next update really soon!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Some Design Changes

Well, maybe it's obsolete to mention but I finally got the chance to realize some changes in the layout of the blog. It now comes closer to the look of my website. I hope you like it.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Journey Around the World - Blizzard Entertainment

Whenever I pack one of my prints of "The Journey Begins" and bring it to the post office I wonder where its journey actually ends. I've already shipped prints of the artwork to many countries and sometimes people tell me where they are planning to place it. I like the idea of my image hanging on the wall of a kid's bedroom or over a cosy fireplace. On one of my recent orders I just had to ask for a photo of the print's new home:

Here you see Jason Bender and Wyatt Cheng in an epic struggle to release "The Journey Begins" from the clutches of Diablo himself. Or maybe I'm getting the whole situation wrong and the lord of darkness just did the wonderful framing job on the print and hands the piece over to his satisfied customers. However, I'm happy that this print has found a new home in the Blizzard Entertainment offices and I hope you guys there enjoy it! Thanks for your support!

Well, I enjoy seeing photos of my prints from all around the world and I'd like to share them with the readers of my blog. So, if you happen to own one of my prints of "The Journey Begins" and don't mind sharing a view of its new home (and it's owners, if you like) with me and my blog readers, please send me an email with a photo and soon we'll have a nice little series of blog entries going!

Thursday, October 7, 2010


In January I filed a trademark registration for the term "Wormworld". Only *cough* 10 month (and several thousand Euros) later, I have now finally received my registration certificate from the Office For Harmonization In The Internal Market which means that I can now officially put the ® on the Wormworld.

What totally cracks me up is the name of the President of the OHIM. I hereby officially proclaim that I will include a character named Wubbo in the Wormworld Saga!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Milestone 4 accomplished

I've finally reached my forth milestone! 80% of the artwork for the first chapter of the Wormworld Saga Online Graphic Novel is now done. I should have reached it half a month ago but I was a bit distracted by things that appeared from nowhere. One of these things is, that I'm now represented by a Los Angeles based agency that's trying to find ways to market the Wormworld Saga. Have a look at their website to discover some panel artwork that I haven't shown to you yet! And just in case you are wondering - of course I'm still going to publish the first chapter for free as soon as it's ready. But who knows which other ways the guys of Killing the Grizzly might find to spread the word.

Well, I'm seeing the finish line now and I'm looking forward to the last milestone. It will contain some artwork that I'm longing to paint since the very beginning of the project. Just to give you a hint, this is the last panel of milestone 4:

 Ok, now I'm off to work on the last milestone. I'm getting excited!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Back home

I'm back from my vacation! From a relaxed and sunny Spain I returned to a cold and rainy Germany. At least these are good conditions to work on the computer. Well, If there wasn't that cold that I catched right at my first day home which is plugging up my nose right now.

But hey, there's work to do and I'm ready for the finish run. I'll pick up work on the graphic novel soon and I hope that the last 30% of the artwork will come out smoothely.

I know, I promised a lot of sketches before I left. Turned out that I mainly wrote story notes when I picked up my sketchbook in Spain. And the few sketches I actually did, all contain elements that I can't show you just yet. But I have a pencil drawing that I can show you. I drew it yesterday and it's a goody for someone who ordered a print which I was hoping to be able to dispatch before my vacation started but that didn't work out. He had to wait the three weeks before I finally was able to send out the package yesterday. I like to compensate for inconvenience of that sort and what better way is there than sending an original - and therefore unique - pencil drawing?

I don't draw a lot with pencils these days and it's really fun when there's an occasion like this. I might even create some drawings in the future and offer them on my website along with the digital prints. Man, I should stop promising stuff that I'm not sure about to happen! Well, you can always order a print and hope for me screwing up if you want to get one of these. :)

Ok, I hope for some good news on my next update.

Friday, August 6, 2010


Work on the Wormworld Sage graphic novel didn't go too smooth in July. We had some terribly hot days in Germany and when I came home and had barely survided the workday I wasn't able to sit in front of my own computer and work even more. Also, there were a lot of social events last month which all demanded their part of my time. However, I managed to work at least 12 hours on the graphic novel and have now reached the 70% mark. I'm in the middle of milestone 4 so to say and now I'm taking three weeks of vacation from the project and from life in general.

I'm traveling to Spain to where the family of my wife lives and I'm going to gather some energy for the rest of the year. I'm a bit exhausted from the year so far and although I think that I generally managed to keep a balance between my life, my job and my private projects, the vacation comes just at the right time. I'm taking my sketchbook with me so prepare for a big load of sketches in the next update! I'm looking forward to visiting some of my favorite places in northern Spain which have been a huge inspiration for my work in the past.

For this update I have chosen a panel that fits the occasion perfectly. Jonas leaves for the summer holidays and he's taking a moment to reflect on the things that lie behind him and on those that lie before him. Some very exciting things are going to happen but right now it's time for a pause.

Ok, I'm off then! See you in September!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Milestone 3 accomplished

Alright, a month has passed since the last milestone and it's time for an update. Milestone 3 was accomplished in about 27 hours. Therefore I should have finished it a bit ealier but some extremely warm weather and the FIFA worldcup have occupied some of my freetime last month. Well, I'm happy with my progress anyway and I'm looking forward to the next milestone. There's a significant twist in the story now and some very special panels have to be painted right at the beginning of milestone 4. I'm afraid, that from now on I won't be able to post a lot of panel artwork anymore. I want the second half of the first chapter to remain a complete mystery right up to the day when it gets published. However, this panel here was already shown as a layout so I guess it's ok to show it to you.

I want to thank you all for your encouraging comments. It really means a lot to me to get in contact with you through this blog and I'm insanely looking forward to the day when I'll be ready to share my work with you in it's completed form.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Do you remember that feeling?

I bet you didn't expect the next update so fast, did you? Well, I just happened to have finished a panel that I was looking forward to right from the beginning of the project and I wanted to share it with you directly. :)

I hereby admit that I tend to get nostalgic about childhood. Well, big surprise. However, the Wormworld Saga will get a good share of this sentiment, especially in the first two chapters. There are several key memories that transport that feeling especially well for me personally. One of these memories is about car rides over long distances. It's a special atmosphere in these memories. The sunset, the humming of the car engine, the muted music from the radio. Time seemed to stand still on these journeys. Interestingly this also happens to be a favorite panel of my wife. It looks like she also remebers the feeling and I was wondering if this might be one of these 'universal childhood memories' that everybody shares.

As you can gather from the posted panels so far, the Wormworld Saga starts with a longer car ride. I find these moments of transition very effective to begin a story. I love how "Spirited Away" and "My Neighbor Totoro" - these two masterworks of Hayao Miyazaki - start with car rides. It's in that spirit that I want my story to begin. A slow transition from a bright, loud and busy world to a place where wonder awaits.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Milestone 2 accomplished

I'm back with some news on the progress of the Wormworld Saga Online Graphic Novel. I have moved past the 40% mark and therefore have reached the second of my five milestones for the first chapter. And like I promised I have some first real panel artwork for you to see! This artwork has yet to be composed and color corrected and I'm constantly fixing details in all panels but it gives a good first impression of the look of the graphic novel I think.

As you can see, the first chapter contains a lot of unusual subjects for me. I'm not really used to painting scenes from the real world. I like to paint nature and fantasy scenes. All the straight lines and angles in the architecture and the cars were really hard work for me and it also wasn't easy to find the right style for these elements. I didn't want to become too clean in the rendering but on the other hand I also didn't want the hard and shiny surfaces of the cars for example to look too sloppy. I hopefully have found a balance here that will fit to the fantastic subjects that will emerge later in the story.

Fortunately, by reaching the 40% mark I've also come to the point where the action leaves the city now and moves towards new subjects.

The fact that I had to paint a lot of stuff that I normally don't paint also had an impact on the time I needed for the second milestone. I painted a total of 45 hours on 18 panels so I'm way over my estimated 26 hours from after the first milestone (which had only 9 larger panels). My current estimation is, that I'm going to need a full month for every milestone from now on, Hopefully I'm able to finish the third milestone in June and the forth milestone in July. In August I'm leaving for a three weeks holiday in Spain where I'm not going to work on the graphic novel (except maybe for some script writing and sketching) so that the last milestone will have to wait until September. If everything works out like expected I'm going to design the Wormworld Saga website in October and might be ready for launch at the beginning of November - exactly one year after the announcement of the project on Well, that would be nice.

I'll keep you updated!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Welcome to the Wacomworld!

A few weeks ago I received a phone call from an  acquaintance at Wacom Europe. They needed an image for a product flyer for the Intuos 4 graphic tablet series and they needed it fast. Like "in fifteen minutes" fast.  From work I called my wife and explained her how to upload one of my illustrations to a server and the file arrived just in time.
A few weeks later I got a surprising email in which I was informed that the illustration was so well received that it now would be used in a big digital content creation marketing campaign. "Welcome to the Wormworld" is now featured in magazine and web ads and on the Wacom Europe website.

I'm really happy with the result. With it's dark borders and the sparkling colors in the center, the artwork nicely fits the dark design of the Intuos 4 graphic tablets and the new Cintiq 21UX.

To put this into perspective I have to say that I'm a long time partner of Wacom Europe. Our collaboration started in 2004, when I contacted the Wacom Europe marketing out of the blue and asked if they would like to support our german digital art web community at They liked the idea and since then are generous sponsors of our website and community conventions. Since last year I'm an official "Wacom Evangelist" which basically means that I'm promoting Wacom hardware and it's use and that I give input on new developments. Wacom Europe has gathered a colorful group of creative individuals for their evangelist programm. You can get some insight into the programm on the Wacom Evangelists Blog.

We had a holiday yesterday and today I'm also off from work so I'll make some good progress on the graphic novel. Milestone 2 is approaching and I'm planning to post some panel artwork in the next update.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

First Milestone reached!

Today I have officially reached the first milestone of the first chapter final artwork creation process. I have created (slightly over) 20% of the final art, measured by lenght. After reaching the end of a section I created this milestone plan to review my progress and to estimate the time I'll need to finish the whole thing.

I spent 24 hours on the artwork that now is implemented into the layout. However, I also spent close to 13 hours on artwork that I discarted completely. Like I've already written in an older post, I had some problems to find the visual style that I was looking for. I guess that I have overcome these problems now and that I can calculate with the 24 hours for the rest of the artwork. That would mean another 100 hours of work in front of me. Given the fact that in the first 4 months of this year I have managed to work 187 hours on my private projects, which makes 46 hours a month, I can estimate to finish the first chapter somewhere in July. I'm concentrating on the graphic novel but still have some other stuff to do so that will be end of July, perhaps August. That would be cool. After finishing the first chapter I'll also have to build the Wormworld Saga homepage, which should take a month or so, and then the adventure can begin. Well, we'll see how accurate this estimation is. Life can't be calculated and who knows all the pitfalls along the path?

Thinking in these timeframes is challenging sometimes. I often think about how fast I could be if only I could work fulltime on the project. Right at the moment I spend 10 hours a day at the job to be able to work 2 hours a day on the project. If I could spend 8 hours a day on the graphic novel I could finish the chapter in 15 days. That's three weeks with free (!) weekends. But thoughts like these lead to nowhere so I just keep on working. The milestone chart is a great motivation. I'm actually getting somewhere and I'm really looking forward to share my first chapter with all of you as soon as it is ready.

In the meantime I have some character artwork for you. Here you see Jonas' teacher Mrs. Rubens:

And of course I had to figure out how Jonas looks in everyday life when he's not wearing his adventure outfit. I had the idea to give him a Captain Orion T-Shirt. I figured out that this might be a movie in Jonas' world that boys like him would be a fan of. :)

Ok, back to work!

Monday, April 26, 2010

First "wormsealed" artwork

I'm not drawing a lot on paper. All the drawing for my artwork and the graphic novel is done in Photoshop on an Intuos4 graphic tablet from Wacom. But now and then I pick up good old Mr. Pencil and do a little sketch. This time I created a little gift for someone who ordered his second digital print from me and who had to wait over a week for his order to be processed because I overlooked a notice from Paypal. It's not always easy to do this stuff all on my own and mistakes can happen. On the other hand, that way I have the possibility to connect more closely to the people who support my artwork. I hope that he enjoys his custom drawing and that it makes up for the delay. He's the first one to receive an artwork that features the original Wormseal stamp!

I'm still busy with the graphic novel. I'll  post a milestone update this week!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Panel artwork sneak preview and Wormseal stamp

I'm back from a ZBrush workshop I gave at the Media Design Hochschule in Düsseldorf and I guess it's about time for an update. I had a real struggle with my first panel artwork. I was trying too hard to be especially smart with my painting and totally screwed up. Although I had chosen a technique that should speed things up, I was slow and although I tried to be flexible by using a lot of layers in Photoshop I never arrived at the right result. I discarted a lot of work in the last weeks and started to get really nervous. The worst thing was, that my first painting sessions wheren't fun at all. They felt like work. I tried to figure out what exactly my problem was and again tricked myself by coming up with all sorts of smart reasons why my work didn't turn out right. Before I went on my workshop, I was really lost.

It's always helpful to get out when you're stuck with a problem. The workshop lasted for three days and I lived in a hotel during that time and my daily routine was completely changed. I got distracted from all the theories about my painting problems in my head and finally had my breakthrough when I started painting without worrying too much about the result. I was in a hotel room and couldn't expect a perfect result anyway, right? I used a minimum of layers, worked completely unstructured and relied on my gut feeling. The result turned out satisfying and, most importantly, was fun. I think I'll be able to relax about the whole thing now and just paint my graphic novel. I don't know why things that should be so easy turn out to be so hard sometimes. It's all in the head. We shouldn't use our heads too much when it comes to certain things, I guess.

Here's a first sneak preview from my first panel artwork. I don't want to show too much before the first chapter is released and therefore it's only a small fragment:

And there's another thing to show you! Two weeks ago I received an item that I had ordered over the internet:

It's a stamp of the Wormseal! It is 6 centimeters in diameter and produces a very detailed, forgery-safe mark which looks especially cool in red color. I'm planning to offer a wide range of low priced digital prints of selected panel artwork from the Wormworld Saga online graphic novel as soon as the first chapter is released. Every print will be hand signed and marked with the Wormseal stamp in order to create a unique collector's item for everyone who wants to support my project. I'm really looking forward to making these available to you.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

There's no way around!

All right, I was hoping that after finishing my teaser artwork for the magnificent mystery project I would instantly be able to update the blog with all the glorious details. Well, it looks like we'll have to wait just a bit longer until an official press release is ready and so I'm updating the blog with some news on the Wormworld Saga online graphic novel.

Well, I have to start it now.

There is no other task in the way, no obligation that's holding me back (well, I could do the taxes...) I now have time to do the final artwork of the online graphic novel. The layout is ready and I've gotten very positive feedback from test readers over the last two months. I even have a professional translator checking my writing and all I have to do now is to paint it. And it's really damn hard to just start!

I made a first move yesterday and made some decisions concerning the dimensions of the final artwork. The online graphic novel will be displayed much like the online exhibitions on my website. It will be 1024 pixels wide (centered in the browser window) and the layout was painted directly in this size. For the final artwork I'm going to work in three times the final resolution which means that the panels will be painted in 3072 pixels width. The decision in which size to work is an important one and I'm pondering on this questions for some days now. A too high resolution creates too much space that wants to be filled with detail. On the other hand, a resolution too small doesn't hold the detail when it is needed. First I thought, double resolution would be ok but my plan is to offer prints of the panel artwork and therefore I changed my mind towards tripple resolution. On a sidenote: the online graphic novel will perfectly fit the size of Apple's iPad (which runs a resolution of 1024x768) in landscape mode. I'm vaguely thinking about the possibilities of creating an app for the iPad which could feature extra content and which people could purchase to support my project. Well, but in any case the iPad will be a great device to read the online version of the Wormworld Saga OGN.

Well, now that this is decided, I can start.


... and then I have made a small but important change to my story development wall:

In earlier posts you can see that I had arranged the post its in a timeline fashion. At some point I felt uncomfortable with this arrangement because it made it very hard to change the number of post its of a given chapter. Now that I have arranged the post its from top to down it feels a lot better. This way it's very easy to add new content or notes to a chapter and I also realized that now the chapters on the wall resemble the final graphic novel which is also a vertical format.

Ok, now ... where was I?

Oh, right. I actually have to create the graphic novel. Well, if there's no way around it...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Finished sculpting

Finally I've finished the concept sculptings of my main character. It took me quite some time to arrive at this point but I'm happy that I've invested that time (close to 15 hours, for those who care about the figures). I really love sculpting and it is a great way to get to know a character. As you can see, I have created a full body figure. I really wanted to get the full picture here.

So, please let me introduce you to Jonas Berg

Also, I created a set of emotional states. That was especially fun to do.

And it was the moment, when the character really started "speaking" to me. The character lived in my head for quite some time now. But his picture was blured and whenever I sketched him he turned out a different character.

It's a strange feeling to dismiss all these possibilities and to commit to a "face". But now that it's there I'm able to connect much more directly to the character. He's there, he's real. He asks me questions and challenges me to send him on his adventure. Somehow I now feel responsible for him.

And it'll make a hell of an action figure, won't it?  ;)

Next on my schedule is a teaser artwork for ... well, a not yet to be revealed project. But soon the curtain will be raised and I'm really excited about it!

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!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

"Ouch!" or "Then it's writing instead!"

These are the tendons of your shoulder. Notice the bunch of small tendons that connect the clavicle with the shoulder blade via the acromion and the coracoid process.

At least they DO connect the clavicle with the shoulder blade if you DO NOT try to ride your bike on icy ground. If you DO ride your bike on icy ground you will slip in a turn, fall on your right shoulder and the little guys get ripped, turning your right arm mostly useless for over a week. And that's most likely the point where you'll discover how much drawing and painting with your left arm sucks.

Well, I'll have to wait a week or two until I can continue to work on the artwork for the graphic novel. I'm also not going to work and I'm going to try to use at least a bit of the free time to make some progress with my story. Typing with only your left hand is slow but it works. And if I'm thinking about it, perhaps right now is a really good time to do some writing anyway. I'm still at the point where I have to find out how exactly I'm going to flesh out my story.

I really have to thank all the great people on the internet who provide us with their thoughts and experiences about their own projects. For the last few month I was roaming several blogs and forums and tried to get an overview over the complex thing that creating a graphic novel is. I've started to create a link list on the right menue strip but I also want to expressly point you to my favorite findings. Nate Simpson does an epic job over at Project Waldo. It's well worth to read his blog archives which are full of honest and meaningful posts in which many times I found my own doubts and questions expressed. I also recommend Kazu Kibuishi's Boltcity Blog. He's a real pro with several graphic novels on the shelves and he does not only share his experiences with his Amulet graphic novel but also writes a lot about storytelling and writing. And only a few days ago I discovered Jason Brubaker's reMIND Blog and instantly loved it. Jason also loves to share his experiences and although the current incarnation of his blog is only a few month old there's already a lot of information about workflows and the creative process piled up. Well, and I probably don't have to mention that their projects alone are more then a good reason to visit their blogs and enjoy the wonderful artwork.

My own quest recently lead me to the question which role writing plays in my creative process. For the first chapter I hadn't written anything in advance. The scenes just came naturally to me and I wrote the dialog directly into the layout. However, I currrently don't have the feeling that the dialog suffered from that workflow. That's the thing I would expect from that kind of workflow: that the story tends to be told visually and that the dialog feels arbitrary. I think that I somehow managed to avoid that but I'm not sure if this is a workflow to keep. A few days ago I transcribed the dialog of the first chapter into script form in order to be able to hand it over for proof reading and I started to see what script writing might be all about. To be honest, it has always been a big mystery to me how people are able to deduce a visual storytelling experience from a screenplay. Maybe it's the same mystery like with composers who write their music with notes. I never was able to draw the direct connection between a written page of screenplay and let's say a movie scene. Ok, sure, the actors have to say something. But hey, we have a camera here and we'll have to figure out where to point it on in the first place, don't we? Well, after bringing my first chapter into script form it suddenly began to feel less weird to work that way. It felt a bit like the other side of the same medallion. And it felt fast! Rewriting aside (I did a lot of rewriting in the chapter 1 layout, too), I might be able to do in two or three hours what took me 25 hours in the layouts (meaning that I had the character interaction of the first chapter only after having finished the complete layout. Of course a lot of these hours were consumed by the painting process). With decent panel descriptions I might even be able to do a lot less experimenting in the layouts and save time.

Well, I'm right in the middle of a learning process here and I think I will just have to try it and see what's happening. I guess it's a good idea to do some writing on the second chapter now especially since my injured shoulder keeps me from doing anything decent on the visual side anyway.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Chapter 1 layout completed

After some very busy two weeks and nearly 25 hours of work I've finally finished my first draft of the layout of chapter one of the Wormworld Saga OGN. It consists of 71 panels and will be 1024 pixels wide and 20000 (!) Pixels high. On my screen that's 5,4 meters! Or to put it in other words:

That's a whole lot of work in front of me! Creating the layout was a fantastic experience though. To be honest, I was a bit afraid of my own courage when I announced the graphic novel project. But now I'm very happy that I have finally started. Telling stories with pictures is just great and I'm feeling a bit like a movie director. I'm totally getting into the flow when I'm working on the panels. Here are some sneak peek panels from the layout for you:

As you can see, I've gotten relatively specific in the layout. Basically I have already planned the major lighting idea for each panel in tonal values. I became douptful in the middle of the process if it's worth the effort at this stage but I think this detailed layout will come in handy when I'm going to create the final art. Another advantage of the approach definitely is, that the layout already reads like a real comic and that the mood of every scene communicates quite well.

I yet have no idea how long it will take me to create the finished art for the first chapter. I'm quite intimidated by the sheer size of it. I've already thought about cutting it in half. There would be a nice opportunity right in the middle of the chapter that would make for a clean cut. On the other hand, that would leave the first chapter with a lot of exposition and little story progress. I want the first chapter to be really good and satisfying for the reader in order to raise the appetite for more. Therefore I think that I will keep the long version and just live with it.

At the moment I manage to work at least two hours every day on the project and I try to do between 8 and 12 hours at the weekend. That this doesn't quite work out I can gather from the ToDoList software I mentioned in the last post. There I have counted 35 hours of work on the graphic novel in two weeks. This little program is really helpful for keeping track of your effort. I was even able to estimate the finishing point when I was half through with the layout. As soon as I have started to create the finished art I will watch my progress closely and hope to be able to estimate the completion date of the first chapter soon.

I would love to start with the finished art for the first chapter right away but I have to do some work for another project first. That one is also very interesting and I hope to be able to make an announcement during the next few weeks.

Thanks for your interest and stay tuned!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Revision is progress!

I'm starting to get really excited about my graphic novel. I haven't enjoyed working on something so much for a long time. I have made some significant progress with the story today. I have scraped a lot of post its from the wall and replaced them with new versions.

I have completed the first of the three parts of the story and currently it's divided into 7 chapters.

That's less then I thought. Well, we will see how accurate this estimation is. The first chapter will teach me a lot of valuable lessons in this respect. I have started to draw all the panels of chapter 1 into a single photoshop file.

The idea is to draw every panel the same size and then paste them into the layout document and to stretch them there into their individual sizes. Still a lot to experiment here. I have already worked a bit on the layout file and my experience up to this point is, that this method works quite well with pure action sequences but not so good with dialog. The reason is, that I often have to insert panels in order to get the right amount of space for the dialog. I guess, I will have to work out the dialog directly in the layout document.

Probably it would be a good idea to work out the whole story in thumbnails first before I start to create the final artwork. At least that's the way the pros seem to do it. However, I'm really curious how much time the different parts of the process take and therefore I've decided to finalize the complete first chapter just to get an idea, how time consuming the whole project might become. To track the time on the different tasks I installed a cool little freeware tool called ToDoList. It's very helpful for counting the time which is spend on different tasks. You can configure the features to your needs. I'm only using the time counting feature at the moment but you can also set deadlines and document your progress on different tasks in percent and much more.

I hope to be able to show you some artwork soon. I sure will have to avoid spoilers here, but there are a lot of characters and location designs to create. So, even if I cannot show you final layouts I should have at least something for you to look at.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

'The Wormworld Saga' Online Graphic Novel

Welcome everybody in 2010!

This year is going to be absolutely crazy. My biggest personal challenge will be to create an online graphic novel out of a story that I'm working on for quite some time now. Inside my head 'The Wormworld Saga' is just fantastic, I tell you. Unfortunately, that's something you won't believe me until you have seen it for your own. That puts me into the uncomfortable position of the one who has to get all the stuff OUT of his head and fashion it into a form that's hopefully as fantastic as the stuff INSIDE his head. I have no idea if that will work. Honestly! I guess, we will just have to find out.

On my website I've already summed up what has lead me to the decision to create an online graphic novel in the first place (please follow the link in the paragraph above if you're interested). On this blog from now on I want to document the steps that I'm taking on my way. I'm going to write about the creative process, the planning, sketching and painting of the graphic novel but also about other related stuff like promotion and marketing. I'm doing this for the first time so prepare yourself for beholding a good portion of trial and error here. Of course, your feedback is very much appreciated. So, please don't hesitate to tell me just anything that comes to your minds along the way!

In this first post I want to show you some of my first steps in the production of the graphic novel. The first thing is my trusty notebook, which I started in 2005:

By the time I started this notebook the story was still very rough and I had just began to collect ideas to flesh out the first framework. There is a lot of rejected stuff in these pages and it is quite interesting to revisit my notes and to see how things have evolved over the years. I filled this notebook to the last page and it spans from 2005 to May 2008. I started a new notebook but I somehow have the feeling that when the first notebook was full, I arrived at a point were taking notes did not feel like the right instrument anymore. The framework was layed out and I had to take the next step. Well, I did not really know what to do with the material back then and therefore I started to do writing experiments. I wanted to take parts of the story framework and flesh them out. I was not really happy with the results. However, now that I know that I'm going to do a graphic novel I need an instrument to develop the story further and to bring it into a form that can serve as a base from which I can then create the sequential art. Right at the moment, this instrument is The Wall:

I have taped a long piece of packing paper to a wall near my studio and I'm covering it with post its. On the small area on the left I'm currently collecting characters and their motivations and conflicts. On the big area on the right (you are seeing only one half of the full size) I'm laying out the plot. The yellow post its carry plot items, the pink ones carry problems that need to be solved and the orange ones carry notes on ideas and themes. Right at the moment the work is quite straightforward because I'm working directly from a story synopsis for the first journey that I've already finished last year. However, I'm already discovered some points were the story has to be changed. The post its come in handy because they are easy to be replaced.

Right at the moment I'm working on the whole storyline and I'm still prepared for changes. However, the plot for the first two chapters is ready and I'm going to start on the sequential art as soon as possible. I'll keep you all up to date!