Thursday, June 14, 2012

Chapter 4, Concept Art

Two weeks after the title announcement I've finished most of the concept art for Chapter 4 and this is actually the first time that I'm going to share concept art of a chapter before its release. It won't contain any spoilers though.

What I've got for you today are some impressions from Ankal Aasha of which we aready got a brief glimpse at the end of Chapter 3. This is a sketch of the towncenter:

And here are two rough color concepts in which I tried to figure out the range of colors and the general look of some of the details of that place:

I'm looking forward to the production of the final artwork of Chapter 4 because I'll be able to go completely crazy on one of my favorite subjects: sunken cities in the jungle!

Production will start next week. Before that I have to finish some rework on the preliminary version. For the first time I managed to totally screw up the writing. As always I presented the first draft to my wife. Normally she would point out a bunch of language issues but would generally like the result as a whole. This time she took a serious look at me and said "we have to work on that!". That's never a good sign. Because normally she's right. We discussed the first draft and I had to realize that I totally overloaded it with information to a point where it was just confusing to anyone else than me. So, during the late hours of the past two weeks I got back working on the prelim version while I was creating the concept art during the day. I identified a lot of stuff in my first draft that was either superfluous or that could much better be communicated at a later point in future chapters. I think that my current version is much more streamlined and I will continue to finetune it during the course of production.

Because what I'm slowly finding out is that it generally isn't a good idea to try to power through the production in a strictly linear fashion - first prelim, then concept art, then final art. This approach puts a lot of pressure into the first few weeks of production because you want to make sure that your prelim is perfect before you go on to the next step. But writing takes time because you are thinking a lot about the things you've written and it's often the case that some writing your were especially proud of sounds totally silly to you a few days later. What I actually realized is that I don't have to arrive at a final version of the prelim in order to be able to do the concept artwork. A first draft is normally enough to line out the set pieces, characters and interiours of a chapter. Additionally, doing the concept art alongside the writing can give you a lot of creative impulses for the writing. I experienced that during the last two weeks when I realized that I could make much better use of certain set pieces to illustrate the narration. You only see these things when the actual visuals lie before you. So, for the next chapter I definitely plan to change my workflow from a linear to a more paralell approach and produce the concept art and the prelim simultaniously.

I'm even thinking about going a step further. It turns out that there are certain portions of the prelim that just work straight from the first draft on while others get overworked a lot. What I'm thinking about is not to work on the final artwork in a linear top to bottom fashion as I'm used to but starting the final illlustration process on the finished parts of the prelim and keeping the other parts work in progress as long as possible. That would mean that I could work on the prelim even if I have already started the final illustration process. I would just move over to illustrating the other parts of the prelim as soon as they get finished. 

These are all exciting thoughts for me as it is all in the spirit of giving as much time as possible to the writing process in a given timeframe without hurting the other parts of the process. I'm learning a ton of things by doing this project and I think there's way for improvement in all directions.

In other news:

My layout assistant Ivan Berov has recently reached the rank of official layout wizzard by finishing what was the most complicated translation up to this date. When we started to paste the first lines of Hindi text into our layout we had to realize that we were in deep trouble. To put it in a nutshell: you are not supposed to layout Hindi text in a western version of Photoshop. The process to accomplish it anyway is so mind bending that I'm not even trying to explain it to you. You have to be a wizzard to do it. That's what Ivan is now. A wizzard! Thanks also go to Binay Kumar Pandey for his translation work and for being very patient with us constantly screwing up the review layouts for him.

I'm really happy to announce the Hindi translation of Chapter 1 today!

You may already have found the clues in Chapter 3 that hint at the fact that Indian culture is a huge inspiration for the Wormworld. "Janaka", "Jiiva", "Ankal Aasha" - these are all Sanskrit words. In Chapter 4 we will see much more of these influences and overall you will find out that the Wormworld is not inspired by medieval Europe like so many fantasy worlds but by the myths and cultures of the Asian continent. Mixed with German folklore! :)

However, I'm really loving the fact that the Wormworld Saga is translated into so many languages. The Hindi translation introduces a third row to the flags on the website so we now have seven languages to go before I dont't know anymore where to put all these flags. Well, I've already announced that I will change the navigation of the translation in the last post so no worries. I better do because we have a lot more than 7 additional translations in the pipeline...


  1. Great news, Daniel. You're a inspiring guy. I'm waiting for chapter 4. :)

  2. Sunken cities in the jungle! Along with underground cities, one of my favorites also. Can't wait. Also, I think it is wonderful that The Wormworld Saga gets translated into so many different languages.

  3. That's great. That was one of the things I was interested in was the conceptual work that goes into this story.

  4. Fusion of Asian culture with Germanic folklore sounds amazing. Will be waiting for the next chapter with a lot of excitement. How long till "shishu" arrives ? All the best.

  5. Awesome artwork once again Daniel! Ooh, that mixture of Asian and German myths and folklore sounds great! And I love jungles and ancient cities too, so I`m really looking forward to this chapter.

    It`s awesome to see the comic in so many languages! I have one piece of feedback though: you have put Dutch and Flemish up as one translation. To me it`s obvious that the translation was done by a person from Flanders. (by the way I don`t want to critic the translation or the translator at all, I hope that`s clear, I just want to point out the differences in the languages) Now every Dutch person can read Flemish (and vice versa) so no problem there. But I just wanted to point out that there are many differences in the way people in Flanders and in the Netherlands speak. (lexicon being one of them, but also in the way the sentences are made) To read this version without hearing it makes reading it harder for a Dutch person. Especially for kids I think.
    For me, I have to read slower and keep in mind that I`m not reading Dutch as we speak it here in the Netherlands.

    I would always read the English version anyway, but I don`t know how many Dutch people are reading the translation. But a little kid like Jonas would speak really differently in Dutch as we speak it here.

    Again: no offence to the translator. I`m sure you did a great job!

  6. By the way, the comments I made above are about chapter 1. Haven`t read through the translations of the other chapters.
    Anyway: if you ever want a Dutch (Netherlands) translation for chapter one, I`d be willing to help out.

    1. Thank you for the feedback. As I'm not able to judge most of the translation by myself I'm happy to get feedback about them from people that actually speak those languages.

      Chapter 1 indeed was translated into Dutch by a guy from Flanders. I was later contacted by a girl from the Netherlands who told me about the differences between those two regions and we discussed the possibility to offer two Dutch translations. However, what we did in the end is that on Chapter 2 she cooperated with the guy from Flanders and what they both tried to do was to create a translation that would work for both regions.

      So, if you have the time I'd like to ask you to have a look at Chapter 2 (and 3) and maybe you can give me some feeback about how this approach worked out.

    2. I had already looked through them after my post and the difference with the first chapter are really big. I can read chapter 2 and 3 perfectly.

      Don`t want to be disrespectful to the work the first translator put in, but f you ever need another Dutch translation for chapter 1 I`d be willing to help out.

  7. I was reading this part of your site.

    And just realized that thats why that image looked so familiar but I couldn't place it. I remember seeing that on CGsociety.

    1. Yes, the image won the second place in the "The Journey Begins" CG Challenge in 2006 and got very popular on CGSociety through this.

    2. Second place is really good in those contests. There are some fantastic artists who submit work to those things. Id be proud too. Was that painting something that started you on this path towards Wormworld or did you already have Wormworld in mind when you painted it?

    3. First fragments of the Wormworld emerged as early as 2003. But "The Journey Begins" definitely put another spin on the story by providing a protagonist. Before that it was not more than a collection of mythical backstories. If you have the chance to pick up the app you'll find a nice article about the development of the story in it. I'm also planning to publish those articles in a more common format in the future.

    4. Id love to get the app. But I have a Nook Tablet and I don't have a smart phone, just a normal cell. I don't think there is one that works for it yet. But Ill try and find a way at some point to purchase it. Unless there is a way to purchase an app for a PC. haha. :)

    5. I'm not a big fan of it but if you really want an android emulator I know that Bluestack is at least mostly functional.