Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Deltrada Cover

Just a quick update for everybody - the pitch materials are coming together excellently, with character profile pics, fully-completed pages, and some very cool mock-up issue covers to demonstrate how the comic would look sitting on a shelf in a store.

I wanted to share the progression of one of the covers with you - specifically our second issue "Deltrada" cover featuring protagonist Quinlan's battle against the blind Ermehn swordmaster, Red. While I won't go into much detail over the specifics of the scene, enough can be inferred from the cover image itself to say that in issue 2, Quinlan finally confronts the Sratha-din Ermehn threat and finds himself in his very first life-or-death fight. Because of this, we wanted the cover to capture that intensity - this isn't just some ordinary fight scene, this is the first time Quinlan's had to fight for his life, and so the cover had to capture the menace and raw power of his foe.

To start, Rachel sketched out a series of thumbnail images so we could see which scene layout we liked the most. There were four initial concepts (shown above), each one showing a different angle/tone/etc. The first sketch got Red's size and strength across well enough, but it felt a bit too crowded and the title text up top would have obscured about 99% of Red's sword. The second sketch, showing Quin from the front with Red swinging away from the camera, just felt awkward. Having Quinlan as the center of attention also put him on a higher footing than his foe - the idea behind the cover was to downplay Quin and make him seem less powerful than Red, and showing our protagonist so prominently elevated him a bit too much. The third sketch featured a similar problem - it elevated Quin a little too much, making him seem as powerful if not moreso than Red. The angle is also a little too straight-on, so we nixed that one.

The very last sketch ended up being the one we went with - it put Red front and center, sword in the air, bearing down on an evasive-looking Quin, who is shrinking back defensively. Rachel took the thumbnail and cleaned it up a little bit, sending it over in the form of the sketch to the right.

From here, Rachel was able to take the sketch and expand on it. In the script for this scene, the two characters are fighting in the pouring rain, so a lot of time was spent on Rachel's part looking into how water acts on various surfaces. There was also quite a bit of effort spent on his sword - bloodied from a previous encounter - and how said blood would be affected by the downpour.

With these directives in mind, Rachel went about creating the first pass at the cover using the appropriate page dimensions and flat colors - no rain or special effects, yet.

In general, we were both pleased with the layout of the characters, the angle of the shot, etc. Rachel also had to remind me that Red's elaborate tattoos, which give his character a lot more visual dimension, had not been added yet - so I was okay with the general absence of detail on Red's body and clothing.

A few things needed tweaking at this point, however - Quinlan's demeanor and pose being the big ones.

In the original sketch, he seemed a lot more animated, like he was actively trying to avoid the inevitable sword swing. In this first pass, he seemed a bit surprised, like he'd let his guard down a moment before. This, along with the various minor tweaks and environmental/special effect additions would be reflected in the next few passes.

In the next pass, Quinlan was altered to look more like he did in the original sketch, and the special effects were added, along with Red's tattoos. The title text was also added! The final pass is below. Enjoy!


Anonymous said...

The image links don't work.

odysseyman said...

Yeah, for some reason when you add pictures using the Blogger "add image" tool is doesn't place them in as links anymore.

Rachel / Alex said...

Turns out that the updated editor lets you maintain the link URLs even if you move the images around. Everything should work now!

Matt said...

Man that looks good! When does issue come out? (if it isn't out already)

Matt said...

soz. meant to ask "when does issue 1 come out?"

Joe said...

Haha... been behind on keeping an eye on this xD

It's looking quite well! It's interesting to hear the process of how you guys developed a cover. It comes to show you of how something great goes through phases first before it's reached a more desirable position : )

Good work so far, guys!! :D

RainCoyote said...

Holy hannah that's awesome! Rachel, why do you rock so hard? Good work, both of youz, can't wait for to read all of these!

Preston said...

Me want.

I love the way you go through all the details of your design and decisions (ok well i guess it IS a "production blog", but... X3 )