Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Alpha - Character development

I've finally decided to let the wolves alone and get cracking on developing my Native American characters
. I have already introduced you to the Alpha's wolf form, but here he is looking more human. I shall be sort of casting my characters, choosing real actors who I feel best embody the appearance of my character and using photos and screen shots of them for reference. This way I can approach my characters with a more informed vision. Just like how I've drawn wolves and landscapes with research into the real thing, I must also do the same for my characters.
Don't expect perfect portraits of these actors, I shall only be picking out defining features and making them my own character. In fact, comic book artist; Rags Morales uses this idea of casting characters too!

Anyway, the actor I have cast for the Alpha is Willem DaFoe, hopefully it isn't too obvious. I'm also toying with names for him, one possibility is Helushka, which is a Native American Winnebago name, meaning "fighter".

The next item in the works is an inked up head shot to be coloured in Photoshop.
Watch this space!

Friday, 26 March 2010


Let me introduce you to the Alpha of the Tribe.
The Alpha is not the Chief, he is rather the Chief's General; commander of the warriors. In this image I was going for a rather stormy and bleak feel about the landscape that is reminiscent of Newfoundland.
Now, let me explain a little about the workings of my Native American Tribe.
First off, there is the Chief, and like any good Chief he leads the entire tribe. Then there are 4 Elders; holy men/women, who are in tune with the spirit of the elements (I'll explain more about these guys when I get round to drawing them). And of course ordinary citizens; men, women and children...
Then there are the hunter/warriors of the Tribe. These are people who by wearing the skin of wolves have learnt to channel the spirit of the animal and turn into a wolf. This enhances their effectiveness in tracking and killing prey, and gives them greater strength and skill in fighting. Through generations of performing this ritual the "wolf spirit" has become one with the members of the bloodline, thereby enabling the hunter/warriors to change into a wolf at will. The pack of hunter/warriors has a very wolf like structure with the Alpha warrior leading them, followed by the Beta second in command.
The Beta trains new generations and takes them out to hunt for food for the entire Tribe.
The Alpha However, does not hunt. He is in command of a group of "Elite warriors" within the pack, these guys are purely fighters.
Here are concepts for the Alpha in both human and wolf form. Note how the markings on his arm, chest and face match that of his wolf counterpart. The Alpha and the Elite warriors wear a Red Ochre war paint that distinguishes them from the other members of the pack. These markings are carried through into their wolf forms.

I will need to work up the concepts I have of the Alpha in human form and do some more finalised, inked up and coloured picturs, but I guess I'm still having too much fun drawing wolves!!

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Wolves of Newfoundland

Continuing from my first post, here is where I'm at now with my graphic novel. The scenario here is that this Native American Indian, in wolf form, is watching the British scouts. I've posted up the sketch, the inked drawing and the final coloured image, just so you can see the image from each stage.

The two images below I actually did before this one. Although I did them in as two separate elements; the wolves and the landscape, and them combined the two in Photoshop. However doing this made finding a specific light source confusing.. From now on I shall do them as one whole picture like this one, starting with a little thumbnail sketch to plan out the composition and the light source.

The first image is the one I did initially, although after a couple of tutorials with Chris I altered it slightly. So now the lines of the mountains in the distance are finer, and the mountains and tree line are also less saturated in colour. Also I've taken the moon off centre and made the sky a warmer purpley blue, and introduced a little more green and blue into the wolves.

Bristol Short Story Prize Book Cover

So, it was the deadline for the Bristol Short Story Prize today. I'm pleased with my final entries, but their up against some pretty stiff competition!! The other entries were all so good, really top notch!
We'll see in a month or so who they finally go for!
Till then, good luck to everyone in the 3rd year who entered!! :D

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

The new kid on the Blog...

Hey everyone!
It's hard to know where to start, I feel like I've found a diary and have to leave the first few months blank and start in the middle!
I guess that's what I'll do then.. I'll start from where I'm at and what I'm working on now, after all anyone who wants to see any earlier work can view it all on my facebook page!
I will however just in this first post give a sort of re-cap of what projects I'm working on at the moment and post up a few images that have lead to where I am now.

So, what is the project in question?

I am working on developing a visual style for a graphic novel. The story is of my own creation; an idea that as been rattling around in my head since 2006! I hope for the final outcome to be able to produce a few pages of the comic, if not the entire thing!
My comic has a slightly complex storyline, so I won't bore you with the details. In a nutshell it is a story about a conflict between a Native American tribe whose warriors have the ability to turn into wolves to enhance their strength and skill in battle, and English settlers who invade their land. It is set in the late 1700's in Newfoundland, during the time of the British colonization of the Americas.
To develop my own visual language I started by reading a story of a similar genre; Frankenstein. From this starting point I discovered Illustrator Bernie Wrightson, my new hero!
I started by taking some of his illustrations into Photoshop and applying colour to them in a fashion I thought suited the genre and could be then applied to my own imagery. Here I've posted up the original black and white line drawings next to the ones I have added colour to, so you can compare the two.

Now I had a method of colouring down I needed to start drawing!

As a kinda tester I did this image, there was no real preparation for it, just me having a go at drawing British Soldiers, Wolves and colouring them using the method I'd practiced on Writghtson's illustrations. But after doing it it became clear I needed to find a line language for my wolves.

So after extensive research and many pages of drawings I started to produce these:

What I'm working on now is putting these wolves into context, figuring out a line language for landscapes and colour palettes that work with the over all effect I'm trying to achieve. Also I'm starting to get into designing the characters of my comic.

And that pretty much brings you up to speed with everything that is to come!