Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Making of " Kalikos Hero Quest" for the Guide to Glorantha

The Making of “The Kalikos Hero Quest”.

Final Print Version with Adjustments

Since the Guide to Glorantha is finally finished and on sale, I thought that I would post up another “making of” article to explain the process that I used to create the illustration “Kalikos Hero quest”.
As always, each commission that I am given by Jeff Richard at Moon Design is accompanied by a long and detailed document outlining the events to be depicted as well as includes many points of reference for me to consider. 

Here is the initial Art Brief:
It shows a group of heroes (and heroines) from the Lunar army walking through frozen wastes towards the edge of the Sky Dome. The stars of the Northern Sky (based on the attached Inhabitants of the sky picture) can be clearly seen.

Story: Each year, the Lunar Empire sends a band of its most talented magicians and most powerful warriors to travel beyond the edge of the world to strengthen the White Pillar God and defeat the God of Winter. They drag the Kalikos Boat with them, which brings the magic they will need to perform their heroquest.

Sky Dome: The celestial sky dome is a key part of this picture. The attached picture Inhabitants of the Sky show the position of the major constellations in the sky on New Years Day, when this picture takes place. Once we have the major constellations in place we can always add additional stars. We should be able to see a slice of the sky, from the North Horizon to the Pole Star, reaching out to the Love and War stars on the far right, and the Bagog constellation on the far left. Both the Red Moon and Orlanth's Ring are visible.

The God of the White Pillar: Glorantha's skies are a physical dome (like http://dcsymbols.com/mastersquare/mayan_cosmos.jpg), separated from the firmament by four pillars (one in each direction). The North Pillar -White Pillar -manifests as a huge, white-bearded god carrying a compass (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:God_the_Geometer.jpg) and clearly struggling to hold up his corner of the sky. Our heroquesters are approaching the edge of the world and can see the dome and White Pillar god (as a shadowly figure in white who for some reason I imagine as being a muscular white bearded man drawn by William Blake) wreathed in the Aurora Borealis. The Aurora Borealis should look as magical and fantastic as possible (http://cdn.tripwiremagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Magical-Aurora-Borealis.jpg), it represents the transition into the Outer Realms of the Otherworld.

The Icy Wastes and the God of Winter: Our heroquesters are traveling through icy wastes (http://www.world-traveller.org/images/no05-s05-002.jpg), so cold that it takes on a white-blue cast.

Above the icy wastes can be seen the God of Winter, a huge giant, dripping with ice and a frozen beard. The giant is hostile but far away. Perhaps something like this: http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m7v6ow7jQI1rbdu7po1_1280.jpg, although he is more likely to use a wintery sword (with icy winds that cut) than a club.

The Lunar HeroQuesters: We have a group of Lunar heroquesters - magicians and heroes who are entering the realm of the gods in order to strengthen the God of the White Pillar. There are at least seven of them, half are male, half are female. I have attached two pictures that give a feel for Lunar costume (plate01final and Pelorians-FINAL - here is another good reference picture http://i1163.photobucket.com/albums/q545/quicksabre/84b266a3.jpg). The Lunar heroquesters wear heavy cloaks of red or bear skins against the snow. The warriors are armored (bronze cuirasses, bronze scale, or lamellar, and with greeves on their legs) wear their shields on their back, trousers under their ornate tunics, and their leader should have a high golden helmet, similar to http://i1163.photobucket.com/albums/q545/quicksabre/84b266a3.jpg, but higher and based on this: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-0G3Wb3cmUvQ/TmRhM5iSntI/AAAAAAAAA-Q/D7oNjFTsYbI/s1600/Golden+Hat+Schifferstadt_sm.jpg

They are on horseback - their horses are laden with gear, and perhaps some are on foot, guiding their animals (http://www.suryaschool.org/images/post-images/2008/08-10-06.jpg and http://www.suryaschool.org/images/post-images/2008/08-10-06b.jpg for inspiration). At least one carries a standard like that attached as Lunar standard1.jpg, although it only has one star, not two.

The Lunars are dragging a sled behind them: the Kalikos Boat!

The Kalikos Boat: This is a reed boat (like the Egyptian reed boats - http://freepages.history.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~catshaman/15Sailors/Image4799.JPG) on top of a sled like this: http://ancientweb.org/images/explore/Finland_Ancient_Sled_Reki.gif. The sled is being dragged across the icy wastes by the Lunar horsemen.
In the center of the boat is a pillar (like this: http://www.touregypt.net/images/touregypt/si-amun13.gif - but without the Egyptian gods or winged beetle). On top of the pillar is a glowing red rock, as bright as a star. This star houses the magic the Lunar heroquesters need to perform their heroquest, and must be defended by them with their life. Without this, their quest will certainly fail. 

Rough Thumbnails.
At this stage, I sat down and brainstormed a few ideas for this composition. I deliberately keep the drawings loose with and focus primarily on composition.

Final Sketches:
Usually, I only do one of these but after discussion with Jeff and my own personal taste, I thought that I would work up these two comps to a more refined stage. As you can see, we ended up going with comp#1.

Now that I have a plan for the final illustration I begin “gathering” references and information to help me put this piece together and “fill in the blanks” for what is to be depicted. Luckily for me, this image was commissioned in January and since I live in Canada and my mom owns some horses, I did not have to go too far in order to get some relevant references. For this picture, I stood on my mom’s balcony while she walked her horse off in the distance a couple of times. This allowed me to get a pretty good approximation for the horse’s anatomy and perspective as well as some additional information for the environment.

Next I went to trusty old google Sketch up and put together a quick 3d model of the boat and riders and took a few shots of them in perspective. Sketch up can be a great tool for this kind of thing.

Lastly, my good friend Owen McManus is a 3d Guru and he whipped up a quick lighting setup to give me some more information regarding lighting and scale for the scene.

I also took some reference photos of myself posing as a struggling Northern giant/ god but we won’t be sharing those ;)

Lastly, I saved only a few process shots but at least you can get a bit of information regarding how I combined all this information into the final image.
Finished the Questers.

Blocking in the Dome.

Adding the Constellations. A lot of noodling went on in this process. I think I have 4 or 5 emails from Jeff discussing the subject and a few versions that include the Red Moon and more. This is what we ended up with.

Add the "Big Guy" and some atmosphere.

Finally we have several layers of snow effects. I really wanted to give this piece an epic " Lost in the Barrens" feeling type of snow storm. As if the weather was on the brink of turning for the better or for the worse.

Thanks for tuning in and if you find these of interest, let me know which image from the guide that you would like me to do a write up on next and I’ll see if I can’t accommodate you.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Going Painterly

Well in the never ending quest for self improvement, today I attempted a quick study with the goal of making the illustration look more painterly. Painterly can mean many things but in this instance, I wanted to push my photoshop skills and try to paint like I would with the real thing. This meant more controlled / confident brush strokes ( not so many searching marks and less CTRL Z), less concern with modeling the forms and more focus on value and edges. Not bad for a first go and I intend to do more down the road so stay tuned for more.

I've included a second version with the direct reference as comparison and yes, I did use the color picker.

Also, I tossed in a few pictures from my sketchbook. Go Green Ranger!