Friday, 6 December 2013
Colour ChoicesHappy Friday, folks! This week I've been continuing the battle against busy market scenes, and progress is going well! Since I just finished the flat colours for a page, I thought it'd be a good opportunity to show what a page of The Firelight Isle looks without any lighting or effects. The colour palette is chosen to entirely avoid blue, which is a sacred colour in Azulian society, and only seen on certain buildings and people.
The following is a compilation of all the swatches I use, with the addition of "Azulian Blue". The swatches are repeated three times, without lighting in the centre, with the tones I use for shadows on the right, and with the tones I use for light on the left...
Next week, I'll have finished the colours for this page, so I can compare the two stages and talk a little about how I add lighting effects.
Friday, 29 November 2013
Schedule and Progress!Hi all! This Firelight Friday, there's no new episode, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to talk about schedule so there's no confusion. After Freakangels, I'd imagine that many people expect a weekly release for The Firelight Isle, and really I'd like nothing better than to be able to do this!
However, whilst working on Freakangels, I had a flatter, a colourist an a letterer to help me, the website was built and managed by Avatar Press, and there was a full page rate to pay my wage as I worked - not to mention no writing duties whatsoever!
With The Firelight Isle, I'm handling the whole project myself, from writing to the building and maintaining of the website... plus I also have a part time job at The Phoenix Weekly Story Comic as a designer and in-house illustrator 3 days a week! Pages of The Firelight Isle take me between 1 and 3 days to finish depending on the level of complexity involved, so I'm imagining that I'll have a new episode out roughly once a month. Not ideal for a webcomic, but the best I can manage at the moment!
So, onto progress! The pages for the next episode are a mixture of difficulties. I've got some nice, easy conversational pages coming up, but there are a couple of large exterior scenes which are bound to suck up a lot of time, too! I'm starting with them, so here are a few in-progress drawings:
Whilst I'm doing this, I'm also working on a major rewrite of the second half of the story, which is currently a little unstructured and needs some tightening up. I imagine this re-write will go on for a number of months, and I hope to have some more in-depth info about it here as I go. I'm excited to share parts of the editing process as I proceed.
Finally, a few people have asked about an RSS feed for the comic. Unfortunately, right now my website doesn't have the capacity for a dedicated RSS feed (my hosting plan doesn't support databases). I'm working on migrating to a new plan and rebuilding the site in the future - this build only took me a few days and is tragically basic. However, you can subscribe to the RSS feed of this blog (links below each post). I'll be updating it each Friday with a progress report, so every time I have a new episode out you'll know. Alternatively, I'll be posting episodes of the comic on my Tumblr and Deviantart pages, and I'll be reminding my Twitter followers when there are new updates too.
See you next week!
Friday, 22 November 2013
Firelight Fridays Begin!It's finally live! The first two episodes are up and readable, and I'm elated. It's been a very long journey from the IndieGoGo campaign to here, so I just wanted to take the time to thank everyone who contributed once more - it wouldn't have happened without you!
There won't be a new episode every week - the production is just too intensive for that, but I am planning on making every Friday a Firelight Friday, with a progress report or a behind-the-scenes look at how things are coming along each Friday. Keep an eye out on the blog, and click on the Firelight Isle logo or the archive link at the top of the page to start reading! I hope you enjoy!
Friday, 30 August 2013
And production has begun!!I'm expecting many are wondering what has happened to the project after such a long wait! After a bumpy and pretty long road, the goals of the Indie Gogo campaign for The Firelight Isle have now been met! The world and characters are fully developed, the story has been plotted out and the thumbnails have been produced (and in some cases are in 3rd or 4th draft)! Looking back on the process, it hasn't been at all what I expected. Here's a snippet from the secret blog written in response to a question from a contributor to show you what I mean!
When I began the funding campaign, I imagined that the world-building and the writing would be very separate parts of the production that I would be able to share lots about in isolation. It certainly started off that way as I posted details about the culture, the clothes, the city and the planet it was set on, but as I continued writing, I began to realise that the finer aspects of the culture were so intimately tied to the storyline that it was impossible to develop one without the other. Instead of the period of environment, character and world design I imagined doing, what instead happened was an extended period of rewrites during which the plot, and my ideas about the world slowly aligned. It was a very frustrating process, because where I’d hoped to have lots of finished art to share, instead I had lots of rough drafts and quick sketches (either in text or in thumbnail form). Hence the long periods of silence during development.Despite the steep learning curve involved in writing The Firelight Isle, production of the finished pages is now underway (I just finished colouring page 8, and I'm lining page 10 right at the moment). It's going to take me a while to revamp the website in preparation for putting the project online, so in the meantime, I'll share the first page and a later section of the opening (comprising about 2 pages worth of drawing)! Hope you enjoy!
Thursday, 8 August 2013
Live Drawing DemonstrationHere's a little something to show that The Firelight Isle is live and well! I live streamed the drawing of the first page recently, and have edited down and uploaded the recording to Youtube ^_^
Tuesday, 30 July 2013
Character DesignsI've now finalised the character designs, and have a number of them to share with you! The costumes have changed quite a bit since the beginning of the project, and the style has moved towards a more stylised look. I'm excited to get drawing!
Thursday, 18 July 2013
Lessons with AnlilI've been meaning to produce a cel-shading tutorial for a while now, and finally got the chance (thanks to some new software I stumbled across) whilst working on an illustration of Anlil. Here's the tutorial (please enable captions for full instructions), and the finished illustration!
Thursday, 17 January 2013
Beta TestingThe Beta test for The Firelight Isle has now concluded and was a big success! A number of different people who donated to the Indie GoGo campaign offered to test how The Firelight Isle was reading, both in the imagined online form, and the print form, by reading the first half of the story in its current rough state!
I'm pleased to say that the feedback has been really positive, and that it's also given me a lot to think about! The thumbnail process is now moving onto a second draft, and is proving to be very challenging, but hopefully the story and world will be stronger for the extra time spent getting the flow of the story just right!
Thursday, 25 October 2012
ProgressThanks to the fantastic contributions by everyone who has supported The Firelight Isle, I'm now in a great position. I have a fully fleshed out story, fully developed thumbnails, and I've had the chance to beta-test the first half of the story with interested readers, and have received an amazingly positive response.
There's still editing work to do, but I can say with confidence that the development stage is drawing to a close, and I'm now shifting my focus onto preparing for publication.
This is an exciting, but ultimately uncreative part of the project - I'll be approaching publishers, making plans and proposals, doing the groundwork to prepare my website for the comic, and deciding on details of format and distribution. At this stage it's hard to say exactly how long this process will take, since it's not a matter of a finite amount of work. Negotiations can be a slow and unpredictable affair!
However, I've been able to do a tremendous amount of work on this comic thanks to the help of so many supporters, and I can say with confidence that I have a plan to cover every eventuality from here on out: The Firelight Isle is poised on the edge of being ready to draw, and one way or another, it will be published!
Thanks for bearing with me during a period in which the work I've been producing has been very hard to share with you. Watch this space!
Thursday, 9 August 2012
Web RibbonsI'm now well over 100 thumbnails into the project, and I've decided to start the ball rolling by scanning and formatting the first 120 of them (it took nearly a whole morning just for scanning!). I've been giving a good deal of thought to how I'll be presenting The Firelight Isle on the web, and after some deliberation, I've decided that the pages, once done, will should in two different directions. When in print, they can be arranged into a series of double-page spreads that work well together (that's how I've been thumbnailing them), but they've been drawn in such a way that they will also stack one on top of another seamlessly, and form "ribbons" (of about 10 pages at a time) that can be scrolled down from top to bottom - something that works well for webcomics. By increasing the spacing between certain panels, I'm hoping to give the webcomic its own scroll-contingent pacing, whereas the print comic will have pacing that relies on each double-page spread being absorbed at a time. This is no mean task, so I'm presenting these first "web strips" to contributors who are interested in being beta readers. Hopefully the feedback will help me streamline the finished product for both web and print. If you'd like a chance to beta-read The Firelight Isle, but didn't get a chance to contribute to the IndieGoGo campaign, I'm still accepting donations through PayPal, since every penny I raise for the project can be put to use in the production and promotion! I'll leave you with a thumbnail of the thumbnails to give you an idea what I'm intending:
Tuesday, 24 April 2012
Thumbnails away!Now that the writing process has reached a point where I have a reasonable synopsis, and visual ideas for most (if not all) the scenes in the story, it's time for the thumbnails! Since the last blog entry I've been working to get these rolling, and I've now produced a good amount. I'm estimating that the whole process (including tweaks, edits and so-on) will take me roughly 3 to 4 months, by which time I'll be ready to move onto the final stage, which will be producing finished designs, and a sample section of the comic itself. Here's a quick picture of my working area with all the thumbnails so far spread out!
There are three aides that I'm using, first a sketchbook, where I'll often very quickly scribble an extremely tiny, rough version of a thumbnail to make sure it's going to work before committing it to a larger piece of paper. I also collect notes, ideas and make brief sketches of details that the thumbnails can't capture in here. The second is the sheet of paper with coloured print and scribbles in the margin. That's a condensed synopsis with editing notes attached for quick reference. The last is my laptop with a bunch of text fleshing out the story, and more importantly, a big list of "things still do to or fix" that I address as I draw! It's a tricky and exciting process, but unfortunately not one that leads to a lot of regular material to post on the blog! Please forgive a certain amount of radio-silence while I work to get this done!
Thursday, 15 March 2012
The Story Comes Together + Sponsors.A fantastic update! Thanks to the support I received through The Indie GoGo campaign, I've been able to dedicate two weeks over the last month to editing, rearranging, polishing and fleshing out the story of The Firelight Isle. I'm really happy with how it has come together, there have been several major shifts in emphasis and a restructuring, and I'm looking forward to the next stage of development which will be thumbnailing/storyboarding. This stage will most likely include its own story edits, and I'll be using it as a tool to decide which designs to focus on.
This is only the first step in the work that the campaign money will cover, but it's perhaps the most important! The funds that were so generously donated through the Indie Gogo campaign have been set aside to use as a basic wage for any day on which I work on the project.
So far, I've spent a few days on research, a few days on admin relating to the campaign, and two weeks on writing. Some of the campaign money has inevitably had to go back into the time it took to produce the trailer and run the campaign whilst it was active, but the majority of the funds are ready and waiting for the bulk of the work, which will be thumbnailing, design and visual reseach.
I can also announce a new section of the site for the following sponsors!
Travelling Man: An independent shop located in Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester, York and online, stocking comic books, boardgames and RPGs of all kinds.
Red Garden Manga: An independent shop for the latest in manga and Letraset art products, supporter of upcoming manga artists and home of the Red Garden Artist Group.
Thought Bubble: The UK's biggest and best annual sequential art event, celebrating the medium in all its forms: everything from superheroes to independent and small press comics.
Thursday, 23 February 2012
All quiet on the internet frontA quick status update for everyone interested in the project! Following the successful funding campaign, things have gone a bit quiet on the the blog because of two things! First of all, I'm now seriously engaged in working on the Firelight Isle - as close to full time as possible. Secondly, there has been a lot of admin to get through regarding the campaign funds and the perks!
I'm currently working intensely on the writing, fleshing out the details of previously sketchy scenes, and also grappling with quite a major change to the plot which has required a lot of re-organisation. Thankfully the rearranging seems to be going quite smoothly, although to begin with it felt like picking up and untangling freshly boiled spaghetti. At the risk of being totally cryptic, the plot element I removed has been bothering me for quite some time - it has always felt a bit incongruous beside the rest of the story, and I have a feeling I was including it only because it was a straight forward way to add drama to the plot. One of those sounds-good-in-the-synopsis-but-not-in-detail moments.
Unfortunately whilst working directly on the plot and storyboarding, there isn't really much to preview on the blog that wouldn't prematurely give away story details. I'll have to make do with occasional updates to say how I'm doing in general.
Friday, 27 January 2012
Interview about The Firelight IsleI was recently asked to do an interview about The Firelight Isle on a comic news site! Here's a quick taster, and you can read the rest at the website itself.
CB) First one is easy, tells us a little about The Firelight Isle? Where did the idea come from and what is the story you want to tell with it?
PD) The Firelight Isle is a story I've been wanting to tell for a long time! I've always been a fan of fantasy, science fiction and surreal or magical storytelling, and I've always had a desire to write my own stories, so for most of my life I've had a grand writing project in mind that has gone through different incarnations (inspired by whoever my favourite authors were at the time)! When I started work as a professional artist, I began to realise just how much work is involved in creating epic, multi-volume stories and graphic novels, and so I ended up focussing on completing shorter stories. At that point, Freakangels started, and I spent 4 years working on that, during which time the hectic schedule and intense work on Warren's script taught me a lot about both writing and drawing long form stories. When Freakangels finished, I found that my desire to create a longer piece had been rekindled, and I considered it the best time to try to establish myself as a writer as well as an artist. I broke down all of my early story ideas, and mined them for inspiration, taking all sorts of fragments, and reworking them into a new piece, which became The Firelight Isle. So it's a new story with long roots!
The story I want to tell is very much a character and culture focussed piece, a fantasy that feels like it could well be taking place on some distant world that might really exist. Its themes include friendship and coming of age, along with faith and segregation. I've tried to assimilate as much information as I can on human culture in a short time so that the world it takes place in will be both familiar and surprising. It's hard to describe the plot in a movie-pitch style, since it's more of a slice-of-life style story that includes some grander elements.
CB) Can you tell us about the main characters, what their names are and why you felt they were the right choice to tell the story with?
PD) The two main characters are both the same age (around 16), and have known each other since their earliest memories, and been fast friends ever since...
Read the rest of the interview on Comic Bastards
Monday, 23 January 2012
Azul PosterQuick art update! Here's the finished image of Azul as a promo poster!
Feel free to spread it round and post it on your blogs, twitters, bookfaces and etc!!
Saturday, 21 January 2012
Animated TrailerI've been working away on an animated trailer for a good few weeks now in the hope it would be ready before the Indie GoGo campaign was over! Determined to get it finished this Friday, I ended up working till early in the morning on Saturday instead. Oh well... it's done now! Might as well spend an extra few minutes putting it up. Please pass it around and tweet about it etc! ^_^ I'm hoping it will help attract extra attention for the last two weeks of the campaign.
Sunday, 15 January 2012
Some ScreenshotsHello all! Sorry that news has been quiet on the art front over the last few weeks. I've been working on something special that I'm hoping will help to promote the campaign during its last 14 days or so! It's an animated trailer that I'm hoping to have finished within the next week, and here are some preview screen-shots to fill the gap in the meantime!
Friday, 16 December 2011
I just finished this rough image which is a design for Azul, and also an image from the opening parts of the story. It's drawn from the roof garden of Anlil's workshop and home, looking out over the centre of the market district, the palace of the Somin, and on the left, the edge of a huge open square where the residents of Azul gather for worship.
The many long banners that adorn the palace and the front of shops and homes will be coloured depending on profession and business - craftspeople and traders compete to make the most attractive displays of the their colour.
Friday, 9 December 2011
Like ClockworkAnother major element in the world of The Firelight Isle is the galaxy above which it hangs. This has been a part of the plot since the earliest incarnation of the script, and I knew that it needed to be visible in the sky during both the day and the night.
However, this arrangement was creating a few sticking points for the story, mainly because I hadn't actually worked out how it would appear, so I spent some time figuring out exactly how the local solar system is arranged!
This ended up giving me the basis for a calendar and an unusual pattern of seasons in which each year contains two summers and two winters, named the Day-Winter and Night-Winter, Morning-Summer and Evening-Summer after the part of a "turning" (their equivalent if a 24 hour period) during which the galaxy appears in the sky. This has really freed me to move on with certain parts of the story about which I was unclear, and has added some nice texture to the lives of the characters!
Good ProgressThree weeks in, and The Firelight Isle is going fantastically! There's been good progress over the last week, so this is a general update to go over it all!
Firstly, the campaign's going at good speed - 3 weeks out of 10 down, and just about 30% of the goal raised! Bang on target for now! However, I think I've just about reached the limits of my ability to reach people directly - many people who have donated have been friends or fans that I know well, so the next stage of the campaign is to help the project reach a wider audience who might be interested. I'll be looking to contact bloggers, journalists and anyone with a good reach who is interested in comics over the next week or so, so any help from people currently following the project would be welcome! I'm also working on an animated trailer that's put together using images created for the project so far. That's going well, and should be ready to post in the next few weeks.
I've got three new features to add to the campaign itself this week!
- The first is that I'm going to be starting a credits page for everyone who contributes, and there's a new $1 perk called "spark" that you can choose to qualify for this if you haven't yet donated!
- The second is that I've got a brand new perk called "sunlight", which for a minimum donation of $200 gets you a print, and a copy of the book when it's finished, plus your credit printed in the book itself! (one previous contributor who donated $200 will be offered an upgrade from their previously chosen perk)
- The third is that I'm cutting the price of the "galaxylight" perk from $1000 to $500! This perk will get you a print, a copy of the finished book with a signature and sketch, along with an original page of artwork from the comic!
Finally, a lovely thing happened regarding the research! My blog post Fabric of Fiction received a comment from a Costume Historian who recommended an incredible book called Costume Pattern and Design. It's a little hard to get and some copies are very expensive, but I managed to track down a reasonably priced one, and had it delivered a few days ago! It's a beautiful collection of colour illustrations of costumes from all around the world and all throughout history. It's going to be an invaluable resource, as I have quite a few clothes left to design for The Firelight Isle! This is the first time I've been able to use funds from the campaign directly to help the project, and it's a fantastic purchase!
Friday, 2 December 2011
Fabric of FictionSince dye and fabric are a major part of The Firelight Isle, I've tried to pay special attention to the clothing that the people of Azul wear. The following are a couple of designs that I produced after taking inspiration from clothes of various different cultures found in the Pitt Rivers Museum.
The driving idea behind the designs is to produce clothes with form and shape whilst using minimal tailoring. Each item of clothing is normally made by cutting and folding a single piece of fabric, with large toggles as the main method of securing the fabric, and thick, chorded hemming keeping the edges durable.
Friday, 25 November 2011
IndieGoGo Campaign Live!I've now launched an IndieGogo campaign to help raise funds for The Firelight Isle! Your contribution could help speed up the project immensely, and get new content out on the web faster!
Wednesday, 23 November 2011
Anthropological FantasyThe first place I went to research The Firelight Isle was Anthropology, a discipline that previously I knew very little about, but that informs the writing of one of my old favourites (Ursula Le Guin, who I'm sure everyone who knows me is sick of hearing about), and one of my new favourites (Carla Speed McNeil, whose Finder series is one of the most original and absorbing pieces of comicbook storytelling that I've ever had the pleasure to read)! If there's any company I'd love The Firelight Isle to share, they're it, so it seemed like Anthropology was the place to start.
A bit of googling later and I found this podcast of a lecture series held at Berkeley on the History of Anthropological Thought by Rosemary Joyce. It took me around a month to get through all the sessions and make notes, and I can say my mind is properly blown! I haven't had the chance to read any of the course material, but even without that context, it's a lecture series so packed full of insight and knowledge that I feel like my way of seeing the world has both crystallised and been shoved spinning at the same time.
The impression that the course gave me, solidified by the closing words of the lecturer, was that Anthropology's unique concern is that of generating knowledge about ourselves whilst understanding the perspective with which we generate knowledge about ourselves. It tries to account for the similarities we share as animals of a common species, whilst striving never to reduce or explain away the complexity, individuality and multiplicity of our histories, persons and cultures. It seems to be a discipline that is happy to admit that it's very much in progress, and that if it were ever to claim to collectively have "the answer" about humankind, there would be something unaccounted for. It's a science that has taught me there are many ways to do science, and that the job of each science is to examine and develop its own particular method in order to produce the best possible results in its field. Here are some of the notes I took on a whiteboard whilst listening (being able to pause and rewind a lecture is a pretty awesome thing):
Rather than introducing specific ideas to me, the course has instead given me a sort of philosophy of culture: a filter through which to examine the ways in which I'm going about inventing my own culture. This means that many of the things I was taking for granted whilst writing The Firelight Isle no longer feel so certain, and I've suddenly got lots more questions to prompt new elements in the story and the world. I've also now got the confidence and some of the knowledge needed to tackle some more specific Anthropological books that I've been hoping to read.
The book that I’m currently reading is Homo Hierarchicus, a theoretical piece about caste systems (something that I wanted to feature in the story), and I’m pleased to say that the lecture series has given me enough grounding to not only read it, but actually bring to bear some cultural criticism on the author’s point of view, giving me lots to think about with regards to how I was implementing the caste system in Sen and Anlil’s society. As a result I’ve now moved away from some basic ideas like having the characters refer specifically to “caste”, or having a very rigid, linear structure of hierarchy.
Whilst Homo Hierarchicus is an interesting read, it seems very detached from the culture it’s studying, and I’m hoping to move onto some ethnography (more specific accounts of living cultures) next in the hopes of finding more specific inspiration.
Thursday, 17 November 2011
The Firelight Isle BeginsHello all! This is a new blog to house information about The Firelight Isle, a new, full length graphic novel that I'm starting, intended for both the web and print. Currently it's an independent project that I'll be working on slowly in my time off, but I'm hoping to seek funding from various sources as I go to speed up the process and put as much quality into the art and writing as I possibly can!
More information about the story, creative process and funding will be up on the site within the next few weeks! For now, if you're interested in hearing more, please subscribe to the Blog's RSS Feed!
Here's the first piece of finished artwork that I produced for the project as a taster! It was intended to be a sort of "design key", with atmosphere, environment, character and theme all included. The two main characters are Anlil (with the loom) and Sen (with the spear):