Reworking Model Sheets

August 12, 2017

Been a bit quiet post MCM, however I have been laying groundwork for my next volume behind the scenes.

One area I thought I might highlight are these reworked model sheets for Apothecary Supreme’s central duo of Greta and Burkhard.

My original concepts for the characters were done a long time ago and frankly they haven’t aged well. Burkhard in particular wasn’t initially meant to be a mainstay and thus I drew relatively limited designs with what I now consider unsympathetic features.

The bigger problem arises from the fact I simply didn’t plan out all the details or take account of how the characters would look and move from every angle. As such, volume 1 has some slightly clumsy character evolution across its pages as I explored the designs and found looks that worked. Here, I’ve tried to stay reasonably close to the original look for the characters so they don’t appear too alien in issue two, but simultaneously ironed out inconsistencies and moved towards a more attractive aesthetic rather than the ‘figure it out later’ approach I of issue 1.

To emphasise the difference, I’ve included my original early concepts from years ago (below) to draw attention to what’s changed and what’s stayed the same with these designs. For the most part, I think the improvement is massive and at the very least boasts greater consistency across the various angles. Not to mention; Burkhard’s expressions don’t just include snooty and condescending…

As usual finding time for the comic between the day job is an uphill battle, but the pieces are falling into place nicely for issue 2. All being well my next meaningful update should be soon.


Sasaki Redux

December 20, 2011

Well here you have it, Sasaki has literally become a ‘cyberpunk’. Continuing the direction I’ve been exploring in recent posts, this time around I’ve toned down the slobish aspects and tried to create something more distinct and vibrant, incorporating some of the cyberfashion I looked at last time for a stronger design.

The influence should be pretty evident from areas such as the cowl, straps and leggings, being taken from my previous research images or ones like them. I received a sizable criticism recently about making my characters overly functional in appearance, so here I tried to inject a little more fun into her look, reflecting what is largely a fun character. While being an agoraphobic oddball, Sasaki was also intended as an antidote to the largely serious, angsty cast; a slightly comical addition included to offset the inevitable misery and balance things out.

To summarise the problems with the old concepts: there’s a difference between a character who’s lazy and a lazy design.

The original concept was simultaneously bland and overly complicated, lacking a sense of coordination to the look. The VR helmet on the one hand had far too much going on, appearing bulky and impractical, especially by sci-fi standards. Areas such as the jumper and legs meanwhile lacked much in the way of distinctive features, resulting in an impression that’s both frustrating and forgettable to the casual reader. I’d intended her to look a bit of a mess, but the result is an artistic rather than intentional one.

The biggest change I’ve made is reducing the helmet to an implanted set of cyborg eyes. I’ve kept the spider-like arrangement but in retrospect it seemed strange I didn’t fit them into my cyborg scenario on a character who already has ‘modifications’ and never removes it throughout the script. The four cables running into the back of the hands have also notably been reduced to one, simpler but far more striking as a result.

I purposefully included colour in this design too as it struck me as an important aspect of the ‘cyber’ look. It falls into the orange/blue scheme that I’ve been using for much of the comic, though I’ve gone for a brighter look than usual to emphasise an exaggerated personality; there are still sharp blues representing the mechanical element encroaching on humanity but the orange sweater dominates Sasaki’s design, emphasising warmth and energy of the character. The dyed hair again draws upon the fashion influences and generally punk vibe,  but on an aesthetic level seemed a good way to make her more distinct.

As is becoming increasingly common, I drew over the basic sketch digitally for linework and colour. I process which I’m finding beneficial in some ways and problematic in others. The advantages are the ability to easily scrub out and redraw mistakes until I’m completely happy, while the final result is a lot sharper and easier to colour than my hand drawn efforts. The downside is that it can take a long time to complete art this way as the zoom tool often causes me to obsess over miniscule, barely visible details I’d never worry about in a pencil and pen drawing. Plus, spending all that time in front of a monitor can be a recipe for a killer headache. I’m enjoying the experimentation but I don’t think I’ve nailed down the definitive method just yet.

At any rate, overall I’m much, much happier with Sasaki’s new concept and while I’m not sure it will mesh perfectly with my existing pseudo 1940’s style, it’s better than sticking to a constrictive and frankly boring uniformity. I regret not being able to create a thorough multi angled study as with the original design, but with the tradeoff in time being colour and higher quality drawing I can hardly complain – as an experiment it feels like it’s been a success and what’s important now is getting back to the comic itself and applying the influence on a wider scale.


Concept: Deadly Serious

April 8, 2011

Just a little something to keep things moving here:

Despite suffering a particularly malignant ‘hands won’t draw’ day earlier this week I eventually got this small concept together. Nothing particularly new or adventurous content wise I’m afraid but it did give me an opportunity to experiment with my colouring technique a little more and to consider Scratch’s general look without the coat on.

In my recent concepts I’d been reliant on layers of colour filters and brush strokes, here however I made stronger use of the dodge and burn tools to create highlights and shadow resulting in an altogether different appearance to the character. As before I can’t shake the feeling it came out a little too bright, but I’m otherwise pleased how the colour scheme fits together with the sharp blues playing off the more muted greys and browns in a distinct arrangement.

And yes, I finally succumbed to the cliché and included a gun in a concept. Forgive me D:


Concept: Nightmares in Neon

March 8, 2011

Having some free time today I felt like experimenting a bit, this being the result:

Antagonist Baby Face in a suitably menacing pose. What's in the case? You'll have to wait and see...

Again it seemed a cold mood was in order so I used a similarly restricted palette of blues to my previous concept of Scratch but placed all the focus on the character – Baby Face – and removed scenery altogether going for a super abstract silhouette. Having recently read Frank Miller’s Sin City: The Hard Goodbye I suppose this started out as an attempt to emulate him to some degree, however I was also considering the dark suited villains of classic Noir and the way their presence would be emphasised through high contrast lighting and threatening shadows.

I added the highlights around his figure via computer on a whim as it appeared a little too stark against the coloured background with just a pure black outline – perhaps not an entirely successful effect but one which adds a greater sense of atmosphere and menace I think. Additionally I’ve included the basic black & white version below for comparison. Note the walls and slightly different arm/body shape, changed for the better I felt but then I quite like the original’s simplicity in some ways.

Original hand drawn version of 'Nightmares in Neon'

Which do you folks prefer?


Concept: Baby Face redux

March 4, 2011

Of all my concept work the previous design for one of my villains ‘Baby Face’ received some of the harshest criticism, specifically in relation to the clothing. Even I’ve got to admit that in retrospect it was a terrible drawing, both in terms of the idea and its execution. Keeping what worked (the head) I decided to ditch the silly army-meets-Halloween vibe of the previous design and attempt to integrate the noir aesthetic I’ve been exploring more thoroughly, hopefully creating a shared style and set of influences amongst characters.

Generally I was thinking of Orson Welles’ in The Third Man when I was drawing it and how his dark suit in the role of Harry Lime gave the character a sort of ominous presence during daylight, while allowing him to disappear into the shadows during darkness. It perhaps makes the name connection with infamous bank robber ‘Baby Face Nelson’ more apparent too thanks to the fashion resembling that of his era. I’m also particularly pleased with how the old and new sensibilities mesh, the outlandish Cyclops’ eye and blank face lurking beneath the shadow of a trilby, not immediately apparent until you get closer keeping firmly in line with the cyberpunk tradition (yes again) of putting a strange spin on the familiar.

Admittedly having a villain in a dark suit is somewhat clichéd, but this isn’t necessarily for the worse; Baby Face is a henchman, someone doing the nasty work for the one who’s really pulling the strings. Being stereotypically monstrous simply furthers misdirection in the plot and all being well will stop readers guessing the ending and the true villain of the piece so easily.

So please, forget I said anything ;)