CHARACTER INTRODUCTION: THE BLACKSMITH

Well its certainly been a while. Hope you all followed us on Kickstarter and our Facebook page. As we head into the summer its time to bring this blog back to life!

Lets go behind into the art development of the Blacksmith.

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We designed him originally to fill up the merchant caravan and make the place active. We wanted the people to make the setting more vibrant as an ensemble, but also interesting enough to take an episode or two on their own. Maybe even join the core team.

Blacksmith sketch

My vision for the character is that he’d be strong and imposing, but would always have a smile on his face. Potentially a love interest for Zahara, but I’m not in charge of the script so we’ll see if that goes anywhere.

blacksmith turnaround

Design wise his clothing is modern, but the bright blue floral pattern bring in a touch of traditional dress. His hammer is used in battle, but its primary purpose is in the shop. As creators we’re constantly doing research on what makes sense for our characters and what attributes from existing mythology we want to weave in.

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So thinking of Ogun, the god of iron, some more formal weapons may come his way. He should probably get a name to go with it …

-John

PROJECT 0 PAGE 3.10 – QUESTIONING…

The mood has changed

page 310 copyIt’s the kin of situation that’s awkward for everyone involved. But in a world where kids can teleport and cause mass destruction everyone must be duly interrogated.

This also comes right in the middle of Aatu and Bea’s verbal exchange which was getting rather testy a moment ago.

There’s a certain amount of lull in the air and uneasiness in the space lingering around this moment. This weeks music choice alludes to that sense a little bit. Just waiting for it to be over. Shouts to Ametsub for allow us to use some tracks on our videos.

bw 310Layout wise this one came together fairly naturally. That center panel gets to the point of space we mentioned earlier.

The room comes alive as another showcase of Lancer tech. Sliding doors. Tables that rise up from the ground, like hovering tiles (watch your footing), and the hologram of Ciro and Kareem, the wanted saboteurs. A little Star Warsian.

PROJECT 0 PAGE 3.09 – A BAD PLACE

Back to the B story. Aatu and Bea.

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Despite the fact that these guys were Owen’s throw away friends who just got captured so the Saboteurs would have something to do, we ended up making their relationship probably more complex than any other so far. They’re real favorites around here.

Best friends, dare we say middle school sweethearts, whose relationship gets strained by a bad place and a difficult situation. How do you deal with stress, when things go all the way wrong? Well two different answers. Bea’s trying to ‘set things right’ go back to how it was. Aatu is resigned, he hasn’t given up, but he’s accepted where he is and doesn’t see much room for change anymore.

Fittingly our music choice this week isn’t as cheery as some of that glitch hop we used for the Saboteur’s scene. Shout out to Minnesota for letting us use his track. And to one of my friends who put me on to this music. You know who you are.

The big yellow arrows were light source indicators. Just to keep it consistent from panel to panel.

bw 309We took out the indented panel too.

Their fight gets put on hold just as Aatu asks a gripping question. Someone’s at the door.

What’s to come for these two otherwise normal kids who have just been caught up in a world so much bigger than themselves?

PROJECT 0 PAGE 3.08: I’VE GOT A HELICOPTER

A plan of action is formed

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Owen’s no saboteur yet, but he’s already on board with this rescue operation, and is about to lend his small part in making it happen. The Flying Machine making a comeback.

This speed painting was combined with the previous week’s since we had just starter our SPIDER STORIES KICKSTARTER and things were pretty chaotic.

I love Starfish.

We went through a couple interations on the panel break down on this page too. Rarely are things perfect on the first try:

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That key panel indent which is the layout theme we mastered this time around, and debating when we should use it and when it was overkill. This time we decided to throw it in anyway.

In terms of dialogue, John really pushed for Kareem to say something about running ‘an extraction’ instead of a ‘rescue operation’ or a ‘mission’ or any other word that’d be pretty much synonymous. but connotations mean everything. Subtle word choices define the tone of a series and its characters. Overtime it becomes a writing style.

I like this page because it gets at the dynamic between Owen and Kareem, which in 0’s earliest stages was the most important relationship in the series. Their contrasting personalities, vitriolic friendship, and competitive rivalry. They both represent what the other isn’t. They’ll clash and learn from each other as the story goes on, one day in the future they could even be the best of friends.

PROJECT 0 PAGE 3.07 APPLES AND ORANGES

This is group dynamics

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Kareem is rational, Ciro is relaxed, and Owen is there.

I guess I have a penchant for food based humor. Its something every can relate to. This is the first page on the heels of our Spider Stories Kickstarter! So we apologize that it comes in a little late.

We combined its speed painting with the page after to, to great effect. Side note Savant was actually the first music confirmation we had. Shout out to the DJ for putting us on and adding a bit more flavor to these vids.

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In this early contour you notice Ciro and Kareem were initially off to the side, which maybe worked compositionally, but didn’t work for the speech balloons. Moving them to the center in the finished product made it that much easier to read. Trust us, you don’t want to see what it looked like before.

Oh and that first panel is a little shout out to one of our favorites animes growing up.  Good ol’ DBZ.

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I think it’s time we show ’em who they’re dealing with!

Spider Stories: The Big Five

The Big Five is an Alliance of Five Nations and makes up the primary setting of Spider Stories:

Spider-Nations

Each Nation takes an animal as their emblem.

The Lion – renowned for their valor and wisdom. They rule with an even hand.

The Elephant – the second in the hierarchy. Known for being industrial and progressive.

The Leopard – Conservative and independent, yet completely loyal to the Lions

The Buffalo – Known for their skill in various trades. The craftsmen. The people are simple but strong.

The Rhino – Arcane and rustic. Their proficiency in ancient medicines and magic arts are unmatched.

In the Era of Chaos the five nations battled each other, but they were brought to order by the Spirit of the Spider and have since increased in wealth and splendor.

Five Nations connected by the Spirit of the Spider. It is customary that the head of the Alliance be blessed by the Spider Spirit and capable of wielding its awesome power. However Zahara was attacked before her ascension rites were complete, and Gamba has proved incapable of the task. The status of the Spirit remains in limbo.

Fleshing out the setting of Spider came somewhere in the middle of the process. We thought the idea of having multiple houses / nations / tribes was a cool idea. You see it all the time in fantasy. The houses of Harry Potter and Game of Thrones, the Nations of Avatar, the various species in Lord of the Rings and Legend of Zelda.

avatar zelda game of thrones harry potter

The idea to use these five animals specifically as their emblems was actually inspired by the Big Five game animals in South Africa. They are often depicted in art together, and even appear on currency.

big five egg and others

We decided early on that the Lions would have to be leader and the main characters [too much Lion King growing up], and then decided that their immediate rivals would be the Elephant. It was only later we learned that folklore and fiction is often divided on whether the Lion or the Elephant is the greatest of animals and some stories are even about this rivalry.

Both have been seen as powerful and majestic by many cultures even beyond Africa’s borders. With this knowledge we decided to make it an even more important plot point.

PROJECT 0 PAGE 3.06 – ASSEMBLE!

The three heroes together at last. This is going to be the core trio for Project 0 going forward.

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Granted this isn’t a very heroic introduction. It’s just as awkward as you might imagine it to be.

Ciro, the cool, cocky oldest, Owen the goofy and amicable youngest, and Kareem the tacit middle trying not to be overwhelmed. Shouts to Blue Satellite for using his track for this week’s Zero Music.

Artistically if you watch the vid, you can see we reduced the amount of indented panels. It was a technique we used sparingly in previous chapters but really put to work in Part 3. When looking at the book as a whole we maybe overused it so we took it out of places where it either made the layout confusing, or didn’t particularly add anything meaningful in terms of flow.

bw 306It’s not there yet but there’s gonna be a lot of brotherly love soon.