Category Archives: Concept Art

Concept art for a new graphic novel

It has been about a week since I posted my concept art for the upcoming graphic novel. Thanks to all the encouraging emails and Facebook messages from friends. Response from outside the “circle of friends” has been slow. Possibly it wasn’t such a great idea to slide this out over Labor Day weekend. My rationale for getting this out so far in advance is to get some conversation going about both the project and academic paper that goes along with it. Patience is a virtue. If there was a magical formula for social networking, I suppose, everyone would be going viral, all the time. response has been 99% positive, with some reservations about my 7th character Marie. It’s difficult to explain when you haven’t read the script but one thing you need to keep in mind is that the story takes place 148 year in the future. If you think things have changed since you were in school, think about that kind of time frame. We’re looking at major upheavals in politics, religion, even the human body. We’re grappling with epic shifts in the way people look at the world and their lives, their perceptions, their lifespans, their ethics, their technology, their taboos, and their existential struggles. Even though the story falls somewhere in the sci-fi, crime thriller genre, all of this other is the swirling cultural backdrop that becomes part of the story’s texture. I think it makes a good narrative doubly fun to jump into.

Since posting I have attempted to take care of some other business, like getting ready to teach Design 251 in about 10 days, and general life stuff.

As the production schedule goes, I still have a few characters to tweak and I have been modeling away at more 22nd century props that will be part of my future design world. The next major undertaking is thumbnails for the hundred-some pages that will comprise the book.  I think this is an essential phase. (In fact, I am taking a sequential imaging class at ACCAD in the fall where storyboarding is on the docket.) Putting my people into a sequential narrative format is where the rubber meets the road. Thumbnails will provide a visual roadmap for the project, essentially telling me what I need to render, what will be in each scene and the overall flow of the story.

I hope to have this phase complete, or at least well underway by December so that I can focus on rendering the imagery.

If you have comments on the art or story, (here’s the links again:1. DeviantArt, 2. the CGSociety, 3. scottdenison.com Ultra hi-res images are on DeviantArt which is set up for big files), please join the discussion.

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Graphic novel concept art unveiled

Phase 1 of my graphic novel project is now online. The book will be titled: LIGHTSTREAM The Graphic Novel: Moment of Truth.

Here is the synopsis.

The year is 2159. One major, global government — New Asia — has engulfed most of Europe and North America. The government maintains tight control of the Lightstream — the evolved Internet — as well as rights and freedoms. Science has made it possible to manufacture life-like bionic persons. Known as synthetics, these bionics are found in all walks of life and can be virtually indistinguishable from humans.

In the former America, the largest city is New Hong Kong (also known as HK2). Here, the celebrity-son of a high-ranking government official is brutally attacked and left for dead. Police investigator Keiji-T, the latest in synthetic technology is assigned to the case. Under pressure from above, Keiji is given 24 hours to find the truth or to pin the crime on “the usual suspects”.  Though confident that his highly advanced programming has prepared him for the task, Keiji suddenly encounters conflicting instructions from a mysterious data implant.

In the next 24 hours Keiji, together with his human and synthetic counterparts, must unravel what is true and false in a world where it is difficult to tell what is real.

There you have it. Concept art is being showcased in several places. 1. DeviantArt, 2. The CGSociety, 3. scottdenison.com Ultra hi-res images are on DeviantArt which is set up for big files.

A few notes on design which you probably have gathered from my previous blog posts. I have another year of work on roughly 100 pages of CG but this is the look and feel that I will be working toward on every page. Since the entire graphic novel will be built in CG, that makes the scope of the project enormous. I have had to resort to starting with base stock models primarily for figures, clothing and and some background architecture. This is something I’ve wrestled with this for a long time but if I have to create everything myself the project will never be finished and most of these have been greatly customized and 90% of the environments, vehicles and props are all custom using Maya and Modo. The rendering is in Bryce. There is only minor retouching in Photoshop and the framing and typography are using Illustrator.

Comments welcome.

I’m taking Labor Day off. Hope you enjoy.

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Graphic novel update: 8.29.11

There is little in the way of academic thought today as I have been crunching away at my self-imposed deadline to finish my eight key characters this week. I’m happy to report that I’m running renders on the last one right now. This one is turning out to be it’s own unique challenge, as they all have been, but will probably require numerous render passes and more compositing than the others.

I’ve also decided to make DeviantArt my launching point for these characters. I thought about doing it right here but this blog is not really set up for large imagery and DevArt handles that pretty well. Plus, these are the people who really appreciate the work that goes into this so it makes sense. I’ll be adding them to scottdenison.com but in a lower res format.

Now, the question is: one a day, or all at once? I’ve created a template for the characters that links them all into the book title and supplies some basics on who they are. There will be a story synopsis to accompany the launch, but it’s going to be a year before the 500 or more panels are complete so after this, folks are just going to have to use their imagination. I’m thinking that to keep things alive until the book is finished I’ll be posting random renders, scenes, props, “diegetic prototypes”, (there, I made my academic contribution) and such. And, of course, I will keep everyone in the loop on progress.

This autumn I will be teaching Basic Design at OSU, which is a heavy 2:45 studio, three days a week. No telling, at this point, how much it will eat into my design time on the book. We’ll have to wait and see.

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My sci-fi graphic novel: more updates

Editors note: If you are arriving here for the first time, I’m a designer working on my MFA thesis is a graphic novel set in the far future, 2159. The objectives are two-fold: 1.) an exercise in epic designmanship that examines the design-culture relationship within a future narrative. Because the end result is visual, making things and and diegetic prototypes are a natural by-product.  2.) Created entirely in CG,this visually rich graphic novel will be an exciting, page-turning, thought-provoking adventure into the future.

With that behind us, I’ve made some progress on character design, to the point that I think I’m back on schedule and satisfied, (do you believe it) with the renderings, style and overall look that is developing. Five of eight characters are complete with the remaining three underway and well past the half-way point. As soon as this is completed I will be working to polish my overall story synopsis so that you guys will have something real to think about. I’m seriously toying with the idea of going on Kickstarter to get some funding. I’ve been working around the clock on this for almost a year, (with no appreciable income) writing, researching, etc. and a printed book seems to be a necessity, and that means promoting it and everything that goes with that — hence the funding.  A web comic, as I have discussed previously, might happen but only after the entire work is complete. This could be a year away.

Also on the list is a website for the book based on the title, and a video trailer. So, there is no end to what needs to get done.

Meanwhile, on my parallel path of examining the relationship of culture to design and vice versa, my designer investigations have touched on dozens of design decisions that amount to futurist predictions for the year 2159. These would include geo-political changes,  the philosophical ramifications of a techno-human future, society, religion, crime, as well as a plethora of design speculation on things like interiors and furniture, architecture, telepathy, fashion, transportation, food and cooking, weaponry, hardware, learning, and, of course, the meaning of life. All of this requires prototyping, researching and designerly thinking on the relationship of culture, the human condition, and design. Is this fun or what?

The path to that place, right now, is a matter of 3D modeling, UV texture mapping, rendering, rendering, rendering, tweaking, rendering, Photoshopping, and did I mention, rendering? Anecdotally, I was putting the finishing touches on one of my key characters and as I’m walking the image, I notice that there is this annoying shadow in the background. It reminded me of my studio days working with the great photographer, Paul Schiefer and those moments when we would be staring at the screen saying, “Where did this shadow come from?” We always had tons of lights on the set so it became a matter of switching lights on and off to find which one was the culprit. Of course, this is exactly the procedure in 3D. When I found the offending light, (set somehow to a distance of 25ft.) I ratcheted it down to about 6ft, but my next render revealed a background in darkness. Hmmm. Here’s where you depart from the photo studio world: I added a new light exactly where I needed the illumination and turned shadowing off . The result a perfectly lit background sans pesky shadow. That would have come in handy in the studio, huh Paul?

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Grinding it out – Graphic Novel update

Today: 3D tutorials. Web comics. Future of clothing. World Future Society.

Have I mentioned how I hate to learn software? It’s a young man’s game. As I remember back to the early 90’s, I taught myself 3D with programs like Strata 3D and PowerAnimator. Somehow it was easier then — software more intuitive (and less robust) — or I was just a lot younger. Anyway, I find myself having to learn certain aspects of the various software programs that are in my stable, just to move from point A to point B. Clothing is a bear. I mean really. Getting clothing to look realistic can be a nightmare. I’m a full week behind on my character designs and clothing is a big part of the issue. Nevertheless, I am grinding on. I still plan to release my eight key characters in September along with the plot line for the book. This comes with the caveat that I can change my mind at any time.

I have also toyed with the idea of launching the story in weekly form online, but have since thought better of it. I’m afraid that launching my graphic novel online before it is finished will prohibit the kind of last minute tweaks and changes that help continuity and overall polish. For example, my first spread is a fairly ambitious project in and of itself, and I am trying to capture a number of sophisticated visual effects to set the state for the whole story. But as I continue to work daily, I actually find that I’m getting better at what I do. What my first spread looks like today could look infinitely better in a year, (when I hope to be finished) if I could go back with new chops and polish it up.

Speaking of clothing… I’ve also done a lot of thinking about what people will be wearing in 150 years. Putting on my futurist hat, my design speculation is that clothing will be more technologically active than today, and a body suit will be the standard for most. It will also be possible to create your wardrobe in your closet, a scarf, a jacket, whatever on your own 3D textile printer. But most of the time you will be wearing a tight fitting body suit that is constantly monitoring your internal chemistry as well as functioning as a mediator with the outside world to provide information and protection. If you are thinking that some people will not look so good in a tight fitting body suit, that should not be a problem, since we will be long past the medical advancements required to maintain perfect body weight and muscle tone late into your first century. So there.

That brings an interesting point and why I have to keep driving toward the finish line on this as fast as I possibly can. If I take too long on design, I run the danger of never finishing. A year is a long time. My whole story vision could change if I’m not careful and over the course of a year I run the risk of hating everything I’ve done thus far. This happens, so I’m going to have to watch out for it.

On an academic note. The World Future Society is calling for essays for next year’s WorldFuture 2012: Dream. Design. Develop. Deliver. Neatly, they’ve inserted design into the theme. What could be better than that for my design fiction essay. I will probably submit. I’d love to attend.

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