I started a Dragon Age 2 fan art about a year ago. I liked the sketch so much I didn't advance on it -- then a Dragon Age poster competition came out, and then Inquisition and well. I think I'm done playing DAI for the moment, so I switched my focus back to this as a fun side-project to pick up new techniques and as something to work on outside of my own comic projects.
It's fun and I look forward to dabbling with it every day. I paint a character a day and sometimes dabble on the ones I had finished (or like Hawke, who is a giant focus, was partially painted on the same day as Fenris). I had a great reference for Varric, and was able to do his face shadowing pretty well. I have been left to my own devices on everyone else's shadowing … with varying rates of success. I am learning a lot through this, and will start up another fan art to pick away at daily. Probably Mass Effect. I recently fell in love with it.
Anyway, I chose to add a custom Hawke and Bethany to honour my own playthroughs. I am not making this to sell or print, and I think that takes a lot of stress off of my shoulders and gives me the room to learn and try new things while paying my respects to one of my favourite games.
Today I worked on Bethany.
Turns out the poster contest came with a kit, which I'd somehow missed on my first visit to the site. I decided to use the images provided as a challenge to see what I could create. I did a lot of moving things around. The first image, below right, was based on the initial concept I had of a poster when I thought I would have to draw it. The second was just to try something new. At that point I was convinced poster1 was it. Good thing I did some more. They just got better! While my poster did not make the final cut, I did enjoy it. The process was fun and strangely relaxing. By the last poster I had decided to break away from centering everything and I'd tried out several filters, background, and effects along the way. I voted on my favorites on the Dragonage facebook.
Just a quick update! Here's the fully lined second draft of the DA2 fan art. It's getting harder to see the details very clearly with the references I have, and my internet went down halfway through doing this. I will likely stylize and embellish as I do the final lines, though I do see some problems that go beyond costuming! Anders' arm is weird. Bethany looks spacy. And I cannot get Sebastian to look like he is supposed to.... All in good time though.
As usual, been keeping up with the comic, and have laid out a document in InDesign to estimate how many pages and chapters will be included in the first Spidersilk volume, as well as trying to figure out what bonus content will be included.
I found some more detailed reference pictures and though it is still somewhat difficult to see what's really going on with some of the armor, I forged ahead. It does seem to be getting that movie poster feel I was going for! Excellent.
I will fill in the details of the remaining four characters. Thankfully I have drawn Aveline before so her armor is a bit less daunting.
Well, I am finally doing a big group fan art! You might've noticed I don't do fan art much, or when I do, it's in the form of design challenges, where I design alternate looks and armors for characters.
What happens is that playing games spurs me into action for my own work. I play through a game one or two times before that sets in -- at first completing the game is more interesting to me. But I replay games several times, so during those replays of Dragon Age (for example) I get weirdly motivated to work on my comic. (It is also one of the three games that inspired me to work on a new fantasy comic, but that's another story.) When a game has a story that good, with characters that compelling (some that you love, some that you want to punch through a wall), it just makes me want to work really hard on my own work and hope that my readers are connecting with my story, world, and characters like I connected with Dragon Age and other games. Since that love is kind of intangible, I decided I should try and show it through fan art. I'm treating them as though they might appear in my comic. No small feat, but that's the charm of fan art! You get to see your work in another's style, and I was missing that, often trying to replicate exactly what I was seeing. Not this time. Behold! Dragon Age characters as if they were to appear in Spidersilk.
Note: Below is the second sketch. I am not using default Hawke, I am using my first Hawke. Composition may change slightly yet. Some weapon placements will move. One more character will be added in the blank space in front, but I was unable to study her garment closely in the game. Next, lining!
In other news, the mage hats from the previous post (a design challenge), are getting a lot of commentary and votes -- much more than round 1! It's exciting to see, and I will be working on round 3, using critique and votes, when able.
Below are the mage hats from Round 1. To refresh your memory, this is a challenge I decided on since it seems so many Dragon Age fans are unhappy with the mage hats. I have a sneaking suspicion the artists just decided to run with goofy mage hats at some point, since the ones in upcoming Inquisition are just fabulously over the top (from what I can tell). Although the hood seems to be the favored mage gear, I initially went with magic and ritualism as it has existed throughout history -- the idea that certain plants, animals, or even colors hold properties or symbolize protection, strength, etc.
Here are the hats from Round 1.
I asked friends, many of them artists and designers, and fans of games, to vote and comment on the hats. Non-gamers tended to favor the aesthetics of the green hat with the horns, while gamers (who already had a bias towards what mage hats "should" look like) preferred instead the purple and orange hats, often citing that they looked more like the traditional mage hat (though they did seem to like mage hat 1 a lot as well).
I took the feathers from hat 2, the excess of gold adornment from all three, and the general shape of the twin gold pieces in hat 3. These were the favored elements of each hat. There are mini horns on the green hat below to honor hat 1 from round 1 since so many people had liked them (myself included)! I created three new hats, which will undergo more voting and commentary. Each hat below took 15 - 20 minutes to design and create.
Personally I think these are a lot stronger, and I imagine they'll get better. I will do at least one more round after the voting.
The Mage Hat challenge model is Morrigan, of the Dragon Age games.
It just occurred to me that I ought to make a male face to pop into the hats to see if it is as successful as some of these ideations. Next time I update on the Mage Hat design challenge, we'll see that as well!
Here are the promised (per the previous post) mage hats on the unimpressed Morrigan (of Dragon Age).
I sat down to design mage hats and was stumped. There are already a lot of colorful hoods in Dragon Age, with about half of them being a bit too goofy for me to want to wear.... So I decided to throw caution to the wind and went colorful and flamboyant to see what would happen. I often practice in extremes before I settle when working with something new.
First I attempted some speed painting for Morrigan. I don't quite have the hang of it yet, but I am now enjoying it.
Then it came to actually making the hats. I drew silhouettes first, then layered colors on top of that. As for the designs themselves, I began to think what is it that makes a mage hat a mage hat. A simple cowl or hood would probably look best for a game character, but in terms of practiced actual magic, items hold meaning, embody certain gods and goddesses or their traits (ie protection, war, archery). I thought about items people have worn in the past, sewn into clothes, to avert the evil eye, call luck, etc. Colors are also associated with certain traits, magical or not -- red with passion, aggression, etc for instance. I chose bright colors. For decoration, I decided natural items were best: antlers, pearls, feathers, gems, etc. Particular patterns, visible in the far right mage hat, might evoke some sort of magic or ritual casting.
The hats are still undergoing critiques on my social media. It seems like favor is swinging between one and two.
The first hat was done on thinking about the "Green Man," the god of the hunt, present in much of Celtic paganism. He is often depicted as wearing green and with antlers of some sort. The second was a lot simpler -- it was based on an owl. The cowl was initially a rich purple as I'd decided on bright colors, but it made the overall hat look a bit like the Shredder (TMNT). Finally the orange one quite literally has a hat brim, and was based on some of the Jaffa helmets from Stargate SG-1 (Horus guards, I believe, with the bird sort of appearance), though it's not too evident it seems.
I was struck with inexplicable inspiration in a bank parking lot the other day – mage hats. Mage hats would be my next design challenge.
I like the games that I do these challenges for, and I mostly like the appearances of characters and the world. It's more for the challenge of designing for a world I had nothing to do with.
Why mage hats? I think the mage hats have become a bit of a running joke with not only the fans, but the Dragon Age team as well. I remember listening to a podcast where some of the creators joked about making the hats better for DA2 since they had apparently received a lot of comments on the hat designs!
I started with research. I typed in “Dragon Age” and “mage hats” and was instantly rewarded with results like “Are there any mage hats that don’t look like total crap?” with entire forums devoted to how people get around the mage hats – some posters said that their mages always ended up in plate to avoid the hats, while others suggested using a very specific hat to be found from the circle or to use studded light helmets ... or nothing. The seriousness and outright helpful attitudes with which this concern was addressed was entertaining and in a weird way heart-warming. Such intense passion for helping other players’ mages not look silly! These hats are serious business.
Below is an image I found on tumblr, but the original poster seems to have deleted the initial post. However, it's still being reblogged. It has over a thousand notes on it!
So what is it about the mage hats? Though I do think they improved a lot in Dragon Age 2 (well ... mostly), fans are still having a bit of a field day. I think part of it is that mages are traditionally seen with the witch hat or some kind of hood. The concept artists apparently decided against that and have been explored other options.
So it'll be fun. Like the these designs, I will try to avoid, for the most part, the often-seen wizard, witch, mage, or magic hats. I suspect I'll find it is rather difficult, but that is the point!
Step one will be the same as with the Fenris armors design challenge. I’ll draw several items, then release them on my social media for voting and critique. After that I’ll take the winning designs and ideate some more designs.
I leave you with this not-very-impressed Morrigan, from Dragon Age: Origins, wearing the Apprentice cowl. (Source: dragonage wikia)
I generally do longer stories in a page by page fashion, and the one-shots or three to four panel comics are a bit lost on me. Still, I want to try, and chose to do this as a short comic.
I did a sketch and was not pleased. I thought about other comics of the sort I'd seen and realized my mistake. The expressions would need to be exaggerated; they needed to be very different from panel to panel for the story anyway. I'm thinking panel two will be the most fun, but without the contrast of one and three, it won't have any meaning.
I am going to go with a generic Hawke based on my playthroughs rather than the default Hawke. I'm giving him robes from Dragon Age: Origins, though because they are some of my favorites. I missed those robes in DAII.
In other news, I have another idea for yet another one of these. While I do not want these to become a series (my main comic is enough work!), I am glad to be getting these ideas as I play one of my favorite games.
Here's a sketch of panel three with a mysterious WTF floating over Varric's head. That's more of a note for me on follower expressions than it is on what will actually be said.
Aaaand inspiration has struck! I was working on comic pages all weekend and I decided I needed to take a break. I picked up on my Dragon Age playthrough (for I always have a "current" playthrough).
Something happened that was so hilarious I fell over laughing. I know I said I'd draw a normal picture, and maybe I will, but I will have to get this silly comic out of my head. Especially since I've always wanted to do a Dragon Age fan comic and never was able to!
I shall draw it tomorrow. It has to do with playing on the dialogue that can happen if you are playing as messed-up as I am -- I keep forgetting what sort of character this guy is supposed to be, and I think he may have several personalities.