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.
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.
When I do fan art it is usually a copy of an image so that I can pick up ideas or techniques from the artist, or it is a redesign of someone's clothes or armor. That's one of the ways I got into comics in the first place -- as a child, I used to trace Betty and Veronica from Archie Comics and then redesign their outfits. Comics and fashion go way back for me!
I have only done illustrations of my own composition for other webcomic artists, though this hasn't happened very often. I want to try this again to challenge myself. I am going to work up some ideas for concept. Because my concept isn't that clear yet, I won't discuss it. I will say that it will be for Dragon Age.
Last, I will share some bizarre fan art I made for a friend. We make absurd fan art for each other, and this masterpiece came to mind after reading her community challenge blog with the theme of "heroic." Things quickly got silly. I secretly blame Lord of the Rings for the strange monster.
(Read her comic here, a sci-fi romance called Bio-Revelation.)
I discussed a potential fan comic mini series based in SKYRIM (by Bethesda) earlier this month in this blog. I have a few other projects on at the moment, so I had to set it aside for a couple of weeks. It's back!
After considering the illuminated manuscript look vs. comic look, I went with comic. When I reviewed my comic script, I realized it would need to have at least three panels and that I wouldn't get away with a one-shot too easily for this project. At this moment, there will be around two dozen of these comics.
Here is the template I'm working with right now.
The diary boxes (with jagged edges) will be what Farkus has written. These boxes can be of any size, and can be drawn in new places depending on balance.
The comic panels will show reality, or what has really happened. Usually Farkus' view will be very forgiving of this very unepic Dragonborn.
40 minutes, Photoshop (includes time of initial concept/ layout)