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10-30-07-----Pre-Orders Open!

Well, the pencils are totally finished, and the colors are now being completed - that's it for Behind the Scenes!

Thanks for checking out the progress and concept art for Volume 2!

Pre-Orders are open now - follow the link below! There will only be 300 limited edition copies ever made, so if you want one, you should go check it out!

Thanks again to everyone who'd been keeping up with the series - I hope you enjoy Volume 2!

10-18-07-----Chapter 5 cover!

Things are rolling towards completion - the finishing date is in sight, and the Chapter covers have been made - check out the cover for Chapter 5 below!

Sparkles, monsters, and mayhem continue their final fleshing out- the book should still be finished in November, but after talking with the printing company, the actual printed books won't be ready to ship until early December.

So, to get ready for the release date, pre-orders are opening in November! More details about pre-orders in the news.

The cover for Chapter 5 - 'Pawns Dispatch'! Finishing the covers has got me really stoked about the book... I can barely wait to have the whole thing finished, in my hands, and ready to read!

...No, I wasn't popular in highschool - why do you ask?

 

 

10-5-07-----Sparkles....

Hey everyone! Sorry about the belated 'Behind the Scenes' update here - better late than never, I hope! It's just been a pretty busy week - lots of drawing and coloring, plus setting up the fanart contest, and that pesky sleep keeps on demanding attention.

Anyways, the shading continues - and it's looking good, at least to me!

Loooots of sparkling... I tell you, it's pretty, but every single little blasted sparkle has to be painted in individually. I tried using the clone tool as a quick and dirty shortcut, but then the glitter didn't conform with the shape of the snow drifts, and it looked kind of pasted on and flat. ....It's kind of like having to color Tinsel's hair. Everywhere.

I think I'm starting to kind of understand Jack Torrence from 'The Shining"...

 

 

9-19-07-----Shading in gear

Chapter 5, with the color blocking very near completion, is now in the shading stage. It's time to add the pretty! Lighting, sparkle, special effects, and chroma of every variety await.

Below is a sample of one of the first finished pages of the Chapter:

Readers of Volume 1 will recognize this setting... And, as a side note, the guard characters featured are the same who have been working in the Towers since the Namah's childhood storylines in 'Prelude', the webcomic.

 

9-5-07-----Colors progress

It's been a busy couple of weeks!

Last week updates were skipped, as David and Liz were busy getting engaged to one another. Skulls were involved. That being done with, the graphic novel, Prelude, publishing, and everything else is resuming where it left off, at full throttle!

This past weekend Dave and Liz appeared at the Mephit Fur-Meet to promote DreamKeepers books. It was a rough trip - 9 hours nonstop in a car with no air conditioning, through Tennessee in August - but it was worth it to gain some more exposure for the book. With no advertising budget, every single person we can talk to about the graphic novel is crucial to us. I know most businesses talk about it a lot in their commercials, but for us, our customers and readers really ARE the most important part of the company. Because without you guys, there wouldn't be a company. Just a really weird guy huddling in an apartment with a compulsive drawing habit.

New feature we tried out at this convention - which I am quite tickled with - we used our new treasure chest to carry the books in, as oppossed to the classy cardboard boxes we had been incorporating. I love how the treasure chest looks on the table, and it I like the symbolism of storing our books inside it. Pointless? Maybe! Fun? Yes!

With all the drawings pencilled and formatted for Chapter 5, colors are now washing through the pages. Below is one example of the color blocking as it nears completion. Meanwhile, Pencils are moving ahead on Chapter 6, and samples are over in that Behind the Scenes for any interested.

Coloring in every individual leaf may take a lot of time, but I think it's going to look really sharp in the end. This book takes the detailed backgrounds showcased in Volume 1 to a whole new level.

 

 

8-16-07-----Last Shading Tutorial bits

Hey everyone! Here are the last steps to the shading tutorial we've been doing for the Chapter 5 page. I hope it was helpful, and fun to watch!

Also this update, some more sample pencils for a crowd scene in the latter portion of the chapter, setting up some big stuff in Chapter 6. If you look through the crowd, you may notice a lot of cameos from people who got commissions, appearing as extras in the scene.

These crowd scenes take a long time to do, but I love how they come out. Well, that's it for this week - Check over in Chapter 6 Behind the Scenes, that just opened up - shading is beginning on 5, and Chapter 6 will have penciling progress to watch. Enjou!

Here I started adding the water effects. (And yes, if you notice, I couldn't resist adding a couple additional adjustment layers for some more subtle cliff shading) Anyways, here's how I got the blurry water effect, as well as the motion blurred snow - falling effect.

I flattened the entire image, and saved a copy as a JPEG - carefully NOT saving over my layered PSD file. Then, I bring in the flat JPEG into my layered PSD file. On the JPEG layer, I take a smudge tool, and use that along with some blur filters, to make things blurry and ripply and stuff. But, it looks like big smudges all over everything, because there are no borders deciding where the fuzziness starts and stops. SO, I add a layer mask to my blurred - up layer. With a layer mask, you can hide everything on a layer - except the specific portion you 'paint' into visibility. So, I just paint in with a hard edged brush where I want my blur effects to be seen, and there - the water looks murky! Still a ways to go to make it look like water, though.

The next stage, I make a new layer (or three - it takes some fiddling around...) on top of the blurry later, and I manually paint white ripples and sparkles onto the water. Be sure to make the ripples look like they're laying on a flat surface, otherwise it won't look like water, it will just look like white lines. But, with some sparkle and ripples, we have something that now looks like water!

This particular pool is very clear water, so it doesn't have much color of it's own - if the water were, say, muddy or something, less of the rock underwater would show through, and the water would be more opaque with a color tone. Fascinating, I know. Children love to listen to this on the sidewalk.

The characters are also shaded in, if you'll note - I just used an adjustment layer over the character's color layer. Not much shading to do on them in a daylight setting when they're so small.

The last step is to add in the sound effects - type in the chosen goofy word, choose a snazzy and appropriate font, and then use the 'layer styles' window to add strokes and anything else you want to the text.

Also, last notes - I stole a long shot of the city from an earlier page, and lightly laid it into the background, to give a very subtle hint of dimension and setting.

Additionally, you may notice the characters lines are no longer black - they are colored! When did that happen? Well, it's a long story. Let's get a campfire going.

The line layer is on 'multiply', recall. So you take the paintbrush tool - and set the brush mode to 'lighten'. This way it will only paint things lighter than they already are. So, you just take a color of choice, paint all over the lines you want that color, and boom. The black lines are lightened to the color you wanted, where the white in between can't get any lighter, and is untouched, and thus remains transparent. Ta-daa!

So, basically, that's how I go about shading a page. I hope everyone had fun with the tutorial, and that it comes in handy!

Here's that crowd shot from later in the chapter. Shock troopers are around, too... This is right before things start to get REALLY interesting.

 

 

8-3-07-----Chapter 5 Pencils FINISHED!

The pencils for Chapter 5 are now complete - I haven't scanned them all in yet, but boy, are they done. Check out some tiny samples below of the vast goodies that await....

Coloring is underway, and shading will begin shortly - Meanwhile, the script is ready for Chapter 6, and the pencils will be underway soon - both chapters are going into simultaneous production as Volume 2 gets closer to being complete. Tune in next 'Behind the Scenes' for the last shading touches in our tutorial.

I'm currently behind a bit on updating the fanart gallery, as well as some site maintenence, because I have been distracted by drawing. I should be on the ball by the next update, though, so no fears! None at all.

A shot from later in the chapter, where, once again, I went a bit overboard with the backgrounds....

The Indigos, displaying their infallible team spirit.

 

 

7-24-07-----Sample Page- shading!

Chapter 5 has about 3 more pages left to pencil, and then it will be completely sketched in! The coloring is moving ahead on the pages, and the script for Chapter 6 is roughed out- things are keeping on schedule for the November release so far, at the cost of sleep - but who needs sleep anyways?

Well, back to the tutorial page we were doing, as Volume 2 progress continues.... Now we get into some of the shading techniques I use in photoshop to bring the flat colors to life...

I start with the background shading first, unless the characters really predominate the layout. This makes it easier to establish what the lighting and atmosphere of the setting is, and match the character shading to it later. On the background color layer in photoshop, I create an adjustment layer (A Hue/Saturation is my favorite type to use), which makes all the colors shift darker - adjustment layers come with their own 'layer masks' already, which means I can paint in where the adjustment layer will affect the color, and where the color will remain normal. Thus, I can paint shadows in, but retain the ability to easily edit my choices, without ever destroying my original colors completely.

The shadows were roughed in on the first page, and now I go in to add more detail.... Nooks and crannies in the stone, crevasses, and other small touches work together to make shadows on a big slab of color look more like light hitting a cliffside of harsh rock.

And, of course, the snow must be sparkly... I create a new layer, above the others, to paint little dots of white onto. It's painstaking, but pretty. The layer also has a glow effect on it in the layer styles, making the sparkles look... Well, sparkly.
Remember the adjustment layers I used to create shadows on the cliffs? I make some more, but these ones change the color's hue, not the darkness. I want the cliffs to have pretty banded colors in the stone, and this is how I paint them in. I also use adjustment layers to pretty up the hot springs below - next week, I'll add the water and special effects to the scene, along with the finishing touches!

 

 

7-11-07------Anthrocon = wow!

DreamKeepers has attended it's first Anthrocon ever, and boy was it big. Incidentally, this was also the first convention we've ever had books in stock for, which was great - a lot of new people got a chance to check out the series! In addition to selling books at the AC, DreamKeepers had it's feature story premiered in the 'Furnation' magazine, and the first interview of the DreamKeepers team was conducted by the ClawCast crew at clawcast.com. (interview should be posted soon!)

So, all in all, it was a great time! People seemed to like the stickers a lot, too - the stickers will be for sale in the online store in the next week or so.

Well, now that THAT's over... Being distracted with stickers, magazine features, and conventions is done - it's time to get back down to business. Volume 2 is slated for release in November - time to get rolling!

Excessive background detail is on the way soon.... There are going to be some really fun forest scenes. I took some photo reference in the Hocking Hills valley of Ohio for this artwork - it was a real adventure being able to explore the gorge, and see the waterfalls. Here is one of the images I took when I was hiking there with Liz - the dappled sunlight in this gorge was very striking.

Although I'm still half-afraid of heights, it was well worth the sensation to get some of these fantastic views. If one is to die falling to death, you couldn't get a much more scenic plunge in the midwest. The trail going around the lip of this area ran right along the edge in many places, with no railings to spoil the view - probably not the best trail for hyperactive children.

This was my favorite of the photographs I took. It's the only one that really begins to give a sense for what it felt like to be in that valley... Even this one doesn't really do the experience any justice.

 

 

6-21-07------Stickers!

Gearing up for Anthrocon 2007 in a few weeks - We're going to unveiling that one thing that everyone needs in their life...

STICKERS! Newly designed DreamKeepers stickers! Now everyone can be happy at last.

After the con, they'll be for sale in the online store, in case anyone would like some. Here's 4 out of the 30 or 40 new designs:

I like the design on this one a lot - I'm probably going to use this illustration for something else at some point, it came out so nice... Maybe a T-shirt design or something.
Lilith bein' Lilith.
Namah being - well, let's just call it being Namah...
Bast likes fire.

 

6-6-07------Magazine feature!

Sorry for the skipped update, everyone - I was working to get a DreamKeepers story ready for a magazine deadline. There is an exclusive 10 page story of DreamKeepers being featured in the upcoming Furnation magazine, available at furplanet.com

It's quite the adventure, and features a snippet of the graphic novel storyline from a bit of the story yet to occur.

Be warned to anyone interested in purchasing, the magazine is titled 'for mature audiences only', so some of the other content may not be suitable for children, or those under 18. Below I'll put up one page from the feature, but I don't want to put up more, or else the nice operators of the magazine wouldn't have exclusivity anymore.

So, take a look at some of the artwork for the magazine! (The mag is B&W)

Meanwhile, production continues on Volume 2 - the pace took a hit while this magazine feature was in the works, but we're back up to full speed now!

 

Here's a draft of the cover for the FurNation magazine - the artwork is done by Fuzzwolf, except for the little DK characters in the crystal ball.
It was interesting taking a step out of color, and working in Black and White for a change... The only factor to adjust was the value and contrast - it was actually a fun exercise, and I think the quality of my color work will improve from the experience.
Here's some more Volume 2 artwork - Lilith tangling with a Nightmare. This is a good example of the skirt issues I was complaining about in the 4-11 update...

 

5-9-07------Sample Page - Color Blocking

The next step - Color arrives! The color is blocked in under the line layer in photoshop with the brush tool. The character color is on a separate layer from the background, so things are easier when painting the shadows later. The lines are able to show the color beneath them by switching the blending mode on the lines layer to 'multiply',

Also below, the winning commission for the caption contest person - still a couple tweaks to put on it, but I like how it looks so far, so, there it is. Enjoy!

 

Here's the page layout with the color blocked in - check it out!
Commission. Armageddon. Snow. Woopee!

 

4-24-07------Sample page - Page layout!

Here's the next step in the sample page demo - the pencil drawings are all taken in photoshop, and that is where I lay them out in the panel arrangement. There are two kinds of panel borders I use - hand drawn, and digital - the crisp, black ones are digital, but the hand draw ones can add extra impact and a sense of excitement.

The hand - drawn panel borders are just a scanned in image, and in photoshop the layer blending mode must be turned to 'multiply' - then the white becomes transparent, while the black lines show through. Then I scale and slice the accompanying panel image below to match it.

The digital borders are made by making a rectangular selection on a new layer, about the size I want. I fill this selection in with black.Then with the black area still selected, I click selection -> modify -> contract - and I contract by around 8 - 16 pixels. Then, I have a smaller selection - and I delete the black area within there. And boom - there is a black outline that is not deleted, about 8 - 16 pixels wide. Voila! A little more scaling, and it's ready to go! Look below to see how the page looks once everything has been laid in place.

 

Here's the page laid out with the panels - just another side note, the page is NOT the final print size in the computer - I leave an extra 1/8 of an inch on every side for 'bleed'. That's in case color goes right up to the edge of the page - I do that a LOT - the printer has a little wiggle room when the pages come out. Other wise, there would be little white cutoff points where the file ends showing on the borders of the page here and there, when the printer imperfections occur.
More pencils from the next book - Wisp vrs. Namah.

 

4-11-07------Sample page Pencil step

The pencils are humming along on the book - this chapter packs in a lot of excitement, so I'm having a blast making some really dynamic action poses and camera angles. Here's the next step in the 'how I make a page' series. In this step, I take my thumbnail layout - see earlier in Chapter 5 - and I just draw out the images, on regular 8.5 by 11 paper. I use a blue pencil for the under-drawing and sketches, to work out the pose without a huge mess of sketch lines - sometimes this takes a few tries. I use non-photo blue pencils, because they don't really show up on the scanner. Then, when I'm happy with the blue pencil, I go over it with a regular #2 pencil, and scan the pieces of paper in. At this stage they're separate images, uncropped, so laying out the actual page is the next step...

Here is the drawing for the first panel - I included some preliminary sketches I made, when I was trying to work out the poses I wanted - sometimes it takes a few tried to get something decent worked out...

Here's the 'money shot' for the page - it's the biggest center panel, which will have the most visual impact, and receive the most attention in layout- the other panels are designed to complement this one. I can't wait to do the shading on this one - I didn't draw the waterline in the hotsprings below them, because I want to have the water be very clear, so I'm going to brush it all in photoshop. I will make it sparkly...

 

Just a side note here. Having skirts was a bad idea for the female characters well, technically they're oversized shirts they were using as pajamas - but still. I never expected this to happen, but I'll draw the pose out, complement the action line with the tail, start drawing in the details, and... Boom, skirt issues. It seems like they're naturally designed to be inappropriately pulled up at every last opportunity. Having non-stop falling, sliding, and various other action poses doesn't help issues much - especially with the tail hitching the fabric up in the back. Now, the occasional accidental revealing pose can be endearing and cute now and then, but when it's a marathon, of incidental revelations, it starts to influence perceptions of the character, and distract from the story feel I'm going for.

So, skirts. They are trouble. Beware.

No skirt challenges in this shot - just a big splash where they land. This shot will have a lot more clarity when it's colored, I think - it's hard to tell the snow is being packed down into the background.
This isn't really on the page I'm featuring, but... It's neat! Monster! See? I like this drawing... 8 ) More on the way in a couple weeks!

 

3-28-07------Cover art, and pencils begun!

DreamKeepers is going to have some covers featuring it's art and characters - see the images below! Also, the pencils for the book are well underway - they're looking dynamic so far, the action scenes should come out pretty awesome! Nothing scanned in yet, just hang tight - it's on the way!

The upcoming issue of Furzine, put out by FurPlanet, will feature some of the DreamKeepers incorporated into the cover art - (as well as an exclusive 10 page BW DreamKeepers comic). Click left to see!
The Prelude webcomic is going to be displayed on razorsharpcomic's pending website, in addition to it's home here at dreamkeeperscomic.com. This is some cover art I made for the site - also, this pic is being used for the caption contest going on right now - see the home page for the link!
Chapter 4 cover art - take a sneak peak!

 

3-14-07------Behind the Scenes - Chapter 5!

Hey everyone, welcome to Behind the Scenes for Chapter 5, halfway point of Volume 2!

The script is finished - and this chapter packs in more action and thrills than anything yet seen in DreamKeepers! See the main characters in their most dangerous situation yet, and even see a few new faces on the sidelines - below are some character designs and sketches.

Also, for the first time, I'll be going through the process of making a finished DreamKeepers page, from layout to completion! Below is the first step, the thumbnail layout. Check it out, and stay tuned to Behind the Scenes to see this crappy sketch develop into a polished vivid page!

Here are a few Palace guards that make a cameo - they'll be featured in Prelude, the prequel to the book saga, and they have some future uses in the story as well...
Here's the amazing, death - defying thumbnail layout! THRILL to the stunning detail and unsurpassed vision!
Sketch development for the completed Indigo character featured below - rough ideas for patch designs, etc. I'm not sure exactly why, but Tinsel somehow popped up in this mix...
Indigo Marrallang, a new character -(technically two characters, - Indi and Digo Marrallang.) Read a bit about this colorful character and her unique ability...