Thursday, December 31, 2015

Her Majesty's Bravest Son Poster - Badin and The Secret of the Saami

What better way to start the new year than with a new Badin and the Secret of the Saami poster?

The Queen of Sweden’s adopted son must save her Kingdom from Destruction—But not without a sacrifice.

This one features the first public image of Gustav Badin as he appears in the graphic novel (he will be illustrated at various stages in his life, but mostly during his childhood). For the first time in world history, this fascinating Swedish man is depicted as the main character in a sequential art presentation (fancy words for 'comic book'). I am so proud and excited to feature him as the complete opposite of how so many others have shamefully portrayed him. As proven in the translation of his diary, the English- and Swedish-speaking world now knows he was a brilliant and honorable man.

So I need all of you to take this poster and avatar and tell the world about him. In Badin and the Secret of the Saami, he is the hero and the most bravest son of the Queen of Sweden, Lovisa Ulrika. Although my graphic novel is historical fiction, Badin was the adopted son of Queen Lovisa Ulrika and she loved and trusted him as much as her own children.

All of Sweden, those of Swedish descent, and those who love a good story will not be disappointed. I want to put Badin in the spotlight. I want to put Sweden in the spotlight. I want to put the Saami people in the spotlight. There is so much I want to tell you. However, that would be cheating. So stay connected and never miss an update.

You can order a beautiful high resolution print of this poster from TheBlackRhino Deviant Art website.

Download the avatar:

Download the social media version for your Twitter, Facebook or other site:

First 4 Pages Done - Badin and the Secret of the Saami

Abstract close up from a panel on page 4
Badin and the Secret of the Saami is a grueling project. I have never worked so hard on a daily basis in my life. In addition to my regular photo retouching and illustration businesses, there is this mountain of a graphic novel that I am slowly climbing.

I am working daily and am fueled only by the vision of seeing it completed. So far, with 4 pages complete—ink, color and lettering—I only have 76 to go. That's easier said than done. However, as I work, I am becoming better and faster at drawing and using Manga Studio 5EX. During this entire process—which started in May, 2015—I have immersed myself in art books, videos and various drawing exercises. One of the recent books I am finishing up is called Extreme Perspective for Artists by David Chelsea. I have never read anything more technical and fun about art like this book. I have been trying to employ some of the concepts from this book into Badin and the Secret of the Saami. But it is a highly specialized book. To get more into the history of King Gustav III, I have also been reading Drottningholm, Palace by the Lakeside.

The most exciting part of this project so far is seeing the main characters come alive: Badin, King Gustav III, Princess Sofia Albertina and the Queen Mother Lovisa Ulrika. It is very emotional, in fact. As I said to my wife with tears welling up in my eyes, I wish Badin was still alive to see what I am doing. I have also grown to adore the Queen Mother, Princess Sofia and King Gustav III during my research. All of them walk and talk to me in my imagination.

I truly hope you will purchase and enjoy Badin and the Secret of the Saami when it is finished. I certainly am enjoying working on it.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Lots of Bad Weather for Badin and the Secret of the Saami

Lots of rain in this sneak peak of Act 1
For you non-Swedes, discussion about weather—on land and on sea—is not treated as small talk in Sweden. This has been the way since anyone can remember. In fact, much of the diary by the real Gustav Badin (nee Couche) is comprised of various weather reports.

So let it be no surprise that both lousy and pleasant weather will be a big part of the environments I illustrate in Badin and the Secret of the Saami. It is not easy to draw scenes with inclement weather. Rain and wind during the day or night is tough. However, that challenge provides opportunities to be very creative.

I am so excited about this project. I am working during the day and night (even while laying in bed, trying to fall asleep, I am working on it) to make this the best creative endeavor I could ever do. One of my most frequent prayers is for Allah (God) to give me all the power needed to keep healthy and alive and see this thing to the end. I want to make all Swedes proud of the story (especially those of Saami and African ethnicity). Moreover, if you are not Swedish, my goal is to make you feel Swedish.

Your support of this endeavor will not be in vain. Spread the word. Put some banners on your social media websites. Tell your friends. The Secret is out!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Page 1 of Badin and the Secret of the Saami Was Brutal

A small abstract from a panel
It has been a rough ride, but I did it: I completed page one of the first act of Badin and the Secret of the Saami. I completed it. That is, penciling, inking, coloring AND lettering. Yes, I did it all. I even changed a few panels and dialog. It took all week! But frankly, I could not resist it!

Surely, I had a good plan. But I couldn't keep thinking about what it would look like in color and lettered. So I made it happen. The more I worked on it, the more symbolism became the overarching theme in throughout the page's composition. I will surely make revisions to it over time. However, it was a great morale booster to pull it off.

I am proving to myself many things by completing page one in the manner. Color, shape and content is definitely going to dominate this work. Critically, many seasoned comic and graphic novel readers and creators will probably hate it. However, I am not doing this for them nor am I doing it because I want a job as a comic book artist (if you follow this blog, you know what I'm describing). I also proved to myself I can do something extremely difficult. Believe me. This project is all-consuming and I am obsessing over it.

The above abstract is from a small section in one of the panels. I shall leave its interpretation up to you. Meanwhile, it is time to set up the pages and layout for page 2. I am behind schedule.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Act 1 Artwork Begins for Badin and the Secret of the Saami

Somebody or something from page 1
I am excited! So excited, I stayed up until klockan två på morgonen (2 o'clock in the morning) working on the first page. At left is an abstract from a panel on that page.

Unfortunately, most of the time spent was recalling and looking up all the skills I forgot regarding Manga Studio 5EX layout functions. However, thanks to Liz Staley's Mastering Manga Studio 5EX and her Manga Studio Cookbook, I was able to figure out what I did (and fix some problems I made while trying to fix it). I also spent alot of time finalizing a satisfactory workflow and test my new fonts.

Once I get in the groove, I'll zip through pages much faster than 3 panels every 2 hours (!). At least I hope that will be the case. However, with a project like this, one really needs to plan far in advance regarding page layout and overall design of the book.

So far, it seems I'm most comfortable looking at my thumbnail sketches on the desk and working digitally from loose penciling (from composition shapes, gesturing, etc), lettering and inking. That will save a step of scanning my thumbnail sketches. Color is not something I want to deal with until the entire Act 1 is complete. My goal is to ramp up to at least 1 page a day. It is going to be hard, but I think I can do it if my stock illustration sales continue to grow.

As always, I appreciate your support and spreading the word about this amazing project.

Badin and the Secret of the Saami Fonts

After hours of research for which fonts to use inside Badin and the Secret of the Saami, I have settled on the OpenType versions of Silver Age and Whitechapel. I found them on Blambot. Of all the font companies offerings—free and paid—these two are the best for my needs and budget.

Since the story contains Swedish and Saami words, having typefaces with diacritical marks is crucial. I also plan to have Swedish and Saami versions of the graphic novel. So free fonts won't suffice. The situation requires purchasing professional font sets.

Most of the lettering for the graphic novel will be done in lower- and upper-case  Silver Age. Whitechapel is used for smaller—but very important—sections. Exactly what that portion is will be a surprise for you.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Act 4 Thumbnail Layouts for Badin and the Secret of the Saami

At left are the thumbnail sketch layouts of the fourth and final chapter of Badin and the Secret of the Saami. This was the most difficult act to sketch. The ending of the story is very, very emotional and I had to put myself in the shoes of all who were involved. Eye-catching composition was also critical. I made quite a few minor changes for the art direction and dialog in the script! Writing the final scenes brought tears to my eyes. I think some of you will experience tears when you read it as well.

It is past one o'clock in the morning ("klockan ett på morgonen" in Swedish) and I promised myself I would stop staying up late. I know. I know. But my personal life has been in a state of turmoil and late, late nights have been the only time I can work on this project.

As I have written before, this project is very much alive and the calling I have to do it is bigger than my own trifling problems (trifling compared the racial and social strife consuming the world as I write this). Is it going to solve such problems? No. But it will help and it will inspire others to do greater things.

What is next? There are a few pages with sketches and panels that require revisions. These were pages that I did not like visually, but I did not want to stop to work on it. Typically, when I work out the panels I make very messy pencil gestures in a sketchbook and figure out composition. As we get closer to publishing, I'll be sure to share some of those things. I've got a book full of them! After that, I'll scan the layouts and begin building the pages in Manga Studio 5EX. From there, I plan to do "loose" penciling based on the thumbnail sketches and then move to "lettering" (placing text). After that comes inking and color.

Although I expect to self-publish, there is a chance a book publisher may want to give it a chance. So I plan to complete Act 1 entirely and then follow the step-by-step production process for the other three acts. Meanwhile, I'll still promote it with posters and teasers as planned (a new poster is due out next month). Did you get your poster?

Knös the Giant in Swedish

Cover for the Swedish version of Knos the Giant
It has been over 2 years since I first introduced the world to a Black Swedish character called Knös the Giant (also in Swedish Knös, Jätten). I combed through quite a few Swedish folktales and settled on one of the most symbolic in my opinion.

While in the Swedish city of Söderköping as a guest for television show Allt För Sverige, I was inspired to tell stories about non-white Swedish children. At the time, I had to study a number of Swedish children's books and movies for a competition. The lack of non-white characters was a little disturbing—especially since I knew I was half-Swedish and I met so many other Swedes that looked like me. When I enthusiastically shared this idea as a collaboration project with one of the other Americans, it was promptly shot down. But I was not going to let that stop me.

So now, in 2015, I am finally putting in more time to promote Knös the Giant and The Swedish Girl of Motala. Yesterday, I released the Swedish language version of Knös the Giant. It is called Knös, Jätten. This took alot of work and I got some great help from translator Simon Hästo and editor Kay Hutchings-Olsson.

I hope to have the Swedish version of The Swedish Girl of Motala within a month or so. While I am doing this, I am also working on a graphic novel called Badin and the Secret of the Saami, my regular stock illustrations and Photo Grafix. My plate is full and I am excited about the future. Your support and encouragement over the years has been a big part of keeping me going.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Act 3 Thumbnail Layouts for Badin and the Secret of the Saami

23 layout pages in about 2 weeks
I went through lead and built up piles of eraser bits like a mad man for the third act of Badin and the Secret of the Saami. I have neglected household chores, slacked off on seeking new work for my "day" job, regular sleep hours—again—and have gotten poorer for it.

However, I do not believe in being poor forever! So that is why I really want to finish this stage of the graphic novel's production. Moreover, I feel the world needs to know this story and its main character, Badin.

Act 3 is a major shift of events in the story: The antagonist is fully revealed and the conflict between good and evil becomes clear. It is also the act where the action ramps up substantially.

One thing I like about Act 3 is all the attention I give to Swedish folklore and the connections between Saami shamanism, humanity and nature. Artistically, this one is also full of challenges: Nature scenes, animals and some strange lighting effects will push my abilities beyond the limits of my experience. This proves the importance of creating "loose gestures" with pencil. To agonize over details at such an early stage can be quite frustrating.

For obvious reasons, you can barely see anything of detail in the picture above. However, I just wanted to share with the world that I am moving along at a decent pace.

Act 2 Thumbnail Layouts for Badin and the Secret of the Saami

Act 2 all laid out
This is proof I am still working hard. At left is an grainy photo of Act 2 layout thumbnails for Badin and the Secret of the Saami that someone made while in my secret hideout the other week.

I am really having fun experimenting with composition and making the story flow. As of this writing, I'm almost finished with Act 3. After that, it will be Act 4 and then I can finally start inking the graphic novel.

As I make more progress, expect to see more. I am also collaborating with another writer to create some more vignettes. I completely finished the first vignette this week and shared it with a handful of advisers. With the exception of including it in the Special Edition, I do not have any plans to release it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Stumbling Block Removed for Badin and the Secret of the Saami

After almost a month of agonizing and nail-biting when I first shared the stumbling block, I am happy to declare that the problems with Act 2 of Badin and the Secret of the Saami have been resolved! This part of the story is critical to making Badin's motivations real. You'll see it when it's published next year.

This is an exciting moment because I can return to creating thumbnail layouts for the rest of Act 2 and move more swiftly with Acts 3 and 4.

While doing this, I also created 3 more posters to promote the graphic novel. You will see them in coming months. I really would appreciate your help in using them on your websites and send to friends. I have a great story to tell and you will be inspired from it.

The bad part is that the time is 12:15 in the morning and I'm supposed to be in bed. I also cancelled the automatic shutdown of my computer. The good thing is, if I had not written this blog entry, I would have been in bed. So I did stop working before it started to shut-down.

The picture at left is an abstract from the first vignette (not yet released). I hope you find it interesting and inspiring.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Secret is Out: Poster #1 Badin and the Secret of the Saami

A brave child.
A people on the brink of extinction.
A dangerous discovery.

You are about to partake in a fascinating historical fiction adventure located in one of 18th century Europe's mightiest kingdoms. I guarantee a thrilling and enlightening ride! Release date is Fall 2016.

Today I am officially releasing the first promotional item for Badin and the Secret of the Saami. After many hours of research, I have selected a typeface for the titles. I would like all my friends, co-workers and family to use these posters in your digital avatars, wallpaper and anywhere else you want to promote it.

Download a low-resolution poster (for your website, Facebook page, avatar, wallpaper).

Download a Facebook Cover Page (sized perfectly for your page cover photo slot)

Download a high-resolution poster (for printing and displaying on a real wall).

Download an avatar (for your website, favicon other other small symbol that represents your persona online).

Download another avatar (for your website, favicon other other small symbol that represents your persona online).

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Posters for Badin and the Secret of the Saami

Last night I was checking my promotion schedule notes and as of 30 days ago I was supposed to have completed the first of five posters promoting Badin and the Secret of the Saami. Unfortunately, I had not completed a single one!

With ongoing family and financial problems, the Act 2 script adjustments and this, I was feeling overwhelmed. However, I woke up with the attitude that I am not going to allow anything or anyone to get in the way of my happiness and peace of mind.

So I broke my rule of getting to bed by 10 pm and began sketching ALL five posters. After getting about seven hours of sleep, I got up and finished all five drafts this morning. I plan to release a finished poster every two months. Each one leads into the next and contain insight to the story. After the fifth one is released, the graphic novel should be finished and available for purchase.

At left is an abstract of one of the poster sketches I plan to use.

Also, yesterday, I received my copy of Drottningholm, the Palace by the Lakeside by Jan Mårtenson. I was quite disappointed in that there were very few illustrations of the palace. I ordered this, along with 2 other books about the National Palace to use for references because many of the story's scenes take place with the Royal Family. 

Finding references with pictures of the interior of these palaces in Swedish and English has been very, very difficult for me. However, the book is full of great historical information and will be useful for tweaking the graphic novel in general.

And now, back to the script.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Stumbling Blocks - Badin and the Secret of the Saami

One or more characters from Badin and the Secret of the Saami
I am trying to untangle some knots in the script
I am about 75% finished with the thumbnail layouts for Act 2 of Badin and the Secret of the Saami. However, I began to truly understand that there are some serious problems in the story at this point. Everything weighs on the comprehension of the story at the end of Act 2. I cannot take this lightly. So all artwork has ceased while I attend to the emergency.

I am pulling out the threads and trying to re-sew a more proper garment for the end of Act 2. One of my editors pointed out various annoyances about this section awhile ago. I just didn't know how bad it was until I had to compose the rough artwork and layouts. This is a frustrating stumbling block indeed. I hope to have it ironed out within the next few days. 

The picture above is an abstract of a finished panel for one of the vignettes. The vignettes are more of a show-and-tell for me. However, they are appropriate for use in the story—or at least the Special Edition.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Testing Manga Studio and Act 2 for Badin and the Secret of the Saami

Snapshot of digitally produced penciled and lettered panels
Progress was a bit frustrated this week. I only have 3 pages sketched for Act 2. It required a few layout changes and two additional pages. Also, I needed to do various page size tests with Manga Studio 5EX just in case my layouts became impossible to work with in print. In order to maximize time, I decided to work on a vignette page. By vignette, I mean a very short story related to a character in Badin and the Secret of the Saami. This page may be used in the graphic novel or for promotional purposes.

The vignette and page testing helped me work out many problems and doubts regarding how the graphic novel will appear in print. This test was all digital: Composition, thumbnail sketches, penciling, lettering and inking were all done within Manga Studio. So far, it appears that I will continue composition work on 11x17 inch pages reduced proportionally to 8.5 x 11 inch pages. I'll scan those drawings and import to Manga Studio. From there, I'll finish the book and probably export the pages as JPGs to layout in Adobe InDesign. I find Adobe InDesign's capabilities for book layout to be more robust. For example, if I want an index or table of contents, it's much harder to do in Manga Studio.

I found that building the basic 11x17 page template was much easier when I started with's specifications for comic books. It's not a profound discovery. However, after wasting time reading all kinds of websites on what others were doing, I had to learn my lesson the hard way.

I purchased Elizabeth Staley's Manga Studio books and am finding them very useful. They are very expensive, however. Yet, between her books and the videos and course by Doug Hills, I have more than enough to help me work with the program to achieve my goals.

The picture at left is a low resolution snapshot of the first vignette. I cannot reveal any details yet. But if you stick around, you will see and learn more! Please comment and share this with all of your friends and family.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Act 1 Thumbnail Layout Done - Badin and the Secret of the Saami

Sketches on the other desk
Beautiful bed sheets, don't you think?
Tonight, I accomplished a major creative feat by completing the layouts for Act 1 of Badin and the Secret of the Saami. The price was expensive, however. The lack of sleep with a compromised immune system response to a virus, slapped me with a 3 day sore throat, cough and aches. I did it all for you Badin. I did it all for you, Sweden.

The picture at left is all the thumbnail sketches (some pages have multiple versions, but they are stacked and not visible). These are my blueprint for the pencil drawings and lettering. So I don't spoil your fun, it is a very small picture with poor resolution.

Some magical moments occurred during this process. Unfortunately, I cannot reveal what happened. However, the picture portion of the story telling took me in a few subtle directions that enhanced the script. I am glad to conclude this portion of the production because I needed to see if I could truly accomplish this difficult task. I understand better why this is the most fun part of illustrating comics. I "directed" the illustrations in the full script. It really helped. However, I did not hesitate to change it—or improve it.

Next step: Complete the thumbnail layout for Act 2.

I have now started a regimen of getting to bed by 10 pm. Getting sick is not something I can afford to repeat. The downside is that I am spending much of my days off working on this graphic novel. If you are interested, my day job is heading a photo retouching business and a stock illustration business.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Ready, Set, Go! Badin and the Secret of the Saami

A sneak peak of the thumbnail design process
My throat is raw and my body aches. This awful feeling is probably partially the result of lack of sleep from the adrenaline rush of starting the thumbnail sketch phase of Badin and the Secret of the Saami. Yep. I'm sick (in more ways than one possibly)! This morning I went to bed at 6:30 in the morning. I really need to re-assess my priorities. When I wrote earlier that this graphic novel, its characters and the 18th century Sweden is beginning to possess my soul, I was not exaggerating.

You are looking at a spread of variations of the first few page of Act 1. My process for creating the thumbnail sketches so far are as follows:
  1. Script with panel direction (top left). This gives me the feel of the layout with each panel (frame) on the page and its dialog, sound effects and general composition.
  2. The black construction paper shapes are a critical positive/negative space ingredient to helping me maintain randomness in the thumbnail sketches (I did not include white shapes on black paper in the photo). Thumbnail sketches are not little drawings. They must contain gestures of  lines and contrast. Badin and the Secret of the Saami is full of literal and visual contrasts. From these thumbnails I will create pencil artwork (when I'm done with all four acts).
  3.  The sketch pad is where I work out the black construction paper and scribble general compositions before gesturing them into the layout pages on the bottom row. I often drop shapes at random on the page and build them up from there with minor adjustments until I see an object or person. I got this idea from retired Chicago Public Schools high school art instructor Diane Towber. She is an excellent abstract painter and clothing designer.
  4. The thumbnail layout pages are proportionally shrunk from 11x17" to 8.5x10" to fit on scrap paper. I use scrap paper because I will feel less committed to the panels and more confident about trying new ideas. Of course, when I do the pencil and ink phases, I will use the full size. By the way I plan to do pencil phase of the first act entirely on Bristol board. By the way, I used Doug Hills' Manga Studio 5EX comic page templates for these thumbnail layout sheets.
The thumbnail layouts and script are obscured in this low resolution image for obvious reasons. However, I wanted you to learn about the creative process behind creating the graphic novel's illustrations. During this process, I will cut down the amount of blog entries. However, rest assured, I am working hard every day to make this project a reality.

Please comment, share and tell your friends about Badin and the Secret of the Saami. I want you all to buy it when it is finished. It will be a work of art for all ages.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Just One More - Badin and the Secret of the Saami

Are you watching me?
One model sheet remains. Fatigue is setting in and I think I'll stop drawing tonight (actually, this morning).

Tight quarters
I have been spending my non-illustration time listening and viewing as many interviews and tutorials as I can about layout thumbnails, penciling, inking and coloring. There are so many artists out there—in all kinds of genre—that are willing to share their fascinating workflows and techniques on how they apply artistic fundamentals to their work. While eating lunch—if not listening to interviews—I am indulging in reading comic books online with Marvel Unlimited.

I am currently catching up with comics I used to read as a youngster. My
favorite was—and always will be—the Incredible Hulk. I picked up around the early 300's and have about 10 years to catch up. Studying the various inking and coloring methods have taught me much. Unfortunately, now that I work part-time as an illustrator, I can never enjoy the comics like I used to. I spend more time studying the writing and the artwork, than just "taking it in."

The model sheet abstracts here are a minor female character I whipped up with Manga Studio 5EX (left) and a scene using Sketch Paper on Drafting Table 1.0. I'll admit, I'm still not comfortable working with Manga Studio's perspective rulers. Also, sitting at the computer is more grueling than at my drafting table with T-Square and Triangle rulers, setting up 2-point perspective lines.  I bought all of Doug Hills' Manga Studio rulers and guides, along with his ebook. So far, the composition rulers have been very helpful. But I have more learning to do when it comes to rulers for Manga Studio in general. So I hope his ebook will give me the knowledge I need.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Focusing - Badin and the Secret of the Saami

Is it a can opener?
Eight hours later, full of color, this model sheet is considered done. Next, I shall get back into the sketch pad with pencil and move "inside" of it to build something interesting. It looks like draft #14 is insufficient. So I am working on draft #15. I really want to start the illustration for Badin and the Secret of the Saami. But I must follow the process.

I thoroughly enjoyed working with the Oil Paint Brush in Manga Studio 5EX. I was able to work in "weathering" details that really gave the character a three-dimensional appearance. It seems color—in addition to black ink shading—can give an illustration high appeal.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Draft #14 - Badin and the Secret of the Saami

Notice some Viking-esque patterns?
As I mentioned yesterday, I still have three characters with incomplete model sheets for Badin and the Secret of the Saami. One of them is quite large and requires some complex schematics. Technically, it might be considered a location. However, since it is not a stationary thing, I have classified it as a character. I made 14 drafts of just one part of it this morning. I think I like number 14.

This character will contain many subtle designs inspired by old Viking-era objects I have found during my research. Being that this graphic novel takes place in Sweden, with Swedish and Saami characters, and I, the author, am half-Swedish, it is crucial that Swedish culture is evident throughout it.

I suppose I could just make it up as I go when I illustrate this graphic novel. However, I enjoy drawing the complexity and history of a character. It makes it more real in my imagination. Also, I have plans for a special edition of the graphic novel, which will contain all kinds of interesting extras either not covered in the graphic novel—or not relevant enough to keep in the story. I believe you will want to know more about this character than is revealed in the story.

At left is an abstract of the character. The scanned pencil layer is under the ink layer. This was created with Manga Studio 5EX.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Antagonist - Badin and the Secret of the Saami

A storm is coming
A storm in the story
After going through my checklist of 28 model sheets to color in Badin and the Secret of the Saami, I discovered that that the antagonist of the story was still unfinished—among 3 others.

I organize the characters as note cards in Scrivener and use the status field to sort them. When a character is labeled "100%" that means I did the color and they are ready for use in the illustrations. Apparently, I got a little too happy with my progress and overlooked a 75% (the antagonist), two 50% and a 0%. That zero—although she is a minor character—is embarrassing. I am holding myself back, however. No thumbnail phase until the model sheets are all labeled 100%. Self-discipline is crucial to proper management of this project. 

Who the antagonist is and how they fit in the story, I cannot yet reveal. However, I will confirm that the abstract at left is indeed the antagonist—or the bad guy.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Badin and the Secret of the Saami Progress 2015-09-27

You may be able to tell from the abstracts at left and right, I am finished with the color model sheets of the main character, Badin. It feels really good to be at this stage. It's like part of training for an athletic tournament. I am now closer to the big showdown.
The "bigger" Badin
The "smaller" Badin
While doing all this I have been thinking about fonts and word balloon styles. That is not a priority at this time, but I will need to deal with it eventually.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Badin and the Secret of the Saami Progress 2015-09-23

18th Century Children's Clothes
An unnamed main actor
As I write this, I am sleep deprived, but hyped. I am working on Badin's model sheet: The star of the show. The lead actor. My main man. However, I got distracted when ideas about promoting the graphic novel and its cover crept into my head. So I had to write them down before I might forget.

As mentioned before, I use Scrivenor for organizing the script, notes and references. It is very useful. I highly recommend it if you are writing a script or novel.

The abstract at left is not Badin. It is someone else—a main character. I was excited to finish this one tonight. No spoilers—not at least before the first promotion.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Badin and the Secret of the Saami Progress 2015-09-19

Model sheet color sketch
"Surely, after difficulty, comes ease" reads a verse from the Holy Quran (I am too tired to look it up for a citation). This is not a blog about religion, but rather an expression of my journey to create and finish Badin and the Secret of the Saami. So it is all about overcoming ease: Something which can be harder than the difficulty.

After you get your mind around that one—it took me awhile too—you might see the patterns of life: Death and life are one in the same. People fear them equally. Difficulty can be equated with death and life can be equated with ease.

When I am happy with an illustration, I am inclined to slow down and feel less anxious about moving on to the next one. This is the hardship of ease. As I finish this blog entry, I am in the middle of coloring the model sheets of the three main characters. After that, I must do the antagonist and a room. That's over 20 model sheets done. After that…I believe I can finally start illustrating the graphic novel.

The model sheet abstract above is for one of the minor Saami characters. It was created from a pencil sketch that was inked and colored using Manga Studio 5EX.

Badin and the Secret of the Saami Progress 2015-09-16

A color abstract of one of the minor, but important, characters
I may have mentioned previously that Badin and the Secret of the Saami is like no other illustration project I have done before. Some will hate it. Others will love it.

Either way, it will shed light on topics untouched by any graphic novel that I have known. The most important of them, is the childhood of the most famous Swede of the African Diaspora: Badin. Although it is entirely fiction, many of the characters, scenes and events are related to actual history of Swedish and Saami people.

This month, with the help of funds raised from dozens of people from around the world, I hired translators and editors and published the first English translation of the real Badin's diary. It is available as a download for free on the Internet. A hard-bound edition is available at-cost from Lulu Press.

I did this out of my own time, with no pay. I did this for the Swedish people out of gratitude for their gift to me and my family. That gift was to be a guest for the 2013 season of Allt för Sverige and receive family history and the reuniting of family from three generations ago.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Badin and the Secret of the Saami Progress 2015-09-13

Badin and the Secret of the Saami
Many Swedes are not blond
No matter how difficult it appears, I have found that when I focus on drawing through the entire figure, object or background, it's like a carving a path through dense woods. Nothing is distinguishable at first. However, after cutting through a few times, the shapes, textures and values begin to appear.

So it is with any problem in life. Each time I encounter the same problem, a new opportunity appears. It is an opportunity to traverse the path with more confidence and determination to get to the other side.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Badin and the Secret of the Saami Progress 2015-09-12

Today I surprised myself
Today I put aside about 6 hours just to focus on coloring the model sheets. I can never get over the feeling of great joy when I finish each one. The characters are becoming so alive.

I had plenty of interruptions, making it almost impossible and rather frustrating. Again, I'm up past midnight. Among the anguish of family problems, this thing called hunger seems to be the biggest interruption. I wish I could put off eating for a few days.

A wise character
Nevertheless I made much progress. I also got feedback from my cousin Steven Anderson—a fiction novelist and full-time college English teacher based in Minnesota, USA. Moreover, he didn't send me an invoice. However, I feel I owe him. So if you and all your friends purchase Badin and the Secret of the Saami, I will be able to pay.
the script. He gave me valuable advice (thankfully, he does not think I need to do any major revisions). He is a talented writer.

The abstract above is from another model sheet I colored. It was done using Manga Studio 5EX and a scanned pencil sketch.

Badin and the Secret of the Saami Progress 2015-09-11

The eyes have it
From the color sketch model sheets for a character
Fourteen years ago today, our lives changed dramatically. How we travel, what we judge and the things we do were dictated by the extreme actions of a few men driven by passion to make the world into what they believe is the truth.

On some fronts they won. My country is deeply involved in multiple wars and our enemies have doubled. However, the terrorists lost the most important front in their battle: To turn humanity into servants for their twisted interpretation of Islam. As a Muslim, I am ashamed of those who use my religion as a shield for dirty practices. Friends of mine who are Muslim remember this day with great sadness. They too abhor the actions of those terrorists. We are all working in our own way to prevent another such occurrence. 

When you read Badin and the Secret of the Saami, I think you will see tinges of my effort in regards to current world events: Highlighting what people have in common, seeking mutual understanding and learning from the extreme actions of others so as to stop a bad thing from getting worse.

I hope you find this model sheet abstract interesting. It's based on pencil sketch scan, inked and colored using Manga Studio 5EX. I hope to finish most of the model sheets this weekend and tease you with a few more.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Badin and the Secret of the Saami Progress 2015-09-10

Model Sheet Abstract
I'm getting used to drawing 18th century clothing
It seems I get a sudden boost of energy whenever I work on Badin and the Secret of the Saami. This is good, but not so healthy, as it is keeping me up very late. 

Finishing the rough color sketches for the model sheets is all I can think about. Staying in the lines, keeping line weights consistent, working in high resolution and building depth through shading is no longer a concern. As long as I have a guide of which colors and swatches belong to who, I will feel more secure about going forward.

The abstract above is from a minor character's model sheet created with Manga Studio 5EX. That basket is an important prop for him. Are you getting excited about Badin and the Secret of the Saami? I know I am!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Badin and the Secret of the Saami Progress 2015-09-09

Manga Studio Clip Studio Pain Swatches
Her Majesty, Queen Lovisa Ulrika
I spent much of my graphic novel time today creating color swatch sets for the characters' model sheets. I'm glad I kept shading out and colors flat so far. No need for gradations for basic colors.

This is another important step to help me keep to a deadline when illustrating Badin and the Secret of the Saami. It is too much for me to take time, trying to sample or remember a character's skin tone, hair color or clothing colors. Also, I want a consistent look throughout the book.

It should be no surprise that this character, the Queen of Sweden, and adopted mother of Badin, will need quite a few color palettes for her wardrobe.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Model Sheets Concept for 2015-09-08 Badin and the Secret of the Saami

Badin and the Secret of the Saami
Fancy sword
I have set a goal to have Badin and the Secret of the Saami finished by February 2016. Now that my Kickstarter project to translate Badin's diary is complete, I can put more time into the graphic novel. My intention is to have the regular edition on hand for a very popular convention called C2E2 in March 2016.

Will it really happen? The convention will surely happen. However, will I have a supply of this graphic novel ready for March? I really do not know. I do know that I need to keep myself motivated and the pre-visualization of seeing myself at an exhibition booth or sharing a copy with an agent is important at this stage.

As you can see at left, I am starting to color the model sheets. This is an abstract of a minor character in the story. In the ink layers of the Manga Studio files, I've learned from some mistakes with painting white—as opposed to erasing or painting in transparent mode. Using white makes it very difficult to color underneath the ink layer.

With this new deadline, the pressure—and excitement—is ascending to new heights.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Model Sheets Concept for 2015-09-05 Badin and the Secret of the Saami

Sharp chin
A shave maybe?
Sharp object and an eye
Guess what I am?

Tonight I completed a few more model sheet sketches using Manga Studio 5EX. Three minor characters remain and I'll be done with a total of 24 model sheets! Creating these model sheets is helping me get to know the characters better. Memorizing their facial features will make the job much easier.

I am getting a little excited about the coloring stage.

I hope you enjoy these abstracts. I plan to include all of the full frame model sheets in the Special Edition of Badin and the Secret of Saami.

Model Sheets Concept for 2015-09-05 Badin and the Secret of the Saami

One of my wigged minor characters
I often wonder if—like the real Badin's diary—that this graphic novel Badin and the Secret of the Saami will become an antique on the shelf of some university library in Sweden a few hundred years from now. What good will it do? What purpose does such a story—moreover a historical fiction story—do for the evolution of humanity—or myself?

As I finished this model sheet at 2 in the morning, I felt the usual urge to give up hope as I face this steep climb of a creative mountain: A story about Swedish boy that resembles a young LeVar Burton for an American audience confounds the imagination. Of all the ideas of a monster-sized project I could do, why do I insist on making it a reality?

Simply put, my soul died after my journey to Sweden. It happened when I was assaulted by the vile words of racist and ignorant individuals, along with the pain of non-white Swedes who shared with me their struggle to achieve equality in a land which my great-great grandfather emigrated from many years ago.

A deep depression overcame my typically optimistic mind for many months. Then I learned more about Badin and connected with him. No he did not "look" Swedish. But he was, in many ways, more Swedish than those who appear as such. So I wrote this story called Badin and the Secret of the Saami to resurrect my soul—and hopefully heal others who share a similar experience.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Model Sheets Concept for 2015-09-04 Badin and the Secret of the Saami

Badin and the Secret of the Saami
18th century antique
The most difficult part of drawing model sheets is the temptation to create a composition with the character. I learn something new every time I draw something for this graphic novel. I truly want to experiment.

However, I might be a bit obsessed with making model sheets for too many characters. I go back and forth. Maybe I should just do a B&W model sheet and leave color for the minor and supporting characters (I haven't done any color yet, unfortunately). Some of them are so minor, yet I want to give them a unique appearance.

I need to spend more time on this project. The finger is on the trigger and I'm working frantically.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Model Sheets Concept for 2015-09-02 Badin and the Secret of the Saami

Sword wielding character
You had better tell your friends about this or else!
Research for this graphic novel has lead me to believe that one can never be satisfied with a few results. This is especially so when using the internet. I am finding that the greater my general understanding of northern European history during the 18th century is, the easier it is to confirm certain aspects in my character's clothing and environment in Sweden.

Simply put, fashion and style was almost universal throughout that part of the continent.

Badin and the Secret of the Saami
Stay sharp!
It looks like I am going to be finished with the model sheets within the next 2 weeks—if I try to finish at least one a day. This pace is unacceptable for illustrating the graphic novel before next year arrives. However, part of my slowness is the training involved for illustration and the tools I'm using. I will probably complete a vignette that I wrote to further tease the story for you loyal readers. That will be my test of how many pages I can expect to complete in a day.

I hope you like these abstracts from the model sheets (They were created using Manga Studio 5EX). Spread the word to your friends and family about this blog. Word-of-mouth advertising is all I can afford at this time (smile).

Friday, August 28, 2015

Model Sheets Concept for 2015-08-29 Badin and the Secret of the Saami

Many hours of research have gone into the story and script of Badin and the Secret of the Saami (well over 200 hours as of this writing). Swedish history, folklore, language and—most importantly—the history of Badin and the Saami people of the 18th century have given the script a rich back-story. This story is historical fiction. For me—and hopefully the readers—it is the best of both worlds.

Finger pointing character
Read that again, he says
Although the script is done, my research continues: I must illustrate a world and a people from long ago. I need to know how things looked. I look forward to the challenge. Getting through the model sheets phase is so hard because I just want to start drawing the graphic novel!

I have deliberately avoided making mockery of folklore in the story. As I have been learning, the forest is a holy place to all with roots in Sweden—that includes magical creatures. It is a place of sanctuary for the Saami as well as the Swedes. Keeping this link between humans and nature is important. I felt this connection while I was in Sweden for Allt För Sverige. Dousing fields and lawns with weed killers just was not something I saw done over there (Swedes did not seem to suffer from fear of dandelions like we do in the United States). Foraging for mushrooms, berries and herbs is done without fear of ingesting noxious pesticides.

This abstract illustration above is from another model sheet of a minor—but very important—character. This was created using Manga Studio 5EX.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Model Sheets Concept for 2015-08-26 Badin and the Secret of the Saami

This carriage fetched a high cab fare in 18th century Stockholm
In 18th century Europe, the best way to get around was by horse and carriage. Walking was common. Travel by horse was easier. Using a carriage was considered luxurious.

Badin and the Secret of the Saami takes place when the steam engine was in its infancy and everything was dark—literally. There was no electricity and no natural gas. Oil—whale oil—was a pricey commodity reserved the big cities where street lamps required nightly check-ups.

At left is a concept drawing I made for a carriage with off-road suspension, glass windows and curtains (no GPS or 8-track tape player, however). This lovely contraption belongs to a minor character and will be prominent in the story for Act 2. I created this drawing with Clip Studio Paint/Manga Studio 5EX.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Model Sheets Concept for 2015-08-25 - Badin and the Secret of the Saami

Character found in Scandanvian folklore
Hard edges define this important character
The mechanical pencil I have been using has been going through lead quickly. I've also been treating it more like a traditional pencil, wearing down the leads quickly by using at various angles. Call it laziness—or a burning desire to finish about model sheets for 30 characters before the next ice age.

Badin and the Secret of the Saami has three main characters. They are found in all four acts of the story. Then I have supporting characters that are found in 2 or 3 acts. Finally, the minor characters are only found in 1 act. I know that the progress of the pencil stage for the graphic novel will slow tremendously without the model sheets. I'm sure I will change or develop them more. However, I do not feel I have unlimited time to create this graphic novel. Model sheets provide an important guide for completing the pencil stage.

After the pencil stage, I will need to do the lettering roughs. After that I will need to do the inking stage. That part is so much easier when it comes to stress. Next, will be color. That part should really be fun. I have many ideas.

Badin and the Secret of the Saami is full of Swedish and Saami folklore (I have been doing some intense research). At left is an abstract from one of the model sheets that might seem familiar to those aware of such folklore.

Some of you may wonder: Where is Badin? His model sheets are done, but I'm saving the best for last.

I also wanted you to know that I have plans to publish Swedish and French translations. Keep reading and spread the word about this humble project with big ambitions.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Model Sheets Concept for 2015-08-21 - Badin and the Secret of the Saami

Model sheet concept sketch for Badin and the Secret of the Saami
I have been training with Manga Studio 5EX, along with improving my composition skills as I create various concept pieces related to the model sheets.

What you see is a very rough sketch using Manga Studio 5EX and may or may not be a part of the story artwork for Badin and the Secret of the Saami. Obviously, I cannot yet disclose who or what this image is all about. From the abstractness of it, one could come up with anything.

I can tell you, however, that the dominant figure on the left side is a female character. Badin and the Secret of the Saami is unapologetic about portraying strong female characters. Modern Sweden is a very progressive country when it comes to equality among men and women.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

More Model Sheets - Badin and the Secret of the Saami

What is going on here?
Part of a recent model sheet
As I continue to unshackle myself from the concepts of drawing lines on paper and embrace the power of light and composition, am beginning to feel the weight of illustrating Badin and the Secret of the Saami slowly being lifted from my shoulders. The worst thing an illustrator can do is try to be like someone else.

Yet the biggest burden was the full script revision. Since its completion, I have launched full speed into studying composition in everything: Movies, paintings and comics. Sketching exercises and am plowing through model sheets are a big part of the my daily work schedule.

I feel so much more comfortable drawing than writing. I can understand a little more about the stress involved for comic book artists that also write.

Character holding something
I am very excited about this project because I believe in the characters and their struggles. So much of what modern Sweden—and the United States—is going through today is reflected in the story's 18th century Sweden. Yet, that serious stuff never eclipses the adventure and action that makes up Badin and the Secret of the Saami.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Act 4 Script Redone - Badin and the Secret of the Saami

Saami character for Badin and the Secret of the Saami
Sketch of a Saami character from the model sheets
1:30 in the morning is an awful time to finish writing this script. Without a doubt, I can say with confidence that Badin and the Secret of the Saami will have a solid story. If the artwork does not move you, then the at least the story should.

Act 4 is the most difficult act. Emotionally difficult, that is. Regardless, it is done and I feel relieved. Some volunteer editors will soon go over the four acts and get back to me with their suggestions.

Now it is time to get back to the model sheets and finish drawing all of the characters. I am very tempted to start thumbnail sketches of the 80+ page graphic novel. However, if I am going to be successful, I must stick with the process.

This graphic novel means so much to me and to those who do not even know it yet. I cannot put it into words. You will just need to see it when it is done.