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).