Thoughts & Process: Storyboards for an Illustrated Book #2

I figured it was about time for an update on the SS: Outlook illustrations. Since the last time I posted about these, I’ve gotten three more pages done with another on the way. I will admit initially, not all the progress is positive, but I will elaborate on that later. This blog post is a continuation of my short story illustration process. If you’re interested in the construction of the first three pages, please follow this link here.

Page 4

A scan of a page of 3 storyboards showcasing 3 different versions of a character sitting in space.

I don’t have too much to say about the storyboards this time, the idea for each board on page 4 was all the same: create a large, empty void that looks too great for Earth to bear. One variation even had her in two different places, with one being a portrait close up. The storyboard I picked for this page originally had Earth in the middle of the double-spread canvas, but I figured out that it would give a bigger “emptiness” to the atmosphere to move her over to the left.

Two sketches of a woman sitting in different positions.

However, the sketch for this page was surprisingly difficult. When I drew the initial sketch for this page in my sketchbook, I had drawn two different versions. I had one version where Earth looked directly at the audience, while she was still holding her legs to her chest. The other version was a similar pose, but Earth was looking at something to her left as if she was terrified. I was happy with the way the body looked in the second sketch, but I didn’t really like either way the head looked. What I ultimately did through LOTS of editing, was use the same head view from the first sketch and put it on top of the second body. The head got adjusted so it looked more like Earth was looking slightly upward, and her cloud hair flowed more up to the right side. Doing this highlighted the shape of her head more, and looked much better. It was a battle, but I’m happy with the drawing result.

The coloring process was actually pretty easy compared to the drawing, although I struggled with recreating the landmasses to look similar to how they looked on page 3. Even now, I’m not sure what I did the first time. The landmasses on page 4 definitely look darker than they should, but I figured I could come back to it and fix it once I had a better understanding of what I was doing. It doesn’t pay sometimes to take breaks I’ll tell ya.

A close up of an illustration of a woman colored like the Earth looking at the camera.
Close up since most of the composition is just darkness lawls

I also had one big choice to make with Earth’s eyes. I’d experimented with how her open eyes should look in the last couple years, and I’d known I wanted to have her eyes be colored like the Earth’s core, but I wasn’t sure how to do it without making her look creepy. This time, I just decided to let it happen, and somehow I think it worked! Her eyes are definitely striking and contrast hard against her blue skin, but it also makes her look very vulnerable, which is a complimentary expression for the mood of the page.

Page 5

Storyboards & notes of different page layouts. The three storyboard drawings feature different versions of a woman thinking.

This page is to convey that Earth is dreaming, she’s going on to dream of her life on planet Earth. I ultimately picked a double-spread storyboard that had Earth still curled in a ball, but realized pretty quickly that I needed to loosen her up and uncurl her so she looked more relaxed. So I drew her in a relaxed position initially, then realized I was an idiot and drew her facing the wrong way. When the sketch was scanned into Medibang, it got flipped to the way you see it now.

An illustration of a woman colored like the Earth, lying on her back and daydreaming as she floats through space.

I feel like it’s hard to talk about this illustration without talking about Earth’s feet. Feet, I feel, are weird things to draw for artists. I always think they’re going to be as hard as hands, but every time I draw them, I always end up being pleased with how they look. Weird how that happens…

Now time for the titty talk. I wanted this illustration to convey that Earth is lying down and resting, so I wanted her body to be in a relatable pose. In case you don’t know, If you have breasts and lie on your back, your breasts will spread to the side, away from each other. Breasts aren’t perfectly solid orbs, it’s more realistic to think of them as water balloons. The smaller ones will have less exaggerated movement, where the larger ones will be more obvious. …Yes I know this implies there’s gravity in space, artistic liberty baby!!

Page 6

This is the first page to actually feature Kya, Earth’s human persona that actually lives in the Great Guana Cay. This is a big transitional page to establish the new setting of Earth’s “Dream” of life on planet Earth. For this page, I wanted to do a big background shot that seemed to imply that Kya had a lot to explore, and give a tease of scenery to discover. So the shot for this page ended up being a double spread with a focus on the greenery and the beach.

An illustration of a woman getting up from the ground as she looks out towards the shore.

This page is also supposed to be a good introduction to Kya’s entire design. I wanted to have her in a “get up” kind of pose but the problems with that were that this would hide her clothing. I think I was able to move her arms and legs around in a way where someone looking at her would understand the bigger picture. In the selected storyboard, Kya was sitting on a rock, but I ultimately got rid of this rock when I was worried her sitting pose might crunch her up too much. This is also the first colored page I’ve made where other people can see the pattern on her jacket wrapped around her waist, I really like it.

Kya’s smile came out pretty infectious, she’s so cute like that and I’m proud of how her face came out!

But now I need to talk about the background…

The background of this page was a battle, between me trying to find out how certain elements should look in my style, to wishing the composition was more engaging, and overall just not being too pleased with it. I’m glad I was able to get this page done, as I feel with all my previous pages, but this page was the one where I really started to question the presentation of the story. The values I have with my full color illustrations, those being character focus and down-to-earth colors to accompany Kya, just weren’t creating a look I was pleased with.

Final Thoughts

So for the concluding thoughts, my biggest take away is that I’m not enjoying making these pages anymore for whatever reason. I’m also not too happy with how the backgrounds are coming out on the pages that aren’t in space. So I’m thinking that despite already illustrating 6 pages, I need to rethink how I illustrate these, and start over with a presentation I’m going to enjoy. I think I’ll at least be able to keep the original lineart with each of these, but as for the next step… I’m not completely sure how everything’s going to look. But if there’s one thing I really want to do right for this story, and for my original character Kya, it’s to give them something I enjoy making and sharing with others. No one wants to see something that someone didn’t enjoy making after all.

Thank you for joining me on this journey. Hopefully the next story update is better and more positive. If you’ve read this far, thank you for giving me you attention. I wish you all the best, until we meet again.

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