Sunday Sketches – Concept drawings
I tried, but I didn’t manage to do my sketch for Sunday Sketches this week. I found a topic just now, but though I really want to, I don’t have the energy. It has been a busy week.
So, I’m offering up something I drew in the past, something rather important to me. I have a novel in progress, and before everyone groans (yes, I know there are a zillion novels ‘in-progress’ out there), I’m having fun, and, you never know, something might come of it. Due to parenthood, the project has been on hold for a while, but I’ll get back to it sometime.
Anyways, I thought I’d share some of my concept drawings for the characters. Concept drawing is a doozy type of drawing. Just about everything comes straight from the brain with very little in the way of stockshots to work from. I found it a challenge, but also very fun.
The drawings below are the first I made of the main alien race featured in my universe (I write sci-fi). They are not meant to be works of art, rather a reference for me to hang my writing on. Sometimes there comes a point when you need to put pen to paper to get the details right, an extra step beyond visualising. This is what these sketches did for me.
I’ve included text from my journal entry for that day [the square brackets replace terms I changed after this was written]. Trust me, it wasn’t as easy as it looks.
I’ve been building a universe to support a sketchy plot I have. The main star is a human, but the co-star is an alien and when I started profiling him, I found I needed a much clearer picture in my head as to what he might look like. So I got out my sketchbook and did some concept sketching.
Now this is the first time I’ve done this sort of drawing. I usually use some kind of stock shots to work from, but this was almost entirely out of that wacky space I call my brain. That’s not to say I didn’t use some human anatomical references and even nosed around at some animals to get the look I wanted, but mostly drawn from my head.
One thing I did find that it was extremely hard to not give him human characteristics. I wanted something distinctly alien, but I found myself compromising again and again just to make my alien look ‘realistic’. It seems the human eye expects certain things from living creatures, and won’t settle for a joint out of place without calling it silly. So what I ended up was far more stereotypical than I would have preferred, but I think it will work.
Anyway, let me introduce the [Isel (pronounced iZell)], specifically Chanu Far….oddly enough, I started with his hands. (Apologies for the poor quality scans). Oh, and if they were in colour he would be a shade of green 😀
I had some major trouble with his head, trying to keep him alien and non-stereotyped was extremely hard. Even now, I’m not sure I’ve escaped that. The dots on the right side of his face at a type of tattoo showing rank.
Then I had to put the pieces together and fill in the gaps. Oddly enough, I wanted to draw him crouching before standing, I wanted see how his joints worked (though human like in this shot, they actually bend in the opposite direction also). My skill, or lack of it, in foreshortening is obvious here. I need more practise.
And, of course, I had to do the standing shot, no matter how boring. Just for size comparison, the Misa average 4’/1.2m height. The costume shots…the one on the left is standard active wear (the [Isel], though rather intellectual are also very physically active)…the one on the right (which I’m not entirely happy with) is for a slightly more formal occasion…they are both uniformy.
The next day I drew him in colour.
I hadn’t planned to go this far with the art side of things, but I really wanted to work out his colouring. So I would like to introduce you all to Chanu Far (or Nu for short). He is the co-star in the story I’m planning. He is [Isel]. Lord [Pel]. [Third] step of the Assembly.
I went on to draw concepts for spacecraft (which I’m really happy with) and some of the other alien races in the universe. I had a great deal of fun. Hopefully I will return to the project down the track.
And here is an excerpt of some of the writing I have done in that universe, just to prove I did something with these drawings. James ‘Mick’ McIntrye is the lead, he is speaking with the alien ambassador, Chanu Far.
Damn the double talk. “You’re never going to tell me, are you?”
“I will. If and when the time is right.”
“And when will that be?”
“When I so decide.”
So be it. “Arthur is lying to you because he doesn’t trust you. And while I hate to say it, Chanu, I find myself beginning to agree with him.”
The Isel tensed. “You do not trust me.”
“Tell me why I should. You barge onto our planet, demand to speak to me, and start shelling out all this technology, all for no real reason. I’d think we all have enough cause to be suspicious.”
“I have not harmed any of you. The Isel are simply following tradition.”
“Your tradition, Chanu. Not ours. We don’t know you. You claim to know us, yet I have to say there are some serious gaps in that knowledge. I still can’t believe what you did with that hotdog.”
Chanu’s eye aura immediately flushed blue. “It was your popular media, not mine, that suggested it.”
“If you’d known enough about us, you would have known exactly what you were watching!”
The air in the room stretched and sprung back, tension snapping. “I never claimed perfection, James.”
“And I never expected it. But then I never expected to have you land on my doorstep and destroy whatever mediocre amount of trust my country, hell, my entire planet, had in me.”
“It was necessary.”
Chanu shifted his posture slightly and reached up to scratch an elbow. “I have my reasons.”
The waves pounded angrily on the other side of the clearpexel, the sudden utter silence eerie.
The newly appointed Special Representative of Earth stared at the Isel Ambassador for a moment. His lips thinned to non-existence, but he didn’t say anything further.
He simply turned and left.
Perhaps he didn’t trust himself after all.
Trust himself enough to stay civil.
“James.” The human kept walking and Chanu found himself chasing him through several corridors. “James.”
“Not now, Chanu.” And he kept walking.
“I’m sorry it has to be this way.”
McIntyre spun. “Are you? Are you really? This little situation you’ve contrived puts you and your…your…species in the perfect place of power. We are at your whim and mercy. You know it, I know it, we all know it. You could decimate us without blinking twice. You can do what you want. Why wouldn’t you want it that way?”
“That is not my intent.”
“Screw intent! The road to hell is paved with the stuff! How do I know that you aren’t about to conquer us, or slaughter us or use us in some science fiction gone bad nightmare that we have no power to prevent? All in my name, I might add. Apparently, I’m buddy-buddy with all alien types.” McIntyre’s eyes looked ready to burst from his head.
“You must trust.” Chanu paused, uneasy at James’ reactions. “As I do. Do not underestimate your people, or overestimate mine. We are not gods.”
“You act like them.”
He bit back the angry response that immediately came to mind. “You do not know what you are saying.”
“I don’t? Well, fancy that. Funnily enough I didn’t plan on this little phase of my career when I made my subject choices at the Academy. After all, I’m only here because some crazy alien crash landed his spaceship in the middle of New York City and ruined my life!”
Chanu froze. His intentions had been many, the majority of which he had considered good. He thought that by involving James he would be honouring his debt. The human lacked nothing in comfort and if he needed anything or anyone, he had only to ask. True, his government had made his life difficult, the media hounded him, but Chanu had hoped the gains would outweigh the losses. He had hoped his presence would be enough.
He shied away from those motives not entirely selfless.
“I’m sorry you feel that way.”
James turned away, not answering, but he didn’t leave.
The Isel shifted from one foot to the other, daring to scratch at his irritated elbows. “Do you wish to resign?”
The sound that came from McIntyre’s direction could only be described as incoherent…and Chanu knew he had won.
If there had ever been a contest.
“I’m sorry it has to be this way, James. If I could tell you my reasons, I would. All I ask is that you trust me. I have only your welfare in mind.” He paused a moment, searching the man’s back for some kind of reaction. “It has been an honour to work with you thus far. I believe our two societies have a wealth of knowledge and skill to offer each other and I am hoping you will be my counterpart in this endeavour.”
McIntyre straightened, his posture coming to some kind of attention. The Isel didn’t fail to notice the clenching and unclenching hands. “I have a choice?”
“There is always choice.”
“That’s easy for you to say.” And once again, he walked away.
This time, Chanu didn’t follow, he just watched the man leave. James needed time to assess his emotions, consider his options. He angered easily, he was passionate, not unlike Chanu himself in some ways. And it was one of the reasons why he trusted the human so.
He became suddenly aware of the small noises in the corridor with him. He looked up to find several humans surreptitiously eyeing him from the doorways. Eyes half lidded, he glared at them all, drawing himself to his full height. “I will hear nothing of this.” His voice was sharp and clear and a sudden industry erupted around him, almost drowning the muttered affirmatives.
Huffing in annoyance, Chanu strode off the way he had come, his black cloak flapping behind him.
(I told you there was mush in my head)