Welcome to Terradalay

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‘King Harold the Best is the greatest king to ever sit the throne of Terradalay. Aided by his Magical Vest, which grants him the power of wisdom, King Harold rules over his kingdom with fairness, kindness, and generosity.

But one day, his vest is stolen and all fear that the kingdom will come to ruin.

It falls to the King Harold’s most gallant knight, Sir Loinsteak, to embark upon the most gruelling trial in his career – The Quest for the Vest!

Along the way, Sir Loinsteak learns that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover, and he finds help and friendship in some of the strangest and funniest places.

From a warty-witch who wants to be a beauty therapist, to a fire breathing dragon who just wants to spend his days baking delicious cakes and cookies, no one Sir Loinsteak meets is quite who they seem.

Will Sir Loinsteak learn from those he meets and save the kingdom in time? You’ll have to find out!’

This story is a labour of love for me. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been in love with tales of epic fantasy and science fiction. Dragons, wizards, witches, swords and magic, made up lands with funny names and in-depth history – you name it, I’m into it.

‘The Quest for the Vest’ is, in a lot of ways, a homage to my childhood and the writers and artists who made it so enjoyable. My aim is to take a humorous look at all the fantasy tropes and stereotypes and turn them on their heads, while telling a fun-filled adventure story that children can take a message away from.

I’ve been having a tonne of fun creating this book, and things are just warming up!

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Pulling faces

Sir-Loinsteak-head

Gallant Sir Loinsteak has an expression for every occasion. 

Hello everyone! Long time, no post, I know.

I have been busy working away building resources and refining my character art for ‘Quest for the Vest’ and I have a few things to share with you!

First up is the new and improved look for my characters!

Since I decided that I was going to take full advantage of the digital book format today’s devices offer and animate the pages of my book, it was very important that I completely nail the concepts of my characters down and build them in such a way so that not only do they look consistent, they are also easy to rig for animation purposes.

This means I have to think several steps ahead at all points in the project, as there’s nothing worse than putting hours of work into art, only to find out that it’s useless for the purpose that you need it.

Princess-Puff-Head

Princess Puff looking mischievous as usual!

So basically that means building libraries upon libraries of resource art that I can easily fit together for page layouts and animation.

First up, I wanted to share with you my expression library.

Each character has their own library of expressions, draw at various angles, so that I can simply place a new expression or face onto each character as I require.

In addition, each characters torso and limbs are built separately so that they can be imported into flash and then used as ‘key-frames’ (more on that later).

Wendy-the-Witch-Head

Wendy the Witch is a playful and whimsical character, and many of her expressions reflect this.

Each character now fits thematically with all of the others (an important step, and one that can be tricky to get right, as certain characters sometimes fit slightly different art styles), and each character has their own unique personality.

In other words, they’re the same, but different, which is actually a pretty hard thing to pull off! Trust me!

In any event, I’m back in full swing!

I’ll be moving house in a couple of weeks and I’ll be setting up a proper studio, which I’m very excited about!

There’ll be no stopping me then! 🙂

Willy-the-Wizard-head

Willy the Wizard looking cantankerous and crusty as always! 

 

Quest for the Vest gets its animation on!

I’m extremely excited to announce that – by the power of Greyskull (and Adobe Flash) – the digital version of ‘Quest for the Vest‘ will be animated!

Ruff Tuff can barely contain the excitement and I caught him on film doing a happy dance!

‘Pop-up’ books were always a lot of fun as a kid, and so I sort of envision ‘Quest for the Vest’ being a pop-up book for the modern, digital age.

With devices like Kindles and iPads offering all sorts of options to present your work in a variety of ways, why not use them to their fullest potential?

I look forward to sharing more with you in the weeks and months ahead!

 

Landscaping in Terradalay

Swamp Clip

THE SWAMP LANDS: Home to many a slimy and slithery creature, and any number of plants and fungi.

Terradalay is a land of diversity. From green forests to murky swamps, rocky volcanic crags to icy tundras, Terradalay has nearly every landscape imaginable. And of course, each region is home to a variety of denizens, both flora and fauna.  

Volcano Clip

THE VOLCANIC MOUNTAINS: Hot, rocky, and teeming with molten lava, rumour has it that a mighty dragon is the only creature to call this place home. But then again, who else would?

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed bringing this imaginary land in my head to life. Terradalay is a bright and vibrant place, the stuff of fairy tales, and so I’ve chosen a colour palette that reflects this. The challenge has been in keeping the world consistent in its diversity. The characters in the book travel the length and breadth of the kingdom in search of King Harold’s Vest, and so it was important to ensure the terrain, although vastly different, belonged to the same story, the same magical land.

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THE GREAT SNOWY PEAKS: With temperatures ranging from ‘frozen solid’ to ‘frozen even more solid’, this region is home to some of the toughest and hardiest people in Terradalay, and perhaps one or two giant trolls as well, if you believe the stories. 

So how does one go about such a thing? Mostly it comes down to ‘art-style’. Every artist has their style. It’s an intrinsic part of who they are. But of course, within that style each artist has their subset styles. Photorealism, abstract, cartoon, surrealism. And those styles change depending upon the medium used.

My ‘home’ is digital art. Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, Indesign and Flash are my main tools. And the truth is, I’m rubbish with a paintbrush and canvas! Digital art and more traditional mediums are very different kettles of fish, when all is said and done.

So when it comes to ‘Quest for the Vest’ I’ve settled on a digital cartoon style that’s fairly impressionist in nature – that is to say, there’s a focus on colour and light, while the structure of objects is fairly minimalist.  Everything is created in drawn in illustrator, so the medium is consistent, and I’ve created a series of basic rules that allow everything to (hopefully) fit together!

The characters, as opposed to the landscapes, follow slightly different rules. The primary difference being that they are created with black outlines. I’ve done this on purpose, in order to create a contrast with the background world they are interacting with.

The reason for this is that they are the primary focus. ‘Quest for the Vest’ is a story about people, when it’s all boiled down, and so it’s important that the readers eye is drawn to them.

 

Character Bio: Willy the Wizard

Willy the Wizard Character Bio

Willy the Wizard has become a little cantankerous in his old age. Having lived in his forest tower all his life, with his nose either pressed into a book of magic spells, or singed by his latest experiment, Willy doesn’t get many visitors. The few that do dare to venture near his tower usually run away when Willy threatens to turn them into hamsters, or zap them with lightning, or both.

When Sir Loinsteak and Ruff Tuff arrive at his tower, convinced that the old Wizard has stolen the King’s Magical Vest for some nefarious purpose, Willy is outraged at the accusation.

But observing that the brave knight and the ruffian aren’t about to leave him in peace, Willy informs them that he knows exactly who’s to blame for the theft, and begrudgingly leads them deeper into the forest…

Character Bio: Wendy the Witch

Wendy the Witch Character Bio

With green skin, covered in warts and spots, and growing up in a smelly old swamp, Wendy learned from a young age that people would rather avoid her neck of the woods. But ever the optimist, Wendy never let people’s reaction to her appearance get her down.

Having studied all the herbs, plants and fungi that ever grew in the woods and marshes of Terradalay, Wendy is a master potion brewer and can heal almost any ailment that someone might suffer from. And she knows a few spells that would give even Willy the Wizard a run for his money!

But her real passion is cosmetic products, and she dreams of one day owning her own beauty salon.

At first accused of stealing the King’s Magical Vest by Sir Loinsteak, Wendy proves she has a heart of gold by casting a spell that will allow the intrepid adventurers to traverse the swamp with ease – as long as they don’t mind being small, green and slimy while doing it!

Character Bio: Ruff Tuff the Gruff

Ruff Tuff Character Bio

A vagabond, miscreant, and all round ne’er’ do well, Ruff Tuff the Gruff is the manliest outlaw to ever roam the woods of Terradalay.

When he chances to meet Sir Loinsteak on the road, the knight immediately suspects the ruffian of stealing the King’s Magical Vest.

But Ruff Tuff is innocent, (of that crime at least), and as a way of proving he is not the culprit, the scoundrel offers his assistance in tracking down the real thief.

As the two set off on the road, only one question remains – why does such a burly fellow have such a penchant for pigtails…?

Character Bio: Princess Puff

Princess Puff Character Bio

Cooped up in her father’s castle her entire life, the pretty and tom-boyish Princess Puff spends her days dreaming of one day travelling the world and having exciting adventures.

When King Harold’s Magical Vest is stolen, the princess sees the disaster as an opportunity to free herself from the the confines of her boring tower, and begs her father to allow her to travel with Sir Loinsteak.

But fearing for his daughter’s safety, King Harold refuses her request, and tells her she should concentrate on doing the things princesses do.

Princess Puff is a wilful and determined girl, however, and as she leaves the throne room in frustration she’s already concocting a plan to make her escape…

Character Bio: Sir Loinsteak

Sir Loinsteak Character Bio

Sir Loinsteak is the wonderful and dashing hero of ‘Quest for the Vest’.

Brave and noble, Sir Loinsteak has embarked upon many an adventure throughout his career, but when King Harold’s Magical Vest is stolen, our plucky protagonist will face his greatest challenge yet!

Perhaps due to the many ruffians and villians Sir Loinsteak has brought to justice, the bold knight can sometimes be quick to judge others. But as his journey takes him far and wide to new lands, he learns a valuable lesson – that the best friendships can come in the unlikeliest of packages.

More about the design and character crafting of Sir Loinsteak coming soon!

Once upon a time…

Hello and welcome to the official development diary of my up and coming children’s book, ‘Quest for the Vest’!

I’ve been dabbling (read: procrastinating) with this book for quite some time now. I’m sure you’re familiar with the tale. You have a bright idea for a project. You start out with the best intentions and give it a red hot go. You come up with some great preliminary stuff, and all your friends and family are excited and give you plenty of encouragement.

Then ‘Life’ happens.

You get a new job, start a new relationship, get a new pet goldfish, and before you know it, 18 months have up and walked out the door without so much as leaving a goodbye note on your refrigerator.

But fortunately for me, I’m all out of excuses. There’s no good reason to delay this any further, and every reason to see it through.

So, yay!

I have some big plans for this diary also. Over the course of the next few months I’ll be updating plenty of content about the progress of the book, as well as some more in depth looks at my creative process, from the writing, illustration, content management, all the way through the publication process. So if you’re at all interested to learn about the inner workings of creating an illustrated book, I hope I’ll be able to provide some useful information about my weird and wacky ways.

One of the first things I’ll be looking at is the anatomy of a character, the methods you can employ to keep your character consistent throughout the pages of your book, and save massive amounts of time and energy while you’re at it.

To be perfectly honest, I feel there has never been a better time to tackle this project. I’ve learnt a great deal about publication recently, and I feel very confident that I now possess the knowledge to see this through, and complete it in the best way possible.

So let’s head off and find that vest!