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The Many Faces of Shade–Part One

31 Mar

Shade, our main character in the Shade Chronicles, has been through many face lifts. Dragols and Fauns might say that’s what made him so grumpy, but they wouldn’t say it to his face. We went through quite a journey of artists when selecting the final artist for Shade One. I’d be happy to spin this tale for our small and faithful band of blog readers, but first let me tell you a little bit about the man in black himself.

First off don’t call Shade a man, not unless you want to catch a knife in the back when your head is turned. He is a Dark Elf from the black forests of Jui-Sae. He was trained in the legendary ranks of the Unseen, who are the most elite assassins in all Covent. You see Unseen live up to their fearsome reputation, and they can turn invisible, which is a nasty trick making them quite difficult to see them sneaking up on you. He also collects knives, lots and lots of knives and not the dull ones either.

Shade enjoys long solitary walks on the beach, just as long as those walks end with the bagging of his latest mark. He’s a Scorpio and he like all Scoprios has a fancy for pouring mud into his adult beverages (that’s a riddle you’ll have to read the book to solve BTW). Oh, and did I mention that he’s single! For any interested ladies, he’s rich, tall, dark and handsome, once you can get past his whole coldblooded killer wrap.

Now where was I? Oh yes, the pictures above. This was the first artist we hired. Names have been changed to protect the innocent. We’ll call him Billy. We were not very impressed with Billy’s first attempt shown in picture 1. Shade seemed stiff, wooden, more man than Elf. The armor also left a lot to be desired. Hard leathers felt all wrong, the knives in his straps didn’t feel reachable. I didn’t want to see this Shade stumbling awkwardly through a fight.

The background on the other hand was awesome! I love the bearded man drinking in the back. It kind of looks like they’re arm wrestling, but that’s just as cool. The Green Barrel, which is our cozy, quaint little sewer tavern is alive with barrels, cool lanterns and moldy sewer gratings. Brilliant! The problem is that the background is more interesting than the main character. This was a definite red flag, so we asked Billy to redraw it.

Months passed until finally we received picture 2. A stroke of brilliance! We were thrilled. Shade finally lit up the room, his armor was perfect, his pose far more interesting. He oozed with confidence. Finally after waiting another month we received the final black and white. We rejoiced! We danced around a bonfire like wild tribesmen! We sent additional requests for our logo and other projects, but Billy was in too high demand for us. Reluctantly, we were forced to start over with another artist.

Through a mutual friend we found the artist above. We’ll call him Willy. Willy’s finished works on his portfolio were rather nice, though admittedly he was more into drawing superheroes. Fantasy was new to him, but we gave him a shot. His first couple pictures came at lightning fast speed. A nice change from waiting on Mr. Billy before him, but the sketches left us searching for an art style truly befitting of the world of Covent.

The first picture was a complete sketch. I thought the ponytail was very cool. Our original vision of Elves related them to the far East, so the hair style seemed fitting. The armor was suitable, but was a bit too Dracula for me. Now Willy was very good at accepting feedback, a massive credit to his character. He sent us version 1.1 in a matter of days. We liked this piece much better than the last. That hood and cloak were quite good. The scene he was painting might work as an alternative cover, but once again we weren’t sold on the art style.

Willy sent us several other concepts and then we received version 1.11teen. Now 11teen is an old joke Josh and I shared back from our high school days. Version 1.11teen was a much stronger Shade than its predecessors. Shade had a strong face, strong eyebrows oozing with confidence, that awesome ponytail and another good hood and cloak. There was just one problem. Everyone who looked at it thought he was a character out of the Legend of Zelda. Meanwhile our trademark got approved setting a deadline for publication and so we had to canvass other artists.

We talked to names as big as Kerem Beyet, but they were all booked up or way out of budget, though I might add that Mr. Kerem Beyet is one of the most polite, professional and talented artists in the world today. After months of canvassing Deviantart.com we widdled our search down to two candidates. One had drawn for World of Warcraft, Clash of the Titans plus dozens of other major brands and the other for Fantasy Flight Games. They crossed paintbrushes and prepared to duel off. The final clash of artists had now come. Wham! Smack! Pow!!!

To be continued…

Will the caped killer ever find his true face? Will he have to spend the rest of his imaginary life wandering the lonely, white pages of an empty art canvas?

Find out next week on the exciting conclusion of the Many Faces of Shade. Same bat time! Same bat channel!

Or you can skip right ahead to the website and spoil next week’s blog if you wish by sneaking a peak at the final cover. Cheat and sneak a peek…

Cheat and sneak a peak…

P. S. from the mysterious intruder, “Hey J. L., the final cover is to the right over there  Up, up, up there!”

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