Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Lazy Bones

I’ve been negligent in updating the blog for the last week or so. After starting a new job and playing City of Heroes most nights lately, I haven’t done much with the comic until last night. Currently, I’m two-thirds done with the second scene, and I just need to finish Hector’s conversation with Rubert Tagus III to complete the first chapter. I also made a rough sketch of how I think the website will look. I want to make the navigation through the pages as intuitive and as unobtrusive as possible. I’m calling the site itself “Imperium Online presents the Imperium Chronicles” to tie in with the old IO project. I will also have links to secondary pages such as biographical information, databank of characters/settings, etc., and credits. Besides myself, on the credits page I plan to list the creators of the different poser assets I am using. Legally I think I should, and it just seems like the right thing to do.

So, the last thing for chapter one is the Emperor’s conversation with the Rupert, the young firebrand from the Tagus family. Right before that, during Hector’s conversation with the Magna Ambassador, I introduced the concept of power and what those in power do to maintain their grip at the top. Hector states that he has killed more men as Emperor, than he ever did as a soldier (although not directly). He must use his cunning and manipulation of others to retain his power – one of the main aspects of this story.

After I finish the chapter, and before moving on to the second, I will work on the prologue. That will be short and full of action. It will involve a merchant vessel under pirate attack. I decided to add it, because chapter one had very little action and I felt the reader needed something more to draw him or her into the story. There’s nothing like a pirate attack to get the ball rolling, so to speak. ;-)

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

The Story So Far . . .

Although the original version of Alexander the Prince followed Alexander directly, I wanted to do the comic differently. Briefly, each chapter of the story will follow a character whose own story somehow intersects with the Alexander plot. To that end, each chapter will be named after the character that will be followed (an idea I got from the novel Catch-22). This allows me to explore a wider breadth of the Imperium universe while still telling the Alexander story.

In chapter one, titled Hector Augustus, I follow the emperor of the Imperium who also happens to be Alexander’s father. In many ways, Hector is the Prime Mover of the plot since it is his actions that put the Alexander story in motion (although this may not be apparent at first). Later in the story, I will talk a bit more about the prime mover concept as it relates to the Imperial state religion.

Chapter one has two scenes: the Study and the Great Room. The former is where the plot begins, as the Emperor’s assistant Kalidas enters to find Hector napping. That night there is a birthday celebration for Prince Richard, Hector’s eldest son and Alexander’s brother. After leaving the Study, the story resumes in the Great Room where the guests for the celebration are gathered. Hector enters (with Kalidas close behind) and welcomes everyone for coming. However, not everything is wonderful in the Imperium. As the Emperor comes down the main stairs, members of the crowd whisper to themselves, which foreshadows a few things for later in the plot.

The first person that Hector talks to is the Magna Ambassador, representative of the Magna Supremacy (another empire that has fought against the Imperium). In fact, during the previous war, Hector and the Ambassador actually fought against each other (and the latter still carries a plasma burn to prove it). I’m using this conversation to set up suspicion that the Magna Supremacy may be involved in the Pirate attacks against Imperial shipping.

At this point, I am still doing the renders of this conversation. I’ve tried to portray the Ambassador as towering over the Emperor (and everyone else). He is devil-like (except for his green skin) and rather large.

After I finish rendering the Emperor/Ambassador section of the scene, I will turn to the final section, which is Hector’s conversation with Rupert Tagus III, the first son from a competing royal family. Just as an aside, although the aristocracy of the Imperium is extensive, there are five primary families (the so-called Five Families). They include the following: Augustus, Tagus, Groen, Montrose, and Veber. Each one vies for power and influence, and often conspires against the other families.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

My process

I began working on the story about a month ago, shortly before canceling the Imperium Online project. Since then, I've been assembling the pages (5 so far) by doing renders in Poser and touchup in Photoshop. This is basically the process:

  1. For each scene, I write a rough script for the dialogue. Mind you, this can change a bit, but I try to touch on the important ideas at least.
  2. Next, I try to do some basic blocking (ie: arranging) of how the different panes/panels will appear on the page.
  3. Having a general idea of how things will appear, I start setting up the scene in Poser itself. This involves creating the individual characters separately and then importing them into the scene. For example, the first scene takes place in the Emperor's Study. Besides setting up the Study, I needed to setup the two characters (they're physical appearance, including costumes), the Emperor and his advisor Kalidas.
  4. After importing the characters, I begin to look at the camera angles I want to use that would best fit with the pane shapes & sizes I want.
  5. Finally, I start doing renders. I really had a lot of problems with this at first as I began to learn more about the limitations of my computer's RAM. Rendering in Poser is very computer intensive, and I was pulling my hair out a lot until I reduced the resolution a bit and learned a few tricks. Keep in mind that I am largely self taught, so I assume there are easier/better ways of using Poser. However, I'm doing my best to learn along the way.
  6. After the renders are done, I open them in Photoshop and do any necessary touchup. I also add a border onto each pane and add dialogue balloons.
  7. Finally, I prepare the page for being uploaded to the website. This involves splitting the page up into sections so your browser doesn't need to download one big image.
  8. Upload images to website (which I haven't done yet).
After I get the first chapter done, I plan to upload it to my website (after redoing the site). This will allow anyone to view the story for free, anywhere in the world. Of course, this doesn't mean anyone will actually look at it, but who knows? :-)

In the Beginning . . .

Hi Everyone:

Although I've never blogged before, I decided to start one so I could document my experiences while working on my graphic novel/comic, the Imperium Chronicles. The IC is based on an unfinished novel I began and abandoned several years ago. The novel, Alexander the Prince, revolved around the middle child of a royal family in a sci-fi setting.

Years after stopping work on the novel, I began to develop a game called Imperium Online, which was based loosely on the characters and setting of Alexander the Prince (although greatly expanded). Unfortunately, I recently had to suspend/cancel the game project due to the time and money it was costing me. However, I still did not want to let go of the Imperium Universe. Instead, I decided to use some of the talents I learned during development using a great program called Poser. The software allows me, though various models, objects, and settings, to create nicely rendered pictures which I can turn into stories. Ironically, I created many picture stories/comics as a child -- filling notebooks full of my drawings. I had eventually stopped because I felt my artist abilities were lacking. However, using Poser, I am able to create the images to go with the ideas in my head!

So, I began work on the Imperium Chronicles, which is loosely based on Alexander the Prince and the rest of the narrative created for Imperium Online.