Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Wizard of Earthsea

Yikes, its been awhile since I've posted anything! So I guess I'll jump right in. I have been working on a new project. I am doing the visual development for A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K. Le Guin. It is based on a truly amazing book, and I think I have read it seven times now. ("read" is a bit of a misnomer, I have it on mp3) So here is some of the sketch work I have been doing.

Since I had time to kill while I was listening to the book, I got an interesting opportunity. I have noticed that I get an idea for a project, and have trouble pulling myself away from it. This time I decided to design the characters and environments as I saw them (Not designed for appeal, just honestly how I see them.)

 I figured once I had put down the ideas that I was connected to, I would have a little more freedom afterwards. (This experiment is still in progress, I'll let you know how it turns out.)

Often times, random strangers become the unwitting victims of my design process. This person walked by a coffee shop I was in--he didn't even stop to get a drink. I had just enough time to put down a blind drawing of him before he walked on.

 This fellow was sitting right next to me. Something about his mood reminded me of a character in the book. I was mortally afraid he would notice my occasional glances in his direction and realize he had become my model.

This was simply a blind drawing from my imagination. I find that I can get my drawings to have a bit more character if I momentarily remove my eyes from the process.

One of the characters I have had particular fund designing is the character of a beautiful female enchantress.

She has gone through a number of iterations, but these were the ones I based my paintings on.

This is my first gouache painting in over a year, and my second gouache painting ever. I figured since I spend so much time with the undo key at my disposal, I should try a medium that is known for being temperamental and permanent.

Here she is in photoshop form.
The main character is a goat herder who becomes a wizard. I have yet to figure out his exact design, but I decided to do a quick sketch of him as a goat herder to get a feeling for him.

Here he is again. This time I wanted to pay particular attention to his facial tattoos.

Every once in a while I get a bit obsessive about reference. Usually it comes in the form of researching some little thing for hours and hours, but this time it came in getting the correct facial expression. 

I now have 170 photos of myself treating a bottle of ibuprofen as if it were a small cuddly pet.

In stark contrast, every once in a while I find the need to test my creative thinking process on the fly. I don't allow myself any reference or thumbnails, and I just see how my brain deals with it. This image above was where the painting started. The only parameter that I gave myself was that it had to exist in the world of the book I'm reading. 

This was the product an hour later.

This one appeared using much the same process, but this time I was trying for a specific location and point in the book. 

Well, my stomach is telling me that photoshop and the internet are not good forms of nutrition.

(This is how my stomach feels)

I hope you all have a lovely day!
Now for breakfast =)


  1. Al, thanks for sharing your awesome work. So exciting to see your talent!!
    Laura Embrey-Stine

  2. I really, really like your landscapes - especially the very first one in the snow. I wish you had done the cover of my copies of the Earthsea books!