Run Cycle Animation

The Lady of Astor from Chapter 1, animated in a quick run cycle. This is replacing the current “coming up” animation when you get to the end of the currently published pages and hit “next”.
I used Muybridge‘s photographs to base this horse on. His work is very interesting for animation, albeit old.

It’s a painted remake of this pixel animation I made of the same character last year:

Making of full-spread pages.

I enjoy making full-spread pages. They allow me to fill them with a lot of information while being visually descriptive. They take a little bit more thinking ahead.

I usually start by writing down the speech bubbles, to see how much I need to say (or how much I can say within that space without over-crowding the page with information).
Telling a story with panels and speech bubbles is a lot problem-solving.
I pay attention to the page division in the middle, where I want to avoid any text or important visuals (which would get cut off or difficult to see in the book binding).
I can choose to divide the image in as little or as many panels, too and I like to stretch the panels horizontally from left to right. It gives for interesting composition. Sometimes it’s not about showing the characters straight on but their motion, the distance between them, the speed and direction of their walking. I took advantage of the horizontality in this page to show the icy water of the cave and the characters’ reflections on the surface to describe their emotions and to bring variety to the point of view. Too much of the same angle becomes quickly boring and it’s important to show the environment where the characters evolve.

AP Lore : Angels

There is mystery surrounding Angels. Who are they?  Why do they do what they do? What is their primary intention? … (You will need to keep reading the comic to learn these answers. No spoiler here.)

Angel facts:
Here are some facts that every Diabolic knows.

Angels are immortal but not invincible.
They will never get sick nor die from disease but they can be mortally wounded and killed. They regenerate at a rate similar to humans, which is a lot slower than Diabolics.
They have incredible far-sight and can read a person’s expression from roughly a mile away.

Memory Loss:
Angels never sleep naturally. When they lose consciousness, it is either by being put to sleep artificially (poison) or knocked unconscious from trauma or pain and there is no guaranty that they can ever wake up from it. They can be asleep for a day or for a decade. When they awake, their memories are gone. For Angels, this is nightmare scenario.
To remedy the issue (supposedly), Angels have developed various ways of storing and archiving data, recording every bit of information since the beginning of times.

Angels do not resurrect like the Diabolics can. When they die, their body slowly turns to an unknown hard, indestructible material. The phenomenon occurs even to amputated parts such as the wings, which never rot nor decay.

Angels crave sunlight. It is the source of their never-extinguishing energy and powers. As long as they absorb light through their skin or wings, they have no need to eat nor drink, ever. A sleeping Angel remains alive for millennia as long as they are placed in direct sunlight. On the other hand, absence of light can prevent wounds from ever healing at all. Keeping Angels in complete darkness can lead them to starve, become weak and even lose consciousness or die.

The Angels wings, astonishingly large, are connected to the body by flesh and also hold blood. The extra amount of blood makes hemorrhage an unlikely cause of Angel death, although still a possibility. Cutting the wings off cancels this physical advantage.

Like the Diabolics, Angels have their own set of peculiar powers. All these powers are generated by their wings. Cutting them off puts an immediate end to all the following abilities…

Flight:
Angels naturally defy gravity. It is not the result of a motion against the air as birds’ wings do but a constant state of floating as long as they will it. They can fly with their broad wings completely still and silent.

Teleportation:
Angels can hop from a place to another in an instant as long as the wings are visible. Teleportation is noisy and produces a sound similar to a canon shot. Diabolics have learned to recognize the sound from afar.

Invisibility:
Angel wings can turn invisible and immaterial on command, which is a powerful advantage. Invisibility, like teleportation and flight, can be transferred to Angel-made constructions, which is even more awesome. Most of their fortresses can float, teleport and be completely hidden from sight and touch.

Lighting Weaponry:
Every Angel can manifest personal weaponry made of light, which they are alone able to pick up and arm. These weapons only affect Diabolic flesh, which it burns and decomposes at contact. Any other living tissue remains unchanged.

Seraphon Powers – Angels’ Power:
This is the really important gig of Angels and this is one is not possessed by default by any of them. It may or may not have been around from the start but it was later engineered or harnessed as a response to the Diabolics rapid growth.
This power comes from an external pool that is finite and gets distributed to individual Angels voluntarily. One Angel is chosen at any given time to be the Source, the one with access to this pool and the power to distribute it or take it back (currently, Constance).
The powers given by the Source are called Seraphon powers and give the Angel the ability to destroy tissues and materials that are not just Diabolics but everything else, including other Angels.

The Seraphon attacks are very very wide in range and originally meant to destroy entire Diabolic armies or lands in a single strike.

It must be noted that this pool also fuels the natural individual powers of Angels, which means that, the more Angels there are at any given time: the less available powers there is to share between them.

Transferring Seraphon power to an Angel has the effect of elongating their wings dramatically to withstand the collection of power necessary for attacks. This change in size is temporary, as the power can be taken back. The wings then resume their individual size.
Because of their incredible wingspan, Seraphons are very recognizable in the sky and dreaded. They quickly become the target of Heytorians or artillery, as they have the ability to obliterate the enemy in very large numbers in a matter of seconds. Heytorians have learned to shoot them very hard and very fast as soon as the wings are visible.

The Matterforged Swords

These mysterious swords seem to wield Seraphon powers without the need for a transfer from the Source. Although their fabrication is attributed to Angels, no one really knows how they were made nor why they hold so much power. 

The Matterforged swords (“Hylozoformes” in the French translation) are limited in numbers. So far, we’ve seen five: three at Metatron’s belt, one in the hands of the Astorians and one at Constance’s belt. Each of the sword is unique in shape and size and – you might be surprised- is named after a known and/or passed Angel.

Angels Structures

The majority of their structures are either one of two types: war towers and fortresses or archives.
The fortresses serve as a high spying point of view from which Angels can see without being seen (these fortresses can reach several kilometers in height). The envergure of these structures also helps to collect energy, just like the Angels wings, and deploy destructive force similar to a Seraphon strike.
The tower that is forced to appear by disabling its shields in Chapter 3 is one of such fortresses.

The other kind of buildings are solid, massive “tablets” with no other purpose but to store data about the past. In here as well, the size (in height) helps to store even more as well as to create a high-top observation spot. Neither structures have doors nor stairs nor windows and usually never even contain a room. They are all solid, with a few niches to take cover.
Tumpestre is one of those archives.

These structures may or may not contain a Portway (“Via” in the French translation) which will be the subject of another article.

 

The Diabolics

Even if their appearances and characteristics differ slightly for each family, all Diabolics share certain traits or “powers” that are unique to them.

Transformation:
Many Diabolics have mastered the ability to absorb matter and recycling it out as something new and alive. All their creations breath and shift in forms and function.

 

Regeneration:
Diabolics recover so quickly from wounds that they seem to never receive any. Angels’ Luminescent weaponry counteracts this regenerative power, creating noticeable damage. Astorians wear regenerative armors to diminish the damage. Heytorians tattoo their skins with permanent shield spells or mirroring blades to deflect attacks.

 

Resurrection:
When killed during physical contact with the ground, any Diabolic is able to be absorbed into the dirt and emerge again from their place of birth on earth, intact.

To avoid death, Diabolics do and build everything directly on ground level, without flooring. They avoid going into buildings or stepping on anything that isn’t dirt and ride their own mounts, which are an equal connection to the ground as if they walked themselves.

 

Copying:
Many proto-Diabolics have more than a single means of reproducing themselves. Aside from sex, they can create new powerful children by donating pieces of their own bodies and fabricate clones.

The Three Diabolic Families

There are three kinds of Diabolics: Heytorians, Astorians and Proteusians.
Each family descents from one particular ancestor which were either Astor, Heytor or Proteus, who emerged from different places in the world and each has their own special powers and stereotypes.

 

The Astorians:
Generally stereotyped as impulsive and emotional, the Astorians are also organized and militaristic, always the first to deploy in the field to fight against the tyranny of Angels. They are known for creating impressive “living” armors that are able to consume enemies and feed their bearer by dissolving and absorbing enemies through the skin.

 

The Proteusians:
They rarely leave the First Ground where they emerged. Instead, they trade and sell through their Astorian brothers. Proteusians are known to come in all size and shapes, with particularly freaky appearances. They are, on the other hand, very friendly, resourceful and charismatic. Good businessmen and politicians, they created and cloned the best mounts and many accessories that they sell to the other kinds and to other species.

 

The Heytorians:
The least monstrous of the Diabolics, Heytorians generally look just like people with glowing eyes wearing hoodies to protect themselves from Angel light. They have been pushed out of the Third Ground from which they emerged, which was frozen over by Angels. Since then, they spread out in small numbers to live across the world with other life forms in peace, as much as they can. They are sedentary, maintaining modest communities and teaching ancient knowledge to neighboring civilisations. Heytorians are tolerant, disciplined and persistent. Forced by Angels to go at war, they have perfected anti-Angels weaponry in the form of the deadliest and most accurate bows.


 

About AP

Before I start rewriting the lore articles, I thought I’d put some of the history behind this comic back on this blog first.

About Angels’ Power

This ongoing version launched on July 13th 2015 but I tried to launch it several times before.
The idea for the scenario started around 2011. I first began drawing it in 2013 as a school project and back then, it was very different. Evadrion was a dude (first noticeable difference) and she wasn’t Constance boyfriend (although that would have been pretty funny).
The first cover looked like this:

2013

The rendering process was very painful and time-consuming. Each page was taking me more than a day of confusing work and I didn’t understand how to compose panels properly. (It was a mystery). I drew the first seven pages before deciding to redraw them again, as nine, right off the bat.
They were awful.

I did not understand perspective either back then. Any scene with architecture was terribly difficult. After twelve pages or so, I gave up.
I looked for other ways to render my story without having to spend so much time on each page. I wanted the story to come out.

In that old version of the script, with Eva being a guy, Constance was also way more ambiguous. Power-hungry and self-serving, he was a lot more sneaky and stabby. He fell more into the villain box than he does now.
A lot of characters from that script did not make it through the numerous revisions. Here is an old character sheet from back then that inclues Evadrion-the-dude, Constance, Evadrion’s mother and a Diabolic:

2014

I relaunched the comic with a different approach: I wasn’t any good at composing the pages and that process took me the most time and was never satisfying in its result, so I gave up entirely on it. In my mind, the story took place as a movie, in one format. So I decided to tell the story as a one panel composition, one image at a time, with speech bubbles.

Constance giving a speech, from an experimental panel, 2014.

In this version, Eva has already become a woman.
The style was still line art and texture-oriented. I was convinced that line art was the key to drawing a comic back then and I always sucked at line art on the computer, probably due to an Intuos3 medium size which isn’t the greatest for line art. To remedy to it I would draw the lines with the free-hand pen tool in PS and used a lot of custom texture brushes. A weird rendering decision…
It didn’t work.
Each panel alone took me a day to make. Even though I loved these very much and made quite a few panels, I had to give up again.

Here are all the panels from 2014.

2015

I changed tablet then and it gave me new possibilities and comfort, but I also reached a better conclusion: I did not have to work with line art. It took me to experiment a little but before figuring this out.

Here is an experimental page for Mordigor The Damned before I figured it out.
In this one, the line art begins to fade out.

Here is another experiment, trying with texture brushes and mixing with 3D models, how much to render and how much to leave as un-rendered noise…

…Until I reached this result. (This is the second page to the Mordigor The Damned test pages). Here I have no line art at all and the page is all painted, based on silhouettes, colors and texture. I also begin to relax on the speech bubbles and slowly understand where to place them.
And all of a sudden, the environment is a blast. I suddenly considered relaunching AP for the last time. I had found a method that suits me and it was extraordinary (to me), like a large horizon suddenly opening.

In a matter of a month, I had rewritten the script and was getting ready to launch the comic again. I had set myself the date and yet, I still wasn’t sure how it would go or what to do with the introduction (probably the pages I’ve re-drawn the most, ever… I’m redrawing them as I write this!!).

Today, April 2017, the end of the first volume approaches. I have drawn all the pages to the end but I am still making adjustments in between: an extra scene to Chapter 2 and rewriting the Prologue is going to make it 40+ instead of 8…
Again, I will try to finish them all before I reach the second anniversary of the launch, July 13th. Wish-me luck!

Amélie

Blog Accident and Life

So last month I accidentally deleted the database for this blog. My bad. All my few posts are gone so you’ve got to give me some time to gather myself in order to write them again…

I don’t like to write the same things twice so I’ll have to be a little creative about it in order to bring the lore back into this blog.
Beside, I’ve been feeling down for the past month or so. The little energy I have left goes into drawing the page once a week and into my art students, my current job, which takes a lot out of me. The school semester is almost over though and then it’ll be all illustrations and AP.
I’ll work it out.

Amélie