Monday 20 February 2023

Nil, Rebel Angels and possible book looks for The Future

For the Nil short film, I added in gradients and cloud backgrounds to enrich the scenes. I rather like the result; it enhances the style. 

Earlier I'd tried with Rebel Angels to combine photographs of classical art with the flat graphic environments, but the result was not received well. 

Still, be interesting to try again. 

Nil had a very flat, graphic style, with no gradients at all, originally: just flat fields of white, black and grey. Character designs were simple and iconic, the backgrounds ultra-detailed:

Picture of character on a steam engine going past a vast graveyard
A page from the original Nil graphic novel; I loved playing with the layouts and merging illustration and design. That was a happy place for me, and I'd like to go back there. The subsequent books were all less 'designy' or abstract, and more attempts to describe environments.

A vast cityscape with Proun Nul in foreground
Elements from the book, cityscapes and impossible buildings, covered with blends to knock them back and emphasize the character in the foreground. The haze also softens the scene. 

A squad of Nihilean soldiers in a field being reviewed by their officer
Soft background clouds give the scene greater depth and a stronger sense of desolation and vastness.

When I got to Rebel Angels, I'd been doing graphic novels for awhile, and had Nil, Rex Libris, and Warlord of Io under my belt. Rebel Angels was actually an outgrowth of Nil, but during development became completely disconnected from the source material. 

I had a young female punk rocker who was wrongly condemned to Hell teaming up with Muk to overthrow Satan, but at the time I really didn't want to draw humans. Just monsters and demons, so I cut her character. Maybe not the best of choices. 

But you can only do what you can do.

The characters in Rebel Angels became more animated, a little more in line with cartoons: a clean outline and flat blocks of tone over more complex backgrounds. It was more sophisticated in some ways, yet less experimental than Nil.

I'm happy with the visual result. The story itself got away from me and I burned out finishing the book. It would be almost ten years before I attempted another graphic novel. 

Beware of burnout, man, and pace yourself. When it hits you, it really, REALLY hits you.

Hell Lost / Rebel Angels is still up on my website and can be viewed here.

A demon flying above the river Styx lined with buildings
A ridiculously detailed version of the cover for the online version of Rebel Angels.

Characters climbing on skulls past statues
Skulls used as texture over the graphic elements.

A dragon chasing a ball
Again with the clouds; they really assist in creating a sense of space.

Classical art adapted to flat graphics
Polarized photos of classical art I took in, I think, Paris. The figures were embellished with nosed and horns and swords. I thought they added an interesting, almost Boschean aspect; nobody seemed to like them though so I abandoned the approach. Sometimes feedback's a bitch.

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