I love this book. It’s structured like a road trip across a fantasy continent, but the focus is really on the unique relationship that forms between Bowmark and Scolla. They are so different, and their struggle to maintain civility as they learn more about each other is a constant source of tension, humor and drama. Scolla may be my favorite fictional character ever. My co-author, Rose, is absolutely brilliant at creating unique alien psychology that has just enough humanity for the reader to still care deeply for them despite their strangeness. Scolla is her creation, and while I did have a part in developing him visually I was very hands-off regarding the personality of this fascinating character.
The middle of a trilogy is always challenging for storytellers. We can’t rely on the novelty of the world (as much) any more, and we can’t tie a bow on the end. But I think we accomplished a truly compelling story nonetheless. The fact that this leg of their journey takes them through lands that are new to Bowmark means we still have a heavy discovery element in the environment. (Not to mention some exciting action/adventure set pieces!) And the fact that we are learning more and more about Scolla provides a continual stream of new character discovery as well.
Besides being full of character drama, the book is packed with even more illustrations and maps than the first. (88 in total) I’ve invested thousands of hours in learning the best techniques for visual development for the Tales From Talifar series. (The Scarred King trilogy is our first publication in this world) And I’m very excited to see that the process is starting to pay dividends. Previously I would create the illustrations by drawing in my sketch book with a mechanical pencil, scan that in, and process it in photoshop. I enjoy this process and there’s nothing wrong with it. Here’s an example of that.
While this works fine for one-off illustrations, what if I wanted to make another illustration with this creature doing something different? That would require drawing it again… and all 2,000 scales… again. But I just so happen to have another skill at my disposal as a visual developer. I can sculpt on my computer! That means I can take the time I would normally spend drawing a creature like this, and sculpt one instead. Something like this…
This does take longer than it would to simply draw it. But now I have the ability to make an infinite number of illustrations from any angle.
While this is cool, it doesn’t look anything like my other hand-made illustrations. That’s where filters come into play. There are a variety of techniques that can be used to make models look more like hand drawn illustrations. Like so:
While this process does not have a huge impact on this particular book, it has been vital to building momentum that will help us get future books (and other media, including collectable sculptures) out faster in the future. So that’s very exciting!
Another time consuming process was finding a map style that I’m happy with, and that can scale to doing many different maps. I thought that since I’ve dabbled in making maps several times and I’m a competent artist, I figured it wouldn’t take very long to be making maps that are near the quality of the best in the field. Well, I learned how arrogant that idea was. “Best In Class” fantasy maps are quite stunning, and figuring out how to get near that quality took me the better part of a year. I ended up with a look that I like. But it’s still not a permanent solution. I’ll continue it for the final book of the trilogy to keep things stylistically consistent, but after that I’ve got to come up with a better solution that can scale better.
Well that’s my book report. I can’t wait to hear what you think of it! Please remember that reviewing the book on Amazon (even just a sentence) is HUGELY helpful for us indie authors. It signals Amazon to guide more readers of similar books towards us. 🙂