Illustration #4 for Maverick-1 Illustrated Edition: ‘Jump Ship’

Brian says: “This was my attempt to create a spacescape of Phobos and Mars. I tried to envisage what Mars would look like from the surface of Phobos and for that I took some inspiration from the paintings of Chesley K. Bonestell. In the 1940’s, he painted a series of images of Saturn, as seen from the surface of its moons. In many of the paintings Saturn dominates the skyline. I tried to give Mars that same sense of majesty.

As for our characters, I wanted Jack and Ace to look like they where experienced at jumping from a ship in space, so for that I researched images of sky divers to find good poses that gave the effect I was looking for. I tried to make Battleaxe look a little more clumsy. She’s falling in an upright position, whereas Jack and Ace are head first, embracing the dive.”

Illustration #3 for Maverick-1 Illustrated Edition: ‘Jack Turns Up the Heat’

Brian Hickey explains: “For this image, the brief from the author (after I’d shown him the very rough pencil sketch) was, “Needs more armaments. This is his Commando moment.”

So I read back over the chapter and made careful notes of all the weapons Jack had brought with him for his mission and how he carried them on his person. Once again, I wanted to give a nod to the “Wild West”, so I gave Jack a Gunslinger pose – legs apart and shooting from the hip.

I set the figure right in the midst of an explosion to create a sense of the havoc that he’s causing in the scene.”

Illustration #2 for Maverick-1 Illustrated Edition: ‘Interrogating a Hellcat’

Brian Hickey says: “For this piece I wanted to get up close and personal with the characters, so the composition is made up primarily of the characters faces.

With Relk, I took some creative liberties and added a lot more facial wrinkles than appears on his card art. This, and his hand on the character’s throat, increases the drama and makes the character appear more menacing.”

Illustration #1 for Maverick-1 Illustrated Edition: ‘Jack Wilgress, CGC SpecForces’

Brian Hickey, the artist for this series of novellas gives us the following insight: “Wherever possible I try to give the images a “Western” feel, so that they marry up with the author’s vision for the novella. This particular image is loosely based on a promo image for Rio Bravo featuring John Wayne, where he has his rifle slung over his shoulder.

Because this image focuses on Wilgress before he becomes a renowned pirate and leader of the Knaves, I also wanted  to give a visual nod to the character’s future, hence the ghost like Maverick’s logo hovering above Jack’s head – and the view is looking up towards the stars, where his destiny lies.”

The Adventure of Art: Last in a Journal Series by Artist, Samantha Nowak

WARS™ cover artist and illustrator, Samantha Nowak, has happily agreed to document the major stages of producing the cover art for the upcoming The Battle of Phobos – Gongen, Part 1: “The Great Journey” and Maverick, Part 1: “Firefight at Overwatch Command” novella. This series will go from concept to completion of the artworks, and fans will see the finished pieces at the same time the publisher and licensor does.

In the last post, Sam revealed the final Gongen cover artwork. Here we have the cover art that will be gracing the cover of Jim Perry’s Maverick volume (pending Deciper’s approval)!

Time to work on wrapping up the Maverick cover! All the characters on this cover had character art references for me to work from, along with Cat’s Claw (ship on the left) and the Phobos moon base. The only item with no true reference material was the Fencer (ship on the right), but there was a vehicle with similar attributes that was given to me to pull inspiration from. Add in some atmospheric background and action laser blasts, and this cover is coming to a close.

Working on the Wars licensed property has been a fun adventure for me. In my perspective, since these are established characters it is important for me to get across a person’s personality through the cover art. As this is a way for people to connect to the story and wonder what is going through the characters’ minds. And, since I always enjoy seeing my favorite characters from stories brought to life in art, I want old fans to enjoy the same, and new fans to discover them.

Samantha Nowak is the founder of Samantha Nowak Illustrations, which is home to her fantasy art and original customizable Enchanted Names. Most recently she produced a series of rubber “inking” stamps for Queen Kat Designs based on the theme “Princesses Around the World”.

The Adventure of Art: Part 4 of a Journal Series by Artist, Samantha Nowak

WARS™ cover artist and illustrator, Samantha Nowak, has happily agreed to document the major stages of producing the cover art for the upcoming The Battle of Phobos – Gongen, Part 1: “The Great Journey” and Maverick, Part 1: “Firefight at Overwatch Command” novella. This series will go from concept to completion of the artworks, and fans will see the finished pieces at the same time the publisher and licensor does.

Previouslly, Sam revealed a little bit about the location aspect of the Gongen cover art. In this part, we reveal the final Gongen cover artwork, which included a vital bit of brainstorming at the end about the location elements between Sam and Josh to get this piece exactly where they both wanted it!

In this session I focused on the Gongen novella cover. I was really feeling it come alive – and wanted to work it to completion. I needed to finish up the character in the middle, Hijen Orochito. A reference picture of him and the armor were given to me, but the armor in the picture was a future version of what he needed to wear for this cover. So I Googled some Samurai outfits for ideas to create an outfit that could be a precursor for the future armor.

The other aspect I worked on was the cityscapes, both the 21st century Hong Kong and the 24th century Takumi. With Hong Kong completed I used the two pieces of concept art of Takumi given to me to put together the second cityscape.

With all the major elements of the cover together I then worked on what I call “special effects”. The fumes of smoke coming from Hijen’s jetpack, and the stars and space atmosphere. One last character needed to be added, a NoBot face, who is barely visible, but if you look hard enough you can see it looking out at you…

Samantha Nowak is the founder of Samantha Nowak Illustrations, which is home to her fantasy art and original customizable Enchanted Names. Most recently she produced a series of rubber “inking” stamps for Queen Kat Designs based on the theme “Princesses Around the World”.

The Adventure of Art: Part 3 of a Journal Series by Artist, Samantha Nowak

WARS™ cover artist and illustrator, Samantha Nowak, has happily agreed to document the major stages of producing the cover art for the upcoming The Battle of Phobos – Gongen, Part 1: “The Great Journey” and Maverick, Part 1: “Firefight at Overwatch Command” novella. This series will go from concept to completion of the artworks, and fans will see the finished pieces at the same time the publisher and licensor does.

In the previous part of her series, Sam started adding the first art layers for the Gongen cover and talked about working on multiple projects at once. In this part, Sam focuses on the cityscapes and getting the basic shapes laid out for the Maverick cover…

For the Gongen cover details are beginning to emerge. The cityscape at the bottom is going to be a melding of 21st century Hong Kong and 24th century Gongen megacity of Takumi. I’ve started with 21st century Hong Kong and Googled some pictures of the city for reference.

On the Maverick cover basic forms are taking place – starting with broad areas and I will work my way to the details. Since the characters on this cover have designs for them I do not have to create characters from scratch, but instead work from the WARS character art given to me for reference material.

Samantha Nowak is the founder of Samantha Nowak Illustrations, which is home to her fantasy art and original customizable Enchanted Names. Most recently she produced a series of rubber “inking” stamps for Queen Kat Designs based on the theme “Princesses Around the World”.

The Adventure of Art: Part 2 of a Journal Series by Artist, Samantha Nowak

WARS™ cover artist and illustrator, Samantha Nowak, has happily agreed to document the major stages of producing the cover art for the upcoming The Battle of Phobos – Gongen, Part 1: “The Great Journey” and Maverick, Part 1: “Firefight at Overwatch Command” novella. This series will go from concept to completion of the artworks, and fans will see the finished pieces at the same time the publisher and licensor does.

In the first part of her series, we discussed planning and conceptualization. Now Sam gets into the first artistic layers of the Gongen work while also starting in on the Maverick novella cover…

Now that the compositional sketch (for the Gongen novella cover) is working, I start the digital painting. Working from large brush strokes to fill in areas, I will work my way down to the details as the characters and city (which is a fabulous blog right now, don’t ‘cha think?) develop.  One character on this cover is in a suit and the other is wearing a jet pack – so for both I use Google to find reference photos for suit designs and jet packs that I can pull from to help create their outfits.

I’ve also started the Maverick novella cover, and am in the compositional sketch phase.  Josh sent me a detailed description of all the elements he wanted and I have sketched them out to make sure everything works.  I am working on this at the same time as the Gongen cover.  I enjoy working on more than one project at a time (though more than 3 BIG projects is a bit much) – that way I can work on one, take a break, work on another, and then go back to the first.  It helps to “get away” from a project for awhile because when you come back to it you will see faults and mistakes that need to be rectified, or see areas that weren’t as polished as you thought it was.

Samantha Nowak is the founder of Samantha Nowak Illustrations, which is home to her fantasy art and original customizable Enchanted Names. Most recently she produced a series of rubber “inking” stamps for Queen Kat Designs based on the theme “Princesses Around the World”.

The Adventure of Art: Part 1 of a Journal Series by Artist, Samantha Nowak

WARS™ cover artist and illustrator, Samantha Nowak, has happily agreed to document the major stages of producing the cover art for the upcoming The Battle of Phobos – Gongen, Part 1: “The Great Journey”. This series will go from concept to completion of the artwork, and fans will see the finished piece at the same time the publisher and licensor does.

In the first part of her series, we begin with the the very first step in the process: planning and conceptualization. This is perhaps  the most important phase of the process since it must be decided on by the publisher and artist what works best for her skills, but also what will work best for the book in terms of the representation of the WARS™ universe and the promotional and presentations aspects for the marketplace…

When first starting a project, I always gather my resources and references. This will include any pictures of characters and places I will be working with. Josh kindly sent me images from the Gongen universe, but I also look up pictures of oriental architecture and armor, and dig out my figure reference books down the line (The Figure in Motion and Atlas of Anatomy for Artists are my favorites).

Once my references are gathered I do quick compositional sketches. If a client does not have a clear picture of what they want, then I will come up with about three ideas based on the information given to me. Josh had a clear picture of what he wanted to see, so I drew up a sketch based on his description. I then sent the sketch to him and make sure we’re running on the same page before I start digitally coloring.

To be continued…

Samantha Nowak is the founder of Samantha Nowak Illustrations, which is home to her fantasy art and original customizable Enchanted Names. Most recently she produced a series of rubber “inking” stamps for Queen Kat Designs based on the theme “Princesses Around the World”.

The Best Ten Albums & Twenty Singles We Heard in 2010

Not all of these are 2010-released albums and singles, just music that we heard/purchased for the first time this year. Musical scores from previous years count because certain tracks/scores often cannot be truly appreciated until they are heard separately from the film/TV. This doesn’t always happen right away either because of no pressing interest or because the score wasn’t available. This list covers all genres.

The singles and album recommendations on this list (except for Harrison’s Stitched Crosses and Armstrong’s The Incredible Hulk) may be previewed and bought via the iTunes playlist we have created. The other two albums may be previewed/purchased from here and here (respectively).

THE SINGLES

20. “Conquest of Paradise”, Vangelis, 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992) – The film may have been an epic failure, but this track is an ethereal exercise in what might have been…

19. “Ebla”, E.S. Posthumus, Unearthed (2001) – If you really like cathedral chant with your electronica blend then check this one out.

18. “ShowStopper”, TobyMac, Tonight (2010) – TMC had a couple excellent singles off his latest album (“City on Our Knees” being the other), but this has to be the first time a full-time Christian music artist has had a piece of rap-rock permeate so many mainstream venues, from a WWE pay-per-view to the NCAA.

17. “Aethera Et Terra”, Magna Canta, Enchanted Spirits (2007) – There has been some fantastic New Age chant-theme music coming out in the last years. Here’s a uber-cool one for your neo-retro pleasure.

16. “The Tempest”, Jennifer Thomas, Key of Sea (2007) – Gorgeous New Age violin and piano. I get chills eveytime.

15. “Written in My Face”, Sean Jenness, WWE The Music: Volume 10 – A New Day (2010) – A poignant theme made specifically for another of WWE’s top newcomers, Sheamus, who also became the first-ever Irish WWE champion in 2010.

14. “Confession”, Blue Stone, Breathe (2006) – For those who like a blend of medieval chant and string with your New Age synth. This group must be what it is like to get the Sirens on a music label.

13. “Mayhem In Monaco”, John Debney, Iron Man 2 (2010) – We were a little disappointed that Djawadi didn’t come back for a sophomore outing. But Debney did an admiral job, and churned out some fantastic tracks, like this one.

12. “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman”, MercyMe, The Christmas Sessions (2005) – The Christmas Song of Christmas songs in the digital age of music, right here.

11. “The Fast and the Furious – Tokyo Drift”, Brian Tyler, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006) – It’s Fast, and it’s Furious. Hang on for a wild ride!

10. “Logan Through Time”, Harry Gregson-Williams, X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) – There’s all kinds of things going on here as Wolvie goes from Civil War service to world war to Vietnam vet.

09. “Invincible”, Adelitas Way, Adelitas Way (2009) – The theme song for WWE Superstars and one of this year’s best hard rock attitude/motivational tracks.

08. “All of Creation”, MercyMe, The Generous Mr. Lovewell (2010) – I remember when Bart gave us a ten-second preview of this song via a video blog entry and I loved it right then. Great theology to an excellent rhythm.

07. “We Are One”, 12 Stones, The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday [EP] (2010) – Great group fight theme, and yes, another one from WWE television.

06. “Broken Dreams”, Shaman’s Harvest, WWE Universe: Drew McIntyre [single] (2010) – Definitely the coolest of the new WWE Superstar themes for one of its top rookies.

05. “Scarborough Fair”, Paul Cardall, Faithful (2003) – A superb blend of heavenly piano and rich cello.

04. “I’m Still Here (Jim’s Theme)”, John Rzeznik, Treasure Planet (2002) – One of the best Disney songs/in-film sequences in their animation history, and from one of their strongest feature animation scores.

03. “Scorpiox”, Ramin Djawadi, Clash of the Titans (2010) – This is just one of the coolest instrumental score tracks ever.. right up there with “Scorponok” from Transformers.

02. “The Time (Dirty Bit)”, The Black Eyed Peas, The Beginning (2010) – This single became an all-time favorite just the second time we heard it (which was on the AMA’s).

01. “In the Hands of God”, Newsboys, In the Hands of God (2009) – The last hurrah for Newsboys front-man and founder Peter Furler and he doesn’t disappoint with this superb praise tune.

THE ALBUMS

10. Harry Gregson-Williams, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010) – HGW is reaching “uncomparable” status when it comes to composing historical/action-fantasy genres. Consider “Hassansin Attack”, “No Ordinary Dagger”, and “The Sands of Time”.

09. Steve Jablonsky, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) – Unlike the film, the sequel score delivered in plenty of ways. My highest recommendations include: “The Shard”, “Heed Our Warning”, and “I Claim Your Sun”.

08. Hans Zimmer, Sherlock Holmes (2009) – Zimmer’s other crown jewel in 2009 involved a broken down bar piano and choppy strings duet as the focus of the whole score. The result is far from elementary. Try these on for size: “Discombobulate”, “Marital Sabotage”, and “Catatonic”.

07. David Arnold, 007: Quantum of Solace (2008) – Arnold has been the resident composer at Bond’s MI6 since Tommorrow Never Dies. This score is second only to that one, and here’s why: “Time to Get Out”, “Pursuit At Port au Prince”, “The Palio” and “Target Terminated”.

06. Trevor Rabin, National Treasure (2006) – There’s always a piano or violin to remind you that the characters are chasing gold from the 18th century American history. Gems include: “National Treasure Suite”, “Preparation Montage”, “Library of Congress”, and “Foot Chase”

05. Craig Armstrong, The Incredible Hulk (2008) – This is easily our favorite of all the Marvel film scores (beating out Iron Man for top honors), and in the top 3 of our favorites in the superhero genre. “Favela Escape”, “Give Him Everything You’ve Got”, “Harlem Brawl”, and “Hulk Theme (End Credits)” will tell you why.

04. Joe Harrison, Stitched Crosses (2010) – Harrison’s debut scoring project from the audio dramatization of the same name is 12th century atmospheric heaven. You better believe this guy has a nova-bright future. Tracks that stood out: “A Man That Is Called”, “Markus & Mairin”, “Night Invaders”, and “Confidite Deo”. Rounding out the score are two excellent songs from rising rock stars, JPT: “Let’s Take Heaven” and “Morning Sun”.

03. Sean Callery, 24 (2006) – This album comprises score music from the first three seasons of 24. The selection of synth/electronica tracks are fantastic, ranging from drama to thrumming action. Tracks we particularly liked: “’24’ Theme”, “Up and Down Stairs”, “Coliseum Finale”, and “Copter Chase Over L.A.”

02. Bebo Norman, Bebo Norman (2008) – My second favorite album after Between the Dreaming and Coming True. I could recommend nearly every song on this album but I’ll just list these: “Pull Me Out”, “Ruins”, “The Only Hope”, and “Never Saw You Coming”

01. Hans Zimmer/Joshua Bell, Angels & Demons (2009) – The more scores he composes, the more this man feels the need to do unique music. Pairing up with international violin superstar Joshua Bell was a brilliant move for a score that required a thick air of reverence among the pulsating action to create one of Zimmer’s finest works. Check out “God Particle”, “Air”, “160 BPM”, and “Black Smoke”!