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2017.09.01    THE ISLAND

The Island is based on some of the islands I spent time on during my childhood. I’ve also included some locations from around mainland Scotland, then added places based on some of my favourite buildings and landscapes in Greece, Canada, Switzerland and Japan! Some of them were drawn from photo reference, others are straight from my hazy memory. I also spent some time designing a house, a cafe and a forest area that are pretty similar to what I would design if I was ever given the chance to do so in the real world. The fun thing about building a world is it can be whatever you want it to be, the only limit is your imagination.

Some of the locations, such as the lighthouse, the resort hotel and the lake, were developed naturally from the storylines I have already plotted. Other landmarks, such as the campsite, the weird rocks and the smaller islands, were added with no current storyline in mind, but they may suggest things in the future. I left empty areas in both the North and South for anything I may have left out and wish to add later. As the story takes place over a number of years I have also sketched out certain areas of the island at different stages in their development. The stories I am writing explore the universal experience of life in an isolated location, so the more varied the individual physical landscapes are, the more angles I will have to approach that exploration.

Colour and shape are also important in world building. I want to have different environments that suggest different colour palettes, stylistic choices and approaches to line-work. After the comic has been running for a few years, I hope the keen reader will be able to spot different locations just from a glance at the colours and shapes in any given sequence. I will write more about colour palettes in a future post.
2017.08.23    TOOLS

The episode parts of From Sand To Sky are made with a very simple toolset. I’m using three notebooks, but each has a specific purpose. First there is the big black leather-bound book that contains all the island maps, family trees, location sketches and other things connected to world-building. It’s the kind of book that I hope is never lost or stolen! Then there is a smaller black ring-bound book. It’s used for rough sketching, working out body poses and basic panel compositions. Finally, I am drawing the final pencilled panels on graph paper. This particular graph paper was a little expensive, but the lines are a beautiful, fine non-photocopiable blue and the paper is very smooth and nice to draw on. I don’t mind spending a bit of money on something that makes the hardest part of the work a little easier.

I am using three drawing tools for the stories. The first is a blue, non-photocopiable pencil for doing the rough layouts of the panels. Then a black 4B pencil for marking the final outlines. Finally I am inking the finished art with a simple fine liner. I decided to just use one width of pen, as the final work is in colour so I don’t have to worry too much about different elements of each picture standing out from the others. Then I have a small ruler, eraser, whiteout and a pencil sharpener. It’s a very beautiful little metal sharpener, that has a good weight in the hand. That doesn’t help anything to do with either drawing or sharpening, just I sometimes like to throw around in my hands while I’m thinking of the solution to a drawing problem.

There are a few other things I use to produce the final pages, which I will discuss in a later post about process.
2017.08.17    INTRODUCTION

Welcome to From Sand To Sky. This is an ongoing series of stories and drawings about people living on the Island Of Caorainn, in the West Coast of Scotland. The series starts in a very dark place, perhaps one of the darkest places possible, but hopefully it will get a little lighter from there.

I started work on this series about three years ago. Most of that time has been spent world-building and mapping out the family trees and histories of all the people on the island. I filled a big leather-bound book with various drafts and sketches of the key moments in their lives. It’s only recently I felt it was time to start drawing them out on paper. I know the beginning of this story, and I know the very end. There are a few key points I intend to hit along the way, but most of the series will be dedicated to exploring those unexpected empty spaces and quiet moments that are only suggested as I finish inking each page.

I intend to add new episodes to the website every two months or so. I will celebrate each episode with a series of three new prints and drawings. I will then select six of my favourite hand-drawn pages to sell in the shop. Later on, I intend to make a few old-fashioned paper zines containing background information and short episodes not featured online.

I will track the development of the series on this blog. Mostly I will talk about the process of making each episode and developing the mythology of the island and the series. You can follow this blog here, or on Medium. I’ll also post links to each new entry on the various social media accounts. A summary of all the posts between the episodes will be added to the end of the From Sand To Sky Newsletter, which you can sign up for here.

That’s all for the introduction. Thank you for taking the time to read this post, and hopefully for exploring the rest of the site and episodes too!

GM 2017.08.17