Behind the Shades

Artistically speaking
DAJB at 8:33AM, Nov. 19, 2007
posts: 1,462
joined: 2-23-2007
Most of the stuff I post in this forum will deal with the story and characters of Shades, not the artwork. I stand in awe of Harsho's artwork but, as the writer and not the artist, the writing just happens to be the side I know most about. That said, there are two specific things that I think defines the look of Shades, and so I feel I must mention those.

The present

Most of the story takes place in the present-day UK. Or, at least, the UK of the post-war Twentieth Century. Unlike, say, The Dark Knight Returns with its portrayal of Ronald Reagan, however, Shades won't be featuring Tony Blair or Margaret Thatcher. Yes, it's set in the real world but it's a fictional version of it. (Does that make any sense at all?!)

Anyway, to try and reflect that, the brief I gave to Harsho was that I wanted the artwork to be "realistic and yet still recognisably comic book“ and - to give it a UK flavour - ”recognisably comic book but not high-gloss US mainstream". Even at the time I thought both of those statements were self-contradictory but Harsho came up trumps and somehow found a style that captured all three elements I was looking for. (Yay, Harsho!)

I also told him that I wanted to avoid the use of primary colours. Again, I felt this would be too reminiscent of US mainstream super hero comics. Instead, I suggested we (by which, of course, I meant he!) should use lots of pastels and half-tones. I wanted the colours to be similar to those you'd find in an English water colour painting. Again, Harsho was able to produce exactly the right effect. (He's a bit of a whizz on the quiet!)

The past

Although the main story takes place in the present, Shades is littered with scenes from the past. These are primarily used to show the main characters' back-stories but it was a concern of mine that the reader should immediately be able to identify when we'd strayed into the past and which period we were in.

As a result, every scene set in the past has its own signature style. At the time of writing this we've already seen (or will very shortly see) the following:

Scenes in the present day - full colour with black panel borders
Scenes in the 1940s - B&W with black borders, hopefully evoking a sense of 1940s WW2 movies
Scenes within the preceding few decades - B&W with white borders like old photographs
Scenes within the last day or so - faded colours with white “photograph style” borders

In later chapters we have scenes set in the 19th Century, the 17th Century and one or two settings even more esoteric. Without giving away too much, we have a different approach lined up for each of those, too. As the story unfolds, these flashback sequences all together will start to shape the overall look of Shades just as much as the present day style you're already used to.

At least that's the plan!
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:23AM

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