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Introduction to Echo in The Phantom Pleasure
← Link to the Previous Newsletter (Photo Reference Art Process)
← Link to the web episodes (All web episodes of The Phantom Pleasure so far)
Welcome back to the world of 404EVER! Unsurprisingly, I’m still working on the first episode of the print version of The Phantom Pleasure. People have been asking if I will continue posting the comic here, and the answer is yes. As I finish pages of the print version, I will post them here on Substack as I had been doing with the serial (and paying subscribers will now be able to see the episodes early). I’m really sorry for the delays, but I want to make sure this comic is the most authentic telling of The Phantom Pleasure story. Hopefully I’ll have some of the panels to share on the next newsletter!
While I was drawing this sultry art of Echo and Halo, I really had Amano on my mind. I guess that’s why I had to add the vintage Final Fantasy and Squaresoft-style logo. But now that I look at it, I can see exactly which Amano piece was influencing me:
And that piece, in turn, reminds me of these romantic, Pre-Raphaelite illustrations:
When it came to the big splash page introduction of Echo in the Phantom Pleasure comic, I had a lot of loose ideas but didn’t get very far with the rough sketches. I just knew I had to have a cool pose or dramatic angle, as this is the first time the reader gets a good look at the main character. The problem is that when we first meet her, Echo is just sitting in a chair, loaded up on dopamine plug-ins. It’s not easy to make that very exciting… Here are some of the references I had in mind as I started the process:
I really wanted Echo to have a delicate, doll-like pose; as it fits thematically with what’s happening to her in this scene. And while the end result wasn’t as romantic and sorrowful as some of my influences, I’m happy with it:
And that’s when I did something silly! Instead of carefully planning out the background and actually thinking about where the vanishing point should be, I just kinda went for it:
I got decently far along before I finally noticed that I had placed the vanishing point much too high. I think I was just excited about trying out some new shading techniques that the rational part of my brain completely shut off.
It’s an odd angle, specifically because of how exaggerated the depth of field or “lens” is on Echo. I thought about a few (ridiculous and implausible) ways to salvage it, but then an old Robert Heinlein quote called out, guiding and taunting me from beyond the abyss:
“Stupidity cannot be cured. Stupidity is the only universal capital crime; the sentence is death. There is no appeal, and execution is carried out automatically and without pity.”
So! I deleted the background and started over. This time I took it slow, lining everything out carefully and thinking about it for more than 5 seconds.
Now the “camera” is on the floor, where it should be. I felt much better about this… The upward angle gives a more epic or heroic presentation to Echo, even if she is being a lazy degenerate. I slowly added more filth, grime, and time (that should be the name of my eventual art book/memoir) to the background until it looked appropriately Geo-City One. And finally:
This is still not 100% but it’s close! I’m going to add the comic logo and chapter title/credits to the bottom left. And I might throw in some more fun little details. I’m obsessed by manuscript marginalia, the drolatique and grotesque elements that surround and offer visual counters to the central subject.
I’m also debating whether or not I should add the cyan/jade color tone to the print version, but if I did, it would look like this:
I was able to join the lovely cosplay experts last week to work on the real life Synth Suit costume. Again, they are doing all of the heavy lifting, I’m basically just drawing and being amazed at what they’re able to do. Unfortunately I still don’t have much to show just yet, but I can share a little bit of the early behind-the-scenes process.
The rigid sections of the suit are sculpted out of Eva foam and Worbla thermoplastic. Above you can see what the underlying structure of the shoulder armor looks like. It’s a lightweight but durable material, I can’t wait to show you what it will look like with the grimy and shiny black texture of the suit. And speaking of…
Here are some sewing-in-action shots. On the left you can see the custom pattern that the Synth Suit will be built around. We have a bunch of different fabrics and textures with interesting finishes, the ruching and accents are going to so awesome. I hope to show you all more soon! I’m eternally grateful to these two talented artists.
OK! That’s all for now. I’ll be back very soon with more Phantom Pleasure stuff. Take care until then.