Zephyr Crow is a teenager living with her sister Bunty and her grandfather, Howard Elbee- a retired special effects movie magician from before the days of computers. Zephyr and Bunty’s divorced parents work separately overseas and have left the kids with the one relative they can trust. Howard, a widower, enjoys the company of his grand-daughters, and on the surface all seems relatively normal as they carry on from day to day.
Except for the fact that in Zephyr, Howard, and Bunty’s world normal is defined very differently from what one what imagine. Think Addams Family meets films about Hollywood…
That’s all I am going to tell you because this project is slated for further development, but has been on hold for a while. It was originally developed for the second of the cartooning courses I took at George Brown College and, modified to fit the needs of this particular Cartooning course, took on some interesting dimensions. (To read about the first Cartooning course, refer to the post on Andi, the beach princess with a difference.) What follows is development work, character sketches and completed projects like a sample one panel image, two comic strips and a projected cover design for an imagined anthology. These were all assessed projects and were all hugely useful in developing skills for me in sequential art.
ZEPHYR, BUNTY & HOWARD
If Bunty is Zephyr’s foil in this story, other characters are actively supporting her in her adventures. I have not considered villains here as they are more likely to emerge with the stories. What appears are some of the peculiar neighbours Zephyr has, like Monsieur Aggot, a single parent and former horror film star. Monsieur Aggot is a family man as loves his children equally. He is also a real gentleman with fine manners.
THE PROJECTS: 1 A single panel comic
The single panel comic was given to us as a way of exploring the characters in a given scenario. It was completed in pen and ink, with no use of wash or mixed media. There was guidance in terms of the subject, directing it had to be humourous. I think the dialogue was also given to us and we had to fit the subject to the line. Also, there had to be a visible demonstration of grid use and one point perspective in the piece. A good challenge, especially as Zephyr was developing as a much more serious project at that time.
Below are some process frames and the final project. You can enlarge a several images by clicking on them.
THE PROJECTS: 2 A Second single panel piece, using wash and two point perspective in the design
Now we are rolling along with the characters, we step up the work with a new scenario involving real estate, new personalities like Monsieur Aggot and his maggot children, the pet dog and the above mentioned technical requirements. The first image was a two point perspective exercise I did to work out the dimensions in the piece and set the characters in their correct proportions. Yes, Monsieur Aggot is one big bug. He also has a really interesting back story, but I don’t want to share it here.
THE PROJECTS: 3 Four panel comic strip
Next, we took the characters, introduced more into the piece and had to develop a four panel work on them. I was having trouble with my drawing hand at the time and created all the panels full page size first, then scanned and reduced them into the final piece to put less stress of cramping my hand with small details. It also helped me see what was worth keeping after the overload of the first piece. I had a lot more fun with this and pared down the texture a lot, giving the strip a cleaner look. If you wonder why there is so much open space at the top, remember it has to be kept clear to fit the dialogue.
The original panels are included separately and together. Click on them, etc., etc. to get bigger images.
THE PROJECTS: 4 Full colour weekend paper comic strip
The four panel strip was a great way to develop the characters and I was stronger in my sense of what to do with them. This was a fun work to do, pulling in mixed media and full colour. I can’t recall too much else about requirements of the assignment, but getting into the rhythm, I drew the original panels large, but in scale to the finals and reduced them. It may seem like a lot of work, but I know of other professional artists- their names escape me- who do the same thing for the same reasons, often going into completing the panels and then assembling them later in the computer. I can see that in my future for graphic novel projects.
The story is, incidentally, based on something that actually happened to me once when I took a class outside to draw trees and nature and had one preferring to sit in the sun and download her images from Google.
You can’t make this stuff up. Click on the images….
THE PROJECTS: 5 ANTHOLOGY COVER
The final project with Zephyr and Bunty was an anthology cover. We studied covers from various works like CALVIN & HOBBES, among others, and considered what time of year it would likely be released. Christmas was coming, so why not? As you can see, there were many parts to the project. Two point perspective, which for me had vanishing points 12 feet, (almost four meters), apart and leading to the parts of the planning being done in the computer using a cg grid. The final piece had to have several versions, as you can see here.
I would like to revisit this someday. It has light and dark elements to it that should appeal to a wide audience. Perhaps a collaboration of sorts might be in order to get it moving. Perhaps I should just make clones of myself instead…
As with anime and manga, I have been called a fan of comics. While not as touchy about that label, I still feel it is too compartmentalizing. If you have visited other postings in this website, you know there is more to me than the sum of one or two parts. Nonetheless, I have enjoyed creating works in the style of North American comics. What follows are some pieces from the archives of the old website.
FREE COMICS DAY AND OTHER REQUEST DRAWINGS
One of the enjoyable things about being involved with comics and sequential art is that I get to participate in Free Comics Day as a guest artist at Comic Book Addiction in Whitby. For several hours, I speak to fans of comics- all ages, mind you- and draw quick sketches for them while they wait. These are not polished pieces; just quick renders that the person can take away with them. It’s busy but wonderful fun and having the company of a good friend during the day makes it easier. However, the biggest thrill I get from it is the chance to talk to fans and find out what inspires them about the characters they choose. I learn a lot about what is currently popular and what stories are grabbing the attention of people these days.
Below are some sketches done not just for FCD, but also requests by fans outside the venue of the comic shop. Those lead off the next gallery, followed by the quick ‘done in minutes’ sketches at the store. Please excuse the quality of those photos. They were taken on the fly with the cell phone and like an idiot, I tended to cast my own shadow on them.
Which one of the FCD drawings was my favourite? As the compositions were often suggested by the recipients- who had some interesting mash-ups in mind, I think those were the most interesting. Hulk in a snowball fight with Olaf, Darth Vader and Chewie playing chess, Thor inviting Hulk to a dainty little tea.
In another post, I will share the creation of a comic book cover for a friend featuring one of STAR WARS’ favourite characters- Darth Vader!
I like the look of some manga and anime. I have often been called a ‘fan’ of it, which I resent intensely, because it is a label that carries baggage in terms of pre-conceptions and associations that make me uncomfortable. While occasionally I stylize my work so that people say it reminds them of manga, I rarely actively embrace the concepts completely to do work that can actually be called manga or anime.
Having said that, I posted images in past versions of the website that definitely have that manga look about them. Some of the pieces were for students to copy, feeding into their interests and giving them the chance to develop their skills. The gallery below is filled with selected postings from that era, some of which haven’t seen the cybernetic light of day in years.
PART TWO: FIGURATIVE PIECES, STUDIES, LIFE DRAWINGS AND EXPERIMENTS
I have always said to my students if you can learn how to draw the human figure and water, you can do just about anything in flat art. Water is one challenge because it has so much movement, simple and complex shapes that constantly change, colour and transparency and so much more. The human figure is the other challenge because its structure has proportions that change over time, a shape that varies from person to person, lines, shapes, forms, textures and values, and so much more. The subject of the human face or figure is as old as art itself. Anyone wishing to create comics, animation, games and such must gain some understanding of how the figure is put together if there is to be any success in the workplace later.
To quote Andrew Loomis:
“The nude human figure must serve as the basis for all figure study. It is impossible to draw the clothed or draped figure without a knowledge of the structure and form of the figure underneath. The artist who cannot put the figure together properly does not have one chance in a thousand of success…. If you are offended by the body…give up all thought of a career in art.“
I agree with this and have yet to see anyone who can’t or won’t master the human form make a success of their work with the figure beyond being simple copyists of photos using grids or other ‘tricks’. The human figure, clothed or otherwise, is something that requires constant practice in mastering. Drawing from life is best, but I have found students have managed to achieve success from working with near life sized projections of computer generated models. The latter is not the ideal, but when circumstances dictate it, it’s better than downloading photos and copying them, allowing grids and such to dictate the creative process rather than freehand drawing, which can be more expressive and natural. With practice, the freehand approach becomes more polished and if precision is what is desired, it becomes achievable with greater ease.
It’s the same with painting. Look up close at one of John Singer Sargent’s portraits. A single, well placed dab of paint accomplishes so much. A single trained, expressive line in a drawing can do the same, acting like a signature for the artist and cutting to the core of the pose, which is why quick gesture drawings are so important as warm-ups.
We’ll explore this topic more in other posts. For now, from the archives, are some life drawing samples. The previous website featured clothed ones and portraits, and that is what you will see here. Click on the images in the galleries for hopefully larger versions. Many of these old pieces go back a few years. The day job and lack of life drawing classes in my area have made providing more updated images harder to acquire.
Here are some images drawn from photos for practice as much as anything else. Click on them, etc….
This next batch represents a sampling of paintings and mixed media pieces completed years ago. The first two pieces were modified significantly from photos, using new backgrounds, changed clothing and such. For the bubble blowing image, I can’t recall how I set that one up, but I suspect I probably used a computer generated model in Poser to pose the piece and work from there. In the case of the girls chasing the model airplanes across a field, I used wooden mannequins to pose the models. That piece earned me a place at the National Aviation Museum in their annual show of art from across the country and I still like the concept, but boy, would I ever do that one differently if I re-imagined it. NO MANNEQUINS would be the first rule. Those models you see these days from Japan are much more flexible than the wooden ones available years ago.
Another gallery from the archives, showcasing works completed over a number of years in different media. Where possible, I will try to include information on titles, dates of completion, size, media and so on. Enjoy!
All images here are copyrighted C.A. Seaman and may not be reproduced without permission.
The story of CORRUPTED began just as work on SARGASSO, my self-published series of books, was winding down. ‘People who knew people’ stuff happened and I was offered the chance to meet Paul and Jeff, who were developing this game for the X-Box Indie platform. We got along well and before long, I was brought in to work on character designs for the project.
Here are some things you might want to know about me at the time I began work on CORRUPTED.
I had never played a video game on either X-Box, Playstation, or Nintendo beyond Wii. I had flown a bit on Microsoft’s Flight Simulator, (and got vertigo on the screen?!), played some games on a desktop computer that had me using directional keys to steer cars onto sidewalks and fun stuff like that. But that was it.
I had no formal training in character design.
Any character design I had done was based on looking at model sheets I saw in books and copying the format of figure rotations and gestures. “If that’s how Disney does it, I can too.”
I had no concept about the architecture of what these games looked like, what sprites were, what characters and stories were popular in gaming culture or anything like that beyond FINAL FANTASY, because of the anime connections it had.
Basically, I was clueless. And being clueless made me perfect for the job apparently because although I had what was then self-taught art smarts, some skills and experience publishing a few books, my mind was a blank slate untouched by the influences of video games. Consequently, I wouldn’t inadvertently slip in some materials that buried themselves in my subconscious from previous game play experiences, leaving potential players saying things like “Hey! That’s just like the Blade of Pohtus used by Dojt Sryvat from MAGA 4: WASTELANDS OF THE REPUBLIC!”
Fans can be annoyingly observant about things like that…
Anyway, here we were, embarking on this amazing journey, and I must say I have only fond memories of my experiences with Paul, Jeff and the creative process that went into CORRUPTED. It was, in the end, what brought me to taking courses at George Brown and finally learning what all that stuff I’d been doing was actually called.
There are three parts to this story. Scroll down to read them and see the accompanying process work.
Paul saw my work from SARGASSO and while he was impressed with the illustrations, he wasn’t sure I had what he and Jeff needed for the game until I started pulling out books on manga character design and he identified with the super-deformed characters called ‘chibi’. Chibi is a super-cute form of manga character design where the figure is about three to four heads tall and the eyes are huge. The body proportions are all distorted so even crazy looking weapons look ‘cute’ to an outsider. Knowing I had resources and watching me explain them, Paul agreed to meet me again once I came up with some concepts. For that, I needed information on the characters- who they were and what they were like. I took the information and began with some further research into video game character designs, receiving much help from students in the form of screengrabs of sprites from ZELDA. One even tried to create sprites of his own to show me how it was done. From there, I sat down one day while the classes were working and I had nothing else to do and came up with two ‘chibi’ styled characters.
You can see the guidelines on the knight as I blocked out the character. The other one was something I did for fun, turning out to be a big hit with the students. They loved the antenna and the Jawas look to it, but really went mad over the fact the skulls on the belt were supposed to talk, hurling abuse at passersby. Originally, I was going to keep that one for myself, but with the work on SARGASSO taking up so much time, I decided to gift him to Paul and Jeff, who made him into the merchant for CORRUPTED.
Two elements carried on from this sketch of the knight to the final version, ie. the breastplate and aggressive posture. Everything else, as the character evolved, changed. As uniformity was going to be key, I did more reading, purchasing a great book called SUPER CUTE! KODOMO MANGA, written and illustrated by Kamikaze Factory from Spain and published by Collins Design (ISBN 978-0-06-192755-3). From that research, I created my own original base body template, based on a ninja pose on page 206 that caught the eye of the guys when they first saw the book. Thus, in a scrum around the dining room table in my house, we could now bash out ideas for the characters and just draw on the sheets until the pile was exhausted. The interesting thing was, though, given the information I had from Paul and Jeff, when we sat down to do this and I showed them the first revised concept, they went for it with only minor changes.
Anybody need some template sheets? I’ve got lots left over!
These were the base templates. The image below was the first- and main development sketch for what would become the evil knight in CORRUPTED.
A helmet design would emerge in much the same way and, unchanged, I will show it in the next section. I wanted the knight to be shown in action as befitted the nature of the game. So, the template was created to work with this as the premise from the beginning. We also worked on swords, bows and arrows and created a list of characters to be created at that point. Then, as you will see in the next section, I would create the unifed character reference sheets for an animator to use in creating the sprites. Click on “Final Character Designs” to see how they came out.
I knew the animator would need to have characters that worked from all angles, with armour and clothes lining up in multiple poses. Having read many books on the making of movies and series, I decided to create for the main characters- the evil knight, the good knight and the princess- templates with front, side, back and top views done to scale on a grid background. For the others, top and front views would do. Paul and Jeff wanted the characters to be see from the top in the game, so it was agreed to put some emphasis on heads where possible.
To unify the designs, I fired up Poser on the computer and opened Sadie a computer model who was the foundation of the original Poppy in SARGASSO. (Refer to the article on the art of SARGASSO to see some imagery to put this into context.) Enlarging her head and making her body as gender neutral as possible, I created the above mentioned views by rendering her from those angles with Poser’s cameras. By not moving the cameras once they were loaded, I was able to guarantee consistency in proportions and scale in the renderings, making it easier to line them up on the grid I would later create in Corel Photopaint.
This is Sadie, in case you haven’t seen her before.
This is how I modified her for the body template. Note how the camera names are on the images I composited. I also enlarged the feet, as requested by Paul and Jeff.
Below is how I drew on the costume for the evil knight over the photocopied template. I followed the same process for all the characters, thus keeping them fairly consistent.
From there, I took the images to Staples, photocopied the sets and shaded on the back of each copy with a soft pencil. I then carbon-traced out the drawings to clean paper. As the grid was only useful for the initial layout to keep everything lined up, I did not need it for the final inking, which was done afterwards. I use carbon-tracing often when working on large projects to preserve all reference materials in case of a foul-up and this has proven to be a smart practise over the years on those occasions when I have had to modifiy a piece or redo the final work. I also keep the reference materials after the job is done for years in many cases, just so I can recall the creative processes used when I need to do so.
THE EVIL KNIGHT- FINAL INKS
The top of the head was an important part of the design as this was what players would see most when playing the game. With the chibi design, it meant the head would overwhelm everything else around and beneath it. Thus, the evil creature possessing the knight was created as a focal point. I think that was my idea, but I could be mistaken. Looks nasty, though.
THE GOOD KNIGHT
The armour on the evil knight was meant to be spiky and concave, glowing green between the plates. By contrast, I suggested the good knight should have softer forms and curves, with the armour looking more like the material I saw in reference books I consulted from the local library’s childrens’ section. Good call on the part of the librarian who helped me. The best books really were there- not in the adult section upstairs.
There is a reason why she is barefoot. I suggested she might have been grabbed from her chambers while engaging in her daily ablutions. There was something innocent in this presentation as well, I thought, and I transferred it to the final cover art.
I moved the skulls to the front for more impact and gave ‘him’ nasty looking nails and a little more detail on the cloak to make him look a little less like a Jawa.
THE RANGER AND VILLAGER
What can I say about the Ranger? Everything I’ve ever seen of them in fantasy art seems fairly consistent. Paul, Jeff and I agreed to keep it within those common concepts. As for the villager, he looks like he could be happy in a field, at the forge, or behind the counter of the local tavern.
To see how the cover and the animated evil knight came together, click on the link “The Cover Art and Logo.”
COVER, LOGO AND ANIMATION
Once the characters were done and signed off, it was a race to get the cover completed. Time was flying and I needed to start prep work for the main gig- school. Paul, Jeff and I worked through some ideas and I developed some concepts using Poser and Corel Photopaint which I thought might work. Neither Paul nor Jeff felt the love, though, and these early efforts simply became stepping stones to the final work. The meeting when we hashed out the cover concept, though, was some of the best fun I had in the whole project. It was like being in the big studios working through a creative session on a movie where everything went on the table and was bounced around until it stuck or fell apart.
Poser was fantastic as a pre-visualization tool at this stage. I used the Sadie base I developed for the templates and posed versions of her with prop weapons and sets to give the guys a feeling for the final piece. They made suggestions and eventually, we agreed on this composition after I tweaked three versions and they cast ballots by phone and email.
I blew up the images and carbon traced these basic forms onto larger art sheets- one each for the good and evil knight. With those templates, I then drew the armour, weapons and costumes based on the original designs. The new drawings became the foundation for the final work.
Without the CG base reference for proportions, I don’t think I could have finished the piece in time. I prefer going freehand whenever possible, but that armour and the princess’s dress was very hard to do. So having the bathing suit Sadie template as a guideline made getting to the freehand stage a lot faster. As you can see below, the guidlines are still in place, although the bodies have disappeared under the clothes and armour. Only the face of the princess remained relatively un-altered at this stage. The background is clear in both images.
I added all the buildings and background elements directly to the final piece later, hoping all the time they would work with the characters and not overwhelm them.
Please note in the gallery below, double-click on each image to bring up a larger version in a separate gallery.
Back to Staples to create photocopies of these drawings. They would be transferred afterwards onto the 100lb paper I bought for the final art. What follows are snapshots I took as the work progressed. They are not very good, but did give Paul and Jeff tantalizing glimpses of what was to come. Paul and Jeff wanted the final work in coloured pencil- something I had not used on this scale since 2007. It was great getting back to it, though. There’s so much computer work out there that people forget that wonderful results can be obtained from these simple tools.
Did you see it? Just before I finished this part of the image, I reversed the sword in the hand of the evil knight. Check the transfer drawing again if you missed it. I was not happy with the piece as I working on it, but could not put my finger on it, being too close to the work. The moment I concentrated on the sword, I knew that was the problem. Once flipped, I felt hugely better about the piece and it was done in no time.
This is actually a mixed media work. The sky and stones are done with graphite pencils. Only the buildings and characters are completed with coloured pencils. The cover design at the top of the page has the colours tweaked a little from what you see here, which is closer to the original. However, I think the cover with the composited title looks wonderful. I don’t know who did it as I signed off after the cover was done. I definitely like it, though.
This was the second design. Green was the order of the day. I used red in the earlier version with original text I created that looked like a graffiti tag. As you can see, if you compare this one with the logo on the cover art at top, the texture on the letters has been redone. We agreed on what you see here, but I like the other on the final cover better. It looks like scales! Oh, the nasty looking thing underneath is a view of the sword in regular graphite pencil.
A WONDERFUL SURPRISE!
This arrived in an email one day- the evil knight as rendered by an animator in Sweden. If you read Paul and Jeff’s blog at the time, you could follow links to the creator’s own site. I think the drawings translated really well into the final model. The sword was simplified in the blade, but the handle remained pretty much as imagined. And you should have seen this guy move in the demo animation!
And that was it. At the time of writing, the game was still available on the X-Box Indie platform. People I’ve talked to who played it had a lot of fun. I did get an X-Box later and played a few games on it, but never became a huge fan because of the time involved and all the other projects I wanted to work on. I will not say ‘no’ to another stint of character design, though. CORRUPTED was just too much fun.
The following galleries are from the old website, featuring images that were taken during the 1990s and 2000s. As on the page of black and white images, a number are reproduced from old prints. I transitioned completely to digital with the purchase of an SLR camera sometime around 2005.
In March, 2004, I visited Japan for the first time, spending the week in Tokyo going on tours and doing a lot of walking around the place. Tokyo has to be one of the cleanest, and most workable big cities I’ve ever visited. With a population of 12.8 million, I was truly amazed by how easy it was to get around, and how polite people there were. They certainly show us how it’s done! Anyway, here are some of the 100 plus photos I took while there, visiting places like the Meiji Shrine, the Asakusa Kinnon Temple, Ginza, the Imperial Palace, and Tokyo Bay. Frankly, I’m not a fan of big cities, but Tokyo works so well I’d move there in a second. Don’t even get me started on the anime and manga… I have grouped the larger images within the galleries, so you may not have hyperlinks off all the thumbnails below. This way, all the various locations can be grouped together where necessary.
Click on each of the images in all the galleries to hopefully open and explore larger versions of them.
I have traveled to the British Isles more than any other place. What is shared here will be some of the photos from trips prior to the most recent visit of 2014, which will be in a separate posting later.
ASSORTED OTHER IMAGES- ELEMENTAL LINES, SHAPES AND FORMS
All images in this page are copyrighted C.A. Seaman and may not be reproduced without permission.
There was a time once when you needed to buy something called ‘film’ for your camera, which itself was something self-contained and not part of that mini-computer that tries to pass itself off as your phone.
Okay… enough sarcasm. The photographs displayed here are ones I took years ago with either a traditional SLR camera, developed using traditional means, or the earliest of digital cameras, using floppy disks or something like them for storage- as far as I can remember. I actually took a course in black and white photography at Durham College in 1998, using darkrooms and enlargers and other tools of the trade that at that time were just beginning to be replaced by digital media. I’m glad I had the experience of that. It taught me the plan the work ahead of time and respect the process of development, knowing each image cost paper, chemicals, time and money. Today, with UNDO functions, Photoshop and the like, students of photography have many safety nets to catch them if they mess up, unless they first forget to hit AUTO SAVE.
With cameras and social media now so prominent in society, I think it can be argued the world and the people within it have never been photographed as much as they are today. And as to the quality of the overwhelming majority of images out there? Well, let’s just say if people had to pay for each one, the internet wouldn’t be choking on the many narcissistic selfies that appear on social media platforms every second of the day. Privacy might not have to be so carefully protected against unwanted recording in someone’s random imagery.
Photography was once a novelty. It was an event when the camera was taken from its case. Now, it is almost a substitute for vision and memory as we know it. People don’t watch concerts. They film them. People barely savour the moment of meeting a celebrity. They reach for their phones to let the device record the memory of that moment for them instead. It goes on…
You didn’t click on this page to read rants, though, and I won’t take up any more time on this rant because I could really go on and on….
BLACK ANGEL OF PETERBOROUGH
This cemetery just on the outskirts of Peterborough featured many interesting memorials, but I must admit I feel in love with this statue of an angel sitting atop the grave of a former Lieutenant-Governor’s son. It is at least life-size, and looked fantastic from any angle. I believe these may have been in colour originally and shot with an early digital camera.
COBOURG AND PORT HOPE
These two old towns have some interesting cemeteries of their own, with a couple of pieces that stood out from the rest. In Cobourg, it was the strange structure that sat all tipsy on the side of a hill, overgrown with vines and looking something like a beached stone TITANIC. In Port Hope, it was another angel, and…CREEPY!…a grave marker with my family name on it and no dates… These pictures were taken at roughly the same time as the Peterborough set.
TYRONE MILL SERIES
Tyrone Mill is located just north of where I live, and is still an operational saw mill and cider refinery. It has stood since the mid 1800s, and is a dream photo location site. Inside the mill, wood is stacked ready for cutting. Tools used when my great grandfather was alive line shelves around the shop. On the lower level, you can buy cider and donuts made on site. Outside the mill, you can walk around a lake, or along the river created from its runoff. Then there are all the other little touches, as seen in this gallery.
I hear it has changed a lot since these pictures were taken. In that case, the images here represent an historic record of days gone by. While uploading this set, I found the original colour digital files of these images. I’m happy to still have them, but they look much better in black and white.
The following are photos taken by me recently at Parkwood Estate in Oshawa, the former home of R.S. McLaughlin and his family. For those you who don’t know who he was, he helped create General Motors, and his philanthropic ways helped create many other venerable institutions in Oshawa and around Ontario. I took these pictures in colour, but converted them to black and white in order to catch more of the period in which this grand building and its grounds were created, between 1915-17.
OSHAWA UNION CEMETERY
I have lived in the Durham area for 14 years, and yet only just vistied this old and very interesting place of rest on the corner of Highway 2 and Thornton. Here are some of the images I captured there. I have played a little with the settings, to bring out the detail in the stone.
GHOST ROAD SERIES
Ghost Road was the name of a band in Oshawa, playing a selection of original and cover tunes with a country rock theme. I was invited to become a photographer with the band in 1999, and then followed like a roadie on the trail with them as they played some of their gigs. I felt like an older version of the kid in ALMOST FAMOUS. (Somehow I missed Kate Hudson along the way…) This gallery contains images of the mysterious Ghost Road itself, just outside Port Perry in Ontario.
ASSORTED OTHER VIEWS
These are assorted other images from the archives. Some may be recognizable to you in terms of locations. Others may be more abstract in their composition and not meant to be part of anything representational or narrative in context.
All images are copyrighted C.A. Seaman from the time shown on the identification and may not be reproduced without permission.
I took a trip to the East coast in 2007. I came back with hundreds of photos, priceless memories, some great books and the germ of an idea. Halifax struck me as a fascinating city because of all the history connected with it. The early 1900s- the Gilded Age, the sinking of the TITANIC, the outbreak of the First World War and the Halifax Explosion- have long fascinated me because of the huge upheavals that came with those events. What must it have been like to live in those times and see the wonders and horrors up close?
In my mind I saw a city by the sea and a river winding inland. People trading, exploring, going overseas or up the river into the heart of a continent we might recognize as America, but subtly changed, as if it existed in a parallel universe. When I was home sick one day and put the APOCALYPSE NOW Redux movie into the DVD player to watch for the first time, (I saw the original theatrical version many years earlier), the hot toddie I was drinking to kill the fever mixed with the dreamlike cinematography and storyline to take me deep into this world that was forming in my head.
Over time, characters and settings emerged. I draw sketches and parts of a map of Fairview, as the city state became known. One character- Poppy- was there from the beginning. She ended up changed considerably from how I first imagined her and became not the central character in the story, but a driving force behind some of the action within it. What I took from Poppy I put into Ariana, who, for the first four books became the centre of my world now set in the Sargasso Islands, offshore from Fairview. Her adventures as a researcher from another world sent into exile across space and time for her own protection gave me the perfect foundation for an examination of the period that has interested me for so long.
I did a lot of research on life, culture and entertainment in the early 1900s, focusing originally on the Toronto Islands, Books I read kept comparing the amusement parks there a hundred years ago to those much grander venues in Coney Island, causing me to redirect my research there. If you haven’t seen pictures of Luna Park or Dreamland, look them up. Everyone I showed them to was struck amazement at how fascinating those parks were.
From there, my art research led to revisiting the works of Charles Dana Gibson, creator of the Gibson Girl. Evelyn Nesbit- inspiration for aspects of the character- became the next quest. Her bittersweet and tragic story, recounted in Paula Uruburu’s AMERICAN EVE and re-imagined in E.L. Doctorow’s classic RAGTIME, led me to collect antique postcards of her- giving me real pieces from that long-gone world.
Yet where some might be nostalgic about that era, I chose to portray it as seen through a more critical lens. Ariana/Mallory, the protagonist in the story, experienced the injustices of the period, the hypocrisy and the darkness that lived in shadows cast upon the western world by the monuments of the Gilded Age. She might have been a powerful woman with fantastic resources at her disposal, but in that time she could not vote. Her values were often in conflict with those of others in that era. Knowing what she knew from her life in ‘the old world’, she had to publicly accept her status as a woman of her time in the new world; trying to live like someone in a witness protection programme and only engage in acts of emancipation sparingly so as not to make herself a target here as well. Circumstances being what they were, however, would conspire eventually to make that almost impossible…
Of course, Ariana/Mallory was not to be alone in her adventures. Being a specialist in artificial intelligence and cybernetics, she was accompanied in her journey to the Sargasso Islands by sidekicks in the form of several living dolls, popping seemingly out of the Anime and Manga culture that’s been popular here for a number of years. Quirky and each representing a character archetype from Manga, they made convenient foils to Ariana/Mallory as the story developed. And, typical also to the tropes of Anime/Manga, one among the dolls would prove to be a powerful force herself. That eventually was the part played by Poppy.
PUBLISHING THE BOOKS
SARGASSO remains published by Blurb in California a company that specializes in self-publishing on demand. At the time, it was one a few companies that was willing to do so, providing people like me with the means to generate content without having to order hundreds of books afterwards at great cost. Today, over a decade later, the playing field in self publishing is crowded and authors have a lot of options to consider when seeking the best way to make their work available to the public. Four books were published by Blurb and can be found through a title search or by my name, C.A. Seaman, on the website.
The following images are samples from the four books published in the series, completing the first arc in the story. Unless stated otherwise, all the pieces are completed in graphite pencil on 110lb paper, allowing me to create a range of textures and finishes in the imagery. In some cases, I used a small amount of computer post production work only to add some limited smoke effects, spot lighting or blur to enhance the appearance of the final piece. I also created a number of silhouette illustrations in the books. Silhouettes were popular many years ago in book illustration and seem to have died out recently. Drawing the forms, I then filled them in using Photopaint to create the silhouette effect. The average maximum size of images was no more than 8.5×11″, mostly to facilitate scanning on the machine I had at the time.
EARLY PROCESS PIECES
In this gallery is an arrangement of early drafts, poses and character designs that helped me imagine the world of SARGASSO. The last piece is a study I did from process drawings created for Disney’s animated film THE RESCUERS. I found the images helpful in terms of trying out proportions for younger characters. The computer generated model at the beginning is Sadie, who helped me figure out some early concepts for the character of Poppy. The action poses are my versions of gestures I found in a book of training images created for artists at Warner Bros. working on Bugs Bunny. It’s an amazing book. Grab it if you find one. I did and have had no regrets. Finally, because Ernest Shepard has always been a favourite artist of mine, I adapted one of his WINNIE THE POOH illustrations to the SARGASSO world, just to see how it would look. It was all good training and training never ends for artists, as many know.
These images appeared in the final books. They are published in no particular order and represent a sampling of what appeared in the books.
To access images, double-click on them. Eventually, you find yourself in a gallery setting for viewing. To return to the main page, click on the Back arrow at the top left of the toolbar.