We've spent a couple of months together here on Patreon now and I'm constantly trying to optimize the experience for everyone within the scope of what is possible for me to handle. One thing that came to my mind is that I'd like to encourage everyone to post me questions, either as a comment or as a Patron post. This happened already a few times and I'm really eager to answer you anything you're interested in. At the same time I realized that answering a comment or a Patron post might go unnoticed by the majority of Patrons. While this is ok with very specific short questions it would be a little bit of a waste in cases where my answer is a little bit more substantial. That's why I decided to create the "Q & A" category of posts in which I will pick a question and post it in a creator post so that everyone gets notified about it. Also I'm keeping these posts open to the public.
Alright, so in our first Q & A I'd like to answer Lavinia Cascabel who asked:
"I wonder... do you feel like you can fully show the "images in your head" through what you paint? Or you always feel like you need to get closer?"
I'd like to answer this question in particular because I feel that it contains a misconception of some sort and because I've made some interesting experiences during my work on the Wormworld Saga that I'd like to share with you.
So, above I've posted one of the first paintings I made in 2009 when the idea came up to make a graphic novel out of the Wormworld Saga. I still love this sketch because it completely captured the feelings I had in mind when I thought about Jonas wondering through the "Great Forest". In fact, this sketch captures it better than the panel artwork I would paint a few years later when Chapter 3 was produced. The reason for that is that a sketch will always make for a better visualization of your imagination than a rendered image, because it leaves room for interpretation. If you want to capture an image of your imagination you should not get closer, as Lavinia suggests, but you should stay as far away from a detailed image as possible.
Of course, when thinking about the "Great Forest" I never had specific plants or flower shapes in mind. I just had fuzzy feelings of colorful, exotic plants and spotty lighting in my mind. But the art direction of the Wormworld Saga, established in the first chapter, called for very specifically rendered environments and so I had to give a definite form to something that always had been a blurry impression in my mind. The result was that I felt kind of alienated by my illustrations when I created them in full detail. And that happens every time I finish a Chapter. It was the case with the ruins of Ankal Aasha and the streets of Kingspeak. Every time I have the feeling that these were not the places I had in my mind.
There were times when this really bothered me. Of course, as an artist you learn pretty soon that a finished artwork will never be as lively and vibrant as the sketch. But I thought that there must have been something else I was doing wrong. That I wasn't doing enough research or that I didn't put enough detail into the backgrounds, or the wrong detail for that matter. Fortunately I recently made an experience that put everything into perspective for me.
The fifths anniversary of the Wormworld Saga was a great opportunity to take the time and read all chapters in one sitting. I hadn't done that in a long time. In fact, it might have been the first time ever that I really started at Chapter 1 and read all the way through. And then it happened that I was genuinely surprised by all the stuff I was seeing before me. In some cases I actually wondered when I had done all this work and I was able to get lost in certain panels and feel the wonder of the things that are depicted in them. This is especially true with the earlier chapters and I figured that if you are very close to the creation of something you just don't have the right perspective to judge it. You need time to forget about the struggles and uncertainties of the creation. If you can remember every brush stroke you've made, you can't wonder about anything in an image. But time is our ally in this and while I'm certainly not able to see the Wormworld Saga like someone who had nothing to do with its creation, it seems that I slowly gain at least a little bit of the perspective of the reader with the time, and that's very comforting to know.
So, that's what I wanted to share with you in my first Q & A. Please feel encouraged to post me your questions. In most cased I might just reply to your comment or post but if your questions should pull a certain trigger I'm happy to put some more time into my answer and share it with everyone.