BLACKLANDS is the next in our list of Outland publishing projects coming to print.
This is a book completed almost entirely in-house – roughly based off a dream I had (Jeremy Mohler) some years ago, it’s created by myself and Edward Lavallee (our Director of Design), also written by Ed, penciled and inked by Erick Marquez (who is a LONG time friend and super talented artist), with layouts, designs, and colors by me. Lettered by the super talented Ed Dukeshire (as ever).
It’s pretty exciting to have a project like this come together. As I said, it began life from a dream I had, though the setting was pretty non-specific. But, being a huge fan of westerns, we decided to take it that way. The first attempt at this book was by my wife (Emily Hall) and I. We originally planned it as a submission to the now canceled DC webcomic site, Zuda Comics. Zuda closed it’s doors before we were ready to submit, however. So it got shelved until some years later when I dug it up as a project to pitch to Ed as something to work on together.
We’ll be premiering it out at the Kansas City Comic Con this weekend (August 07-09) in Kansas City. We’ll be at booth 1425. It’ll be an exclusive run of 150 copies with a unique cover you’ll only be able to pick up at KCCC. We’ll also have a few limited run sketch covers as well (only 25 of these).
I’m really excited about this story and the team and I hope you guys like it!
Here’s a bit about the story –
BLACKLANDS is an action/adventure that takes place in the years following the Civil War. Set in the tradition of the classic Sergio Leone westerns, BLACKLANDS has plenty of action, romance, violence, and revenge. Think of it as PALE RIDER meets TREMORS with a splash of TRUE GRIT thrown in for good measure.
When a young girl goes missing from the small town of Bliss, Silas, the town elder calls upon Virgil Kane to bring her home. Silas explains that details of Lorelle’s disappearance are limited, and that discretion in the girls safe return are imperative as to not bring shame upon his family. Virgil accepts the assignment unaware that Lorelle is pregnant and ran away to ensure the safety of her unborn child.
Danger lurks around every corner as Virgil falls neck-deep into the world-altering hellscape known as BEASTFALL – an environmental cataclysm that brings about a second Dark Age where fresh water and edged weapons are the key to survival.
Check out the preview below!
Outland Entertainment recently announced the release of The Barry Blair Library of comics and I was fortunate enough to get to design a logo for the launch.
You can read all about it here:
The main thing I needed to consider before I started was how the BBL logo would be incorporated with the current line of OE comic book properties and what that treatment would look like since we had already come up with a layout for the OE line.
We wanted the BBL logo to balance out with the Outland Entertainment logo, so I decided to go with circular layout. I chose a font similar to the font used in the OE logo to keep a consistent look across the brand, but I also needed to come up with something uniquely it‘s own to reflect the uniqueness of the books and wholly set the logo apart. The fonts I used are ITC Franklin Gothic Heavy and Acropolis. I liked the idea of the using the letter “B” back-to-back to represent the “Barry Blair” in the logo. I tried this with a bunch of dierent fonts and settled on Acropolis because I felt it formed a unique looking letter form. A sigil that lead me to think it represented a unique language all of it’s own, much like Barry and the catalog of comics he created.
I submitted these for approval and the final logo was approved.
Read all about ELFLORD here: https://outlandentertainment.com/project/elflord/
Until next time…keep on, keepin’ on.
Mid-year last year, one of my personal long term clients, Goodman Games, approached Outland about doing some work on a new series of adventures they were developing based on the new 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons.
This was a unique opportunity because we were not only handling the illustration for the book, but we also handled all the cartography, the cover design, and the interior page design. We pretty much handled the whole package with the exception of the cover art and the interior layout.
You might know Ed Lavallee from his work as a graphic designer, but he’s also a published author working on numerous comic projects. Let’s pick his brain, shall we?
Ed, what came first: graphic design or comics?
Comics all the way. Comics have been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. I started out pretty young just looking at the pictures, then reading, then collecting. Comics have always inspired and amazed me. Definitely influenced me in making my decision to study art and design in college. It was during my time at Stephen F. Austin State that I started writing comics. I guess for me the two have always gone hand in hand. Kind of a no brainier really.
Would you ever choose only one or do they somehow complement each other?
The two have always complemented each other. The design side of things is actually what got me my first pro comic gig as a letterer. I lettered “PARADIGM” and an issue of “EXPATRIATE” from Image. If I could make a living just writing comics I would, but design provides me with the glamorous lifestyle I’ve become accustomed to.
As a kid and teenager what was your favorite activity?
As a kid I was always outside playing in the woods by my house, building forts, riding bikes. I had a very active imagination. Loved to be outside adventuring.
Did you begin to show your artistic talents early?
I don’t know if it would be considered talent, but I always loved to draw and create when I was young. Whether it’s comics, animation, drawing, film, Art has always been there for me in some form or fashion.
What was the first project that made you realize you wanted to be part of this graphic world?
Not sure I can pinpoint a single project that led me on my path into graphics specifically. It was more out of a need to make a decent living doing something I enjoyed. I was originally a sculpture major in college, but I could never see myself making a living as a fine art sculptor. I changed my major to graphic design in my junior year and finished college with enough credit hours to have a double major. Been working in design ever since, publishing mostly. The rest is history.
What about references? Do you have any favorite artists that inspire you?
Da Vinci and the artists of the Italian Renaissance. Mike Mignola… I’m a huge fan of the Hellboy Universe he has created. Frank Frazetta. Quentin Tarantino. Martin Scorsese.
Is there a project that touched you in a deeper way?
“REVERE: Revolution in Silver” will always be my baby. It was my first professionally published work as a writer.
How does it feel to create a brand image, a logo, like the new one for the “Shotguns and SorceryRPG”?
Working on the S&S logo has been fun and exciting. It’s pretty cool to think that the work I did on the logo will be on all future S&S products. I’m looking forward to seeing everything take shape with the upcoming KS launch for the S&S RPG.
Is the process of finding the right logo for a brand straightforward or is it too subjective?
I try and use the same approach every time. Sometimes it is pretty straight forward, other times it is more of a creative evolution. Each step adding a little something in the process to get you to the final finished version.
What is your method: meticulous research or diving right into experimental sketches?
I think all projects are unique in their own way. For some, the lightbulb goes off right away and I can jump right in. In other instances it’s lots of research, sketching, and asking questions of the team/client involved.
What can we expect to see from you in the near future: graphic design projects or comics?
Well, I have an active hand in the majority of the projects set up here at Outland. We just finished up the S&S logo, and an RPG supplement. The S&S Kickstarter is launching soon. So a lot is happening on the design front. I have a few different comic projects as well, “REVERE vol. 2″, “POPSTAR ASSASSIN”, and “BLACKLANDS” are all in the works as we speak. Exciting times are on the horizon, stay tuned!
Thanks Ed for shedding some light on your work!
I recently had the pleasure of working on re-branding the logo for Matt Forbeck’s epic Noir/Fantasy setting SHOTGUNS & SORCERY. We initially had a solid direction that incorporated a crossed magic wand and shotgun with letters wrapping above and below. (see below)
But, after a few attempts we realized it just wasn’t working for us. The Outland team bounced ideas back and forth for a bit and decided we needed a logo that really captured the essence of the NOIR elements of the setting, and still have that FANTASY feel. I tried a bunch of different noir and fantasy fonts combined with some graphic elements, but we still felt the logo wasn’t quite there. I went back and forth for a while trying different fonts, different layouts and effects. Here are a couple of looks that we came up with in the middle of this concepting phase. (see below)
When I am designing a logo the first thing I like to do is really get a handle on the look and feel of the letters/font to use. Once we had decided on the letters and how they were laid out, (in this instance it was a toss up between stacked or inline) we added multiple outlines, fills, and stroke weights to move the logo one step closer to finished. We went with an inline design as we felt it would be a bit more versatile for layout and design purposes. The final step was to tweak the curls of the S in sorcery to really pull everything together. So without further ado, Outland Entertainment is proud to present to you the new SHOTGUNS & SORCERY logo. We hope you dig it, as much as we do.
Hello and welcome to my first EVER blog post. Bare with me as we figure this out together. So, I’m going to talk about design and my design process to start. In future posts we will cover in detail a variety of design topics from logos, to lettering, to page layout, but if there is something specific any of you have in mind, feel free to let us know. We will do our best to accommodate.
Recently, Outland partnered on a very cool comic book project titled BLEEDBACK (feel free to check it out here: www.embreate.com). After talking to the creator and getting all of the technical details sorted out, we determined he needed a logo and layouts for 5 pages. Before getting into the nitty gritty of starting the actual design work it is usually a good idea to get the technical details nailed down first. By technical details I mean: page sizes, bleed/no bleed, full color/black & white, file types, due dates, printer, etc. Once all of that is sorted out the real fun begins, design! When starting a new project I find it best to talk to the client to get as much detailed information about what they are looking for going in. This helps me find what I like to call the “design vibe” of the project. I like to think that all projects have them, some are harder to find than others.
For BLEEDBACK, the client had a few different fonts picked out for the logo, a full-color cover and 4 finished pages for me to pull inspiration from. In addition, he provided a concept sheet of setting and story to really give me insight into what BLEEDBACK is all about.
The images below are some of the font choices provided to me for logo creation.
The logo design was straightforward since the client had a clear vision of what he was looking for. I started with the font choice provided “FIRE DOOMSDAY”and went from there. Using Adobe Illustrator I typed BLEEDBACK, adjusted the kerning (that’s the space between the letters), converted fonts to outline, and used the pathfinder tool to slice everything up, and shift individual pieces of the letters to give it some“motion distortion”. There’s a bit more that goes into it, but for now lets stick to the nuts and bolts.
Below are a couple of initial looks with color and effects before we settled on the final design as seen on the cover to issue 1.
Here is a closeup of the final logo on black for detail.
One technical aspect I will comment on is the difference between designing in Illustrator vs. Photoshop – Illustrator is a vector-based program which uses a series of points and mathematical equations to create objects. Photoshop is a raster-based program, it uses pixels. The benefit of using vector vs. raster is scaleability. When you create a logo in Illustrator you can make it as large as you want with no degradation of quality. In Photoshop, you will start to lose image quality when scaling up more than 150% of actual size. I am sure most of you have seen an image or logo with a jagged edge, that jagged edge is pixelation and should be avoided if possible, unless the design calls for it. Low resolution images or logos are detrimental to the look and quality of any project.
As I mentioned before I like to determine a “design vibe” for all of the projects I work on. BLEEDBACK has a definitive look and feel that jumped out at me when reviewing the source material – futuristic/tech. The theme I picked up on right away was the “bright blue” color running throughout the work. I used that as my base direction to start page layouts. First, I set up a page template to the actual trim size of the book, plus bleed. Making sure you have everything set up to the correct page size before starting will save you a lot of headache on the backend. Searching online, I found a few different futuristic, vector-based backgrounds, sampled a bunch of fonts that I felt fit the look I was going for – I chose the font “EUROSTILE”, placed the backgrounds in the page template, copy and pasted all of the text provided for the page, then formatted it all to fit. Once everything was to my liking I sent a couple of versions to the client for a first look to get feedback, suggestions, and to see if the design was heading in the right direction.
Here are 2 initial layouts for the Inside Front Cover that were sent to the client.
Final Inside Front Cover Spread – Note the bright blue color in the artwork for Page 1.
Again, this is just a quick nuts and bolts overview of my design process and how I work, not a “be all end all” to design. I hope it was helpful. Remember, if there is a topic you would like to see covered in a future post or if you have questions leave us a message.
Thanks for reading.