Here are the basics of the manga: how it's created, what it's created with, the inspirations, etc. These are currently just questions I thought most likely to receive first, so I figured I'd answer them. If you have any other basics-related questions, feel free to ask them, and I'll post the answers here. ^_^

Materials Used to Create Shadowscapes
Here's a list of what I use to make the manga and its webpage:
  • Gel pen (usually a medium-tip, but it doesn't really matter what size. Or what type, actually)
  • 3-subject spiral bound notebook with black cover (this and the gel pen create concept doodles, informational notes, and the all-important Shadowscapes script itself)
  • Mechanical pencil ("Clickster" brand usually—though I've been known to use other brands and styles, 0.5mm HB lead)
  • Click eraser (one of those kind that has the long eraser for people who use up mechanical pencil erasers)
  • Kneaded rubber (aka. Artist's eraser. The kind you can mold into different shapes)
  • Gum eraser (the brown kind you can buy in art supply sections of stores)
  • White eraser (acrylic, I think)
  • Sketch pad (9" x 12", not too rough surface. Not spiral-bound)
  • Scanners (UMAX Astra 3400 with VistaScan, and FBIV (??), aka. Faye, with some program I don't know)
  • PaintShop Pro 7
  • Faketones (some tones downloaded where they're free, others made from tiling webpage backgrounds)
  • Mouse (Optical scroll mouse at school, Photophobic* regular mouse at home)
  • My computer (happy little mutt named Oni) or my parents' computer (temperamental beast nicknamed Bessie)
  • Notepad (yes, Notepad, for HTML coding)
  • Microsoft Internet Exploder 6.0 (yes, I deliberately said Exploder)
  • Winamp (to keep the creative juices flowing)
  • Snackage (usually consisting of sugary things, with some salty things occasionally)
  • Demonic muses (they're very helpful, really)
  • Imagination (duh)
  • Wacom Intuous2 tablet, 4x5" size (very handy tool, I assure you)

*"Photophobic" - Afraid of light. I.E. the mouse has a transparent casing, so when light shines directly on it, it interferes with the mouse's innards, and the mouse doesn't work very well, if at all.

Why Shadowscapes?
Well, do you mean the title or the manga itself?

For the manga itself...guess I should start at the beginning. ^_^ I write stories for fun. I've already written two novels (though they both need major work on them) and have several ideas for others. Well, since about mid-April, 2002, after looking at some webcomics and getting into the drawing swing of things again, I felt inspired to do one of my story ideas as a manga. Originally, it was going to be something having to do with an elven or a demon schoolgirl, but I couldn't come up with anything for it (though I did draw a girl in a school uniform and the demon-girl, who became the inspiration for Kasseilia). So then I had an idea about people crash-landing on a colony world and having to get along with the shape-shifting (wolf) natives, but then I came up with the idea for Shadowscapes (very vague idea revolving around Kass and Lieya) and ditched the colony world one. It just kinda' exploded from there. Yeah.

As for the title...I wanted something spiffy with a fantasy feel to it, so I asked my friend Ryan, who suggested "Shadowscape." So I pluralized it. ^_^ Thanks Ryan!

So now you know.

Inspiration For the Main Characters
Ok, I'm going to do this on a by-character basis. Some characters haven't shown up in the manga yet, but once they do, they'll be in the character profile section, so you can match them up to their inspiration.

Lieya - Well, I wanted a wolf-girl character (from the colony world idea that I ditched). So I made Lieya, who originally had lighter skin and was a beastmaster. She eventually developed darker skin, but kept the original costume design I gave her (the brown rag bikini/sarong dealie). Her markings became standardized stripes and a vine mark, and she went from being a beastmaster to being...something else (shh! that's a spoiler!). Thanks to watching some Saiyuki, I decided to make her a youkai.

Kasseilia - I wanted the elf/demon girl (from the school idea that I ditched). So I made Kasseilia, who used to have more tattoos and looked younger. She kept her black hair with the white streak, but went from being mostly demon to being mostly elf. And she's a bit older than she originally was.

Tanan - I finished watching the Escaflowne series (thanks Julia!) over the summer of 2002, and liked the way Folken looked, so I drew the original sketch for Tanan (who looked quite a bit like Folken and is based off of Escaflowne Draconians anyway, sorta'). He originally had shorter hair, color indeterminate. You can still see a bit of the Folken design in him if you look carefully (pretend the hair is blue-green).

Sheirah - Again, thanks to watching some Saiyuki, I ended up designing Sheirah like one of Minekura Kazuya's typical youkai. She originally had darker hair and different markings, and wasn't a kappa. Oh, and she had less armor, too. Less clothing in general, actually. I like her new design better.

Rriha - Again, after watching Escaflowne, I wanted a cat-girl (cat-youkai), so I drew Rriha, except she looked a bit like Merle. Make that a lot like Merle. She looks different now. Probably one of the most modestly-dressed cat-girls you'll see almost anywhere.

Kristoff - I decided I needed some humans in this group, and that one should be a fighter (and nobleman). So I concocted Kristoff. He's sorta' a generic fighter (I'll try to make him better!).

Caerd - I needed another human besides Kristoff, and decided that this one should be a sorceror. So I concocted Caerd. He's kinda' based off of pictures and character descriptions of Lezard from Valkyrie Profile (since I haven't had a chance to play that game yet). He gets picked on so much....

Fell - And I needed the obligatory barbarian for this adventuring D&D-esque group. So I made Garr. Who is now called Fell. Why? Because Fell sounds a bit less stupid than Garr, and is actually a Norse name (while, according to the name dictionary I use, Garr isn't). And no, Fell isn't dumb. He's got a very high intelligence statistic. So there. Take that, stereotype.

Kaethu - I wanted a summoner, and I wanted a kitsune (fox-youkai), plain and simple. So I made Kaethu. Who has one of the biggest, fluffiest tails I've seen yet (with the exception of Sesshoumaru from Inuyasha). His original design had his hair sticking up less and gave him different markings, with somewhat less tail.

Issar - I needed my obligatory Angsting Bishonen, and I needed my Object du'Drool (yes, I know I just mangled French). So around came Issar, who's kinda' sorta' based off of Saiyuki's Kougaiji.

So there you go. The inspriations. ^_^

A Method to the Madness
So you might be wondering how I put together a manga page (not counting the colored title pages/frontspieces). Or not. But I'm going to tell you anyway, so nyah.

It all starts with a gel pen. Yes, a gel pen. And a spiral-bound notebook with a black cover and three sections to it, divided by flimsy yellow paper dividers. I lug this poor thing around with me everywhere, so as you can probably imagine, it's rather battered by now. And almost full. I need to go buy another black-covered 3-subject spiral-bound notebook soon.

In this notebook, I keep all sorts of things: concept doodles, layout pen sketches of covers and title pages and the occasional manga page when I can't figure the layout myself, character information, world information.... The list goes on, and it's all Shadowscapes-related. But the most important thing in the notebook is the script. Indeed, the script. Written out kinda' like a screenplay, with directions to tell me what needs to be going on in the background and with the main characters and who's doing what, and with dialogue divided by character like the lines of a play. I do make occasional changes to it, usually in transition from script to manga page, but also in the notebook itself, once in a while. Sometimes I completely rewrite sections I don't like. This notebook is where I work out what makes Shadowscapes tick.

So once I have the script written out, I'll go through and re-read it and, with a red pen (the notebook is written/drawn in black) or sometimes with a pencil, I'll divide the script at what seems to be reasonable page stops. This way, I know what's going to go on each page. I'll often be thinking preliminary layout stuffs in my head as I do this, which helps determine where each page needs to end. I've got up through portions of the second chapter done.

After I've divvied up the script into pages, I get out the sketch pad and the ruler and the pencil and the erasers. I put a 1cm border around the outside of the paper, give or take, then lightly draw panel shapes with the ruler. Once I've got the panels I wanted drawn out, I set the ruler aside and begin to draw the panels. I usually go in order of the page, so the first panel you read is usually the first panel I drew on that page. I draw the whole page out, making sure to have my lines relatively dark (easier for it to scan properly). I don't ink yet, but I may start inking the pages once I'm done with Chapter 1.

Once the page is drawn, I borrow my roommate's scanner (Faye) and computer (Puck) and scan the page. Since the paper is 9" x 12", which is a bit bigger than the 8.5" x 11" the scanner can take, I scan it in two halves and put it together in PaintShop Pro 7. Once it's together, I trim the edges to look better, and adjust brightness and contrast levels to get dark enough lines without darkening the white of the paper. This also helps clean out little light specks and smudges and the like from the page.

Once the page is cleaned up in PSP, I make it the top layer, with a mask so only the black lines show up and the rest is transparent. A white layer at the bottom of the stack and various layers in between for tones and airbrushing and such, and I'm set to faketone. By faketone, I mean I don't actually use store-bought tones on the pages. I use tiling webpage backgrounds and free tones from websites and patterns that PSP came with and whatnot to mimic the effect of tones. I put a layer above the lineart to trace the panel frames on, and clear out tone and lineart that is where it shouldn't be.

Once the page is toned and has the panel lines defined better, I resize to the standard width I use for my online pages (currently 542 pixels), then add a new layer for text and another new layer for speech bubbles. I type in the text from the script where I think it should go, choosing fonts for effect (currently, I only use Anime Ace), and put such things as the title and chapter/page numbers and copyright information in their designated places, then use the shape and line tools to put the speech bubbles under the text. I tweak positioning until I like what I've got, save the .psp file, flatten the whole image and greyscale it, and save it as a .gif for the manga site.

Once this is done, all I have to do is update the page system with the new page in its place (and on the main page), and write the rant that goes with the page. All in all, it takes me about an hour to three hours to draw the page, five or six to tone it, and another hour to handle all the html jazz. With my current work and class schedules, this can get hard to do on a regular basis, but I try. I don't succeed often, but I try.

So now you know the method.

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Or sue you. Your pick.