Recent entries

    Shadows of Self release party ()
    #6903 Copy

    KalynaAnne

    Chalklings, we know, can catch rides off of Nebrask. If Melody had chalklings on a slate and carried them around, could she give them verbal commands later, after she had made them?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You will have to find out how her magic works as we progress. Everyone would say "No, that's not possible" but she had done things that are supposedly-- that seem impossible. So what you are proposing is probably likely, probably possible, but it depends on her magic.

    Shadows of Self release party ()
    #6904 Copy

    KalynaAnne

    So you have circles, or Lines of Warding. If you draw a semi-circle, like if a Rithmatist was backed up against a wall, can just a semi-circle act as a Line of Warding?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It can, but the sides are going to be so weak. I mean they can just go around it, but yes, the semi-circle would work.

    KalynaAnne

    So if you drew a semi-circle, and drew the other half up the wall--

    Brandon Sanderson

    That would be fine.

    KalynaAnne

    Would it be equally strong as if it was all flat on the ground?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It would probably-- It would be really hard to get that corner so it would be. In theoretical, magical Christmasland, yes. 'Cause chalklings are two-dimensional, so they don't even see that it's changed really. I mean it does but--

    Shadows of Self release party ()
    #6905 Copy

    KalynaAnne

    If you drew a Line of Forbiddance on, like, a slate and then you can hold the slate--

    Brandon Sanderson

    Moving stuff around starts playing with things. So I'm going to say, I will deal with that in the next book but it doesn't work how you want it to work.

    KalynaAnne

    Okay, I'll accept that answer.

    Brandon Sanderson

    For logistical reasons, when I was building the magic, I was "Ehhh, we've got to not have this be possible."

    Shadows of Self release party ()
    #6909 Copy

    FeatherWriter

    At the Words of Radiance signing, I asked you what Renarin's eye color was. You said if there wasn't one in the wiki, you would canonize one for me. Peter has said there is not a color in the wiki.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Not a color in the wiki, okay.

    FeatherWriter

    Fan art has used blue--

    Brandon Sanderson

    You're going to get this in.

    FeatherWriter

    --and blue is my favorite color.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh is it?

    FeatherWriter

    So if you need a color--

    Brandon Sanderson

    Alright Renarin's eyes are blue. *cheers*

    Shadows of Self release party ()
    #6910 Copy

    Chaos

    How accurate would you say the northern continent on the Sycla map is? Is it horribly inaccurate?

    Isaac Stewart

    This map has severe deficiencies, especially in the northwest.

    Chaos

    Is there any reason why the cities seem to be on the borders?

    Isaac Stewart

    Seem to be where?

    Chaos

    On the borders, or coastline, like literally all of them.

    Isaac Stewart

    So Brandon can tell me if I'm wrong on this, but normally at the level of technology we're at in this world you've got to have cities near water. That's really what it is. Early cities are almost always near a source of water.

    Chaos

    And so the rivers are just the borders?

    Isaac Stewart

    Yeah. I mean we have the rivers that come in through the border in some places but rivers also are just a great border between places. Especially when there is-- when you're not building bridges over all of them. I will tell you... I won't answer what's going on up here.

    Chaos

    Is it really this enclosed though? Like it's pretty enclosed?

    Isaac Stewart

    It's pretty enclosed. This right here is pretty distorted, I will tell you that. And I made it look bigger than it is...

    Eric, we will eventually release a more correct map.

    Shadows of Self Chicago signing ()
    #6912 Copy

    Volratho (paraphrased)

    Humans on Scadrial have Investiture of both Preservation and Ruin inside of them.

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    Yes.

    Volratho (paraphrased)

    Feruchemically, does storing Investiture in Nicrosil store this connection to Ruin/Preservation/Harmony?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    You are on the right track, and asking the right questions but RAFO.

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #6914 Copy

    botanicaxu

    Do you know the general skin tone and hair color of the Thaylen people? Because there seems to be few descriptions in the books. And how exactly long are their eyebrows? (Fan art problems, sorry.)

    Ben McSweeney

    No idea about Thaylen skin tones, if the text doesn't state it clearly then I guess it's open to discussion. With the eyebrows, I'd think the length varies depending on age and care. The Thaylen riding the chull in the first book has brow-fans that look to be near a foot long. I'm not sure if that's above average, but I'd think there's probably some upper range determined by sheer practicality. Though I don't think they have to fan out, they could be braided or beaded... really, this is a /u/mistborn question.

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #6915 Copy

    botanicaxu

    Could you give us some clues about how the two lines of buttons on Vorin havah actually look like? I find it hard to imagine correctly. (When designing this costume, has Brandon got some in-world reference?)

    Ben McSweeney

    The cut of a havah is similar to a cheongsam through the torso, with full sleeves and skirts falling from the hips. Beneath the slitted outer skirt are many thin layers like fine silk which interweave to create a sort of accordion effect. This would (I think?) allow the dress to fall at a sharp angle from the hip when still, while expanding to allow a full range of leg movement. The buttons run from the throat down to the waist, following a line from the jaw down to the collarbone, curving out to follow the bust and then down the line of the torso. I don't think there's a rule for the number of buttons, but when in doubt remember that "10" is significant to the culture. Frog buttons are legit, I think.

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #6917 Copy

    botanicaxu

    How is the illustrating process for Stormlight 3 going? Is there any new guest artist? Will we see more new species/fashion pages/character depictions? I remember a WoB saying that there's a plan for Unkalaki outfit design. Is it still possible?

    Ben McSweeney

    We're still in the early draft process. Almost certainly, but it's not for me to say. Almost definitely/possibly/no idea. If there's an Unkalaki design, it might be slated for Dan.

    Shadows of Self Chicago signing ()
    #6921 Copy

    Questioner

    I was curious about the concept of flow, and how the Thrill compares to that.

    Brandon Sanderson

    What do you mean? Expand upon that. 

    [clarification]

    So you mean like in the zone, in the moment. The Thrill does overlap with that a little bit, but the Thrill is something distinct. It does give you some of that focus.

    Footnote: The question may have been inspired by the earlier reading of Dalinar's first flashback chapter in Oathbringer where he thinks about momentum in battle.
    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #6922 Copy

    JavaPython_

    What is it like to be famous really only because someone else famous hired you? That sounds impersonal, but it kind of feels like that's what happened to me.

    Ben McSweeney

    Nope, I know what you mean. It's a weird place, being on the coattails.

    I try not to give it a lot of thought, really... I trust that I'm the right person for this job, because I bring a unique combination of skills and interests to the table beyond just my ability to render.

    It also helps that Brandon and I started working together before he became the Fantasy Superstar... when I first started drawing for him back in 2008, he had only a handful of novels out, and his part in The Wheel of Time had not yet been the rousing success it eventually was.

    Lastly, I do a lot of work for other clients aside from Brandon, and some of those clients also represent high-profile property like LEGO and Gears of War. If I'm good enough for them, and good enough that they keep coming back and asking me to do more work, I must be doing something right.

    So I try to not fall victim to a sense of Imposter Syndrome. I think I might maybe be good at this stuff, or at least good enough. :)

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #6923 Copy

    JavaPython_

    Are you getting to work on White Sand?

    Ben McSweeney

    Sadly, no. I'm not involved with White Sand, but Isaac speaks very highly of the artwork. He keeps promising to show me some of it through internal channels, but I haven't seen it yet.

    I know they're certainly taking their time to do it well, and I'm as excited as anyone to see how it comes out!

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #6924 Copy

    RobinWishesHeWasMe_

    Do you have any favourites out of the work you've done?

    Ben McSweeney

    I like the Plate and Blades we've designed. The Axehound was a milestone challenge, and the Chasmfiend was one of those where it seemed to be going badly until it started going well... passing through those is always satisfying after the fact.

    Shadows of Self Chicago signing ()
    #6925 Copy

    Alteroden

    With [Feruchemical] zinc, you get mental speed. How is that any different from [Feruchemical] steel, except without [physical] speed?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I think of the mental speed actually turning you into... Let's say you sped up your body, and you wanted to figure out some really complex equations.

    Alteroden

    So it lets you have intuitive leaps.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Right. It basically turns you into Ken Jennings. That's how I imagine it.

    Kurkistan

    So it's not like bullet time?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No... It'll bullet time a little bit, it certainly will, because you're thinking faster than everyone else, but it has applications beyond bullet timing. Bullet time is really--

    Kurkistan

    That’s steel’s thing?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That’s kind of steel's thing. They kind of overlap on that one, because the steel thing... But yeah. It's more like "I think fast, but my reaction speed is not sped up".

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #6926 Copy

    JavaPython_

    If you have read The Emperor's Soul, what do you think of Forgery as an art form? Is it one that you wish you could use?

    Ben McSweeney

    It's pretty cool, I especially like the stamps... I think they'd be fun to design, just as visual props.

    I'm not sure I'd be a Forger at heart... maybe. I think Brandon's playing around with some concepts regarding reproduction and the essence of content that are highly relevant to modern creative concerns, but that's another conversation altogether.

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #6927 Copy

    JavaPython_

    Did you have any hand making Aons for the first Elantris book, or preparing some for the second book?

    Ben McSweeney

    No, that's all Isaac Stewart. He's been working with Brandon much longer than I have, and he's responsible for all the maps and icons and symbols and most of the chapter heading illustrations, with the exception of The Rithmatist where I got to do it all.

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #6928 Copy

    JavaPython_

    Have you made like a map of the whole Cosmere? Like a star chart or something?

    Ben McSweeney

    Nope! That's not something that's been relevant to my tasks up to now. If Brandon wanted something like that, he'd probably go to Isaac first, he's the man with the maps.

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #6930 Copy

    JavaPython_

    Do you have any drawings of the Cognitive or Spiritual realm that we haven't seen that you can share?

    Ben McSweeney

    Not yet... there's a few doodles somewhere of a black sun against a sea of beads, but they're not even close to comprehensive... a circle over scribbles hardly counts.

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #6932 Copy

    russki516

    Hey, thanks for doing this!

    My question is how developed are your ideas of what Spren look like and how they behave? I would love to see some illustrations of them in the future.

    Ben McSweeney

    There's some early illustrations of them in the original pitch package, where they look very Miyazaki if I say so myself, but my understanding of them has widened considerably in the time since then.

    I usually envision (and illustrate) them as ghostly, glowing shapes of infinite variety, a lot like the classical interpretation of a hologram. To the best of my understanding, spren appear to be made of stormlight when they're made apparent at all. Some have more detailed features than others, but I don't think any appear solid unless they actually manifest in the Physical Realm, and the only manifestations we know of are Shardblades (living blades have freedom to reshape though, so who knows what that could mean).

    As to their details, if you take the few descriptors that Brandon gives and let your imagination run, you probably can't go wrong... even among the spren, two of the same type might look very different in detail. And an awakened spren has a lot of mutability, Syl is changing shape all the time.

    As with all concepts, the text rules. So angerspren is gonna look like blood-red pools boiling up from the ground, and gloryspren will look like tiny translucent globes of golden light. Brandon wrote it, so that's what it is.

    But you can translate "blood-red pools [of light] boiling up from the ground" in a few creative ways, and any of them might be equally valid. As the Interlude suggests, the appearance of spren is kinda quantum... fluid until/unless observed. I have a lot of fun seeing how creative I can get with the description while making sure I'm staying true to the text.

    Shadows of Self Chicago signing ()
    #6933 Copy

    Alteroden

    With Stormlight, the better the gem is cut, the less Stormlight it leaks, and the longer it holds its charge. If a gem was perfectly cut, on a molecular scale, would it leak Stormlight at all?

    Brandon Sanderson

    In a theoretical flawless gem, then no it would not.

    Alteroden

    Would it actually give off light?

    Brandon Sanderson

    [...] Theoretically no it would not, but it's not what you're thinking...

    Alteroden

    No no no, that’s not what I’m thinking, I figured that’s something totally different.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Well, actually, it probably would still give off light, because it's drawing out of the Spiritual Realm. So I’d say it still lights, but it doesn't leak. The leaking is not where the illumination is coming from. The illumination is coming from a direct... It's basically a light bulb screwed into the Spiritual Realm.

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #6934 Copy

    JavaPython_

    What tips would you have for a beginner sketch artist/free hand drawer? How can I improve my illustrations? (I'm left handed, don't know if that'll make a difference or not.) I'm not horrible, I just tend to make large mistakes and since I prefer pen and pencil drawings (in a LOT of colors of ink) I can't really fix it.

    Ben McSweeney

    Being a lefty shouldn't hold you back, I've known plenty of excellent animators and illustrators who work sinister. Biggest hassle I know of is setting up your desktop workspace with hotkeys and all, everything is biased for dexters.

    Gosh, tips... well, practice is the big one, but I know that sounds glib. I think it's true, though, that in order to be successful as an illustrator you need to love the process more than the project or the results... it's as much about doing the thing as seeing and being the thing. Rewards and results are fleeting, but the job is forever. So, you know, it's part of the process to review your work, identify your weaknesses, and seek active solutions.

    I can't emphasize the value of rough layout and structural sketch lines enough... I never go straight to the finish lines, I need those buildup sketches in order to know where the finish inks will go. Even more so when working with real media, where you can't Undo your way out. If you're not applying the classic rules of structural composition, that might go a long way towards helping improve your stuff. My go-to was red pencil, but you can do a lot with a 4H or even an HB with a light hand.

    If you're already doing that, then I'm not sure what to suggest... keep practicing, I guess?

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #6937 Copy

    JavaPython_

    I love your work. It really inspires me to improve my drawing. Do you have any rough sketches of Marsh's/Inquisitor/Obligator tattoos? I want to be Marsh for Halloween.

    Ben McSweeney

    I don't, the best image is probably the standing illustration of Marsh in the Adventure Game. In all honesty, they were freehanded on the page, so it was more about a general approximation of shapes than a planned composition of glyphs.

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #6938 Copy

    TheDJ47

    Were you at the Shadows of Self release last night? And what was the hardest drawing to get right?

    Ben McSweeney

    I was not, it wasn't in the cards for me to travel this time. Hopefully I'll make it out for Stormlight 3. :)

    I wasn't, and it blows 'cause Isaac sent me a very awesome photo of a Cryptic Pattern costume and I wish I could've seen it in person. Plus, I like signing and sketching in books :)

    The Axehound was an early challenge to design... it's not easy to make a six-foot dog-lobster look affectionate! The antennae do a lot of the work.

    The Whitespine was an interesting case because I took a design all the way to near-completion before I scrapped it entirely and started again to get the one in the book. I think I like the current one, but I know I hated the one I did the first time.

    TheDJ47

    The Pattern costume was pretty sweet. And your illustrations in Stormlight really helped me visualize many of the... Interesting aspects of Roshar. They are amazing.

    Ben McSweeney

    Thank you! That is, ideally, why we do 'em. :)

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #6940 Copy

    Questioner

    Who, in your opinion, writes the best fantasy today?

    Ben McSweeney

    Until recently, I would have said Terry Pratchett, without hesitation. People mistake his books for mere comic fantasy, but that man had as sharp a wit as any Algonquin and more heart than a Care Bear Stare. He knew how to turn a phrase like a tango turns the hips. On more that one occasion, no exaggeration, that goofy old bearded bastard actually made me cry.

    To reach out and touch another human through time and space and make them actually feel something... that's good writing.

    But he's moved on, and there's plenty of great authors at their height today, so let's stick to the contemporary.

    For pure liquid prose, probably Rothfuss.

    For interesting concepts, I'm digging Guy Gavriel Kay. China Mieville is great as well.

    For action, I'm pretty into my man Brandon. Butcher does a good job with that also. Larry Corriea knows how to write a rocking fight.

    Joe Abercrombie is the first author I've read who took those boring battle maps with the arrows and blocks and made them into a gripping, visceral saga of honor and commitment and betrayal and vindication.

    Dan Abraham is the man who made a story about a rogue banker into one of the best epics since Ice met Fire. That right there is a Copperfield-level trick.

    Shadows of Self Chicago signing ()
    #6941 Copy

    Dragon13

    In your mind, what would constitute a worldhopper? Is it someone who makes a single trip between worlds (for example, the exodus from Yolen—not that it was an exodus, but a single trip), multiple trips between worlds (such as Hoid), or simply leaving a particular world?

    Brandon Sanderson

    [...] Here's the thing. I would call anyone who is aware that there are multiple worlds in the Cosmere and has visited more than one a worldhopper.

    Dragon13

    Do they actually have to have made it to a second world?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I think that... You’re getting at people like-- I would say that they are a worldhopper kind-of, but not fully. They’re kind of...

    Kurkistan

    The Doctor's companion?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, the Doctor’s companion type thing. I would define a Worldhopper as someone who has been to another world. I would call someone who has not actually been to another world "Cosmere-aware," but not necessarily a Worldhopper.

    Dragon13

    I was thinking more along the lines of the Shard who does not have a planet.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh, Shards transcend these definitions.

    Argent

    They're kind of worldhoppers by default.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes.

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #6942 Copy

    darklordreddit

    Didn't you do the RoosterTeeth logo and work on RvB animated ?

    Can you talk a little about those two ?

    Ben McSweeney

    I did!

    The RT logo came about back in 2003, I think? I was a fan of the first season of RvB and I hung out in their forums. When they sent out the call to redesign their old clip-art logo, I was there. When other artists were offering mascot-style cartoons, I saw there wasn't anything wrong with the icons in their existing logo, they just needed a fully original representation. It's been one of the longest-reaching and most enduring illustrations of my career, and paid off quite well for what amounted to an afternoon's doodle of a rooster silhouette and some cartoon chatterteeth. I wish I'd drawn the key better, it's all asymmetrical and it never stops driving me nuts.

    RvB Animated came around in 2008. By that time I was a Lead Animator at Humoring the Fates, a studio down in Florida. Burnieb asked if we could take on some original RvB animated content, and we gave it our best shot. I did the character designs, boarded it, keyed out the animation and put in most of the gunfire/blaster VFX, but the team at Studio Fates did the lion's share of the real work. We produced the whole thing in-house, and with a core team of less than a dozen.

    This was before Monty and his team really revolutionized what Rooster Teeth could do with a blend of machinema and original 3D animation, which ultimately was the perfect solution for what they wanted to do. But it was a good early experiment and a rare opportunity that I'm proud to have taken part in.

    I'm pretty sure we were the first production to adapt Halo for 2D traditional, we were certainly a year ahead of the overseas work on Legends. If you dig around in the archives of the studio's production blog, you can find all sorts of early design docs and pencil tests.

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #6943 Copy

    CapeMonkey

    How much of the novel to you have to/get to read before producing the art?

    Ben McSweeney

    As much as I can get! I receive an early draft along with the rest of the team, and it's really useful to read the whole book. It's a privilege not often made available to illustrators on first draft novels.

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #6944 Copy

    WACKY_ALL_CAPS_NAME

    Did you draw this? www.imgur.com/AazzKDl

    I was out of town for the WoR signing but my dad went and picked up a copy for me and one of the people signing that night drew this in the front pages. It's super cool and I have been trying to figure out who did it.

    Ben McSweeney

    I did! I draw a lot of really quick sketches at signings. I can't do it for everyone because sometimes we're trying to move quickly (Brandon draws long lines), but I try to do it whenever I can. On the plus side, no two are ever quite alike!

    Shadows of Self Chicago signing ()
    #6945 Copy

    Kurkistan

    Is it practical for an Oracle to get more out of electrum than Vin and Elend tried to?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes. It is totally possible.

    Kurkistan

    So if you could see your shadow wince when it turned left, you would think "Oh, Mrs. Peabody's around that corner. I probably shouldn’t turn left!"

    Brandon Sanderson

    It is possible to squeeze more out of it than they did.

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #6946 Copy

    MetalRuk

    Hi, Mr Sweeney!

    I'm sorry if my question might be complicated and/or badly articulated.

    When you are reading something and are trying to picture that world and those characters in your mind to later draw them, more often do you do your final work based on your first impression or the first picture you imagine, or do you try to imagine what you read in the most diferent ways you can?

    Thank you for the AMA!

    Ben McSweeney

    Often times I'll try and imagine a couple variations, just to be certain I've explored the idea. Sometimes my first idea turns out to be the best one, but not often! It helps to go ahead and articulate that first idea just to get it out in the air, and then look for ways to do something new with it, or think of an alternative altogether.

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #6947 Copy

    Thomniscient

    I love your work and have been wanting to get Stormlight related tattoos. Is there any way one can commission you into doing an original Shardbearer drawing for tattooing purposes? I love the ones in WoR, and want to get something very similar on my left leg!

    Ben McSweeney

    Thank you so much!

    I'm not sure if I can accept a commission to do something based on the stuff I do officially... maybe if /u/mistborn is down with it?

    Most folks just take one of the existing illustrations and have that reproduced. Doing something unique would be a different matter.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'm more than okay with this, Ben.

    Shadows of Self Chicago signing ()
    #6948 Copy

    Kurkistan

    If you're on Threnody and you get withered by a shade, are you better off burning Allomantic aluminum, or tapping Feruchemical gold?

    *laughter*

    [clarification on the question]

    Brandon Sanderson

    They would both work pretty well. I would say if you burned aluminum, that would kind of have the effect that you are wanting it to have, which is the effect-- negating and sucking out, so that's probably safer. But the gold would work, too.

    Kurkistan

    So would it be fair to describe withering as a kind of cancerous Forging-

    Brandon Sanderson

    Sure.

    Kurkistan

    That just kind of slowly takes over your soul?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Sure.

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #6949 Copy

    Kisaoda

    I got my wife hooked on Sanderson's works recently, especially the Stormlight novels. She absolutely loves Shallan as a character and fell deeper in love with her when she saw your illustration of her... which is now saved as her current desktop wallpaper. So kudos there!

    My question to you is this: how much reading into the novels do you do before coming up with an idea of a setting or character to paint? What is your process when deciding the best scene to depict?

    Ben McSweeney

    The Shallan endpage is mostly Michael Whelan, I assisted some in the layout and design but he's responsible for the finished painting.

    I read the full text of the novel while it's still in the draft stages, which is a rare privilege and part of what makes our production a little different than usual. When deciding what subjects to choose for Shallan's pages, I first look for seed that Brandon plants in the text, usually moments where Shallan specifically mentions drawing something. Or I look for subjects that are suitable for her to draw and which she's reasonably likely to see (and have time for) during her travels. Based on that and the conversations I have with Brandon and Isaac, we come up with a list of 6-8 subjects which we then develop further.

    Even though Shallan does draw portraits of people, we avoid trying to reproduce those so as to not define the features of various characters too strictly. Instead we focus on plants and animals and hints of the world around her.