*written* What series is Vax associated with?
I'm going to RAFO this one. So there... I'm totally going to RAFO that. You just got-- You got a good one so I'm going to RAFO the other.
*written* What series is Vax associated with?
I'm going to RAFO this one. So there... I'm totally going to RAFO that. You just got-- You got a good one so I'm going to RAFO the other.
Humans on Scadrial have Investiture of both Preservation and Ruin inside of them.
Feruchemically, does storing Investiture in Nicrosil store this connection to Ruin/Preservation/Harmony?
You are on the right track, and asking the right questions but RAFO.
Is there an average height for the Shin people?
Shorter than the average Alethi, I should think. :)
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.)
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.
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?)
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.
Will we see a sketch of larkin some day?
I think you're the third person to ask about larkins, so I'm putting it on a to-do list. :)
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?
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.
Is there any chance that we can see more of your personal Stormlight art? Just like that Chasmfiend piece =)
Maybe? I'd like to do more, but I like to do lots of stuff and I keep busy.
Is there anything you're looking forward to illustrating that you haven't had an opportunity to do yet?
Oh, there's a few things.
I want to know what the heck a Thunderclast is. :)
Which order of the Knights Radiant would/are you be in?
Lightweavers is the easy, obvious answer, but we're still learning a lot about each Order so I think it's still pretty early to say.
I was curious about the concept of flow, and how the Thrill compares to that.
What do you mean? Expand upon that.
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.
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.
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. :)
Are you getting to work on White Sand?
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!
Do you have any favourites out of the work you've done?
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.
With [Feruchemical] zinc, you get mental speed. How is that any different from [Feruchemical] steel, except without [physical] speed?
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.
So it lets you have intuitive leaps.
Right. It basically turns you into Ken Jennings. That's how I imagine it.
So it's not like bullet time?
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--
That’s steel’s thing?
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".
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?
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.
Did you have any hand making Aons for the first Elantris book, or preparing some for the second book?
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.
Have you made like a map of the whole Cosmere? Like a star chart or something?
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.
What happens if you Compound chromium?
A RAFO happens.
A RAFO happens, yeah. Chromium, come on...
Do you have any drawings of the Cognitive or Spiritual realm that we haven't seen that you can share?
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.
What are the dimensions of Urithiru relative to something like the Sears Tower?
That's a question for Peter and Isaac. They work out the math. It's bigger! More area, but maybe not taller. I'm not sure.
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.
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.
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?
In a theoretical flawless gem, then no it would not.
Would it actually give off light?
[...] Theoretically no it would not, but it's not what you're thinking...
No no no, that’s not what I’m thinking, I figured that’s something totally different.
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.
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.
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?
Do you have a Alethi script symbol for Q? I've been using kuu(kw) for it.
Isaac is the man for script questions, he developed all of the various alphabets we've got so far.
Will we see any information, book, story, or just Word of Brandon in general on the fourth Shard that Odium has vanquished?
Eventually I will talk about it. I don't want to talk about it now, but I will talk about it. So no, that’s a RAFO.
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.
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.
Were you at the Shadows of Self release last night? And what was the hardest drawing to get right?
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.
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.
Thank you! That is, ideally, why we do 'em. :)
Is it possible for a Shard or Shardholder [Vessel] to reproduce, other than by creating Splinters?
Any chance we've seen the offspring of--
Who, in your opinion, writes the best fantasy today?
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.
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?
[...] 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.
Do they actually have to have made it to a second world?
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...
The Doctor's companion?
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.
I was thinking more along the lines of the Shard who does not have a planet.
Oh, Shards transcend these definitions.
They're kind of worldhoppers by default.
Didn't you do the RoosterTeeth logo and work on RvB animated ?
Can you talk a little about those two ?
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.
How much of the novel to you have to/get to read before producing the art?
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.
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.
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!
Is it practical for an Oracle to get more out of electrum than Vin and Elend tried to?
Yes. It is totally possible.
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!"
It is possible to squeeze more out of it than they did.
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!
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.
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!
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.
I'm more than okay with this, Ben.
If you're on Threnody and you get withered by a shade, are you better off burning Allomantic aluminum, or tapping Feruchemical gold?
[clarification on the question]
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.
So would it be fair to describe withering as a kind of cancerous Forging-
That just kind of slowly takes over your soul?
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?
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.
Did Hoid conference in on Harmony's chat with Wax?
*laughter* RAFO. *laughter*
I could never tell, and I've got nothing better to ask, so: which drawings from the Stormlight books were you responsible for? Just the "Shallan's Sketchbook" ones, and nothing else?
All of Shallan's pages, and a few of the chapter icons in WoR. And I assisted Michael on the Shallan endpage illustration, although the final painting is all him.
Mostly what I do is help conceptualize animals and plants, and to a lesser degree Plate and Blade designs.
I assume there are decisions you have to make on the fly while doing the art, so I was wondering: are there any of those that have made it into the lore, and maybe actually made changes to some of the plot elements? If so, what is your favorite thing you added to the story through the illustrations?
Actually, most everything that makes it into the book has been reviewed and discussed and approved, so even the decisions I make on the fly are subject to change.
There's a series of character illustrations that were done early on, for the initial book pitch before the first novel was fully written. When Brandon eventually wrote descriptions for those characters in the text, the illustrations I'd provided played a part in what he wrote, which was wildly gratifying.
Do you have any other Cosmere related art you are allowed to share? Sketches, drafts, or stuff you did for fun? I love your art style
Thank you! :)
There's a lot of development and draft material that goes into the production, but it's all archived... we're only getting started on the third book, so we'll want to collect a lot more before we try doing anything with it.
There's a few things I've done that weren't directly commissioned, which is basically the core of fan-art (un-commissioned illustration), but I've kept it in the same archives... I should maybe see if I can't dig up something to share.
I would like to know what makes Brandon's books so well-suited to visual adaptation.
He describes dramatic events and characters with clarity while including creative action, which makes it easy to visualize but also stimulating to imagine. He's also gotten quite good at giving you enough information to draw conclusions, without giving you so much that you don't need to bother drawing anything... that took some time, his early books are a lot less descriptive, but even with the first Mistborn novel he had some very strong visual concepts.
In addition, he's often combining something familiar with something fantastic (literally). The familiar elements give an artist a basis upon which to map the fantastic. So we have something like Shardplate, which is plate armor (familiar) but it's made *only * of plates, no cloth or chain (fantastic), and that's where it gets interesting to design. Or we have the Chasmfiends, which were described by Brandon to me as "crayfish-dragons" (familiar/fantastic). Or we have the Inquisitors, tall scary men (familiar) with shiny steel spikes through their eyes that emerge from their skulls like horns (WTF).
Thanks to his descriptive clarity and the familiar/fantastic mix, a properly-trained illustrator has the right elements to produce content with enough basis to set a firm foundation, but enough freedom to add their own creativity to the mix.
Plus, his stuff is just fun. Fun goes a long way. :)
Is there some character or art style that's particularly fun to imitate?
I grew up (luckily) with access to some great classic newspaper artists like Winsor McKay and George Herriman and R.F. Outcault, and that's been invaluable when it comes to the broadsheets. I don't think I'm hitting anywhere near their marks, but I try to let that background influence the output.
Thank you for the link, I'll have a lot of fun looking through those!
Ever drawn a Thunderclast ? ;)
I have not! Now that the Chasmfiend is settled, Thunderclasts are high on my list. I have some ideas, but Brandon and I have yet to jam on the subject and we probably won't until they make an appearance in the novels. We'll get there though, never fear... it's a Chekov thing, you don't throw a name like "Thunderclast" out there and never come back to it. :)
Didn't a Thunderclast appear during one of Dalinar's flashbacks early in Words of Radiance? (The one in the Purelake.) There was a little bit of physical description of the beastie too... something like a giant stone skeleton with glowing red eyes.
You're right! I just went and checked the WoR text, there is a brief description of a fight between full Knights Radiant and a thunderclast, early in the book, and with enough descriptors to start with. It's been so long since I read it, and it's not a Shallan scene so I couldn't work a page out of it, that I must have forgotten.
Well, now I have to do something sometime, don't I? :)
What would happen if you shot a thug with an aluminum bullet or stabbed him with an aluminum knife?
Ah, that's a good question. The wound would not be able to heal around the aluminum, but once the aluminum came out and was gone from the system, they would be okay.
Wait, is that a Bloodmaker, not a Thug?
Oh, you're talking about Thugs?
It would work similarly, but it really wouldn't have a huge effect on them.
Alright, because Peter was implying that there was some weird aluminum interaction with Thugs.
What was he thinking of...?
There is some weird interaction but...
In the wedding scene, Wax thinks they would have aluminum bullets to deal with Thugs, and I was like, "Oh, that's a typo." And Peter was like, "Oh no it's not..."
No, no. That would just be-- it's like I said: healing it until the bullet is gone, it's just the same as Bloodmakers.
On Nalthis, can aluminum prevent somebody from Returning? So if you kill somebody with aluminum and leave the weapon in them?
I don't think that's going to be enough. I think that…
Different way then?
Yeah there are totally ways. I don’t think that that’s going to be enough. There's a difference between being inert and blocking Investiture, and actually sucking out Investiture. If you stuck Nightblood inside of a corpse; there are certain things… if you had a larkin or whatever sitting there that ingests the Investiture as it was coming in, that would prevent [Returning]. I think with aluminum you would just have somebody that comes alive with a wound, so maybe... But I think it would just heal around [the aluminum] and you'd just have a spike in you, kind of like Hemalurgy—but not like Hemalurgy. It's inert, but you know what I mean.
Which suggests you can't actually Awaken aluminum.
No. It's not going to hold a charge.
I assume you can't Forge it, either.
No. In fact the unForgable metal-
There's an unForgeable metal mentioned.
Could we call it aluminum if we wanted to?
Let's just say that aluminum through most cultures was considered a mythological metal, and when people could actually find some, they considered it more valuable than gold, in our culture. So just sayin'...
How many folders/piles of fan art do you have that have never been seen?
There's not so much fan-art buried in the stack, because I usually publish it online as soon as it's done (if you can't share fan-art, what's the point?), unless I judge it to be awful in which case I bury it with the bodies and nobody will ever know.
But there's a lot of jobs that generate ancillary material which is never seen by the public. When it's client work, it's not mine to freely share. With Stormlight in particular, we'll hopefully be able to collect it all into a book at some point, so there's value in keeping it archived.
How much time do you spend from concept to the final design? And do you do many side projects or commission work?
It varies a lot depending on the design... we have a reasonably long development period for Stormlight, 3-6 months, but we also do a lot of communication via email and that's slow.
I always have a couple side projects, things I'd like to develop if I can ever assemble a conjumbleration of loose parts into a single machine.
As a freelancer (part-time now, as I have a studio job during the day) I'm always looking for new opportunities, but for the last couple years I've been keeping a pretty full dance card. It's hard to catch me when I'm not already booked, and I don't usually schedule commitments too far in advance.