Concept Art – "Eastern" Style & Maps

Eastern Art Style

When I mention Eastern art style, I am referring to Japanese manga and animation art.  Not that the other Asian styles aren’t beautiful, but over the years I have been addicted to watching a lot of Japanese anime and their style of artwork left a great impression on me.

In Japanese, the word “chibi” is a slang word meaning “short person” or “small child.”  In the anime/manga genre, there are chibi drawings of popular characters sometimes within a storyline when something funny happens.  It’s suppose to bring humor and joy to the audience when chibi characters appear.

While brainstorming marketing ideas, I thought it would be nice to have some chibi drawings of some of the characters as fantasy art is usually so serious.  They would be especially nice on buttons or bookmarks.  When I look at chibi people I can’t help but squeal at their cuteness (No, it’s not because I can relate because I’m short!)

After some searching online, I found Eri-Chan (aka Elisse Mariano) to help me out with artwork  You can see her portfolio at and our Q & A is here.  She usually draws love stories, so asking her to help me with a fantasy action story was a challenge for her.  She did a great job though!

I remember trying to look up why Asians and people in general like Hello Kitty/cute things so much.  Someone did a thesis on how adult Japanese people specifically are unhappy with their grown up lives, so looking at cute things reminds them of their happy childhood carefree days.  Of course, this is a general sterotype as I don’t remember them having a large population survey or anything like that in the paper.  I think I have more toys now than as a child as I remember a lot of re-gifting going on (Christmas was cancelled when I turned 4 for no obvious reason)…

The chibis are listed on the character sketch page next to their “Western style” counterparts.  Anyhow, here are a few chibis for you to squeal at and feel happy for a few minutes!



Mixed Styles

When I saw, foosoo (An)’s portfolio, I realized she did both Eastern and Western styles – super versitile, she can draw pretty much anything!  She is also an animator as well, so she is very talented!  I asked her to help me out with two drawings, one of a girl in a coma (named Claire in the book) and a landscape of the Invisible Fortress.



Mapping a fantasy world

After reading at a lot of fantasy books with maps, I thought that I should have one too.  I also look at maps a lot when I’m playing a RPG game because I have to find the next town to do stuff.  Anyhow, I started looking into making a map myself and found lots of instructions.  But my “to do” list was growing exponentially in regards to looking for an editor, formatter; creating logo designs and the gazillion steps in setting up a Kickstarter campaign.  Looking around the internet, I found a Cartographer’s Guild website which had a place for map requests.  So I posted an ad and hoped for the best.

About 100 people looked at the ad and I got 5 responses.  I gave them the specs and budget to start the negotiations.  One was a production company with 40 illustrators, voice actors, etc and I was really certain I couldn’t afford them.  Maybe in the far off future…but they were nice about it and told me to keep them in mind.  In the end I selected Robert based on his portfolio and he did an excellent job with my specs.

The Q & A with Robert Altbauer, a cartographer who lives in Salzburg, Austria which gives us a sneak peek look into his world can be found here.

The world map in The Undead Sorceress is a modern one since the story is set in modern times.  But since it’s an urban fantasy story, I didn’t want a boring traditional map, but one with embellishments and romantic things like ships and whales.  At this point I haven’t formatted it for print or e-book yet and worry that destinations may be too small to read.  At Genrecon, a helpful author told me perhaps a good giveaway would be to print color copies of the map for people who buy the book.  Would people want this?  Not sure.



The invisible fortress map was more of along the lines of a traditional fantasy map as this island doesn’t exist (although I haven’t flown around the clouds for extensive periods of time) and has a couple of landmarks that are unusual.  The idea of a floating island was inspired by a Japanese anime movie which has a similar concept but the island was abandoned by people in their story line.  I am very happy with how this one turned out as it was pretty much exactly what I had in mind!



Overall having at least two maps really made the book seem more fantastical!


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