The Blue Max Project

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Four Sketches (Rupp's Skizzenbuch WIP)

I am currently working on Chapters 13 thru 16 which will publish in June and July.  I finished a group of four sketches that will be full pages in the journal. I thought it would be interesting to share how I create them.  These images are not complete.  I clean them up in Photoshop, get rid of smears or mistakes and make the background transparent so I can place them digitally onto the aged journal pages.

When creating a sketch, I start with an event that happened in the book that reinforces the story line in the text ( like Urlich falling from his aircraft and getting impaled on a fence post....yuck!!).  I might do a simple hand sketch to noodle on what I am after.  Than I go hunting for images using Google Images, find historical photos of the actual aircraft involved or even place 3D objects in the Rise of Flight Mission Builder (WW1 Flight sim) to set up a background for a sketch.  I collage this objects together to further develop the image.  This approach gives me a lot of freedom to get a dynamic view before I draw anything.  Once I have the rough collage, I do a hand sketch much more carefully in pencil, improvising on the source image as a reference.  Finally I ink it up.  The following galleries show how I built up these images.

Ziegel tunes up the Black Angel

I knew I wanted mechanics working on Bruno's aircraft (a Fokker D7) in a hanger.  I found this historical photo first with great images of mechanics, but the wrong plane.  Next found an image of a Fokker D7, reversed it and modified it in the sketch to look more like the D7f (with an exposed engine block and radiator).  Finally I used the Rise of Flight Mission Builder to place a hanger in the right position.  Not sure I like the face for Ziegel (the mechanic standing on the wing), looks a little too much like Chipeto in Pinnocchio.  Will likely replace it with another sketch.

Bruno goes Balloon Busting

I wanted an image of Bruno strafing an Aerostat (observation balloon).  I found this amazing image of a soldier hanging out of one of the baskets.  I went into the Rise of Flight software and did some actual balloon busting to get my head around the image I wanted.  Saved some footage from inside the game to get the right angle on the aircraft.  Once I put the images together realized I had to move the soldier closer to the basket so you could see him.  By this time Bruno had painted his aircraft all black ( ie "The Black Angel") to intimidate the enemy. With pen and ink, struggled a bit with how to draw a black object with textures, the hatching is too busy on the wing.  Likely I will make the hatching more transparent in Photoshop so it doesn't dominate the image.

Bruno captures a DH9

In the book the rear gunner raises his hands and surrenders in the middle of a dogfight with Bruno.  Once I found the image of the DH9, I decided the sketch should be of the pilot and rear gunner actually surrendering after they landed.  I found this great image of German soldiers surrendering in World War II.  The expression on the front soldier's face is amazing.  A combination of doubt, caution and perhaps a little bit of defiance.  The two men together were a perfect pairing for the pilot and rear gunner.  Not sure I caught all that in my simple cartoon, but I tried.

(Credit to Tom Dolezal for the stunning images of DH9)

Urlich on a Stick

Warning! This one is grizzly.  In the novel, Urlich attempts to use a newly developed parachute when his aircraft catches on fire.  The parachute fails and he is found impaled on a fence post. I started looking for WW1 crash images and found this sad image of a fallen pilot.  His position draped backwards looked like the right body position for the image in my head.  I started searching wooden fences on Google Images and ran into this falling over fence.  With slight adjustments it was exactly what I was looking for.  The field was so lovely, I started musing about a field full of grazing sheep, unaffected by the man who fell from the sky.  One thing led to another and pretty soon I was searching for images of sheep.

So there you have it.  I have found using collages to build up my images has allowed for a much more creative process that that takes me to places I didn't expect.   

I never expected I would be drawing sheep, but by the time I got done inking, I really liked these two guys.


Hope you enjoyed the post