Welcome to Oz – Art Group Update #2

Today marks the start of a new challenge set for the Boneshaker Art Group: Visdev for The Wizard of Oz!

We’re going to spend the next six weeks building towards a final image that will serve as a product cover for a novel, game, comic, or whatever medium you choose as your end goal. While it’s possible to follow along on your own, we strongly urge you to consider joining us in the Facebook group so that you can see what everyone else is up to, and share your work throughout the process.

We chose the Wizard of Oz because it’s such a conceptually and thematically rich story that offers a wealth of interesting characters and environments to put your own personal spin on. You’ve got the core characters of Dorothy, the Tinman, the Scarecrow, and the Lion, as well as the four witches, the Wizard, flying monkeys, and on and on. And if you’re more into environments, there’s a tornado, the Wicked Witch of the West’s castle, magic poppy fields, and the Emerald City, just to name a few.

For those unfamiliar with the story, or in need of a refresher, click here for a link to a free copy of the book from Amazon’s Kindle service. It looks to be a short read (77 pages), so I’d recommend reading through it during the first week of the challenge.

Because we’re focusing on Visual Development this time around, we’re to try to provide insight into the VisDev workflow and skillset through the weekly challenges. If you’re confused or uncertain about any of the challenges, don’t hesitate to post your question as a comment below, or take it to the Facebook group page to ask the community there.

Challenge #1 (one week)

This week you need to choose what type of product you are creating and then gather references for the look and feeling you want to portray. Is it a movie, a game, an illustrated story?

Once you have an end goal in mind it’s time to develop your style guide and your mood board.

Lisa says:

“The style guide should show what your intended art style will look like for this project. Depending on your industry, you may need to pitch an art style for your game/book/etc. and this guide should be full of examples of artwork used for style inspiration. If you intend to work simply in your style, you could still use this board to plan your intended color palettes and shape language.

The mood board is a collection of references gathered to show your intended world/setting. If, for example, you are going to set your Oz based in a steampunk Victorian setting, then you will be gathering references of steampunk/Victorian era clothing, architecture and machinery to help you understand what your world will look like.

The goal of these boards, is to create something that communicates your idea to anyone who looks at them. Style guides and mood boards are usually created at the start of a project to help pitch ideas, and to give concept artists a guide to work from.”

Here’s an example style guide and mood board supplied to us by the wonderful Lisa Lindsay to give you an idea of what you’re trying to accomplish.

Mood board


Style guide

Have fun, and check back next week for challenge #2!

Oh, and for those who love new software, check out PureRef when organizing your images. Could save you a ton of time!

Challenge #2 (two weeks)

Week 2
For the next two weeks we’ll be focusing on character design. Specifically, we’ll be designing at least 3 of the characters from Wizard of Oz. To begin we want you to visually explore your character concepts to see what you can come up with. Common visdev exercises like thumbnailing silhouettes, developing expression sheets, experimenting with gesture and movement, and testing a variety of color choices, will serve you well this week. Keep in mind that you want each of your design decisions to support the story of the character you’re building, do your best to push past the initial/obvious ideas that come to mind, and most importantly of all, have fun!

Week 3

Time to refine! This week you’ll bring your characters together to build a cast line up. Putting your characters side-by-side gives you the opportunity to spot oddities that might otherwise go unnoticed. Are you using color and shape consistently throughout, or are you trying to communicate different ideas using the same visual language from character to character? Are your characters consistent, or does each one look as though it belongs to a different franchise? Even something simple like the size relationship between heads is worth checking. You might also find it beneficial to develop turnarounds for each character, so that you understand them from all angles.

Challenge #3 (two weeks)

Week 4

We’re moving on this week to environment and prop design. Choose at least two settings from Oz that you would like to explore and start drawing! With each environment, pull out a few props to design in depth. Consider how those props communicate information about the space they came from as well as the overall story and theme of the project.
When sketching your environments, be attentive to perspective, as it will help to make them more believable, while also providing you with a tool to explore the emotional potential of the spaces you’re designing. And don’t forget to return to your style guides and mood boards throughout the design process, especially when searching for reference imagery (architectural styles, plant life, rock formations, etc). We also recommend that you keep your character designs close at hand, as you want your environments and characters to form a cohesive whole.


Challenge #4 (one week)

Product Cover

We want you to focus on your mood board and style guide, so we won’t reveal the future challenges until they’re active.


When your challenges are complete you’re welcome to submit your Product Cover image to the Boneshaker Press Art Contest by uploading it to this folder. Please read through the submission requirements before submitting. Winners will receive an invite to a Google Hangout where three Boneshaker Press members will critique your image during a live broadcast.

PS – If you haven’t already, check out the Facebook group, and post your progress there. The community would love to see what you’re up to, and might have some tips or tricks to share to give you a boost! If you prefer a different platform just add the #BspArtGroup hashtag and we’ll make sure to come take a look.


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