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The Initial Pitch

Pastrami was one of the 6 initial pitches that we made in the minor project. We pitched it as a children's book as an introduction to cyberpunk with a cute feline with a silly name as the central protagonist. We imagine the audience for Pastrami to be around the 12 to 14 range, not gender specific and while that is the focused audience we also hope it will have an appeal to a larger audience.

Concept Art

I did concepts for the city, Rowena Dalatei, the crew's space ship, the logo and Pastrami himself. The very initial concept I did back in Summer of 2022 saw what all of these ideas could have looked like combined. While the perspective isn't perfect by any means I think the original drawing had a lot of character. It also let me try out drawing a city for the first time where I normally drew nature.

The next call of order was drawing Rowena. I knew I wanted to go with a sort of Space Pirate theme, some of the initial sketches you see further down the line see her in a tricorn hat or the gold-coin-like necklace. I also chose to add gill-like designs to Rowena's initial sketch to try and make her look more fish-like as an interesting fish-pirate reference as I knew I wanted to make her look alien in some way or another 

A variety of things stuck from this initial concept: The hair stayed mostly the same in style but ended up changing colour to white, the white stripes on the arms stayed and the colour palette remained the same.

After getting the very basic ideas out of my head I did a proper mood board of research into space pirates. I liked the reocurring themes of the flowing coats and long boots and I thought of how to adapt it to be child-friendly and considerably easier to draw repeatedly in a comic format. I also considered what level of technology we wanted within the city as that would affect the clothing quite drastically.

We then hit the experimental phase where I tried out a few different concepts I had in mind for Rowena, including some more fantasy-esque clothes as it's my usual genre and old habits are hard to kick. I kept to a few things from the initial sketch as I knew I wanted to go with blue skin, white hair and the arm and neck stripes. It also saw the upgrade to the more fish-like ear which I also knew I wanted to keep from the first sketch. 

In personality I wanted to express a sassy youthfulness with Rowena, I knew she'd have to keep up with Daisy's characters in humour and we decided Rowena was to be the captain of the space crew so she needed a natural charm and charisma which I hope I was able to display in her design. The first design very much reflected my want to make her look laid back and youthful with the galaxy patterned hawaiian shirt and the trainers that emulate popular Converse shoes in modern society where I added two stripes to the back to match the gill design on her neck and arms. 

I tried a few different hairstyles out but I think I had already settled on the initial design's hair. While discussing the designs with Daisy she expressed a fondness for the plaited hair, which I later took into consideration when designing Elkin, one of the side characters who appears only in the first few pages.

Combining some of the elements from above lead me onto the final design for Rowena. which made use of the gold coin necklace with the addition of some of the turquoise colour that I also chose for her eyes that matches up with Sage and Solace on Daisy's designs. I also went for the long purple coat, adding some sleeve back into it as it meant I could display the white stripes on her arms and it broke up the long segments of blue in the design, doing the same with the purple bracelets on her wrists to keep each part of her design interesting. I made sure to consistently add circles in her design too, from the necklace to the belt and the circles on her shoes and her bracelets to keep a consistent motif throughout the entire design.

 

I chose bright colours that matched with Daisy's designs to keep our styles consistent as we both knew we'd be drawing on the same page so the characters needed to be cohesive. 

The Ship

I designed the ship for Pastrami and this was based on the little scifi knowledge I had before beginning this project which mostly came in the form of Firefly which doesn't have an overly technological society. So I knew I would have to do plenty of research to do the genre justice.

I drafted a moodboard to start getting an idea of what different sized space ships would look like from Serenity and The Millennium Falcon which were a more fitting size, to things like a Star Destroyer. We were looking to design a smaller ship to fit a little crew in as we wanted it to be more personal and close-knit. 

There was also a common theme between all of these ships to be some form of grey or off-white which I wasn't particularly fond of for a children's book so we went with some tones of green which also match up with the crew's colour palettes

That brings us to the very initial sketch with its less than perfect proportions. I tried to think logically about what rooms a ship would need as what is essentially a mobile home and made something akin in size to a small bungalow with rocket jets. 

The small segments at the back work as bedrooms, the door has a drop down hatch to look more streamlined and in the later design in the comic the two box-like segments on either side of the ship were also removed to make the design more sleek.

That then brings us onto the digital drawing concept that shows the ship in the accurate setting. The image I referenced behind this was a google maps shot of Tokyo which was a trick I learned from a panel with Shaddy Safadi who is a concept artist I have followed for quite some time. He suggests photobashing backgrounds with 3D models and then using that as your reference while you draw. Going digital here also let me play with lighting and figure out what parts of the ship could light up.

Pastrami

None of these designs made the final cut but it gave me a chance to experiment with Pastrami's design and see what we could realistically still call a cat before people started questioning it. We ended up rolling back on that a lot and instead went with a more earthly cat design that could still be considered marketable. Daisy once again took the lead on that as character design is her strong suit and I had much more faith in her character art.

The final piece of character work I did was for Elkin, the space crew's previous mechanic. I didn't spend long worrying about her design as I knew she'd realistically only be in around two panels. I still wanted her to look alien so I added some antennae and decided on a green colour scheme that was slightly different to the green used by the crew to show she didn't quite fit.

The Upgraded Pitch

Moving onto the next semester we knew we'd want to adapt the initial pitch with new ideas and new concept art. This is where a lot of Daisy's work came in as the superior designer. Where she took a lead on the characters and scripting I did the thumbnails, backgrounds and the colouring within the comic. This was an arrangement that suited us both well and worked to both of our strengths which was the purpose of being in a team. 

We also decided on a 40 page story that we were both happy with. Initially the idea had been to craft a 40 page comic and have additional scenes that we'd draw if we had time, this never ended up happening and we stuck to the 40 pages and 4 pages of cover to make it prime for printing off.

Target Audience Review

The feedback the panel of experts gave us was that the story needed more conflict and the city needed some more personality which we then took into consideration going ahead. I also went one step further as I wanted some feedback from our target audience so I had my younger cousins take a look at the Powerpoint as well as our character designs to see what they had to say about it.

One of the things that they discussed was making it harder to find Pastrami in the middle of the story which, looking ahead is something I would consider if we had more than 40 pages. In the future it's something I would consider adding to the story for a longer run.

There was also a mention of Pastrami being a key to great destruction across a civilisation, which is a wild idea that I might consider in the future for potential sequels. I think that children's imaginations shouldn't be underestimated as it can be a really wonderful font of creativity that is often lost in adults

The elder of my two cousins Isaac also expressed his happiness for the autistic representation of Sage which I was pleased to hear.

The verdict we got was that there needed to be more conflict in the story which we agreed with and we then conceptualised our final script.

With this in hand I started work on the thumbnails, many of which can be seen in the thumbnails below in the powerpoint.

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