These are my initial thumbnails from last week. The thumbnails I'm working on now will be quite distinctly different from these as I'm ensuring they are all informed by visual research as per Jordan's recommendation, which I'll be posting later today and over the next few days
These first 12 were drawn purely off the top of my head as an experiment, but I definitely need references to get the results I want. I also spent altogether too long wrestling with Photoshop brushes - I'm having difficulty getting any degree of sharpness without the thumbnails turning into line drawings, but I'm determined to do at least the majority in Photoshop in order to improve prior to having to tackle the final paintings. If anyone has any specific brushes or settings they can recommend, I am all ears.
I wrote a short description of how I imagined Anastasia before I started thumbnailing in order to get a clear idea of what I was after. The thumbnails don't necessarily live up to the same level of detail, but this is their basis.
Anastasia is an opulent merchant city, seemingly formed about a lavish upper class who drive the demand for jewelry, cuisine, finery etc. This in turn attracts craftsman and trade, arriving via the waterways which have sprung up as infrastructure necessary to import raw materials, and ease the pressure on the congested narrow streets. Anastasia can make you a rich man, but only by the standards of other Cities – no matter how great a craftsman or merchant you may be, you will never possess wealth enough to join the city’s upper echelon.
The streets are littered with merchants plying their wares from stalls and open tents, labourers sorting incoming shipments at the myriad of docks, with jewelers, blacksmiths, weavers and tailors all setting up shop in the immediate vicinity – being too far from a dock will mean you lose out on incoming shipments, so difficult is it to move cargo through the throng of people cascading through the city. So busy is the ground level of the city that by necessity a melange of kites rises above the crowds, riding the ever present breeze, marking out streets, City Authorities, districts, some serving as signs for shops and taverns, else due to the city’s concentric, repeating design, you would be lost in a matter of moments.
Every building is organised thusly – what would be the first two floors are extensions of the streets, high arched tunnels and niches cut into each building’s foundations. These halls ring with activity, clangs, clatters and shouts echoing off the domed ceilings, for this is where the common folk set up their workplaces and homes, some little more than hovels. It is here that all of wonders of Anastasia are produced. Where the majority of these goods can be found, however, is up above, where any ordinary building’s 3rd floor would be, but in Anastasia this is where the truly liveable space actually starts. Lavish mansions and above ground gardens sit atop the common sprawl, occupied solely by fabulously wealthy Anastasians, who act as though the people below were no more than rats scurrying about the house’s foundations. No true Anastasian ever alights to ground level – their every need provided for by servants who roam the ground city on their masters behalves. The sole exception is when they leave their abodes via their private docks, in order to visit other upper class residences or buildings.
Many of course resent the exorbitant wealth of the ruling class of Anastasians, often resulting in theft, but every would-be criminal is without fail stymied by the densely packed crowds blocking their escape and can only watch helplessly as above the crowd, the blue kites of the City Guard slowly bob towards them.