Month: October 2016

Graphic Narrative – Various Considerations


Luckily for me, I have all the resources I need to start production on my graphic narrative. However, if I were to take a more professional approach to this, I would considering acquiring the following;

  • WACOM Intuos “7 graphics tablet – £57.00
  • Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator – £191.00

This would allow me to create more professional seeming artwork for the comic, as opposed to using standard mouse and Paint.NET.

Audience/Target Market

Pacific Steel aims to take advantage over what is currently popular in the media markets.

The setting of Pacific Steel takes place in the Pacific Ocean, 1941. Unsurprisingly that period of time (1941-1945) remains a relevant subject in the minds of the public, especially in America. The war in the Pacific Ocean has lead to countless game, film and novel adaptations, notably;

Midway (1976) (43.2 million USD)


Pearl Harbour (2001) 449.2 million USD


And an upcoming film ‘Greyhound’, in which Tom Hanks plays the role of a Destroyer captain in the Pacific Ocean.

This era of history is hardly restricted to adaptations in film, however-

War Stories (Sales data unknown, but it must have been good to warrant 4 series and 11 issues)


Considering the successes of these older films, and how currently popular titles such as World of Warships are, it’s clear to see that Pacific Steel could follow the chain of success. Especially when it’s presented in the incredibly popular comic book medium.


Comic book sales are on the rise, and look to be come increasingly popular in the future due to the immense popularity of superhero movie genre.


Should the worst happen and I’m unable to draw up the artwork for the comic in time, I will use the ported 3D models I’ve been using as reference images and use various post-processing effects in Paint.NET and apply a toon shader to them. This is a very quick way of getting the desired comic-book effect, but doesn’t look nearly as good as the hand-drawn method.

Post Production/Delivery 

My graphic narrative will be delivered digitally, accessed through the Pacific Steel website, where the game is also situated. Putting the comic book online ensures that everyone who has access to the game Pacific Steel, will also have access to the comic book series. Many incredibly popular games such as Team Fortress 2 and Overwatch have a running online comic book series.

Releasing online also removes extra costs associated with physical materials, printing and transportation.


Both aspects of Pacific Steel, the historical setting and comic book medium, are incredibly popular with the public. Taking the action and stories that happened throughout World War II, and combining it with the release of a mobile game (see market research here)  I feel that Pacific Steel will appeal to people of all ages and interests. More importantly, creating Pacific Steel for a comic book will allow for as much consumer exposure as possible. With this information, I could produce Pacific Steel knowing that it has the best chance of being a success.



Pacific Steel – Graphic Narrative Proposal


Pacific Steel is a game set in the pacific ocean, 1942. The United States Navy (USN) and the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) are fighting for control of various islands in the pacific.

The graphic narrative for Pacific Steel is a short comic book aims to encapsulate but a small portion of the struggle for naval supremacy at that time. The brief blurb of the comic book would go like this;

“It’s the dead of night, 1942. A lone American patrol boat, USS Erie quietly patrols the shores off a top-secret naval base in the pacific ocean. Suddenly, out of the night appear two silhouetted shapes, familiar shapes. Are they friend? Or are they foe?”

To get the whole story, you can read my storyboard here.

The narrative is more about setting an atmosphere, action and artistic style, than any real story/plot. It’s designed to be a running series, with “TO BE CONTINUED” being the last panel.


This graphic narrative plans to provide Tall Boy Studios with it’s proposed “Online graphic-narrative series” that complements the release of the mobile game of the same name. Pacific Steel, both the game and comic book series takes place in a time period and location that is widely popular and recognisable with the public, the Pacific Theatre of the 1940’s.

The narrative will be both visually engaging and action-packed as America and Japan fight for supremacy on a variety of different military fronts. The narrative will be split up into separate “chapters” depicting different, historically accurate scenarios. Each chapter lasting 3 comics each.


More detail on Legal/Ethical constraints can be found here.

The assets/panels will be drawn using Paint.NET, using very simple techniques. I will then compose all the assets and environments into various “sheets” and present them in a comic book style panel setup.

Copyright constraints aren’t particularly an issue regarding games based around history, as all of the designs/schematics and blueprints are now open to use by the public for educational purposes. Ethical issues however, are an issue.

To avoid any ethical/racial issues, I will not be portraying any disrespectful/negative stereotyping or have one country superior over another, even if these things did occur in history. For example, I won’t be portraying the IJN using kamikaze/suicidal tactics. The main reason I chose the year 1942 was a period where the IJN and USN were on (mostly) equal footings, and the kamikaze had not been developed.

Visual Design

The overall design/aesthetic is traditional of your typical comic book. The style of bold shadows/lighting is present throughout almost all comic books. Part of the reason for this might be simply that the style is quicker and easier to do, but it also lends a far more dramatic and sharper feel to the scenes.

This style is also, massively popular with comic books. Every major comic book uses this style, so it’s clearly effective. The actual designs of the assets are all historical, so they will resemble their real-life counterparts are much as possible whilst keeping within the chosen art style.

Look and Feel/Technical Specifications 

Here is a fantastic example of the sort of style I would love to emulate, depicting a similar scene/setting to my own comic. The striking dark shadows really make the scene seem more dramatic and harsh. The effect of the scene wouldn’t be as potent if a softer art style was used.


I will adopt a similar, though far less detailed technique to achieve an exciting and dramatic look for my graphic narrative.


Here is a quick test I did to see if I could pull of this style. I did, to an extent. It’s far from perfect, but it was relatively easy to make.  Not only did this style take less layers, time and effort to make that I thought, I reckon it resembles the comic book style well enough.

Legal and Ethical Considerations 

When it comes to copyright, the normal issues apply. As far as I’m aware (since these are designs dating back to the 1930s) copyright/creative license does no apply to the vehicles used. I will however be refraining from using company names such as Grumman, Kure Kaigun Kosho, or Mitsubishi to avoid any complications, as these names/brands are still in active use today.

Ethical considerations are always an issue regarding games based on war. As I said, to avoid any racial/ethical issues, I will not be portraying any disrespectful/negative stereotyping or have one country superior over another, even if these things did occur in history.This is simply not to offend anyone or limit my target audience by ways of discrimination.

Target Audience/PEGI

As documented in Look and Feel/Technical Specifications and in  Graphic Narrative –  Style Considerations, my art style will be the essential action comic-book style. The graphic narrative won’t feature any blood, gore, sexual themes or even any human characters.

After researching PEGI’s rating criteria, I can say that Pacific Steel will fall under the PEGI 7 rating.


Any game that would normally be rated at 3 but contains some possibly frightening scenes or sounds may be considered suitable in this category.

Pacific Steel might be considered PEGI 3, were it not for the requirement of; “The child should not be able to associate the character on the screen with real life characters, they should be totally fantasy” Pacific steel is a fantasy/fictional story, but it’s themes and visuals are based on historical fact.


The end result will be a short digital comic book, showcasing a brief encounter between opposing American and Japanese forces in the pacific ocean.

Graphic Narrative – Style Considerations

The biggest consideration for me is what artistic style I’ll be using. I’ve researched a few different styles that I really like, but weather or not I like it, it has to be practical and well within my own skillset.

I knew I wanted to present the narrative in a comicbook-esque format, simply because I think they are the best at conveying actions and drama- as opposed to a cartoon strip or photo-story. action-comics-18-04-05

When you look at these types of comics, a certain theme of dark and bold shadows/lighting it present throughout them all. Part of the reason for this might be simply that cel-shading is quicker and easier to do, but it also lends a far more dramatic and sharper feel to the scene. This style is also, obviously massivley popular with comic books. Every major comicbook uses this style, so it’s clearly effective.


I experimented using this style with a rough graphic of a Japanese A6M2 fighter, a plane that would appear in my graphic narrative.


It’s far from perfect, but it was relativley easy to make compared to another style that I attempted. Not only did this style take less layers, time and effort to make, it resembled the comic book style well enough. If I were to choose to take this style into my project I’d probbaly make the lines slightly less thick, as that seems to limit the ammount of fine detail I can get.

The second style I considered was a style I’ve not seen particuarly used in comics before, but a style I’ve come to know myself over the years. Instead of using harsh cel-shading, I used quite the opposite and decided to use eased gradients instead.


This is the exact same drawing, just coloured in a different style. What style looks best is subjective, as I asked a few people and got different answers all around. The one thing about this style that isn’t subjective however is how long it look to make. This technique, though more sophisticated than the cel-shaded one took far longer to produce. using 3 times the ammount of layers.

Both these graphics were produced with Paint.NET, which is either a simplified version of Photoshop, or a far more advanced version of Microsoft Paint. It lacks the ability to do anything really complex, but it suits my needs as I’ve chosen to take a simpler art style.

In the end I have to take the style that is more time-effective, as it’s frightening how little time I have to finish this.

Graphic Narrative – Ethical Considerations

With any media production, various legal and ethical issues must be taken into account to avoid breaking laws, and to avoid offending a certain group of people.

Legal Issues


Blasphemy is law that essentially limits freedom of speech, and is thus considered somewhat antiquated in modern societies. Blasphemy laws prohibit the expression of hate/irreverence to toward a religious belief system. This can be though speech, actions or through the media. Some religions consider blasphemy as a serious crime. As of 2012, anti-blasphemy laws exist in 32 countries, and some of those countries carry death penalties.

With countries that still operate laws against blasphemy, developers producing work that may contain blasphemous material may choose to edit, or not release certain material at all in these countries. An example of a game that contains potentially blasphemous material is the Devil May Cry series, which plays on Christian lore/beliefs. In the remakes of these games, a warning is displayed at the start that the game may contain religiously offensive material.

Relvence to my project:

Pacific Steel is a war game, set between two opposing factions. Even though historically a certain amount of religious systems were involved in WWII, I won’t be portraying any of them in my animation, simply due to it’s sensitive natrue. Time periods such as WWII are still a sensetive subject for many people, it’s important to tread lightly.

Hate Crimes 

A hate crime is where an individual, or a group of people feel prejudiced and/oppressed because of their religion, sex, gender, race, ability or identity. The cause of the hate crime can again be through speech, actions or through the media. Not all hate incidents will come to criminal offences, but those that do become a hate crime.

Media publishers and developers often have to be very wary of these issues, as anyone offended/upset by the content (depending on the content) will reduce the products potential audience and this reduce sales. An example of a “hate crime” within a video game would be Bioshock Infinite. The game takes place in a period in which black people were considered 2nd class citizens, and are treated as such in the game. Though it makes sense with the story/setting of the game, a portion of people refused to buy the game as a result.

This isn’t a crime as such in the eyes of the law, but many may consider it a hate crime against them personally.

Relvence to my project:

Avoiding this is difficult considering the setting of my animation. Ideally I don’t want to discriminate race/nationalities, but that’s nearly impossible. This portion of war was when two opposing nations fought one another, and one nation did it far better than the other, creating a clear divide on “who was the better nation”. It depends on your point of view.

Though not historically accurate (along with the dangers of straight up denying historical fact), I will be portraying both opposing forces as eaqually as possible. One of the reasons I chose 1941 as my time period is because the Japanese and the Americans were on more or less the same footing. It works from a hypothetical gameplay perspective, and from a simple ethical/non-discriminatory point of view.

Breach of Confidence 

A breach of confidence is simply the release of  information that was to be legally contained between two or more individuals, such as trade secrets, government documents or private, personal information. This breach of information can happen through word of mouth, or through media distribution, and both are equally prosecutable.

Breaches of confidence/sensitive information leaks can happen fairly often in the games industry. Leaks of upcoming projects or business decisions from a developer may be leaked to the public through either hacking or more often, an internal employee. VALVe, a software development studio was being rumoured to be working on a new, sensitive project. A few of the project’s details were of course leaked to the public, resulting in a breach of confidence from within the company.

Relvence to my project:


Ethical Issues


Represention (regarding animation) simply means the inlclusion of different races, sexes, ages and genders in the material. Representation is not enforacebale by law, but is seen as morally correct to include (and thus not discriminate agaisnt) all varieties of people. The inclusion of all people helps them feel more represented and accepted in socitey, as they tend to be the minority of the population.

Representation in video games has always been an issue. On one hand, some games feature simply white characters and the protagonist is simple a while male character. These games have been met with some backlash due to the lack of strong female characters and/or race varitey. On the other hand, regarding the recent shooter Battlefield 1, the game features a varitey of different protagonists from varying countries and racial backgrounds. The game features a black protagonist, which can be seen as progressive as far as modern shooter games go.

Relvence to my project:

I’m not concerned about representing race, sex or gender in my animation simply because it features no human characters at all. Representation of nationality is however an issue to consider. Two countries will be represented in my animation, America and Japan. Though other countries did participate in the pacific war (England, Germany, China), these were the two main players, and I simply don’t have the space nor time in my animation to include everyone else.

Offensive Material

Offensive material refers to things that people/certain groups of people may find disgusting, insulting or even blasphemous. What is and is not offensive can vary wildly from culture to culture. Generally warnings are given to content that may contain “offensive” material, but it’s mostly up to that individual what they do and do not find offensive.

Offensive material can be found in every form of media, but as I stated, something that is offensive is purely subjective. There are people who are rarley offended by anything, and people who are offended all the time. Repeat offenders regarding offensive material are MMORPG games (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games), providing hyper sexualised female characters in an effort to lure in the male playerbase. Games like these are always on the receiving end of various forms of hate.

Relvence to my project:

Again, war is a sensetive subject. I won’t be portraying any human characters in my animation, and there is only one real implied “death” in which an aircraft explodes. As I stated before, I will be portraying both opposing forces as eaqually as possible. Early in development I considered replacing the Japanese fighter aircraft with Kamikaze, which would have provided an even more desperate and lethal profile to the animation. In modern day however, the Kamikaze doesn’t sit well with the Japanese people. And I don’t exactly want to offend my target audience.




Graphic Narrative – Storyboard

I think I can better convey my idea through words rather than drawings, so I decided to set out my storyboard like this. It’s aimed less at action/story and more at impactful atmosphere and visuals. The storyboard also takes into account any animation that might be present, just to help me remember.



The setting is 1941. It’s night, over a dark ocean. A lone American Gunboat, USS Erie is on patrol as it glides silently through the calm sea. The only lights are the moon, and few lights atop the Gunboat’s mast and lights from the windows.

The camera moves to a bow shot of the Erie, the displaced water sprays from the bow. The camera switches to a view of the Bridge interior. The small room is filled with warm light and the ship sways gently from side-to-side in the waves. On the control stands and boards a collection of instruments and dials display various information.

The camera moves over to a shot of a radar scanner. It’s green arm rotating on a circular screen. The radar does 2 rotations, and on the 3rd rotation appears 2 dots.

The camera switches to a binocular view. The binoculars zoom in from the bridge window and view the shape of two approaching Japanese fighter aircraft. Alarms and sirens wail. The warm-orange light of the bridge is replaced with menacing red flashes.

A spotlight on the ship’s deck is turned on, and the two approaching aircraft are illuminated against the dark night.

The camera cuts to a shot of an Anti-Aircraft gun firing, it’s muzzle-flashes lighting up the deck of the ship.

Cut to a side-shot the two Japanese aircraft flying beside eachother. Tracer rounds fly past them. A few rounds hit the furthest aircraft.

The camera cuts to a front-on view of the approaching aircraft. The furthest plane has exploded into a fireball in the night sky, but the second plane continues to speed towards the Erie.

Another side-shot of the incoming plane. The camera quickly pans down to see the aircraft drop it’s torpedo. The torpedo is then released.  Tracers from the Erie continue to fly past.

The camera cuts to the deck of the Erie, looking up towards the mast. The Anti-Aircraft guns fire at the speeding aircraft, but to no avail. The Japanese plane soars over the mast and escapes. There is silence for a few seconds, until a new, different alarm sounds.

The camera moves to view a top-down angle of the black waters, and through it moves the white tail of a Torpedo.

The camera cuts back to the bridge, looking from where the captain would stand at the wheel. The ship’s wheel is turning fast, and the bearing gauge on the wall rotates as the ship turns tightly.

The Alarm slowly starts to quicken, as does the flashing light on the bridge. The camera cuts to a final view of the ship. The Erie is turning hard, but the torpedo is on course for a direct hit. As the alarm reaches it’s apex and the torpedo is about the strike the Erie, the screen fades to black. And ‘TO BE CONTINUED’ is shown in white text, and slowly fades, this concluding the video.

The Various Types of Media Briefs

Generally, a brief is a set of instructions/guidelines given by a client to inform the recipient of various aspects demanded by the client or project in some form of detail. Depending on the type of brief, a brief can contain legal bindings, financial/technical limitations and any other information relevant to the project. Briefs can also change if it’s negotiated, informal or cooperative depending on how the process is handled between the companies. These briefs often change to suit certain requirements demanded by either party.

A brief is used to describe the clients parameters, as so both the client and the person receiving the brief can be on the same page as to what the project is. A good brief is concise, detailed, well structured, and includes any and all relevant information. Briefs can vary depending on the situation, for example;


A contractual brief is secure, and legally binding. It’s a documented and signed agreement that states various objectives and parameters that the two participating parties agree to. Were one of the party members to break any regulations of the brief, the contract holder is given the ability to press legal charges, should she/he choose to do so.

Contractual briefs can be very beneficial for media companies as they often outline very specifically the needs of the contract holder. Furthermore these parameters cannot be negotiated, so it provides a great deal of security. The main issue with a contractual brief however, is that if the client produces a product to their own standards, but isn’t acceptable to the standards set within the contract, the contract holder could choose to take legal action.

An example of a contractual brief would be between an actor and a film making company. The actor is legally obliged to do what is described within the brief. This could be a certain amount of films to appear in, what sort of acting is required, and more often than not some form of non-disclosure about the film.



This contract outlines all perameters and requirements clearly, and states what should happen should the client fail to complete the breif.


A formal brief is a type of contract detailing accurate descriptions of what is required to the client. It’s just clear and straightforward, so extra or unneeded information is normally left out of a formal brief to avoid confusion. A lack of extra information can however cause confusion in itself, so any issues regarding the content of the brief can be discussed during negotiations. Both the client and the contract holder will then formally agree on the project and the brief.

Having this type of brief means that the client and contract holder are open to suggestions or issues. This makes the brief ideal for a creative company since there is room for negotiation, it’s not just a one-sided argument. Formal briefs don’t tend to be legally binding, and is normally aimed at group of people, for example a studio or university. 

An formal brief may be used with a company of workers/labourers, where the building parameters can be negotiated and planned.



A negotiated brief involves two or more companies/individuals. Negotated breifs are generated when all parties are involved in the creation of the breif perameters. This can either be for mutual benefition, or to settle conficting ideas. A huge advantage to using this type of brief is that it is widely open to interpretation and change, and isn’t completely one-sided. This can result in a better end product overall. However, time spent negotiating/changing and sometimes arguing over different aspects of the brief may delay the production time.

An example of where a negotiated brief could be used, is between two media companies. One company might produce the artwork/models, while another company would develop the programming. The two companies would have to find common ground and come to an agreement as to what/how things need to be done. It’s important to note that negotiated breifs aren’t exlusive to companies, and are often used just between two or more indivudual persons.




An informal brief doesn’t even have to be a written document. It’s generally a discussion between an employer and client regarding the general agreements of the contract.

An informal contract has many distinct advantages. Due to it having no written contract as such, there are no strings attached. This means that if either side of the table cannot uphold or meet certain a requirement, there can be no legal consequences, if so desired. An informal brief also means that the meetings tend to be quicker, resulting in more production time and less time agreeing on what to agree on. Such as a Negotiated brief, ideas can be changed mid-production which gives a certain amount of creative freedom.

Usually though, due to their nature informal briefs are seen as unprofessional, unreliable and almost dangerous in some cases.



This contract very breifley outlines the terms of a loan given from one person to another, without involving any enforcable laws. These contracts are usually created as a security measure, and proof of agreements/terms should you need evidence in a court.

Even though this contracts don’t have any legal bindings, it doesn’t mean they are not without consequences when the contract is breached. Cases of breached informal contracts are fairly common place in courts, due to their general ambiguity and lack of specifics.


A commission brief tends to be where a larger media company will temporarily employ another, smaller/independent company and or individual to produce the product for them. Commissions are common place and often the main source of income for freelance artists.

Having this type of brief means that the larger company doesn’t have to necessarily think/work on the project,  as the contracted company/individual is hard at work, often thousands of miles away from the client. The contracted producer then receives payment for the work they have contributed.

Because however there are two different companies working on the same product, often situated on different continents, there tends to be some form of conflict.


An example of where commission breifs are used informally and reguarly is in the art industry. In many cases (and from personal experience) patrons will simply contact the artist, describe what they want, and pay the fee either before or after the artist has completed the work. Artists normally feel obliged to carry out the piece at the risk of loosing known reputation and reliability.


A Tender brief is where a client will advertise their brief, and another production company will bring forth their own proposal that they will then pitch to the client. There are often many different production companies pitching different ideas, so it’s very much a competition. The client then gets the chance to choose the proposal from the company that they think best suits their brief, and offer that job to the production company.

This puts the client as a huge advantage, as he/she has a range of different proposals to choose from. However, it puts the production company at a disadvantage as they can go through all the pre-production and preparation work regarding the brief, only to be turned down.



A Cooperative brief involves two or more companies/individuals that are hired by the client to work to the brief. After the participating companies have received the brief, they can then work cooperatively to produce the end result. If there is conflict, negotiation can be allowed in order to resolve these issues.

Adding more individuals to a project means that you can get more perspectives and ideas. However, adding more people increases the chance of  disagreement and conflict with ideas.



A Competition brief is not so dissimilar to a Tender brief. A client would but the brief out, available for all the participating production companies. Each company will complete the brief and present it to the client, who can then judge which company has met the brief requirements the best, and be awarded/granted the ability to work on the project.

Like a Tender brief the contract holder has a huge advantage due to the selection of examples to choose from. Depending on the specifics of the brief, production companies may have already done a bulk of the work for the competition, leaving less to do if they are awarded the project. On the other hand, they can go through all the pre-production and preparation work regarding the brief, only to be turned down.



For this Brief, Yorkshire Forward is appealing to architects to put forward their ideas/designs within a budget is £650,000. It needs to be a demountable building that ‘provides a unique event space’, and is easily transportable as it will travel throughout the region. The building also needs to remain suitable/sustainable for other events after the festival has finished.

Designing and constructing this would be no easy feat, as the client expects some very specific characteristics. Successful completion of this project however would up the companies reputation significantly, and (depending on the specific outlines of the brief) create a reproducible product that can be sold to other clients.

However, should the company fail to deliver the product, or worse, it collapses onto the festival, the company reputation would be dashed completely. They would likely never get commissioned to design anything again.

Zenna Games

(Link to existing SWOT analysis)

Zenna Games strikes me a small, yet capable company that has hit it big within the game industry. The company has released many successful titles and is growing steadily. To reach out to a wider audience, Zenna Games would like to progress into the mobile game market.

Due to the lack of information on Zenna Games, I’ll use Mojang as an example. Mojang started off as a little known independent company with just two employees who had released a few small titles. However, their big break came with a game called Minecraft. At first, Minecraft appeared to just be another small-known game from an obscure company in Sweden.

However Minecraft quickly grew in popularity and became one of the most popular games of recent years. To broaden their audience (which had just been restricted to PC/Mac players), Mojang decided to aim their sights on the mobile game market. Porting Minecraft over to a phone/tablet came with difficulties at first, but it quickly grew to become one of the most popular iOS and Android games of all time.

Brief Overview 

The brief requires that I come up with a story idea and basic gameplay concepts for this game, and that ideally- the game is suitable for a mobile market. Prepare any necessary pre-production documentation for this game, with ideas discussed. at least 6 assets need to be at least planned and modelled.

Within an environment, texture and animate at least 2 items and/or characters. Characters/objects in the scene need to appear natural and incorporated into the environment. Within your models, express a variety of modelling techniques.

Existing Skills   

Fortunately, 3D modelling is my forte. I’m steadily gaining experience with texturing, but I have yet to have any experience with animation within C4D. I do however have experience with animation in Adobe After Effects, in which the animation process is similar.

I’ve developed a certain style that revolves around simplicity through my 3D environments project, which I plan to utilise with my current project to ease production and rendering time. To successfully meet the requirements of the brief, I’ll need to considerably improve my time management and 3D animation skills to get the result I want.


Added examples for Contractual

Corrected some inaccuracies, expanded, and provided example for Negotiated

Re-checked and added another source for Formal

Added examples and descriptions for Informal

Added description of an example for Commission