“Stray” was a three month long narrative development project for a university course that focused on developing the environments, characters and beasts for an original story.
The Stray project gave me an opportunity to focus primarily on conceptual development as well as work in traditional mediums. At the start of the project I picked up a sketchbook and managed to fill most of it with dozens of sketches of the flora and fauna, architecture and landscapes of the world of Stray.
One of the major influences for the overall aesthetic of Stray was the work of Jean Giraud, otherwise known as “Moebius”. I love his fantastic renderings of desert landscapes and wanted to focus on capturing the same sweeping cinematic vistas that dominate his graphic novels.
Many of the concepts from the “Stray” visual development guides are black and white ink or pencil sketches and the few colour studies use a limited pallette of oranges, browns and purples to bring out the stark detail of the desert landscape.
As well as landscapes, I drew a ton of sketches of the primary characters and some of the ravenous beasts they might encounter in the desert wastes. I wanted the world of Stray to be mostly alien, but stuck to some common themes for the monstrous fauna to keep it familiar, favoring chitinous scales and insectoid features. Even the small scavengers of the desert had to look menacing and pose an ever-present danger to the protagonists. The human characters in the book wear a mix of loose fitting garments to protect them from the harsh environment they live in. I based their clothes on Bedouin and Mongolian patterns, as I felt both looked appropriate for surviving in extreme temperatures and the sometimes ornate fabrics worn by both men and women gave the garments a hand-crafted and precious quality.