Comic Vine News


First Look: Making of 'The God Machine'

Creator Chandra Free gives Comic Vine a first look at ideas and sketches of her upcoming series!


The Making of The God Machine Graphic Novel Cover Art

I recently asked the incredibly talented writer/artist Chandra Free to share with us some preview art and ideas from her upcoming series 'The God Machine.' If you like her stuff and are interested in reading more about her latest series , you should check out her blog! Thanks again to Chandra for sharing her progress with us! -B
Well hello Comic-Viners! 
Wait, you probably don't call yourself that do you? 
At any rate, hello everybody! 
For those of you who do not know me, I'm Chandra Free, creator of the upcoming Archaia title, " THE GOD MACHINE." [The 1st issue is coming out this Oct. 28th] 
Ms. Sara 'Babs' Lima asked me if I'd come and share with you guys my process & art work, and I was more than happy to accept! So expect more from me in the future!
But enough with the introductions - shall we get into the art? 
For my first entry, I'm sharing with all of you THE GOD MACHINE's first graphic novel cover. [Graphic novel to come out the first quarter of 2010.] 
For this particular cover I wanted to convey the feeling of the first 5 chapters of THE GOD MACHINE effectively. I took different and weird approaches to figuring out what would be best suited to do this. Like a fool, I tried "method arting" [think "Method acting" only with art.] I attempted to put myself in the mindset of my lead character, Guy Salvatore, who is a depressed 17-year old. I pulled out my old, crappy alternative CD's from my late teen years, put them on, and then tried to set "the mood" that would trigger inspiration! I failed miserably! [Like super fail!] I was in a rather good mood at the time, and there was no changing that, or "inspiring" me. With a surprise 4-day deadline approaching, I knew I had to figure out something for this cover that showed something about THE GOD MACHINE in the right light and in a hurry! So I went ahead and did what I do best - sit down, and draw extemporaneously!
I started with a Photoshop sketch.   


I wasn't totally digging it, but it was a good start, and it had motion. I didn't think it was anything special, but I went with it anyway. Now, the unfortunate thing is [or fortunate in this case] was that I didn't save my last bit of work on the sketch, and lost all that work. This frustrated me. The image wasn't jiving, and work had been wasted. So I decided to scrap this image, and try a more traditional approach. Another day wasted. The next day I got out some Blue Line comic book paper, and took the same approach. Strange that this worked.
 [Cover of THE GOD MACHINE out in October.]  
Typically, when using comic paper, I have a thumbnail of what I want to put down on the paper. Though I had done an odd sketch that you can barely make out in my sketch book that barely resembles what I ended up doing. This was a rather strange piece for me. But, I go with what works!
  After an hour or so, I finally had my pencils. Well it might have been longer, time seems to fly when I draw, and I tend to never pay attention to how long. Who knows, it could have been 3 hours? I originally drew this with the intention of having Guy at the bottom of the image, and Good God [the female obviously] at the top. I wanted to put the logo at the bottom to try something different. But, it didn't work as well as I thought it would, so I flipped the image. That worked out much better! 
 Now I place down some basic colors.  
[It bares mentioning that I wanted an image that had a similar theme to what I had done for the cover of the first issue of THE GOD MACHINE.] 

This is in keeping with that same idea of Guy Salvatore and Good God with a yin and yang kind of theme. 
I took my pencils directly into Photoshop, and cleaned up and adjusted the levels to make them pop, and give them that "inked look." 
 Next I put in a texture behind our characters and start fleshing out some more details. 

[I don't do inking, it drives me nuts!] I also use a Photoshop action my husband made for me that separates the lines from the digital canvas. It's easier to work with your line art with transparencies and solid lines. [You can also change the color of the line art this way too through layer options!]  

  Notice how I'm building up colors on top of my canvas' main color. I want some of the canvas color to come through parts of my image so we have the same general feel throughout. Though I'm a sucker for letting Good God's hair be untouched by any other colors, which will prove to be a challenge through this piece to make that work with our color scheme. 
Notice I start thinking of light sources, and taming the ugly base colors on that moon. [That moon was driving me crazy!] 
Now I start really getting into the details, and adding what has been dubbed my "trademark" abstract elements. 
[Or so people tell me!] 
 I've added more shading here and there to our characters. Now there's also a splash of faint opaque red outside of Good God's hair. This helps integrate the reds in her hair to other parts of the image, helping it fit in with the rest of the color scheme. This also adds some more visual interest as well. 
Following this, I take my first stab at finishing the image.   
 After more details have been placed, I lay down THE GOD MACHINE logo, and add the appropriate glows and shadows so it stands
 I take my first stab at finishing the image.   
out. But there's something not quite right about this image. It looks done, and I'm ahead of of my deadline, so what could be wrong? It only took me a day to construct it, so maybe I'm rushing things. Sure I'm excited it's close, but that moon seems way too overpowering and dragging our eye out towards the left. [A big no-no!] Also the colors don't seem like they vary enough.
The solution: come in with some faint opaque greens, place it on the moon to tone it down, and put the green on our characters and other spots. 
This gives it a little more balance, another level of shading, and just a better feeling overall! Now this is the version I turned in to Archaia a few days ahead. I'm content enough with it, but I know I could do better. Now the deadline wasn't the official deadline for the graphic novel material. It was actually so the graphic novel's cover could be featured in THE GOD MACHINE special. So now I've had time to think on what bothers me about this image, and I've gone back and gave it exactly what it needed! [Trust me, I didn't pull a "Lucas." ;)] 
First thing - that bloody moon! It's never behaved right for me.  


I take out that nasty yellow, and replace with a bright shiny white! This proves more illuminating and adds an energy into the image, making our characters pop more. I also go back to the line art layer and change its color from a black to a more dark red-brownish color, giving the lines a softer and more natural feel. I also add more little abstractions, and voilà! Finished! 
The piece now has a more vibrant energy and pizazz! [Least I think so.] 
So if you guys happen to pick up THE GOD MACHINE special preview book, you'll be getting the alternate version of this cover inside, along with bio pages, and the first full chapter of THE GOD MACHINE! 
 Well, I hope you guys enjoyed that! See you again with more art!    

  - Chandra 
[The God Machine Special is coming out this Oct. 28th- Ask your local comic shop to order it for you! You can pre-order til the 31st of this month. Ask your local comic shop to order it or pick it up over at DCBS]
18 Comments Refresh
Posted by FoxxFireArt

This is a beautiful image and i love seeing works in progress. The style and design give s me a very Tim Burton-esque vibe. Which I like. It gives an almost classic beauty with some great color work. I always like a series where an artist does the majority of the work. From writing all the way to color.
I love the touch about "not pulling a Lucas". Don't let the moon bother you. It looks beautiful.

Posted by warlock360

looks awesome but "god machine" i mean in know the term deus ex is waaay overused but hey...

Posted by Emperor Gonzo Noir

I love her art
Posted by goldenkey

We're the comicviners now.  To bad some of the these fanboy's are comicwhiners.
Posted by Asymmetrical

wait a minute, so this is a series or a graphic novel? or both? or just a prequel/special?

Edited by No_Name_
@Voidheart said:

" looks awesome but "god machine" i mean in know the term deus ex is waaay overused but hey... "

You are so positive toward the published creators that are contributing to the site! So sweet of you.
Posted by TheDrifter
@Babs said:
" @Voidheart said:

" looks awesome but "god machine" i mean in know the term deus ex is waaay overused but hey... "

You are so positive toward the published creators that are contributing to the site! So sweet of you. "
He did say it looked awesome. No reason to sarcastically cut him down, He was only voicing his opinion which last time I checked was what fueled the comic book/movie and entertainment business! The people's voice!
Posted by warlock360

some plus some contra, and never enough from both.

Posted by spookychan
@Voidheart: it's not used in the same context of the literary term, so you don't have to worry about a "fake ending." -i mean, if you were refering to that of course.
-and thanks.
Posted by warlock360

contributional critizism, hard to bring over emotions on the i-net so i'll just do this " :o) "

Posted by spookychan
@Voidheart: it's hard to come up with a title for a book, ya know. ^^; It's not an easy task to find something that fits perfectly.
Posted by Sierra Comics Captain

Looks awesome cant wait to read it.
Posted by spookychan
@FoxxFireArt: I'm glad somebody got the "Lucas" reference.  ;) -and thank you for the compliments!
Posted by spookychan
@Emperor Gonzo Noir: thank you. ^_^
Posted by spookychan
@aztek the lost: This is starting off with one issue that will lead into a graphic novel series. The first issue will be the first full chapter of the graphic novel with extras like bios/art. 48 pages.
I hope that answered the question!
Posted by warlock360
@spookychan said:
" @Voidheart: it's hard to come up with a title for a book, ya know. ^^; It's not an easy task to find something that fits perfectly. "
i have had some problems like that with essays .... i can relate lol
Posted by FoxxFireArt
@spookychan said:

" @FoxxFireArt: I'm glad somebody got the "Lucas" reference.  ;) -and thank you for the compliments! "

 No worries. I know all about making pointed references that tend to get missed. I love reading classic novels, and watching old 1930s movies. Marx Brothers films being my favorites.
I'm curious if you are a member of
Posted by spookychan
@FoxxFireArt: indeed I am-
[I love the Marx Brothers!!]