Takashima story evolution

a young man looks at his reflection in his computer monitor

Hi friends. I received some great feedback from my first three reviewers on the 2nd draft of Takashima. I estimate I have 3 new pages to create with around 15 new images. It will be another month before the third draft goes out to my next set of reviewers. Today, I am sharing the story and visual evolution of Takashima.

From the beginning, it is a Shadowrun inspired story. I loved both the role playing game and the novels. However, I am not affiliated with whoever owns SR nor have they endorsed this story. As such, I’ve had to make some changes to avoid copyright issues.

The high schooler story

Takashima grew out of another Shadowrun-inspired story I wrote around 2009, about 3 students subjected to a corporate experiment during a high school dance. It was originally an extraction story, with the trio hiring a team to get them out of their corp, Trancescape. The extraction team included Hiro and Ginger. In this story, Hiro and Ginger are a couple, working together on various underground jobs.

The high school story stalled because: I couldn’t work out how to tell the story with images, the cast of characters is huge and my photography and photoshop skills were not up to the challenge. I kept working at the story to fill in details. As I wrote, a reference appeared about an extraction gone wrong: the Takashima Extraction.

Takashima beginnings

The Takashima Extraction is well-known, infamous story in the Seattle criminal world. The original idea was to tell the story from the Hiro and Ginger’s point of view. Takashima is the story of the first time they meet. My initial photo compositing experiments involved Hiro and Ginger, such as this one.

Hiro and Ginger meet

I continued shooting and compositing cityscapes for this world and wasn’t totally satisfied with them. I needed to work on extracting the dolls as well as creating the background composite imagery. In order to work on my extracting skills, I set up a photo shoot with boxes and levels and a white sheet thrown over the set. It was also a test of the posing capability of my Dollshe Grown Saint.

Aloysius Keaton

Several images were created that just focused on the dolls and the grungy aspect. I added a black & white filter to one of the images to check my contrast. These test images gave me idea of the film noir aspect. My Grown Saint was to be the protagonist, Al Keaton. Changing the protagonist along with these new images in support of Keaton’s story reignited my imagination. Keaton’s story became the inspiration for Takashima and provided a way for Hiro and Ginger to meet.

I treated Takashima like a stage play (my theater degree comes in handy!) and a film: I created a spreadsheet with details for each character to include costumes and props as well as a shot list. To visualize the story, I transferred the story outline to Keynote, added the shot list to the outline. I used somewhat random doll photos I took with my phone, along with some basic Pexel images of offices to create key story images in Procreate then dropped those in Keynote.

At this point, the grungy style was my plan. I created a few Takashima teaser videos. At some point after creating the first teaser, I converted to iMac and started using Photoshop, found PhotographyBB products, including their Comic Book Maker, which was so cool that it kept me going.

The grunge layer had to be removed due to the number of PhotographyBB actions run on each image. The first action is their From Dusk Till Dawn action, which is an illustrated style with the pink and blue color palette. ComicBook Maker runs another illustrated action, which renders the images closer to a hand drawn look.

Below are the Takashima short videos created to date. Takashima Teaser #2 shows the final story images (run through From Dusk Till Dawn) before they are embedded in ComicBook Maker.

When I started Takashima, I had no idea how I would create the story. I just had to see it through to completion. My photography and Photoshop skills have improved since the start of the project. Takashima has also influenced my style. I’ve somewhat moved away from the grungy look but kept the painterly look.

In future posts, I’ll share the Cast of Characters and a description the world the characters live in.