The Sky's Embrace: The Artwork for Episode 1 The Ambassador's Watch
Welcome to first art drop about the Sky's Embrace! Thank you for joining the cloudship ship's crew of the Maiden's Saber as they set across the sky in a world full magic and mystery. The story below starts the adventure with some of the crew of the ship's lower deck, under the watchful eye of the Cornelius Binns, nicknamed the Ambassadors by the crew.
I thought it would be fun for the opening shot of this new world to explore to be of a pair of hands whittling away on wood carving of a dancer. I love the juxta position of there is this huge beautiful, but the audience's attention is focused on this simple act of creation.
I introduce you to Cornelius "the Ambassador" Binns as he shows off his project to his fellow crewmember. Binns is called the Ambassador because although he is not the oldest sailor on the ship by far, he has been a crewmember of the Maiden's Arrow's for the longest time. With a certain amiable charm, Binns is well known throughout the territory by all the communities they service. He's on first name terms with many of the people in the district.
Binns is also a devoted husband and father of five. The carving of the dancer he has whittling on for more than two weeks is gift for his youngest daughter, Willowmee, for her sixth naming day.
I wanted to go for an larger-that-life fatherly figure with an open face, that openly shows all his emotions.
Introducing the youngest and newest crewmember Carson Pierson. One part excited they other part nervous to the point of terror, Pierson is still in awe of everything he sees.
Pierson is baby-faced and gangly. He can't wait to see what the world has to show him.
Here's the first image of the Maiden's Arrow as it sails peacefully across the sky. The Maiden is one of the smallest cloudships in the Sailing Guild. It's crewed by about 55 souls, including the two officers and the mystic Windsinger (More on her later). The patrol and protect the Kingdom of Vallenthrall's western most border.
I went with a more European Age of Sail design on this vessel, because I love their aesthetic. The Maiden has two masts on the main deck and twin horizontal mast in the aft (rear) region of the lower deck.
The world itself is essentially a giant tree. You can see the continental branches hanging above and below with mountains rising on the surface. Leaves the size islands hang in the sky, and vines that circumferences can fcrush entire forests are draped across the lands of the Valenthrall branch. To the west their is drop off into the abyss. It is unknown if there is any land that lies in the darkness below.
This image took me the longest to find the right feel to bring this world to life.
Here is an image of the forward region of the lower deck. This open deck if where the crew tends to the secondary lookout position, the horizontal sails, and the lower deck's ballista. This is one of the ship three ballistae, and the only mounted to the lower deck. It can swivel three-hundred-sixty degrees via a crank system. Binns is the typical senior crewman overseeing it and the rest of the lower deck's operations.
Note how Binns foot dangles over the side into the open sky.
Binns is well known to spin yarns about his prior experiences. He'll tell anyone who will will listen about his encounters with monsters like dragons, giants, and harpies. This was a fun piece to work on.
Introducing Latarius Ayo, a capable yet cocky young sailor. Ayo likes to makes playful jabs at everyone around him, but not all his comments land the way he intends. He's only a few years older than Pierson, but his time on the ship have been transformative.
Note he is holding onto a speaking tube, which is the ship's low-tech communication channels that allow the crew to communicate with each other through echo technology.
Binns is amiable, but he doesn't bear idiocy. When Ayo brags that he can make an adjustment on the horizontal sail without the aid of of a safety line, Binns chastise him for his arrogance. Ayo quickly ties his safety line in.
When Binns points out that Pierson should secure his safety line, the younger sailor fumbles and trips in his haste and starts to fall over the railing into the open sky.
Binns surprises everyone by showing everyone just how fast he can move and catches Pierson by his harness before he can plummet to his death.
Unfortunately, Binns loses his carving in the process. He and Pierson watch in horrified fascination as the carving he worked so hard falls to the ground far below.
Binns throws a fatherly arm around Pierson and helps him secure his safety line in. Pierson is apologetic for causing Binns to lose his carving. Binns waves the apology aside and replies, “Not to worry, my lad. Not to worry. There’ll be more carvings, but there’s only one you.”
I love this tender moment of camaraderie.
Binns takes up the active watch, and its his observation that starts our adventure off.