Shop talk: It’s the little things….details

It’s all in the Details (click on any pic to enlarge)

I figured we have a little fun and talk about the importance of background details and thinking things through. I do not profess to be an expert, but I do know that the more I am willing to invest in my world, the believable it becomes. I do not enjoy comics personally that tend to ignore environments or do not take the time to develop them. Yet I also realize that developing a world and learning to draw environments takes a lot of extra time and commitment, yet when that it done those stories become much more solid.

Above is the town of Heartleaf a location that has been mentioned several times in the Bean. In the upcoming comics, we actually will visit it. I could have approached this two ways, when I created this. The first is the straight box effect. Cookie cutter Box buildings on open page with no life. Quick and dirty. Yet I would have lost the desired effect of a little farm town in the middle of a forest.

So I take a more complex approach. I looked at little towns and communities. I figured out a few things 1 population. Heartleaf has to have a population of about between 1000 to 1500 people. Two it was a farming community so there would have to be farm land. Three the town would prob have a central location, I took this from several argentine communities, with a central park and the town about it. With that in mind I was able to start my illustration.

The Park or Bazaar. I started with the park. There would have to be trees and stalls for vendors to sell their wares. I knew that the outlying farms and communities would bring their goods to heartleaf to sell. They would need a central location since prob most people of the town would not want them knocking on their doors. Water is important as well for these people and so in the central of park there is a statue and well for the vendors.

Pubs, Workshops, Stores: Now in building the town around I realized that the outdoor vendors would need services so I built services around the park. There were have to be places to bring animals (the blacksmith) and also places that would make goods like jars and jugs. Sine the shot is far away I wanted to a least see the large doors that would open to these places of business. There would also be a bookstore and possibly a slaughter house but that would be more on the outskirts. I also have a clothing shop and few other locations. The residents either live above shops or on the outskirts away from the central market.

There would also be pubs for farmers, if you look that pub in the bottom pic also has a brewery attached. You can see the stables of the local blacksmith as well, plus a cart. There are lights but those will appear when I add the inks.

I also hope you notice the roofs of the buildings, they are slanted.  There is a reason for this and that is for the climate of the area. It snows and so we have to make sure the building architecture fits the climate of the area. Hence the slanted roofs.

The Farms: Since Heartleaf is a farming community I needed to look at how they would deal with that in a forest environment. As farmers that have been around for awhile they cleared off much of the hillsides, planted orchards as well, and have spent over many generations embedding themselves into the land.

This took some research. I needed to see how places like this would work, both modern and ancient. It help create a social structure into the story. One that created classes and professions for the main characters to interact with. By planning this out a little ahead of time it allowed to create a realistic town. One that flowed with the landscape. Instead of just plopping it there.

I did not create every little individual or occupation. My goal was to gather information quickly, sketch out a few ideas and map out the town and go from there. I had to do this quickly so I could continue on with the story. If you take too much time developing you forget the story, which is the most important part.

So that’s  it in a nutshell. There is much more that went into this. The inks will really bring out the town and you can see how even the town itself does not sit perfectly with each other. That bit of movement creates realism.

So any thoughts? Questions? I hope you enjoyed a little preview into the future of bean and little window of how I start my process.

Until next time



Steve » 4 Oct 2010 » Reply

Beautiful! Again I am reminded why Bean is now my #1. As a hobbyist writer myself, I appreciate the level of detail here and these little insight posts. LOVE the map, and doing the research into your setting really brings it alive. Like Mercy said above, it certainly is half the fun. Sometimes that makes it easy for me to get wrapped up in it myself, but like you said: "If you take too much time developing you forget the story, which is the most important part." Perhaps that's why I really enjoy the conceptual stage so much… lots of development.

I've never become this enamored with a webcomic. Thanks Trav! I'm loving it here.

    Trav the bean » 4 Oct 2010 » Reply

    I am so glad to hear that- It inspires me to do more. A lot more.

Trav the bean » 4 Oct 2010 » Reply

when you look at towns 1200 is actually pretty small and there must be a realization that there are prob about 250 to 300 families. so for the sake of doubt- 250(couples)x2=500 (people) and each couple could hae between 2 to 8 children. The key in this world is survival and large families are a part of the process. Even if each couple had 3 children that would exceed the 1200 point. Now most families dwellings would be multi-family dwellings. Meaning grandparents, aunts and uncles at times etc… Yes the buildings go off a bit in the background, but there are also outlying farms as well. I hope that helps:)

co0kiel0rd » 4 Oct 2010 » Reply

Ah that looks wonderful so far! As a fellow detail-crazy guy I'm really going to enjoy the final workout of this. Although I can still hardly imagine how more than 300 residents could live there. Or is the town further expanding beyond the picture's left edge? Will you actually draw the colored version with people in it in bird's eye view?

Joumana » 4 Oct 2010 » Reply

I love reading about these things!

Trav the bean » 2 Oct 2010 » Reply

Glad you enjoy it – Investing in the world s really improtant

ironhenry » 2 Oct 2010 » Reply

Loved this article Trav. Thanks for posting it!

Mercy » 1 Oct 2010 » Reply

Fascinating. I think working out all the realistic details is half the fun of a fantasy world.

Scott » 1 Oct 2010 » Reply

All I can say is that level of detail will probably kill me.

    Trav the bean » 1 Oct 2010 » Reply

    that comes with practice and patience- but the end result is worth it

Rocco » 30 Sep 2010 » Reply

Hi! You put a lot of thought into this. You’re right; it does wonders for the look and feel of your story.

If you haven’t already seen Christopher Alexander’s A Pattern Language, I think you might enjoy it. Mr. Alexander also puts a lot of thought into the patterns of architecture and civic planning that arise from social customs. There’s an online summary, but it doesn’t do the book justice.

For example, Pattern 70: Grave Sites.

Problem: No people who turn their backs on death can be alive. The presence of the dead among the living will be a daily fact in any society which encourages its people to live.

Solution: Never build massive cemeteries. Instead, allocate pieces of land throughout the community as grave sites – corners of parks, sections of paths, gardens, beside gateways – where memorials to people who have died can be ritually placed with inscriptions and mementos which celebrate their life. Give each grave site an edge, a path, and a quiet corner where people can sit. By custom, this is hallowed ground.

Larger related patterns: 14. Identifiable Neighborhood; 26. Life Cycle; 66. Holy Ground; 67. Common Land.

Smaller related patterns: 59. Quite Backs; 171. Tree Places; 241. Seat Spots.

    Trav the bean » 30 Sep 2010 » Reply

    i'll have to take a look at that, because it sounds really interesting. I like what you posted though.

Have your say!

Have your say!


Name *

Email *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Best Viewed in Google Chrome with a Resolution of 1200 pixels wide

©2008-2018 Travis Hanson/Bean Leaf Press 2018 | Site Map | Privacy Policy

Design & Coded by Travis Hanson &