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Monday, January 8, 2018

Egyptian E’steem Concept Sketches

Spent my Saturday night drawing up concept sketches of what E’steem looks like in E’steem: The Sands of Time.

E’steem: The Sands of Time is an action packed time travel adventure that takes place in Ancient Egypt. And it features a 14-year-old E’steem as she tries to help a 14-year old John Haynes get back to his time in the 1980s. The Sands of Time has adventure and romance in an action packed story paced like a big budget animated movie. If I had to cast it, it’d have an all-Star cast of Black actors like Salli Richardson-Whitfield as E’steem, Michael Ealy as John Haynes, Keith David as Lucifer, Jada Pinkett Smith as Decadia, Angela Bassett as Isis, Samuel L. Jackson as Osiris, and Iman as High Preistess Mamnet.

With The Sands of Time I wanted to do a story that featured the teenage E’steem before she became a demon. After writing stories like Isis: My Sister, My Frenemy and E’steem: The Witches of Eastland which elaborated on E’steem’s troubled past I decided it was time to show readers what E’steem’s life was like before she had her father issues. To show how she originally had good intentions and wanted to help people. And the kind of heroine she could have become if Seth hadn’t told her the heartbreaking lies that led to her becoming a demon. 

The Egyptian E’steem concept sketches were a challenge to design. I had to study a bunch of Ancient Egyptian fashions and hairstyles to see what would look best on E’steem’s face. As everyone knows E’steem is inspired by actress Salli Richardson Whitfield, and I was worried that an Ancient Egyptian hairstyle with bangs and braids wouldn’t work with her face. But after doing some sketches I started to see that they would work.

For the portrait sketch I traced over the old E’steem drawing I did back in 1999. And I was surprised how different E’steem looked from her sultry she-demon look. Egyptian E’steem looks like a completely different character than her modern appearance. Taking this look back at the character shows how much she has changed over 4000 years.

I decided to keep E’steem’s outfit, hair, and makeup simple. I didn’t want an artist to have to deal with a bunch of elaborate details that’d be hard to translate from concept to final design. So E’steem’s Ancient Egyptian outfit is just a basic white dress, Usekh collar, armlets, bracelets and an anklet. For her hair I just went with a series of plait braids and gold ornaments in front of her face to denote her royal position. She’s a princess, but she’s conservative in her style because she’s aspiring to be a Priestess. I did a lot of research on Ancient Egyptian culture for this one, and 

With the Egyptian E’steem sketches done, now I gotta do a 1980s 14-year old John Haynes to go with her. A John who wears cargo pants  with elastic ankles, (I owned a pair of Cotlers like this in 1989) a jean jacket and Reebok Ex-O-Fit or Pop top Hi-top sneakers. And he carries a Walkman. That’s gonna be fun to draw up.  

I finished the first draft of E’steem: The Sands of Time last week and it’s in the middle of revisions. This book was a boatload of FUN to write and I’d love to get it out for the summer reading season so readers can enjoy it. I designed this one to be a like a blockbuster movie featuring Ancient Egypt re-imagined from an Afrocentric perspective. If I can get enough donations for the cover, I’ll fast-track it for an April release! 

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