I’m pretty sure I dove into the depths of this with Handbook: House Liao, but it’s been a good long time and I felt it would be worth while to kick on the afterburner and skim this subject again with the the last of the Handbooks.

Art note generation on the Handbooks dwarfs the investment of time/effort on any other project I’ve ever done…and I’ve done a ton of them. There’s simply so much art and it is so specific to a lot of the nuances of the universe. And because of those nuances you need to provide a ton of reference material to make it as easy as possible on the artist to get the details right the first time.

Here’s the art notes that were generated for Handbook: House Liao cover:


House Liao cover Art Notes:
This will follow the same format as the previous four Handbooks, with a mosaic of four images centered around the House Liao logo.

Each illustration should be 3.863 inches width and 4.2 inches height at 300 dpi so they fit the established dimensions for our Handbook covers.

Note that the House Liao logo sword cuts well out of the standard dimensions of the logo, so the artist will need to keep that in mind when putting together the cover so nothing is lost ‘behind’ the slash of the sword; i.e. who wever you have do it, they (or you, or Ray) should mock up the cover so they can see exactly what all the graphic elements will do to the illustrations, so as little is lost aspossible

All references are in the “House Liao Cover” folder in the “Handbook: House Liao” folder on the ftp site.

1) A Ti Ts’ang BattleMech, still sporting the gray primer of ‘just off the line’ stepping past the darkened interior of a giant manufacturing facility, stark light almost haloing it to provide a great lighting contrast. In a classic “airport” scene, a man wearing reflective clothing is walking in front of it, lighted cones swinging in his hands as though directing the ‘Mech; i.e. to reflect this isn’t a ‘real’ MechWarrior at the helm but a man with just enough training to move ‘Mechs around a manufacturing center.

Art Note: The following link provides photo reference for the Ti Ts’ang:

A lone Victor BattleMech—sporting a standard camo scheme for the terrain and a House Davion logo—standing guard as a Geinah-Druapaq Cargo Train rumbles past on a prairie, the sun starting to set. In the illustration, the last rays of the setting sun catches a Death Commando in mi-leap from his secret location on top of the train’s front cabin towards the back of the BattleMech.
He intends to scale the ’Mech, detonate charge next to the cockpit and get inside and eliminate the warrior, all the while the sound and heavy vibrations of the passing land train covering his movements.

Art Note: The following link provides photo reference for the Victor:

Protector Shraplen of the Taurian Concordat signs the Trinity Alliance in 3062. The signing takes place in a room from the “Trinity Alliance Signing Room” illustration reference; obviously it’s rebuilt.

The illustration should show a ‘over the shoulder’ profile of the man (so you catch a glimpse of his face) signing a treaty. This should be a big old fashion treaty; a huge pile of bound papers, festooned with ribbons, nobility-markings and so on.

Across the table in a sumptuous chair (almost throne-like, though it needs to be moveable) sits Sun-Tzu Liao in all his finery (see Sun-Tzu Liao_clothing002), face serene but eyes glowing with power…unlike the rest of the Great Houses, House Liao power is in manipulation…this is HIS arena.

Next to the chair stands Emma Centrella, face slightly troubled. Her innate fear of binding the Periphery to the Great Houses warring with what she believes is a better path for both her nation (Magistracy of Canopus) and the Taurian Concordat (Shraplen).

The following excerpt is from the novel Binding Force:

House Hiritsu Stronghold
Sian Commonality, Capellan Confederation
24 April 3047

A sharp kick just behind his right knee made the leg buckle. Aris Sung fell heavily to both knees just as the main doors were swung open by muscular guards who must have heard their House Master approaching. Then he felt the steel of two katana blades pressing down hard from behind, one on each shoulder, to keep him from trying to rise. The wielder of the blade pressing down on his right shoulder sawed with his weapon, ever so slightly, to cut through Aris’ tight-fitting black shirt and into the flesh beneath. Aris clenched his jaw against the pain and kept his eyes focused on the doors, waiting to see the person he had gambled his life to meet.

A woman entered, dressed in silk robes of a green so dark they were almost black. She walked with strength and purpose to her step. Her long dark hair showed a touch of iron gray at each temple, and her high cheekbones and slightly uptilted eyes spoke of her Asian ancestry. Late thirties, he judged, only because he knew how to look. This woman had that ageless quality of so many Asians, though it might have had less to do with genetics and more to do with her indomitable will. It was as if not even time dared presume too much in her presence.

The room was simply constructed and furnished, even though it was part of the largest stronghold on Randar. Aris had had the devil’s own time getting over the outer walls, which were built of steel-reinforced ferrocrete and designed to keep out BattleMechs. Then in avoiding patrols and passing through armored doors. Now he was where he’d risked all to be, in this room trimmed in hardwood polished to such a sheen that the grain seemed to dance in the light of the lamps. Most of the seating consisted of mats of woven rushes. Against one wall, however, was a platform too low to be called a dais, though what sat on it could definitely be construed as a throne. On it was a bench seat, which Aris guessed to be constructed of dark linwood. It was hand-carved with intricate designs and cushioned with pillows of a green satiny cloth.

And on the wall above the seat, an empty sword rack.

The woman stepped up onto the platform and quietly stared up at the empty rack for a long moment. Aris Sung counted thirteen drops of blood seeping beyond the dark cloth of his shirt and trickling down his right side. A good omen, he decided. He had recently turned thirteen years of age.
The woman settled herself onto the bench seat, arranging her robes about her as if in afterthought. Not a word had yet been spoken by anyone. Aris was sure his throat would be slit before he could utter a sound should he open his own mouth. So he waited, meeting her icy sapphire eyes with a determined gaze of his own. He willed himself not to blink, carefully widening and relaxing his eyelids.

Neither one of them moved for half a minute, and then Aris took his first calculated risk. He straightened his back, slowly so as not to invite a deeper cut into his right shoulder. Then he rocked back, jaw set against the pain as he unavoidably forced a deeper cut, until resting comfortably against his own calves. Adjusting his posture from defeated slump to comfortable meditation.

This final panel is an attempt to bring out the coolness of the Warrior Houses of the Capellan Confederation. My thinking is that you’d be looking over the shoulder of Aris Sung (whose 13), and Ty Wo Non (the man holding the swords against his shoulders) and on to the woman sitting on the chair. As such you don’t really need to know what either of the men look like and her description is fairly well covered in the excerpt; along with her clothing.

Aris clothing is covered above and theother an should be wearing a green with black Asian-esk jump suit.

To me this scene encapsulates all that it means to be Capellan. That you are not born a citizen…that you must earn that priveldge. That at an age when most other Houses still have their children playing, House Liao is indoctrinating them into the service of the State.


Then the folder I provided alongside these notes included 12 art references…and this is just for the cover. 😉

And here’s the cover as it turned out based upon that work:

Handbook House Liao Cover

Diving in now to generate the cover art notes for Handbook: House Kurita and then to fully flesh out the extent interior art notes to give Brent all he needs to get the artists moving.

I’ll share those art notes down the line.