Monday, February 3, 2014

Red Rising: Building the World

Something going on two years ago, I sat down for a glass of scotch and a pipe smoke with my older brother's roommate from college. I had met the infamous Pierce Brown before, but my limited and hasty first impressions led me to a wayward and thoroughly off-base decision that I wasn't much of a fan of this Pierce character.

Several glasses of scotch and two bowls of Matt's Blend later, I realized just how wrong I was. We talked art, dreams, creative visions, and most memorably about Pierce's recently finished novel: Red Rising. We dreamed about creative collaboration, and how someday, once Pierce was published, I would create art for the book. Sigils for colors and paintings of space battles danced in my dreams.

On January 28th, Red Rising was officially offered to the public via Random House. True to his word, Pierce allowed me the honor of helping to visualize some of the world he created, and for the last year+ I've been working with the wonderful folks over at Random House to design elements for the Red Rising book.

I don't normally post my design work on this blog, but it was such a fun project that I thought I might as well.

Red Rising

The first piece I worked on was a poster. Red Rising is set in a world where humanity has spread to colonize the solar system. In this future empire, society is stratified into color coded castes with Golds on top and Reds providing the forced labour that enables the society to function. The project was to design a Gold propaganda poster that has been defaced by 'terror' cell seeking to overthrow the class system.

The next piece I worked on was the map for the interior of the book. The book follows Darrow, a member of the lowest caste in a color-coded society, as a personal tragedy causes him to be thrown into a dangerous quest that requires him to infiltrate the highest caste of society in an effort to take them down from within. This journey lands Darrow in the Elite Gold academy, The Institute, where Gold children are sent to ruthlessly battle each other for domination. Those who come out on top win the best placements and postings throughout the empire.

The children are split up into Houses, and part of the map design was inventing crests for each house. 

Here's a higher quality image of the map as well. 

The next bit of the project was designing sigils for each of the fourteen colors of Pierce's world. Almost colors are rooted in alchemical symbols - Red is tied to the the alchemical symbol or Iron and Mars, Gold off of Gold, and so on. 

The Red Sigil, playing with the
 alchemical symbol for Iron/Mars

The Gold Sigil

The Blue Sigil. Blues are the navigators
and pilots in the spacefaring society.

The White Sigil. Whites are the doctors of
Pierce's world. 

The Violet Sigil. Violets are the
artists and creators in Red Rising.

The Silver Sigil. Silvers are the third tier,
tinpot police and soldiers who keep the lower
colors living in fear. 

A look at all of the color symbols from Red Rising side by side.

The Red Sigil even ended up on the spine of the book!

I've had a complete blast so far working with Pierce and the wonderful folks over at Random House on this project. It's certainly a dream come true, and I'm ecstatic that this is the 1st of a trilogy as I can't want to take a crack at the next two.

A huge thanks to Pierce Brown, Joe Scalora and Caroline Cunningham.