If you know me at all, you know I'm a fan of aesthetic collages, regardless of how much debate there is across social media in regards to their merit. I, for one, am pro-aesthetic, because, while they can be time-consuming, they're also a way for me to stay engaged with the story even when I'm not actively writing. And of course being an artistic person, I just enjoy putting together visually-pleasing layouts and experimenting with effects.
I'd seen the #ThursdayAesthetic hashtag on Twitter and Instagram before but didn't realize until just a couple of months ago that there was a weekly theme. @literarilyjess hosts it and usually posts the theme the previous weekend in order to give people time to put their collages together. Today's theme is just "throwback," so you can share any collage you've made in the past (ergo it's a good day for new players to get on board!).
I've of course shared all of these on social media, but wanted to put them all together here as well. What I typically do is gather 5 (sometimes 6) images, one of which is a quote or something similarly text-based. I arrange them all using Layout, then I use either PicsArt or Enlight to give the whole collage a more universal color scheme (and of course add cool effects like lens flare or bokeh). A few of the images used in these collages are my own artwork, but everything else belongs to its respective owners. I've discovered a lot of ridiculously talented artists while looking for aesthetic material.
(Note: these are currently just alphabetized by theme and aren't in the order in which they were originally posted. Click each image for a larger view.)
If you've been following my progress on Fracture and Embers, you might already be familiar with Alastair Manes. He's the suave, charismatic leader of the Ibarra Cartel, employer of Matia Moryi, and rival of Tobias Niio. He's described as being young—probably not even 40—and we learn early on that he took over the Cartel after killing its former leader...his own father. His network/organization runs on a survival-of-the-fittest model, and he rewards people for their loyalty. Ergo his crew and subjects are in a constant battle to win his favor, resulting in a tight circle made up of only the strongest, smartest, and most dependable. He's very manipulative.
This prompt called for things that represent you as an author, or things that inspire you and your writing. I went the inspirational route and shared a selection of images from my various "Imagination at Work" Pinterest boards. And it just so happened that I have exactly 9 of these boards—perfect for a collage! They are, in order:
- Imagination at Work: Appearances
- Imagination at Work: Architecture
- Imagination at Work: Character and Creature Design
- Imagination at Work: Futuristic Stuff
- Imagination at Work: Interiors
- Imagination at Work: Little Stuff
- Imagination at Work: Locations and Environments
- Imagination at Work: Sci Fi Environments
- Imagination at Work: Ships and Spacescapes
This one was tricky because it wanted you to capture the first scene of your story in a single image (or collection of images, I should say). Fracture technically begins with a prologue, but in the interest of avoiding spoilers, I went ahead and used Chapter 1 (which, as always, can be read here). I ended up going with a dark color scheme, gritty texture, and of course a few purple highlights since that's the book's theme color. In many cases, it's difficult to find relevant images that are obviously sci-fi rather than modern. This is a prime example.
Best Friends / Love Interests
Most people chose one or the other of these categories, but I went ahead and used #Ariva because they are simultaneously both and neither of these things. And that makes them such a fun pair of characters to write. Their relationship has been rather tumultuous throughout the course of the series, but it's been fun to see how they've each grown and how they've influenced each other's growth. Heh, I talk about it like I'm not the one actually writing them. To an extent, that's accurate. They like to take control and write themselves.
Black and White
A lot of the other collages were simply done in grayscale for this prompt, but I thought a dark, high-contrast noir look was much more appropriate because I'd decided to use this collage to highlight a certain series namesake character who will eventually be making an appearance in Fracture and Embers. There are a lot of clever Cards Against Humanity pictures on Pinterest and that one there in the top left was SO perfect for this collage. I like to think of it as a confirmation of sorts for any readers who weren't quite sure about the ending of Ronan (though ICYMI, the prologues of both Legacy books will shed some light on exactly what happened 😉).
One thing I've found interesting about the #ThursdayAesthetic crowd is that everyone interprets the prompts a little differently depending on their genre and stories' subject matter. For this prompt, some people made collages for actual dream sequences their characters have in their stories. Other people, including me, chose to highlight characters' biggest goals/wishes/desires. It shouldn't come as any surprise to know that Aroska's current biggest goal—aside from not getting killed—is finding She Who Will Not Be Named. He has spent the four years between Ronan and Fracture tapping into agency resources and using them to scour the galaxy for clues. He hasn't had much luck, but when the team realizes finding her might ensure their mission's success, maybe a little luck is all they need.
Two of my core characters grew up orphans, and the other two have kind of had their families torn apart in one way or another throughout the course of my series. So when it comes down to it, this group has become a team in more than just a professional sense. They're all each other has left, and they've got this cool found-family dynamic that's been a lot of fun to write.
This was the first collage I made when I realized #ThursdayAesthetic actually had a theme. I think I've mentioned this particular "future project" a couple of times—it'll be more of a near-future Earth cyberpunk/psychological thriller type setup. Other than the fact that the working title is Dreamers, I have basically no details because I could take the story in about a thousand different ways and I have yet to actually sit down and try to plan anything. But I do have a few notes jotted down here and there and look forward to working on it someday.
First things first: I'm OBSESSED with how the color scheme turned out on this collage. Aroska still physically lives in his apartment in downtown Noro, the same one we saw in Ronan. But "home" has a little different meaning for him these days. It's a more abstract concept than it used to be, almost a feeling rather than a tangible location. After some of the hardships he has suffered through both on and off the page, and after the way events in the series have helped him grow, he has worked hard to turn his life around and start fresh. He tries only to look forward to the future, lest past problems arise again. He fits in well with his team and excels at his work, but there's still a piece missing, something that helped make him who he is today. When all is quiet between missions, he'll look up at the stars and his mind begins to wander...
For this prompt, we were instructed to pick any color we wanted. Since I've been focusing so much on Fracture lately (and rightfully so, considering it comes first), I decided to go with a gold scheme and put Embers in the spotlight for once. It will certainly have its fifteen minutes of fame one of these days, but for now it kind of feels like the red-headed stepchild. Still, I'll take any excuse to play with fire effects and textures.
Being fanatical, I of course already have a number of character aesthetics made, so at first I wasn't sure if I wanted to bother making a new one for Aroska. But his character has also changed and evolved since I made the last one, so it made sense that his aesthetic should evolve as well. This one is a little bleaker and grittier than his old one to kind of illustrate the way he's starting to embrace his darker side in this story. In the previous books, he ended up having a big effect on Ziva's growth, but elements of her personality also rubbed off on him, which isn't necessarily a good thing. He has become stronger and more skilled since then, but also more jaded and cynical. He's willing to go to further lengths to get the job done than he once was.
This was the third installment in the color series (Monochrome and Black and White being the other two) and is probably my least favorite of any of the collages I've made. I was kind of twitching because I like my collages to have fairly uniform color schemes and I wasn't sure how I was going to pull this off. But overall it's not too shabby. I ended up kind of combining my WIPs (and recycling images).
Most of Fracture takes place on a planet called Panuco, a semi-arid world controlled by Alastair Manes and the Ibarra Cartel. The capital city of Tabaco is both a spaceport and a seaport, and I picture it looking kinda desert-y like a coastal town in the Mediterranean or Middle East. The Cartel brings in a ton of money, but the rest of the population that's not directly involved in its dealings isn't so well-off. Ergo people end up vying for Manes's favor, and the whole planet—even the whole Cartel network—operates on that survival-of-the-fittest model I mentioned. It makes for an interesting environment.
The purple and gold color scheme was also a total accident, but it's so fitting.
I'd made a general aesthetic for Fracture in the past, but I was never 100% satisfied with it, so I jumped at the opportunity to make another one. Of course I had to go with the purple color scheme again, as well as the shatter effect. Brokenness is a major theme in this story. People who are broken. People breaking things. And breaking each other. Me breaking all of them.
This prompt was meant to showcase a past project that got scrapped or tabled for whatever reason. When I was like 13, I went through a major obsession with shows like 24 and NCIS and wanted to write a story in that same vein. It featured a snarky, ill-tempered female FBI agent heading up a counter-terrorism squad. You guys. It was SO bad. This collage makes it look way cooler than it was. I often had the characters doing things just for the sake of being cool, when in reality it was totally unrealistic and made no sense logistically. I actually finished one draft and started a sequel, but unfortunately I don't have any of those documents—which were naturally written in Comic Sans—anymore because I was a terrible person and deleted them when I realized how bad the story was (never delete your work, kids). Despite all of this, aspects of my main agent lady's personality ended up carrying over to Ziva, and the plot of the sequel I started drafting ended up serving as the basis for Nexus, so it wasn't all for naught. I actually ended up resurrecting my FBI agent lady for another story project in a high school English class that actually had potential, and it has always been lurking in the back of my mind, so maybe I'll have to write it sometime.