Tristan Liu is 15 and a sophomore in high school from New Jersey. He was born in New Brunswick, then moved to Princeton. Tristan has no previous experience making photographs with the intent of creating thought provoking images. However he now hopes he can use the knowledge and experience he recently gained to continue to grow as a visual storyteller. In addition to photography, he also likes drawing and painting.
This series combines photography and drawing with a fantasy theme. It began with writing the story. The locations were very important and selecting them required a lot of scouting. Once I got an idea of the surroundings, I started sketching out the storyboards. Then the images were created and illustrated using photoshop. This is the first time I have attempted to tell an original story using images.
The Scales of Evil (Working Title)
by Tristan Liu
The village is peaceful, and crops are plentiful, thanks to the emerald totem which communicates with the gods of prosperity. The village people are hardworking and independent, and the village head is proud of them.
One morning, the air vibrates, and a dragon appears above the clouds. He sets fire to the fields and steals the prized totem. Presumably, the dragon is going to add this item to his collection. The dragon flies away; the village is devastated. As the smoke clears, the village head’s son, Hero, returns from his hunting excursion. The only way to save the people is to retrieve the totem by slaying the dragon. The townspeople elect Hero to go on the journey and save the village. They equip him with the little they can salvage from the wreckage. A single dagger is the best the village people could do. They send Hero off on foot, since his horse had unfortunately been slaughtered to feed the starving village children. Hero sets off in the direction of the burnt trees to find the dragon’s den.
After a day of travel, Hero climbs a tree to rest. He is awakened by the sound of raspy voices. Alligators are standing upright on their two hind feet at a distance, deriving a plan to capture and kill him. Perhaps make a meal out of him. He feels a rush of adrenaline. The alligators start to walk towards the tree, and he hides behind its trunk. As they look up to catch a glimpse of him, he stabs one in the gut with his dagger. The other alligators respond; however, not fast enough. Hero quickly gives one a slash in the back of the neck. Two dead. The last alligator tries to sever his neck in return but Hero puts up his arm in defense. The alligator locks his jaws onto Hero’s forearm; he can feel its teeth tearing his flesh apart. The alligator tried to remove his teeth from Hero’s arm, but couldn’t; his teeth were stuck. Hero takes advantage of this and manages to embed his knife into the reptile’s neck. The jaw’s grip loosens, and Hero pulls the dead creature off his arm. He cleanses his injury before skinning the biter and wrapping its scaly carcass around his wounded arm and torso, almost as if it were a cast.
Hero needs to recuperate. Heading in the direction of the dragon’s cave, he spots a maiden tending a garden. He politely asks for her aid, and she accepts graciously. As he walks into her cabin, he notices a large bone strewn carelessly in the garden. He turns and looks back at the maiden and notices something strange about her. They engage in conversation when out of the blue the maiden asks, “Will you marry me?”
Hero is stunned but responds quickly. He says that he’ll have to go outside to be alone and think about her proposition. He leaves the cabin and closes the door behind him. When the door opens again, he lodges his dagger into the maiden’s stomach. As Hero looks on, the maiden’s image wavers, becomes foggy, and ultimately reveals a giant chameleon with large, knifelike teeth. As he leaves the cabin, he hears a large explosion that draws his attention back to the cabin, where he sees a gaping hole at the back of the room. As he nears this hole, Hero feels a rush of heat. He turns and runs. Just as he bolts out of the cabin, it explodes. Under the mass of the ruined building can be seen the towering dragon. It lunges forward from under the rubble, swipes at Hero with its claws and misses, hitting instead a massive boulder. It shakes the claw, but it hangs limply, bruised and numb. Hero looks on warily, for he has barely managed to dodge this attack. The dragon quickly swoops its other claw at Hero, who this time rolls to avoid being crushed. The claw, with its long nails, becomes stuck in the oozing mud. Hero wastes no time in taking advantage of this opportunity; he rams the tip of his dagger down onto the top the massive claw. The dragon lifts it high in the air, in pain and frustration, pulling Hero upwards. Hero hangs onto his dagger for dear life. The dragon opens its fiery maw, preparing to incinerate Hero. Hero, who sees the inferno rising from the dragon’s mouth, knows that nothing can save him now. He pinches his eyes shut and shrinks behind his wounded arm, the arm that is still covered in the scales of the dead alligator. Hero feels the heat of the dragon’s fire begin to spread throughout his arm. It is an odd feeling. Warm but far away. To be sure, he has a sensation of slight pain, but other than that, Hero feels strong. The infuriated dragon spews out more and more fire until there is no more air left in its lungs. Smoke envelops the terrain, and the dragon wheezes from exhaustion. Hero nimbly climbs on top of the dragon’s nape and finishes the dragon off. Sifting through the numerous treasures buried in the dragon’s lair, he finally finds the village totem.
Hero vows to return to his village and help his fellow villagers rebuild.