Determined delightful Deirdra Dragon

South Bartin Dragon News is the major news outlet of South Bartin City. This puts a lot of pressure on the Dragon family to word the news carefully or risk repercussions from Nyxus that would cause them an awful lot of trouble.

deirdra dragon

Deirdra Dragon is the only daughter of her widower father and is quite determined about how she reports the news. True to her family name, she can be just as much a dragon as Ryu is physically at times. She’s still smart enough to be cautious about how she reports on incidents between Dream Angel, her friends and Nyxus and hers. Although she won’t openly support either side, she’s usually to be found on scene and frequently interviewing Larissa, who’s typically on crowd control.

Being on scene in the middle of the fighting usually presents a problem for the heroes and sometimes even the villains as she tends to get into the middle of things trying to get an interview. Since she’s a noncombatant, both sides – even unintentionally – take pains to avoid hurting her and sometimes find themselves getting hurt instead.

Deirdra’s photographer is just as interesting as Deirdra herself, though I’m not really qualified to formally discuss her character since she’s actually a real person. Melissa has yet to develop her character and by this I mean I don’t know exactly how much of her real-world personality she wants the character to reflect. It has been agreed that her character will always be nearby when Deirdra’s around, though. She’s always got a camera in hand and wearing an “I love photography” t-shirt. If you’re wondering how a real person could be the photographer of a fictional one, check out the 3D me page.

What do you think? Is Deirdra an interesting character? Deirdra makes her comic book debut in Dream Angel #7, which can be found in the shop. It’s a good idea to get the books that come before it so the story makes sense! Also found in the shop is her plush action figure.

When is a hero not a hero? When she’s Arora Arum!

Arora Arum is our hero Dream Angel when she’s not Dream Angel. At first, an ordinary school girl attending high school and getting good grades. Of course her life changed when she got the power to become Dream Angel.

Arora Arum

After high school, Arora turned her attention to being a full-time superhero. Unfortunately, this meant setting personal goals and ambitions aside for the most part. It also meant setting aside seeking a job, since a fight could break out and she’d be late. Fortunately, her self defense experience and friendship with local martial arts dojo owners means she could get a job as an instructor without much trouble.

She’s a bright, artistic type of girl, so when she’s not out pounding bad guys, she’s drawing, painting and even training with her retired wrestling champion father.
Having a wrestling champion father and police lieutenant mother, she’s been well trained all her life in self defense. Add in training with the tiger people as Dream Angel and she could handle most situations without transforming reasonably well.

Arora is named after the goddess Aurora, but her name is spelled differently on purpose. Her last name is also Latin for gold, making her literal name Golden Goddess of the Dawn. This ties in to her power as Dream Angel, but it also led to teasing in school.

Although she didn’t pay much attention to most of the teasing and the teasers eventually gave up, one refused to stop teasing and bullying. Gina SweetFace bullies Arora about everything she could think of every time she sees her. Even after graduating high school, if Arora found Gina anywhere, the bullying would resume. Despite never formally graduating high school, Gina bothers Arora more than Nyxus ever could.

Arora’s quiet charm and fun-loving nature earned her many friends even as Dream Angel. Her debut appearance in comic books is as Dream Angel in Dream Angel #1, available in the shop. Also in the shop, you’ll find Arora Arum as a plush action figure. She waits only for you and loves hugs. Will you give her a hug?

What makes 3D so difficult?

What makes 3D so difficult to handle is that it has a very steep learning curve more often than not. I’ve found people that assume because the computer does a lot of the work that 3D isn’t art and it’s lazy to use. Let me assure you: nothing is further from the truth!

True, some programs, like DAZ Studio or even Poser are good for beginners or hobbyists and make setting up a scene reasonably easy to do, but that doesn’t mean the rendered art will be good quality. Like pencil and paper, there’s basic techniques and much more advanced ones. It’s the difference between a stick figure with dots for eyes and a line for a smile and a fully detailed anatomically correct figure that’s nicely lit and realistic.

Anyone can draw a stick figure, but that much higher quality figure with all the details and lighting? That can take years of practice. The very same holds true of 3D art.

First and foremost, it’s very much art. If it isn’t, it shouldn’t be in movies as a special effect since it takes special effects artists to use it for movies. What are they using if it isn’t art? Secondly, it’s constantly changing and improving, so just because some amateur hasn’t yet mastered even the basics isn’t a reason to tell them to use pencil and paper.

Four years ago, I knew next to nothing about 3D art. I posed bald, nude figures in Poser with default lighting and painted hair and clothes in Photoshop. As I learned more, my methods changed. Figures began having clothes and hair, I began experimenting with lights and camera angles.

Being a 3D artist is a lot like being a movie director. You have to be able to work with all the various departments to get the scene just right. Actors, wardrobe, hair, makeup, lights, cameras and other things have to be prepared for the scene to be complete. Finding, creating and effectively rendering the scene elements is more complicated than some might imagine. Even when you think the scene looks the way you want it, it doesn’t mean the final render will have the desired result. That means post work, which can get almost as complicated as setting up the scene in the first place.

The truth is there’s a million ways a scene can go wrong. True, pencil and paper mean you can simply erase the part that’s not the way you want it, but what if it’s already inked? That means hours with white-out or something similar to correct the problem.

Lots of ways to mess up, lots of ways to create incredible art. It’s a matter of time, patience and a lot of practice.

Sewing and driving alike?

You know how it is when the “muse” hits? Well, it just hit me. Sewing and driving are a lot alike. Particularly machine sewing. Now, here’s where it’s funny: I don’t drive. Never wanted to learn how, either. Yet, I “drive” a sewing machine on a fairly regular basis. Allow me to explain.

Roads and stoplights

Driving has a few basic rules of the road: stop at red lights, drive close to the speed limit and don’t go off the road. Okay, for sewing, it’s stop to take out pins, go slow on curves (especially small ones!) and don’t go inside the seam allowance. Well, if you’re like me, you mark the seam allowance for a nice line to follow, have pins galore to keep it from shifting and try to go slow for better control.

Take this little piece for example: the blue line (water soluble pen) is the “road,” the butterfly pins are the “stop lights” and it’s so small going fast would probably ruin it!

Similarities can be scary, right?

So, sewing and driving are a lot alike, right? Follow the line, take out pins and go slow. Follow the road, stop at red lights and obey the speed limit. Good advice for both, right? Just because I don’t drive doesn’t mean I haven’t read the rules. I think it’s a fitting comparison, but that’s my opinion.

What was that little thing?

Wondering what I’m sewing in these images that’s so small? Would you believe that’s the trigger guard of a pistol?

Yep! It’s the trigger guard of a pistol that’s the right size for the plush action figures in the shop! There’s always a magnet inside so the plush action figures can “hold” the weapon magnetically if they have magnets in their hands. Why was the stitching barely visible and a little shiny? Well, instead of regular polyester thread that matches the fabric (and sometimes breaks), 4lb fishing line is used. It looks a lot like invisible thread, but it’s much, much stronger meaning it can handle being played with. Everything sewn uses 4lb fishing line for extra durability.

Fishing line warning!

Now, hold on sewists, before you jump on the fishing line train, a word of caution: fishing line is very stiff and does not stretch. It took a good number of broken needles and argument with my machine before finding a way to make it work. Even then, it still finds ways to mess things up from time to time. Notably, slipping out of the upper tension looper and causing “bobbin art” in the middle of a seam!

Most particularly, plastic bobbins really hate fishing line! While I can’t speak for all machines, I do know many modern machines use plastic bobbins. Fortunate for my older machine, it can use plastic and metal bobbins. Too many plastic bobbins were broken while winding that the discovery of being able to use metal ones was a huge blessing! Just be warned, if you want to use 4lb fishing line in your machine, you’re in for a lot of trial-and-error. The result of stronger seams isn’t a bad thing, but it may take a long time to get it right.

The over eager little brother: Keru

Keru FireKeeper is the always-eager-to-please younger brother of Virgo FireKeeper. Though he’s best known for getting into mischief, most times it’s harmless.keru

keruThis young cub brings all his effort to whatever he’s doing. Like any young boy, he also enjoys having unusual pets. Bitsy is his best friend, the problem is she’s a spider.

Between the two, they can get into a broad variety of trouble or get Dream Angel and her friends out of a broad variety of trouble. The mere sight of Bitsy causes quite an uproar among villains. Especially the vampire roaches. Since spiders naturally eat roaches, their instinct is to panic and look for a place to hide.

The Keres are none too fond of the young tiger and his pet as well. The sisters often let out a bloodcurdling screech attached to a scream of “KILL IT!” as they look for a place to get away from the spider.

In terms of mischief, Keru’s a master. Athalia’s the one who keeps him in check when his brother’s not around. A stern look from Torakatai usually sends him running back to Athalia or Virgo. He knows Torakatai is tough for punishments for the sake of keeping order among the tiger villagers.

Keru literally means “kick.” He likes to think it means he kicks butt. He’s still learning battle strategies and fighting techniques, but he’ll still fight off Reprobates. Usually, he stays close to his brother if he’s involved in a fight. Between Virgo and Athalia, he’s a moderately formidable fighter on his own.

Even Torakatai has helped train the young cub. Teaching techniques even his other two trainers don’t know. Virgo’s excellent with a staff, Athalia without a weapon. Torakatai is a master of many techniques and weapons.

What do you think? Is Keru an interesting character? He makes his comic book debut in Dream Angel #8, which can be found in the shop. It’s a good idea to consider getting the books that came before it so the story makes sense. Also available in the shop is his plush action figure.

Tragic victim: vampire cockroach

cockroach vampireVampire cockroaches are unfortunate creatures. I know, the first thought for a cockroach is usually “EWWWW!!” Here’s some food for thought, though: roaches’re excellent survivors. Which would make them more difficult than ever to kill if they were undead vampires.

These roaches are roaches through unfortunate circumstances, too. They’re the victims of Jerigel SwampFang’s third bite. Unlike most vampires, it takes three bites for him to completely control his victims. As a result, they become cockroaches. The only thing these victims keep of their humanity is their height.
If anything, these unfortunate creatures should be pitied. There’s no known cure for their condition and killing them is far more difficult than if they were normal roaches.

The one thing these roaches fear above all is spiders. If they should see one, they become uncontrollable. The larger the spider, the harder they are to control.
One important ability besides turning their own victims into roaches for an hour, is being able to change form. They’re able to temporarily resume their human form during the day, but only if Jerigel allows it.

Over the years, these victims are those who tried to rebel against Nyxus. Some got in Jerigel’s way, and others Nyxus wanted to just make disappear. Since Nyxus controls Jerigel and he controls roaches, rebels are then made to do her bidding.

Once Jerigel controls a victim as a roach, they have no free will of their own. In fact, they cannot do anything without him knowing about it. The control is complete and permanent as far as anyone knows. Even Ryu doesn’t know of a cure to change these unfortunate victims human again.

These roaches are today’s daily deal. Aren’t they interesting characters? Won’t you take pity on them? They just want your love! they make their comic book debut in Dream Angel #7, which is available in the shop. It’s a good idea to get the books that came before it so the story makes sense! Also found in the shop is the plush action figure of these creatures.

Legendary xinoeph: Nevyn WinterBane

nevynYou’ve probably heard of the legend of the Phonenix. The bird who burst into flames at the time of its death and rises from the ashes. Nevyn WinterBane is a similar bird. His kind does burst into flames, but not at the time of death. Instead, it’s a natural flame the bird can control as a means of defense.

Nevyn and his fellow Xinoeph were on “the list” of creatures Nyxus wanted to eliminate because she thought they were unnecessary. He was fortunate to escape the massacre, but not completely unharmed. He’d been shot in the wing and managed to hide in the brush until Nyxus’s hunting party stopped looking for him. What he didn’t know at the time was that Dream Angel and her friends chased them away.

When he cautiously came out of hiding, Teikou no Senshi coaxed him into letting her heal his wing. Fortunately, the bullet had gone completely through so she was able to heal him without any trouble. He’s been an ally of Dream Angel since the incident.

Nevyn and Akasha are a spectacular pair and when the two met, they became immediate friends. They quickly realized they had met Dream Angel under similar circumstances and had similar goals. While Akasha settled in a tree outside the Arum home so she could sound the alert if there was an attack, Nevyn chose the Amphitrite home. Aside from Elizabeth herself, he’s the only other living being who knows Teikou no Senshi’s secret. Or is he?

The two birds are excellent at conveying messages, flying reconnaissance and a number of other very helpful functions. Only harpies are even close to fast enough to follow them and they’ve become skilled at losing them in flight unless they want them to follow.

So, what do you think? Is Nevyn an interesting character? He makes his comic book debut in Dream Angel #7, which is available in the shop. It’s a good idea to get the books that came before it so the story makes sense. Also available in the shop is his plush action figure.

Dumb but dangerous: Reprobates

reprobateReprobates are nightmarish creatures, but also quite stupid. In large groups, with an elite to direct them, they’re a lot like bulls: they’ll destroy anything in their path. Often, without regard to ally or enemy. Once they start destroying or even killing, the blood lust lasts a long time and is difficult to stop.

On an individual basis, they’re almost child-like for intelligence. Easy to distract and trick, easy to defeat. The trouble is they aren’t often found alone. More often than not, they’re in groups. They love the advantage of larger numbers.

Safety in numbers might sound like the theory these creatures operate under. What it is is that they’re social creatures. They hate being alone, so they always travel in groups. It’s an instinct, nothing more.

They aren’t smart, that’s certain, but they’re powerful swordsmen. They’re also incredible in flight. Fast, deadly and tough.

Some of these creatures have the ability of mimicry. It’s not a complete copy of what they’re mimicking, but still an effective gift for the few who have it. It’s rare that an elite has this gift, though legends tell of elites that have had it and used it with deadly efficiency.

daragon ironweaselAs individual personalities, a piece of paper has more depth, unless the Reprobate is an elite such as Daragon IronWeasel or Xalibe WildClaw. These creatures rely on instinct and group mindset for direction. Once set in a direction, they’re much like a wrecking ball. Nothing slows them down until they’re completely exhausted.

To our heroes, on an individual basis, they’re dumber than the dumbest dumb blondes. They often tell jokes to the effect, annoying the elites that might be in the area.

What do you think? Would you want to fight a Reprobate? Are Reprobates interesting characters?They make their comic book debut in Dream Angel #1, which can be found in the shop. Also found in the shop are their plush action figures.

Challenge of 3D

3D is a challenge, there’s no doubt about that. All art is. Ask any artist and you’ll find very few who can say they didn’t spend a lot of time practicing to improve and the best ones are always looking for ways to improve further.

3D is no exception. Sure, the computer helps, but it can’t do the job itself. Sorry, we don’t have robots like the ones in I, Robot. So, no artistic computer. This means a person still has to create the scene.

True, sometimes it’s just fun to play around with a scene and see what happens. The result isn’t always good, though. Creating anything is a journey.

A playful mix of 2D and 3D. The result of a lot of practice!

The fun of creating does tend to be the journey. From posing nudes to paint hair and clothes to rendering HDRI and playing with a character using the HDRI as the background and light source. While the latter sounds easy, it’s not. There’s some pretty fussy settings involved and it’s taken many hours of practice – there’s a lot of that! – to get it right.

You’ll be agreeing with Anaplkete here a lot! There’s usually one little setting that can easily be overlooked that ruins a render.

Like anything, practice is the key. As the song in Barbie Princess Power says, “take a chance, mess it up! That’s okay we’re big enough to try it again!” For anyone looking to see what happens when you practice, that movie is a good choice. There’s plenty of messing up and practicing.

The real challenge of 3D is to practice constantly. Sometimes practicing is just simply having fun and sometimes it’s messing up to learn from the mistakes. Oh yes, don’t be afraid to tinker around with the out-of-the-box models. Not everyone is a skilled modeler!

Now, modeling has its own challenges and that’s something for an entirely different article. Anyone who thinks the out-of-the-box models can’t create art… well, that’s just silly.

So, is 3D a challenge? Absolutely. Is it art? Well, what else would it be called? It’s certainly not lazy and definitely takes a lot of time to learn, just like any other art form. The real challenge of 3D is to learn it. Like anything else, master the basics and it gets considerably more fun, but there’s always something new to learn!

Katrilina the cat!

Katrilina has quite the history with the Dream Angel series. Today’s focus isn’t on Katrilina herself, though, but on her special ability: the ability to physically change into any cat in the feline family. Most notably, a lioness, leopard, panther and tiger.The focus is Katrilina’s feline forms.

katrilina catsOf all the 38 species of cats of the feline family she can become, these four are her favorites for their varying abilities. Strength, endurance, stealth and cunning, to name a few. In nature, these cats are far from cute and cuddly and Katrilina uses those abilities with great effect. Of course, which cat she picks depends on the situation and sometimes even who she’s with.

She’ll go with the tiger if she’s around Virgo, for example. Her favorite for going after Reprobates is the Panther. The winged creatures don’t like the black streak chasing after them. Her lioness will ground most Harpies if they’re low enough and for some of the higher up opponents, she’ll use the leopard to climb a nearby tree or even building ledge to leap and attack.

The one important marking all of Katrilina’s feline and even her human form share is a pure white tail. Nobody is sure why exactly she always has the white tail, but it is a very distinguishing marking. While it might sometimes be troublesome, she really doesn’t mind it too much.

What do you think? Are these interesting cats? Katrilina’s feline forms make their debut appearance in Dream Angel #1, which can be found in the shop. Also found in the shop are the plush action figures of her leopard, lioness, panther and tiger forms.