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!

Fast, fiery, Firebright!

The last thing anyone wants is Firebright angry. This fiery steed is a stallion through and through. He’ll attack Reprobates unprovoked and without mercy.
He’s an exact opposite of his twin, Daybright who has a laid-back personality and loves to just romp and play.

firebright

The only one who can calm Firebright down is Blue Nite Soldier. This is a one-rider stallion and even Blue Nite Soldier sometimes has trouble with him.
Firebright hates Reprobates, harpies and most of all, the giant vampire roaches. Unfortunate victims of Jerigel SwampFang or not, he’ll attack.

The only other person Firebright tolerates is Dream Angel. The only reason he would is if Blue Nite Soldier isn’t around to give him direction. He may be a wild stallion, but he still looks to Blue Nite Soldier for guidance.

His special ability is to become a blazing inferno and melt through just about anything. Combined with Dream Angel’s own fiery power, the blaze can approach supernova heat. This combination leaves both Dream Angel and Firebright completely exhausted.

The Keres don’t even want to cross his path. He knows his enemies and is unforgiving. At one time or another, he has had a bad experience with all the Dream Angel villains. This has left him bitter toward them and he isn’t the type to forgive. This makes him dangerous toward them.

He’s a stunning stallion and a wonder to behold in flight. The last thing anyone wants is him to be angry. His twin tends to solve the problem squirting water in his face in play. Being a horse of fire, he doesn’t like it much, but it does calm him down anyway.

In spite of his savage attitude most of the time, he’s a lovable stallion. He has gone romping with his twin.

What do you think? Is Firebright an interesting character? Firebright’s comic book debut is Dream Angel #2, which is available in the shop. It’s recommended you get Dream Angel #1 so the story makes sense! Also available in the shop is his plush action figure who loves to be hugged and cuddled.

Using 3D to make comic books part 5

Using 3D to make comic books is a process that can be both rewarding and frustrating. Too often you’ll hear “3D isn’t art!” or similar. I’ve even heard “You should use Poser because Daz Studio is a crappy freebie!” Personally, I laugh and walk away from both.

To the “3D isn’t art” people, (if I were to bother arguing, which I don’t!) the question would be simple: what is it, then? Okay, I’m not putting pencil to paper, but even drawing in Photoshop isn’t putting pencil to paper. Does that make it not art, too? Movies are very much like 3D. I have to think like a director. Where do I want the lights, cameras, actors, props and even special effects? So, if 3D isn’t art, what are movies?

As for the “you should use Poser” bunch, I can simply say “to each his own.” I’ve played with Poser and frankly, didn’t like it much. I found the UI clunky and difficult to navigate, but that’s just me. I could easily say “Poser is expensive and has a crappy user interface, Daz is better because it’s a freebie!” To counter both, I could argue Blender is better or Zbrush. It’s merely a matter of personal preference there. For me, there’s features I like from many different programs that do different things. For example, there’s things I prefer doing in Gimp over Photoshop and vice versa.

Using 3D to make comic books has many challenges. The learning curve, the harsh (and sometimes stupid-sounding) critics and a whole lot of other things. Is it easier than putting pencil to paper the traditional way? No. You might not have to worry about proportion and shading, but you will have to worry about camera angle and lighting, which can be just as hard to figure out. Just like traditional comic book art, using 3D to make comic books is far from being easy. It might make a few things easier, but other things easily make it harder.

True, having a complete library of ready-to-go characters makes them easier, but that’s only one small piece of the puzzle. The comic book would be awful boring with an empty scene that only has a dressed character in a T pose and no lighting or cameras, right? Just because the characters and a few other things might be ready-to-go, doesn’t make it ready-to-render out of the box.

Take Blue Nite Soldier in the render above for example. That took about two hours to setup. The background and lighting were covered by an HDRI and yes, that makes things a little easier, but he originally popped out so brightly that it looked like he was a paper cut-out simply pasted on the background instead of a character in the scene. Even his sword blended into the background. Safe to say, there was a long list of problems that made the scene look awful.

For him to look like he belonged (mind you, this scene was simply for practice) he needed a counterpart that already looked like he belonged. Sorry, Zelda fans, but I’m not posting the renders that include him, but I will say he helped our boy Blue Nite Soldier look better. Link happens to be similar enough to Blue Nite Soldier that a pose that looked good for one, looked good for the other. He also already looked like he belonged in the scene, so using him for reference to tweak Blue’s appearance worked nicely.

Now, I’m well aware that Blue’s cape has the “stiff” complaint as a possibility, but hear me out on this: for practice, dynamic cloth isn’t really worth the trouble. Even on a faster computer, it takes time to drape and get the wind forces just right. Where a morphing “stiff” cape lets me focus on practicing the pose and camera setup instead while still looking reasonably decent. I call it his practice cape. If I want to practice with his dynamic cape, I’d be doing that, but I wasn’t in this case. True, it’s possible for me to use either one in the books. If he’s in the background doing something, he’s more likely to have the morphing cape, but if he’s in the foreground doing something, the dynamic cape would look much better. For him, it’s a situational piece of his outfit.

Looking once again at that scene, there are a couple flaws: he’s got a bit of poke-through on his leg and his right hand (the one not holding the sword) blends in with the background so it’s harder to see. So, as you can see, it’s not a perfect scene. Were I to move his right arm a little and adjust his pants (or shoes), it would be potentially an excellent book cover or poster. He’s photo-realistic with a cool pose, interesting camera angle and good background.

Is using 3D to make comic books hard? Absolutely. Especially since learning to use the programs can be the hardest step of all! Finding the right program for your preferences alone can be a major challenge. I’ve tried a good variety and usually find myself coming right back to Daz Studio. That doesn’t stop me from learning about others and maybe find a niche where they can help my workflow. Carrara’s a great example of that.

Carrara’s best described as Daz’s “big sister” program, though it seems to have been abandoned. Sadly, there aren’t a lot of tutorials for using it (that I’ve been able to find) but I’ve found it a wonderful niche in my workflow: creating HDRI renders. What would take Daz potentially days, Carrara does in about 20 minutes. Even better, they share the 3D library that houses all the scenes and props. True, Carrara doesn’t always like loading these things the way Daz does, but a little tweaking goes a long way and the result is worth some argument. There’s plenty still to learn about Carrara and more often than not, I find myself fumbling along in the dark through trial and error. Yet, things like this:

Allow for both fun and practice. Sometimes, also for special effects in the books, as well.

As difficult as using 3D to make comic books is, it’s not really any harder or easier than traditional media. It might make some things easier only to make others harder, so saying it’s easy isn’t true at all. That simple video clip of the blocks falling? It’s a blooper. It wasn’t supposed to do that until something hit them. The scene above that’s a kitchen? That’s a straight-out-of-the-box setup except for my making the lights into light-emitting surfaces and even that took a good amount of time to get just right.

Is it easy? No. Can it be fun and seem easy? Sure. There’s plenty of basics that, once learned, can become like second nature and to a complete novice seem easy. Again, the same can be said of traditional media. An artist that’s been painting for, say, 5 years, looks like an expert to someone that’s been painting only a week. The person that’s been at it longer makes it look easy because they’ve been practicing for a much longer time. So, is 3D art? Yes. Can it seem easy to someone who hasn’t used it? Definitely.

It’s easy to be discouraged by haters and doubters. Just know this: when 3D catches on as an accepted media (and it will eventually catch on!) for comic books, remember who the haters and doubters were. Then watch them change their opinion in a hurry when they see how much better you’ve gotten despite their hate and doubt. The real takeaway here is simple: never stop practicing!

A friendly, cuddly spider: Bitsy

Bitsy FireKeeper is probably the biggest hero of all, despite being among the smallest in size. Spiders tend to scare people, but this one only looks frightening to most. The soft pink and white hairs on her body are sensitive to touch and like a dog or cat, she enjoys being stroked and cuddled.

bitsyShe’s the pet of Keru Firekeeper, younger brother of Virgo FireKeeper. A loyal and very loving friend for Keru.

Upon the discovery of her venom being toxic primarily to insects, including vampire cockroaches, Dream Angel started encouraging Keru, accompanied by Athalia, to join the battles.

Most of the heroes would prefer to keep their distance from the spider, but they all understand she’s not aggressive towards them and likely wouldn’t hurt them.
Reprobates, Harpies, vampire cockroaches, Jerigel and the Keres sisters all hate Bitsy. Though she’s not very dangerous to most, the roaches and Jerigel in particular panic at the sight of her.

A bite from Bitsy isn’t fatal to any creature except insects. To the vampire insects, her bite has another effect, though. This bite causes the vampire to return to human form, shedding the insect form permanently. Unfortunately, they panic at the sight of her, making it very difficult to successfully bite even one. On the plus side, they scatter very quickly making for fast escapes from the castle when she and Keru are found inside.

Bitsy FireKeeper makes her comic book debut in Dream Angel #8, which can be found in the shop. It’s highly recommended that you get the books that came before so the story makes sense! Also found in the shop is her plush action figure. She’s highly fond of hugs and can never get enough! Will you give this beautiful, soft and very cuddly spider a hug?

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.

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.

Playful but dangerous Daybright

Daybright is today’s special feature. This even-tempered stallion might seem boring to some since it takes quite a bit to really upset his calm demeanor. Just like his twin, however, he only allows one rider: Red Nite Soldier.

daybright

According to mythology, (depending on the story you find) Daybright was one of the two horses that drew the Sun God Apollo’s chariot across the sky each day and was cared for by Apollo’s sister Aurora, Goddess of the Dawn.

So, he’s not especially interesting mythologically, he’s not especially interesting unless he’s angered in my story, why should you care? Hmmmm…. He’s cute? Just a little chuckle there. He’s more than just cute and he does get interesting in battle. Very interesting at times.

His interest lies in the most dangerous and desperate situations, though. His special ability is to become water. It doesn’t happen often and only when all other options are exhausted, but he has gotten our heroes out of a couple very tight scrapes.

I bet you’re wondering why a horse that in mythology would draw the sun chariot across the sky would be able to turn into water. Well, that’s a good question… I’ll leave that up to your imagination.

What do you think? Is Daybright an interesting character? Daybright makes his comic book debut in Dream Angel #2, which can be found in the shop. Also found in the shop is his soft, cuddly plush action figure. Who, like his human counterparts, has a full wire armature that makes him able to stand on his own and hold a pose.

 

Fascinating Foxy!

Foxy is unique. Japanese mythology tells us that the Kitsune (pronounced “kit” as in sewing kit, “su” as in suit and “ne” as in negative) is a mythological fox demon that would entrap a warrior’s mind and then kill him. The more tails the demon had, the more powerful it was, with 9 tails being the maximum.

foxy

Foxy isn’t too different from her mythical counterparts, but she has her share of twists. For one thing, she’s bio-mechanical. She chose the mechanics to enhance her power, plus she got tired of trying to find clothes that fit over 9 bushy fox tails. Mechanical parts solved the problem for her.

She’s certainly nobody’s fool and hates being tricked. She’ll fight for a good cause and frequently wins the fight. She’s also one of the very few that can go toe-to-toe with Hellbot and possibly defeat him. Clever and sometimes unpredictable, she’d rather not fight at all.

Since she is a Kitsune, her powers include mental manipulation, but the catch is her power only works on the male mind. Also similar to her mythical counterparts, she possesses the ability to shape shift, but can only hold a different form for a short time in spite of her increased power from being bio-mechanical.

Of the two classifications of Kitsune, she might seem to be right in the middle. Neither benevolent nor malicious in the end. She might pull a prank on someone one moment and help them the next with a problem. It’s not really in her nature to want to cause harm, though she sometimes does.

If she finds out she’s been tricked into doing something she’ll do what she can to undo the trick and maybe even utilize some tricks of her own to settle the score.
What do you think? Is she an interesting character?

Foxy’s comic book debut is Dream Angel #3, which is available in the shop. It’s recommended you get the books that came before it so the story makes sense! Also available in the shop is her plush action figure, who loves being hugged.

Double-wielding jokester: Red Nite Soldier

red nite soldierLover-boy, double-wielding warrior, jokester – Red Nite Soldier is a surprise package villains don’t want to cross. He very efficiently wields his katana and if needed, his short sword.

He and Katrilina make a very formidable pair in battle. He’s even sometimes seen on her back when she’s one of her favorite large felines. Like a knight atop a black charger, spotted charger, brownish-gold charger or even striped charger, they’ve been known to turn the tide of a battle very quickly.

His katana was a gift from Ryu and specially forged to give him extra protection. His short sword is a gift from Kiryoku and blessed with its own powerful virtues. It’s not known if he has any power, but his blades sure have a magic of their own.
Kendo champion and team co-captain in high school, he definitely has the skill to handle his blades. Fast, smart and quite dangerous.

Combined with his steed Daybright, he’s especially formidable. Add in Blue Nite Soldier and Firebright and you get a foursome that can plow through just about anything.

What do you think? Is he an interesting character? He makes his comic book debut in Dream Angel #1, which is available in the shop. Also available in the shop is his outfit for Shin Tsurugi.

Using 3D to make comic books part 4

Using 3D to make comic books, as I’ve said, is quite the challenge. There’s a lot to take into consideration and I’ve only scratched the surface so far with these little postings. It’s definitely recommended you read parts 1, 2 and 3 before this one.

Okay, you’ve rendered awesome scenes, put them together in Comic Life and made them into a cool book. Now what? Well, this is actually the hardest part: getting it to sell. See, 3D is more widely used for porn comics, which makes it tougher to sell to other people. Add in the common complaints about it that I’ve read about and you’re going to find a lot of very harsh critics that won’t even give you a fair chance.

What are those common complaints? One is “stiff, lifeless figures.” Well, this one is harsh on rookies with the medium. Unless you are a fast learner especially with lights, cameras and textures, figures are going to look awkward while you’re learning. The same can be said of hand drawn characters, too though!

Ask for comments to learn from and ignore the ones that are blatant put-downs. You’ll probably be asked if you modeled the characters yourself. Odds are, you didn’t but don’t let that bother you! You’re still learning! So am I! So is anyone that can call themselves an artist. If they claim to be a master and don’t think there’s anything left to learn, they’re never going to grow as an artist and their work will go stale.

Another complaint is stiff clothes. On this one, I’m willing to agree, but only to a point. If you’re like me, your computer’s limits are where you have to draw the line. Realistic cloth simulation is possible and looks incredible, but uses an unbelievable amount of power from the computer!