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.

Friendly, accepting: Shin Tsurugi

shinShin Tsurugi is much more even-tempered than people think. Mostly, he’s passionate about protecting friends and loved ones. That passion has a habit of coming out in a way that seems a lot like anger.

Get to know him and you’ll find he very readily accepts people for who they are, regardless of what they look like. This is perhaps the best reason why Gina has a crush on him in spite of his polite rejection of her affection.

Due to his rejection, Gina actively pursues Katherine in an attempt to chase her away so Gina can steal him away. This sometimes causes trouble and his anger does come out to some degree. He’s very good at keeping it under control.
It’s not common, but his anger does come out, sometimes in frightening ways. His calm demeanor often fools people into thinking he doesn’t get angry at all when inside he may be seething with rage.

He’s excellent at swordplay. Together with Hanaji, he co-captained the high school kendo team and they were undefeated. He also earned several awards in school, as well.

On a planet full of unique fantasy-type nature and magic, finding the miniature katana that enables him to transform into Red Nite Soldier had to be the work of fate or something similar. There really is no other way to explain how he alone could find something so small, let alone figure out how to use it.

He and Hanaji figured out one another’s secrets very quickly – the two might as well be twins able to figure out when the other is lying or hiding a secret. They both knew about Dream Angel, but had no clue who she was at first. Frequently, the pair would come to the girl’s rescue when they’d hear about a fight going on.

What do you think? Is he an interesting character? He makes his comic book debut as Red Nite Soldier in Dream Angel #1which is available in the shop. Also available in the shop, is his plush action figure.

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!

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.

Deadly beauty: Akhlys

 

Akhlys is a deadly beauty. She’s beautiful and she knows it. She flaunts it. She welcomes guys falling over themselves at her feet.

Akhlys

The problem for those guys falling over themselves at her feet: poison gas and her temper.

Being the passive-aggressive type and vain, she often gets what she wants. When she doesn’t, the poor soul who resists gets poisoned.

Teikou no Senshi, for her natural resistance to poison, is often at the center of Akhlys’s anger. Having no fighting skill to speak of, Akhlys can’t stand that the younger girl is able to resist her poison and heal her victims as well.

Her charm and beauty is highly effective on men in particular. Among the few who’ve resisted are Dream Angel’s father and friends.

Trying to charm Jake Arum in particular, she found him more resistant than most. Not only did this anger her, it confused her as well. How could an ordinary man resist her so strongly? She didn’t know, but in her confusion, she didn’t poison him.

Unfortunately for Virgo, Torakatai, Red Nite Soldier and Blue Nite Soldier, her charm had more effect, but not for long. Upon trying to attack, she used her poison and they had to escape for help.

Even Ryu and Breezer have had to resist her charms and later, her poison gas.

Her debut appearance in comic books is Dream Angel #1, found in the shop. You’ll also find her charming and quite adorable plush action figure in the shop, as well. Luckily, her plush action figure can’t use poison gas the way she does in the comic books. All she wants is a hug instead! 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.

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!

Using 3D to make comic books part 3

STOP! Before you read part 3 of Using 3D to make comic books, you should read part 1 and part 2! If you’ve read them already, do feel free to continue reading!

Using 3D to make comics scenes rendered on my tablet while still out and about means I can pull the render into GIMP if I need to do post work, too. Literally, my work can go with me anywhere. Sure, the tablet can’t do everything the computer can, but it does a nice job of getting things started for the computer, which saves some time. Then I’m able to open the file in the computer and pick up where I left off while I was out.

Okay, that’s putting together the scene and making sure it’s a real eye pleaser, what about making it into a comic book? I wouldn’t doubt there’s other programs out there, but Manga Studio served me well for a long time before I discovered Comic Life. Now, you’ll notice all these programs have no links attached. I’m not affiliated with them, merely recommending them.

For my purposes, I wish I could combine the two into one program, but that seems quite unlikely. Manga Studio is indeed meant for hand-drawn comics and especially manga with a staggering array of tools and goodies for that purpose. I especially loved its layers palette, but it had its shortcomings for me, as well.

When I found Comic Life, I was struggling to create extended dialogue balloons in particular with Manga Studio. I didn’t have the expensive version of the program and couldn’t afford to get it anyway. I’d found a trial version of it and thought I might be able to setup my 3D scenes inside it, but found nothing for importing my own 3D models and accessories and its library limited to what it came with.

Comic Life offered the dialogue balloons I wanted and a nice assortment of other tools. It’s proven to be more intended for importing images and even fixing them in the program, which suited me far better as a 3D artist. I could just drag and drop my renders into the panel frames and if they needed fixing, I could do it right there without any headaches.

Using 3D to make comic books part 2

Using 3D to make comic books, for a beginner, DAZ Studio is a good one. It’s free, it’s not too difficult to handle until you start getting into the more advanced features, but for setting up and lighting a scene, it’s excellent for learning. Personally, I dove in with Poser 7.

Poser’s good, but I found myself often having trouble using it despite having a book to guide me. Other programs offer more heavy-duty features for making props, clothing, hair and other things, but as they get fancier, they get more expensive.

A leading complaint against using 3D I’ve often mentioned is that 3D figures and clothes look stiff and lifeless. You’ll be confronted by this, so be ready for it. I’ve begun to counteract it by making things more dynamic. Dynamic meaning realistic simulation of cloth in particular.

The other half of that complaint likely has to do with the lighting of the actor and its textures. That would mean it’s wise to pay close attention to the lighting of the scene when you do renders.

Just like pencil and paper, you need to pay close attention to even the smallest details in your renders as these are actually more noticeable in 3D unless you use depth of field to blur out the boo-boos in the background. What about the boo-boos of the character?

Some don’t like to be posed certain ways and can even poke through their clothes despite fixes. Well, post work is useful if you just can’t get the 3D to behave the way you want it to. The GIMP is an excellent freebie image editor that’s lightweight and easy on the computer.

One thing that’s been extremely handy for me is the ability to render scenes even on my little 2-in-1 Windows 10 tablet. Taking my library on the go and setting up characters, or even scenes has been a heavy-duty time saver, but it just doesn’t have the power of the computer.

That means I need programs that aren’t resource intense. DAZ and GIMP are a spectacular combination for this. Unless I setup a heavily complicated scene, my little tablet can render it. If I do setup a heavily complicated scene, I can save it to render on the computer.

 

 

Using 3D to make comic books Part 1

Using 3D to make comic books is a challenge in many ways, but don’t let that discourage you. If you love 3D and love the idea of making comic books, nothing should deter you from it.

Let’s look at some harsh realities to be sure you’re determined to follow this path. First of all, the comic book market is cut throat. These fans in general are hard core about how comics are written and drawn. Plenty of them just aren’t ready to accept comics rendered using 3D software.

If you’re like me, your hand drawings aren’t bad, but just not up to industry standards for some reason or another. My shortcomings include proportion and shading along with perspective and foreshortening. My drawings are good, but not impressive in the comic book world, yet I love making them. The solution to my problem became using 3D software to make up the artistic difference. This led to a whole new set of problems, though.

While characters, props and sets are consistent and look good, new problems arose. These included lighting, camera angle and composition like in the two images above. How then, to solve this problem? Study, practice, constantly scrounge around for tutorials to learn as much as possible. That’s still pretty much fumbling along in the dark, isn’t it? I’ve found that a good many movies have special features on the DVDs and frequently include featurettes talking about how the movie was made.

Using 3D is similar enough to making a movie that these lessons have been extremely valuable to me. They discuss lighting, camera angles and movement, ways to setup a scene for dramatic actions and all sorts of other related things.
Okay, it doesn’t have to worry about sewing costumes or anything along those lines, but making props, making up the actors, dressing actors, setting up a scene, placing the lights and cameras for the best effect and things like that? Definitely!

So, will it someday be accepted by the comic book industry? Probably. I’ve got a couple how to draw comics books that already discuss using these programs for background elements. I’ve seen others on the market and at the local library that use it for the cover or a photograph, even. It’s a slow transition so far and for 3D artists, it’s not going to be easy. Still want to make your own comics using these programs?