Legendary rainbow bird: Akasha NightWind

The legend of the rainbow bird is actually a global one. At its core, the same story has been found in South America, Asia and North America so far. it would come as no surprise to find it in other areas of the world as well. The story always has a consistent moral: kindness brings rewards.

Meet Akasha NightWind

Akasha NightWind is based on this diverse legend, but she’s got her own unique twists as well. Don’t let her size fool you, she’s fast enough in a dive to make a peregrine falcon look like it’s standing still. She might not look it, but she’s quite a raptor.

First Meetings

Like many of her other friends, Dream Angel found Akasha in a trap set by Nyxus and the Keres. With Teikou no Senshi’s healing power she was able to rescue and heal the small bird who became eternally grateful for the help. In return, Akasha now lives in the tree outside the Arum home. Thus enabling her to watch the neighborhood for trouble and alert Arora immediately.

Fast Flyer

Although she’s not usually found involved in the fighting, she’s been known to briefly join in and cause some confusion among Dream Angel’s enemies to give her the upper hand.

Aptly nicknamed the rainbow blur, more often than not, she’s exactly that: a blur. Not many can even rival her in a full dive. Even out of a dive, she’s very fast. This makes her able to fly fast reconnaissance or deliver messages very quickly.

Comic book appearance

Her comic book debut is Dream Angel #7, which can be found on this site in the shop. In the book, you’ll get to see her in action, but it’s recommended that you consider getting the books that came before it. If you do, the story and her appearance will make more sense to you.

You’ll also find her plush action figure in the shop with widespread wings hoping for a hug! Won’t you give her a hug?

Wonders for the new year!

Over the past few months, I’ve made it abundantly clear that I’m learning new skills to create wonderful new books. Well these wonders for the new year are definitely coming. When, it’s still hard to say, but they’re definitely coming. The evidence is in the recent renders, most of which are found in the Facebook group. Nevertheless, a few have snuck in here on the activity page.

A recent discovery is that the computer can in fact handle the more heavy-duty DAZ render engine called Iray. The difference in quality for the rendered images is very noticeable. For starters, Iray is a much more realistic render style. The lights bounce in a much more realistic manner, making it a bit more difficult to light a scene, but the result is worth the extra effort. It simply means planning the lighting more carefully.

A good example scene is this one:

3Delight did a nice job, but clearly it’s quite dark. Now, that’s both a good thing and a bad thing. It does create a nice mood, but the character is barely visible. On the other hand:

Iray looks quite realistic and vivid, doesn’t it? There’s even reflections for water on the ground. One thing of importance, however: 3Delight takes only a couple minutes to render. Yet with some adjustments, the lighting could be just as nice as the Iray. The Iray takes 2 hours and makes beautiful use of both an HDRI and scene lighting. So, it’s a matter of patience to use Iray.

Lessons like that are a regular thing so far. One such lesson occurred just yesterday. As you can see from the render above, Dream Angel is a “chibi” figure. Well, in making chibi forms for all the characters for funny moments in the books, I came to realized that a chibi horse is among the characters needed. Specifically for Daybright, Firebright and George. Unfortunately, a good chibi horse is hard to come by. I’m no modeling expert by far and certainly no expert at rigging 3D models. My earliest attempts were quite disastrous.

The lesson learned yesterday was that DAZ has tools for helping a great deal with rigging. If the model is made with another already rigged model as a guide. The result is still a work in progress, but quite cute:

Chibi Oriel is made from the same model as Dream Angel above, but chibi George was modeled from scratch and with help from another horse, has been rigged successfully. George still needs his final textures, but overall, he’s complete and very cute.

These wonders for the new year will be continuous and with further study – I know, it means delaying new books longer, but I think you’ll agree it’s worth it – new books will look much better than ever before.

So, Happy New Year and may it bring new surprises and wonders with it!

The studies continue…

As the studies continue, I find myself constantly learning new things. For a couple months now I’ve been working on a house model and while the mesh looks good, the textures tend to be… messed up.

Well, messed up textures haven’t slowed me down too much. Just another lesson needing to be learned and gradually, the lesson’s being learned. Happily, the lessons for lighting and cameras are being well practiced with increasingly promising results.

Take Captain America here for example:

Impressive, isn’t he? Don’t worry, he’s simply fan art practice. Still have to admit, he’d likely sell a few books if he were on the cover, wouldn’t he?

This one would make a fabulous cover, wouldn’t it? And she’s all mine! Isn’t Dream Angel just breathtaking in this shot?

Now, I bet you’re noticing she looks a little different from the usual renders. Well, I’ve changed the model I use for the character. Instead of Genesis, which is a generic model that can be male or female, I’m using Victoria. A mild difference, but one that’s making an impression. Clearly, Victoria is a more realistic model and definitely looks more feminine. Nyxus was the test example with impressive results:

Fabulous for a 10,000-year-old mother of five, isn’t she? I’m finding that depth of field is my best friend when combined with 3-point lighting, a good pose and dramatic camera angle. Studying up on the 7-point lighting and getting the image composition right will definitely be a good boost to the quality of art. I’m pretty good with Photoshop, but there’s a finesse to be studied in using it for post work. With all these elements more thoroughly studied and practiced, book rendering is likely to be staggering!

The plan for when the studies are consistently implemented successfully is to re-render Dream Angel #1-6. Okay, Dream Angel #1 2nd edition is good as it is, but I think there’s room for a little extra tweaking to step it up a notch or two. Where it’s considered #1.2, it’ll be 1.2 1/2 with the mild changes. After that, covers are going to be getting updated.

For now, the studies continue. This gives time to finish scripts, as well. So, keep your eyes peeled for updates and more impressive renders! You’ll find them in the Facebook group! Come join us! Promise we won’t let the vampires bite!

A Bat-Lesson well learned!

A Bat-Lesson is learned!

I learned a Bat-lesson yesterday. Okay, I’ll admit I’m not usually one to render fan art in 3D (my Sailor Moon fan comic is another story) but I’m starting to use mainstream superheroes for practice.

Nightwing came first!

Nightwing was the first and his renders, after a couple tries, turned out staggering. Like the poses I put him in, he rose to the challenge of looking impressive. His first, the lighting was too dark and he was barely visible. Adjusting the lights, he improved greatly. Changing his pose and tweaking the lights, he looked better. Changing his pose again and “morphing” him to superhero appearance, he’s a sight to behold.

nightwingplay2

Then came the Bat!

Batman, on the other hand, well, he looked good from the onset once I setup his figure. He got a wonderful moonlight forest background (I’m on the hunt for an equally awesome city background!) and considering the moonlight, I chose a darker lighting setup. Admittedly, I was afraid he’d have the same initial result as Nightwing – too dark to see him – but when the render showed up, my eyes went wide and the reaction was “Holy sh*t!”

He struck an imposing render and was very much impressive. Adding a camera and morphing the figure to superhero appearance helped, but the real awesomeness came from playing not with Batman himself, but the camera I pointed at him.

See, in my studies these last few months, things like lights and camera have been my focus and, no pun intended, the focus needed adjusting. By adjusting the depth of field and focal distance, I threw the background out of focus and rendered again. If the Bat was impressive before, this took him to a whole new level! He seemed to literally jump out from the background. The focus was entirely on Batman himself, though the background could still be effectively seen.

batscene2

The lesson: For a dark figure with dark lights and a dark background: throw the background out of focus! The result will knock your socks off!

Disclaimer: Batman and Nightwing of course belong to DC Comics. These renders are merely fan art done for practice!

Modeling studies and what’s been learned

As you know, I’ve been studying modeling and learning a lot in the process. These modeling studies and what’s been learned from them will be put to use in future books.

Why study modeling? Well, sometimes I just can’t quite find what I want in ready-made models. I might have a very specific idea in mind and just can’t find something to match. What to do then? I’ve very clumsily made my own models in the past and gotten lucky when they did what I wanted or looked close within reason to what I had in mind.

Lately, I’ve gotten the idea that if I can make reasonably good-looking models I can also sell them. Okay, it’s going to take a lot of practice to get to that point, but having that as a sort of sideline to the comics will help them, too. From that point of view, that makes these modeling studies worth the time, wouldn’t you agree?

One thing I’ve become particularly proud of is the ability to create my own dynamic cloth. Dynamic cloth being simulated cloth that drapes realistically on the 3D model. The theory with that being that used together with the cloth that’s not dynamic and simply has morphs to simulate the wrinkles and appearance of cloth, it can step up the look and feel of the characters to help against the “stiff and lifeless” complaint.

So, between being able to model my own stuff, use more realistic-looking clothes on characters, camera tricks and lighting that sets an effective mood, it’s safe to say future books will look even better than ever. It just means being patient while these new skills are learned and practiced. Don’t forget to come keep an eye on the activity streams page, though. I’ll be posting goodies there occasionally!

Happy Halloween 2016!

Okay, it’s a few days early to be saying Happy Halloween, but why not? There’s already Christmas stuff in stores. Halloween might be the day of the dead, but I’m still giving you a gift: 40% off your entire purchase. It can be used once per user and expires at midnight on Halloween. Let’s have a bit of fun with this, shall we? It’s not often these coupons show up.

How are the next comic books in line coming? Well, let’s say they’re on a semi-indefinite hold for the time being. That doesn’t mean they’ll never be made, it simply means new things are being learned to make them even better. All right, I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it: lighting, cameras, modeling, texturing and a number of other things are being studied in greater depth to give the scenes more life and to make them more believable. This means putting books on hold to learn the new skills. When they finally go into production, you’ll find them worth the wait and understand why they were delayed.

I dove in head first making books because the images were in my head and I wanted to render them before they “escaped” and I had trouble setting up the scenes. Since there are scripting slow-downs for the books, I thought I’d take advantage of the spare time to do some studying I should have done years ago. To be fair, many of the tutorials I’ve been looking at lately weren’t around when I started. Luckily, the studies have begun bearing fruit and happily, the results are improving by leaps and bounds.

So, when can you expect books to begin reappearing? That’s a hard question at this point. Techwarrior’s script is written through its 12th book – which is meant to be the last in the series unless popular demand calls for more. Dream Angel #24 is about 95% written. Still a few details to finish it off. Its script is roughed out to the beginning of #33 at this point. Hillbilly Hoot needs some sorting of details and various other things fixed, but it may well be moving along soon, too.

So again, Happy Halloween! Even if you don’t celebrate it, the coupon code is still a gift.

Happy 4th Anniversary, Dream Angel!!

Happy 4th anniversary, Dream Angel! On this day, 4 years ago, your first book became a finished reality. Now, 4 years later, you boast 23 books and a second edition of that first book. Your first story, some years ago, won second place at the county fair. A Barbie dressed in a handmade costume as Katrilina won first place and was stolen. Your first hand drawn comic was featured in a college newspaper.

dreamangel600There’s been more than enough ups and downs these last 4 years, but through it all, you’ve remained unforgettable to those who’ve enjoyed your stories. Although this year, the book release schedule has been slowed down considerably, patient fans will find the books to come worth the wait. Your counterpart Techwarrior had his first anniversary this year. Your newest counterpart Hillbilly Hoot has yet to celebrate his first anniversary next year with more books, but today’s about you.
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Through your many forms and various ideas, you’ve endured the years. Happy 4th anniversary and many, many more to come! You are indeed the shining golden goddess of the dawn.

Here’s your anniversary present, fans!

Now, to the good news you readers might enjoy: there’s a coupon floating around today only!! Here’s the code: 4thanniversary2016. It can only be used once per person, but 30% off is pretty good, so have some fun!! Simply put the code in during the checkout process to get the discount. Sorry, it doesn’t apply towards shipping – that’s something I can’t control, but it’s 30% off your entire purchase! That counts for something, right? So, head over to the shop and put it to work!!

All together now: HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, DREAM ANGEL!!

What have I been learning lately?

What have I been learning lately? A fair question and quite a valid one, considering how quiet it’s been for the most part. Well, since books have hit a standstill, I’ve been learning new things about lights and cameras. Grabbing every tutorial on the subject I can when I can. Anyone who’s read the earliest Dream Angel books will agree those are indeed weaknesses. True fans wouldn’t have those early books any other way, considering the visible evolution of the art through the books. Improving the art has always been and will always be a goal of this artist.

Now, I’ve noted that a leading complaint about CGI art is that it’s “stiff and lifeless.” Well, alongside the lights and cameras, I’ve been on the hunt for ways to solve that problem, as well. On the one hand, the stiff outfits with morphs are much easier to control and less taxing on the computer when rendering. Although, sometimes, a realistic drape is far more dramatic. I figure I might be able to use both at appropriate times to achieve the effects I want in the scene. Sometimes, a dynamic drape just doesn’t cooperate the way you want it to and it’s not an easy thing to control. I do wish to get some tutorials to help with mastering it, of course! So, the stiffer object with the morphs can take over in the meantime while I’m learning. Fair enough, right?

Taking time to learn new things is just as important as releasing new books, right? Admittedly, it’s been a couple months now since the last book was released, but I believe you’ll find the wait well worth it as books to come will benefit from what’s being learned. So, to finish up, I’ll share a couple of the recent renders and let you see what’s been going on behind the scenes.

Let’s have a look at those new

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Now, let me point out a couple things.

  1. Starting with the first image, lighting is good, but could still use some dramatic flair.
  2. Second one, there’s some drama going on. I’m willing to bet some color adjustments or other tweaks would take it over the top.
  3. The third one, with Techwarrior and his villain Cryptolock going at it is pretty dramatic. I’ll bet there’s some room to tweak it further. You’ll also notice that cape of Cryptolock’s is pretty stiff compared to the
  4. next image and its dynamically draped cape. Between the two, his scenes may well be considerably more dramatic and with dramatic lighting to match… Well, I think you can imagine the improvement.
  5. The next one has Techwarrior in his new dynamically draped outfit. Not so “stiff and lifeless” is he?
  6. The last is the newest with the “chibi” figure I recently found. Nothing dramatic here, just Dream Angel and Nyxus showing off with the new figure. This new figure is quite good, but there’s still going to be some hand-drawn chibi figures for comedic emphasis throughout the books. They’re intentionally cute, but good for the overly emotional chibi style of character infamous to manga.

As you can see, despite being quiet around here, there’s still plenty going on behind the scenes. So, what do you think? Any ideas, tips, suggestions?

So many books!

There’s so many books here already that it’s hard to keep track!

Let’s try, shall we? Our flagship series is Dream Angel standing at a fabulous 24 books 180da#1 (counting the second edition of Dream Angel #1180da2nd#1). The second series is Techwarrior tech1-180 with a fantastic 4 book setup waiting to blow readers away. Last, but not least is the smallest, and newest series, Hillbilly Hoot 13221633_1091311364240861_3680558582007933730_n and while he’s only got one book at the moment, it’s a wonder to behold.

What’s going to happen next with these three wonderful series?

Well, more books, of course! For the time being, new skills are being learned to improve the quality of these books. The study of lighting a scene has taken center stage, for one. It’s true what all the tutorials have been saying: “lighting can make or break a scene. Lighting is 90% of the art. Master that, and you’ve got a stunning scene!” What’s that mean? It means new books are put on hold to allow time to master that 90% and really step up the artistic quality of the books.

“But the books are already so beautiful artistically!”

There’s always room for improvement. Mastering lighting is one step closer. True, even someone who’s mastered their craft is always looking for ways to do it even better, but it helps to have the basics solidly learned. The learning process continues and happily, the results will continue to improve with time and practice.

Keep your eyes open for more eye-popping art to sneak in on the activity pages! You won’t want to miss it!

Thoughts time! What do you think of the books so far? Have you read any of them? If you haven’t, you really should hop over to the shop and grab a few! The earliest books might be a little rough around the edges artistically, but they improve gradually and you might be surprised by the most recent books.

Good news, Techwarrior fans!

Good news, Techwarrior fans!

A rough script for Techwarrior #5-12 has been completed. When the series was started, a 12 book run was proposed, so having the script complete makes it one step closer to rendering. Now, before you get all excited, note that this series is a collaboration. The script has to be approved before rendering can start, and that takes some time sometimes.

Once the script is approved, however, expect books to begin appearing regularly through the 12th book. This is good news for Techwarrior fans, is it not?

What about Dream Angel and Hillbilly Hoot?

Dream Angel at this point is a larger collaboration. Getting the minds involved to do their part has been a slow process I’d hoped would be done long before the book’s time to be rendered. It hasn’t happened that way. The current story arc has been more than a year in the making. Having fellow creative minds involved has in fact slowed down the usual pace for rendering and releasing. Fortunately, things are beginning to pick up gradually and the writing may soon be completed for the arc.

Hillbilly Hoot is another collaboration and health issues have been slowing it down. Life has kept the minds involved with these books quite busy, so it’s difficult to keep a regular schedule at times. Fortunately, these are independently created and released, so there’s no publisher schedule to keep, merely a personal one.

Still fun to be had!

Have you checked out the activity streams page lately? There’s some cool blitz art challenges going on there! Even if you’re not the artsy type, the idea’s to draw what you see and I like to think anyone can do that, no matter how bad they might think they are at drawing! So, come on! We don’t judge! Just have fun with it and enjoy! Despite what people might think, even tracing can be artistic and I can say from experience, it helps with learning to draw, as well.