Discredited elite: Xalibe WildClaw

xalibeXalibe WildClaw is almost as nasty as his mistress. He’s a Reprobate Elite and a ruthless opponent. He’s the first Elite Dream Angel and her friends go up against. He’s also the one that comes close to killing Dream Angel in one of their early battles.

Had her mother not intervened with fellow officers and started shooting at him, he would have succeeded. He would have seen to it her death was swift, just like all previous rebel leaders he’d defeated.

In Dream Angel’s first three years of fighting, his fall from grace led to harsher and harsher punishment. Until he was finally demoted to dungeon guard duty. His final fight as leader of the Elite, is his comic book debut in Dream Angel #1.
As a final indignity, he loses the fight to Dream Angel’s retired wrestling legend father, Jake Arum. The heroes escape with Jake and Xalibe has to face the punishment which is his demotion.

Upon his demotion, he vows to himself to destroy Dream Angel and her friends, no matter what it takes. This begins causing friction between him and his former second, Daragon.

Daragon IronWeasel is given Xalibe’s duty of destroying the upstart rebel band. This doesn’t sit well with Xalibe, so he starts interfering with Daragon’s plans in an effort to get back in Nyxus’s good graces.

He secretly helps the heroes out of a few tight spots, but along the way learns more about them. This leads him to wonder if he’s even doing the right thing. He sets that aside and focuses on his goal, though.

Since he’s the only Elite on dungeon guard duty. He always returns before Daragon, Daragon can’t prove anything against Xalibe.

What do you think? Is Xalibe 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 plush action figure.

Deadly legend: Nyxus’s wyvern form

nyxus wyvernThere is a great deal that is unknown about Nyxus’s wyvern form and Nyxus herself isn’t likely to tell. Some say it happens every 100 years, some say every 5 years. There is even a heated debate about if she’s a true wyvern in this form or not.

Some legends tell that this transformation is a once every 100 years type that only lasts 24 hours. It happens just after a full solar eclipse and for the following 24 hours, she’s large enough to cause a great deal of damage.

There are some key differences between a dragon and a wyvern, as Ryu would point out. A wyvern only has two legs, is usually darker and much uglier in color compared to a dragon, who is brighter colored. The most important difference Ryu would point out though, is that a wyvern can’t breathe fire. That alone is a plus in favor of the heroes since they have a bad encounter with Nyxus after she takes this form.

With all the legends and controversy surrounding this form, debates often get heated. Even the Keres won’t divulge the facts about it as it’s a key advantage to keeping the people under control. The legends all say death surrounds this black creature and that angering it is a sure way to die.

The one redeeming factor is that once the 24 hours have passed, Nyxus is in a weakened state. This is a little-known fact, though as she uses fear to keep people from attacking her while she’s weak. This is one time she puts the whole castle on ultra-high alert and assures nobody will come anywhere near while she recovers.
In spite of the fact that Ryu can defeat her in this form, he still needs Dream Angel’s help. Dream Angel, in turn, needs a boost in power to achieve the strength needed to help defeat her. The problem with that is the new power is difficult to control and leaves her exhausted.

What do you think? Is she an interesting character? She makes her comic book debut in Dream Angel #10, which is available in the shop. It’s a good idea to consider getting the books that came before it and there’s collection books to help with this. Also in the shop is her plush action figure.

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.

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.

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 legend: Nyxus’s wyvern form

nyxus wyvernThere is a great deal that is unknown about Nyxus’s wyvern form and Nyxus herself isn’t likely to tell. Some say it happens every 100 years, some say every 5 years. There is even a heated debate about if she’s a true wyvern in this form or not.

Some legends tell that this transformation is a once every 100 years type that only lasts 24 hours. It happens just after a full solar eclipse and for the following 24 hours, she’s large enough to cause a great deal of damage.

There are some key differences between a dragon and a wyvern, as Ryu would point out. A wyvern only has two legs, is usually darker and much uglier in color compared to a dragon, who is brighter colored. The most important difference Ryu would point out though, is that a wyvern can’t breathe fire. That alone is a plus in favor of the heroes since they have a bad encounter with Nyxus after she takes this form.

With all the legends and controversy surrounding this form, debates often get heated. Even the Keres won’t divulge the facts about it as it’s a key advantage to keeping the people under control. The legends all say death surrounds this black creature and that angering it is a sure way to die.

The one redeeming factor is that once the 24 hours have passed, Nyxus is in a weakened state. This is a little-known fact, though as she uses fear to keep people from attacking her while she’s weak. This is one time she puts the whole castle on ultra-high alert and assures nobody will come anywhere near while she recovers.
In spite of the fact that Ryu can defeat her in this form, he still needs Dream Angel’s help. Dream Angel, in turn, needs a boost in power to achieve the strength needed to help defeat her. The problem with that is the new power is difficult to control and leaves her exhausted.

What do you think? Is she an interesting character? She makes her comic book debut in Dream Angel #10, which is available in the shop. It’s a good idea to consider getting the books that came before it and there’s collection books to help with this. Also in the shop is her plush action figure.

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.

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.