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.

Stubborn grandmother: Mrs. Arum

mrs. arumMrs. Arum is a stubborn sort. When I wrote her part in the comics, I decided she’d be Jake’s mother. I took my time designing her. I shopped around some for her look. Plainly seen from her hair, Arora gets her appearance from her grandmother. The difference is Mrs. Arum keeps her hair in a French braid instead of a ponytail.

The idea behind her character is to be a balance of feminine and masculine and *minor spoiler here* since she’s a retired construction worker, wear appropriate attire. Clearly, from her blouse, she chooses to show her profession, but the lace collar shows also that she’s still female. She picked her wardrobe carefully so she wouldn’t be a distraction in the workplace, but would still retain her femininity.

Retaining her femininity with such a commonly masculine profession presented a problem for me when it came to designing her outfit. I finally settled on a fitted blouse with lace on the collar to be the primary feature. From there, it was a matter of the color and print of the blouse. I thought of using a flowered print, but Dad found the flannel with construction equipment that might as well have screamed her name.

According to the story, she doesn’t trust Dream Angel or her friends in the slightest and doesn’t want her “Jakie” to have anything to do with them either. Naturally, she doesn’t know who Dream Angel is: her granddaughter. This tends to cause unwanted friction when the heroes are struggling to keep her safe.
Even Jake has to take a more stern approach to getting his mother out of harm’s way, much to her displeasure. Luckily, when she realizes what’s going on, she does finally get out of harm’s way.

What do you think? Is she an interesting character? She makes her comic book debut in Dream Angel #7, which is available in the shop. Getting the books that came before it is highly recommended so the story makes sense! Also available in the shop is her plush action figure.

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.

Tough leadership: Torakatai

torakataiTorakatai means “tough tiger” and as his name suggests, he’s a tough tiger. As if the scars wouldn’t give that away, right? He fought hard for the rank of village leader and has yet to find another to challenge him for the right. Victor of many battles, excellent leader and in top condition.

He was wary of Dream Angel when Virgo introduced her to the village and with good reason. He’d met Nyxus some years before and her promises of keeping the Sunless Mountains untouched proved false. Nyxus came in later destroying homes, entire species, ruining water supplies, and chasing off critical food supplies for many. He knew who to blame for the famine in his village, but was still careful when the strange orange clad winged girl was brought to him.

When he finally learned why she fights Nyxus, he began to consider helping, but his responsibility to the village didn’t give him much chance for thought. When Nyxus returned to the area to once again destroy and Dream Angel took a stand against her to help the village, he ordered his tiger warriors to back her up. Back her up they did, and very effectively as she had some fighting skill, that was clear to Torakatai, but she needed some more advanced training.

After that fight, not only did he accept her offer of friendship, but offer heavy-duty battle training. It was during this time that she found she could do different things with the feathers of her wings. Several of which have come in very handy.

Torakatai is also the one who introduced Ryu to Dream Angel during an especially bad crisis to which the tiger man had no solution. It was hoped that with Ryu’s magic a solution could be found. It was after some difficulty deciphering what the dragon had to say.

What do you think? Is Torakatai an interesting character? He makes his comic book debut in Dream Angel #22, which is available in the shop. Getting the books before it is highly recommended so the story makes sense. Also available in the shop is his plus action figure.

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.

Patient older brother: Virgo FireKeeper

virgoVirgo FireKeeper is a dedicated older brother. Dedicated to avenging his parents’ murders, that is. Of course, today’s question is where did this tiger man come from and what makes him so special in the Dream Angel universe?

I have a decent respect for a number of interesting subjects. Mythology, fantasy, the occult, religion, just to name a few. Astrology is another that’s come around in my various readings. The interest in that one can be traced to Sailor Moon. Not many know that I have a very firm love of Sailor Moon. Fewer know that I didn’t fully get involved in the series as a whole until high school – long after the manga and anime had come out initially.

Before discovering a strong love of Sailors Uranus and Neptune (the latter of whom I’m quite a bit like), I held a healthy respect for Sailor Mercury as I could readily relate to the bookish genius girl and her inability to effectively socialize with others. It’s fair to say I’m not a genius in the same sense as she is with her IQ of 300, but being bookish and unable to effectively socialize with others fits me quite well. What’s this got to do with the tiger man Virgo? Well, I’m getting to that, if you’ll bear with me a moment.

For those that might not know, the characters of the Sailor Moon universe are heavily based on Greek and Roman mythology, but also astrology. My relating to Sailor Mercury translates over to Virgo. According to astrology, Sailor Mercury’s sign is Virgo. See where he gets his name? The source of his character design comes from a strong love and respect of tigers mixed with a love of manga/anime cat-people.

In the real world, tigers are endangered, in the Dream Angel universe, tiger people are even closer to extinction. With his parents’ murders, Virgo finds his reason to fight against Nyxus and begins to fight for his species’ survival as well. Along the way, Dream Angel becomes a friend and valuable ally.

What do you think? Is Virgo an interesting character? Virgo makes his comic book debut in Dream Angel #6, which is available in the shop. Getting the books that came before it is highly recommended, so the story makes sense. Also available in the shop is his plush action figure.

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.

 

 

Stubborn grandmother: Mrs. Arum

mrs. arumMrs. Arum is a stubborn sort. When I wrote her part in the comics, I decided she’d be Jake’s mother. I took my time designing her. I shopped around some for her look. Plainly seen from her hair, Arora gets her appearance from her grandmother. The difference is Mrs. Arum keeps her hair in a French braid instead of a ponytail.

The idea behind her character is to be a balance of feminine and masculine and *minor spoiler here* since she’s a retired construction worker, wear appropriate attire. Clearly, from her blouse, she chooses to show her profession, but the lace collar shows also that she’s still female. She picked her wardrobe carefully so she wouldn’t be a distraction in the workplace, but would still retain her femininity.

Retaining her femininity with such a commonly masculine profession presented a problem for me when it came to designing her outfit. I finally settled on a fitted blouse with lace on the collar to be the primary feature. From there, it was a matter of the color and print of the blouse. I thought of using a flowered print, but Dad found the flannel with construction equipment that might as well have screamed her name.

According to the story, she doesn’t trust Dream Angel or her friends in the slightest and doesn’t want her “Jakie” to have anything to do with them either. Naturally, she doesn’t know who Dream Angel is: her granddaughter. This tends to cause unwanted friction when the heroes are struggling to keep her safe.
Even Jake has to take a more stern approach to getting his mother out of harm’s way, much to her displeasure. Luckily, when she realizes what’s going on, she does finally get out of harm’s way.

What do you think? Is she an interesting character? She makes her comic book debut in Dream Angel #7, which is available in the shop. Getting the books that came before it is highly recommended so the story makes sense! Also available in the shop is her plush action figure.

Hero of the single blade: Blue Nite Soldier

Blue Nite Soldier is still quite a mystery, even to him. He knows a power allows him to transform, but doesn’t know if he has any special powers.

blue nite soldier

He wields a singular sword with great skill and courage. Even Ryu hasn’t been able to determine the source of his transformation power or why he has it.

A friend of Dream Angel’s since childhood, he discovered his own power and soon after saw her fighting alone. He joined the fight and to her surprise, helped her win. Quietly disappearing immediately after, he made a habit of helping her when he could until they both discovered their mutual secrets.

With the discovery of secrets came communications tools that helped him respond faster when she got into a fight. This helped more than once to turn the tables in her favor and chase away the attacking villains.

Being co-captain of the high school fencing/kendo team, he handles a blade well. His affection for Dream Angel both in and out of costume is evident to everyone but Arora and him. This creates often funny situations as their friends will set them up in romantic situations and disappear sometimes. Other times, they’ll suggest a double date and also sometimes disappear or at least be elsewhere, but still in sight.

Blue Nite Soldier’s comic book debut is Dream Angel #1, which can be found in the shop. Also found in the shop is the Blue Nite Soldier outfit for Hanaji Camridon and a magnetic soft sword for him to hold. The sword isn’t recommended for young children because of its size and potential choking hazard. For older children and collectors, it can be a great deal of fun. He loves hugs! Will you give him a hug?

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?