Mercenary sense of humor: Lauren

laurenLauren is a mercenary, but what you don’t know about her is that she doesn’t always join the conflict for personal gain or money. Sometimes she’ll join the conflict just to laugh. As the conflicting parties wind up in a state of complete confusion as a result of something she said or did.

She doesn’t often admit it, but she doesn’t approve of what Nyxus and the Keres do. To keep her neutrality, she’ll betray both sides and laugh at them.

Ah, but all that’s common knowledge, you say. Well, here’s the uncommon knowledge: her outfit idea came from an ice skating outfit. Why do you need to know that? Well, it’s a nice bit of background trivia. It’s like asking why you’d need to know that a fly on a drawing table inspired Spider-man.

Lauren’s the mercenary with a heart and a conscience, as well. If she feels responsible for the destruction between hero and villain, she’ll find ways to help the victims. She and Teikou no Senshi are the ones found sifting through rubble, searching for victims in spite of a rocky relationship.

She’s also known to be a sort of referee between the heroes and villains. Though she has no power of her own, besides intelligence, she does sometimes get between battling pairs and break the fight up.

I could go on and on, so I’ll speed things up and summarize with a list:
Lauren:
1. is a mercenary
2. is intelligent
3. goes searching for victims
4. sometimes feels responsible for the victims
5. has no power of her own
6. loves a good joke
7. plays pranks on both hero and villain
8. doesn’t approve what the villains do
9. gets the job done
10. her outfit idea came from a skating outfit

Still pretty common knowledge, but then I didn’t promise anything you might not already know. Just stuff you need to know about her.

So, what do you think of Lauren? Is she an interesting character? Lauren makes her comic book debut in Dream Angel #7, which is available 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 her plush action figure.

What’s a leading lady without her best friend? Here she is: Elizabeth!

Clever, quick-witted Ellie, short for Elizabeth, is a fun girl to be around. She might sometimes play a harmless prank, but always in fun so no feelings are hurt. Usually, her little pranks are in fun to get Arora laughing.

elizabeth amphitrite

The two girls are complete opposites, but get along perfectly. Arora tends to like spending a day at the mall mostly window shopping to unwind, Ellie would rather be outside in the fresh air and sunshine, but goes along with her best friend anyway. This isn’t to say they don’t switch off.

Generally, both girls would rather be at an easel than anywhere else. Both have artistic tendencies and find painting a very soothing activity. Both are peaceful girls, but neither wants to see or be bullied. Both will come to the defense of a bullying victim if they should see it happening. Being bullied doesn’t happen often and the bully more often takes to their heels and leaves in disgust.

Ellie also has a leaning toward science. She enjoys exploring old ruins and is sometimes found helping scientists at dig sites. While she enjoys finding interesting artifacts, she enjoys just as much sketching them or taking photos. Sometimes to take a break, she’ll do a painting of the dig site. More than once, the newspaper has bought these paintings when something significant is found.

Ellie’s name holds some meaning of its own. Amphitrite, if you follow the mythology carefully, is the wife of Poseidon, god of the seas. Since water has healing properties, she has healing power as Teikou no Senshi. This makes her both a perfect opponent for Nosos and Nosos’s primary target.

What do you think? Is she an interesting character? Her comic book debut is Dream Angel #1, found in the store. Also found in the shop is her plush action figure who loves hugs.

The ups and downs of HDRI

The ups and downs of HDRI might as well be a roller coaster. Permit me to share a story.

For the longest time, I thought I couldn’t use the fancy new render engine DAZ rolled out with 4.8: Iray. I longed to play with the photo realistic render engine, but having an AMD video card instead of the NVidia the specs called for, I thought I couldn’t.

Fast forward to just before Christmas 2016 and DAZ 4.9. I made a curious discovery about the list of installed stuff in the install manager: a public beta build of DAZ 4.9. So, I tracked it down among my programs and opened it. Played with it some and got curious about the render settings. What should my curiosity behold, but that NVidia Iray was available to play with!

So, I explored, dabbled and started tracking down tutorials. Fast forward again to about mid March 2017. After multiple not-so-good attempts at making my own HDRIs with Carrara. I still have trouble with the lighting in that one. I was exploring a favorite group for 3D artists on Facebook and stumbled across an image that could be rotated 360 degrees. To go with it, a youtube tutorial video on how the trick was done!

Well, again, I dabbled and played. Made a neat city 360 followed by a scene from Techwarrior #5 and put them on Facebook to a very receptive reaction. I realized I could convert that city 360 to an HDRI and use it as a background for renders. Well, you won’t catch me using 3Delight anymore! Scenes with an HDRI background render very quickly even on my older computer and they look amazing!

HDRIs are wonderful as both light and background, but – and this is the downside – they take a long time to render! Smaller size and resolution just won’t work with these bad boys. The ratio suggested in that tutorial was 2 to 1 with a size of about 4000 by 2000 pixels. Be ready for a long wait unless you’re able to despeckle and sharpen effectively in Photoshop. Here’s what I mean:

Not the greatest picture I’ll admit, but this one’s been at it 14 hours and it’s still pretty grainy.

Personally, I set the render time to 24 hours so it would have plenty of time to render as cleanly as possible. Know how many seconds that is? 86,400 seconds! Now, as I’ve pointed out on Facebook, once this is rendered, it can be used time and again as a background and light source without bogging down the scene I’m trying to render. So, when it comes down to brass tacks, the occasional 24 hour render like this isn’t too horrible, right?

The trick is a simple one, but only available in Iray. Setup a scene with lights but without characters if you want it to be a background HDRI – the one in that picture is a dungeon lit only by fire – and add a camera in the center of it. Go into the camera’s parameters and pick on the lens type. Set it to spherical. Then go into render settings and set the size ratio to 2 to 1 and the pixels to 4000 by 2000. For my 4-year-old laptop, there’s no acceleration from the video card, so I setup the render time at 24 hours or the 86,400 seconds I mentioned before. From there, hit render and walk away for the duration of the render.

It’ll take its time rendering considering the size and and how complicated the scene is, but when it’s done finally, it can be converted to an HDRI and used as a background/light source without being so slow with characters. So, it balances out, wouldn’t you say?

Villain or not? Stygere

Stygere has got the longest fuse of the Keres. His mother and sisters are quick to anger, he isn’t. Instead, he stays angry most particularly at them, for all the arguing. He’s a dangerous enemy, but doesn’t often show anger toward the heroes. In fact, they have a suspicion that he wants to join them against his mother and sisters. He’s left clues to their plans that have helped the heroes out of many deadly traps.

He’s an enigma to the heroes, but among the many things he won’t admit openly is that he does want to rebel against his mother and sisters. Unfortunately, the few times he’s tried, they nearly killed him for it. So, rather than risk life and limb against them, he secretly helps the heroes without their fully realizing it. He’s considered donning a masked identity to confuse both sides. Unfortunately, he figures they’d recognize his voice and he’d simply be in greater trouble.

A small mystery that might nag at the reader of Dream Angel #2 and #3, is how Kaida knew Larissa was in trouble with Ker and several Reprobates. The heroes figure he was simply flying overhead and saw something that looked out of place causing him to land and investigate. What the heroes wouldn’t know is Stygere planted a clue. One that would attract the Pegasus centaur without anyone knowing. He also left an anonymous clue with the local police. Which is connected to the heroes’ communications thanks to Larissa. This, Stygere knows, and put to good use. It’s common knowledge the heroes and police are working together to solve crimes within the city. So he figures anyone could have left the tip and he wouldn’t get blamed.

He doesn’t want to openly help the heroes, so he flies under the radar with subtle hints and clues to tip them off. His mother and sisters are left frustrated when the heroes escape, but he’s secretly pleased.

What do you think? Is Stygere an interesting character? Stygere 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.

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.

Police Lieutenant Larissa Arum

Larissa Arum is a tough one by nature, but still a loving mother. They say opposites attract and that is the case with Larissa and her husband Jake. She’s always straight and doesn’t crack jokes. If she does, it’s rare. Jake tells jokes all the time to lighten the mood and get people laughing. Most of all, he loves making Larissa laugh.

larissaHer daughter is more precious to her than even her own life at times. When she found out her daughter’s secret, she vowed to keep it and help her any way she could. She’s kept that vow in many ways. She started by getting Arora some small, lightweight communication equipment. So when she’s out flying around she can even help the police force by reporting problems.

Larissa often makes sure she’s first on the scene to help with crowd control. Also preventing fellow officers from shooting at the wrong target. She has a get-it-done attitude and there aren’t many who’d argue with her.

In practice fights, Jake and Larissa are an even match. Both are masters of self-defense and hand-to-hand fighting in various forms. Between the two, Arora is well trained in the defensive arts. Larissa stepped up her daughter’s training when she learned her secret. She explained to Jake that it was time she learned the more advanced techniques. Having mastered the ones Arora had been learning from Larissa all along. Jake accepted that and also stepped up his daughter’s training.

If there’s one thing Larissa hates, it’s repeat offenders. She’s stern with the first timers, but if she catches a repeat offender, they get a much tougher attitude. Nothing that could be “police brutality,” just enough to discourage another repeat offense. A good amount of the time, the repeat offender doesn’t repeat again after meeting her.

What do you think? Is she an interesting character? She makes her debut comic book appearance in Dream Angel #1, which is available in the shop. Also available in the shop is her plush action figure.

Tragic victim: vampire cockroach

cockroach vampireVampire cockroaches are unfortunate creatures. I know, the first thought for a cockroach is usually “EWWWW!!” Here’s some food for thought, though: roaches’re excellent survivors. Which would make them more difficult than ever to kill if they were undead vampires.

These roaches are roaches through unfortunate circumstances, too. They’re the victims of Jerigel SwampFang’s third bite. Unlike most vampires, it takes three bites for him to completely control his victims. As a result, they become cockroaches. The only thing these victims keep of their humanity is their height.
If anything, these unfortunate creatures should be pitied. There’s no known cure for their condition and killing them is far more difficult than if they were normal roaches.

The one thing these roaches fear above all is spiders. If they should see one, they become uncontrollable. The larger the spider, the harder they are to control.
One important ability besides turning their own victims into roaches for an hour, is being able to change form. They’re able to temporarily resume their human form during the day, but only if Jerigel allows it.

Over the years, these victims are those who tried to rebel against Nyxus. Some got in Jerigel’s way, and others Nyxus wanted to just make disappear. Since Nyxus controls Jerigel and he controls roaches, rebels are then made to do her bidding.

Once Jerigel controls a victim as a roach, they have no free will of their own. In fact, they cannot do anything without him knowing about it. The control is complete and permanent as far as anyone knows. Even Ryu doesn’t know of a cure to change these unfortunate victims human again.

These roaches are today’s daily deal. Aren’t they interesting characters? Won’t you take pity on them? They just want your love! they make their comic book debut in Dream Angel #7, which is available in the shop. It’s a good idea to get the books that came before it so the story makes sense! Also found in the shop is the plush action figure of these creatures.

Our lovely leading lady Dream Angel!

Dream Angel is today’s star. She’s a fascinating character with a fair variety of interesting undiscovered powers, but there are some really cool things you don’t know about her.

dream angel

Dream Angel’s original name was Destiny. She was based much more closely on Sailor Moon, too. Initially, when I first started drawing her I set the time period to right after she graduated high school – the day after.

If you’ve read the Sailor Moon manga, you know that in the first book Bunny goes racing around getting ready for school and quite clumsily. She does similar in the anime, but it was the manga I was going from. Destiny also goes racing around getting ready for school but as she darts past the calendar, she remembers she graduated.

Breezer, Katrilina and Hanaji have changed some too since then. Hanaji retained his name from this earlier story. There’s more to this early story line, but it won’t be discussed here. Actually, there have been several early stories and one even won second place at the county fair.

Her powers are largely unknown, even to Breezer and Ryu who’ve been her best advisers and mentors. So, any new abilities discovered tend to be a surprise for everyone, hero and villain alike. These moments of surprise have caused both sides to stop fighting long enough to try and understand what happened and one side or the other takes advantage of the moment of hesitation.

So, what do you think? Is she an interesting character? Dream Angel makes her comic book debut in (of course) Dream Angel #1, which can be found in the shop. Also found in the shop are 3 Dream Angel outfits for Arora Arum.

One-of-a-kind vampire: Jerigel SwampFang

jerigelJerigel SwampFang’s origin is a complete mystery. Not even Nyxus knows how he came to be. In reality, his origin is as simple as a ten-stripe June beetle.

At the time I came up with Jerigel SwampFang, I was enjoying the Sera Muun Musical Last Drakul Jyokoku. It’s part of a trilogy centered around the vampire Dracula – as Sailor Moon encounters him.

I will formally admit I found both the actor and the character fascinating. I developed an interest in vampires and found that the mythology does not include insects. This I found funny because nature is full of insect vampires, starting with the mosquito and flea.

When I found the June beetle, I thought it was a beetle whose nickname is “Hell insect.” Well, what better for a vampire? They’re considered creatures from Hell and on top of it all, they’re undead. So, I read up on vampires, scrounged up every vampire movie I could find and studied up a bit.

Sure, there’s a good many ways to kill a vampire, but how do you kill an insect vampire? A wooden stake wouldn’t necessarily penetrate the exoskeleton, holy water and a cross is mostly superstition (look it up, if you don’t believe me). Fire only works when the vampire becomes ash and that takes time – how long do you really think an insect vampire would be contained? Probably not long enough, I think.

Superhuman strength comes with being a vampire, so it’s like containing Superman. A sock in a river? Bugs don’t wear socks, so why would he care? Sunlight is another that’s superstition.

Admittedly, I haven’t figured out how to kill the insect vampire, but his power is most intriguing. Aside from speaking in mirror speech – meaning you need a mirror to understand what he says in the comics – his third bite is what finalizes his control over his victim. On top of the control his third bite gives, it also transforms the unfortunate person into a cockroach leaving nothing of their humanity except their height.

What do you think? Is Jerigel an interesting character? He makes his comic book debut in Dream Angle #4. 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.

Mercenary sense of humor: Lauren

laurenLauren is a mercenary, but what you don’t know about her is that she doesn’t always join the conflict for personal gain or money. Sometimes she’ll join the conflict just to laugh. As the conflicting parties wind up in a state of complete confusion as a result of something she said or did.

She doesn’t often admit it, but she doesn’t approve of what Nyxus and the Keres do. To keep her neutrality, she’ll betray both sides and laugh at them.

Ah, but all that’s common knowledge, you say. Well, here’s the uncommon knowledge: her outfit idea came from an ice skating outfit. Why do you need to know that? Well, it’s a nice bit of background trivia. It’s like asking why you’d need to know that a fly on a drawing table inspired Spider-man.

Lauren’s the mercenary with a heart and a conscience, as well. If she feels responsible for the destruction between hero and villain, she’ll find ways to help the victims. She and Teikou no Senshi are the ones found sifting through rubble, searching for victims in spite of a rocky relationship.

She’s also known to be a sort of referee between the heroes and villains. Though she has no power of her own, besides intelligence, she does sometimes get between battling pairs and break the fight up.

I could go on and on, so I’ll speed things up and summarize with a list:
Lauren:
1. is a mercenary
2. is intelligent
3. goes searching for victims
4. sometimes feels responsible for the victims
5. has no power of her own
6. loves a good joke
7. plays pranks on both hero and villain
8. doesn’t approve what the villains do
9. gets the job done
10. her outfit idea came from a skating outfit

Still pretty common knowledge, but then I didn’t promise anything you might not already know. Just stuff you need to know about her.

So, what do you think of Lauren? Is she an interesting character? Lauren makes her comic book debut in Dream Angel #7, which is available 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 her plush action figure.