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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.

Fascinating Foxy!

Foxy is unique. Japanese mythology tells us that the Kitsune (pronounced “kit” as in sewing kit, “su” as in suit and “ne” as in negative) is a mythological fox demon that would entrap a warrior’s mind and then kill him. The more tails the demon had, the more powerful it was, with 9 tails being the maximum.

foxy

Foxy isn’t too different from her mythical counterparts, but she has her share of twists. For one thing, she’s bio-mechanical. She chose the mechanics to enhance her power, plus she got tired of trying to find clothes that fit over 9 bushy fox tails. Mechanical parts solved the problem for her.

She’s certainly nobody’s fool and hates being tricked. She’ll fight for a good cause and frequently wins the fight. She’s also one of the very few that can go toe-to-toe with Hellbot and possibly defeat him. Clever and sometimes unpredictable, she’d rather not fight at all.

Since she is a Kitsune, her powers include mental manipulation, but the catch is her power only works on the male mind. Also similar to her mythical counterparts, she possesses the ability to shape shift, but can only hold a different form for a short time in spite of her increased power from being bio-mechanical.

Of the two classifications of Kitsune, she might seem to be right in the middle. Neither benevolent nor malicious in the end. She might pull a prank on someone one moment and help them the next with a problem. It’s not really in her nature to want to cause harm, though she sometimes does.

If she finds out she’s been tricked into doing something she’ll do what she can to undo the trick and maybe even utilize some tricks of her own to settle the score.
What do you think? Is she an interesting character?

Foxy’s comic book debut is Dream Angel #3, which is available in the shop. It’s recommended you get the books that came before it so the story makes sense! Also available in the shop is her plush action figure, who loves being hugged.

Explosive Ker

Ker has a very volatile temper… literally. Getting her mad has very explosive results. She’s the youngest of the Keres, but no less dangerous than her older siblings and mother.

kerHer one weakness is that she’s incredibly vain. Put her in front of a mirror and she won’t move for hours; on the other hand, scratch her skin or get her dress dirty and you’d better start running away as fast as you possibly can.

Larissa was the first to discover she could push Ker’s buttons during one of her earliest encounters with the Keres sisters. Since they wanted her as a hostage, Ker couldn’t lose her temper and Larissa could keep making her madder and madder. Just after Dream Angel rescued her, she delivered one final insult that set Ker’s temper off the rest of the way and she exploded, making it impossible for the villains to pursue them.

She has an interesting design history. I must confess that I didn’t design her outfit, but a good friend of mine (who’s been involved off and on in these comic books) designed it. I’d designed the other four Keres with mildly sexy outfits – at the time, Stygere was a girl – but I was stuck on what Ker should look like. I asked for help designing her outfit and she came up with the outfit Ker now wears. It’s changed some from my friend’s design, but overall, it’s the same.

What do you think? Is she an interesting character? Ker makes her comic book debut in Dream Angel #2. It’s a good idea to consider getting the book that came before it, so the story makes sense! Also available 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.

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?

 

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.

Leopard with a mission: Kumo Hanahadashii

Kumo Hanahadashii is a very, very stubborn leopard. To match, he’s very clumsy. So clumsy, in fact, he makes Kaida seem a great deal less clumsy than he is.

kumoTo compound his problems, he’s madly in love with Cristiane Jewel. On top of everything, he’s fiercely jealous. This mixture makes him big time trouble.

He’s a skilled archer and the first time he meets Dream Angel, he very nearly shoots her down. After she convinces him she doesn’t know where Cristiane is, he decides to help her look and promptly runs face first into a tree.

Unfortunately for him, Cristiane loves Virgo, who loves Athalia. Of course, this creates tension among the cats. Cristiane and Kumo are both leopards, Virgo and Athalia are both tigers. All Virgo and Athalia want is for Cristiane and Kumo to go away, but the two create nothing but trouble for them. Kumo’s jealousy of Cristiane’s affections for Virgo causes him to attempt to fight Virgo for her and Athalia’s caught in the middle.

Virgo’s affection for Athalia isn’t out in the open, it’s subtle and quietly understood between the two. For Kumo, that means he’s interested in Cristiane.

For Dream Angel, Torakatai and everyone else, the entanglement among the four is problematic until they’re directed at Nyxus, the Keres and the assorted creatures they bring along. When that happens, it’s better to stand back and let the cats have their fun as they send them flying the hard way.

Luckily in a fight, Kumo lives up to the translation of his name: Blur Extreme, or more appropriately, extreme blur. Fast with a bow, just as fast with a sword and quite rough on opponents with claws and teeth if he’s disarmed.

Kumo makes his comic book debut in Dream Angel #19, 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 soon to be found in the shop is his plush action figure.