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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.

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?

 

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?

Dangerous bounty hunter robot Hellbot

“Does Hellbot sometimes make you feel stupid?” Dream Angel’s heard this question a few times. Usually after a very narrow escape.

hellbot

Hellbot is a bounty hunting robot that anticipates 99 out of 100 strategies. Naturally, he’d make her feel stupid at times. Unfortunately, he’s always been able to anticipate her strategies and promptly thwarts them.

He’s got a history of his own outside the Dream Angel universe, too. Some time ago, I started a fan fiction comic. Mostly for fun, eventually for practice. It was a Sailor Moon fan fiction I called “Sailor Moon Super StarS.” To explain Hellbot’s presence and how he could defeat the Sailor girls so easily, I fixed it so the Sailor Starlights had encountered him previously.

Initially, his arms ended in double barrel weapons that could shoot out a number of things designed to capture his bounty. He doesn’t kill, but he can seriously wound. His initial appearance in the fan fiction was a splashy one, since he shot down Sailor Uranus and gave her a broken arm and a dislocated shoulder in the fall. That particular fan fiction has become a means for developing ideas and characters, which helped shape Hellbot’s personality by letting him play off personalities I know well.

Considering he’s an intergalactic bounty hunting robot, why does he have wings? Well, they’re mostly for show, about like Batman’s cape. They’re to strike fear into his victim. Generally, he retracts them into his body when he’s not working.

What do you think? Is he an interesting bounty hunter? He makes his comic book debut in Dream Angel #13which can be found 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 his plush action figure.

Creative Katrilina

Katrilina has a secret and interesting history. Her first design was a Barbie (no copyright infringment etc intended) in costume that won first place at the county fair. It was a simple leopard skin outfit – fake fur, of course – but it was well made. Tragically, the doll was stolen while still at the fair, so all that remains of her is the video taken at the event.

Where did the inspiration for her come from? That’s easy: the She-Ra: Princess of Power villain known as Katra. Compare the two names: Katrilina and Katra. Similar spelling. Not exactly similar design, but she does have Katra’s long black hair and ability to become a cat. Katra could only do a panther, though. Katrilina can do all 38 feline species. Useful in battle, to say the least.

All right, I’m really betraying no secrets about her here, am I? Here’s one you haven’t heard: she was originally a villain much like Dragonball Z‘s Vegeta. She was originally written to transition into a hero, pretty much the way Vegeta did. Maybe not quite as violently and certainly not as dragged out, but she would transition from villain to hero over time.

In the earliest stories, she was pretty quick about the transition from villain to hero. One or two battles and she’d turn. Why would she turn? She thought Dream Angel could help her be free of her feline appearance. All along she was merely the victim of extreme prejudice venting her frustration on anyone that dared look her way in a way she didn’t like.

When she met Dream Angel, she saw pity and warmth in the girl’s eyes even while they were fighting. Although she didn’t care much for the pity, the warmth got her attention. She’d never encountered the emotion and when she learned of Teikou no Senshi’s healing powers, her hope of being free of her feline appearance began to rise.

Although Teikou no Senshi couldn’t free her of her feline appearance, the attempt at helping the two girls made showed Katrilina that not everyone was prejudice. When the pair coaxed her into attending school and Arora shared her secret with her, Katrilina found trust as well. When she “met” Ellie, another bond of trust was formed when Ellie offered to let her live with her as Katherine.

What do you think? Is Katrilina an interesting character? She made her debut comic book appearance in Dream Angel #1, which can be found in the shop. Also found in the shop is her plush action figure outfit for Katherine.

High-flying Harpies

Harpies are nasty creatures especially in mythology. The mythological name translates to “that which snatches” and it holds true for these Harpies. Yet another type of nasty creature from Tartarus mythologically, the Dream Angel Harpies make excellent warriors for Nyxus.

harpie

Luckily for Dream Angel, the Harpies don’t often show up to cause trouble. More often, they’re away doing some other task for their wicked mistress simply because they won’t attack Dream Angel or any of the female heroes. Much like their mythical counterparts, they prefer men. Of course, that depends on the legends you find on them. In some versions, they torture victims they snatch on the way to Tartarus, in other versions, they snatch men to mate with then kill them.

The Harpies Dream Angel has to deal with still snatch men, but instead of big, broad wings, they’re much more streamlined in flight. This makes them fast, dangerous and difficult to follow. Even Akasha with her very fast flight speed can only keep up a short time unless she follows from a full dive from several thousand feet up. Dream Angel has good flight speed, but she can’t keep up at all.

These Harpies were inspired by the ones from the She-Ra movie, The Secret of the Sword. Near the end of the movie, He-Man and She-Ra encounter Hunga, the leader of the Harpies, who’s captured Queen Angella. The idea intrigued me, so I started researching the mythology and found several different designs based on the mythology.

One of note is from the Disney movie Fantasia during the Night on Bald Mountain sequence near the end. Another is from the Xena: Warrior Princess series. Although I didn’t really mix up the designs from these too much – I really stuck closer to the Disney design – I did mix up elements of mythology and even at times, personality when there was one to take note of.

Eventually, I settled on the dark violet coloration and thought they’d be opponents most effective at night when they’re especially difficult to see. On top of that, like a cat, they can see in the dark, but they cannot talk.

What do you think? Are Harpies interesting characters? These creatures make their comic book debut in Dream Angel #22. It’s highly recommended you get the books that came before so the story makes sense! You’ll find collection books available in the shop so it’s easy to catch up fast! Also available in the shop is the Harpie plush action figure.

Gina SweetFace… bully or misunderstood?

Gina SweetFace is anything but sweet. Spoiled, selfish, and self-centered daughter of the high school principal, she gets away with just about anything. She bullies everyone from student to teacher when her father – the principal – isn’t looking. Her father doesn’t even care that she cannot pass 10th grade and keeps getting held back.

gina

Arora, Ellie and Katherine are the ones who she just can’t seem to intimidate and that makes her target them even more than most others. Since they won’t submit to her bullying, they spent an awful lot of time in her father’s office with their teachers secretly tutoring them whenever they possibly could.

Gina’s interest in Shin put Hanaji in her path frequently and just like the girls, the boys wouldn’t put up with her attitude. Of the five, Katherine has the shortest temper toward Gina, but Shin’s sweet nature – when he’s around during the attempted bullying – holds her back. If Shin’s not around, someone that is generally attempts to hold her back. It’s rare Gina manages to corner Katherine alone and the one time she did, she regretted it intensely.

Gina’s father is a pushover and does whatever she wants because he feels guilty about divorcing her mother, whom she is almost exactly like. Since her mother didn’t want custody and he wanted to be a good, loving father he took care of Gina.

Like most bullying cases, Gina just wants her father’s attention along with power over others. She usually succeeds in getting his attention, but he doesn’t really punish her for her wrongdoings thinking it will help her become acceptable to teachers and peers if she feels stronger than they are. Mostly instead of punishing his daughter, he punishes her victims explaining that they should do what she asks in spite of how she asks.

What do you think? Is Gina an interesting character? Her comic book debut is Dream Angel #3, which can be found in the shop. It’s recommended you get the books that came before it so the story makes sense! Also found in the shop is her plush action figure.