Monday, November 7, 2016

Noir Comics: A sample page from my Moon Wolf + Hatta Mari Comic

I've talked about the characters (Moon Wolf and Hatta Mari), my software choices (Poser 11, Manga Studio 5) and even my font (Blambot Casual). I guess I've beat around the bush long enough and should finally show you one of the comic pages I've created that brings it all together.

Copyright 2016 Mike Mitchell
Moon Wolf & Hatta Mari TM 2016 Mike Mitchell
Click on image to make it big.
As with all the other work in this project, I've created the art in Poser 11 (using the Live Comic Book Preview). Then, I bring multiple renders into Manga Studio 5 and combine them to create a single image. Panels, clean-up and lettering are all done in MS5. In a future post, I will show how this process works in more detail.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Noir Illustration: Hatta Mari Takes the City

I was glancing back through my blog and realized that I've been a little tease. I've been promising you a glimpse of my sexy supervillain, Hatta Mari, and have yet to follow through. I feel like a mean girl on prom night.

Without further ado, here she is.

Hatta Mari Copyright & TM Mike Mitchell
This image was created by:
  • Rendering the figure in Poser 11 using the Live Comic Book Preview mode
  • I created three renders, each with slightly different light settings
  • I then brought them into Manga Studio 5 and layered them
  • There is a base "Black" layer
  • A layer on top of that is set to about 20% transparency -- this provides the light gray areas on her body
  • This one time, I needed a separate opacity setting for the hair -- I believe that layer (which is layer masked to show only the hair) is set to 50%. I needed this to get the right shading on the hair.
  • I then created a tone layer (the thin diagonal lines used for shading) and used a layer mask to show it along her legs, and inside he squares. This was done with hand editing; it wasn't possible to automate this by selecting regions with the magic wand or other tools.
  • I then added the background layer (clip art with an MS5 tone filling it) and the text

Next time, I'll do a post that shows each of the layers and how they look during the compositing process.


Monday, October 17, 2016

My comic fonts just went BLAMbot!

I'm still working on the pages for my Moon Wolf + Hatta Mari comic. I'm having fun, and learning a lot about the use of my current tool set (Poser 11 Comic Book Preview and Manga Studio 5). In general, the comments on the art have been solid, but I've had a few negatives on my decision to use uppercase and lowercase lettering (i.e. Sentence Case.).

You see, traditionally, comics use all uppercase letters.

I've never really liked that. Even though it dates back to the dawn of comics (and earlier, for that matter), I don't have any facts on this, but I have long thought that the ALL UPPERCASE LETTERING was used because the comics were printed on low-quality paper and mostly read by kids. So, there was a strong need to keep the fonts as legible as possible.

I've wondered why we're continuing those traditions when there is no longer a need to do so. Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks so. Many newsstand comics are bucking the trend right now, including: Howard the Duck, AKA Patsy Walker Hellcat, Squirrel Girl, Josie and the Pussycats, and the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

So, unless I get too much kickback from readers, I think I'm going to mostly go with Sentence Case for this project.



Speaking of this project, the original font did get a lot of criticism, so I am going to switch to Blambot Casual. This is a pro-font that I picked up from the super nice folks over at Blambot.com. It was only $30 for four faces, and includes a nice mix of uppercase and lowercase lettering. I'm also planning on using some of their great FREE fonts. BTW: check the bottom of the home page -- I found a 10% off promo code there (saved me $3).


Blambot Casual includes four variants;
I'm only showing you two of them.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Noir Illustrations: Det. "Lancelot" Worthington

I've been working on my various "Crime Noir" projects for the past few weeks. These include tough-as-nails characters with stark lighting and a high-contrast appearance. Obviously, Frank Miller's Sin City is an influence, but I'm trying to add my own stamp on this look. So far, I think it's working. I'm definitely getting a handle on the look and creation of this type of illustration.

A character sketch and background info for someone
appearing in one of my upcoming projects.
As before, this illustration was created using Poser 11's Comic Book Preview from two renders that were composited in Manga Studio 5. I'll explain this process in detail in some future post.

Also, if you're having trouble reading the text, here it is:
J.C. "Julius Caesar" Worthington's head almost exploded when his son stood there and boldly proclaimed that he was "throwing away wealth, privilage and an Ivy League education that could have sent him to the White House," just to be take a job that any "flatfoot, half-sober Irishman could do!" At least that's how J.C. put it as he cut Lance off from both family and fortune. But after a few years walking a beat -- and rising through the ranks with a combination of book smarts and learned-on-the-job street smarts, he worked his way up to Detective. That's when grandma laughed and "cut him back in," giving him a trust fund that would keep him in expensive suits and convertables for the rest of his days. "He's the first one of this brood who's not afraid to get some dirt under his nails and actually work for a living!"
Known on the force for sharp clothes and a clean conscience, his fellow cops gave him a lot of nicknames over the years: from "The White Knight" to "Little Boy Blue Blood." But the one that stuck was the most apt: "Lancelot."

Monday, September 5, 2016

Powers Beyond Cover Logo & Type

I'll wrap up my work on Powers Beyond with a look at the cover. I DID NOT DO THE ART for this cover. However, I did do the following:

  • Logo design
  • Color adjustments of the base image it to enhance/hide certain elements around the text
  • Typeset text on back cover (which was hard to find a color that would show up well on such a varied background)
This is worth opening at full size, folks!
You can buy Powers Beyond at Lulu as a print book, or as a PDF. This actually looks like a lot of fun to play (I haven't yet had the opportunity to sit down with James at the game table for this one, but I shall). It's a superheroes game set in a semi-apocalyptic future. There's a detailed world for this game, so you can run many different types of adventures. In other words... it's EPIC!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Powers Beyond - Med Lab

Another illustration from the Powers Beyond RPG by James Shade. This was another equipment-type illustration -- I think it wound up in the back of the book, rather than in the equipment section, though.


This one is a bit of a cheat -- I combined both comic-style coloring and lines with the raytraced shadows form the Iray render engine. This one took a few more render passes than usual because the floor and background were coming out too dark in the original renders. In retrospect, I should have changed the alien to a human or something else. Looking at it now, I think it looks more like a robot than a creature in a suspension tank.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Powers Beyond - Cybertech Illustration

This one was a lot of fun. As with the others, this was created in Daz Studio 4.8 (or was it 4.9? I was using both versions at that time and suddenly I don't recall which computer I did this on). The main problem with this piece was that the bricks needed a lot of work. The Brick in the Wall prop by The Ant Farm is fantastic -- it allows you to animate someone punching through a wall with a lot of options regarding the way the wall bows and flexes.But, although it animates and moves the bricks, it does not deform them. So, you wind up with very smooth bricks... which detracts from the violence of the attack. In other words, it just looks too clean.


So, after it was rendered, I went into Photoshop and distressed each and every brick along the edge, and some of the mortar lines between them, as well. It was a lot of work, but it actually elevated the image from looking too pristine to being pretty good.

The background actually proved to be more problematic -- I was under the gun to get this done, so I just went with a simple film grain and color effect. And, if you look at last week's illustration, you'll see that the hand-drawn smoke lines are present again.