Thursday, June 1, 2017

Texas Ranger [WIP]

I wish I could say this was a quickie, and in some ways it was, but I did spend a bit of time on this image. I recently purchased this cool Texas Ranger outfit form, and just couldn't resist playing with it, even though there is no way this will ever make it to print in any of our books.

Texas Ranger - © 2017 Mike Mitchell
The primary reason for that is his knees. The textures on this model just stretch, making the denim pattern look absurdly stretched, and the seams at the bend don't fold correctly. This is one of the faults of confirming clothes. That is to say, 3D models that bend with the figure, but don't include soft-body dynamics simulations (or cloth simulations). These are the computations that actually treat the 3D model like fabric, and make it bend and behave like real fabric.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not disparaging this product, or its creator. That's just the nature of conforming props. They don't bend like real cloth, and that's why I can't actually use it in one of the Western books I illustrate for Hawgleg Publishing.

But, this really has a nice texture set and I wanted to play around with it, so here it is. A bit of fun for a weekend (and hey, I got this on sale!). An updated version of this will definitely appear in some future book or project.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Manga Studio Brush Sets Worth Considering

I just spent money on some cool brushes for Manga Studio 5 (aka Clip Studio 5), so I want to use them before I buy more. I want to see if they are actually going to help me create art before investing in stuff just because it's new and exciting.

That being said, I did find some other cool brushes out there while I was shopping, so I have decided to list them here so I can come back and get them later.

  • Deviant Art Listing: Just a cool list of brushes, including many of those listed below.
  • Manga Studio 5 300+ Brush Super Set by Frenden: This set is $15, so I'll need to look it over closely before purchasing.
  • Comic Book Inkers Set 3 (not the official title, but I chose this name because it has pens named after Kirby, Sinnot, Mobius and Wood. I think this includes Flashtools for Manga Studio and Clip Studio Paint: Cost $5.50

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Video: Import Multiple Brushes Into Manga Studio 5 (by Brian Allen)

I'm posting this video here so I won't lose track of it. I just purchased a cool set of 200+ brushes for Manga Studio 5 EX from artist Brian Allen. Total cost: $7. They look cool (I may review the set after using them), but now comes the hard part: Installing them.

Installing a lot of brushes is definitely one place where Photoshop is better than MS5, but Brian took the time to create a cool video on how to speed up the process.

BTW: This video is cross-posted without his permission (he seems like a nice guy, so I doubt he'll mind). If you do buy his brushes, please mention that you saw the video here. Thanks!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Video: Manga Studio 5 vs Photoshop

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know that I'm a big fan of both Photoshop and Manga Studio 5 (aka Clip Studio 5 – same program, different names). As of late, though, I've been doing more of my final comics illustration in Manga Studio because it has tools that are better suited for creating comics. Now, don't get me wrong, I still love Photoshop (and it's an important part of my workflow), but I do my final work in Manga Studio 5 EX.

A few people have asked me why, but except for one or two artists who found the comic panels and text balloons to be exciting additions, they haven't been sold on learning a new tool. And I can't blame them.


Here's a review by professional artist Brian Allen that I found interesting, and he explains a few cool things (like Reference Layers) that might help some artists decide to give this a try.

By the way, Brian has a collection of 200+ Manga Studio Brushes available on his site for only $7. I bought them and, depending on how useful I find them, I'll try to write up a review in the next few weeks.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Sketchy Behavior, Part 10

This illustration actually dates back to September of 2016, and it was created for a detective story I wrote which appeared in the Collectors' Club Newsletter #118. I had a lot of fun writing a traditional whodunit mystery, with all the clues provided to the readers. The story is actually part of a larger story arc, and I'll collect it with the Moon Wolf material some time in the future.

As with the other work in this style, I worked with Victoria 4 with Poser 11's Live Comic Book Preview and did my finishing in Photoshop. I started using Manga Studio 5 EX, but I find working with type is just easier in Photoshop.

My technique on this one was a little different, in that I didn't use a tone or the sketch effect – this time out I just relied on the color to provide accent. Part of the reason for this was that I was worried about reducing the tone (that tends to make it muddy and look bad), and I didn't like the way it was playing across her face. When dealing with a classy dame like this one, you wanna keep the lines clean and simple. All in all, I kinda like the way this one came out (and thanks to my friends over at the Daz3D forums for their help; I actually created multiple versions of this before selecting this one).

Monday, May 15, 2017

Sketchy Behavior, Part 9

The digression I had with Akvis Sketch and Daz Studio was fun, but so far I haven't gotten the solid results from it that I've achieved with Poser 11 and its Live Comic Book Preview mode. I think its more than familiarity – it's just that, with the proper set-up, it's easy to get consistent good results.

This title illustration that I created for a short story in the Collectors' Club Newsletter #120 is an example of something that didn't really take me that long to do, but came out as a very solid piece of work.

The figure is actually the same one I used for the Lance Worthington illustration last year (and if you compare them, it's obvious). But, since it's unlikely that the two characters will ever appear in the same issue of the CCN (or elsewhere), I don't mind repurposing my work in this way. If you do compare the two images, notice that Lance is more buff than Truman. I actually filled in the muscles apparent in Lance's jacked so that this guy, who is a little more modern and less "pulpy," wouldn't have quite the super-heroic build that Lance has.

Also, in case you're curious, this is the story for which the Bobby E. studying character sketch was created. That's another reason I wanted to use my "sketchy" style for this illustration. Here's a close-up of Truman, so you can make out more detail.

Next time, another story title with a noir feel!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Sketchy Behavior, Part 8

As I said last time, I needed an illustration for the table of contents for the Collectors' Club Newsletter #120. So I decided to use the club's mascot, Captain Epistle (it's an inside joke, folks, that stems from the club's past wherein members would write letters to the magazine, where they would be printed).

Captain Epistle flies into action...
In the magazine, there were boxes of text appearing in front of him with the details
about this issues art, comics and features.

As before,I stayed with Daz Studio because the figure was already set up properly, and I set about changing the pose and cape flourishes. Once I had a basic pose ready, I whipped out three or four renders, including a toon render. This time I checked the pose to make sure it fit with the text elements (which are not shown here), and once I confirmed that I would actually be able to use this one, I composited the various renders in Photoshop so I could adjust the blending modes and run individual layers in Akvis Sketch.

Once I had the base sketch layer, I would adjust it with the Levels tool, or even the threshold adjustment. Anything to make the faint strokes sharp (after all, this was for print, and distinct lines would work better).

Again, this is a nice start, but I don't think it's ready for production use, yet. I am getting there, and the inclusion of the gray toon render layer really helped add some definition to the final image. All in all, not a bad job for a quickie.