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 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.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Powers Beyond - Equipment Illustration

This is probably the illustration that I'm most happy with for the Powers Beyond RPG. It's available in both print and PDF from, by the way. It's a pretty good book, so it's worth picking up.

This equipment illustration took a lot of hand work to redraw all the crisp lines. I also tweaked the colors. I suppose I should mention that this -- as was all of the work I did for this book, was created by combining multiple passes from Daz Studio in Photoshop. Weapons and equipment are all 3D assets purchased from, except for the little power-cell cubes. I created those from primitives in Daz Studio.

As for why I like this one -- I think the simplicity and clean lines just work.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Another little bit of retro-styled fun from the Powers Beyond RPG by Epic Age Media. To be honest, I'm not 100% happy with the art I did for this book. James Shade asked me to do color and retro, but I don't think the retro style I chose meshed well with the rest of the book. I think it would have been better if I had seen some of the other art in the book before doing my own. I don't want to copy the other guy's style, but I would have chosen more muted colors and less-intense shading techniques.

This image was a bit of a transitional piece for me, by the way. I was reading Scott McCloud's ZOT! B&W Collection at the time, and got interested in some of the shading techniques he was using. I seriously doubt you'll see his influence here in my own work, but mentally it's about the hand-drawn lines I started using (and retrofitted into other illustrations) for clouds and smoke. The suggestion was also prompted by a Daz Studio user in the forums; she goes by the name of Scribbling Sandy. This also led to the diagonal shading I started using in images going forward, and that appear in my noir comics work.