Sunday, April 15, 2018

Random Barbarian Image 2

A bit of fun for a Sunday afternnon. I was in the mood to play around with inking, so rather than create something new, I took an earlier render of a Conan figure I was working on and experimented with some new pen settings in Manga Studio 5 EX (aka Clip Studio Paint). Not all my inking choices worked, but I don't think it's all that bad. Especially fro something I'm just playing around with.

© 2018 Mike Mitchell

As with most of my work, this was rendered in Poser 11 pro and cleaned up in Photoshop and Manga Studio 5 EX/ Clip Studio Paint.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Random Barbarian Post 2

I wanted to do something really GRAPHIC (not violence or sex, but in terms of design). So I tapped into the feel of 1960s posters and came up with this. Obviously, this is based on Conan the Barbarian, and I really need to thank takezo_3001 over at Daz for sharing his custom morph with me. The outfit is from the M4 Warrior, and I'm not sure which of my many swords I used.

As usual, this was rendered in Poser Pro 11, then edited in Photoshop and Manga Studio 5EX (aka Clip Studio Paint).

I'm calling this one, "Warrior of the Wastes."

© 2018 Mike Mitchell

And yes, this is a precursor to me getting back to work on my Days Gone comic book very soon.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Random Barbarian Post

This year is just screaming by, and my new work schedule has really cut down on the time I have to allocate to art (let alone work on the Days Gone comic, which is progressing, but at a glacial pace).

Since I've been reading a lot of Conan comics and stories (specifically the b&w series, Savage Sword of Conan and the original REH stories), I decided to pick up the M4 Barbarian Warrior bundle over at Daz3D and take a very quick stab at creating an illustration. Total time was only about 2 hours, and as you can clearly see, this needs more clean-up and a better pose.

© 2018 Mike Mitchell

His hand was supposed to be resting on a doorway in a cave, dungeon or something like that. Never got around to it last night, and probably never will, as I think this was a fun diversion, but I don't see it being worth spending any more time on.

Hopefully next week I'll be able to get back to Days Gone and have something cool to share with you.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Use Thinkpad x240 with two monitors

I'm using a company-issued Thinkpad X240 (quad core, 8 GB RAM, 65W power supply (I think it is officially considered to be 70W) and I am doing a lot of work at home on the weekends. At work it connects via docking station to a single 32-inch monitor (nice one, too!). At home on the weekends, I want to use my dual 27-inch ASUS monitors and my KVM.

This has been a rough couple of days because my KVM  (Keyboard Video Mouse switch) supports dual DVI ports, and the Thinkpad X240 only has a mini display port and a VGA output. I tried a Dual Monitor Docking Station by Plugable (UD-3900), but because this is company issued, I cannot install the drivers to use it (back to Amazon it goes).

I got it working (finally) by mostly bypassing the KVM and wiring directly to the backs of my monitors, but then the thing gets buggy after it goes to sleep sometimes the dual monitors don't come back. After some trial and error (and some bourbon) I finally sorted out how to get it working consistently.

Required Cables:

  • VGA cable
  • Mini displayport to (regular) display port cable
  • USB-A to USB-B (see graphic) cable
    (FYI: Type A is the "standard" USB cable)

Even though I have to manually connect the monitors (the KVM doesn't do a great job of mixing a digital and an analog signal – I think if this were hooked up here every day I could figure a way to get it to work, but since I only bring the company laptop home on weekends, it's not worth the extra time it would take to sort out). However, I do want to use my keyboard and mouse, which is why I'm routing that signal through the KVM.

Connecting the monitors and the KVM
With both the laptop AND monitors powered down, make the following connections.

Plug USB-B into back of KVM
Plug USB-A into laptop
Plug large end into Monitor 1
Plug small end into laptop
Plug into Monitor 2
I cannot stress this enough: DO NOT PLUG THE VGA CABLE INTO THE LAPTOP!

  1. Turn on the laptop. Let it boot up completely (be patient). I wait until everything has stopped spinning about and launch Outlook. I let it check my mail. When I'm certain that it has completely booted up...
  2. Turn on both monitors. Monitor 1 should automatically start working (i.e. get the signal and you can use it).
  3. Plug the VGA cable into the laptop. It should also start working. If not, check out the "Alternate Method" I describe below.

This is the method I've been using for awhile now. If this assignment continues with weekend work, I may look into another method of getting it to work (this one is annoying because sometimes I step away for a break and come back to find it has "lost" one or both monitors (usually powering off monitor 1 will bring that one back).
BTW: You want to use the VGA on your second screen because the Displayport connection (which also sends sound) is digital and will be a bit crisper and cleaner than the VGA signal. 

I can't swear this method will work for you, so good luck!

I only use this if the monitors aren’t automatically detected (and you may have to do this the first time you try connecting to the external monitors).
With the monitors connected to the laptop and powered on, type the WINDOWS KEY + P. (Yes, the button to launch your Start menu, plus the letter P.) In Win 7, 8 & 10 this will launch a menu where you can pick the following:
  • Disconnect Projector
  • Duplicate
  • Extend
  • Projector Only
Select "extend" and then Monitor 1 will receive the signal and should work. If the laptop doesn’t see the monitor, then turn the monitor off and then power it on again. I think it has some kind of “handshake” signal when it powers up that the laptop needs to see. 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

MS Word - Search for all Instances of Superscript or Subscript in a Document

Right now I am proofing a technical document for the oil and gas industry. One of the things I'm doing is copying the text from a badly formatted source file and pasting it into a new, clean document and tagging all the paragraphs with the correct styles. Some of the original formatting is very bad, so this is the fastest way to do this.

Prior to cutting the text, I use the Clear All Formatting tool (it's on the Home Tab in the Font Group) to strip out everything from the source text. This gives me a clean block of text to paste into the new document. Unfortunately, this also clears out superscripts and subscripts. After pasting the text, I compare the two documents and retag the appropriate text (CO2 becomes CO2, for example).

But, when it comes time to proof, I need to go through the entire source document and search for all instances where the author used a subscript or a superscript. In a long document after a busy day, I can't rely on my eyes to catch each and every tiny number or letter. So, I found this process at this site, and it allows MS Word to find and highlight all instances of subscript (and a second pass finds the superscripts) using the standard Find/Replace tool in MS Word.

Thanks to Allen Wyatt for posting this great MS Word Tip:

Since it's his material, I'm not going to reprint it here without permission. Just follow the link and thank him for this ingeniously simple, but useful, power user tip.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Resource: Convert Daz Poses to Poser

One of the biggest drawbacks of using Poser 11 as my primary render tool is that it limits me to using older figures, like Michael 4 and Victoria 4. Now, those are FANTASTIC figures that have literally thousands (if not tens of thousands) of items, characters and hairstyles available. They are probably the most popular figures ever created for this type of work.

But... sometimes you want something new, and many of the Genesis figures offer more features, more control points (making it easier to get better control of expressions and body parts, as well as automatic muscle flexing when the arms or legs bend).

Now, there are ways to use some Genesis figures in Poser, but that only brings the figure over. It doesn't give you access to their poses because those are stored in a different format than are used in Poser.

I'm not going to peek under the hood into the differences between the two formats (some of it's beyond my skill level, anyway), but I was excited to start this new year with an exciting discovery: a batch script to convert a Daz Poses to Poser!

I haven't used it, yet, but I will and report on the results shortly. I just wanted to share it here so others could enjoy it, and so I won't lose the link!

This is a script that runs in Daz Studio, btw.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Twas the Night Before Star Wars

I took a little holiday break to have some fun with this illustration (it was an entry for the "It's Raining Men" contest over at -- the contest focuses on "the male form," meaning that all renders must have a male figure as the main focus).

In this case, I decided to throw in a little scene of "domestic bliss" with two brothers. I'm pretty happy with the differences in their body types and apparent ages. The younger brother is the Paul figure which ships with Poser, and the older brother is based on the current morphs I've been working with for the Michael 4 figure. As you can see, I kept their names in the caption text. I'm also pretty happy with the expression on Mike.

As usual, the scene was rendered in Poser 11, then cleaned up in Photoshop and final composition was in Manga Studio 5EX (aka Clip Studio Paint).

Hope you enjoy this and have a Happy New Year!