Saturday, April 29, 2017

Sketchy Behavior, Part 3

Bare-knuckle boxing: Treatments created with Poser 11 and Manga Studio 5 EX
I'm still at it, trying to sort out what I like. For this experiment, I did not use Akvis Sketch, but instead relied on the pen & ink look I created in Manga Studio. This was VERY quick. After I had the renders created (usual method, see earlier posts), I only spent 10-15 minutes creating all three of these treatments.

I've posted these elswehere, and the general consensus is that the first treatment is the favorite. It is my favorite, but I definitely think this needs more work, especially on the scale of the ink lines.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Sketchy Behavior, Part 2

On Monday I showed you some of my latest work with Manga Studio and Akvis Sketch that demonstrates some of the sketch-like effects I'm experimenting with. The goal with these techniques is NOT to create a single illustration that looks good, but to create a workflow that I can repeat so that I can achieve the following:
  • Create images quickly
  • Maintain a consistent style
  • That print well (usually in b&w, but sometimes in color)
So far, both of these approaches appear to hit most of the marks, at least on technical terms. However, like all artwork, it comes down to combining artistic skill with technical competency. In other words, I think I need more practice with both of these techniques.

Bobby E. Studying: Poser 11 and Manga Studio

Here's my next iteration on the Guy Studying sketch I showed you on Monday. I have a feeling this might be the one I actually use (I'm illustrating a short story written by a friend, Roger Keel). 

One of the things I like about this is the inclusion of the brown, and the addition of blue to his tie (my wife suggested that). The brown was actually a happy accident – I was originally playing around with two shades of blue, then I inverted the color and got this cool sepia effect. One of the nice things about this particular sketch effect is that it's not super-precise, which means it takes on a more organic and rushed look that I usually have in my art. In this case, I think that's a good thing.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Sketchy Behavior, Part 1

The other day I mentioned that I was trying to fit some clothing to a heavy/stocky figure. In this case, it was a shirt and tie to a morphed Michael 4 figure. There are trousers, too, but they are below the desk so we can't see them.

Sketched Effects: Top effect created in Manga Studio 5,
Bottom effect created in Akvis Sketch
For this illustration, I used my standard technique of rendering the figures in Poser 11 with the Live Comic Book Preview and then played with the lights to get two views that I liked. I then layered them in Manga Studio, where I applied a variety of touch-ups and effects to get the look I wanted..

However, this time I also sent one of the images over to Akvis Sketch and created a pencil sketch look.

As with my previous attempts, the lines it produces are too thin and fine for the type of look I'm after, so I worked with that image at a smaller size than it would be printed, and then blew it up to match the dimensions of the ink lines. In this case, the final illustration was 2000 pixels wide, and the Akvis Sketch image was 500 pixels wide.

In both cases, I used a simple sketched effect from Akvis Sketch to make the background.

I think both versions of the image have something going for them, although I must say I think I personally prefer the hard ink lines of the first one. In both cases, you should probably look at a larger version of the image (click on it) to see the details more clearly.

Monday, April 17, 2017

How a 17-Year-Old CD saved me $20

I have many binders of old CDs and DVDs on my bookcase. Some of them include backups of personal files, but most are old software CDs that range from Windows 95 installations to 3D software that won't install on a modern system (like Deep Paint and Amorphium, both of which which I would really like to have a working version). More than one person has asked me why I keep them.

All those black binders hold many
a CD and DVD from years gone by!

The honest answer is two-fold:

  1. It's really not worth the effort to go through and clean them out
  2. And every now and then, they have something that comes in useful
The latter one definitely happened today.

Time to start editing video again

A client called me up and said he has some video he wants me to edit for him. He wants me to tighten up some training clips we created a few years ago (and, I think, update the titles and some text). Not a problem. I've done it before and I can do it again. 

But of course, when I did that for him, it was on my old i5 laptop, and it was a little slow processing the video and converting it from HD down to something that can stream on the Web. So, it's time to move this project over to my new laptop, which is an i7 powerhouse with 32 GB of RAM.

Over the years, I've used a few different video editors, and of course one of the very best is Adobe Premier. But... let's just be honest, it is expensive and has a lot of overhead in terms of space, requirements, and (mostly) cost. I definitely do not use it enough to justify subscribing it it. I mean, yeah, it's awesome, but it's a lot like paying for a Ferrari just so you can drive it to the store to pick up groceries. In other words, it's got more features than I need for the fairly straightforward video editing that I do. I mostly make talking head training videos and convert my father-in-law's VHS tapes to digital (they make FANTASTIC Christmas gifts!).

So, stepping down from the premier tool, I frequently choose Pinnacle Studio. It is a nifty little editor that does 99% of anything I want from it (in fact, there's really only one thing it doesn't do, and I'll cover that at another time with a workaround that can trick it into doing that, too). And it does one thing that Premier doesn't do out of the box (and again, I'll cover this another time).

The latest version is 20.5, and I've been using it since version 9. I recall selecting it because, at the time, it was the first (at least I'd ever heard of" to use a thumbnail/storyboard system for editing, as opposed to the standard timeline. I also recall that – waaaaaay back in the day – it won a technical Emmy award because it was the software of choice for editing America's Funniest Home Videos.

But I digress.

I compared the many versions of this software, and decided that I did want/need the full version with all the bells and whistles: Pinnacle Studio Ultimate 20.5.

I shopped around and found the slightly older version at, but decided I'd rather deal directly with Pinnacle and be sure that I get the latest version, rather than something a half version old that requires an upgrade. So, this retails for $129. The sale price today was $99. And the upgrade from my ANCIENT copy of Pinnacle Studio DC 10 knocked off another $20 (yup, I had written the serial number on the product CD that I found in one of my binders -- I had dated it from June 2000).

A quick search online found me a coupon for 15% off that actually worked, making my instant download price only $68.97 (that includes tax, folks).

Not bad for a few minutes of shopping, searching for the old CD and finding the online coupon.

After I get into the project, I'll write talk about the workaround and the cool feature that hinted at today.