Friday, November 24, 2017

Days Gone 9 - Location, Location, Location, pt 1

As I said much earlier, one of the things that appealed to me about this story was the small cast (whom you've "met") and a limited location. In fact, the whole thing takes place inside a single location: A mountaintop cave which happens to be the lair of Clawfire the Wicked.

My very first thumbnails for the story opened inside the cave and all action took place there. But when I started to flesh it out, I instantly realized that I needed an establishing shot to show where the cave was located. So, I drew the rough draft shown below:

Original rough draft sketch for page 1
of Days Gone. © 2017 Mike Mitchell

As you can see, my sketch is very rough. The sketch is 100% of its final printed size, with the various boxes representing the bleed, trim and safe zones for the story. I created the template in Photoshop based on the template provided by my printer, Comix Wellspring. I also pre-printed the intended logo for the story (but that's since changed, and moved to page 2).

The goal of this image is to set the scene for the story, with a fantasy-type mountain as the scene. The switchback path on its front was added to help give it a sense of scale. You'll also see that I originally considered adding a bunch of trees or a village to help set the scale and give it a sense of place in the world.

As you'll see, very little of that survived my first attempts at actually creating the image.

Next Time: Finding the right 3D resrouces

Friday, November 17, 2017

Days Gone 8 - Meet the Cast, pt 3

Calling this next figure a "character" in the story may seem like a bit of a stretch because he doesn't have any dialogue in story. But he's a very powerful presence, nonetheless:

Clawfire the Wicked

I always knew the dragon would be a big part of the story. Heck, without him, there is no story! But finding the right look for him, on a model that would work correctly in Poser, took a little doing. I found several good dragons, but none of them had the classic ridge spines I wanted. They all looked like glorified lizards with wings. In other words, they lacked the epic quality that I wanted for this story.

I finally found a combination of a figure and character that worked for me: The figure is the Daz Original Dragon 3 figure, and the character is the Zilladreki character by RawArt. Both of these products can be purchased at Daz 3D website:

Daz Dragon 3
Provided the base shape
and movement parameters

The spine ridges are a separate
prop that can be added to the dragon

To get the horns and other modifications to the base model, I also needed the Dragon 3 Morphs by Daz Originals. Combined, these gave me the tools I needed to create this powerful creature of myth and magic.

Clawfire the Wicked    |    © 2017 Mike Mitchell
Of course, having the character's look didn't mean that I had a NAME for our fire-breathing friend... er, fiend. For some assistance, I posted a request for naming help on Facebook. I put the request in two groups: The ICC Independent Comics Creators (a great place to hang out with other creative folk) and a group devoted to old-school gaming (RPGs and minis, mostly). Between those two groups, I got more than 500 suggestions. The funny thing is, I chose two and mixed them together to come up with the name, and they were submitted in the first 10 names I got!

Thanks to David and Ronan Houston (a father and son team) for creating the name of our wicked dragon who will drive the action of this story.

Next Time: More about the Location of our Tale

Friday, November 10, 2017

Days Gone 7 - Meet the Cast, pt 2

The second character in my little tale doesn't really have a name. I sometimes call him Bobby Lee, but that's mainly because he's based on the Bobby Lee character I created for this illustration in another story.

One of the illustrations I created for Roger Keel's story,
"The Children Game"  © 2017 Mike Mitchell

Another look at Bobby (M4 character, rendered in the usual way)
© 2017 Mike Mitchell

After I created the Bobby Lee Character for the Michael 4 figure, I decided to modify it a bit and re-purpose it for use in my Days Gone story. Even though keeping his husky body type caused problems, I wanted to differentiate him from all of the other muscle-bound barbarian characters out there and provide a little diversity to his body shape. I also didn't want him to look like another Michael 4 clone in a comic (if you know 3D figures, you can easily play "Spot the Michael Version" and identify ver 3 from 4 at a glance).

Alas, this diversity also created some problems. My initial costume design included the figure with a simple baldric draped over his shoulder. Even though this should have been simple, it wasn't. I just couldn't get it to hang perfectly from each direction. I briefly considered converting it into a dynamic prop, but adding animation to the workflow was bound to increase the amount of work and time needed to get this story finished.

Bobby Lee sported a whole new look for this story, including
modifications to his face design and tweaks to his weight and abs.
© 2017 Mike Mitchell

So, I went shopping for a new chest harness. After considerable hunting, I found this beauty, which includes lots of useful fit morphs: Prae Epoch for M4

Product image from Renderosity.
© 2017 Prae

Obviously, I wasn't interested in the funky mask or the skirt, but the chest harness had just the right amount of detail needed to give Bobby a little of that barbarian look that I was going for. And this thing was LOADED with fitting and shape morphs. Seriously, this is one of the best products I've encountered in ages.

Hero Leaps: This illustration features the updated leather chest harness
© 2017 Mike Mitchell

As you can see in the image above, this is a pretty cool product and definitely adds a hint of "Swashbuckler" to the character.

NEXT TIME: A fiery "co-star"

Friday, November 3, 2017

Days Gone 6 - Meet the Cast, pt 1

One of the reasons I'm tackling this story first is that it has all the elements needed to make it a sort of testing ground for my ability to use Poser and Manga Studio (Clip Studio Paint) in my workflow to create a comic story. Here's a few of the things that make this story an excellent test case (I mentioned this in an early blog: short story of 12 pages, 3 characters, 2 sets).

If you followed my tutorial on creating noir comics, you should already be familiar with one of the characters from my story: Nirona the fairy.

© 2017 Mike Mitchell
She's a fun-n-flirty young lady prone to exaggerated movements and broad expressions. She is a LOT of fun to illustrate. Here are a few other shots of her for your consideration.

Nirona - Flirty
© 2017 Mike Mitchell

Nirona - Angry
© 2017 Mike Mitchell
These have both appeared previously in the tutorial; they were created as character studies with an emphasis on personality and emotion.

Here's an actual panel from the story.

Nirona - Put a Ring on It!
© 2017 Mike Mitchell
This included a ring that I created in Poser using a variety of primitive shapes on which to mount a gemstone that came from some package I had purchased previously.

NEXT TIME: Our Hero Makes an appearance