Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Dropbox adds functionality...

Things always happen this way.

I joined for a free way to post my book online, and it works well, if maybe it feels a little clunky to me as an end user.

It provides some limited statistics, which is good, because I've been able to see how much traffic has been going there to read the book.  But I think the layout is awkward for the reader, and there are other little things that could use some work.  But there is a community there.

But, originally I just wanted to post it directly to my blog and let people view it from here.  That way, I still have basic statistics, and all the traffic goes through here always.  So, I've been pretty torn about the whole thing, and now even more so.

On December 5th I received an email from the dropbox team to let me know that they have made viewing images much easier through dropbox.

What they've done is nice and simple and it uses a decent image viewing slideshow that is perfect for what I want.  It provides a good "table of contents" page that allows the user to close the existing image and select wherever in the story they want to go to or go back to.

So I've uploaded the first set of images there and I think I will be sharing the link with readers in this way from now on.

I have since removed the images from dropbox as of today March 13th 2013.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Better Late than Never

I've finally gotten the first set of images completed for "Who Needs the Moon", and I am very happy with the fruits of my labour so far.  As of now, the pages are currently being hosted over on comic fury. So, if you like sequential art, why not go and take a look at what I've done and let me know what you think of the story so far.

I've learned a lot about my own work habits, tools and software working on this first portion of the book.  Overall, my artistic style has kept close to what I originally envisioned, but due to time constraints and other responsibilities, the approach to polishing has taken a different turn.

As posted here earlier, I had planned to use a few tones of grey to colour and block out the art, but have chosen to no longer go down that road.  After a few pages, I was no longer happy with the result and the time that it took.

However, I do like the look of painting with grey, using blend brushes, and feel that it might be nice to paint the entire book that way.  We'll have to wait and see.

For now, I need to outline, plan and write the rest of the book, so I am more certain of where it will go.

Also, I think I am going to try and see if there might be any interest out there for a publisher to work with me and publish and distribute the book.
Originally, I intended to use a font throughout the book that I had grabbed from  I was also using some other fonts for posters and chapter pages etc.  However, I didn't like the idea of having to pay someone a license fee should I get the comic published. I'm not against paying a one time fee up front, but a licensing fee seems a bit excessive.

So, for some things here and there, I am using open source fonts from the league of moveable type which have created a great catalogue of fonts for everyone to use personally and commercially.  Currently I am using Goudy Bookletter 1911 by Barry Schwartz for the title pages of each chapter.  There are other open font libraries that I will be looking into in the future.

There was one problem though, I wasn't very happy with the selection of comic fonts available in the open font offerings online.  Because of this, I decided to make my own font, which I've called Drawn Icon and which will be licensed under the SIL's open font license when I feel that it is completed.  Currently it needs some more TLC before I feel that it is truly ready for everyone to use.

Enough already I guess. Please go have a read and let anyone you think might be interested know that the start of the book is online.

Warning!  Mature content, even more so in the future.

Thank you.

I have since removed the images from dropbox as of today March 13th 2013.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Instagram Helps Me Create

It can get very tiring working on Who Needs the Moon in the dark, dingy and unfinished basement in my house.  Well, maybe I shouldn't complain, plenty of people would probably love to have even that.

Anyways, to get my mind off the book and to procrastinate, I have been taking photos often when I am out and about with my Nexus S phone and posting a lot of them to my instagram profile.  Instagram clicked with me.  I am wishing there were either more apps like this, or more sites like this that allow users to just view images and like them.  Specifically I'd love to see something for cartooning and illustration.

I think it helps me take better photos and gets me thinking about composition and colour in unique ways. Also some places help inspire the stories inside my crazy brain, including Who Needs the Moon and my werewolf friend.

Soon, I am planning like to scout out abandoned towns and dark forests, and look for images that I can use as reference for backgrounds in the comic.

It's helped me come to the realization that I have a real thing for #skyporn and #fogporn. Alas, not much fog ever in my neck of the woods.

If you like instagram, why not take a look at my profile?
Maybe you can follow me, and I can follow you.

BTW - instagram really should implement a webspace to view this stuff.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

I Got Ahead of Myself

Looks like I am not going to have the first 25 pages finished as quickly as I expected to.  Things should change in the next week or two though.

1) My son starts junior kindergarten next week - so that frees up daytime hours on Thursday and Friday.

2) Maybe my daughter will start going to daycare during that time on those same days - thereby freeing up more daytime hours.

3) The above should make me less off a sleep starved and sleep obsessed person who actually does something with his time in the evenings when his kids are staying with him instead of falling immobile onto a couch.

4) I am getting a better sense of the visual direction of the book - and it has made me come up with some interesting ideas for the story having these times when I can't but can work on the book.

Basically, half my time is split taking care of my two toddlers, which is the most exhausting/rewarding/stressful/empowering/difficult/wonderful thing I have ever done!

Anyways, 6 pages are 95% complete.  Just trying to decide if I should post those for now.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hatching a Grey Plan

So... What have I learned while making this comic?

Well I learned that I needed to set up my comic, in such a way that it would be easy and enjoyable to read.  I spent probably too much time looking for a plugin that would allow me to do that here on Blogger.  Unfortunately there isn't such a thing. At least I didn't search long and hard enough to find out if there was, and besides it looks like Wordpress is the choice for web comic publishing.

I considered setting up a Wordpress comic site using the plugin found at webcomic, but there were problems presented here that I didn't want to deal with any longer.  Primarily, creating a website and paying someone to host it, which in my opinion is a waste of money in this day and age and the free options available.  I wanted a free solution at whatever cost (go figure, and there are costs), and wanted to do it using Blogger, but soon realized that wasn't going to work out.  The images that make up your comic need to be housed somewhere, and then each page needs its own separate html link, or some kind of code that keeps track of the images to post the right one when you click the next button, or the back button, etc.

What to do?

I kept searching, I wasn't about to start dealing with html coding again.  Luckily, I stumbled pretty quickly on ComicFury.


I was worried that there would be some things that I would need to agree to that would make using a free site service like theirs unappealing.  Fortunately, so far that doesn't seem to be the case.  And, currently, I think anyone interested in creating a web comic should consider them.  They give you the free hosting, and only ask that you place their personal advertisement on your webcomic, which you don't even have to agree to do. But...  Why wouldn't you help the people helping you?

You are free to advertise there whatever you want on your pages. Obviously within acceptable limits.

I decided to use them almost instantly, and therefore knew that I needed to get my first 25 pages completed to have it up there pretty soon.  And, so I got to work. I needed a cover to place there, so viewers have something to see in the meantime, and created this after whittling down an idea into something that I could use in many ways.

I have always had the intention to print this comic sometime in the near future, and so I had a definite look that I was striving for.

However after spending some time working with a system to speed up hatching - by basically placing a hatched image into the file as a layer, and then masking it to add and remove it from portions of the page - I discovered that it looked kind of poor when shown at a decent web size with a width of 800px.  The hatching just created too many artifacts at that resolution, and these distortions were just too glaring for me. I then fooled around with line width some more and line spacing to see if it cleared it up.  But there seemed to be always problems.  I didn't want to make concessions on the hatching, which would look fine in print, but it looked like I would have to.

I could make each comic page larger, but I think it would ultimately ruin the user experience by forcing the reader to pan around too much.  If this comic were not intended for print, I would use a layout that works better with keyboard navigation, but the intent is to print later...  Anyways...

Later a decent compromise presented itself.  I decided to make the masks themselves different shades of grey and this looks great on the web.  Heck, it even looks good on paper I bet.  What this means is that I have something that looks great on a monitor, and I am sure it either looks just as good on paper and if not I can use the layers to place the hatching when I go to print.  But I am now toying with the idea of making each shade of grey a different color, because it looks great now and has opened some new possibilities.  We'll just have to see.

Here is a little taste of what I partly did to end up with the almost completed page 2 of my graphic novel 

Pencilling, inking and painting in MyPaint.

Refining the image.  Once I get this process down, I hope to make better time on later pages.

GIMP for the bridge between MyPaint and Inkscape.  Please fix the GIMP.  2.8 Crashes so often on my rig.

Inkscape to prepare the final layouts and text.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Animation Reel from Puff, the Magic Dragon

Because I've always meant to, I will be putting up more work from previous employers and other personal projects I've worked on in the past.

I felt that I needed to better show that I am capable of animating. Although it is something that I will be endeavouring to improve on over the course of my career.  Which means I will eventually make that short film with Lampy and his story, and hopefully improve my skills greatly during that time.  Or maybe I'll land a contract soon that will help me put the skills to better use and hone them there.  Where ever that ends up being.

For now though, I am posting the animations I created for the Sterling app Puff, the Magic Dragon, while I worked at Padworx Studios.

While I worked at Padworx, my title was Senior Artist, which meant I was a lot of things.  But my primary tasks were focused on 3d work, and that included everything that makes 3d happen. Modeling, uv's and texturing, rigging and animating, storyboards, environments and more.

This video shows some of the animated scenes - basic viewport captures - of the work that I did on this app. I did all the rigging, and I was the lead animator on the project. Which meant that I animated a large number of the scenes by myself, while giving direction on others. Later though, when everyone was pulled away to work on other apps, I had to fine tune and finish all the scenes.

I tried to finesse everything as much as possible within the small time frame we had been given.

Mostly, I am happy with the way it all turned out.

The limitations imposed by mobile devices on the number of bones that can be assigned to vertices, and the small number of polygons allowed per scene made it somewhat difficult, but fortunately blender is very forgiving and allowed me to edit meshes without losing skinning data.

The work was entirely done in blender. Even much of the texturing work - which I didn't include here - was done in blender too.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Tourism Australia - There's Nothing Like Australia

Padworx Studios contracted me to create the intro video for the app they were building for Tourism Australia, which has recently been released. There's Nothing Like Australia App

I was pretty happy with how my work turned out and thought I would share it here.

It was rendered and composited in Blender, using a mix of both the internal renderer and the already amazing Cycles render engine being developed by the foundation.

Obviously, it was a pretty easy thing to rig, but I found that animating paper in 3d can be a tad more trying than flipping pages in the real world.

I'm glad I wasn't required to animate 100 pages. I think I would have developed a neuroses.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Another Process Post

I've been working on the first 25 pages of the graphic novel.  After doing some research today, I may have to cut one page, depending on whether it is affordable to print the comic up smaller "montly" issues.  But, it certainly looks like print may just be too expensive to do unless it is all one volume, or if you are a major publisher that can afford to print a really large amount of issues.

So I'm pretty settled into the production process now.

Personally, I first start with a small pad of paper or notebook, where I just quickly try to jot down the story, page by page.  At this early stage, I'm not really doing much more then putting down some basic narrative, dialogue or plot ideas that map out the story.  I find it convenient to do it like this, because it's easy to carry around and work on it anywhere.

This drafting stage has been very beneficial to me.  The text is enough to remind me of what I plan on drawing in that page, and without thumbnails, it allows me to alter the mental layout of the page if it needs a different flow.

Some of this work could end up becoming scrap once I type it into the computer, using Libre Office, I've debated using google drive for this, but decided for now to keep everything on my own system.

Next I start typing the pages out into my desktop. I then print out these pages and place them all into a binder, organized into revision tabs.  This way I can again easily edit then anywhere, marking out and revising narration and speech.  I can also figure out if a page needs to be broken up into more pages, and start the thumbnails while I edit.

Although it is all maybe a little time consuming, I think it is actually extremely beneficial, and so I will continue to force myself to do it.  The best laid plans are well thought out in advance.

Once things are starting to make sense and I am ready to start making the pages, I first create the layouts for every page in Inkscape.  I then work with MyPaint to sketch the pages and then the GIMP to bring it all together.

So below, you'll see the basic roughed in page, with crude images to get a sense of placement. Just blocking in at this point.

 After I am happy enough with the rough images, and all the pages are roughed out. I then move on to tightening up the images.  For me, this has been where the look of the characters has started to be fleshed out more.  I've tried to sketch some of the supporting characters, but with little success, because it just feels out of context, and it seems I need the story and panels to really feel it all.
Some of the panels require the use of a the background being repeated.  So for this I've decided to just duplicate the "pencils" of the background into each panel with the GIMP.  Later I'll free hand the "inks" of each panel separately, to give each a unique visual stamp.
I hope to have the first 25 and the cover up by mid August. Hopefully I can hit that mark, and - fingers crossed - people read it.

As an aside, making a living as an artist is not all it's cracked up to be.  

Has it ever been?  

While I wouldn't say I'm starving - my kids aren't currently going hungry either - it would certainly be nice to have some more money to get a little more out of life.

Sure, I could always look for work with another company - which I have done in the past, and would certainly take any current proposals! - but the reward of creating my own personal artistic vision is too enticing to stop striving to do this book and any other project I choose to create.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Some Good and Some Embarrassing Moments

I needed to get videos of games that I've worked on posted here, I guess as a way to show off something of what I have done in the past. Though maybe it was out of nostalgia.

After delving through some of the games that I have worked on, I'm feel that I am shaking my head that some of them actually ended up being made at all.

Not so much that they were poorly done, they were pretty current in technology and implementation. More that the content is so questionable, and we knew it at the time. But, what the publisher wants, the publisher gets.

Thank you for the indie revolution!

More recent titles first, down to the oldest.

Sideway New York
Unfortunately, neither I nor anybody else I know - besides the upper creatives - were given credit on this game.  I played the demo on the PS3, and didn't see anyone I worked with in the grunt departments of the art/programming teams listed there. I worked on this game back in 2009 when it was being developed for XBLA while I was at Fuel Industries, before large lay offs occurred. It really didn't change all that much from the version I worked on. The environments look to have been reused and that includes all the props we made, but the texturing of the models is completely different. Originally while I was on the project, the look of the 3D environment was more realistic to contrast with the Graffiti. That appears to have been taken away.

This was a fairly large project, that involved quite a bit of character modelling with another artist who was my lead at the time. While the characters were simple enough, surprisingly the toony aspects provided quite a few annoyances when translated into 3D. The same models were used for the cinematics as in game, because the ingame stuff was all pre-rendered on sprite sheets.

Microsoft Tinker, Swipeout Battle Racing, Tetsurai
Overall, these were some enjoyable titles to work on.  I'm not sure Tetsurai has actually really been made playable yet. Other smaller adver games for web browsers were made while simultaneously working on these projects.

This is one of those smaller adver games. Viking Quest. It was fun, just your basic hack and slash like Gauntlet. I modelled props and the enemy minions.

Land of the Dead: Road to Fiddler's Green
I think that this must be the most popular game I've ever worked on. There appears to be a lot of fan love on youtube for it.  I left before the game was officially finished. But It had been a fun experience at the time. Especially the protoype - Day of the Zombie -  that lead to this whole movie tie.

This didn't perform well at all I don't think. I worked on the cinematics for a few months on this one.

Marine Heavy Gunner Vietnam
There is so much going on in this game that is politically incorrect.  And the majority of the team questioned how we ended up working on something like this. But this is what happens when you are mercenaries for hire. There were some good times had while making this game though.

Desert Thunder
This was my first real true game making experience, and again I questioned what I had gotten myself into. The team was great, but the content of the game questionable. We began working on this not that long after the events in New York on September 11th.  It appealed to a certain group at the time. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sharing my Comic Template

Hi there. I have something that may be of use to some of you out there.

Here is the TEMPLATE.

Tonight I have started working on the layout of the first 25 pages of my book Who Needs the Moon.
Once it's ready I will be putting it online here for you to read in the new page that I will be opening up soon on this blog.

To create the book, I will be using Inkscape to do all the borders, speech balloons and text for the comic.  I think I have found a document size that works well for printing, and which can be shrunk down in order to be placed on the internet.

If you want a comic template to use, you can use this one until your hearts content and not have to worry about paying a fee to me or giving me credit.

I hope it saves you some time.

As I work on the book more, I'll add things as I need them and will update the file and link.

NOTE: The values of the template were sort of arbitrarily chosen. It is sort of a mix of industry sizes. I mainly measured out sizes from different graphic novels that I liked and then chose one for myself. This is not a template that conforms to marvel/DC or Manga standards.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

MOR EGG comic - What happened?

I did the art for this book, and worked on it for an incredibly dirt cheap price. Dirt! Cheap!

It was a good experience, in that it taught me about how a book needed to flow, and ways that I could plan ahead in my own personal work.

I haven't heard much about it, from the writers over the years. So I assume that it hasn't faired all that well.

I've posted some examples of the pages I illustrated without any word bubbles.

One BIG thing I learned from this, was that there is a huge amount of work that goes into pencilling, inking and colouring a book. If you go down this route on your own, you had better be prepared for a lot of time spent in front of whatever it is you'll be working with. Be it monitor, paper or... er... playdoh?

Overall, I was happy with the way my work turned out. I really tried to put in to practice many things that Scott McCloud discussed in his book Understanding Comics.

Zombie Concept Dump

I've decided that I just need to fill out this blog a little better with art that has been done while I was working for past companies.

This dump consists of concept sketches that were made for zombie enemies that were used in a game that was the protoype that later became - Land of the Dead: Road to Fiddler's Green.  I worked on this game while working for BrainBox which is now a dead division of Digital Extremes.

These were made 9-10 years ago I think.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Screech of the Lighthouse Keeper

So I wanted to practice and work on my inking in MyPaint some more. So I started a quick doodle which led to this...

It ended up as a scene from some kind of teen mystery novel or comic, which I think was influenced by my love of horror films, but probably a likely result of watching Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated a week ago. After working on it some more, on and off over a period of a couple days, I finished with the above cover idea.

Here is the process I used in MyPaint. I made a quick rough - with a brush that I think finally feels like a 4B pencil - that sketched out the composition of the scene. I wasn't all that sure if I would continue to work on it past this point, since it was actually originally intended as a way to get warmed up.

Something in it captured my eye - I think it was my surprise at the way the brush behaved - and so I decided to continue working on it.  I next grabbed one of the ink brushes that I have been tweaking and tried to get a sense of the method I would like to use. I like to add detail with the "ink" instead of working it out in the rough, because I can quickly undo anything I don't like.

My intention was to start spotting blacks, but I realized that this wasn't probably the best choice for the image. Not to say that it wouldn't have worked - it would have ended up looking very different than this though - I just think that at this point I saw it for what it was and felt that it should be treated in a way that befitted it. A teen mystery story cover. So I started instead to block in colours and lighting. I was looking for a moonlit feeling of foreboding. I also thought that I should add in some hard highlights and decided that I would need to paint in some flash lights.

Next step was to tweak the image more by adding more visual interest. I didn't want to over complicate things here.  Which I may have done anyhow.

At this point I once again decided that I should do something that I have been consciously trying to steer myself away from. Post. But once again I felt that the image needed it for what it was. So I took it into the GIMP and cropped it. I then added some new layers that I used to add overlay and multiplied colouring. And it was done. I took it back into MyPaint after this step and drew in the title and cropped it again, because the app likes to add more canvas dependant on brush stroke.

I actually had a lot of fun with this, and learned a lot from it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Videos of Padworx Apps

I've been meaning to get work I've done for companies in the past posted here to the blog. Unfortunately, when my work is done on a project, it usually has a few other channels to go through, so it's not ready to be shown when I want to post it, and then I forget about it. Today however was a good reason to post teaser videos of the apps that I worked on while at Padworx Studios.

I was very happy with how my work turned out in the Puff app.  There were quite a few limitations on the meshes and skeletons that were later exported into the engine, but I think in the end it worked out well, even with those limitations.

I was a Senior Artist while at Padworx, but mainly that meant that I was the Lead 3D artist and Lead Animator.

All 3D and all animations were done in Blender, which proved to be incredibly versatile and forgiving.

The engine used for this app was Unity, and all 3D and animations were created with Blender.  Unity itself is a great engine for artists to work with. It may not be open source but it is affordable.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Search for a Solution

With my wife still fighting back breast cancer - and doing very well - I have very little time to work on the graphic novel while juggling care for her and care of our two children.

A few weeks back though, I managed to squeeze out a little time here and there and started to tackle what process I would be taking to complete the book.

I have ruled out ink and paper, and have instead chosen to work in digital completely.  I think it will keep my initial costs down, and it will allow me to easily tweak composition and quickly fix mistakes.

Although I do have more of an affinity with ink and paper - it really just flows better and feels more natural - I think with the tests I have done, I have found a way that should still work well and produce a book that I can be proud of.

It will be created fully and only with FLOSS applications.  In the time that I have spent working in digital media, I have come to the conclusion that creating digital art should not cost a middle class fortune. The prices charged for "industry" software is outlandish, and only suppresses a large group of artists around the world from creating, or instead forces them to pirate the programs.

So, currently the process might be a little troublesome for an artist, because there is a lot of back and forth between programs.  In the long run though I think it will improve with the software and once I figure out a rhythm.

To date, I am still really only in the process of fleshing out the book.  I don't want to waste time with panel ideas and layouts. I just want to spend the time now to map the story out, get a feel for the location and characters and make the dialogue real and the narration have a decent flow to it.

What I have so far, is rough pages on individual sheets of paper in a notepad. I have then taken and entered the text into Libre Office and started to write it out - again each page on a seperate sheet - so I can then print it off, read over it and edit it some more. Each printed page has space where I can then start to layout the pages, panels, composition and dialogue in doodle form.

Initially I was planning on doing a colour book, and I wanted to go for a more realistic approach to the art. But the more indie comics I have read of late have only convinced me that the whole approach of having iconic characters in black and white helps the reader flow better through the book and story. I do not want the reader to stall on an image because they can't figure out what is going on, and therefore break their immersion in the story.

Also I believe it is cheaper for someone like me to print up black and white pages over full colour.  Besides there is beautiful design aesthetic to black and white images. Done right, when I see it in other peoples work, there almost appears to be a perfect balance on the page.  Truly a yin and yang thing.

So below, you'll see an attempt done recently using two fantastic programs, Inkscape and MyPaint to try and turn out what a finished page might look like. I say might, because I haven't even gotten into character designs yet, and I am completely new to spotting blacks. So this MAY be representative of what the finished product will look like.

Based on the template that Scott McCloud made and shows off on youtube, I created something similar in inkscape. Using my doodles on the written rough of the page, I create the layout and then export out a bitmap that I then do the "pencils" and "inks" in mypaint.

I hope to make a worthwhile template that I will share with others when it is completed.
Overall I am pleased with the current result. I do feel like I have a lot of work to do on spotting blacks. It just isn't a natural process for me yet.  Which brings me to the study I did below. I just wanted to see what looks "good".  I wanted to do more, but family duties forced me to put it on hold again.  I think the next exercise I do will require a more complicated scene.
I am waiting to try out the GIMP and Krita for this as well though.  There is something about mypaint that just seems to make it more geared to painting for me and not inking.  I fooled with Krita a bit with doing some inks and really enjoyed the way it seemed to flow.  But my old wacom died, and currently neither GIMP nor Krita work with my new Monoprice 12x9 graphics tablet (which is kickass and cheap), and Krita needs to iron out some interface issues, and the new GIMP was just released, and until it works with my tablet I can't even test it out.

Mypaint does work OUT OF THE BOX with my tablet though - I guess they use their own drivers or maybe its magic - so I'll continue to use it. And I really do love mypaint.

Ink and paper aren't out though. I've decided that I would like to do posters or illustrations a little more traditionally. My eyes need a break from monitors here and there. :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Break time - Sculpting Digital Clay

So I've recently felt that I needed to give the comic some time to simmer.

If you fool with something too long - as I am wont to do - you can seriously mess twist and warp a good idea into a bad one.

When working on personal projects I have this nasty habit of over tweaking ridiculous details that bring nothing to the table to improve the work in front of me. Later, when I am starting to get pressed for time, I rush things and find myself disappointed with the end result.

I do not intend to do the same thing with any of my projects in the future. I will take the time - sure -  to do it right. But, from now on, I will write things down, make well laid plans and ensure that the end product is hopefully good to someone else other than me.

So anyways, I have been fooling with Sculpting in Blender again. In the future, I will be getting into a few animated projects that I think will have quite a few models and objects that make use of sculpting.  So I plan on using some of my time every once and I while to dedicate to focusing on a few areas in 3D that need practise. Maybe even fool with some film here and there.

Proportionately, these heads aren't very accurate - no reference was used - and they could use some even finer details, which I might add later. Never mind the ears, I almost ignored doing them, focusing instead on the faces.  Mainly, these quick sculpts are meant to make me more familiar with all the sculpt tools  that are now available in Blender.

Currently I am only skimming the surface of the tools, making use of the default settings mainly, but eventually I hope that I have a formula that works well with me that I can use effectively to create great looking models.

In the last few releases, Blender has really improved in the areas of sculpting. Some great features have been added in to the program, and some others just down the pipeline. With Google Summer of Code soon to start it will be interesting to see what else gets added to an already fantastic program.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Monitor Calibration Horror.

I've been trying today to calibrate my pretty cheap monitor.

The worst thing about doing this now, is that the current settings that I have set up right currently, show me that a lot of the past work that I have been doing is pretty poor in contrast.

The previous post's image of werewolves concepts is a pretty good example of that.  Here's the problem, on my monitor before calibration it looks fine.  Obviously, I painted it in that environment. On my smartphone, a Nexus S, it looks fine, ignoring a few problematic high contrast areas.

On the newly calibrated monitor  though -  which I think is better than before, but far from perfect - it is barely visible and hard to make out.  As a test, I brought the image into the GIMP and tweaked the Levels, Brightness/Contrast and Curves as well. It appears better on my screen now, but shows that as a concept piece it is kind of weak.

When getting into an extremely dark piece like this, and this is probably true of extremely bright pieces as well, cheap screens just aren't calibrated properly and give a poor range of blacks and whites.  Graphics people shouldn't cut or skimp on monitors if they can afford not to.

I am going to have to fool with this monitor setup more and see where I can compromise. I just hope this doesn't ruin all my work. 

If you feel that you could benefit from some eyeball calibration of your monitor, here is the link
that I used to tweak my NVIDIA settings.

P.S. to all of you that have viewed my work on a properly or semi-properly calibrated monitor, I apologize.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sympathy for the Devil

Well, it has been difficult to find time to work on anything related to the graphic novel, let alone any other type of art.

Currently, with my wife working her way through chemo therapy to fight breast cancer, I find that the whole family is strapped for time. Because of this my duties have increased taking care of the house, her and the kids and so I don't have much time for anything else.  When I do have some time at night, I find myself completely exhausted.

Right now I am REALLY tired. I've never been this tired. @_@

For a while there, early into her treatment, art seemed pretty trivial, when faced with the all the things cancer heaps on a family. Naturally I guess I've shied away from it, and so things have been left by the wayside. Probably for the better. I've stewed on design and story ideas.

Lately though, I've been making a more serious attempt to do something... anything. I really want to create this book.


I was never entirely comfortable with the look of the werewolf.  An American Werewolf in London's creature effects has had a huge influence on my design ( I love that film ) but I want to inject my own take and style on it. These concepts come from me trying to nail down something.

The whole character of the wolf needs fleshing out. And the town too.

More to come. I hope.