Thursday, December 21, 2006

Xmas Holiday

I just wanted people to know that there won’t be a new page published on December 25th since I’ll be out of town for the Christmas holiday. There will be a new page the following Monday, on January 1st.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Master of Shadows

I’ve made very good progress this week on page 20, and I think I should be able to squeak out another page by Sunday or early Monday. It would be nice to get more than one page done in a week for a change!

I created a new corridor set early in the week that represents the dark passages below the training base. I also did the lighting for the set to create a lot of great shadows. In fact, I use shadows to good effect throughout page 20. This is actually how I originally wanted to do the whole story, which is more evident in the first few pages. From his name, Magnus Black is supposed to be dark.

To give an idea of how I get my ideas, page 20 and 21 evolved in my head organically. By that I mean, I had a general idea of what I wanted (i.e.: Magnus in the corridors, hunting his fellow classmates), but I wasn’t sure how I would execute it (so to speak). Then I thought about him using a ruse to trick his target so Black could get behind him. Then, after taking a shower actually, I thought of an additional twist that would actually trick the reader (for a moment anyway) into believing one thing and then pulling a “bait and switch.” The audience is thinking one thing, but discover it was something else. I’m not sure it will work, but it’s worth a try I guess.

Anyway, here’s a shot from page 20:

Monday, November 27, 2006

Straight From My Butt

I’m embarrassed to say that I did the final two-thirds of page 18 on Sunday afternoon and evening (the day I posted it to the website). I did the middle three panels on Friday, and then tried doing the top panel on Saturday, but I didn’t like it very much (the top panel that is). So, I basically did the top and the bottom of the page all on Sunday.

Of course, all of Thursday and much of Saturday were taken up with Thanksgiving festivities. Earlier in the week, I was doing other things that have perked my imagination more of late. One was my pen and paper RPG, which is coming along pretty well (all the skills are done and now I’m going to work on the abilities). Also, I downloaded a game builder from Garage Games. It has a 30-day free trial, so I was playing around with that.

This all means I was left with hardly any time to work on my comic, and I feel in some way guilty for it. I feel like I pulled much of page 18 out of my ass at the last minute, and perhaps that shows in the final product of the page. Not sure if that’s true, but that’s how I felt about.

I was happy about one of the panels I did Sunday, however. It shows Magnus looking down at the Gordian he had just killed, along with a quote from Sgt. Black, “Don’t pity the men you kill; they’re the lucky ones.” I made the panel by first rendering Magnus and the Gordian, and then rendering the ground. That allowed me to add extra shadow to Magnus and the Gordian. I like how it looks. It seems a little more 3D to me. Judge for yourself:

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Agents of Death

I’ve just posted page 17 online. I’m happy with how it came out, although it ended up having one less panel than I had originally planned.

In a previous page, I mention that the recruits call the planet where they get their training Hell, since it lacks a real name. Page 17 refers twice to hell by making reference to Dante’s the Inferno (“abandon all hope”) and Satan from Milton’s Paradise Lost. For the latter, one of my favorite parts of the story is when Satan says he is Hell and where he walks, so goes Hell. I paraphrase this somewhat by saying the recruits will become agents of death and where they walk, death will follow.

The first panel on the page was originally the second, but I decided to switch the first and second since they seemed to fit better that way with the third panel. The first panel shows the reflection of Magnus in Sgt. Black’s sunglasses. To create this effect, I tried to create a reflection map which I could than add directly to the sunglass model in Poser. However, I was not at all happy with the result and decided that I could do the same thing in Photoshop. After creating a separate render of Magnus and another recruit in Poser, and then creating a composite of that and the background, I applied the spherize filter in Photoshop. This gave the image a curved look. I then added another layer with a light effect to imitate glare off the sunglasses. Lastly, I took a Poser render of Sgt. Black’s sunglasses and superimposed the other image I had created of the reflection. After some additional tweaks (an hour or so total work), I had the panel where I wanted it (appearance-wise). Here’s how it turned out:

Thursday, November 02, 2006

It's Full of Stars!

I finished the renders for page 15 today, but I still have the narration to complete. Since I will be out most of Friday, I doubt I’ll be able to get another page done on Saturday and Sunday. Of course, miracles can happen, but I wouldn’t bet on it with my current run of luck.

From looking at the stats on my website, it seems people are specifically coming to see the new pages as they appear. I can tell this because they will come to the first page and then go directly to the last (most current) page. This makes me feel good. Perhaps people even like what they see! ;-)

The sample I have below features a star field I made using a very good Photoshop tutorial. It’s still not as good as the images found in Eve Online, but it’s a start. My only concern is that the new stars don’t match the old ones I’ve done for this particular story. It would be better to have consistency, but I decided to go for it anyway. Hopefully no one will care (and I doubt anyone will).

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Cyber Cadet Blog

I haven’t updated my blog in a while so I figured I better do something at least.

I added page 14 this week, which will lead into the second to last segment of the story. I actually had the page done earlier, but left the narration to the last minute. Credit goes to my wife for suggesting a change to the wording in the final panel. I had something a little different, but I wasn’t happy with it. She said I should make it a shorter, so that’s what I did. Who says I don’t listen to my wife (well, at least sometimes)?

Btw, there’s another blog I would like people to check out. It’s called Cyber Cadet and features the sci-fi ramblings of a disturbed mind. I’m not sure whom this cyber cadet guy is, but he should probably be watched carefully, or at least kept away from battle droids of any kind.

Here is a frame from page 14 showing one of the Imperium Marines. I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of the armor model in this shot (see Alexander the Prince), but I really like how it looks.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Another Week, Another Page

I published page thirteen over the weekend. As I mentioned in my previous post, I had hoped to get more than a single page done last week, but obviously that didn’t happen. I’ve been in a creative malaise again it seems. I haven’t really done much of anything. I have gone to the hospital each day: my father fell and he’s been in there for a couple of weeks. However, I can’t blame my lack of production on that since I’ve had plenty of time to get things done.

I tried again to put a forum on my site. This time I’ve offered to host other sci-fi comics on the forum too, for people who want a forum but don’t want to go through the trouble of setting it up. I post my offer on the online comics web forum, but nobody has shown an interest so far. I’ll give it some more time, but I’ll remove it yet again if nobody is interested.

Here’s an image from page thirteen:

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A Magnanimous Birth

I published page 12 on Sunday afternoon, which was the only page I got done last week. Today, however, I did almost all of page 13, so hopefully I can keep myself motivated enough to get number 14 ready too.

The story is called “Born in the Grave,” and page 12 actually shows why. Black’s mother, after being shot and left for dead, gives birth to Magnus in the mass grave of the other settlers. The idea might not be very realistic, but I really wanted Black to have such a fateful beginning to his life. Since I’m a fairly straight-laced person, I obsessed about the panel that shows Black’s mother – not because she was dead, but because she is showing her left breast. Since I show the baby in the same frame, the breast signifies motherhood. I wasn’t really going for anything heavily symbolic, but I thought it was important. However, for some reason, I thought people might not like the nudity. I was silly to obsess about it for two reasons: one, it’s really not gratuitous and two, I don’t think I have a big enough audience that anyone would really care.

Page 13 shows, in quick fashion, Magnus growing up and learning how to be a pirate (and a killer). I’m a little worried that readers will get bored with all this narration (versus dialogue). I was always taught that it’s better to “show” than to “tell.” However, I need to tell the middle of the story this way in order to get to where I can get back to the real action. I expect I can do that in another couple of pages.

Here’s a picture of Black and his pirate clan tattoos. It’s a little beefcake for those interested. ;-)

Friday, October 06, 2006

Welcome to the Suck

I’ve been working on page 11 for a couple of days now, but I still need to add Black’s monologue before I’m done. I actually started with the middle panel, which shows several bodies at the bottom of a pit (or open grave). That was the “highlight” of my experience, but the rest of the panels aren’t that great. They all involve a lot of composite work (adding different renders together into a single image). However, they came out rather artificial looking; not “natural.” Basically they look like what they are, a bunch of images slapped together. *Sigh*

Here is a shot of Black’s mother’s eyes (shortly before she’s killed by the Magna). I decided not to show her actually dying, since I thought it would leave more to the reader’s imagination. It also adds to the drama somewhat.

Sunday, October 01, 2006


I added pages 9 and 10 for this week. I completed ten yesterday, or at least so I thought. I published it, and then this afternoon while I laid down for a quick nap, I realized that I had forgotten to add sound effects to the page. So, I fixed that and republished it. Since I had my wife look at it before I published it the first time, I chided her for not catching my mistake (which is one advantage of having a proofreader: you can blame them for your own mistakes). However, she said it looked more dramatic without sound effects (so there!), but I reminded her that this is the comics so she resigned herself to the fact that every page will have at least one “booom” or “zzzat!”

As for page 10, I did much of it using Bryce. This only exposed my shabby Bryce skills. I especially didn’t like the trees in panel one since they looked fakey to me. I thought about just going a different direction completely, but eventually decided on just going with what I had. It’s okay looking, I guess, but I know someone with greater Bryce abilities could’ve done better. Blah!!

Anyway, I was very happy with the second panel, however. It shows Black’s father burning to death. I really just played around for a while in Photoshop until I came up with the final product. The real breakthrough came when I applied a smudge brush after erasing out part of the image. This gives the illusion of Black’s father literally disintegrating within the flames. I hate it when that happens. ;-)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Black's Mother

I worked on page 9 for the last couple of days. Again, if you look at the page itself, it doesn’t look like much, but putting it all together took a long time, mostly because I wasn’t satisfied with it for much of the time. First, I didn’t like the text that I wrote, so I rewrote it several times. Then, I wasn’t happy with the images themselves and redid about 80% of that. However, I finally got done with it last night so that’s done with. The irony of course is that readers will spent maybe 30 seconds on the page and then go on to the next one.

Anyway, here is one of the images: it’s of Black’s mother (pregnant) and imitates a frame from a video – apparently found by Magnus at some point.

Monday, September 25, 2006

"Awful, but Good"

That's how my wife described page 8. It looks like a pretty simple page, but it actually took me several hours of tinkering before I was done. In Poser, I did two renders of Tokai (one with the goggles and one without). I then took a render of the goggles by themselves, because I needed to turn the lenses around to give the illusion that it had been cut in half. Finally, I did some other renders of what would become the blast mark, but in retrospect, I should’ve just done that part in Photoshop. Speaking of which, I created the flowing blood with a simple wet brush in PS, but I wasn’t satisfied with how the blood looked. Basically, it lacked texture. After reading a tutorial online, I used one of the steps (using the cloud filter) to create a pattern that I then applied to the blood in the shot. Doing that really turned it from something mediocre to something that I could be “proud” of – keeping in mind, of course, that I had created a picture of a bleeding dead guy. ;-)

Saturday, September 23, 2006

End of the Beginning

Last week I only managed one page, but this time I think I’ll have two ready by Sunday night. Page 7 and 8 will be the end of the so-called Prologue of the Born in the Grave story where I more or less introduce the world to Magnus Black. Where on page 6 I include some graphic violence, on page 7 I throw in some swearing to set the mood. Nothing too much – nothing you wouldn’t hear during an episode of NYPD Blue.

PS: Since I never seem to put any images in my blog from my comic, I’m going to try and get into the habit of doing that. Thus . . .

Monday, September 18, 2006

Bloody Sunday!

I posted only one page yesterday (number six), but it was by far the bloodiest page so far. As promised, the Magnus Black stories were going to be gory, and I followed through by showing a guy’s head getting blown out by a plasma bolt. Of course, in the Alexander story, such a blast would just have been shown as a nifty little explosion (small and lacking blood), but not so anymore. Although what I showed was no worse (perhaps even less) than what other comics have, I’m still not sure how people might react (if at all). As for the process of creating the effect, I looked at some blood splatter tutorials online and then did a few things of my own (using a gauss filter on one blood layer). I also used the clone feature to elongate the victim’s hair to imitate the blast. Anyway, this is my first real attempt at this so hopefully I will improve with practice.

As for the fact that I only got one page done last week is due to my work schedule again. I really only had one or two evenings to get stuff done at home. The rest of the time I was either working too late or I was too tired (or both). Not sure how this week will go but we’ll see . . .

Monday, September 11, 2006

Change to Page Nav

I added pages four and five to the site last night. I also redid the navigation a bit for the story. Before I had the words Previous and Next listed predominately on either side of the list of page numbers. Since the list of numbers was mostly empty this early in the story, the Previous/Next seemed to just hang there. To make things look a little crisper, I removed them and simply added a <> sign next to the actual page number (for whatever page you happened to be on).

By the way, I got my new Dell and I spent Friday moving my files over from my old computer. As for the new computer and Poser, I think scenes load faster, but I don’t think the increased RAM has increased the speed of rendering much. Perhaps I shouldn’t have expected that, but it would’ve been nice. On the other hand, I now have lots and lots of space (250 Gig worth) to save my files! ;-)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Born in the Grave Now Online

After more than a month, I was able to get pages two and three done over the weekend, which was the minimum number I wanted before posting the story to the website. So, last night I added Born in the Grave to the site, updating the main page as well as the Nav Bar. I’m still hopeful that I can update the story with two or three new pages each week (on Mondays). I’m told my work schedule will be a little more sane now (yeah right!), so I might even be able to follow through on my promises!

Friday, September 01, 2006

"Labor Day"

I’ve worked eleven 12-hour days in a row, but I will have tomorrow off. I then start another 6 days on Sunday, including Monday which is the ironically named Labor Day holiday.

I will do my best to work on the new story tomorrow since I don’t know when I’ll be able to do any work after that (perhaps next Saturday).

Yesterday I was day dreaming about working on a computer game again. I imagined having an office with some cubicles filled with programmers, artists, and testers. Nothing too big of course – maybe 20 or so – but I know that will never happen. Of course, the same could be said for becoming a millionaire etc. It’s part of adulthood to know that not all dreams can be realistically achieved. Not to be depressing, but that is the way of life.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Story Reference

After writing the last post, I did a quick search on the internet and found the story I referred to: William Marshal's story.

Note that my memory was waaaaay off as to the details. ;-)

New Plot Idea

We moved into our new apartment a week ago today. However, we have not had any internet access (or phone service). I could get a cable modem instead of DSL, but I already had a contract with AT&T and cable modems are more expensive. Yes, I’m a cheap bastard. Anyway, we’re supposed to get it all hooked up today, but if that doesn’t happen, I may blow my top.

I haven’t worked on the new comic at all. I’ve tried a couple of times over the last week, but either my brain or my eyes have been too tired due to my long working hours in front of the laptop. However, I have done a little work for a coworker who asked me to do a website to sell his poetry book. It’s not a very big site, so it shouldn’t take too long and it’ll be good experience for me.

While “Born in the Grave” currently sits idle for a little while, I’ve also been thinking about other stories. One, which is tentatively entitled “Dead to Me,” is based on a historic story I heard many years ago. It’s about a man who gives his son to someone in exchange for a chest full of gold with the stipulation that he’d get the son back when he pays back the gold. Instead, when the debt comes due, the man says the other guy can keep the son since he has the hammer (himself) and anvil (his wife) to make another. I was thinking about the plot and it occurred to me that I didn’t want to write another father-son story, but I realized that if I changed the genders, it would make for a more interesting (and perhaps controversial) plot. In other words, instead of a father and son, it would be a mother who had given up her own daughter. I’m still thinking about the details, but it might have enough pathos to be a good plot.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Arrived in KC

A quick update: we safely moved ourselves down to Kansas City on Sunday, but we found out our apartment complex won’t be ready until next Saturday (which is when our furniture will likely arrive). Even so, my new job involves working 12 hour days, 6 days a week for the foreseeable future! That may mean I’m going to be pretty tired in the evenings and may not want to jump right on the computer after spending all day working on one. Never fear, however, because I really want to get started on this story, so even if my eyes are bleeding, I will work on Magnus Black! ;-)

By the way, one of the perks of my new job is getting a $500 stipend for buying a new computer. I intend to use it to get one with more RAM and faster processor, which should make rendering in Poser easier (I hope!).

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Delays, Delays . . .

I got the job here in Kansas City (where I’m currently writing this). This weekend, I will be flying back to Chicago so we can coordinate the movers on Saturday and then drive back down to KC on Sunday. However, the movers won’t get our furniture, etc. to us until the week of Aug. 14th so I don’t plan on continuing the new story until that following weekend. Basically, there’s just a lot of real-world stuff going on that is delaying Magnus Black. I’m eager to see if people will like the new story, so I’d like to get it going as soon as possible.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

New Story Started (Kinda . . )

Well, I have some good news and some “bad” news (depending on how eager you are to see the new story). The good news is that I created the first page of Magnus Black, and I think it looks pretty good. The so-called bad news is that I won’t be able to work any more on the story for at least the next couple of weeks! The reason is that I’m maybe going to be moving to another city for a new job and I’m going to be without my computer for a while. The details are up in the air and I still don’t know if I’m getting the job. However, if I do get it, the job will start probably right away which means staying in the new city for a time while my wife and I arrange to move the rest of our stuff. Soooo, in other words, I won’t be able to do any more pages until all that is sorted out.

Of course, I could just put the single page up, but I’d rather not do that. My original plan (and what I will do once I get things going again) is to post 2-3 pages per week each Monday. However, I want to be sure I can do that on a dependable schedule so people won’t be wondering where the new pages are (if I’m unable to post them). Sigh. Well, in a few weeks hopefully all this will be water under the bridge. We’ll see!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

New Tshirts

I didn’t work on Magnus Black at all this last week – instead focusing on redoing the print version of Alexander and creating some new tshirt designs for my online shop. I also didn’t work on Imperium War! – well, I did a little, but not much.

As for the print version of Alexander, I completed the work on Part One and Two, and uploaded it to I also worked on doing a combined book that would contain the entire comic. However, I ran into technical difficulties when I tried to convert the file into a PDF (both on my own computer and the one offered on Lulu). In both cases, the PDF attempt failed. At the moment, it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. As an aside, my wife told me that her nephew in Germany recently discovered the copy of Part One that I had given to his parents as a gift. Even though he doesn’t really speak English yet, I guess he liked the pictures. I will try and send him Parts Two and Three when I have a chance. Maybe somebody could read it to him.

As I may’ve mentioned before, I haven’t exactly been selling a lot from my online store. In an effort to increase my inventory, I decided to create a few new designs and redo some of my old ones, specifically the ones related to Imperium Chronicles. I had been doing an animated gif for my redesign of my homepage, which involved picking out some good images from Alexander. Using that as a basis, I created three new tshirt designs. I also enlarged the Imperium Chronicles logo on the shirts to make it more visible. You can see them here!

Lastly, I haven’t worked on my strategy game except for a few week paragraphs. Seriously, whenever I have to do any prolonged writing anymore, I can’t seem to get myself motivated. As I’ve said before, this was not always the case. However, now it seems to be a real problem, perhaps psychological in nature. I think I’m just afraid that nobody will want it and it’s just a big waste of time. The only question is whether I’ll make myself do it or just chicken out completely.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Magnus Black Title Logo

I got the print copy of the third part of Alexander the Prince (which includes chapters 10-13 and the Epilogue). There are a total of three printed parts, but the first two came out pretty dark. For that reason I used a little different process with the third one, and it turned out pretty well. The pages are much brighter (almost too bright), so it’s a lot easier to read and see the detail. I will go back and do the same process for books one and two so they’ll be as good as part three.

I’ve also been working on stuff for Magnus Black: Born in the Grave. I picked out a font for the regular text and another couple of fonts for the title (see below):

I also worked on the template that I’ll used for each page of the new story, and I even did some preliminary work on a redesigned main page for the website as well as the nav bar.

Lastly, the strategy game I mentioned (Imperium War) is coming along very nicely also. I’ve done the maps and the counters, and now I need to sit down a write up the rules. Frankly, that will be the hardest part, but I’m hopeful I can get through it.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Epilogue Now Online

It took me a little longer than expected (as usual), but I published the Epilogue this evening. This means that Alexander the Prince is now officially done!

Of course the question is: where do I go from here? As I already mentioned, I’m going to work on a new story called Magnus Black. However, I do have some other things going on as well. For example, there’s the long delayed and sometimes-ignored role-playing game based on Imperium Chronicles. And, most recently, I’ve been working on a much simpler game called Imperium War! This one is a tabletop-style strategy game about the war between the Imperium and the Magna Supremacy. It’s much less complex than the RPG so I’m hopeful I can get the strategy game done sooner and sell it on the web.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Epilogue Begun

I started the Epilogue a few days ago. After completing the script, I’ve done three pages of renders so far. I estimate the whole thing won’t be more than five pages (maybe six), so I should get the whole thing done fairly soon.

The Epilogue takes place in the Emperor’s study (featured in Chapter 1), and includes Hector and Alexander talking about what has happened. My goal was to put the story into some kind of context and to maybe answer some of the questions readers might have had. Perhaps most of all, I wanted to give the Emperor and Alexander some “alone” time since Hector was the so-called prime mover of the story. I wanted to show them talking so a little bit of their father-son relationship could show through.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Chapter 13 Online!

I published chapter 13 yesterday. As I’ve said, this is the climatic chapter of the story, although I still have the Epilogue to complete before the story is really finished.

I have mixed feelings about this last chapter. On the one hand, it was an emotional experience, especially when I was writing Lady Sophia’s last words. However, I’m not satisfied with it in general. Some of that is my usual low self-esteem or lack of confidence, but I just can’t help but think that it could’ve been better. I don’t think the dialogue is very good (especially in the second half) and, even at 20 pages (which is the longest of the story), I feel that the pacing too rushed. On the other hand, I still have the Epilogue to tie up loose ends.

Today I was also experimenting with lighting for the next story, Magnus Black: Born in the Grave. I would like to use light and shadow more effectively this time to give the story greater atmosphere. I would also like to improve the writing too: perhaps by taking more time and by doing more drafts. In another change, I will be publishing the story page by page (perhaps two or three pages a week) instead of publishing it by chapters. In fact, Magnus Black will not have chapters since it will be far shorter than Alexander the Prince.

Friday, June 16, 2006

A Little Late

I’m going to delay chapter 13 by a few days since it’s running longer than I had expected. I sent an email to the people signed up to my newsletter to let them know the chapter would be late. I’m hoping to get it out by Tuesday of next week.

Last night I completed page 16. Without spoiling anything, I can say that at least two of the main characters will die in this chapter. However, I don’t show any blood (although I certainly could). From the beginning of the story, I decided to keep things PG-13 (ie: no serious swearing, no real nudity, and minimal blood). It’s along the same lines as the Star Wars or Star Trek movies. I should point out that, for the next story I plan to feature on the site, I will at least have more blood and violence. So I’m certainly looking forward to that. ;-)

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Good Progress . . .

Since my previous posting, I wrote a script for much of the remaining pages. I’ve also finished the renders up through page 12. It’s hard to gauge how many pages there will be total, but I think around 16 or so is a pretty safe bet. Since the chapter involves another duel between Alexander and Rupert, some of the pages are just action with no dialogue, which translates into more pages overall. I think, however, I should have time to get everything done by next weekend, which is when I had intended to publish the whole chapter.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Back from My Trip

I returned from my second (and last) trip of the month, so I should be able to focus on the current chapter until it’s complete. Speaking of which, I finished pages 1-8 before I left, so I’m basically halfway done. I also posted the three-page preview, listing the estimated publish date for the whole chapter as June 18th.

The script I wrote earlier had enough material for the first 9 pages of the chapter, so that means I now need to write the rest if possible. As I’ve said before, having a script to go by really helps. I was having a lot of trouble early on with this chapter, but once I printed out the script, I was able to plan the renders better. Instead of doing them in order, I could jump around a bit, which saves setup time and makes things move a lot faster.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Hair Pulling

I got back from my trip on Sunday. Before I left, however, I sat down and wrote a script for the first several pages of chapter 13. I had been stuck before, but I think this is a good starting point. It required, however, that I redo page 1 which had to be completely scrapped. Since getting back, I’ve completed pages up through page 3 (including the redo). It’s been a real headache, because of the number of characters in the scene. Poser keeps crapping out on me and it’s been very frustrating. This morning I created a duplicate of the set with a lot of things removed (out of frame) so hopefully I can render more quickly.

FYI: I’ll be out of town once again next week, although for a shorter time. Since this is the climatic chapter of the story, I want to take my time, but I also don’t want to keep people waiting too long.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Chapter 13 Started

After a false start, I completed the renders for page one of chapter 13. I had originally planned on reusing the Great Room set featured in chapter 1, but I was having a lot of trouble getting renders to work properly (due to the number of models present in the scene). I decided to download a set from DAZ called the Palace Entrance. I’ve been having my eye on it for a while so I was itching to have an excuse to get it. ;-)

As I said last time, I’m going to be out of town much of this month so I’m going to be losing a lot of time for working on the comic. On the other hand, I’ll be in the car a lot so hopefully I can think about some dialogue and stuff so it won’t be a total waste of time. For whatever reason, when I’m here in the apartment, I have a lot of trouble thinking of dialogue (that doesn’t stink). When I was at work, dialogue would seem to just leap out of my head, but here at home it’s a LOT harder.

Btw, I removed the Google ads that used to run at the bottom of my webpages and replaced them with a single ad for my online store. However, like the Google ads, they don’t get clicked very often. I guess I need to find other ways to get traffic to my store. :-)

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Chapter 12 Online

I uploaded Chapter 12 on Friday, a few days ahead of schedule. Unlike the week before, I was very productive: I ended up doing six pages in six days!

Next will be the climatic chapter of the story, the last one until the epilogue. I have a strong idea of what the dialogue will be so hopefully I’ll be able to write the script relatively quickly. May will be a difficult month to get things done, however, because we’ll be going out of town at least twice.

By the way, to try and earn some money, I’ve opened a new online store through called Imperium Fantasy & Sci-fi Gifts. While I was finishing up chapter 12, I was also creating graphics for the store (for t-shirts, etc.). It’s fun to do, but we’ll see if I can actually make any money from it. Since quitting my previous job, I’ve been trying to stay away from going back to work in Corporate America, so I’m trying to find ways to work from home. Sadly, I’ll probably have to go back to the grind, but I’m hopefully I won’t have to for at least awhile longer.

Friday, April 28, 2006

I'm a lazy bum

I’ve completed pages 9 and 10. Of course, it’s been a week since my last posting when I said I had just started page 9! So much for making good progress. I’ve been having writers block, but I’m over it now and the rest of the chapter is almost all action. It should be another two or three pages I think, depending on how large I want to make the action panels. Since all of this is occurring in the mountains, I’m tempted to use larger sized panels to show off the scenery a bit.

I set the publish date for a week from this weekend. I’m hopeful I can actually have things done before then. Since I’ve been at home this whole time, I really have little excuse for not getting more done, so I’m feeling bad about it.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Accidental Spoiler

I’ve completed pages 1 through 8, and started renders on page 9 today. I’m ahead of schedule at the moment, largely because I’m on extended vacation so I can work during the day (not just in the evenings).

Last week, while I was lying in bed, I had figured out in my mind the conversation that would take place in the later part of this chapter. However, since it was the middle of the night, I didn’t write any of it down. So, today I found myself frustrated because I couldn’t remember much of it. D’oh! I mean, I remember some of it, but my previous version was a lot better (as far as I know). ;-)

By the way, it occurred to me that I had let a secret out prematurely in my blog. I had mentioned that the mountain hideout was Sophia’s even though the previous chapter only mentioned Maal-Bok. Luckily, however, very few of my readers actually read this blog so hopefully I didn’t ruin it for too many people.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Sophia's Hideout

Since I mentioned Sophia’s hideout yesterday, I though I’d describe how that went last night. Basically, I put together a few walls in Poser using the Fantasy Castle kit (from Daz3d) and took a render using a long distant shot. Then, in Bryce, I put together a couple of mountain peeks using the same texture that I used for my previous renders for the Palatine Mountains. However, I realized that I needed to add another peak, but with the top flattened, so I could have a place to actually set the hideout in the scene. After doing that, I took a render in Bryce and loaded it into Photoshop. Once in PS, I opened up the Poser render and copy-pasted the castle walls into the Bryce image.

At this point, there really wasn’t any depth between the castle hideout and the mountains. In other words, the castle looked too “superimposed” onto the scene. To fix that, I copied a new layer of the mountain scene and put it on top of the castle. After making the top layer transparent enough that I could see the castle on the layer below, I erased a hole around much of the castle, leaving some of the icy crags on the bottom section --- making it look like they were in front of the castle. In other words, when I was done, it looked like the hideout was sitting back a little ways from the cliff side, with some rocks and snow in front of the walls. Instead of the castle looking like it was floating on top of the background, this technique made it appear more a part of the whole scene.

Anyway, just a little trick I’ve discovered during the last year of doing this stuff. I’m pretty much all self-taught through trial and error, but I’m happy how this shot came out. See? I’m not always negative! ;-)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Palatine Mountains

Although I’ve been making slower than usual progress on pages this chapter, I have also been working on setting up the second location (Sophia’s hideaway in the Palatine Mountains). As I mentioned before, part of the set was built using the Gothic Construction Kit (that I used in the Smitty Gurkin chapter). However, after doing some test renders, I wasn’t happy with the way the walls and floor looked. Last night I downloaded an expansion set for the kit called Dark Haven, and replaced everything with the new stuff. I must say I’m much, much happier now.

Also, during this time, I’ve been attempting to make mountain landscapes with Bryce, software that I’ve certainly used before, but have never gotten very good at. In the first couple of attempts (this week and over the weekend), I managed to depress myself with the crappy looking landscapes I created. However, last night I made another attempt and the results were much better. The landscape is important because the hideaway set has a large balcony that will play a roll in the chapter. To make it look properly, I need to have views of the Palatine Mountains in the background. I did some test renders last night and added the new Bryce landscapes in Photoshop, and I was happy with the outcome. As I lay in bed last night, however, I realized that I still have some work to do. I really need an outside shot of the hideaway, which will require some additional work with Bryce and maybe some renders using the Fantasy Castle kit in Poser. I enjoy these creative challenges because they let me use my problem solving and my artistic skills. On the other hand, they can also be pretty frustrating when I can’t solve the problems right away. ;-)

Monday, April 10, 2006

Which Panel is Next?

I’ve finished pages 1 through 3 over the weekend. I’ve also completed most of the second set that will be featured: Sophia’s hideout in the Palatine Mountains. I’m using the same gothic construction kit I used for the Smitty Gurkin chapter, but I will be using less furniture and rugs, etc. to give it a barer look. Also, I needed to rig up a balcony as well. I had originally planned to use a pre-made section for that, but I wasn’t happy with what was available, so I decided to do one myself.

On page 3 of the chapter, the panel arrangement got a little messy I must admit. There may be some problems for readers who aren’t sure which panel to go to. My wife suggested adding arrows, and I had considered that myself, but I don’t plan to use them. I think people are smart enough to figure it out without having to include unsightly navigational symbols. On the other hand, I should’ve planned better to avoid the problem to begin with.

At this point, I don’t think I have a good enough selection of images for a preview (to add to the website). I will try to have enough within the next page or two. It’s mostly a lot of dialogue again since there won’t be much action until late in the chapter. Since I don’t want to wait that long, I will have to bite the bullet and put something up soon.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Chapter 12 Begun

I began work on Chapter 12 last week and did the first render over the weekend. The chapter begins with an external shot of Lucy’s dojo somewhere on Aldorus. I had actually a lot of trouble with this shot for some reason. I used one of the wilderness sets that I had and plopped in the dojo set on top of it. However, I had to try several renders before getting the lighting and color the way I wanted. Also, I added some additional grass props to help conceal the transition lines. The wilderness set has a backdrop and then the so-called ground. However, because the two don’t match up perfectly, there’s a visible line where the two meet. To help reduce the visibility of this transition, I simply put a prop of some wild grass in front of the line, giving the eye the illusion that the two are a single entity. Also, I put another section of grass in front of the dojo where it sits on the ground. Again, this gives a more natural look to the overall render.

I will start doing the rest of page one tonight. I wrote a few lines to get me started and I hope to write more later. Once inside the dojo, we see Lefty Lucy sitting at a Japanese-like table with another person sitting across from her. He is a Crusader Knight and he will be introducing some ideas about the Prime Mobile. This is an important topic because the Emperor shares many of the same traits as the deity that the Knight discusses.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Chapter 11 Online!

A day late, I was able to publish chapter 11 on Sunday. Actually, I should’ve scheduled it for then anyway, but for some reason I didn’t give myself the whole weekend when I originally set the publish date. I still would have been on time, however, but I decided to rewrite the script for page 10. After doing the renders, I was setting up the dialogue when I decided it wasn’t as good as I wanted. I tried doing the re-write immediately, but as usual that didn’t go off well. When I become unhappy with a script, I really have to set it aside for a day so I can let my mind work in the background. Once I did that, I was able to write it quickly.

I will start the preliminary steps for the next chapter this week, mostly putting the set together. There will be two, possibly three sets for chapter 12. It will also include the return of one of the most popular characters in the story: Left Lucy!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Talk is Cheap

I’ve finished pages 7 and 8, and started page 9. I had another bout of writer’s block last week, but I managed to break through that as well. I still need to write the final few pages, but I hope to do that today or tomorrow. I’m still hopeful that I’ll be able to publish on time (this coming weekend), but we’ll have to see.

One the challenges of this chapter is the fact that it’s all dialogue with really no action per se. Since the set is also the same throughout, it’s been difficult to make the chapter visually interesting. I’ve used various camera angles etc. to try and keep it as fresh as possible.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


I haven’t been very productive over the last week. I’ve basically been doing the renders that correspond to the script I wrote a couple of weeks ago, but I haven’t written anything new since. So, for the last few days I’ve been having more writer's block and a general sense of drifting, creatively speaking. I’ve also had some eye problems of late too. My new job involves testing on laptops and it’s led to a lot of eyestrain. This has lead to problems when I’m home, trying to work on the comic.

Speaking of my new job, I was introduced to a person there who’s involved in a No Brand Con, “Wisconsin's premiere anime, gaming, and video gaming convention.” He suggested I submit a sample of my comic for the convention. I gave him the first six pages of chapter 10 (Lt. Burke’s boarding of the Provocateur), so we’ll see if I win (or get an honorable mention or something). I’m a bit insecure about the work I do, so it would be nice to get some recognition if that happens.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Ch 11 Progressing Well, So Far . . .

I managed to work through the writer’s block that I had been working with for a week or two. I wrote enough material for several pages, and I’ve actually finished pages one through five already. I had enough done to put the preview up on the website. I set the estimated publish date for March 25th. I think that’s very reasonable and I might even get done before that, although I don’t want to jinx it.

There are only two more chapters and the epilogue left in the story, so things are getting down to the end. Makes me a little nervous, but I’m just plugging along as always – methodically.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Robots Have Big Ears

Over the weekend I completed pages 1 and 2 of chapter 11. These are largely introductory pages to setup the action later in the chapter. It involves the Magna Ambassador talking to the robot from chapter 8 (when Alexander was on Prill). What’s interesting is that I didn’t originally plan to have the robot in this chapter. It occurred to me that if the robot had been a spy all along, and was now reporting to the Ambassador, it added a whole new dimension to the previous chapter. It also allowed me to introduce some information in a more logical fashion. Originally, the Ambassador knows information, but I didn’t specify how. Now, however, I can say were it comes from (ie: the robot who has been acting as a spy). This points to an interesting part of this whole creative process: although I have an idea of how a chapter or plot will unfold, I have left enough wiggle room to incorporate additional details or plot twists that I originally didn’t think of.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Chapter 10 Online

I published chapter 10 last night without any problems. My wife, who is out of town, has promised to proofread it for me now that it’s online. Hopefully there aren’t too many glaring mistakes (although I’ll quickly fix them if my wife finds any).

I’ve already started building the main set for chapter 11. It’s actually the same Study set from chapter 1, but with different textures and a modified layout. It shouldn’t be too obvious. The whole chapter takes place in the private chambers of Ambassador Barbarosa, the same Magna that appeared in chapter 1. I still need to write the dialogue, however, so I imagine that will take most of this week, depending on how much I want done before I start rendering.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Just a few stats for the Imperium Chronicles website:

In the year or so that I’ve been keeping stats, I’ve had a total of 13,088 unique visitors (not hits) or an average of 34 visitors a day.

Also, counting the Prologue through Chapter 9, Alexander the Prince now numbers 125 pages.

As for this blog, I’ve made a total of 104 postings since starting it a year ago.

As for the visitors, I’m not sure whether this is a lot or not compared to other online comics. I assume it’s low, but it’s not too bad I think. Of course, I haven’t made a cent during that year (not counting stuff bought by family), so it’s not exactly a money-making venture. ;-) However, I’m okay with that.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Render Problems

I’ve been having technical problems with page 11. Although it’s the same stateroom set from chapter 9, I added a few extra walls and two Imperial marine models (Lt. Burke and a Sergeant). This was apparently enough to send Poser over the edge: almost every time I tried to render, the program locked up on me. This requires me to kill the program, which seems to take forever, and then reboot to recapture all the computer’s resources. It’s a real pain. Luckily I haven’t had this problem for quite a while, but I think the marine models (“SA Legion”) have a lot of polygons, which means a lot more power necessary to render. Anyway, I just have to be more careful and render things separately more. The good news is that there should only be another two pages before the chapter is done. It’s due this weekend. :-o

Btw, I mentioned that it’s a good idea to have someone proofread before publishing. Since my wife is out of town, I may have to email her some screenshots so she can take a look (and hopefully save me from public embarrassment). She may’ve thought that getting out of town would save her from these duties, but she was wrong, wrong, wrong!

Thursday, February 09, 2006


Whereas page 9 seemed to take freakin’ forever to get done (and there’s still more to do), I was able to get the renders for page 10 completed in one night. So-called real life issues (getting a new and much higher paying job) has largely preoccupied my mind lately. Plus, I wasn’t completely happy with the dialogue for page 9 (even though there really isn’t that much dialogue present), so I’ve been mulling that over too. Well, finally I got that done and I’m confident that I will have the final few pages done by the middle of next week. That will (hopefully) allow me to publish the new chapter by the 18th.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Importance of Proofreading

I completed pages 6 and 7, although I still need to have my wife proofread the latter. Speaking of which, I finally had her look over pages 1-5 over the weekend and she discovered some typos, including one on the very first page (which was included in the preview I had already published). I fixed it, but this just proves that it’s always a good idea to have someone proof your work (especially if you can’t spell worth a damn like me). ;-)

Before starting page 7, I completed the third set featured in the chapter: the Provocateur brig. This is where Lt. Burke will discover the Prince and Smitty. The last part of the chapter will reuse Princess Katherine’s room from chapter 9.

Not much else to report. I was happy with how the BFG (mentioned in a previous post) turned out. I think the series of shots worked will and I’m happy with how the resulting explosion looks. Even my wife thought it looked good, which is quite an accomplishment in itself! (Just kidding, Honey!)

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Work is progressing slowly. I did the Photoshop work for page 5 yesterday. I managed to put up the chapter preview on the website this weekend. I set the publish date for February 18th, but I’m concerned whether I can make it or not. I’ve been doing a lot of post-work with this chapter, including composite work (i.e. combining various images into one in Photoshop). Since I find I am unable to render (in Poser) scenes with too many characters, I’ve gone to rendering a scene and then adding characters in post. Yesterday, for example, I did a hallway scene and then added additional marines and pirate soldiers which I had rendered separately. If I had tried to render everything at once, I think my computer would’ve choked.

Monday, January 23, 2006


I completed the renders for pages 3 and 4, and largely finished building the set that will appear starting on page 5.

For the shots showing the Gorgon, I’ve been using Bryce for the renders and combining those with the normal Poser renders in Photoshop. While working on one of these, which included the Provocateur, my wife suggested that the pirate ship didn’t look very good. Of course, I created the Provocateur early on for the Prologue, so I was still a little new to the whole thing. However, I still think it looks okay. On the other hand, the model for the Gorgon clearly looks better, or at least more imposing. For much of the story, the pirate ship has had the role of attacker and dominator, but on page 3 of this chapter the Gorgon is looming over the Provocateur, thus reversing the pirate’s previous role. In other words, the old adage: “the hunter has now become the hunted.”

In chapter 4, while Master Shakkar is reminiscing about how the Imperium attacked his home planet, we see a shot of Imperial troops in action. For Lt. Burke’s boarding party, I’m using not only the same soldier models as shown in chapter 4, but also the same landing ship and BFG (the so-called Big F*cking Gun). The BFG originated in the Doom series of video games, although it’s been adopted elsewhere since then. For those familiar with it, I’m hoping the BFG will at least garner a chuckle for this story.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Print Version of Part 2 Avail.

The proof copy of Part 2 arrived yesterday (here). It’s the print version of chapters 5-9. Although the spine of the book was wrong (which I’ve now corrected), the rest looks pretty good. Like Part 1, the inside images are a little dark. This has to do with the difference between images designed for the computer versus images specifically for print. Since I really couldn’t convert the website images without really messing up the color, I decided to simply go with a final print product that’s darker than I would like. Frankly, nobody is probably going to buy it anyway except for family and perhaps friends, so I’m not worried about it. It’s also free online, so there’s really not a lot of reason to get the print version except for those who prefer having something “solid” to hold in their hands.

The new chapter is going slowly and I have no one to blame but myself. I did most of the post work on pages 1-2 last night, but I still haven’t added the dialogue (although that’s already written). I plan to do the renders of page 3 tonight.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Chapter 10 Started

I’ve completed the renders and much of the post work on page 1 of chapter 10. The chapter starts out with the hanger deck of the Gordon, as Rupert Tagus III talks with Lt. Burke. Burke is leading a heavily armed boarding party over to the Provocateur. Most of the chapter will involve the combat that takes place on the pirate ship.

Not too much else to report. I’ve been doing some preliminary work on my next story idea “Magnus Black: Born in the Grave.” I created Black’s ship called the Starling, although I need to get different textures for it. Right now it has the default green color, which doesn’t really go. Needless to say, I’m going with black instead.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Chapter 9 Online

I published chapter 9 over the weekend. I just re-read it again and I think the first half isn’t quite as strong as I had hoped for. It seems kind of rushed and the dialogue is weak. On the other hand, once the space battle begins, I’m happier with the outcome. I just love those space battles!

Yesterday I worked on the print version (chapters 5-9). It’s going fast and I should be able to order a sample copy by the end of the week. Once I get that back, and if it looks okay, I will put it online.

I also bought a PC mic for recording podcasts. I did some tests and I’m happy with how it sounds. Again, the real question now is whether I’ll have the courage to actually record something for the website. :-)

Friday, January 06, 2006

Imperium Chronicles Podcast?

After completing page 13, I decide that it would make for a better ending of the chapter than the stuff I had considered adding to additional pages. It’s kind of strange to be expecting to do another couple of pages and then suddenly realize “Hey, I can stop now!” One could argue that I was just being lazy, but in fact I really believe that how page 13 ended would be better. The extra stuff I had planned would’ve been a little anticlimactic, plus I can incorporate that into the next chapter anyway.

My wife showed me an article about podcasts this week. I had considered doing one before, but for various reasons I hadn’t done it. I didn’t have the technical knowledge, the hardware, or even confidence that I could record something that didn’t sound stupid. However, after reading the article and doing some additional research, I think the first two things aren’t a big deal. As for the confidence factor, since so many amateurs are doing it too means I can stink and nobody would really care. ;-) What I have in mind at this point is to create a podcast for each chapter containing commentary on how the chapter took shake, my train of thought, etc. Of course, I still have to make the actual podcast, and I may still chicken out, depending on how well the first one goes.

Monday, January 02, 2006

End of Act II

The chapter is complete up to page 12, and I did the renders for page 13 yesterday. It’s hard to tell, but I think I can get this chapter done in 14 pages. Even if it stretches to 15, however, I should be done by this weekend.

I’m looking forward to getting this one done, because it will be the end of ACT II essentially. In other words, there is only the final act and the story will be finished. I’ve been working on this for over a year now, so it’ll be nice to see it complete.

On the RPG, I did a large chunk of the section on starships. I was thinking about the game last night and it’s really astounding how much more work is let to do. I try not to think about it too much!