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.