Drawing with Light

The pages for the graphic novel are coming along nicely, and the illustration technique that I talked about on my last post is helping me achieve the “look” that I have in mind for “The Scroll of TAR”.

In this battle with the Stone Monkey, I have added an additional layer set to “ADD” mode, where I have drawn highlights from the distant fire in orange using a charcoal brush in Procreate. It gave it just a little more pop!

I had worried about the illustrations in this section, because it is at midnight in desert ruins–I thought I wouldn’t be able to use much color, and it would be boring… But the orange and blue contrasting colors make it seem more exciting!

I have a Patreon page for this project, if you would like to see more and help fund the production of the book-for only $1 per finished page.

Comic book lettering on iPad

sot_001sot_002

I’ve been working out some techniques for creating a graphic novel on my iPad Pro. One of the things that I didn’t want to do is go back and forth between my iPad and computer just to do lettering in Illustrator…

So I did a little research, and found that you can install comic book fonts to your iOS devices using an app called AnyFont. Now I can simply format my script in Pages using the font that I want for my balloons.

I’m doing the artwork in Procreate. I import a screenshot of my Pages document into a new layer, and use select and transform to move the dialog into position.

My template document is 2100px x 3150px so that I can create 7″ x 10.5″ @300dpi. The trim size is 6.75″ x 10.25″

iPad technique

This is a technique that I’ve been experimenting with on my iPad. Using Procreate and an Apple Pencil I start with a basic charcoal sketch over a 50% gray background.

Working with only black or white I refine the light and dark values on a layer set to “hard light”. This means that everything that is darker than 50% gray is multiplied while everything lighter than 50% gray is screened on the layers beneath. Switching to color with an airbrush, I fill in the color values on a layer beneath my hard-light layer.

The values that were painted in grayscale interact with the color to give the final result.

Here is a time lapse video!

DIY –3D Printing in Bronze!

So I broke down and purchased my own 3D printer, when I discovered some amazing new materials that are 80% powdered metal. They are Bronzefill and Copperfill, created by a company called ColorFabb in the Netherlands. This is like creating cold-cast bronze, but directly printing it instead of casting it in a mold.

copperfill

My first print using Copperfill turned out great. The material cools a little slower than regular PLA, so it doesn’t warp at all. I did increase  the temperature on my extruder to 215C instead of the default 208C. I’m using the Printrbot Simple Metal, which I am very pleased with (that’s an affiliate link, so if you are in the market…). Below are the steps I used to finish my print:

  1. Print your part. I’m using my design, YodaBuddha
    Photo Feb 04, 8 53 28 PM
  2. Clean up the print using needle files, sandpaper, and even a soldering iron! This last tip is a great way to weld different parts together! Use steel wool to buff the surface and expose the metal particles.
    Photo Feb 18, 6 28 20 PM
  3. Apply traditional cold patina (I’m using Mahogany from Sculpt Nouveau) with a brush or spray bottle. You may want to warm up the print with a hair dryer before applying. Let it sit for 10 minutes and then reapply until you get the darkness you want.
    Photo Feb 18, 6 32 47 PM
  4. When the print is dark enough, use the steel wool to gently buff the raised areas to bring out the metallic luster.
    Photo Feb 19, 9 42 42 AM Photo Feb 19, 9 46 41 AM
  5. Seal the print with clear wax. I used floor wax!
    Photo Feb 19, 9 59 08 AM

That was all there was to it. I hope this inspires you to do some 3D printed bronze yourself!

Photo Feb 20, 11 30 32 AM

Channel accidentally deleted

My Zandoria YouTube Channel got accidentally deleted! So I will have to rebuild…All of the subscribers, statistics, etc. lost. I will have to recreate the playlists for the Siggraph Animation:Master tutorials, which may take me a few days. But I have re-uploaded the First Episode of TAR of Zandoria. Share it!

Shot 1(5)

I was watching some behind the scenes shots from the Blue Sky film “Epic”, and saw a lot of reference footage that was acted-out by the animators and used as a reference. I thought that the motion and timing was very naturalistic, and if a big studio can do it, then why not me?

1(5)-rotoscoping

So I opened up the iPad and filmed a couple of takes of me taking off my shield/hat and flipping my staff around to use as a club, as storyboarded.

TAR_SC1_6A

Dropping the footage into Animation:Master as a rotoscope, I was able to step forward in the timeline and see myself acting out the shot.  The timing and spacing was already worked out–I just stepped to where I needed to set keyframes and posed TAR to match….

One thing that had struck me as odd on the Blue Sky example is that the reference shot matched the finished shot exactly for the camera angle…. To me, I had thought of myself as TAR, standing looking into the shadows at Ninja Pass–preparing to charge into a fight! The best camera angle came after I had dropped TAR into the Choreography.

Landscapes

I have been a little torn between using somewhat realistic CG landscapes or digital paintings for this project. After doing a number of tests each way, I felt that a hybrid matte painted look was going to be better for the introduction of this character…

I started with a Digital Elevation Map (DEM) and exported a greyscale image from MicroDEM. The DEM files and software are available for free here.

ADAMANA, AZ

Using the greyscale values, it is pretty simple to generate a terrain mesh. In this case, I used Zbrush to generate the geometry, but I exported it to Sculptris to work on the detail and textures. The reason I wanted to use Sculptris is that I could use the Reduction brush to simplify the geometry in the distance. The detailed rocks in the pass is where the main action of the scene is, so I figured that I could just drop the landscape in as a PROP and render everything in A:M…

WIP_1-14-14

Unfortunately, the maximum texture resolution in Sculptris was too pixelated when rendering up close. So I decided to render the landscape by itself to get the lighting, and retouch it in Photoshop to create matte paintings to use as background rotoscopes in A:M.

I added the dunes in the distance, and the sky, as layers underneath the rendering. Then I added extra detail of the rocks and scrub as an overlay layer.

1(3)_retouched

I set the ground plane to Front Projection Target and Flat Shaded.

1(3)_wireframe

Now the only object in the shot is TAR. The dust particles are Sprites emitted with each step, and are drifting off to the right as though blown by the wind (actually there is a fan Force Emitter creating the wind).

I started rendering the shot (in HD, 1280 x 720), The first couple of frames took over 1-1/2 hours!  With over 400 frames in just this shot, that was way too long…I knew that I was going to have to make some compromises….  I eliminated global illumination, ambient occlusion, and multipass–relighted the scene with Z-buffered shadows instead of ray-tracing. The new render time was only 2 minutes per frame!

TAR_1(3)_342