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 Other comic stuff of note...

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Shadowcrunch
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PostSubject: Other comic stuff of note...   Sun Jul 31, 2011 8:08 pm

So we're all trying new stuff. Awesome. And there's been some conversations about trying even more to get past the limitations provided by these 'free account fuckovers.' (FAFs???) Yes, FAF. It's like a EULA but it describes how you can't do this or that until you pay up, sucka! FAF...I like it.

ANYWAY...my opinion of free Pixton bounces between yay and grrrr. In experiment mode, I fired up Manga Studio the other day. I forgot the cool craziness involved there! It comes with a billion and 5 backgrounds, speech bubbles, effects (stars, bubbles, magic swirlies), tones (for shading), and such. It also has the awesome features like panel rulers and cutters (so you can really make panels any shape/size you want); rulers for straight lines, curves, circles, parallels, mirrors (draw half the page and auto reverse to the other side), and perspectives; and auto-drag everything. Maybe the most important aspect I need to explain though is the capability to import and use 3D models, some formats of which can even use joints assigned in their 3D software.

So, you want to make a comic book, and can sketch and trace, but can't draw backgrounds or people for nothing. In manga studio (MS) you can drag one of many many backgrounds (or use any picture and it will auto tweak it to a toned background) into your page. Draw some panel rulers and cut, and it will make panels, while auto-deleting whatever is outside the lines (never got this to work properly, but it's SUPPOSED to erase outside the panels). Now, MS has a few 3D people, basically just male/female mannequins, with full joint capability. Drag one in, scale it, and switch to 3D mode. You can then pose the arms, legs, head, shoulders, torso...pretty much everything you can tweak in Pixton. Once you get your pose, either make a new layer and draw your character (trace dammit!!!) over the mannequin, or if you lack the tools, print your page, go over in inks, scan in , and color in you favorite software!!! Just the fact that you can pose a properly proportioned body inside your drawing as a 'rough sketch' start is an amazing help!

Obviously, I would say try a demo before dropping any cash. The Debut version of MS is only $49.99, which is awesome considering the features. However, the pro version (called EX) runs a whopping $299.99!!! Can't recall exactly what the feature differences are, but...well...http://manga.smithmicro.com/

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Shadowcrunch
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PostSubject: Re: Other comic stuff of note...   Sun Jul 31, 2011 8:19 pm

This will be a lengthy topic, as I have a lot on info to share. Goal of course is to help you form an idea of your artistic pipeline and narrow your focus BEFORE downloading 16 programs and testing each. I just got done bragging up Manga Studio, and I forgot DAZ. Everybody looking at this thread should remember Poser..."Look! It almost looks real!!! Hey how come I can't give him more muscles or make him fat? Why is this so frickin slow?! For $500 I should be able to print my character like in Wierd Science!!!"

And we were all disappointed. Then new models came out, with a TON of tweaks for each, and they were released by DAZ. For years this was the way. Then one day DAZ said "why the hell don't we just make our own ripoff of poser, and link to our models right inside the program?"

DAZ Studio was born. It's like Poser, almost exactly like Poser. Here's the kicker: they release the base version for FREE, and you get a few base models (which still have a jillion more features than stock Poser models), then when you hit your creative brick wall, you can click a button to load their model store website!! So, program is free...then they whack you for "professional grade" 3D models...which isn't a killer, but they add up fast! Neat program, but I don't see an actual use for going through all that unless you are making some form of profit from your work AFTER paying for the models.

Anyway, it's kindof interesting, and yes...I've spent lots of time playing with an older version (2 or 3 I think). I would say at least check out the website... http://www.daz3d.com/i/software/daz_studio?

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PostSubject: Re: Other comic stuff of note...   Sun Jul 31, 2011 9:03 pm

Last one for now...will then do some 'legwork' researching more 2D comic software. For now, I HAVE to mention Blender...again. I came up with the idea of using Blender (truespace before that) for comic creation because once you make something, save it, and reuse again without ever having to redraw a scene! In fact, if you need to have Batman on the other side of the Batcave, just rotate the scene camera.

Big problem is modeling people. Big help is Blender's open source community of developers and users. There's literally thousands of tutorials on the web for every little aspect of blender. Main thing I want to talk about here and now is the new features I just found in version 2.58. No idea when these features came into play fully as I haven't worked on animation in a long time...since I was doing tutorials for animation back in vesion 2.49a.

Edit: skipping story-time and going straight for the kill. Once you make ANY object to which you assign an armature (animation skeleton), you can now actually save poses! Found this completely on accident. You pose how you want, and add the pose to that character's pose library. The pose library follows the character, even if you append or link the character to a completely new blend file. Basically, this gets rid of the poser/daz monopoly on "pick a dynamic pose from our list of hundreds!" I still need to test if the poses are stuck to the mesh, or the armature...if the armature, you could copy/paste the armature to any body of the same type and have the poses pre-libraried.

The other feature, which is a bit older, but I just started paying attention recently, is Shape Keys. There are certain aspects of character modeling that don't make sense to animate, like facial expressions. Poser and DAZ use this same tech when you click a pre-determined face expression from their list. Here's the deal. When you make a serious change to an animation, you make a keyframe in the timeline. These keyframes are for armatures, objects, colors...for location, rotation, and scale. But, if you want to change something small, like raise an eyebrow, you can keyframe moving JUST the individual vertices that make up the eyebrow. But what if you KNOW you will want to revisit that raised eyebrow? You select the changed vertices, and save the change as a shape key! The shape key can be applied independent of other keyframe or pose changes, so you can pick a running pose, and independently choose a shape key for one type of facial expression or other.

These two features put together can easily be a poser/daz killer. Add in that if you learn some modeling basics, you won't ever have to pay for a "professionally designed" 3D model, and can use ANY kind of model you want (daz and poser seem to enjoy a FAF like user agreement wherein you don't get to create any NEW models of your own design unless you buy the REALLY expensive versions). Granted, I spout a lot of crap for a guy who has one half-ass warjack and one half quarter-ass mech under his belt...BUT, that mech (in the other thread somewhere...) was modeled in about an hour and half and was designed from the start to be a low-poly crap-bot for higher frame rates...if I had actually put a little gusto into it...well...heh...we'll see!

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PostSubject: Not you father's HeroMachine   Thu Feb 06, 2014 3:45 pm

Not your father's HeroMachine

Remember HeroMachine?  You know, that free-to-use online tool that allowed the artistically challenged to create their own comic book or roleplaying character?  Sure, the stock images were sometimes not up to par, but it was worthy tool, giving people the chance to see their characters come to life.

I've visited HeroMachine off and on over the years, but have been lacking in my designs for quite some time.  Come to think of it, I haven't been on HeroMachine for a couple years now, at least.  Today while at work I found myself with some free time and decided to revisit this old favorite... and imagine my surprise when I did.

Oh, HeroMachine is still there, don't get me wrong.  It still has the standard stock images and designs and expansions, but I tried their HeroMachine 3 Advanced, and boy, was I impressed!  You still have the standard fair, but there are a lot more images to pick and chose from, not to mention the fact that you can pick individual body parts (want one particular torso, but a different arm set?  No problem!), different head shapes to different faces, and so on.  Cool!  I was able to get away from the basic pose we all know and loath, of the human figure at 3/4 view, one arm at side, the other bent at elbow.

Then there's the transformation tool.  You can rotate an item (from body feature to equipment), flip / mirror it, resize it, and move it.  You can grab and drag an item, but that is a bit touchy, so this move option will come in handy.  The layer tools are within the transformation as well, as well as a masking tool...  yay!  

Oh, a bit of advice.  Should you build your own person, make sure you select the "multiple" option so you can have, that's right, more than one part from that category.  This is important should you wish to make your own body.  For example, and only as an example, my quick creation test below.  I used four body parts, three legs and two heads just for the body, in addition to five background images.

The coloring effect is improved, allowing you to do primary, secondary, and line colors.

Now, look at this!  Isn't this great or what?  Keep in mind that this was just a quick test image, so imagine what you can accomplish when you have time!

HeroMachine can be found at heromachine.com, but why the hell would you want to go there when you can do this?  Heromachine 3 can be found by clicking on this link.  Oh, and before I forget, if you want to be really impressed, check out Heromachine's Hall of Fame!  You can tell these people had time, that's for damn sure...  simply wow!

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PostSubject: Re: Other comic stuff of note...   Fri Feb 07, 2014 4:12 pm

Coming down with a head cold, did damn near nothing today...



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