Tag Archives: CG

Graphic Novel: Part Design Fiction Part Eye Candy

The clock continues to tick on the Kickstarter Campaign for my science fiction, crime thriller The Lightstream Chronicles and I’m still looking for that viral pill that will put the kick into the campaign. My biggest supporters jumped in early but things have tapered off. Nevertheless, I am still hopeful. The number of downloads of chapter 1 has already exceeded 200 which is close to two-thirds of the people who were part of the original email campaign. The reviews have been 100 percent positive thus far. Though none of the media outlets have responded to my press releases, there is still time.

The entire book will be rendered in CG and as you can see from these images, there is plenty to look at. These images are only 1/3 the actual size. So browsing through the pages can be a real treat with lots of detail and perhaps some clues of things to come. The story is a thought-provoking look into the techno-human future, and it is also an extended work of design fiction. You can read all about that in previous blogs. Enjoy these images and if you want more make sure to hop over to Kickstarter and become a backer.

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Graphic Novel on Kickstarter: Progress Report

Great news!

Thus far I’ve seen more than  150 downloads of  chapter 1 of my design fiction, CG, graphic novel, The Lightstream Chronicles.  The feed back is overwhelmingly positive: “Awesome!” “Amazing.” “Gorgeous!” Having studied the Kickstarter concept and many sites that succeeded and  failed I knew better than to launch and then sit back and wait for the money to roll in. I’ve emailed more than 300 friends and associates and a couple of dozen media outlets with press photos and releases. I’ve even tried Reddit. I hope my friends and associates will be understanding as I’m going to be hammering away at my email list, right up to the end.

A couple of speed bumps.

There was this hurricane that hit the day my email went out, and then there was this national election thing. I think that impacted the response. In fact, a significant number of people that I mailed are easter PA and Jersey residents. Many of them were without power, so who knows what happened to their email. Then I look at the news this morning and there’s another storm bearing down on them. No point in emailing them again until we sort all this weather stuff out.

If you’re reading this and you haven’t contributed yet to the Kickstarter project, please go there and do that. Let’s make a book!!

Until then, here’s an artifact from the future.

 

The TopCity Spanner is the dividing line between TopCity and DownTown in the Hong Kong of the future. Check it out at http://thelightstreamchronicles.com
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Design Fiction Graphic Novel Goes to Kickstarter

The deed is done. After months of research on book, poster and T-Shirt printers along with flash drives and international shipping, the Kickstarter Campaign is LIVE. The main objective behind this effort is to secure funding to get the project distributed as a hardbound book, as well a digital edition. A 220-240-page book is not cheap to print and when it’s finished it is going to be a hefty piece. There were also issues of distribution since there’s no room in my office for a skid of books, boxes of posters, T-shirts, etc. It was all very exciting though, to push the Launch button. The campaign is going to run for 40 days (the Biblical significance is intentional), and my hope is to raise $35,000. That seems like a lot but there has been a lot of number crunching to get to this point.

The moment arrives. Hitting the launch button on Kickstarter.

If, by chance, there is more funding, I plan to upgrade my processor to allow for faster rendering which will hopefully move the project along more quickly. As you know, chapter 1 is already online, and there are six chapters in total. The final chapter is scheduled in 2014. No, that is not a typo. Building this world in CG with diligent, even obsessive attention to detail, will take a time. And, of course, it must be right.  Some backers will have the option of getting custom flash drives of each chapter as it is completed. This will make the wait for chapter six much more tolerable.

I’ll be posting as developments occur. Check it out. Tell people! Thanks.

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It’s alive! GG design fiction graphic novel – Chapter 1

Good morning!! I’ve done it. The first 40 pages, chapter 1 of The Lightstream Chronicles graphic novel is now online and available for a free download.

The Lightstream Chronicles Banner
Chapter 1 is alive!

 

Visit The Lightstream Chronicles website and comb through all the great content that I’ve put together for the project such as backstory, character profiles, behind-the-scenes, etc. and then navigate on over to chapter 1 and download the HD graphic novel for your reading enjoyment.  The download is a 69MB PDF so it might take a couple of minutes based on your internet connection but it shouldn’t take too long. (The link will take you to ge.tt and you’ll have to look for the download button off to the right.) Remember that it is HD, which means you are missing out if you don’t zoom in and inspect the scenes and panels. But you can read it however you want; fast, slow, twice. If you’re going to view it on an iPad, which works quite well, make sure you have a pdf viewer app like GoodReader, but there are also free apps too that work fine, like Stanza.

If you are a graphic novel fan, then you know that this is not the first CG graphic novel, but I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that you’ve never seen one quite this detailed. I could tell you more about it but I would really prefer that you visit the website and get a more detailed version. Where we may be onto something completely new is that it quite possibly may be the first design fiction graphic novel. If you follow this blog, then you already know all about that, but here are some refresher links. Like this or this.

Latest update on Kickstarter is that I’ve received Amazon approval and I have submitted the project for KS approval… I’m hoping to go live with the project on October 30. Stay tuned.

If you like what you see in chapter 1 – “like” it  on Facebook. Thanks! Enjoy!

 

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Chapter 1 – Graphic Novel Countdown

I told you that I was going to be posting Chapter 1 of my design fiction tour de force this week, and I was really shooting for yesterday, but there were some last-minute tweaks that I felt compelled to make before going LIVE. So, this is as close to a promise as you can get: Chapter 1 will be online, Thursday, October 25th before noon, EST. It’s down to 69.3 MB.

As far as Kickstarter is concerned, I expect to have all the approvals within the next week and you can be certain that I’ll be blogging on that. In the meantime, you may as well catch up on some of the backstory that can be found on The Lighstream Chronicles web site.

Talk to you tomorrow.

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Graphic novel website now LIVE!

It has been a long time since my last blog, but I’ve been making a lot of progress. While working on the Kickstarter Campaign, teaching typography to design sophomores, and writing new pages for my thesis, I’ve completed an in-depth website for The Lightstream Chronicles Graphic Novel. The site features lots of brand new back-story, character profiles, history, special features on design fiction and a section on the making of. Take a look and let me know what you think.

You will probably notice that there is a link to download Chapter 1 that is current “coming soon”. This will not be the case for much longer. I expect that the first 40 pages of chapter 1 will be ready to download in the next couple of days. I’ve been through several “final” scrubs and I’ve added all the page numbers. The last step is really just making sure that I have the right site source for downloading the content. My hosting service told me this week that they could not handle a significant number of 72MB downloads without running into technical difficulties. I want everyone to see these pages in all their HiDef glory, so 72MB is the no sacrifice requirement. My hosting service recommended something called a CDN. I looked into this and CDN stands for Content Delivery Network (aka Cloud Storage) and most of them charge for this service. Plus, unless you opt for a managed service at $$$ per month (in addition to your download fees), then you have to manage the servers yourself. Based on what I looked at, you need to be a real IT expert or computer science major to handle server configurations. The solution looks to be a free service like MediaFire. The link will take visitors off The Lightstream Chronicles site but at least we won’t have server hang ups or other problems for those who are anxious to see Chapter 1.

There has been a lot of prep for the Kickstarter launch including a creating a video trailer, bunches of new concept renderings, and an enormous amount of research including printing books, posters and T Shirts, distribution, shipping. The goal of the campaign, of course, is to get The Lightstream Chronicles Graphic Novel into a slick, hardbound book and the digital edition distributed. Here’s an image that took a couple of weeks to generate. That appears briefly in the video trailer.  I’ll be blogging again, as soon as Chapter 1 is ready to roll.

A scene from DownTown in the Mong Kok Sector, Hong Kong 2. Year 2159. Click to enlarge.
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26 pages – graphic novel – design fiction

Unfortunately, they are not yet available to view. I need to complete 4 more spreads to end Chapter 1. At that point I need to put together a Kickstarter project and see if I can get some support to complete the remaining 200-odd pages (all in CG). Most of the feedback from the “editorial staff” of friends and family has been positive with lots of good suggestions. I also need to put in some work on the books web site, and a way of showcasing the uber-hi-res images for the Chapter 1 preview which will come with the Kickstarter launch.

I recently posted one of those signs you see on message boards with the little tear-off tabs around the art/design building on campus looking for a Chinese translator. As nifty as Google Translator is, it really doesn’t give you context which is all-important in Chinese (and most other languages for that matter). As you know, my graphic novel takes place in Hong Kong, about 100 years from now when most of the globe is governed by China, New Asia, as it is called then. As is the case today, we find a mix of English and Chinese throughout the society and I want my Chinese to be as accurate and believable as possible. After a couple of weeks, I finally got a student volunteer (he will get a signed copy of the book and credit in the back) to do a sanity check on my signs and use of the language. Sadly, based upon Linxiao’s assessment I had to go back and make some changes. Another reason that pages are not yet ready for prime time.

All of this is texture of course, background to add believability and context.

Other notes: On the design fiction front, I just got word that the paper I submitted to the World Future Society’s scholarly journal World Future Review, has been accepted, edited and will be published in the group’s upcoming special conference edition that will be distributed at the WFS conference in Toronto, later this summer.

Meanwhile, I am working away on my presentation to the Rocky Mountain Conference on Comics and Graphic Novels (RMCCGN) and it looks like I’m coming in right around 20 minutes. Now, I’m attending to the visuals. The topic is the same as the WFS paper: When designers ask, “What if?”

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My sci-fi graphic novel: more updates

Editors note: If you are arriving here for the first time, I’m a designer working on my MFA thesis is a graphic novel set in the far future, 2159. The objectives are two-fold: 1.) an exercise in epic designmanship that examines the design-culture relationship within a future narrative. Because the end result is visual, making things and and diegetic prototypes are a natural by-product.  2.) Created entirely in CG,this visually rich graphic novel will be an exciting, page-turning, thought-provoking adventure into the future.

With that behind us, I’ve made some progress on character design, to the point that I think I’m back on schedule and satisfied, (do you believe it) with the renderings, style and overall look that is developing. Five of eight characters are complete with the remaining three underway and well past the half-way point. As soon as this is completed I will be working to polish my overall story synopsis so that you guys will have something real to think about. I’m seriously toying with the idea of going on Kickstarter to get some funding. I’ve been working around the clock on this for almost a year, (with no appreciable income) writing, researching, etc. and a printed book seems to be a necessity, and that means promoting it and everything that goes with that — hence the funding.  A web comic, as I have discussed previously, might happen but only after the entire work is complete. This could be a year away.

Also on the list is a website for the book based on the title, and a video trailer. So, there is no end to what needs to get done.

Meanwhile, on my parallel path of examining the relationship of culture to design and vice versa, my designer investigations have touched on dozens of design decisions that amount to futurist predictions for the year 2159. These would include geo-political changes,  the philosophical ramifications of a techno-human future, society, religion, crime, as well as a plethora of design speculation on things like interiors and furniture, architecture, telepathy, fashion, transportation, food and cooking, weaponry, hardware, learning, and, of course, the meaning of life. All of this requires prototyping, researching and designerly thinking on the relationship of culture, the human condition, and design. Is this fun or what?

The path to that place, right now, is a matter of 3D modeling, UV texture mapping, rendering, rendering, rendering, tweaking, rendering, Photoshopping, and did I mention, rendering? Anecdotally, I was putting the finishing touches on one of my key characters and as I’m walking the image, I notice that there is this annoying shadow in the background. It reminded me of my studio days working with the great photographer, Paul Schiefer and those moments when we would be staring at the screen saying, “Where did this shadow come from?” We always had tons of lights on the set so it became a matter of switching lights on and off to find which one was the culprit. Of course, this is exactly the procedure in 3D. When I found the offending light, (set somehow to a distance of 25ft.) I ratcheted it down to about 6ft, but my next render revealed a background in darkness. Hmmm. Here’s where you depart from the photo studio world: I added a new light exactly where I needed the illumination and turned shadowing off . The result a perfectly lit background sans pesky shadow. That would have come in handy in the studio, huh Paul?

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Journey to the graphic novel

What a circuitous route we travel. Here I am, middle aged, back in school and kind of doing what my brother and I did in 2nd grade… reading and drawing comics. When I think back now to the days when we used to pour over the latest Sgt. Rock comics with art by Joe Kubert, Mad Magazine, Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos, I really am getting back to some kind of primal calling that’s been with me for some time. In fact, I can track this whole visual narrative idea to several spots in my life where it has just surfaced, it would seem, on its own. Remembering back, comics, and the whole comic style played a pretty interesting role in my life. For example, just recently I remembered trading comics frames back and forth with Larry Mound in elementary school. Larry, usually the more creative one, would pen a frame from a comic and secretly pass it to me. I would pen the next frame and back and forth we’d go. I think we were 8 or 9.  Then all the Army comics my brother and I collected and, of course, we would create our own. Over the years, come to notice, I’ve always had this affection for the frame to frame design style that had a filmic look to it. Graphic Design was my field of study but I quickly broadened out to designing everything including advertising and television. That led to copious storyboards for television commercials that I directed. Then back in the 80’s I developed this single-panel cartoon called the Bacon Strip which I did for the Domino’s Pizza restaurant chain. Later, I moved into the 3D realm, fascinated by the whole CG thing including Siggraph in the early 90’s. Then I taught myself 3D. First, Strata 3D then Power Animator (the precursor to Maya), then a host of others. Following that there were the numerous attempts at writing a novel and one that actually went to 27 chapters. Most others didn’t even get past the first few pages or an outline.

Anyway, rendering in 3D became my passion and then I unknowingly made my pilgrimage back to visual narrative through my admiration and fandom of great concept art. Finally we are at the convergence of it all in the form of a graphic novel. Pretty interesting to look back and see how it all ties together.

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