Tag Archives: photoshop

Rendering trickery is part of the process for the digital, online graphic novel — The Lightstream Chronicles

Page 43

This week, two of the stars of our web comic, graphic novel continue chatting it up in the public security command center at Police HQ. I will let the conversation speak for itself and focus today’s comments on the challenge of rendering these control room scenes.

As I have stated before, everything is “shot” on location. That means that Kristin and Toei are on in virtual space, in a control room location, atop the same police headquarters featured on page 41 with a view of the built city of Hong Kong 2 that has been featured on pages previously. (The latest being chapter 2 prologue pages ix2-x2). Hence, when the camera is framing our cast the view is exactly what is “outside” the windows, or with them “in the room”. One would logically think, then, after all this “building” that it would be a simple matter of lighting and “shooting”. Alas, it’s not so simple. And the problem is focus. Using a real camera, in a situation like this would most likely yield a background out of focus so that we could capture crisp focus on our characters. Unfortunately, in Autodesk Maya, incorporating the rendering algorithms to calculate depth-of-field into all of these renderings would have increased rendering time astronomically, and probably not yielded a realistic look when it was all finished — if it ever finished.

I wanted the reflections in the glass to be fairly crisp, but the buildings that were far off in the distance to be more out-of-focus. All this required separate renderings. One for our subjects, another for the glass, and a third for the cityscape. Then the appropriate amount of blur was applied to each layer in Photoshop and composited into one single image with a believable depth-of-field. All part of the process of making The Lightstream Chronicles as engaging and visually interesting as possible.

mask-demo
A few of the layers that made up the first panel of page 43. There were more.

 

Bookmark and Share

Graphic novel concept art unveiled

Phase 1 of my graphic novel project is now online. The book will be titled: LIGHTSTREAM The Graphic Novel: Moment of Truth.

Here is the synopsis.

The year is 2159. One major, global government — New Asia — has engulfed most of Europe and North America. The government maintains tight control of the Lightstream — the evolved Internet — as well as rights and freedoms. Science has made it possible to manufacture life-like bionic persons. Known as synthetics, these bionics are found in all walks of life and can be virtually indistinguishable from humans.

In the former America, the largest city is New Hong Kong (also known as HK2). Here, the celebrity-son of a high-ranking government official is brutally attacked and left for dead. Police investigator Keiji-T, the latest in synthetic technology is assigned to the case. Under pressure from above, Keiji is given 24 hours to find the truth or to pin the crime on “the usual suspects”.  Though confident that his highly advanced programming has prepared him for the task, Keiji suddenly encounters conflicting instructions from a mysterious data implant.

In the next 24 hours Keiji, together with his human and synthetic counterparts, must unravel what is true and false in a world where it is difficult to tell what is real.

There you have it. Concept art is being showcased in several places. 1. DeviantArt, 2. The CGSociety, 3. scottdenison.com Ultra hi-res images are on DeviantArt which is set up for big files.

A few notes on design which you probably have gathered from my previous blog posts. I have another year of work on roughly 100 pages of CG but this is the look and feel that I will be working toward on every page. Since the entire graphic novel will be built in CG, that makes the scope of the project enormous. I have had to resort to starting with base stock models primarily for figures, clothing and and some background architecture. This is something I’ve wrestled with this for a long time but if I have to create everything myself the project will never be finished and most of these have been greatly customized and 90% of the environments, vehicles and props are all custom using Maya and Modo. The rendering is in Bryce. There is only minor retouching in Photoshop and the framing and typography are using Illustrator.

Comments welcome.

I’m taking Labor Day off. Hope you enjoy.

Bookmark and Share

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?

Bookmark and Share