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Monthly Archives: April 2013
Michael Kaluta & Elaine Lee’s Starstruck project at Kickstarter: approaching the finish line

Filed under Found on the Web

Starstruck Kickstarter

The Kickstarter project for Michael Kaluta and Elaine Lee’s continuation of their Little Nemo-meets-Metropolis story Starstruck has met its goal, which ensures (at least) a black and white edition of the graphic novel: but with less than two full days to go they’re still a bit shy of the full amount they need to produce the book in color.

Which means that it will look as good as the panel above, and it might look as… as even better as the panel below.

You know who you are. You know what to do.

Micahel Kaluta and Elaine Lee's Starstruck, at Kickstarter
 
 
New Page at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual

Filed under Thrilling Tales: Page Updates

A new page has been published in the story It Came from the PULP-O-MIZER, at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual.

You can read it here.
 
 
Retropolis Rocket Ship update, in which we split the rocket in half and then put it back together

Filed under Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual, Works in Progress

Retropolis Rocket Ship preview, April 23

In today’s sepiatone update there are a number of big changes. (Click the image to embiggify it). You’ll notice that I’ve now dropped in actual characters in place of all those eerie bone systems that we’ve been looking at up to now: that’s the obvious change.

The other change was inevitable, but I wasn’t expecting it to happen quite yet.

Once the scene passed about two million polygons it started to get difficult to manage. The performance in the viewports (where I actually do the work) has been degrading all along, but once I had four or five characters in there I found it pretty unpleasant to work on the entire scene. It was easy enough to split out the characters on their own and work on them separately but eventually the pieces all have to come back together. With all but one character added to the scene I was already over 2.6 million polygons… and something just had to give.

The background layer for the Retropolis Rocket Ship picture (in progress)

So the first big task I faced this morning was to split the complete scene into two layers. You’re looking at one of those (in greyscale) above. Everything below the deck and from the rocket’s front window forward is now contained in one scene file; everything else, in a second one. (With a couple of exceptions: you can see that the deck grating is casting a shadow in the image above even though the grating itself is invisible.)

I’ll be rendering these out as separate layers from now on and compositing them together. Because everything splits at the deck line and at one of the forward ribs the “front” scene goes in seamlessly when the two are combined. Which is pretty neat, if you ask me.

Here’s what that second layer looks like, also in greyscale:

The foreground layer for the Retropolis Rocket Ship picture (in progress)

I’ve made the modifications to the control console that I mentioned the other day. The characters are pretty nearly there, but they’ll be seeing some more changes as we go. After them, the big remaining thing is the final lighting.

At the moment – as it’s been ever since I started – there are just three lights in the scene. One’s outside the ship, and shines through the windows; the other two are "practical" lights that are mounted just where you might place your light bulbs if you were lighting the ship yourself.

I’ll be adding some more, smaller practical lights and I’ll also veer into unreality with individual fill lights that will fine tune the lighting in specific areas and on the individual characters. That process will take some time – it means a lot of incremental changes and test renderings, which is why I haven’t done anything along those lines yet. Pretty soon, though.

We’re at this Kickstarter project‘s halfway point and we’ve only approached 25% of its funding. That’s a bad sign, of course, though I’m not obsessing about it. Really. I’m not. But if you backers have friends who might also be interested in the project (especially now that the picture is starting to look like a picture) I’d sure appreciate it if you’d spread the word!

This limited edition print project – if it’s successful – is something that I’d like to do again because it could expand into an "Art of Retropolis" book. I’ve been asked about such a book over and over but I’ve never felt that I have enough of the right kind of pictures to justify it. So a series of Kickstarter projects like this one might finally convince me that the book’s time has come. Though, as I look around, it seems like that idea might be premature :).

 
 
New Page at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual

Filed under Thrilling Tales: Page Updates

A new page has been published in the story It Came from the PULP-O-MIZER, at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual.

You can read it here.
 
 
Retropolis Rocket Ship Kickstarter Update – it’s all about the ladies

Filed under Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual, Works in Progress

Retropolis Rocket Ship preview, April 23

Today’s Kickstarter Retropolis Rocket Ship preview is rendered in glorious sepiatone because until I’ve sorted out the final lighting it would otherwise be pretty hard for you to make sense of the latest additions: real characters!

I’m still not completely done with the cockpit (that’s a temporary image on the televideo screen) but it was time to start putting genuine people into the rocket. You can’t make out the two down below the deck grating – that pesky lighting business is at work there again – but I figure that this is a big enough change, anyhow. The two remaining ladies should show up soon.

Oddly, what’s probably a bigger change is a very simple rotation of the camera. I’ve been meaning to do that for ages. It just didn’t seem as important as adding all the gizmos along the fuselage. The moment  I finally got around to tilting the camera, though, I saw a big improvement in the whole scene. Still… I’m pretty sure you’re more interested in the dames.

Since the Kickstarter project hasn’t even come close to its halfway mark by now there’s serious doubt about what will become of this picture. I never said outright that it would never be reproduced as a print in the event that the project failed, but that’s been in the back of my mind all along. Fact is, I still haven’t made up my mind.

But if you’ve put off backing the project, this isn’t a bad time to pile on!

 
 
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