Friday, 2 September 2011

Batman Hush

Just finished the Batman Hush TPB from 2002/2003 featuring the incredible talents of Jeph Loeb, Jim Lee and Scott Williams. I picked it up the other weekend and I was actually surprised how engrossing it all was - the mystery drew me ever more deeply into the graphical world created by legend Jim Lee. Every panel is a feast for the eyes - showing off this star studded story.

Everything here is inspirational and shows what a graphic novel can be. While I am a fan of less-is-more in terms of characters, here it feels like the showcase of allies and the rogues gallery roster is there for a reason. That said, it is one of the things that annoys me about many of the superhero films, they try to include too many villains at once. A movie isnt big enough for two most times - see how well the Dark Knight works - just one lime-light-stealing villain is required.

In Hush, the art is superb enough to make each page something that could grace a wall and inspires me to look through it multiple times. The men and women are gorgeous and they look every bit the superheros they are as they leap about on rooftops and succumb to their various Achilles heels.

[Batman:Hush pages via : shrunk]

I read the full TPB over a few nights and loved how my drifting off to sleep was filled with all things HUSH. Clearly Jim Lee enjoyed bringing all these characters to the page and Jeph Loeb seems to have enjoyed spinning us a tale. The production quality of the book is excellent, glad in this case not to have it digitally as it looks great on my desk. I didnt mention the inking and colour work - both of which are super.

All up this was one of the coolest comic experiences I have had for a while, Batman and his supporting cast are great fun esp under the pencil of Mr Lee.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011


The new product from WACOM is the Inkling pen that captures your sketching as vectors for direct importing into the computer. Since it is actually a real pen you can do 'pen things' with it as well as sketch away for alter use in photoshop or illustrator with all the layers and such as well.

The portability and affordability of the solution looks very tempting - maybe much more approachable than a full WACOM tablet, a convertible notebook, iPad apps or the touchup after scanning. How nice is the sketchy look in their videos as well - nice work.

[Inkling promo images from the WACOM site]

Monday, 29 August 2011

Daz Studio 4

Not completely sure why, but I decided I would take a little detour with my 3D tools and give the DAZ Studio a try with the new version just out. DAZ Studio 4 has a bunch of new stuff, perhaps the cornerstone of which is the genesis morphing toolset. This allows a single generic humanoid to be moulded into all manner of people from small girls, heroic men and even monstrous creatures. All the rigging, textures and clothing all come along for the ride as you mix and match all these deformers.

This video is from the success stories promo page shows how some artists use the DAZ Studio and figures as the basis for some quite cool artwork. Doug Shuler uses the software before going on to paint superheroes:

[Doug Shuler illustrations via the DAZ site]

Armed with bundles for V4 and G4 plus the Genesis tools that should be plenty of capability to show me whether this might be a workflow with merit. Using the figures to explore character ideas, either for bringing into other 3D tools for the game engines or rendering out to use as reference for photoshop/painted concept work.

Here are 2 images from the Monthly DAZ Gallery showing what can be done by the community:

[Images by Poeplipoe and Igolochka using DAZ from the DAZ Monthly Gallery site]


My explorations so far have really only allowed me to start getting a feel for the interface and various approaches to using the library, parameters and options in various orders. You need to be careful to save often - a false move of applying a material to the wrong things and boom. There is definitely a learning curve, though it is pretty shallow - esp if pre-armed with a little 3D software understanding. The structure of the library isnt intuitive though - and having to download and install a bundle is a pain.

A little while after getting going I was at least able to throw a figure into the scene and set them up with options for a basic output renders. Here are some quick images to show that it can be done very quickly - compared to starting from scratch in 3ds Max this is lightspeed. They arent exactly overflowing with quality, but they already are expressing character and showing real potential for working over for character design purposes.

[my test renders while exploring DAZ Studio 4]

For me - complex posing, while keeping the anatomy sane, is hard work and often ends up wonky. Plus expressions and keeping features consistent from one illustration to the next are tricky - having good grounding from something like DAZ could be a powerful ally in this.

Next step is to follow this idea all the way through a pipeline to see how I fair, going from DAZ to rendering to photoshop grayscale to painting to colouring and final touchup. May dive in and go straight for a Moth or Butterfly.


I like real-time visualisation tools, so when a new one comes along it is always fun. I am looking forward to playing with Lumion soon, but I will let Steve dive in there first while I look at other things.

As the promo vid shows, the Lumion toolset delivers a pretty elegant real-time experience and with the nice pricing model and hopefully a nice interface for people it could be a cool way to show off design work. If the pipeline from your Architectural modeller of choice (formats: DAE, FBX, MAX, 3DS, OBJ) can get things in and going quickly then it could work for clients as well as design studio tutors. This next video shows a tutorial from importing from Sketchup to materials etc - very smooth and quick if you like using the built-in textures:

The water is pretty nice, and the speed of the process looks viable for any user. Like many of the toolsets of this type, I can see their viability for people hinging on the library and the easy of supplementing the library.

[Promo shots for Lumion via the official site - shrunk]

Oneof the tricks is still that the workflow is still very much a one-way thing. This maker iterating designs complex still as all the work done on a model in the Lumion interface would need to be repeated after making a change in sketchup then coming back in again.
Path forward might be to allow a 'mapping' of sketchup materials to Lumion versions which you do once, then each time you import all the changes come leaping in all materialised already...