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Old 04-16-2013, 04:19 PM   #1
Maverick3d
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Thoughts on a 3d web comic

I've been kicking around the idea for a web comic for a long time. Thing is, my drawing ability is just not up to snuff for what I want to do. The idea occurred to me: "Hey, I can model. I can texture. Why not do it in 3d?"

So I Google. There's not a lot in the way of quality 3d comics. There's a lot of bad Poser stuff on the one end, and on the other there's the Dreamland Chronicles. 3d comics seems to be a road not often taken. I'm cool with that; I want to tell stories and I have to use the talents I possess.

However, since not a lot of people are doing it there's not a clear blueprint to follow. The work flow and pipeline for animation I know, but it may not necessarily be efficient and streamlined for this. I was hoping to get some feedback, ideas and opinion in general and on some of the technical specifics.

For example of technical specifics, if I was rigging a character for animation in 3dMax I'd create facial morphs for phonemes and basic expressions. But for a comic, seems to me most phonemes would be a waste of time(?). Maybe creating some base expressions and modifying as need be would work better.

Also, assuming I have a 4-8 panel spread that only takes place at one location, should I have one scene file per "page" with the panels as key frames blocked out (like a layout scene for animation). Would doing one scene file for each panel take up too much hard drive space?


There's a lot of stuff to figure out. It's exciting and a challenge.
Like I said, I welcome any thoughts or advice.
 
Old 04-16-2013, 05:02 PM   #2
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I think that "3d" as a distinguishing term is reserved for games, animation...moving pictures.

I feel as if still images derived from 3d renders are just a part of the over all illustration mix.

So, the question of scene-per-frame is kind of irrelevant; or at least it would minimally be like tieing your hands because I would expect that every frame would have some degree of work done in "comp"/photoshop, besides just the lettering/layout/logistical components.

You will still be starting with some kind of thumbnails, (please do yourself a favor and start with thumbnails) and deciding what to do for each panel. If you had a wordy sequence between 2 people in front of a static background...say 10x profile shots of the same 2 characters...screen caps or renders from Zbrush might be the way to go.

Masamune Shirow had a lot of panels here and there that were all "CG" or "3d" (everything he did from the mid 90s on is all "cg" technically I belive) but I think he would take offense if his work was referred to as anything but a "comic book", or specifically "manga".

Also a labor of love is one thing, but an hour/dollar/market-size-of-comics analysis will also probably work against a heavy all-in-one-scene-3d-cg workflow.

I have thought about making 3d children book art...but I still would be open to whacking the pieces with an as-pastel filter or a paint over or some such as-natural-media revision; the point being that whether it is 3d or was 3d at some point isn't really important to me or prospective customers.
 
Old 04-16-2013, 07:01 PM   #3
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Old 04-17-2013, 03:26 AM   #4
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hmmm, makes me think there must be a market for children's books on ipads bigtime.
 
Old 04-17-2013, 05:23 PM   #5
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I',m actually working on a CG comic right now. Its called Wrath. Im hoping to have it out by the end of the summer.

Heres a couple of work in progress panels.
http://s.cghub.com/files/Image/4770.../496_stream.jpg
http://s.cghub.com/files/Image/4560.../451_stream.jpg
http://s.cghub.com/files/Image/4450.../647_stream.jpg

What I've learned so far:

Sculpt expressions as much as possible. Using shape keys or any other expression tool gives a robotic look to everything.

Its a 2d image. As much as we think in 3d ultimately what your putting on the page is 2d. So use photoshop or Gimp as much as possible.

Sometimes a lot of background detail is neccessary, other times an art background (solid color, gradient, etc) will convey alot more.

And most importantly stay organized. I had to spend the better part of this weekend just straightening up my files and folders. The deeper i go into the story the more assets i build up.

Hope that helps and if you discover any workflow improvements please share.
 
Old 04-18-2013, 03:24 AM   #6
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Very helpful replies so far. Thanks everyone.

@dolemite07
Your comic is looking great so far. I will be keeping an up eye out for it.

I agree wholeheartedly on the backgrounds. I've noticed a lot of CG comics, even the good ones, have problems sometimes with panels that are too "busy" with a lot of detailed background elements when something more abstract would have worked better, rendered faster and have been less distracting. A more illustrative approach as opposed to thinking about it like a typical animated short seems very important.

Some more details on my potential project:

I'm aiming for a more cartoony style, both because it fits the tone of the story and helps avoid the Uncanny Valley. Ideally, trying for a look that's somewhere between Team Fortress 2 and AndyH's stuff. I've always been a huge fan of his work; loads of appeal, clean lighting, clean texturing and always infused with so much personality.

The cast count is reasonably small; 3-4 main characters to be introduced over time and a few incidentals. I plan to pull a page from the Incredibles and have a "Generic Guy" that can be quickly modified as needed. There's also a few story-specific costume changes and "character alts" that I still need to break down.

Location count is fairly low too, 1 main location that may end up being sectioned into several smaller "virtual sets" and 2-3 additional less complex locations. I've been doing some research into how the typical "sitcom" house is laid out to see if there's anything of value to be gleaned there.

I'll also be hitting up some 3dsMax Character Studio tutorials since rigging is a weak area for me to begin with and the vast majority of my experience with it is in Maya.
 
Old 04-18-2013, 06:16 AM   #7
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Old 04-18-2013, 08:59 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teruchan


This one I REALLY like.

But for this one what he was really doing was emulating a hand-drawn comic book I feel.
Though that's not bad. The body on the "hero render" feels a bit small though...like the kind of body on some 135 lbs MMA fighters.
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Old 04-18-2013, 10:13 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CGIPadawan
This one I REALLY like.

But for this one what he was really doing was emulating a hand-drawn comic book I feel.
Though that's not bad. The body on the "hero render" feels a bit small though...like the kind of body on some 135 lbs MMA fighters.


Yes, I remember this one a few years back. Inspirational work. As for the hero being 'a bit small'. Why does this bother you? Have you seen the mayhem Bruce Lee caused in Enter the Dragon?

Also, don't forget Zbrush legend Zack Petroc's wonderful paradigm: 'Adaboy- a sculpted novel'

Adaboy....
 
Old 04-18-2013, 02:01 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by musashidan
Yes, I remember this one a few years back. Inspirational work. As for the hero being 'a bit small'. Why does this bother you? Have you seen the mayhem Bruce Lee caused in Enter the Dragon?

Also, don't forget Zbrush legend Zack Petroc's wonderful paradigm: 'Adaboy- a sculpted novel'

Adaboy....


Adaboy is awesome. One of my main inspirations. Was it ever released as a full book?
 
Old 04-18-2013, 06:25 PM   #11
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One good thing about 3d comics is that once the assets are built the process can go by quickly. Just look how many paged The Dreamland Chronicles is at. I remember him mentioning being able to crank out 3 pages a day.

Even some of the best 2d artists have trouble doing 1 page a day of full colored art and you have Steve over at Dreamland cranking them out. Like I said once you get the assets done you can do this quickly.

Assets are the key. And I think a major part of why Dreamland is so successful is not only is it good and looks nice but he can build an audience putting up a page a day.

Random here and there and inconsistancy can hurt a comic, series or other thing really quickly.
 
Old 04-18-2013, 06:35 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by banman7
One good thing about 3d comics is that once the assets are built the process can go by quickly. Just look how many paged The Dreamland Chronicles is at. I remember him mentioning being able to crank out 3 pages a day.

Even some of the best 2d artists have trouble doing 1 page a day of full colored art and you have Steve over at Dreamland cranking them out. Like I said once you get the assets done you can do this quickly.

Assets are the key. And I think a major part of why Dreamland is so successful is not only is it good and looks nice but he can build an audience putting up a page a day.

Random here and there and inconsistancy can hurt a comic, series or other thing really quickly.


Agreed wholeheartedly. I can see a creator spending a couple of months or longer building up a huge asset library, but once that is done, your time is pretty much spent posing, rendering, compositing and touching up.

Also, story. lol.
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Old 04-19-2013, 04:36 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by musashidan
Yes, I remember this one a few years back. Inspirational work. As for the hero being 'a bit small'. Why does this bother you? Have you seen the mayhem Bruce Lee caused in Enter the Dragon?

Also, don't forget Zbrush legend Zack Petroc's wonderful paradigm: 'Adaboy- a sculpted novel'

Adaboy....


I think it's the width of the face and the thickness of the neck.

Bruce Lee was kind of "thin and small all around". I mentioned lightweight MMA fighters because like them, this guy looks like he cut weight short-term... so his body is a bit small but his "natural walking weight features" still appear elsewhere.
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Old 04-19-2013, 04:36 AM   #14
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