Sunday, August 25, 2013
Now I'm moving onto Star Wars. Someone had already done Star Wars carved crayons but they aren't that great in my opinion. They were using the normal sized crayons though so I'll give them that. These two here were done with large crayons. Both of these were difficult to do. There were a lot of weird angles and shapes and details. I constantly had to look at reference pictures to try to get everything right. Despite the difficulty, I liked how they turned out, especially the Storm Trooper helmet. Some parts are a little off, but enough time has passed from when I was staring at photos that I forgot where the problems are. I do remember not being happy at all with how Darth Vader looked when I finished him. His face was just off but I'm ok with it now. Vader has that iconic chest plate so I included that. The Storm Trooper's chest is pretty plain so I just stopped with a helmet.
I wanted to do carvings for Jake and Finn from Adventure Time and I wanted to use the large size to match Princess Bubblegum. Unfortunately, I didn't have the right color for Jake. I just had yellow and orange when he should be somewhere in the middle. Finn on the other hand is mainly blue and white and I wasn't sure how I would do that. I think I'll have to mix colors via melting which is tricky so I decided to do that later. Instead, I moved onto Futurama. I decided to do Zoidberg and Bender since they're the only main characters that are a solid color. There's also Kif but I don't think he's that popular. Both of these are the normal sized crayons. I think Zoidberg came out really well. I wasn't sure how the flat bug eyed Futurama look would turn out in three dimension but it works.
Bender wasn't too bad either. There wasn't enough room to make the eye shield stick out as much as it should. I tried to make a really narrow antenna but it ended up breaking off which was for the best. Instead I just stuck in a wire on top and then covered that with melted wax. Overall, carving these crayons is going a lot quicker. Obviously, they're smaller so there's less to do. I'm also keeping it simple too. With the Game of Thrones ones, I wanted to use as much of the crayon as possible. So with those, I was doing two or three times as much work compared to these. The flip side is that I have to try to copy something that exists and is familiar compared to just a bunch of animals.
So my idea to get people to buy my crayons is to carve geeky things. Geeky people tend to buy geeky things they don't need. I should know because I'm one of them. Back when I was doing the Game of Thrones crayons, I thought it would be fun to do Adventure Time characters so that's what I did. Above I did Princess Bubblegum using a large pink crayon I had leftover. She wasn't too bad to carve. Luckily the hair allowed me not to have to carve all around. The crown ball could be thinner but I didn't want it to break off.
BMO was a lot harder. This was my first time carving a normal sized crayon although there wasn't that much carving to do. There was a lot of engraving lines which I don't like to do because it's hard to make straight lines and if you mess up, it's a pain to fix. Despite all that, I liked how it turned out. When you look up close like in these pictures, some parts looks a little rough but in real life it looks pretty good.
I was thinking about how I would ship these if I were to sell them without having them break. I just searched tube canisters on Amazon and eventually ended up looking at plastic test tubes. They came with caps so they seemed perfect (and were cheap). I had to get two sizes. The smaller one is just the right size for the crayon. The larger one is a little long but there weren't any other options. They're nice for storage too. The crayons are safe from breakage and from touching and coloring each other.
Looks like we're back to crayons. Back around when the art show happened, I talked to Shiu Pei and she said maybe carving crayons could be my thing and I could sell them on Etsy. Now this idea had already crossed my mind. The artist who carved the crayons I originally saw online mostly does stuff for shows or commissioned work. I saw one price though (which may not be right) that was $500 for two crayons. Now that's a little high. I figure if someone is willing to pay $250 for one crayon, then maybe someone will want to pay a tenth of that for one of mine. So I thought I would spend a week carving crayons and then put them on Etsy and see what happens. My expectations are low but I figured it wouldn't hurt to try. There does seem to be a void in this arena. Besides the previously mentioned artist, there aren't many examples of good carvings that I could find online.
So first things first, I needed to buy more crayons. I forgot if I mentioned this, but the crayons I carved for Game of Thrones were large sized crayons by Crayola. Large was nice since there's more wax to work with but there are less colors. The pack I bought only had 16 colors which sounds sufficient but wasn't really since blue and purple were super dark. They may leave marks in those colors but the wax itself just looks black. So I had to buy normal sized crayons and got the pack on top which had 150 unique colors. Now I have a lot of colors and a lot of crayons in general. They were pretty cheap too. I got 150 for the price of 40 large crayons. Unfortunately, there weren't many lighter shades of blue and purple. Most still looked black. Above you can see a comparison of two sizes. The normal crayons feel significantly smaller and are going be a challenge to work with.
I also would like to sell my Game of Throne crayons. Unfortunately, I want to sell it as a set which makes the price high. Although now without art gallery fees, I can lower the price. I wanted to submit it to the Game of Thrones Tumblr (where they post GoT artwork) to promote it. However, I needed a Tumblr account first which was a hassle. I didn't want to have a half assed page if they looked at it so I tried to make a nice looking one. I definitely do not like Tumblr and its interface but I found a template that I liked. It's just photos and no text. Over this past week, I've been posting my GoT crayons and any future ones will also end up there. I haven't submitted to the GoT Tumblr yet but will soon. You've already seen the crayons but you can check it out here if you want.
Friday, August 16, 2013
Now for some random things. Above I just changed the whites of her eyes to actually be white. I think she looks a lot different which that change. More friendly and less creepy.
Above are some of the different paint layers. On the left is just the base layer. Next to that is a combination of the next two layers. Here there's more rough painting like the coral in the hair and on the waist along with the eyes. Third is a combination of another two layers. These paint layers have a higher resolution to allow for more fine detail like all the spots and dots and cracks in the barnacles. Last we have a combination of all the layers minus the base layer.
Here is what the color map looks like when it's unfolded flat. And below you just have a view from the top.
So here's the final result. I think it turned out well and it was fun to do. It helped that it was a really well designed character to begin with so kudos to Shiu Pei.
I didn't put in much effort towards painting the lowest portions of the model since they weren't a focal point.
Below is a comparison to the original drawing. A few things I was aware were different like the hair and lips but didn't want to change. My lower body is too slim. I tried to make them wider when viewed from the front but didn't make it wide enough. The overall head shape is a little different but that was mainly due to trying to make a three dimensional head fit the big eyes which Shiu Pei didn't have to worry too much about.
So moving onto painting. The first thing I did was apply the base layer of colors all over. Then I focused on all the hair accessories. Using a few new layers, I mainly just copied what Shiu Pei had done. The pearls will get a coat of shine eventually.
Next I painted the hair and put in some dark and light streaks. It's a little subtle but when I do the bump map, it should stand out more. I also did the eyes. Shiu Pei's drawing had fairly dark eyes but I made the irises more visible here.
Then I moved downwards. The coral on the waist aren't made of many polygons and they're just simple bumps. So I used the paint to try to add in more structural detail than there really is. The leg area was a little tougher since it had a slight gradient color change, dots and dark mottling. This may sound weird but I'm strangely proud of the brown mottling.
This left all the brown spots for last. It was hard getting the right look with dot size and density. It's not as intense as it could have been. It looks good up close but kind of fades away as you get further away. After doing all the colors, I did the bump and specular map. The only thing I did with the bump map was to make more definition in the hair. For specular, I made the pearls shiny, put a little shine in the eyes, some streaks in the hair and then some spots of shine along the waist. You can see some of that below.
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
So about 2 months ago, Senthil sent me a link to a website for publishing comics, Tapastic.com. He had never read my comics but was aware I used to make them. I have actually posted some of my comics online before around five years ago. However there were a lot of other comics on that site so it was hard to get noticed so I stopped after posting a dozen or so. There were some things I liked about this new site though. One was that it was relatively new and they seemed very driven to expand and grow. They apparently secured a good amount of start up money which is how Senthil heard about them. Their focus is not just on web comics but on visual stories in general so graphic novels and manga are also present. Since they're kind of new, there are less comics to compete with. Also, if your comic gets really popular, there is a chance to make some money. So I decided to give it a try. It's not like I have to do anything, my comics are just sitting on my hard drive.
You can find the strip via this link. I decided to post one comic strip a day for two weeks and then taper off to just two a week. With the comics I already made during college, that would be enough for about four months of content. After one week, I got an email above from the site advertising my comic strip Prim & Proper. Unfortunately, this didn't go out to everyone who visits the site. This email was sent to fans of black and white comics. Still I thought it was cool that I got noticed by someone who runs the site. One week in, I had around 100 views. After this email, it doubled over the weekend. Then I steadily got more views since on the front page there's a section for new comic series. So I was sitting on the front page for a week or so and then hidden further down the list for a few weeks after that.
One day, I decided to look at Tapastic's Facebook page. I scrolled down and was surprised to see one of my comics posted there. So that was probably another source of viewers. Around 30 people liked it on Facebook but much less liked it on the actual site which was disappointing. Then a few weeks ago, Tapastic had a new feature on their 50 funniest webcomics. Surprisingly one of mine made the list (the same one above). Unfortunately, mine was literally at the bottom of the list. They must have some algorithm that takes into account views and likes to order it. The majority of comics on the list have tens of thousands of views while mine barely had 200. I don't think being featured there helped me too much because you have to scroll down a lot to get to mine so people probably aren't seeing it.
Another feature Tapastic has is their daily schedule. They put good series onto a special calender so people can see and find good stuff and it makes the creators publish content on a regular schedule. I mentioned before that I could possible make money off this but only I get popular. The only way I can see this happening is if I get on this daily schedule. The fact that I was featured on an email, on their FB page and on their top 50 list shows that someone is aware of me so all I can do is wait and see if they contact me. One thing that could possibly be holding me back is that I'm not active on the site in the form of commenting, liking and subscribing to other comics. If I blow up, then I might start making comics again. If not, I'll just post everything I have and then stop.
So if you already read my comics, then there's nothing really new. You can go to the site and flip through my comics if you want to give me more views. Anything more would require you to sign up. Something that might interest you more though is my old comic strip I made in middle school, School Daze. Our old site Kidscant was originally made to showcase these comics. I don't remember how many comics made it on there but I figure Tapastic is a perfectly fine vehicle for School Daze. A week ago I started posting them which you can see here. Unfortunately, they're gonna go up slowly so you can't read them all. Maybe I'll mention them here after every 10 are uploaded so you don't have to keep checking or if you forget. I didn't have any digital copies of these comics though so I had to take photos of each one (all sixty of them) and I'm slowly going through and editing them in Photoshop. It's kind of tedious getting them to look as good as possible but I think it's worth the effort. I still consider these comics to be one of my greatest achievements as a young adult. That and Phat Chat. Oh Phat Chat...
Monday, August 5, 2013
Here's Zephy after doing some sculpting in Mudbox. I made some edits while I was painting after this but nothing too major. I mainly just sculpted the vines for the bra, coral around the waist and then the vines/roots into the ground. I didn't do too much with the rest of the model. I increased the number of polygons which smoothed things out and I was happy with the result so I didn't do anymore sculpting.
With the body posed, I switched back to Maya. Now that I can see how the head, body and arms are positioned relative to each other, I could make the hair. I did this in two pieces. There is kind of a seam between the two. It's ok on top because it looks like a part in the hair but it stands out lower down. Hopefully, after painting the crease won't be too noticeable. I could have connect the two pieces but the extra work didn't seem worth it. In the original drawing, Zephy has a poof hair on top. I wasn't exactly sure how this would look in three dimensions and since I had only one picture to work with, I just didn't make it. The hair also isn't as stylized as Shiu Pei drew but I happy with what I got.
Next it was time to make all the hair accessories. The coral and pearls weren't bad. The sheer number of barnacles was though. They're all copies of each other but I had to individually place and rotate each one so they laid flat on the wavy hair. With everything in place, it looks pretty good though.
This is my finished model in Maya. My plan is to complete it in Mudbox. There are extra details like vines that I could do in Maya but would be much easier to do in Mudbox. So instead of creating all the vines via making tubes, I can just sculpt them on the body instead. Before jumping over to Mudbox though, I unfolded the model flat. It was a pretty easy process. I learned my lesson and kept the polygon count low beforehand (I'll increase it in Mudbox and the 2D map will still work fine). Below is the map I made. There's a lot of empty space I could have utilized better but it's fine for what I'm doing.
So onto a new project. I have idea of things I want to do but for some reason I did not want to do them. Instead I flipped through Shiu Pei's blog to look for inspiration. I came across this Zephy character she made during art school. What drew me in wasn't the design (which is excellent) but how Shiu Pei colored and textured the character. It seemed like something challenging to emulate so I accepted the challenge and proceeded to emulate.
Zephy has big eyes so that's where I started. I made the eyelids and then created the eyeball and adapted them together. I spread outwards from there. Next I made the mouth, spread outwards again until I hit the eye orbit area and connected them together. Then I build up and backwards to create the rest of the head.
With the head done, I moved downward. It's pretty much just a tube that I expanded and rotated as needed to make the neck, torso, lower body and base. After that I made an arm with a simple hand and fingers. With half the body done, I mirrored everything over. Now the head looks fairly odd. This was because in the drawing, the head is at an angle instead of straight on. I'll fix this later.
I wanted to pose the model in the same manner as the drawing so I switched over to Mudbox. Before posing though, I adjusted the head to make it more feminine and less alien. Then I posed the head, arms and each individual finger according to Shiu Pei's drawing. The finger positioning is a nice touch. Finally I added some curves to the spine so the body is sitting along one plane.