Thursday, December 26, 2013

Pending Style Changes for My Star Wars Webcomic

It's said that change is the only constant in the universe.  This certainly applies to any creative endeavors.  The published authors I know often talk about how their writing style improves over the course of their careers.

My career in writing my Star Wars webcomic, Breakout from Bongolaan, is just over a year old and I hope my writing has improved during this time.  Although after doing a complete review of the Chapters 1 through 6, I've already spotted one typo!  And I'm sure there's more...

...anyway, a comic is more than just words.  It's also a visual medium and I continually look for ways to improve on this aspect of it too.  Since I'm no good at drawing, I've relied on taking photographs of my miniatures and model terrain to tell my story.  (I'm not all that great at painting my figures, but that's another issue).  Thanks to a graphic novel workshop during a PNWA (Pacific Northwest Writers Association) Conference a few years ago, I learned this technique is a valid art form known as Fumetti.  

But valid or not, there's definitely room for improvement on my part.  Despite having figures and terrain on-hand I eventually realized I needed some background to give readers a sense of place.  The picture above is my initial depiction of the Bongolaanian Presidential Palace, as seen in my YouTube book trailer.  

A couple months ago, I stumbled across the site Wallpaper Up and I'm now in the throes of shooting new & improved images, like this...

...which I discussed at length on my Redshift Chronicles Blog a few weeks back.  

One of the programs I've been using is Paint.Net, described as a "poor man's Photoshop," to add various special effects to each photo.  However, while I enjoy taking pictures, and I know photography is an art form in and of itself, I feel my images aren't...well..."artsy" enough.  

Also, despite the size of my Star Wars Miniatures collection, I don't have the variety of models and figures needed to create all the necessary scenes.  So I've turned to real-life photography to fill in these gaps.  But in order to make these images "blend in" with the ones of miniatures, I've used the Oil Painting Function under Paint.Net's artistic effects.  The result is somewhat "Impressionistic", like this image here...

...of the New Year's Eve Masquerade Ball at Roberson Mansion.  This helps soften the starkness of a photograph to some degree. 

And speaking of stark images:  It seems like the imperfections in every picture I've used jump out at me.  Maybe because I'm the director's chair, so to speak; or maybe I'm a not-so-closeted perfectionist.  Either way, since I want to create the best possible content for my readers, I've been playing around with the oil painting function a bit more.  

This softens the image and helps hide the imperfections, as in this Oil Painting version of the Presidential Palace...

...but I also think it blurs the areas I want to draw the readers attention to.  Which is why I haven't used this function on any scenes involving miniatures.

Then, just a few days ago while compiling images for Chapter 7, I found myself idly playing around with Paint.Net's Ink Sketch function.  I applied it to the Presidential Palace photo and...


I don't know about you folks, but I really like this style.  It hides the imperfections I'm worried concerned about, and yet the "ink" brings all the objects into a sharp focus.  I just have to fiddle with the black-to-color ratios for the best result.

Best of all:  It makes it look like I actually drew this stuff.

Part of me wanted to hold-off using this technique until I begin work on Book Two of the Redshift Chronicles, but I'm too excited about this to wait any longer.  

So starting with this upcoming Chapter 7, Breakout from Bongolaan, along with the subsequent Redshift Chronicles books, will have a whole new look.

Unless, of course, I find something better...

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