Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Deadwood - Wolf Willis art preview (part 2)

I was talking to Paul "Mad Dog" Mauer the other night about the artwork for the upcoming Deadwood book (he gets all flustered if I use the full name, Gutshot: Night of the Living Deadwood, in conversation). He likes the look of the final artwork I'm showing, but asked to see what it looks like before I convert it to black & white line art.

To back up a second, the images I'm creating start out in a 3D program called Daz Studio. I'm currently using the latest release, which is version 4.6. This is actually a free program created by a company called Daz3D. I've been a customer of theirs for more than a decade, although I used to just buy content from them. You see, they started out making figures, clothes and hair for a 3D program called Poser.

Both of these are considered entry-level 3D programs and they have tens of thousands of users around the world. Now, to digress for one second, if you're knowledgeable about 3D software you might ask why I'm not using a high-end application like Maya, 3D Studio Max or even Lightwave, or something in the middle like Carrara or even Strata 3D or Blender. The simple answer is, those are bigger than I need.

I'm not creating animations, nor am I modeling my own figures and props. Frankly, there's already a huge collection of props and figures that have been created by professional (and semi-pro) designers out there for use in Daz Studio and Poser. Rather than waste time reinventing them, I've chosen to buy (or simply obtain free models, because there are thousands of freebies out there) and compose them into scenes that I can then use to illustrate the upcoming Deadwood book.

And there's a LOT of manipulation involved. These models do not just magically transform into the black & white line art I'm previewing here. There's no simple mouse-click to do the conversion. It takes a combination of my eye and experience to go from the original render to the final image.

But, to answer Paul's question, here's a look at what I'm actually starting with. As you can see in this animated GIF, the Daz Studio software deals with wireframe 3D meshes that are then covered with textures.

From mesh to man, this series of screen shots from Daz Studio
show how detail is slowly added to the figure to bring it to life.

As 3D meshes, these have been pre-rigged, meaning they have "bones" that let them move at the joints just like people (and dogs) do. Each finger, toe, eyelid, mouth, etc. can also be moved to grasp the rifle and make the face look different (the same figure, for example, could look like different people just by adjusting the chin, cheek bones, hairline and body type). I can also move the camera around so that we can see them from different angles (I could easily switch this to a side view, or do a close-up on the dog's face. Likewise, I can adjust the lighting (in this case it comes from below to add a hint of drama to the scene).

I don't want to get into a big discussion on 3D or what my process is to convert the artwork to b&w, but if you're interested, let me know and I'll post more info about it.

Check out last week's post for a look at the final version of this image.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Deadwood - Wolf Willis art preview

Here's another art sample from the upcoming book/game, GUTSHOT: NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEADWOOD. This is a new character, a bounty hunter by the name of Wolf Willis (and his companion, a half-wolf dog that simply goes by the name Wolf). As you can imagine, Willis gets his nickname from his canine companion.

"Wolf" Willis stands ready to face all odds.
(click on image to see full-sized)

Right now, to be honest, I'm not sure if I'm keeping the wolf. I need to create a few more test images to see how he renders and converts into line art. I also need to see how many poses are available for the dog -- pre-set poses help save a lot of time over having to create them from scratch.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Deadwood - Art Update

Mike Foreman -- This young Deputy just got a
big promotion when the Sheriff got mauled by wild
animals... at least they THINK it was animals!
Wow, has it really been that long since my last post here? That's frightening. I haven't been completely silent at the Hawgleg Website, or even at our Facebook page.

I thought I'd give you a glimpse at some artwork that we're developing for the upcoming game, Gutshot: Night of the Living Deadwood.

This is a simple character study of a character who will be featured in some of the images that will go into the Deadwood book.

If you're not sure what I mean, let me explain. You see, when we created the original Gutshot book, we were able to tap into a vast collection of public domain artwork from pulp magazines published in the 1920s - 1940s. There were a lot of great Western magazines published back then, and we really benefited from the artistry of those bygone days; we found dozens of great images of cowboys, gunfighters, gamblers, and so on.

But, as we move forward with our new project, we can no longer find suitable artwork from the past. As you might imagine, there aren't a lot of zombie cowboys to be found in those old magazines. So, we must create new artwork for our new book. Although this creates some difficulties, it also creates some new opportunities. By creating a "cast of characters," our examples will be able to tell a more unified story than we did in our first book. I don't mean we're going to include a lot of fiction, but rather that when we provide an example, we will be able to tell a mini-story the progresses throughout the book. This is sort of what they did back in the Vampire: The Masquerade and World of Darkness books from White Wolf.

Hence, the need for "characters" who will appear in both text and art throughout the book. This first one is Mike Foreman, a young sheriff in a small Western town. He got the job when his old boss was mauled by wild animals. At least they THINK it was wild animals. I mean, what else could it be? His first job will be to investigate who stole the sheriff's body from the undertaker's office before it could be buried.

Stay tuned -- I'll be posting new images here soon, of Mike and some of the other characters from the Deadwood game.