Friday, January 13, 2017

Free Bar Code Generator

More than 10 years ago I paid about $250 - $300 for a block of 10 ISBNs (that's International Standard Book Number). These are the IDs that appear in each book to give it a unique identifier. This usually appears on the back of the book above the barcode.

This is different from the UPC code, which is the actual bar code. Now, I've got the the ISBN, but I needed the UPC code. These can cost you from $10 - $30 per barcode (crazy, ain't it, paying for the code of a number you already own -- the ISBN should just include the danged thing).

Fortunately, there are free barcode generators out there, and here's one I use (and recommend):

Since this is a free service, be a sport and donate a couple of bucks if you use this service.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Happy New Year -- big news on the way!

Just a tease to let y'all know that there's big news on the way in about two weeks.

I think you'll like it.

Monday, August 11, 2014

RDNA selected Zombie Attack as an Image of the Week!

This is a cool feather in my cap, and Ah'm so proud that I could bust a button! One of the potential illustrations for our upcoming book, GUTSHOT: Night of the Living Deadwood, was selected by an online community called RuntimeDNA as one of their Images of the Week! 

One of the RDNA Images of the Week for Aug. 8, 2014
I'm a particularly proud pappy (all my illustrations are "my children," so ta speak) because I put a lot of work into this one, and am pleased with the way it turned out. I really like the look of terror on Sheriff Mike Foreman's face, and I think i achieved just the right amount of "ick" in that gutshot he's giving the zombie (yeah -- I like that it's a gutshot).

Another thing that makes me wanna hoot-n-holler is that this accolade comes with a prize! I got to pick out an item from their 3D store. Now, there were limitations, such as no software or bundles, so wipe the gold fever from yer greedy little eyes. This is an Image of the Week award, not the lottery!  And nevertheless, Ah'm pleased as punch to be winning it. RuntimeDNA seems to have pretty high standards all around. I really like and, but Ah gotta be honest -- there's just something a little classier about the RDNA folks. Can't really put muh finger on it, but the items they offer are just a smidge better than some of the other stuff out there.

So, Ah know none of yuh could bunk down fer a good night's sleep without knowing what I chose from the store. I will admit, I did poke around a bit, but to be honest, there was never any doubt. Last September they came out with an outfit that I've wanted ever since I saw it. It was a stylized saloon gal outfit, and I've always pictured her as one of the characters in the Deadwood book, probably pulling out a Derringer and shooting some undead gambler right between the eyes for having an ace up his sleeve.

The outfit is called Rockabilly Burlesque, and I think it's just the right mix of sexy, period-appropriateness, and steampunk. With these clothing items (and some of the jewelry) available to use on my own copy of the Victoria 4 figure, I will be able to pose her and create new illustrations for the Deadwood book. Of course, my work will be in b&w (since that's how the book will be published). But still, I think I'll manage to make good use of this outfit.

Copyright 2013 

Stay posted, folks. Things are gonna start getting interesting around here!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Renderosity just selected me their #6 Favorite Artist of the Week!

I just got a really cool pat on the back from my saddle pals over at the website. I maintain an online gallery over there (have since waaaaay bacck in 2001, if i recollect correctly). Anyway, as it says in the headline (talk about yer spoilers), they selected me as the #6 Favorite Artist of the Week.

This is based on the number of folks who added me to their Favorites list, the number of folks who commented on muh work, and things like that. I spelled it all out in detail over at muh other blog, Mike Mitchell Online. Mosey on over there if you'd like to take a gander at some of my non-Gutshot related artwork, and for more info about Renderosity's selection process.

UPDATE: During the next two weeks, I actually climbed as high as #2! Then slid back down to #3 on the daily charts. Needless to say, it was a fun ride while it lasted. And, who knows, I may just hit the charts again in the future!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Deadwood - Rex's Close-up...

Sorry for missing last Wednesday's post. I got tied up with a few work-related issues.

However, I actually did do some Deadwood art last week... but this time for someone else.  The publisher's of my 3D software were sponsoring a Portrait Contest, so I decided to continue my work with Rex and post it over at the Daz3D Web site. I'm not going to provide a link to the contest because you have to be a registered member of the forum to see it -- and I really don't think most of you are interested in registering for a forum just to see two images that I'm going to post here.

Rex -- Maybe he's had a little
too much moonshine?

This first WIP (Work In Progress) image that I created was trying to "show a little bit of crazy" in his eyes, but that actually became the problem. You see, I captured the crazy, but because I started with the image of him looking over his shoulder, his eyes didn't come out with an even expression. It just seemed a little off to me, so I redrew his eyes looking straight ahead (more or less). This just combined to make this an okay picture, but not a great one.

Rex - A little calmer... and maybe a little grumpier.

So I revisited the image and made some changes. I was in a time crunch, so I removed the mug of coffee from his hand (I had issues parenting it to his hand -- something all 3D artists recognize as a pain in the you-know-what). And I also changed his expression.

Unfortunately, I think I tamed him down too much. This a nice image, but it kind of lacks the immediacy and sheer character of the first one I did. In this one, however, I do like the way i combined the crosscut filter with the color better than I did with the straight b&w crosscut effect I used above.

As usual, the postwork effects were created in Photoshop with Flaming Pear's India Ink filter. I believe Filter Forge has a similar filter/plug-in, but I have not used it.

I haven't heard from the contest people at Daz, but I don't expect to win anything. This was really just an exercise and a chance to get some work out there.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Deadwood - Rex Sees Something

I took another stab at the Rex image from last week, and I'm still not happy with it. The composition and lighting are still way off.

Turning his head, Rex watched as a hideous shape
emerged from the shadows... a shape that was hauntingly familiar.
Now that I've got a decent contrast between his beard and shirt, I've got to increase the contrast between his shirt and britches. In color, they are too similar in tone. Right here, with this quick inking conversion, I compensated for that by using two different techniques: His upper body is Basket Weave and his lower body is inked with Cutline. Both of these are settings in the Photoshop India Ink filter by Flaming Pear. To get a clear look at the effects, click on the above image to see it full screen.

Right now I've got to decide if this image is worth pursuing, or if I should go back to my original idea of using the Wolf Willis character, instead. No matter what I do, though, the lighting and composition (i.e. how the figures are framed) need work.

Oh, and that fire pit looks HUGE at this angle. I definitely need to shrink it down a bit.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Deadwood - Rex Hears Something...

This week has been tied up with a lot of work and other projects, so I'm actually very  behind on creating art for the Night of the Living Deadwood book. However, I did get a start on a new image... one that's surprised me in more than a few ways.

You see, I originally pictured this scene with Wolf Willis, reaching for his pistol which would be in a gunbelt draped over the log. Instead, I found myself using a new character named Rex... an old frontiersman/prospector character with a bald head and a long beard. I also found myself using a lot more props this time around. Often, I add trees and logs in post-production (that is, I don't put them into the scene, but add them in Photoshop).

There was a noise behind him. Instinctively
his hand stretched out for his trusted Henry rifle...

The other images I've shown you were mostly completed (if used, some will be tweaked before being printed). But this time I decided to bring you in at the early stage and show you the first step in the process. This is a low-resolution, low-quality rendering of the basic scene. Right now I'm just putting things in their rough location and doing a rough pose on which to start building. In other words, this is the digital equivalent of a sketch.

As such, there's no ground, nothing around the tree, and most of all, nothing lurking between the trees. This is a simplified scene with just the basic elements that I need. For instance, I need the campfire for a light source (and it comes from a low angle, so that will make it more ominous). I need the log as something to lean the rifle up against. I could have it lying on the ground, but that would make it hard to see and that location would require him to lean over to reach it. Not practical for a still image. The tree behind him could be done in post (i.e. Photoshop), but I want it to be more solid, so I'm actually putting it into the scene. I will use it and the branches of the smaller tree to frame a zombie that is coming up behind him.

I'v already made a few decisions regarding changes:

  • I need to shift our Point of View (POV) to our left and rotate it so we get a better look at Rex's face.
  • I need to raise his arm so we can clearly see it reaching for the rifle
  • I need to put a coffee cup in his right hand (just to give it something to do)
  • And, if I have one, put a coffee pot in the fire (gotta explain what's in his cup)
  • I need to alter the pose of his feet so they don't touch
  • I might need to make his shirt darker so his beard stands out better
A closer view with different lighting. Things were way too bright
 in this scene, so I toned it down, as you can see in the render above.

Anyway, those are just a few of the thoughts I've had regarding this scene so far. Hopefully, I'll manage to get back to this before next week and show you how I've progressed. Until then... keep yer powder dry, saddle pals!