SCIENCE FICTION ARTIST IN-DEPTH INTERVIEWS
THE COMICS ISSUE
GEORGES ‘CHEMICQ’ PETERS
ISSUE NINETEEN JUNE 2017
VUE ● TERRAGEN ● POSER ● DAZ STUDIO ● REAL-TIME 3D ● 2D DIGITAL PAINTING ● 2D/3D COMBINATIONS
LONG CHAIN RIGGING By SickleYield DETAILS Learn a new angle on content creation for DAZ Studio by learning this exclusive technique of long-chain rigging. This method can provide unique and outstanding products.
Think about it - how would you create a tentacled creature, a tail of a crocodile or a whip that you can pose and bend easily that has been rigged properly with numerous chained bones?
We are very happy to introduce SickleYield from the DAZ 3D community who is revealing her step by step process of how to create such models. In this webinar she'll show you how to have a whip completely rigged and set up with hand pose wearables.
The Figure Setup tab tends to be under-utilized and we cover this part of DS in detail during this live session.
In this rigging webinar special we'll cover:-
Importing an obj to the Figure Setup Tab Create a bone rig using the FST How to generate your mesh in the 3d viewport from the FST Essential workup and weight mapping in the 3d viewport How to ensure you properly save the new item Brilliant texturing of the new item using Substance Painter and the GIMP Complete the Set up of the new item with wearables presets to place it in the figures' hands for quick and easy use
For those that register - we have a bonus 30 minute pre-recorded tutorial from SickleYield that we'll send you in addition to the webinar recording.
HAIR & ACCESORY SETS By Arki Book early on this course and grab a 28% saving! Starting Saturday 22nd July 20:00 BST (London)/12:00 PDT (Los Angeles)/15:00 EDT (New York) Includes three webinar sessions and HD Recordings
In this three part series we'll cover....
Easy Hair Creation: Using rough shapes to refined strand groups How to create hair can be broken down into a couple of small and simple steps: first you create your rough shape, then you work it down to the smallest element in your creation. I will only use basic modelling tools to achieve our goal, so this does not require complex background skill of your modelling software.
Arranging the Coiffure: Create a modular and flexible hair style Interesting hair styles can do a couple of things - namely change looks. Open and down, done up and twisted, braided, slicked back - you name it. Only your imagination is the limit, and in this class I will demonstrate how to create interesting pieces for a base wig to combine for a variety of different looks and styles.
Accessories for a Wig: Create elements of varying complexity as base for jewellery, etc Ideally, you accessories (be it jewellery or other trinkets) complement your hair style. But what to create, and how to find that "matching recipe"? This element of the class will show methods how to find a balance in design - and how to carry over that initial idea into 3D.
Instancing for Details: Working with repetitive pre-mapped elements
Most accessories repeat one or several basic elements over and over. Instancing can open a world of possibilities for you - using pre-mapped objects with all material zones already assigned will save you hours of work and will help you complete your project a lot faster!
SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE SHARE YOUR CREATIVE STORY
We are actively looking for artists or content creators that would enjoy the opportunity of teaching other artists in a live setting. Would you like to work with Digital Art Live as a partner in presenting some of our live webinars? Weâ€™re particularly looking for artists and content creators with DAZ Studio and/or Poser in mind. Use the link below to submit your application and weâ€™ll get in touch!
Past and Present Presenters : Syyd Raven, Eric Van Dycke, Paolo Ciccone, Kim Schneider, Charles Taylor
Front Cover: Pictures from the
Symbiosis Art Book, kindly issued
under Creative Commons by Steven Sanders. The 80-page digital book is available online in .PDF or .CBR for a suggested $1 donation at Gumroad.
THE COMICS ISSUE
CONTENTS OUR LIVE WEBINARS! ―― 03
EDITORIAL ―― 09
JULY MEET-UP ―― 10
BACK ISSUES INDEX ―― 46
JPL: HANGING OUT WITH ROBOSIMIANS ―― 48
GALLERY ―― 66
IMAGINARIUM ―― 86
We talk with the curator of Europe’s leading sciencefiction museum, about his major new exhibition at the Barbican in London.
Georges Peters developed an advanced workflow in DAZ Studio, to make his science-fiction comic Universal Nation 2133.
Arne had no 3D experience, but tried DAZ Studio. He then spent two years learning it, to tell his story in comic form.
CURATOR | COLLECTOR
DAZ STUDIO | PS
DAZ STUDIO | PS
“… a perfect utopia would be boring because it has to be non-evolving. It's a closed society, where nothing changes because any change could transform it [and] by definition it will change for the worse.”
“You can have the most beautiful character with the most complex shader settings, but without proper lighting all of that goes to waste. Light a model as if in a photo studio, or you will never have the effect you want.”
“… I've found that breaking the comic’s scenes down into smaller parts and compositing them back together in Photoshop is much faster than trying to render all of the geometry at once..”
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LIVE Join our live webinar-based workshops for digital artists. digitalartlive.com Credits for pictures, from top left: detail from “Niska V2 12 Gynoid” by Georges Peters; detail from “Firewall” by Neutrix; “Advanced Warfare Radial Fighter” (detail) by Georges Peters.
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Copyright © 2017 Digital Art LIVE. Published in the United Kingdom. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the publisher. No copyright claim is made by the publisher regarding any artworks made by the artists featured in this magazine.
For some time we’ve wanted to look at comic book style artwork. We’re pleased to include two interviews this issue that show what can be done with the use of DAZ Studio by Chemiq and Arne Cooper. We hope their excellent work will help you to consider this art form a little more!
of sci-fi, found in the writings of Jules Verne all the way to the galaxy of modern blockbusters that we’ve seen in our lifetimes. Patrick Gyger is the historian and curator of this exhibition and we interview him about the creation of this event and how it’s inclusive on an international scale, not just reliant on Western output. There’s around 800 works to see, some of which have been borrowed from the personal collection of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Peppered through the duration of the show are special talks and cinema screenings such as George Lucas’s THX 1138, which we’ll be seeing on our Meetup day. From Extraordinary Voyages, Space Odysseys, Brave New Worlds and to Final Frontiers the exhibition is cleverly divided into these landmark categories. Come and join us in London on Sunday July 2nd at 2:00pm at the Barbican centre— details are overleaf.
Next month we’re a hosting a meetup in London to help celebrate an extraordinary science fiction exhibition held at the Barbican, London. It brings together a unique collection of art, design, film and literature. It goes right from the very roots
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MEET THE TEAM, AND YOUR FELLOW ARTISTS! Sunday 2nd July 2017 We have a special opportunity to meet the Digital Art Live team, the magazine’s readers and other digital science fiction artists, in the comfort of the Barbican in central London. Starting in June, the Barbican will host a major science-fiction exhibition called “Into the Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction”. Our Digital Art Live meet-up event will be part of this exhibition and its creative programme, giving you the opportunity to pair our meet-up event with other opportunities around the Barbican and in central London. OUR SCHEDULE 12.30pm prompt, meet at The Barbican. 12.50pm we sit down for a light lunch and chat in one of the cafés (purchase your own snack and drinks). 2pm start tour of the “Into The Unknown” exhibition (a ticket must be booked in advance for the 2pm slot, at £14.50 each) 3.30pm informal break 4pm informal chats continue / or see the outdoor screening of the 35mm print of the restored movie THX 1138 (£10.50, may be purchased in advance). 6pm depart for the tube station, or stay on until the Barbican closes at 8pm.
PLEASE BOOK NOW! 11
Digital Art Live talks at length with Patrick Gyger, one of the leading science-fiction curators and collectors of our time. Patrick is curating a major new exhibition in London this summer, celebrating science-fiction’s historic role in spurring exploration in all of its forms.
Paul: Patrick, thank you for your time today. Patrick Gyger is curating a major London exhibition called “Into The Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction” between June and August 2017. Patrick is also a historian, a writer, and is director of the Maison d’Ailleurs, the Swiss museum which houses one of the world's largest collections of science fiction literature.
Patrick: Thank you for inviting me.
Paul: Now, I wanted to just talk a little bit about where you are currently director, at the Le Lieu unique art centre in France. Patrick: Well, Le Lieu unique is a bit like a small Barbican, which is where we are today. It's a place where you can go grab a coffee or beer and then see an exhibition, see a performance until very late at night. Even though it’s not a science fiction place, obviously, we do deal a lot 12
“I think that’s the movement we're trying show in this exhibition. It's about people trying to go
beyond what is known, going towards the horizon.”
with utopias and images of the future and the future-past. For instance, we have an exhibition about mega structures, so the 1960s architects and how they imagined the future. In June 2017, we'll have an H.R. Giger exhibition, creator of Alien, a big retrospective show. Paul: Do the visitors think about the future, does the artwork contribute to that, to designing the future? 13
PATRICK GYGER SWITZERLAND / FRANCE CURATOR | COLLECTOR
Patrick: I wish I could say ‘yes’ to that. But I think they're just coming for entertainment. But I hope people are touched by what we do. And we have this crazy ambition of transforming the world, one person at a time, but it's a utopia — so we have to kind of aim toward that, but we alone, of course, are not going to achieve that. Paul: And now you have the space and the exhibition you're curating here at the Barbican.
Will this show bring people into new ways of thinking and hopefully, as you say, ‘change one person at a time’?
Patrick: Yes, because I think we are, at the moment, in an environment where we lack images of the future. We are in the world which doesn't offer many alternatives, you know. I think it's important to have some alternatives, and to show that science fiction has come up with all kinds of images of the future. Some very strong ones, some desirable ones, some frightening ones — but in a way, all that has helped, I think, shape the present. Paul: Now, you've also been an author and you published a book on the history of the flying car. What inspired you to take a close look at that particular subject?
encourages that. And I really like that subject of the flying car, of how it helps visualize freedom. And I think there are many other aspects in science fiction that do the same thing. Patrick: Yes, science fiction, I think, is about being curious, you know. Daring to go where nobody else has gone before, or at least not that many people have gone before. And it's a state of mind more than just ‘useful’, to be able to extrapolate and use conjecture. Such as the "What if?" genre, you know. If you do this, what will happen? And something extraordinary may happen, of course. That's the entertainment value, the sense of wonder that science fiction generates. But the freedom, as you mentioned, is at the root of that — and this will perhaps take a path that is not yet well-travelled.
Patrick: Yes, it does look like a subject which is ridiculous at first glance. And it's a very, very small topic and almost like a detail in history, but it was a way to talk about the history of the future — the future we were promised and we never got. How, throughout the 20th century, this fabulous year of 2000 was there out in front of us — promising, you know, food in pills, super high-rises, and automatic-everything, and the flying cars. And why do we not have that future, and why do we have this present day which is highly technological, but… where did it change and why did the goals set for our technology actually change? Because the flying car is not about being able to fly around, it's about being able to be free — to kind of take off anywhere anytime and, yes... being empowered in a way. That freedom is not going to happen. Even if there is a flying car in the future, you're not going to personally be able to take off from your rooftop and fly around and all that. It's going to be controlled — as cars are controlled today. You can only drive on roads, and there are red lights and there are signs that tell you how fast you can drive. So that future we were promised is obviously gone, and it leads us to the matter of questioning the future that we’re promising our children today. What is it? Paul: I think science fiction helps sustain freedom-thinking. I think in a sense, I think it
“There are less and less people working with props, physical props, and doing matte painting with proper paint. … it’s going to be way more difficult to do an exhibition like this in 100 years because everything is going to be digital files.” Paul: I read a quote recently along the lines of: ‘science fiction is a genre used to think of goals for society, and it's easy to write stories about purpose and goals for futures societies’. Whereas in other genres, maybe that's a little bit harder to do. So I like it for that, too. Now, let’s turn to talk about the exhibition. It’s at the Barbican, and to me it seems that it's on a huge scale. If you had been asked to do this 20 years ago, I think it would've been a lot more difficult to do. But I'm really pleased to see that it is now, and on this scale. 14
Picture: The Maison d'Ailleurs ("The House of Elsewhere") is the Swiss museum of science fiction. It holds a collection of 70,000 artifacts related to the history of science fiction, including a large collection of vintage pulp magazines. The museum also has a focus on the history of ideas about possible utopias, and serves as a centre for scholarly research. The museum stages several temporary art exhibitions each year. Located in the centre 15 of the town
of Yverdon-les-Bains, the museum occupies the old town jail and now also extends â€” via the elegant new walkway pictured â€” into a much larger former casino building. Patrick Gyger became the curator in 1999, and he helped the museum acquire the world's best collection of Jules Verne material. The museum's collecting activites are currently focussed on acquiring unique material related to contemporary sciencefiction cinema and videogames.
Patrick: It's a surprise, though. It's a surprise to me firstly because when I was a teenager, this was a culture which was very niche. It was for geeks, obviously. But for various reasons science fiction is now part of mainstream pop culture, so it's quite surprising that a cultural centre which is so big and ambitious as the Barbican would take an interest in it. On the other hand, it's all around us, so it's not that we live in a science fiction world as much as we live in the world of science fiction — where science fiction is on every screen. The superhero films, most of them are science fiction, then there are the reboots and sequels such as Star Wars. All of the mainstream pop culture today is science fiction. Most of it is. A lot of it is. Paul: And the other value you're bringing to this exhibition is to make it international, because I believe it's going to be travelling on to different places after it finishes in London. Is that right? Patrick: Yes, we're trying to make it as international as possible, even though science fiction production was mostly in UK and US during the 20th century. But that work influenced a lot of other creators, and writers, and filmmakers, and so we also try to pay homage to them, you know. So there is now science fiction from South America, Mexico, Africa, Japan, continental Europe, from Russia. Paul: I hear that there’s a film from Africa that you’ll be showing? Patrick: We're showing several films from Africa or made my film-makers of African origin. We're also showing films from Mexico. In the printed catalog there will be an article about the rise of African science fiction, another on the rise of science fiction in the Arab nations. Of course, in France, science fiction has been very present for a century now. I think, as science fiction becomes more mainstream, the good side of that is that as a culture that we are more detached from the genre. Others can then take it on board and use it in their own ways, and that's very exciting. And that, I think, is... the future of science fiction. It's not the old tropes. It's not the same old clichés we've seen in the last 50 years in film. Other nations and
other cultures are going to do science fiction and fuel it with their own ideas. Paul: That's going to be fascinating. I think this really will increase the bounds and boundaries. Now, I know as well that you have mostly games and pieces from the private sci-fi collection of Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen. Which sounds like a real ‘win’. Maybe tell us a little bit about Paul and his collection, and the story of being able to work with him to bring some things on board. Patrick: Yes, Paul Allen and his team have been really good on this project. As you might know, Paul Allen co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates but left quite early on, I mean, left years and decades ago, like in the ‘90s, I think, but he has interested in all kinds of different businesses. And one of his interests, personal interests, is pop culture. So he founded this museum called Experience Music Project, EMP, maybe 20 years ago in Seattle in the very beautiful building run by Frank Gehry near the Space Needle. And he housed his collection of pop music memorabilia there and also created a wing devoted to science fiction. And after that... no, actually I think part of the museum was always for science fiction. It was when I went to see it, maybe 10 or 12 years ago. And now, the museum is called, I think, Museum of Pop Culture. It has changed names a few times. So Paul Allen has this collection of amazing work from Jimmy Hendrix's guitars to murals, modern art, and a lot of amazing science fiction props, drawings, concept arts, all kinds of things. And that collection is exhibited in the U.S. but has not been shown, I think, at all outside of Seattle. At least not on a big scale, and they were kind enough to kind of loan us many pieces. So we have helmets from Star Wars, and spaceships and original drawings. So I think it's a very strong collection, because it starts with the early days of science fiction, with illustration from the 1930s until today. Paul: It sounds quite wide-ranging in what he's been able to share. Now, you're pleased to include some artwork from one notable artist, Patrick Tatopoulos. Does Patrick have a 16
particular focus with his work? What is he into? Patrick: Yeah, Patrick Tatopoulos was one of the artists we approached first. He's been working in Hollywood. He's a concept artist, really, designing creatures and environments for film, designing them digitally but also using traditional methods. So he has designed a lot of things for Independence Day, for instance, for the movie Stargate. So if you've seen Stargate, those creatures with their crazy helmets, that's his design. He's a big name in Hollywood.
“We're not trying to say we're doing a show about ‘the science of science fiction’ or ‘the politics of science fiction’ and ‘how science fiction expressed differences and gender’. Instead we're really trying to express this drive that science fiction inculcates in us for exploration.”
and then in space. And that's the second chapter, “Space Odysseys.” So we go into space and we meet all kinds of beings there, not necessarily friendly ones. We colonize, and conquer, and discover. But once space has been explored, then we come back to our home base here, where control is the main thing. We transform our societies, build gigantic high-rises — build the Barbican even — and try to create utopian worlds for ourselves. Which soon deteriorate into dystopias. And so that's the third part, “Brave New Worlds.” Then the last part is about how we explore ourselves — once we have transformed our environments, after exploring the earth, exploring space, transform our environment. We delve into ourselves. It's the “Final Frontiers” section. Where we enhance ourselves, explore our minds, duplicate our minds, create artificial intelligences, create robots, and use our bodies and minds as a medium, transform our dreams. Transform other things — like time, travel through time. So those last frontiers form the final chapter of the show. So each section has a fresh feel to it. The first one is more like a cabinet of curiosities; the second one is more like awe-inspiring visits of space; third chapter is more like the very constructed structures of dystopian and utopian worlds; and then the last chapter is more like a mirror-world where those frontiers looking into ourselves. It's like this whole set of explorations basically brings back to ourselves.
Paul: Now, I know the exhibition is divided into four sections or chapters?
Patrick: Yes, the idea of the exhibition is how science fiction brings us further ‘into the unknown’. So it starts with “Extraordinary Voyages” and how writers, filmmakers, artists, have mapped the world, going and filling up the blanks on the map, basically. Then, when the world was mapped, they go inside the world, into the realms under the earth, to caves or under the sea. Where they travel for... 20,000 Leagues, for instance! All of that is covered. They go further up into the air towards the moon 17
Paul: I really like the link, or the circle, that you've drawn between these chapters. In itself it sounds quite important that we make this journey, but we have actually come back to ourselves and we improve ourselves with all of these wonderful technologies. Now, the “Extraordinary Voyages” chapter, I imagine that looks at the very roots of science fiction, where it all began. So what are some of the artefacts you're hoping to display to do with those roots? So Jules Verne, you've mentioned… Patrick: Yes, we have Jules Verne manuscripts. We also have the drawings from the hand of
Jules Verne. So, you know, this is, for me, super exciting. For other people, maybe it is not so. But we also have original art by Ray Harryhausen and some of the models he used for his dinosaur movies. Against this we have some of Patrick Tatopolous’s works for Godzilla. All kinds of artifacts, as if we were inside this kind of cabinets of curiosities and then of the arm chair explorer, you know. I think it's going to be quite fun for people to see that Robinson Crusoe and The New Atlantis, or books that they would not necessary consider science fiction, were actually at the roots of the genre. Paul: I like this idea of taking a step back and saying, ‘Where did science fiction really begin?’ And asking: is to do with the exploration done, back when the maps were still being sketched out of planet Earth, and the fear of going into those unexplored places? For some people, it would be a delight to explore. For other people, it would be a fear. And I think that's exactly paralleled how we're going into space. So why not make that parallel and look at those roots. Patrick: I think that’s the movement we're trying show in this exhibition. It's about people trying to go beyond what is known, going towards the horizon. And to the horizon that was available to them in the 19th century or, even the 16th century. The horizon is an island just further away from the shore than the ones that you know. That's the island of utopia, you know. And then after that, it's that lost valley, you know. And, yeah, I mean, people will be surprised to see Tarzan in the exhibition but, you know, if you read Tarzan and the Last Empire, Tarzan takes an airship and goes into a valley and then inside the whole earth to find a lost race. Really because, you know, once you've explored the jungle, what's there to find? But then there always... a lost civilization, you know! Paul: Now, the chapter of the exhibition called “Space Odysseys”. You’ve got props and models from various TV shows and movies. What are some of your favourites that you're really proud to show to people in that section? Patrick: I'm really very happy to have some of the H.R. Giger's work for Alien and for Dune, you know, Jodorowsky's Dune, the film that was
never made. We have d'Anconia’s chair which is beautiful, for instance. We have some of the Alien drawings. And then we have spacesuits, for instance, from Alien also, from Moon, from Star Trek. Yeah, some very iconic artefacts and documentation from all kinds of films. We also have this really fun digital project by Martin Panchaud, which is the first Star Wars, Star Wars: Episode IV as they call it now, as a massive infographics display, so basically summing up the whole Star Wars film with one long strip of digital film, one long strip as far as we can go to. And it's very geeky, and it shows how this kind of fan culture has taken the film and made it their own. But it's also very smart. Paul: I saw that infographic by Martin on the way up today, and I'm trying to look at it on my phone, but it goes on for a long time. Patrick: But it's a whole film. Paul: I'm scrolling and scrolling of my phone, and I realize what he was doing. So that does look really interesting. So is that going to be represented? Is that like a really large-scale infographic? Is that what we're going to see? Patrick: No, we're going to see a screen and you can scroll through it for ages. Paul: I see. A little bit bigger than the phone, but it still takes... Patrick: No, it's going to be quite bigger than your phone but it's going to take a long time. But it's an homage he's paying to Star Wars. And we are going to pay homage to this kind of fan culture also, a culture that's taking those tropes and those icons of science fiction and making them their own.
Paul: There may be part of that same section, I understands, you're going to be showing the Torus by Syd Mead, and I hear that's really iconic piece of work. It's a space habitat, isn't it, in the form of a big ring? Patrick: Yes, it's a ring. That's from Elysium. And as you know Syd Mead is a really famous designer. We have other interesting concept artists we're showing, but digital is where science fiction is being created at the moment — videogames, films. We have quite a bit of digital 18
Picture: The Barbican centre, by the side of the Thames in London, the site of the â€œInto the Unknown Exhibitionâ€?. The late-modernist brutalist concrete architecture is a prime example of the sort of semi science-fiction urban environment built by the state in the post-war period.
design in that section, because this is where science fiction is created and how science fiction is created now. There are less and less people working with props, physical props, and doing matte painting with proper paint. And it's not a criticism, but it's going to be way more difficult to do an exhibition like this in 100 years because everything is going to be digital files. So you will need to make printouts or to have screens and projections, which we do have in the show. At least visually, digital art has completely transformed how science fiction is created today. Paul: I know Syd Mead has been an influence on Neill Blomkamp — the director of District 9, Elysium. And I think he brought Syd Mead on board to do some of the concept artwork for Elysium. I really like how all of these influences can be traced over a few generations. You can always trace them, can't you, all the way through the different media we see nowadays. ‘Who has influenced who’, and it's interesting to see those influencers. And that feeds into the international influences, which in time come back to inject fresh ideas into the mainstream. Patrick: Well, for instance we know that the 1970s, the French science fiction comics — people like Moebius — heavily transformed the fields, then you know he tried to rescue Dune, this film that wasn't made but the full storyboard was made. That storyboard book was in Hollywood for ages and everybody saw it, and were influenced by it. So all of those films were heavily influenced by that generation of French comic artists. And, yes, you're correct. I think in time we have other influencers, and I’m looking forward to what science fiction is going to come up with — from outside of ‘the usual suspects’.
Paul: Another section is called “Brave New Worlds” and that explores some of the kinds of different societies imagined by sci-fi writers. Are you having an equal balance between utopias and dystopias? Because I think from the work our magazine has done, I do sense that science fiction is a bit more weighted towards dystopias. If you added up all of the literature, you feel that it's weighted towards that side? So, have you tried to balance that in the exhibition?
Patrick: No, we're not balancing it, because it's not in balance. You know, dystopia always wins in the end. Because when you try to create a utopia, then... you know... utopia is fundamentally boring — because people tire of being happy. People don't want to be happy. People are confronted by problems, and they want to overcome those problems, and they want to change things all the time. You know, this is, I think, in the DNA of the species. But also, utopia would be boring because it has to be non-evolving. It's a closed society, where nothing changes because any change could transform it. And if it's a perfect society, then by definition it will change for the worse. Also, if you try and push things to their boundaries, there is going to need to be coercion, you know. So there's way more dystopia than utopia in the exhibition, but generally in science fiction also. Because when the world is destroyed, when you have to escape a regime — there is adventure there. It provides the entertainment element. Paul: Do you have a favourite society or story that paints a picture of utopia falling into dystopia? Do you have one that has come back to you through the years and you think, "Yeah, I'd love to live in that society or better explore them all? Patrick: Well, I think, in a way, The Martian Chronicles is a utopian fable. Paul: Ray Bradbury? Patrick: Yes, by Ray Bradbury. I read that book as a kid, when I was eight or nine, and it was very powerful. That last bit of the novel, when they are looking for the Martians... [very major plot-spoiler snipped]. So that process of discovering hope is very important to me, and of course, most of the exhibition’s work is around utopian and dystopian kind of thoughts and processes. And that, as an adult, is what I find really intriguing and powerful. Paul: We've also got “Final Frontiers”, the part of the show which is the inner realms where we explore ourselves. So tell us about a few of the more notable exhibits for that section. 20
Picture: Two preview pages from the catalogue of the “Into The Unknown” exhibition. The lavishly illustrated 228-page catalogue costs £35, and includes a number of essays on aspects of the genre and its history. It will be available from 2nd June 2017.
Patrick: Well, we have some of the props from Ex Machina, the film that won the Oscar for best special effects. So we’re showing some of the footage created digitally and some of the props. We have two films which were created by computers. They could only be done digitally. One is called, “Sunspring”. It used generative text. They used this technology to ‘automatically’ write a science fiction film. The software took the main tropes of science fiction, and a short film was created out of that, automatically. So the result is completely nonsensical, really funny and ridiculous — but it's like in the future, ‘young people have to sell their blood in exchange for something’. It's ridiculous. But it's really fun and a sort of interesting point of reflection on what software might help us to achieve in science fiction. And there's also an auto-encoded version of Blade Runner, because we couldn't show the film
due to rights reasons. And what we did is that we are showing ‘the dream’ of the film through a machine. So the film was fed to a computer and it's the complete recreation of the film by this computer. So it's not the film, it's how the computer sees the film, and it's very blurry and dreamlike — as if seen by some type android — and of course, that’s very relevant to the theme of Blade Runner. Paul: So you got ‘dreaming machines’ in your exhibition, which sounds fascinating? Patrick: Yes, I mean, supposedly ‘dream machines’. Of course, there's nothing like an AI. Paul: Now, science fiction is important. It allows us to explore our own humanity. And I was wondering if you had a few favourite stories that look at this exploration of humanity. You've mentioned The Martian Chronicles. I think that's a really good example. Actually, that's one of my
favourite stories, too. Because it explores, I guess, utopia and dystopia at the same time. Patrick: Yes, though — honestly — I have not read the book since I was eight or nine. Because I thought it was so good and so empowering that would be disappointed in it today. But I remember it very well. It is frightening and empowering at the same time. Paul: For this exhibition, it's a lot of work, who would you like to thank, in terms of the team in putting together this exhibition? Patrick: Oh, wow. The list is very, very long. I would like, of course, to thank the BIE team here, Barbican International Enterprises. Mostly Neil McConnon, who came to me and coerced me to do this show. Because I thought I was done with science fiction and moving into proper serious art finally, you know. But, no, it was a great opportunity. And then the rest of the team,
Laura Clarke and Lenna Zadini, who have been working on the show, and the whole Barbican has been fantastic to work with. Of course, all the artists and lenders have been amazing. Most people have been really enthusiastic when we approached them saying we're doing a show on science fiction, and it’s not an academic, didactic show. We're not trying to say we're doing a show about ‘the science of science fiction’ or ‘the politics of science fiction’ and ‘how science fiction expressed differences and gender’. Instead we're really trying to express this drive that science fiction inculcates in us for exploration. And to that, the artists, and studios, and lenders, and museums, have all been very responsive. Paul: And I think anyone listening to this down the line — in maybe the years to come — perhaps that will give you confidence. If you're thinking about trying to exhibit, trying to expand Pictures: The interior of the Jules Verne wing of the Maison d'Ailleurs ("The House of Elsewhere"), the Swiss museum of science fiction. Patrick Gyger became the curator in 1999.
people’s horizons in terms of thinking about science fiction. And you might be a curator yourself, you might be in charge of an exhibition space or museum, maybe you should dare to do the same as Patrick has done, and to help people think about the future and think about how our future society could be. One final thing, where is the best place to go on the web to find out more about the exhibition, “Into the Unknown?” Patrick: It really is on the Barbican website, which is barbican.org.uk, and there's going to be a dedicated page on that, and I think there's going to be quite a lot of material on this show. Because it's ambitious, and I hope it succeeds. Otherwise, we're going to disappoint a lot of people. I mean, because a lot of people expect a lot from this show. And of course, we can't talk about every single science fiction item. So, for sure, the one thing that you want to see — is not going to be there! But there's going to be a lot of stuff. And, yeah, it's only the start of this kind
of huge and wider cultural process of reflecting on this cultural force that is immense — so immense — as science fiction.
Paul: And it’s on for a good chunk of time, so people can plan for and then visit the exhibition. There are separate little events and talks, happening all the way through. Patrick: Quite a few, there are talks with journalists from science magazines, there are talks with publishers and authors. I think there are eight talks in general. There are also screenings outdoors at the Barbican. That's going to be really impressive. We'll screen the first Tron, and 2001. There's music also, with Ben Frost performing live on Solaris. Jeff Mills is going to be at the Barbican doing several projects. So the events around the exhibition are also going to be really fabulous. Paul: Patrick, thank you very much for your time today. Patrick: Thank you so much for inviting me.
Digital Art Live talks with Georges Peters (‘Chemicq’) from Belgium, about using DAZ Studio to create his highly detailed digital comic Universal Nation 2133.
DAL: Hi Georges, and welcome to the special comics issue of our free digital magazine. GP: It’s good to be here, and thanks for asking me. DAL: You were recommended to us by Arki in Germany. As soon as we saw your work, your CGI comic creation, we knew you’d be perfect for an indepth interview in this issue. You’re about two years in to the ongoing process of making an advanced CGI cyberpunk science fiction comic, and you’re using DAZ Studio and rendering in DAZ’s iRay. Tell
us first about Universal Nation 2133, and its settings and characters, please — to give the readers an idea of what it is that you’re making. GP: Cyberpunk is a very specific science fiction genre, one which gives the feeling of a near-future that might be very possible. Cybernetics in the form of artificial intelligence, robots and human implants which have become the norm. Plus the metropolitan setting where these stories take place are often very moody and dark, and humanity is depicted as being 26 at its worst. The social structure has been
GEORGES PETERS BELGIUM DAZ STUDIO | PHOTOSHOP
demarcated to the point that there is rich elite and the lowlife, where large corporations rule the entire system. I can’t deny that Blade Runner, The Matrix and Ghost in the Shell were great influences there — but I have found my own distinctive version along the way, into which my story fits. DAL: It’s set quite a way ahead, the year 2133? GP: Yes, my story takes place in 2133 and the world has changed dramatically due to the Fourth Great War, that is still going on. Technology often takes a 27
giant step forward when new ways of warfare are being invented, and this is no excepetion. Dynacore, a multinational megacorporation with a foot in almost every branch of societal needs, sets up the cyborg war program with a team of cybernetics engineers. They aims to implement a cloaking ability into a cyborg shell. Imagine the possibilities, the power of invisibility allied with an embodied artificial intelligence — that could turn the tides of the war. At least, that’s what they thought. DAL: Ah, those pesky unintended consequences…
GP: Due to unethical approaches used for this dangerous project, some engineers deserted and took the prototype called ‘Niska’ with them. The comic’s story starts where Dynacore still have no idea where their prototype is, and where a girl is being delivered at a strip-club in the middle of Auxilium’s red-light district… DAL: Your characters are very ‘alive’, and part of that comes from their distinctiveness. How important is customisation — sometimes called kit-bashing or runtime-bashing – to you? I mean, that ways in which you take the DAZ/Poser content away from being recognisable off-the-shelf characters and scenes? GP: Customization is the key to setting up the environment and characters which are to hand in the runtime. So that they can all be rendered in the same style. I prefer a realistic approach, as you can see, but you still have to associate the entire view with CGI. When I started this project I had no idea of what Daz3D could do for me, but the release of Nvidia’s new render engine Iray pulled me in. It’s a choice I haven’t regret ever since. When something is completely new, it’s easy to set a style nobody else already has. So I started digging into the possibilities that Iray provides and there turned out to be a lot. Character creation is the most important thing in comics, I think, because it will make or break the affinity the reader has with what they see in the panels. I have seen a few attempts to CGI comic creation, but the problem was most of the time the flatness of the characters and the lack of an environment. Understanding computer hardware and how 3D software runs on it is very important to achieve the maximum you can. ‘What you see is what you get’, and you have only one shot to do it right — so it took one year to fully optimize my methods and workflow. Adding geometry quality and textures into a scene to make it believable. DAL: It can be a daunting thing, and very timeconsuming, to map out a new workflow, certainly. GP: Character and clothing customisation starts where you want something to look different, and preferably better than the resource files you get. Iray provides a lot of different layers and options to ‘do some magic’ with those textures. Two years later I’m still tweaking skins on my all characters, but having a skin look the way I want becomes easy when you do it often. Good to hear you use the term ‘alive’ to describe them, as that suggests I’m getting the results I’m aiming for. Picture: “UN2133 xperiment, chapter 08”.
DAL: How long do you spend on customising one character or scene, to get it ready for production? I find it can take at least six hours per character — testing all the options, finding the content and wrangling its dependencies, swopping in new textures. But then I’m working from 3D to 2D toon. Of course that only has to be done once, but I wonder also if you have found any ways to speed up that time-consuming process? GP: If I would have to make a completely new character from scratch it would only take two hours, depending on the importance of it. I use my own skin shader and tweak it according to the base textures, the tricky part is the body and head shaping. If you would ask someone else to create a new character, it would look completely different. You can instantly tell a character I created, just by looking at the shape and skin, and most of the time it’s kind of a distinctive beautiful woman or man. Something in my head pictures them like these people. ‘Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder’, but let’s just say creating an uglier character is a lot harder to do. Testing all clothing options is more work, but once you get to know the irritations in fitting rigged clothing for Genesis 2 and 3 figures, then you already have a bucket of solutions ready to past that and into creating comic panels. DAL: Do you storyboard pages with thumbnail sketches, or do you go ‘straight to the renders’? GP: I start with an empty page with a framing setup in it, and sized text bubbles. A scene is composed which runs across a number of pages, where everything is balanced in relation to amount of text and the style and importance of the panel frame. Following a firm script, with all the dialogue polished up, makes things so easier. I can adapt the render’s proportions to the text bubble’s location, for optimal effect. DAL: Do you make use of Preview renders? GP: Yes I storyboard comic pages with viewport Preview renders, to see if the flow is natural and to check the story doesn’t break the visuals or the other way around. Going straight into final rendering would take too much time, especially if you then have to correct something that is missing, change dialogue or frame size. DAL: Do you find it useful to use one standard light for most or all scenes, in order to balance the look of the frames across the page? GP: Aha, lighting! You can have the most beautiful character with the most complex shader settings, but 28
without proper lighting all of that goes to waste. Iray is a physical based lighting engine — which means it simulates real world lighting according to the laws of physics. If you don’t light up a model like you would do it in a photo studio, you will never have that same effect. Kelvin and Lumen are your best friends to do this, I will not go into too much detail here but I always make use of mesh lights and a HDRi map/Sun nodes to support the global lighting. It’s versatile, looks good and provides lots of possibilities to highlight. Whenever I create environments there’s
always an abundance of mesh lights and where characters are talking to each other, it’s mostly supported by extra discrete white and blueish mesh lights to get a better outcome and some sort of studio cinematic feeling. DAL: Fascinating. And I read that you’ve also become an expert on iRay skin, as part of developing the comic. I’m sure our readers will be interested to hear some similar details about your technical journey to getting the best skin for iRay.
GP: When I first started rendering characters I was bothered that the skin looked too toony and too much alike. Although a few skin creators have really put a lot of effort into creating detailed skin MATs, to separate themselves from the rest. But I felt that the only option left was to dive into all Iray features and test them, which was a long and interesting journey, one that brought great insights into how physical based lighting engines work. In the old ‘shader model’ days you had the golden combo of: diffuse/ normal/specular. But Iray adds a lot more texture
Pictures: “Lady Neuroin”, and an ad for her “Neuroin Tonic”, from the world of Universal Nation 2133.
options to achieve realism, and you can actually ‘do more with less’. Skin is something very interesting to create, and I still want to add a lot of things that aren’t currently there in Iray. But that’s something everybody feels. Real skin has much more irregularities in skin pores, veins, vascularity, scars, beauty spots and so on but that would be a very long creational process for 3D rendering rather than Photoshop postwork. The tricky part here is you can’t use the same maps on two different characters, because it would be instantly recognizable.
Picture: “Niska V2”.
So there is a limit in how far I want to go. I’m creating a comic, not a biologically-correct skin template! None the less, the more you experiment, the more you add these things to make them distinctive. Sometimes I write a journal entry about ‘milestones in this comic creational process’ and I post them on DeviantArt for others to see how I do this.
GP: Simtenero made an excellent memory-optimizer plugin that tells you what items are using high geometry and texture load, and where you can save or add some. It’s not entirely accurate, but it comes very close to the real VRAM load. Most of the times, I feel like a game designer, limited by his system rather than by his imagination.
At a certain moment, during the skin developing, I had the feeling they all looked good enough to use — and so I started creating the comic with a test chapter. Bringing it all together — the environments, the characters and the lighting — that nailed down the workflow in terms of fitting what I need into the video memory, so that I can start rendering it. It was very satisfying to see the materials and the workflow was all free of bugs and the results rendered faster than I had expected. The skins and environments blended together into an immersive and believable ‘sauce’. DAL: I see, so you use 4K textures. What sort of render times are you getting with big scenes and multiple characters with complex shaders and big textures? GP: The resolution of textures, just like subdivision levels, is something that should be applied in relation to the camera distance and the focus of an image. If the texture and geometry load is getting too high, I will adapt the entire scene to optimal settings, but usually I don’t change texture resolution very often. Having a workstation adapted to these conditions helps, about 32Gb RAM is enough to be able to keep the shader compiling within acceptable kickoff times and my GTX1070 with 8Gb VRAM can handle the 3D workload to render it. I mention this just to make clear you don’t need exotic hardware to be able to make something like this comic, you need to balance and structure in your workflow and setup. Using monitoring software to know what your system is doing, that really helps to understand why a render will go as intended or not. Tools like the Windows performance monitor and GPUz will tell you why Iray falls back to CPU rendering if the entire scene doesn’t fit into VRAM. Depending on the size of the scene, the amount of geometry and textures, and if you’re using full-scale volumetric effects, all that really defines how long a render will take. I don’t mind if a render takes 2 or 3 hours to finish, as long as it doesn’t exceed 8 hours — unless I really need that angle or wide-shot. DAL: Yes, eight hours is my general maximum too, for an overnight render. 33
DAL: I recently noticed the release of a ‘Scene Optimiser’ plugin for DAZ Studio which looked interesting. Apparently, it works especially well with multi-character scenes such as yours. Have you looked at that yet, and if so what are your opinions about it? GP: I have seen the product and it does exactly that what I prefer to do manually. If you want to set up scenes with high geometry and texture load, it can really help you to achieve what you need. For instance, to add that last one character you really want to have in there. But in my case, when removing or adding normal maps, displacement maps, subdivision levels, I prefer to do it manually. Because I’m used to do it like that, and the result of automated functions always bring up Mr. Murphy [Murphy’s Law]. So if you’re creating large scenes every once in a while in DAZ, then the ‘Scene Optimiser’ is a good solution. DAL: How much time does it then take you in Photoshop — to adjust renders, fix glitches, add lettering — in order to produce a finished page of the comic? GP: I try to fix as much as possible in Daz itself and in that way I limit the Photoshop editing to a minimum. I avoid using clothes or body attachments that require a lot of editing and I pick props which offer safer solutions. Page layout and text is set up in Adobe InDesign, and if I have little trouble with the flow on a page it takes about a week to have a new page ready. DAL: Yes, I like InDesign. Rather expensive and overpowered for most people though. Manga Studio (Clip Studio) is less expensive, though just as complex. I think most comics makers will be happier with Comic Life 3.5, which a good solid piece of comics layout software — once you get past the childcentric marketing they use. What two things would you like to see improved with DAZ Studio Five? I’m assuming that they don’t skip straight to DAZ Studio Six, of course! GP: Mmmh, good question. A toolbox that tells you the VRAM load is in real-time, that should be included. Iray uses nvidia graphics cards for
rendering, anyway, and if you want to keep your sanity you shouldn’t render on the CPU only. I actually have two graphics cards. I use a somewhat old GTX680 graphics card as my secondary GPU. In that way, when I am rendering on the dedicated
GTX1070 only without CPU support, I can play the Overwatch videogame at the same time, if I have some spare time. /Laughter/ But going back to Daz Studio 5. Daz is already a good application, with little to no bugs now, in terms
Picture: “The Departure”, with UE4 mesh and a re-textured Sketchup car from Joachim Sverd.
of what I’m doing. What everybody really wants is the ultimate base figure with limitless potential and a real physics engine that let’s gravity do its thing. But that’s not only something DAZ should work on alone. It’s simply the next step in this evolution of CGI, where real world dynamics should become something
obvious that you ‘just get’ — at no extra cost — when you buy them and they’re baked in to the character. DAL: What do you think of the DAZ/Poser and general 3D content eco-system for science-fiction, these days? The quality, the cost, the variety?
Do you find that you still have to make some props, that you can’t just ‘get and customise’?
So it goes into a little $18 purchase of a bundle of several items.
GP: The main reason why I have chose to go with Daz / Poser content is the big pool of content and resources it provides, from which even some dulllooking older props can be plucked to become nice and shiny — when you drop some Iray shaders on them. All you need is a dash of imagination, and a little time to pull it off.
But there are always the videogame assets, too. I see that you also extract mesh assets from videogames, sometimes? Such as the UE4 sci-fi room seen in your picture “The Departure”?
DAL: That’s very true. As for price, I think the content stores have realised recently how to unlock sales at the lower end. We’re seeing a lot more big rolling “50%-90% off” sales. I’ve picked up a huge amount of quality stuff that way, sometimes older stuff, in the past month. And have probably only spent about $100 of my PayPal in total. GP: The price is often too high, on many new items, though. But I guess it’s normal to want to ask those prices, considering the amount of work developers put into their products. I always try to mould products to my own style, so that on closer inspection other DAZ/Poser users might recognize it — but for people not operating within that content ecosystem it will probably just be: “oh, that just looks cool!” DAL: Do you Zbrush the content? GP: I rarely use Zbrush and 3DS Max to fix something, but using those applications also require a lot of time and I consider myself more ‘the DJ who spins the tracks’, rather than ‘the creator of the needle required to play the records’. Others have already create great meshes that took them long to finish. The meshes are there for me to use, royaltyfree, and it would simply impossible for me to create every single mesh from scratch for this comic project. So logically I use the abundance of adaptable content on the DAZ Store and on Renderosity, all good and approved quality. But you have to think twice if you really need it and if it does matter enough to use it, of course I’m talking as a buyer here. DAL: Yes, I’m becoming increasingly discriminating at the store stage. Especially when I see some nice science fiction clothing, but then on closer inspection the content package is like nearly a gigabyte in size. I’m like: “Nope, my runtime does not need to add another 1Gb(!) just to get one set of G2 clothing!” Or a head-dress or something. G2 and G3 are the main offenders there. On the other hand, stuff is vanishing from the ecosystem. It’s just withdrawn — gone, no longer sold, vanished. So with some of the older quality items, in that case you feel “well… it’s down to $3.80 and it might not be here next year, it’s quality, and in two years time I might regret not having it”.
GP: Yes, a range of import and export functions are a must-have. With game engine editors, assets from the Unreal engine or Unity can be imported, which are great in that they diversify your content range even more, and allow you to be different from all the others. You have do some work to enhance their textures in Iray, but the result is always very satisfying. The same is true a lot of Sketchup content. The car used in this render is a perfect example. Made by ‘scifiwarships’, it was converted from his gorgeous Sketchup model for me to to use in DAZ Studio with Iray materials. DAL: And then you publish the ongoing comic as digital pages on DeviantArt. What sort of reception have you had there, and why would you recommend that to others as a ‘place of first publication’? GP: DeviantArt is the perfect platform to grow, without any pressure and to ‘get some feedback’. Nobody is pressuring you there, and you can set your own tempo. DAL: Yes, having people breathing down your neck can be such a creative turn-off. Yes, I know what you mean about DeviantArt. People understand “it’ll be done when it’s done”. People also understand that you come and go on things, over the years. Maybe an old project will suddenly spark back to life again, when one finds the time and interest again, maybe not. GP: And of course DeviantArt has good communities, and a strong DAZ Studio user base. Details of the creative and technical process are interesting to other DAZ Studio users and also to Poser users. So that is where the first chapters of the comic will be released for free, in full resolution. The main reason behind this is to “wet everybody’s pants” so they really want to know what will happen next! If you have a comic and nobody is able to read it, nobody will buy it. If you give away all pages for free, nobody will buy it — so it’s a bit guessing at the moment how to do this. The main voices I’m hearing on DeviantArt are positive about it, but you can’t expect people to read stuff on an art website that focuses on images, so whenever somebody tumbles on my page and reads everything at once and is hooked to the story and the visuals, I consider it a success. 38
Picture: One of the opening pages of UN20133, see overleaf for full version of this panel.
DAL: So you’re about two years and a bit into this process, which began for you in Spring 2015. What “top three mistakes to avoid” would you like to tell our readers about, after spending two years perfecting your workflows? I mean in relation to planning and developing and regularly producing pages for a digital comic using DAZ Studio?
GP: The biggest mistake is creating a comic without a proper storyboard, you need to know exactly how the panels should be organized. It speeds up the entire process and you don’t have to question what should be improved. The second biggest mistake is having incomplete characters and environments. Always test shaders and rigged clothing fully, on your production
characters — to make sure you don’t have to change it in the middle when you find it taking too long. GP: Yes, trans-mapped hair is always a problem there. So slow to render. DAL: There are also times when you find the character shape or style changes are not ‘done’. So
you want to avoid having to change such things midway. The third mistake is putting too much work and resources into the smallest details. Although they have to be present — I like to believe detailing is what sets my work apart — but it’s intended as a level of detail. When you see someone is drinking a cup of coffee in far distance it doesn’t really matter
how beautifully shaped that cup is. When that cup is the focus of the image, then shape and textures are the only thing that matter and the background gets the lower detail treatment. DAL: Do you think it’s a good idea to form partnerships for making comics — one person does the story, the other the art, and another does the lettering? That’s the way in works in the mainstream comics industry, obviously, where there’s a very tight schedule to meet there. GP: It’s a very good idea, more points of view enliven the creational process, because you can go a bit ‘snow-blind’ from looking at your work from the same angle all the time. The script for my comic is constantly checked and enhanced by my editor, so I get the best possible solution to do the visuals right. DAL: What’s your own personal favourite image from your DeviantArt Gallery, and why? GP: I don’t really have a favourite image but if I have to choose one it would be the “Auxilium Residential Construction Site”, which can be found on my gallery. It doesn’t look too spectacular, yet it was a very moody and complicated image to make, every last megabyte is optimized and squeezed into all the system resources the PC could make available to create it. Full scale volumetrics on a massive scene, rain, high-poly and low-poly characters, lots of textures, bright neon lighting and lots of in-render effects. I think this is what sets images like these apart from the rest. DAL: Great. How did you first become interested in science-fiction, and what are your longer-term influences from science-fiction? GP: Science fiction is something that triggers imagination, because the technology is advanced and people look different. It frees us from the boundaries we have when making historical scenes. For instance, you can’t have a believable Second World War scene with laser guns, or a First World War scene with jet aircraft. But science fiction has a wider range of options, even when you stick with recognised approaches — cyberpunk, intergalactic traveling to encounter aliens, and all sorts of stuff that doesn’t appear on earth. I love the videogame trilogy Mass Effect, because it manages to create a universe with aliens and intergalactic voyages and tries to give some sort of scientific explanation why this has become possible. Through the years a lot of games, movies, books and comics have passed through, and they all became some sort of influence along the way. The characters
and universe are moulded from all of this, and my own imagination did the rest. But the general feeling is always that it is a future that might actually happen — arising from all the things we know so far, and thus everybody should be able to understand everything without having to ask too many pernickety scientific questions. Besides, who doesn’t think every now and then “what might a robot do for me”? DAL: So true. And in many ways the robots are already here. My kettle switches itself off automatically (the modern version of which my greatgrandfather invented, actually). My Photoshop runs Action scripts that automate complex processes. My browser automatically opens up all the Web sites I always visit each morning. When my pen draws on a screen, my hand-drawn line is automatically smoothed out to perfection. I think we’ll see a lot more automation of low-level drudge-work in 3D and graphics software in future, there’s a lot of scope for that. People want to create, not to wrestle with roadblocks in a blizzard of clicks.
“[In 3D …] I consider myself more ‘the DJ who spins the tracks’, rather than ‘the creator of the needle required to play the records’.” Talking of creating, are there any science-fiction artists who have especially influenced you? GP: Games like Half-Life, Fallout, Mass Effect. Movies like Blade Runner, Minority Report and Star Wars. Anime movies and series like Akira, Ghost in the Shell and Cowboy Bebop. You pick up a lot of things and ideas and the general idea behind science fiction is shaped through all these different media from all around the world. Japanese manga always had a fantastic take on how our future worlds will come into being and how they will look, very epic and mysterious and of course their take on the cyborg concept is phenomenal. DAL: What other 3D comics have you encountered and liked, which our readers should look at? GP: I haven’t really found other fully-done 3D science fiction comics. But the people I know who make them focus on erotica. I want to tell a big story through 3D, and it is a lot more work to do and 42
there’s always the chance people might not like your comic for various reasons, perhaps they don’t like robots or war scenes or they simply don’t like the story being told. Erotica is something that everybody loves to see, even if they say they don’t, and the risk of disliking it is not so high — because you know what you’re going to get. However, making good 3D erotica with a lot of style and variety is one of the trickiest things to do. DAL: Yes, though I imagine it could be a turn-off for audiences if they find that their likes do not align exactly with those of the artist. Fine for those with very generic mainstream tastes, but not otherwise. Do you also like print comics? Were you raised on comics, and which publisher-produced print comics do you still enjoy now, if any? GP: I am a big fan of print comics and actually have quite a big collection. Tintin (Kuifje), Asterix, Robbedoes etcetera. Humor comics from the publisher Dupuis have remained fantastic through the decades, because all of them are so universal. DAL: Belgium, which is where you are based, has a strong tradition of comics makers, although I hear that the tradition has faded a little in the last 15 years or so — apparently as the industry has changed due to the influence of the Internet, and as the videogames industry has siphoned off many young talents. What is your opinion of the position of the comics maker in Belgium today? Both in terms of the cultural value given to comics, and also in terms of the state of the industry? GP: Tintin, the Smurfs and Robbedoes are probably the most well-known Belgian comics and they are already quiet old. Suske en Wiske, De Rode Ridder and Karl May etcetera. In fact, there are too many to mention them all, because of the abundance of Belgian comics. The cultural influence of such comics was massive here, and everyone had their own large collection of comics. The more you had, the better! And you could tell a lot about a friend by the sort of comic collection he had. The same was true about yourself. Today you can read online comics on a computer screen or smartphone, but the audience stays the same. The medium changed, as for all things on paper. It’s easier to reach more people on the Internet, but you also get to the people who think they aren’t interested in comics. Just like any other medium, comics will be further enhanced over time, to make them more appealing. Stories being told through images is a very effective way to do it, and that isn’t going to go away. DAL: Yes, and of course there will be a lot more 43
young people in the world soon. They’ll want comics. Probably digital comics, on cheap 8” tablets. And 3D software will, I hope, start to support convincing 2D comics output more and more, as Poser 11 has alredy started to. By ‘convincing’ I mean that your average comics reader won’t snort and sneer at it. Because it can concincingly pass for hand-drawn 2D. But even without that, I hear that more and more of what looks 2D on the comics page, actually has 3D supporting it undersneath, though there’s still a lot of over-drawing and colouring. Is that an impression you also have, judging from what you hear from other comics makers? GP: 3D support is something that is embedded in most work now, it saves a lot of time, you get little to no visual flaws and you don’t need an entire team to get the end result. Of course, the magic of an old Donald Duck comic by Carl Barks will never be achieved again. Compare it to the perfect — almost sterile — quality of a digitally composed electronic musiv track, it’s flawless, yet take an older track and put a needle on the vinyl record and hear all the little scratches and imperfections. It’s another sound timbre, not a better one, just another one. The same for 3D enhanced comics, they are not better or worse, just different. DAL: What is the next step in making comics, for you personally? For instance, do you envisage a collected printed graphic novel for Universal Nation 2133? GP: Where this project will take me is unknown at present. I have an epic story taking place in an interesting universe and maybe some other people will share my vision and lift it up to a higher level. It’s 3D, so everything is possible. The next step might be something bigger than... or in the end it might be just another great story among others on a bookshelf or in someone’s comic book folder. DAL: Ok, thanks very much for your time on doing this in-depth interview with Digital Art Live. We wish you all the best in the future. GP: Thanks for inviting me!
Georges Peters (‘Chemicq’) is at: http://chemicq.deviantart.com/ You can find there his full first chapter of his comic Universal Nation 2133 — plus character renders, and more details on the settings and world of the year 2133.
HAVE you missed out on an issue of our free magazine? Please enjoy this new handy double-page index of our past issues, and check if any are missing from your collection. Our 15,000 readers are also able to access back-issues of our previous title 3D
Art Direct. Every new issue can be sent to your email address, simply by subscribing to our mailing-list...
Issue 1 Oct 2016 Designing Future Cities ● Tarik Keskin ● Christian Hecker ● Gallery: Future Cities, a huge 32 page mega-gallery! ● The Imaginarium (regular feature, in all subsequent issues)
Issue 2 Nov 2016 Alien Plants/Creatures ● Matthew Attard ● Exidium Corporation ● Gallery: Ryzom's concept illustrations ● Gallery and essay: the future bodily evolution of humans in space
Issue 3 Dec 2016 ‘A Galaxy Far Away…’ ● Neil Thacker ● Jean-Francois Liesenborghs ● Gallery: "These are not the planets you're looking for..." ● Gallery: SpaceX manned Mars mission 44
Issue 4 Jan 2016 Poser 11: special issue ● Charles Taylor (on the new Poser 11) ● Ariano di Pierro ● Paulo Ciccone (on the Reality plugin) ● Our in-depth 8,000word review of the new Poser 11 Pro
Issue 5 Feb 2016 Cosmos (space art)
Issue 6 March 2016 Cyber-humans + VR
Issue 7 April 2016 Future Female Heroes
● Dave Hardy ● Ali Ries ● Tobais Roersch ● Oyshan Green (Terragen 4) ● Gallery: The art of the cosmic.
● Tara de Vries (Second Life) ● Ludovic Celle ● Elaine Neck ● Anders Plassgard ● Gallery: Future cyber-humans
● Leandra Dawn ● Aaron Griffin ● Paul Frances ● Troy Menke ● Bob May’s collages ● Gallery and essay: Female future heroes
Issue 9 June 2016 Blender: special issue
Issue 10 July 2016 Steampunk
Issue 11 August 2016 Future Landscapes
● Colin Masson ● Thomas Piemontese ● Shane Bevin ● Tutorial: How to export a clean .OBJ from Blender ● Index of past issues ● Gallery: Blender art
● Renderosity ● Suzi Amberson (‘Kachinadoll’) ● Bob May ● Sci-fi in PC pinball ● Steampunk gallery ● Imaginarium
● ‘Artifex’ ● Lewis Moorcroft ● Rob Wildenberg ● ‘Tigaer’: ‘making of’ ● Gallery: Future Oceans and Craft ● Imaginarium
Issue 8 May 2016 Our Future Frontier ● The Mars Society ● Ludovic Celle ● Gallery: Orbiting Cities in Space ● Gallery: Space Colonies and Outposts ● Gallery: Mars in the 1950s pulps
Issue 12 Sept 2016 Second Skin ● ‘Pixeluna’ ● Paolo Ciccone ● Deane Whitmore ● HiveWire: their new Big Cat for Poser ● Gallery: Second Skin ● Imaginarium
YOUR ART HERE?
Issue 13 Oct 2016 Spacewrecks (TTA) ● Vikram Mulligan ● Xistenceimaginations ● Craig Farham ● TTA series tribute ● NASA’s rescue-bot ● Index of past issues ● Gallery: Space hulks wrecks, and crashes
Issue 17 March 2017 Movie magic ● Greg Teegarden ● Tobias Richter ● Phil Dragash ● ESA’s Moon Temple ● Scott Richard ● Index of past issues ● Gallery: the Spirit of the Cinema
Issue 14 Nov/Dec 2016 Cybertronic ● ‘CG Artiste’ ● ‘Keplianzar’ ● Jacques Pena ● TTA series tribute ● Ugee 1910b pen tablet—in-depth review ● Gallery: Neon and ‘cyberglow’ artists
Issue 15 Jan 2017 Mistworlds ● Chuck Carter (Myst) ● Cynthia Decker ● Cathrine Langwagen ● Ulco Glimmerveen ● Evolo competition ● Index of past issues ● Gallery: Myst-like digital art
● Syd Mead interview ● Vadim Motiv ● Adam Connolly ● Mark Roosien ● The UK’s Bloodhound supersonic rocket-car ● Index of past issues ● Gallery: “Vrooom!!”
Issue 18 April 2017 Vue 2016 special issue
Issue 19 May/Jun 2017 Sci-fi comics
● Barry Marshall ● Vue 2016 R2 review ● Anaor Karim ● NASA’s tunnels ● W.P. Taub ● Index of past issues ● Gallery: Nature Grows on You!
● Patrick Gyger ● Georges Peters ● Arne Cooper ● RoboSimian ● Index of past issues ● Gallery: comic-book style characters
Issue 16 Feb 2017 Future vehicles
Issue 20 July 2017 Future clothing Interested in being interviewed in a future issue? Please send the Web address of your gallery, and we’ll visit! firstname.lastname@example.org
RESHAPE 17 is a $3,000 / Eur 2,700 sci-art design competition on the theme of “Programmable Skins”. Our wearable digital skins have the potential to become a new medium, a medium which doesn’t just communicate but which also regulates the real-time relation between our body and its surroundings. Materials designed by nature, or able to adjust to environmental conditions, are now a reality. Sensors and power sources are of increasingly microscopic size, and these can be interfaced with flexible electronic layers to collect and exchange information.
Entry requirements: ● 3 x A3-printable art boards, in PDF format ● 600-word Word file. ● A one-minute video. Deadline: 30th June 2017. Registration fee: 30 Euro (about $33).
Full details at:
RESHAPE 17 challenges artists, makers and designers to focus on such wearables… “as a prosthetic skin, providing augmented functions” — but in an integrated and feasible way which people will find acceptable to wear. The contest organisers offer contestants “no design and fabrication limitations”. But your three images much be accompanied by a “clear fabrication strategy” which would typically be available in an advanced city’s maker lab. The contest is open to all artists, designers, engineers, business teams, and to students and professionals alike.
RoboSimian is a recent robot from the U.S. Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Evoking the ‘escaped robots’ of Marvel’s Silver Age comic-books, the ape-like RoboSimian is actually designed to be a flexible ‘superhero’ rescue-bot.
JPL's RoboSimian is able to operate in earthquakes, explosions, shipwrecks, or even abandoned unmapped storage spaces of hazardous substances. To do this it maps its environment in 3D, environments which in a disaster-relief situations may be radically different than the ones that planners have on their maps and schematics. RoboSimianâ€™s seven sets of 3D stereo cameras and a LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) unit do the real-time 3D mapping of the environment. Designed to traverse complicated and shifting terrain and perform dexterous tasks in such environments, the RoboSimian uses its apelike limbs for maneuvering and manipulation. It is so flexible it can even get inside a car and drive it. RoboSimian was developed as part of worldwide push to make robots capable of siginificantly assisting humans in responding to natural and man-made disasters, and he has been rigorously tested as part of the DARPA Robotics Challenge.
The latest 2017 version of RoboSimian has arms that can work 50 percent faster than the original version, as was demonstrated at the recent DoD Lab Day at the Pentagon. Members of the team are now developing the new robotic drilling arm for the Mars 2020 Rover.
Digital Art Live interviews Arne Cooper about using DAZ Studio and Iray to create the first part of an epic fantasy-historical story, which combines real ancient myths and the landscape of imagined Europe from 65,000 years ago. DAL: Arne, welcome to the comics-themed issue of the free Digital Art Live magazine. Thanks for agreeing to do this in-depth interview about your art. We’re sure there will be many readers interested in using DAZ Studio to tell visual stories with 3D comics.
DAL: You’ve made the fantasy adventure comic The Androssian Prophecy with DAZ Studio and Photoshop, and so we thought you’d be perfect for this special comics issue. What first got you interested in the possibility of making a 3D comic book in DAZ?
AC: Thank you.
AC: The original idea for The Androssian Prophecy
Picture: “Journey to Treverium”.
ARNE COOPER USA DAZ STUDIO | PHOTOSHOP
was a traditional inked graphic novel. When I started doing the first concept art, I was searching online for some kind of 3D application which content that I could use for visual reference. I came across the free DAZ Studio, and after learning the basics of the software, I realized that there was much more that 55
could be done with it. I decided to do the story in 3D art, combining it with digital painting and even some Photoshop. At the time, 3D art was very new and often criticized as ‘not being a real art medium’. I took it as a challenge, intending to change that view. DAL: Could you outline the story and setting from
the first book of The Androssian Prophecy for our readers, please? Not to give to give away the plot and spoilers, but just to summarize what the comic is and where it’s set. Judging by the map it’s set in a pre-historical version of Europe? AC: Yes, the story does take place in prehistoric Europe. The time setting is approximately 65,000 years ago, in what you might view as an alternate timeline based on a large number of ancient mythologies and religions. The broader context of the story is about a war between ancient races of gods being fought over control of the Earth and its resources, with the fate of mankind hanging in the balance. Book One is about the journey of Vania Kyrridwen, a young child of the good gods — someone who is also the prophesied as being the last hope for the survival of humans. She begins the story as a frightened and somewhat overwhelmed child, but eventually accepts and then embraces her destiny. Through circumstance and fate, she is joined by an unlikely group of flawed warriors, who each have their own personal journeys to overcome. DAL: Great, and our readers can of course that find that online for free in full to read, at the Pateon site. AC: Absolutely. The comic has always been and always will be free to read online. We hope to have a printed version soon, that will be available for purchase. DAL: And I see there’s a rather nice hand-inked version of page 13 on your DeviantArt gallery. It’s very nicely done, very crisp. Is there a possibility we’ll — at some point — see two versions of the comic, the already published one in full 3D and then another one in inked 2D over the 3D? AC: It is unlikely that I will ever do a fully inked version of the entire story, unless there is great interest from the fans. I just don't have enough time to do both right now. DAL: I see. So let’s wind back to the beginning. How did you go about making The Androssian Prophecy? What were the hurdles, during the early stages? AC: I actually prepared for about two years before I even started the first page. I was learning everything I could about DAZ Studio, while designing the character concepts and finalizing the plot for Book One. I had never thought of myself as a writer, likely because I had never really written anything; so I took some writing classes. I studied character development and personality and behaviour, and I wrote deep profiles for each of the main characters and their traits and motivations. I did this because I
wanted these characters to be believable. I also reached out to a few successful writers for advice. I got a lot of good advice from Aaron Dembski-Bowden. DAL: So your experience of 3D, before you started, was…? AC: None. DAL: I see. And I read that you did a lot of kitbashing and assembling bits from here and there, to make the 3D elements you needed. Of course, we’re very lucky to have all of the DAZ and Poser content available at low cost. But sometimes things have to be made. For instance, the very impressive hill-fort of Treverium Oppidum, which I read took you about two weeks to create! Tell us about that masterwork, please. AC: The Treverium Oppidum hill-fort was a fun project. It actually took two weeks to complete it. I had some good props from Merlin's Saxon Village set for Poser, including the houses and the Great Hall. I also had a set of gates and ramparts from a set that was modelled from Caesar's siege of Alesia. I bought Bryce 7 and watched some tutorials to learn how to make the hill and surrounding terrain in that, and then exported that model into DAZ Studio. Then, I made my own texture maps for the terrain and placed all of the props by hand to make the hill fort. I used a lot of node-instancing, and Merlin’s complete village is actually placed inside the fort. I remember, I had to upgrade my computer to handle the model. There was so much geometry, it kept crashing the software. DAL: So that was difficult. What did you find the easiest bit of making the comic, or the thing which most speeded up your workflow? I think speed is a vital thing for making 3D comics. I mean, a 24 page comic, with cover — that’s potentially over 160 renders, not counting the test renders and rerenders. That’s a lot of work, and needs to be as fast as possible. AC: The DAZ Studio Iray render engine makes rendering much faster, if you have a fast video card with a lot of CUDA cores on it. Even so, a lot of the scenes in The Androssian Prophecy are very large in terms of geometry. I've found that breaking the scenes down into smaller parts and compositing them back together in Photoshop is much faster than trying to render all of the geometry at once. DAL: Yes, I can see how trying to do a full big scene in one render could be difficult. How did you handle the need to get the renders looking uniform from frame to frame? 56
Picture: One of the opening pages of The Androssian Prophecy.
Picture: Arne explains his method of building a scene with PNG renders.
AC: I build the scene first and then I set my lighting. If multiple frames are within the same scene, I move the figures and the camera, but keep the lighting in place. If needed, I sometimes attach a weak spotlight to the upper right or left of the camera to keep the viewer's eye focused. DAL: Interesting. Your writer, Troy Painter, has had many complements for the standard of the writing and dialogue. Were there things you both wanted to do in the script, or which the dialogue suggested, which you didn’t because it was too time-consuming in 3D? AC: Yes, there were a few things that we didn't do, because I would have had to create my own models. I am not an expert at modelling, so that process is very timeconsuming for me. Some things could not be avoided, though, such as the Treverium Oppidum or Beric’s wolf-head mantle. DAL: So you collaborated with a writer and a letterer. What surprised you most, in the collaborative process of making a substantial storytelling comic in DAZ Studio? AC: I was lucky to have two very talented individuals to work with, both very good writers. It was surprising how quickly we were able to streamline the creative process. I would lay out the plot points, and we would discuss ideas. Everyone had great ideas. I learned a great deal from both Troy Painter and Brendan Jones. DAL: Did you study framing and layout? It’s all very well done, so I wondered if that comes from close study of the comic-book masters? AC: In the beginning, I used to go to the local comics store and look at random comics to see how they did layouts and scenes. I paid attention to pacing — how much story takes place on one page. DAL: What comics are your favourites, either current or in the past? AC: Honestly, I've never really been an avid comics reader, but I used to collect Savage Sword of Conan. DAL: Ah yes, some of the Marvel extended adaptations of Conan are rather good, and fairly faithful to good old R.E. Howard. By Buscema, Windsor-Smith, Roy Thomas.
AC: I was also a big fan of Elfquest and A Distant Soil. Then, after studying some comics I decided to branch in a slightly different direction. I studied action film makers and how they photographed scenes in the camera. I watched tons of interviews with guys like Michael Bay explaining their camera
techniques. I wanted to incorporate that. DAL: You also enjoy table-top RPG games, I think? Could you tell about that? I’m assuming they’re table -top RPGs, rather than videogame RPGs or the sort where people cosplay and do prop sword-fighting in the woods?
“The Treverium Oppidum hill-fort was a fun project. It actually took two weeks to complete it. I had some good props from Merlin's Saxon Village set for Poser, including the houses and the Great Hall. I also had a set of gates and ramparts from a set that was modelled from Caesar's siege of Alesia.”
AC: Yes, I played table-top RPGs in the past, but now I no longer have the time. In fact, though, the original idea for The Androssian Prophecy was born from some old table-top sessions. There were slightly different versions of some of the main characters that were actually played by old friends of mine. I think
some of their personalities helped define some of those characters. DAL: Do you still follow the scene, even though not an active player? What sort of cross-overs are there between the RPG world(s) and the DAZ/Poser 3D world, these days?
Pictures: Portrait of Beric Faolimhor. Main promo poster for 61 The Androssian Prophecy .
Pictures: â€œVania character conceptâ€?. Battle scene render for a panel of p102 ofThe Androssian Prophecy .
AC: I see quite a few 3D props from vendors that are probably influenced by RPG themes. I also see a lot of 3D art that is inspired from RPGs as well. DAL: I see you’re also interested in Sumerian creation epics and poetry. I’ve also been recently fascinated with that area, and went so far as to create a visualisation of Eridu in its later templegarden phase, fairly precisely based on the more reliable archaeological maps and sketches and also on the ecology and flow of the river at that point in time and place. I’ve also recently become more aware of the Celtic Irish myths and some of the Welsh tales and poems which are sometimes of more dubious provenance — sadly there was much ongoing ‘muddying of the waters’ by ardent Welsh nationalist forgers and complicit academics from the 17th to the 20th century. In contrast to the Welsh the great thing about the Sumerian texts and poems is that we have the originals, found in vast quantities baked into hard clay tablets. I think there’s a great deal of potential for 3D in imaginative-but-respectful historical recreation, in fact I think it should be required in schools that each class — at around age 14 — spends a term recreating and visualising a local historical site in 3D. They would learn so much on a combined-topics project like that. Anyway… have you considered doing a comic-book re-interpretation of a classic folk tale or myth, or do you think you’ll always prefer to do your own stories? AC: That's an interesting question. I've been a student of ancient religions for more than twenty years, so anything I write is likely to be influenced by that in some way. I would really like to see your recreation of Eridu, by the way. Some of Book Three is actually set to take place in Eridu. DAL: Ah, interesting. It was the island where everything started and so is not that impressive in its later Garden Temple phase, rather humble and certainly nothing as grand as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon from the same culture — which you sometimes see very gloriously depicted. But you do draw on myth for the comic. Could you say more about how that works, in the story? Without giving vital plot points away, of course. AC: The Androssian Prophecy has much of its roots in Sumerian mythology with elements of Welsh, Greek, Norse, Egyptian, and even Judaic thrown in for good measure. Enlil, Enki, Ninmah, Ninti, Ningishzidda — they are all in there. The main story arc is (very) loosely based on the Myth of Zu, in which Zu steals
the Tablet of Destinies from Enlil, shutting down the Bond-Heaven-Earth. DAL: Wonderful. What tips would you give to someone starting out in making 3D digital comics? Things to avoid, and/or the must-do things to do, to minimise some of the workload? AC: The same things that apply to traditional comics apply to 3D comics as well. Writing and character development are just as important as the art. This is definitely a labour of love. We make stories because we are passionate about it, so don't quit your day job. DAL: What other stories have you enjoyed, which you could recommend to readers? AC: I read books on ancient religions and history, and philosophy. Currently, I am reading Plato’s Euthyphro. DAL: Where are you at present with work on The Androssian Prophecy, and what are the plans for the future? AC: I have just started the second chapter of Book Two. I no longer have the creative team I had for much of Book One, so the process has slowed some. The Androssian Prophecy is a trilogy, so there will be a Book Three. After that, I would like to do books on some of the background events, like the War of Immortals, The Dragon Wars, etc. I have also thought about doing the back-stories of the main characters. I have enough stories to keep busy for a very long time. DAL: Wonderful. And am I right in saying there’s a Patreon, which will enable our readers to help you achieve those aims? AC: Yes, there is a Patreon site for monthly donations that helps with the cost of computer upgrades for rendering, and for 3D content purchase. It’s at https://www.patreon.com/arnecooper DAL: Ok, brilliant. Many thanks for doing this indepth interview with Digital Art Live. We wish you all the best in the future. AC: Thank you very much. It was my pleasure.
Arne Cooper is online at: http://androssianprophecy.com/ http://bad-dragon.deviantart.com/ 64
Picture: One of the pages of The Androssian Prophecy.
This issueâ€™s Digital Art Live picture gallery celebrates the allure and fun of comic-book style characters, in pictures ranging from 2D toon to rendered 3D.
Picture: “First Contact” by David Haden. Rendered with Poser 11’s comic book preview mode, and finished in Photoshop. Both characters made for Poser by The AntFarm. Poser 11 now has an excellent new Comic Book preview rendering mode, which when used with flat lighting can easily give a pleasing ‘hand drawn’ toon effect. The feature is available in both Standard and Pro versions of Poser 11 and is not the same as the old simple fixedwidth toon outline option. See our indepth test review of Poser 11 Pro, in Digital Art Live issue 4 (January 2016) for more details and examples of the Comic Book rendering options. One great advantage of the new rendering mode is the almost-instant render times when rendering from Preview. The easiest layout + speech bubbles option for most users will then be the dedicated desktop software Comic Life 3.5. There are also excellent comic fonts available, with blambot.com being your main option for freebies and paid fonts alike.
Photoshop filters are probably best avoided, as they rarely give a uniform and convincing hand-drawn result across multiple comics panels.
Pictures: “Space Brain” by Boston Joe. “Slime” by David Haden. A Genesis 2 import to Poser, then rendered with Poser 11’s comic book preview mode, and finished in Photoshop.
Pictures: “139 5” by Alejowar. “Jaetanaka Scifi 01” by JaeTanaka.
Pictures: “Catwitch” by Sanskarans, and “Ziggs Ascended”, by Alejowar — a fan homage based on a character from from the popular videogame League of Legends. (Riot Games).
Pictures: â€œWelcome to the Lazer Show", by Star_rik. "Mer-droid" by David Haden, rendered in Vue 2016.
Picture: “Girl Concept” by Safwen Laabadi of Tunisia.
Pictures: “Gamer Boy” by Typk, and “Evo Gun” by Redanta. 78
Pictures: “The Shadow poster” by Mantis Studio Comics (Leo Colapietro) , and “Infected Cyborg” by Darkgeometryart.
Pictures: “Remake: the Gadget Man” by Paul Sizer, and “OC Girl WIP” (work in progress) by oscAR-T.
Pictures: These are just a small sample of a fabulous 80-page art book issued as the Symbiosis Art Book by Steven Sanders. The 80-page digital book is available online from Steven in .PDF or .CBR for a suggested $1+ donation at Gumroad. The Symbiosis story has not yet been told in comic book form, as was initially planned during the Kickstarter campaign. But several of the design concepts can be clearly seen in borrowed form in the Disney movie sci-fi Tomorrowland.
YEAR MILLION : a major 6-part documentary Year Million is a major new six-part documentary series from National Geographic, looking at the likely next stages of human evolution. The first part aired on Monday 15th May 2017 on the National Geographic channel and online. Judging by the first two episodes the tone is often rather hysterical, and at times even laughable (“we’re all going to be uploaded into Dyson spheres!”). But the visuals are entertaining and it's a stimulating, if rather manic, ride. The series starts by looking at the impacts of an AI on the near-future in “Homo Sapien 2.0” (15th May) and then moves forward into the future — to examine what could be in store for human beings in the far future. Available on your screens now, and over the summer.
Our pick of the most inspirational art, science and sci-fi. Make your imagination LIVE! 86
Pictures: Media promo pictures for the Year Million series. Female face is the robot â€˜Ericaâ€™, the most sophisticated human-emulating robot available today. 87
Book: Thrill-Power Overload
Graphic novels: Edena by Moebius
Fancy settling down for a 100,000 word ride through the history of the famous British sci-fi comic? Now you can, with this newly revised and expanded door-stopper edition of the history of the famous 2000 AD comic. Thrill-Power Overload: 2000 AD — the first forty years costs a bit more than the 8 pence the weekly comic cost when it first arrived in our newsagents. But for your cash you get a 400-page book which is very well researched and packed with colour illustrations. The trials and tribulations of producing a British weekly are chronicled in depth, yet out of this white-hot furnace of quick-fire work emerged a wealth of enduringly gritty action heroes — such as Judge Dredd and many more. The comic and its paid work nurtured many talents, becoming a vital British counterweight to the dominance of American and Japanese comics.
The great French science-fiction comics artist Moebius began his classic Le Monde D'Edana story cycle in 1985 and work on it continued to 2001. His superb work needs no introduction for fans of science fiction comics. This English translation was published as a luxury hardcover by Dark Horse in December 2016, and it quickly became a bestseller. It contains the first five stories in the cycle, complete with material never before translated into English.
Coming soon is the companion volume, The Art of Edena. Due in September 2017, this will collect another four stories plus a wealth of Moebius illustrations and sketches. Moebius Productions, controlled by the artist’s family, have long been reluctant to release English licensing rights — but this beautiful volume is a worthy monument to the genius of Moebius’s timeless science-fiction work. It is also available for digital download for Kindle Fire and via the Comixology service. 88
Graphic Novel: Watchmen Noir
Graphic novel: Beowulf
Watchmen Noir is a hardcover from DC
First published in Spanish in 2013, Garcia and Rubin's graphic-novel version of the oldest surviving epic English poem follows the original plot and original text closely. Now English readers can enjoy this re-telling, in a translated volume published by Image Comics in early 2017. Though there is an inevitable focus on the epic’s mead-hall crowd-pleasers of monsters and gore, this 200-page adaptation strives to capture the tone and key details of this complex poem. It evokes the deep melancholy felt by the anonymous AngloSaxon writer as the old familiar pagan world slipped away amid the rise of Christianity. In 200 pages, much is also lost — a swimming contest and a battle with monsters is just a battle, not something overlaid with royal tradition and a Marian religious sub-text. Yet, as an introduction to the original, this is a fine attempt — provocative, imaginative and definitely for mature readers only.
Comics, and collects all 12 issues of the famous and highly acclaimed British take on the American superhero comic — but this time printed in pure black and white at 7.5” x 11.5”. The intention is to allow the original inking and lettering to shine through, and it is the first time that Watchmen has appeared in black and white. Artists can study all the detail in Dave Gibbons's dark, moody Poserbased line work, without being distracted by colour. Yes, Gibbons is on record as stating that Watchmen was made with the help of our very own Poser software! This is a must -buy for anyone interested in studying a classic example of how comics storytelling works on the page, and along the way enjoying re-visiting the epic re-union of Rorschach, Nite Owl, Silk Spectre, Dr. Manhattan, and Ozymandias — under the skilled hand of British writer Alan Moore. 89
Star Wars: Identities
HUMAN+ the Future of Our Species
Until Sept 2017, at the O2, London
Until 30th Sept 2017, Singapore
Star Wars: Identities is a major touring
The Singapore ArtScience Museum’s latest exhibition, “HUMAN+: The Future of Our Species”, opens on 20th May 2017. This major exhibition asks: what will it be like to be a human a hundred years from now? How will advances — in genetic engineering, biotechnology, nanotechnology — change what it means to live as a human? How will we cope with technological telepathy, an ability to anticipate certain aspects of the future, and our general increased longevity? Will our grandchildren even be able to live underwater with the aid of new neck-gills, or at high altitudes in ever-floating airship platforms, or even be genetically reengineered to live in colonies on Mars? What of the androids we will make in our image?
exhibition which invites visitors to ‘discover yourself’ via engagement with the Star Wars characters. Visitors go on an interactive identity quest and then leave having created their own personalized and unique Star Wars character. During your journey you’ll ask: Who are you? Where do you come from? What makes up your identity? The exhibitions lets you learn about the ‘identity sciences’ of genetics, the brain, health, intelligence and ethics — while also enjoying 200 props, models, costumes & artwork from the Star Wars films. http://www.starwarsidentities.com/
Pictures, from left, across double-page spread: Promotional picture for Star Wars: Identities. Detail from the exhibition poster for HUMAN+. Promotional concept art for Dinosaurs in the Wild, with thanks to the show’s developers. Art by Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis.
Showcasing the work of 40 international artists, scientists, technologists and designers, the show explores future paths in a collaboration between Singapore’s ArtScience Museum, Trinity College Dublin, and Barcelona's Centre for Contemporary Culture. http://www.marinabaysands.com 90
Dinosaurs in the Wild
Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth
Opens Summer 2017, Birmingham
Forthcoming in 2018, Oxford, UK
The English Midlands city of Birmingham is set to stage the world premiere of a new multi-million dollar show, “Dinosaurs in the Wild”. The show has been made by 100 specialists, working with staff from the BBC’s Walking with Dinosaurs series. It will feature 3D effects, animatronics, immersive sound and lighting, and 70-minutes of adventure and interaction with scientific accurate dinosaurs. The setting is ‘TimeBase 67’, a time-lab built in the Late Cretaceous period 67 million years ago, and the show’s idea has been developed over five years. Seems great, but be warned that the show sounds a little too gory for younger children — as visitors get to... “watch a dinosaur autopsy and witness hatchlings emerging from eggs” and visit a “Pathology Laboratory” with a dinosaur arm being disected. Definitely one for horror fans and seekers after fierce monsters, by the sound of it! The show will run in Birmingham 24th June to 24th Aug 2017, before touring to other UK cities.
In 2018 the Bodleian Library will present a major new free exhibition on the life and works of The Lord of The Rings author. The exhibition will explore the range of Tolkien’s work through original manuscripts and as-yet unseen family letters. It will also display his talents as a watercolour artist, poet and songmaker, and his work on ancient languages and word-meanings. Tolkien studied at Oxford for his degree and used the Bodleian for personal research on the ancient word earendel — which he found in an ancient Anglo-Saxon manuscript, and from which unfolded his lifelong work in making Middle-Earth. The Bodlian houses the largest collection of Tolkien manuscripts and drawings, with the latest addition being a rare map of Middle-Earth annotated by the author himself. For the exhibition this will be accompanied by a new 3D map of Middle-Earth. Visitors will also see letters of appreciation from early admirers, such as the poet and fellow Birmingham man W.H. Auden, and personal objects like boxes of paints and coloured pencils.
Back cover: “Saskia WS”, DAZ Studio and Iray, by SO2.
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