Tuesday, 7 April 2015

How To Cheat Your Way Through A Hard Drawing Using Maya 2009

I like drawing cover art. It's a single drawing, it conveys a strong message, and it's usually dynamic and exciting to draw. But executing a good cover drawing can be hard as hell.

Now that I'm (finally!) getting into the artwork stage of my comic, I thought I'd start with the cover. It's a good way to get into the horror style I'm looking for, and I can always ditch it if I end up hating it later. I don't think I can do that once I start on the interior art. I don't want to be redrawing pages because I think they look ugly. But covers are a one-off, so if I can't live with it, it's not a big deal to do another one.

That being said, I struggled and struggled with the concept of this cover. I wanted to convey an instant sense of what the comic is about - zombies and superheroes. It took a lot of thinking and Google research to finally settle on this setup. It has Jack running at camera, shooting his laser eyes (the superhero part) while surrounded by a threatening horde of zombies (the zombie part).

I thought I'd record how I actually bang out a piece of artwork, which I hope might prove helpful to anyone struggling with perspective and foreshortening. Personally, I suck at both. My characters always end up looking flat. So I came up with a cool way to keep my figures 3-dimensional by cheating with the help of Maya 2009.

Cheating with Maya

Just so you know, I didn't start in Maya. I did a million rough thumbnails to block out how I wanted the cover to look. Sadly, I deleted most of them because they sucked, so I have no examples (maybe a good thing.)

Once I had the rough idea, I went into Maya and blocked in the characters. I used Maya 2009, because I don't need the latest version with all its bells and whistles as I'm not rendering anything. I'm also using a free model I found at creativecrash.com called DummyMan (at least it was free back when I downloaded it - I see now the author is charging $30. Which honestly is a deal as it's a fantastic model.)

So I kept fiddling with the models and camera until I was happy with the image.

I wanted to mention that changing the focal length of the camera helped a lot (found in the camera properties). It defaulted to 25, which made everything quite flat and boring. I turned it down to 15, giving it a fish-eye lens quality that made everything pop like in the comics.

Roughing in the Characters

Next step was to import the image into Clip Studio Paint Pro (aka Manga Studio) and start roughing in my characters over-top the models.

Now, I could have drawn this pose from my head, but drawing it over the model allows me to push the pose without worrying that it's out of proportion or the foreshortening is off. Plus, drawing it from my head equals FLAT. I hate flat drawings. Using Maya helps me get over the flatness. It's also teaching my eye to look at things more 3-D-ish, which I'm hoping will translate into better drawings down the road.

Time for the Zombies

Funny thing: I love zombies, but I think this is my first go at actually drawing them (at least in a semi-realistic fashion.) Go figure. But it was fun!

Stay tuned for the final color image coming soon! Click here to see the final artwork



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