Some of the most fun, and time consuming, moments in the creation of this comic is the set up and photography sessions. I can spend several hours making sure the scene is just right so that I can get the photos I need.
Let me show you a bit of the work that goes into creating a comic page.
First, you have to have a world in which to set your stage. Recently I purchased half of a sim and have spent the last week or so building the world I need to have to fill all my needs. I am nowhere near done but Clio’s forest and the hovel that she lives in has been set up. While I am sure there will be some tweaking I won’t have to recreate it for each photography session.
Props and appearance of the avatar are also important. I have gone nearly all mesh in my build because it looks better in the photos. A few of my avatars are still not fully mesh, but many of the main ones are. The lines are smoother and they are more rounded. They also bend better, and while you still get some clipping, the clothing actually folds with the body rather than glides through the body like sculpted clothing did.
I should do a comparison between when I first started Second Life and the way it looks today. I’m sure many of you would get a kick out of it.
Poses and facial expressions can express more emotion than words can describe in many instances, and making sure that they are appropriate for each panel is key to making sure the reader gets the intent of that panel. I have several facial expression HUDs and mesh heads usually have some expressions built in too. I love the CATWA heads, their animators are great for photography because they allow you to animate the eyes and the lips separately or together. This makes things SO much easier for a perfectionist like me. This also usually takes the most time. Getting everyone set up and their faces emoting properly can take 15-30 minutes alone depending on the complexity of the scene and whether I’m using static poses or animations I have to wait to cycle.
Then with any good photography the lighting and angle of the shot will make or break all your hard work. Second Life has a lot of lighting options but usually I choose one that casts the right shadows and then edit the photos in Photoshop so that I can get the mood I want without having to flip through the several hundred lighting presets in the program itself.
I take a lot of photos each session, many of which will never be used, all searching for that perfect shot that I want to put into the comic. I love the feeling of “HA! Got it!” that you get when you know you have the one. It’s so rewarding!
You may have noticed that this is the first part of a number of posts. In the next post I’ll go over how I pick the perfect picture to use and some of what I do in Photoshop to make them a full fledged comic page.
Be seeing you!