Thursday, December 31, 2015

Agent Maya in 2016

Okay, so I suppose I should've remembered to update the blog before New Year's Eve, but it will dovetail with a few things I want to mention. But first, some renders!

First, Issue Five is nearly complete! As usual for me, doing dialogue balloons is tedious work and I'm fighting the urge to procrastinate. I will persevere, though! Of course I'll update as soon as Issue Five is on sale.

Second, I'm working on a Season One collected graphic novel that I will release in print sometime in the first quarter of 2016. I've been looking forward to this for quite a while, as I decided not to go the expensive floppy route, as much as I wanted to. Details to come.

Third, I'm re-releasing Neptune's Deadliest Ring and Moons of Ice and Fire as a single trade sometime in the first half of the year, most likely to coincide with the Season One GN. Since the two stories are interstitial with the Season One issues, I felt it was finally time to dust them off and give them a shiny new cover, one that ties in with the comics completely. Not sure if I'll do any re-edits, but putting them together makes more sense, plus I can place a reading chronology inside.

Once these books are finally out of the gate, I'll be putting Agent Maya on hiatus for the year as I focus on a few other non-Maya projects I've been eager to tackle, which I'll post more about in the future. I have been writing scripts for Season Two in the past year, so when I do ramp up production I'll be ready to go.

Have a great 2016!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Agent Maya Issue Five Production Post Two

After some adjustments to the various render settings, I remembered the render time setting (in seconds) and set it at two hours, fixing the time issues I was experiencing. Sometimes wrapping my head around the differences between 3Delight and iray takes a few tries before I realize the tutorials I've read gave me the answers, but they've just sunk in too well!

So now I've got nearly two pages of renders complete with more scenes set or needing to be. Everything looks great so far; I'm happy with the texture rendering and ease of creation of lighting rigs out of simple objects for fantastic new effects.

There's a lot of work ahead—and I'm glad I upgraded to finally bring my imagination through to the final renders.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Issue 5 Production Post One

Now that I've settled the transfer from Daz 4.7 to 4.8 (with some minor annoyances still in effect, unfortunately), I posted my first render for Issue Five a couple weeks back, under the new iray engine in Daz 4.8. While I think it looked better than good (or at least better than the 3Delight engine), I had to tweak some settings to get a second render image with less grain and a decent enough light source to be usable. However the speed I have hoped for is still elusive—right now the render time is still nine hours plus for a reduced image size of 5000x3750, nearly half the size I used to do at 9000x6750. So, now I need to research this and see what setting or lighting or some other unknown is keeping the speed at the multiple-hour tortoise range.

Saying all this, I am pleased with the render quality I'm getting with iray. 3Delight looked great, in my opinion, with graduated shadows and light, but not so good in either extreme (washed out in brightness or bizarre over-saturated darks). In this issue there will be many scenes in near darkness with some bright lights punctuating here or there, so I'm looking forward to seeing what iray gives me in the pursuit of closer to photoreal.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Monday, July 6, 2015

Issue 5.5 Production Post Four

Renders for Issue 5.5 are complete, and I'll begin panel assembly for the five pages soon. It turned out to be an interesting exercise in short-length comics—a topic I've covered earlier—and I'd like to explore the format again, maybe next year, certainly after I've completed post-production on Issue 5. And looking at the complexity of the next issue, I'll need to marshal all my resources towards that goal first.

And the reason I haven't been posting as much is that I've made the jump to DAZ 4.8, with the new iray render engine. This involves a bunch of new adjustments that I won't go into much detail here, other than business as I've been doing it changes a bit. Once I get used to how the new renderer works and redo some assets to work with the new paradigm, I should be getting better and faster renders—which is essential as I get more sophistication and ambition built into the storytelling.

Stay tuned.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Issue 5.5 Production Post Three

Chugging along on Issue 5.5—I've rendered out a space scene with a neat new model I've put a lot of work into the past couple of weeks. I've also worked on a lighting setup for better spacescape renders, which will be quite important for Issue 5 in a few months.

In the non-comic department, I've been thinking about the future of what I want to do to supplement my income, since it's been tough to get any sales in a crowded and/or hard-to-publicize market like self-publishing. Having published two books and four comics, and done the soup-to-nuts work on them, I find creating and designing book covers a nice blend of illustration and graphic design, both of which are big interests of mine. I'm currently in bookselling, and have been for nearly twenty years, but find the retail reality soul-deadening after so many cycles of worry and dread about the health of the sector. I'd like to get into the book creation/production side of the field which would be more of the philosophy of do what you love while also making money at it. Ideally I'd want an online cover-design business (short of making gobs of mad cash by writing my own stuff, but anyway…); in the next few years I hope to work my way toward that.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Issue 5.5 Production Post Two

Issue 5.5 has taken a bit longer to put into production, but I have two pages rendered and several sets waiting. The big hurdle has been the framing scenes, involving many characters that can bog down the whole works just by sheer file size and rendering requirements. A month from now I plan on completing production and getting into post.

Then the big one awaits…Issue 5. If you've bought Issue 4, Maya and the Don of Venus (and if you haven't, head over there now!) then you have an inkling of the dread our characters face: the Mercury Tower. This last issue in the first season of Agent Maya will pit our heroine against her greatest threat yet—Yukyo Kopek and the tortured souls entombed inside that ghostly building….

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

JauntWorld Is Now On Behance

Quick post to let everyone know that I am now a member of Behance. You can see some samples of AGENT MAYA on there, plus other examples of recent work by me.

Thanks and enjoy.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Agent Maya Issue Four On Sale Now!

A quick plug that Agent Maya Issue Four—Maya and the Don of Venus—is now available for sale at Sellfy! 99 cents and in a full color, 23-page downloadable PDF.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Issue 5.5 Production Post One

Started work on what I'm calling Issue 5.5, the 5-page mini-comic that will be available in some capacity later this year. As I said last time, I'm producing 5.5 before I start Issue 5, as it will be a testbed of sorts for some techniques I'll try for the last issue of the season.

After spending a few days setting up the first finished scene, I did a few hours of renders and have four panels already knocked out, about 80% of Page 4. This scene has a fun tip of the hat to an '80s movie that I've wanted to do for years and I finally found the right time and place.

I'm excited by the possibility of exploring other short-form comics like this, especially after spending upwards of six months on 22+ page comics over the last three years and all the work that entails. While there is an intrinsic reward in the hard work and quality of the long-form comic, it is difficult for me not to get bogged down with the sheer amount of labor that is involved. By no means am I ready to quit the Agent Maya series as I've laid it out; I've invested too much sweat into it to stop now. However the temptation to branch out into other non-Maya areas of interest is growing, particularly if I can produce a 5-page comic in just a matter of a month to six weeks. I'll try to quell the temptation until I at least get through Season One….

Monday, April 13, 2015

Issue Four Production Post Seven

Here's the completed cover for Issue Four, "Maya and the Don of Venus".

The five-page special I mentioned last time is in prep right now—I have a few sets to throw around and some crowd people to place. Producing content while reusing (and altering) selected props, sets and characters is quite appealing, for not only do I save time but money, as well. And those two are the most important commodities of this whole deal.

All right, off to work.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Issue Four Production Post Six

I have a rendered cover for Issue Four, but without cover dress and all that entails, so I'll post that here next time. Meanwhile I'm continuing with balloon placement and such, which is the most tedious task in production, but one which needs to be done.

After completion of Issue Four, I will be producing a special five-page mini-comic (the story of which and its release to soon be apparent!) but it is within this first season's timeline, fitting after Issue Five chronologically. I'm looking forward to creating this special treat for everyone.

I'm also looking at some other spinoff-type stories, one of which stars a past foe, and another one-shot featuring two upcoming guest stars. Don't know when I'll get into production on these, but rest assured it'll be posted when I'm starting.

Issue Five will be ramping up this Summer. More details to come.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Issue Four Production Post Five

I'm finally back from the land of the undead (flu bug). I've finished all renders for Issue Four and have locked down the page panels. Word balloons are currently in placement and I need to think of a cover idea in the next few weeks. I'm pleased to at last have this latest adventure done, as it was really bogging (me) down after the holidays; I'm proud of all the hard work and the results show.

Here's a page from Issue Four to give you a taste of what's to come. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Photoshop Compositing from DAZ Studio

A few stream of consciousness tips for Photoshop compositing:
—Start with your render from DAZ Studio, which I do at mostly 9000 X 6000 DPI, saving as PNG (this will be at 72 DPI and consequently huge in dimensions, but that's okay as you'll reduce it later).

—PNG preserves transparencies (alpha channels), essential for compositing backgrounds, secondary images, etc., and is a lossless file format—never, EVER save as jpeg.

—Open image PNG in Photoshop, duplicate layer into new document, save as PSD at 72 DPI.

—Do all editing with multiple layers, never altering original layer; layers are your best friends.

—Layer masks are your second-best friends; use the paint brush for opacity (white), transparency
(black) and shades of gray (semi-transparent) instead of the destructive usage of the eraser.

These are the basics for DAZ layers in Photoshop. I'll have more tips soon.

Saturday, February 28, 2015


Our protagonist, 25 years old (in 2156) born in 2131; height: 160 cms (5’ 3”); registry identification number: 5147-851-286135; unknown if Maya is her given name, or a surname, answers to it only; highly skilled with various weapons and defensive arts; wields her semi-sentient sidearm, Xibalba; her main transportation is Skeeto; works alone, disdaining a partner, much to her superiors’ chagrin; has a fairly good sense of humor; at 14 to 16 years old, Martian refugee from Syrtis Major, taken in by Gilmour Zeobarry, works as a disenfranchised shuttle pilot until gaining employment with the IPTP in mid-2155.

Friday, February 20, 2015

2015 Posting

Hello all. While I've busy working on Issue Four, my posts have been few and far between, unfortunately. The first two-thirds, about 16 pages, are roughly done, leaving the final third—nearly a complete issue in and of itself—still needing rendering. While work has been slow with a lot of tweaking to curtail post work, Issue Four is coming along and it's looking great, but it's busted the six months' time budget I allotted to it.

So, to keep from putting up a string of Slow-Work-Ahead posts, I thought I might try to post something new from me on a more timely basis, maybe once a week. I have a few digital comic production ideas sketched out, perhaps just to give other would-be artists starting off points for how I approach things. It'll be Mac-, DAZ Studio-, Photoshop- and InDesign-centric, since these are the apps I employ for Agent Maya. I'm not sure how much information I post here would not be available elsewhere, but it'll be an interesting side venture when I don't have teasers or announcements ready to go.

Thanks for reading and keep enjoying Agent Maya!