Manifest Destiny Webcomic (5-27-Working on a new Logo)

ElbasunuElbasunu Registered User regular
edited May 2014 in Artist's Corner
Penny-Arcade artist types:

I just spent another day doing my comic "Manifest Destiny", and was once again horribly disappointed with how I render star fields. This is a big problem, because the damn comic takes place in space. I'll post a couple examples below from varying points in the strip:
2011-11-06-we-have-knock-off.png
2011-09-25-Put-it-all-behind-you.png
2011-10-18-Blow-it-up.png

Does anyone have a good tip on making a starfield for my comic style? All the tutorials I've found on the net are for making really gorgeous hubble-type settings.

I'd also love to hear any other thoughts you might have on the comic, but this is the issue that's been ticking me off lately. Thanks for your time!
Edit: Oh! And Tuesday's update has a bunch of space in it too, that'll be up tomorrow! Furious!

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Posts

  • beavotronbeavotron Registered User regular
    actually i think what you're doing now works better than adding some sort of realistic star field.

    the comic is pretty cute, I'm not good at critting writing, other people can chime in on that but i found the first and last ones pretty cute
    The wolf alien guy looks sort of out of place stylistically
    I like the style of your other characters, he just feels sort of cut and pasted in there. He's got very different shape dynamics than all the others. I'd simplify him a bit to look more like the other characters you've designed.
    Also watch your perspective on the bar. I think it can still be done in a loose style like you've already established, but if you're going to put in something as structured as a bar, you should make sure it follows perspective rules.
    just toss a few guidelines down and a horizon line, since it's a straight on shot it shouldn't be too difficult

    otherwise, I like it!

  • ElbasunuElbasunu Registered User regular
    Thanks for the crits, Beavotron.

    Yeah, I made the mistake of not sketching out that bartender before hand, and he kind of suffered for it. I'd like to give him a better treatment down the line in a return appearance.

    While i'm not looking for a realistic star field, I just thought what I had wasn't working as well. I still might try and add some more texture to space. Maybe some wooshing nebulae? It's a fine line to walk, since obviously I don't want to overpower the scene.

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  • NibCromNibCrom Registered User regular
    I would forget about about Photoshop tutorials and find some drawing reference. Pick up a copy of Astronomy Magazine and take some time sketching starfields.

  • ElbasunuElbasunu Registered User regular
    NibCrom wrote:
    I would forget about about Photoshop tutorials and find some drawing reference. Pick up a copy of Astronomy Magazine and take some time sketching starfields.

    Man, that sounds like the kinda fun I can behind. Thanks!

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  • NibCromNibCrom Registered User regular
    They have a Web site too with photos on it:

    http://www.astronomy.com/en/Multimedia/Picture of Day.aspx

  • webofinkwebofink Registered User regular
    edited November 2011
    Just go the Ctrl-Alt-Del route and gaussian blur a GIS'd starfield for your background.

    Actually, don't do that. I kind of like how sparse your BG is now, it creates a good negative space for your strip to sit on top of and doesn't draw the eye away. Maybe a hint of colour here or there on different stars?

    webofink on
    It's dead, Jim.
  • ElbasunuElbasunu Registered User regular
    Thanks, web! I hadn't thought of a adding hint of color.

    Also, Nib, thank you for reminding me about apotd!! Used to be my homepage at work a while back.

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  • webofinkwebofink Registered User regular
    I was curious to see how I'd go creating a space field background, so I spent about 3 minutes in photoshop experimenting. You're gonna need a few layers for this, but here's what I did:

    L1: Solid Black

    L2: Airbrush hardness 0%, size ~4px (change it up every now and then)
    Thow a bunch of different sized white dots around the place (I did about 10). Then, choose a yellow/red/gold, whatever, colour, set the size to a little lower and paint the edges of the white dots. This gives the appearance of different coloured, small, spherical objects.

    L3: A bunch of small white dots.
    L4: Duplicate L3, shift the layer, change the opacity slightly.
    L5 and on: Same as L4, just duplicate L3, shift, change opacity of the new layer.
    This builds up a field of small "stars" of different opacities, which will make some look smaller, etc.

    Final Layer: Choose a dark blue, change the airbrush px size to something pretty large, and swoosh a few big thick areas. Change the opacity of this layer to something pretty low, I chose 50%. This added a filtered light/galaxy look to the whole thing.

    So, there's one option.

    space.jpg

    It's dead, Jim.
  • webofinkwebofink Registered User regular
    Oh, another thing you could do when you create your white star field, is to not just shift a duplicate copy of the original layer, but also use free transform to increase/decrease the size of the duplicate layer slightly, and also to spin the layer a few degrees. This will help prevent it from having that "hyperdrive" look where you can tell that the stars to the left are exact copies of the ones to the right, if you know what I mean.

    It's dead, Jim.
  • ElbasunuElbasunu Registered User regular
    Ahhh! Yes! Dark blue opacity layer! That's what I'm looking for. Can't wait to try some of that tonight. Thanks for the tip!

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  • webofinkwebofink Registered User regular
    edited November 2011
    Actually, thank YOU, now I'm stuck drawing space stuff. I've found that blue gives you a nice deep space filter, but a whiter colour will give you more of a galaxy star field thing. E.g. the milky way is essentially a whole mess of stars together that just looks like a swath of white.

    space2.jpg

    webofink on
    It's dead, Jim.
  • ElbasunuElbasunu Registered User regular
    Wound up not doing any space in today's strip. I'll work on this for Sunday, and post my attempts here. And that looks pretty sweet, Web.

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  • webofinkwebofink Registered User regular
    Looking forward to seeing how you go. I've been reading back through your comic, it's great!

    It's dead, Jim.
  • ElbasunuElbasunu Registered User regular
    Thanks for the tips guys. Came up with this, which has just a little more to it than my other ones, but still keeps the cartoon style.

    11-13-2011cap.PNG

    You can see the strip it's in overe here: http://www.manifestdestinycomic.com/2011/11/13/natures-shortcut/

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  • webofinkwebofink Registered User regular
    Love the cube swap! Gelatinous cube for president.

    The little touches of colour really add to it. I think the nebula strands could be a little more opaque, if only so they dont detract from the wormhole, but overall i dont think it matters really.

    Looks good!

    It's dead, Jim.
  • ElbasunuElbasunu Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    Tuesday's update is my mediocre attempt at a tribute to Ralph McQuarrie.

    Posting it here early for you PA folks, because I wanted to share it while it was still fresh in our minds.

    Didn't turn out all that great, but for a first attempt, I'm not too upset. And it felt really good to try, for him.

    Thanks Ralph.

    2012-03-06-for-ralph.png

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  • squidbunnysquidbunny Registered User regular
    I'm with Beavs in that I think the sparse star-dots on a black field are fine at suggesting space without distracting from your foregrounds. The low opacity nebula swirls like you did with the wormhole one are also looking fine but absolutely keep the hard edges. Anything soft will look atrociously cheesy with your art.

    These aren't bad!

    header_image_sm.jpg
  • ElbasunuElbasunu Registered User regular
    Heya AC folks. My son is sleeping through the night, and my dog is recovered from his leg surgery, so I can finally get back to Manifest Destiny. I've been upgrading the website to Comicpress 4.0, so I'm taking the opportunity to redesign the logo and website. I've done very little logo work in my life, so I was hoping I could get some thoughts on what I've got so far:

    g7rw4yqkytxj.png

    The first logo uses MechEffects2, and the 2nd uses Mainframe (both free fonts from Blambot) . The original logo is on the bottom (which was hand drawn ages ago and photoshopped to high hell).

    I'm leaning towards the first logo, but i'm having a hard time settling on how to use my usual color scheme (dark blue, light blue, black, white, grey) in realation to the letter strokes. I'm also not sure if the sci-fi swoosh with the box at the end of it is too much.

    Any thoughts or general logo-design tips are greatly appreciated. Link to the current incarnation of the website is still in my sig.

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  • ElbasunuElbasunu Registered User regular
    I think I've settled on this for now. I tightened up the kerning a bit, and the horizontal scaling. It's easy to read one whit,e but might be rough on colored bg's. We'll see! At least I can get this up on the site and start on the rest of the css. It's not set in stone , though, so comments are welcome.

    b2v7ig49soqs.png


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  • NibCromNibCrom Registered User regular
    What exactly is that square shape? It initially read as an envelope to me.

  • ElbasunuElbasunu Registered User regular
    NibCrom wrote: »
    What exactly is that square shape? It initially read as an envelope to me.

    It's meant to be kind of a sci-fi shipping container or box, so you're not far off.

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