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28th May2017

Comic Book Reviews!

by PamHarrison

Contact Pam Harrison if you are ready to be a Comic Review Editor, and you’ll get your own account here at ICC so you can create some magic. If you have any questions, any at all, contact me and we’ll get you rolling. Let’s get out there and Make ICC Rock!!!

Roll call! The buzz has been going around on ICC’s Facebook page for a few weeks now. This page has all the info you need to know to be as professional as possible. Let’s get those hands up for reviewers and editors! You are chomping at the bit to create a strong comic book review forum for ICC, so let’s get those submissions in. Everyone with Editor status will be encouraged to create their posts here on the ICC website first and then share their links to our Facebook page.
Also needed: Art and Artist Spotlights, ICC Presents: (Which will give members an opportunity to present their comic, tell us a little about it, promo artwork and more), Video podcasts, Comic Convention Coverage and Updates, Upcoming Projects, How-To articles. Have some great suggestions on how to run a Kickstarter campaign? Want to share your expertise with DAZ Studio CGI techniques, Wacom tablets, Photoshop or Manga Studio? You will find an audience to share your wisdom here. When we get our Editors set up, you will have a point of contact for each area to submit your ideas and writing to.All comic book reviews must follow a standard format for maximum impact, and if this is your first time stepping into the world of comic review, there are many resources for inspiration to be found. Artwork, Photography, Video, Music, Poetry, Movie Making, Design, Cosplay. Whatever you enjoy doing, SHOW us. Tell us. This is a group dedicated and focusing on people as Individual Creators. The Talent is out there, we all have it. Let’s share it and also you can visit us on the web at http://www.independentcreatorsconnection.com/ Be sure to also visit our YouTube channel. Same rules apply as in the Independent Creators Connection Facebook group: If it’s a bad review, keep it constructive and polite. No bashing, no hate speech either in the review or the comments sections.
Why Review? To InformTo draw attention to good books — especially if they’re not as well-known as they should be — and to warn people away from bad ones. Although writing a bad review is easier than writing a good one, the best reviewers spend more time talking about good books than bad. It’s more productive in the long run, too.To Educate – To analyze the craft of creating a comic. To dissect how a good comic works or explain why a bad one doesn’t. To teach readers what lettering adds to a comic, or how panel layouts help or hinder the story, or any of a myriad other skills necessary to build a good comic book.To CommunicateTo start discussion or provide an alternative point of view. Beware, though, this may work against writing a good review, if the reviewer winds up discussing plot and characters too fannishly just to get responses. Also, reviewers shouldn’t cop an attitude just to get noticed. Attitude is cheap; content is rare.

Bounce! By Chuck DragonBlack Collins


To Develop Craft – To learn discipline and improve one’s writing and thinking.

To Get Free Stuff – If you’re good, and consistent, and build an audience, people may want to give you material in the hopes you will talk about it. However, it’s a mixed blessing: it’s great to get a chance to check out something you wouldn’t have bought for yourself, but review copies are a large responsibility, and the best material isn’t generally given away, so you’ll find a big range of quality in what you get (particularly if you’re starting out). For more on this topic, see How to Get Review Copies.

To Be Discovered – Please note that this is a bad idea, but some reviewers have this as a goal. Building a name for oneself cuts both ways; for everyone impressed by the comments (or opinions), there will be someone who takes it personally and holds a grudge. Plus, writing for comics is a different skill from writing about comics, so an aspiring creator had better be working on developing both abilities.
Comics journalism isn’t taken seriously in part because of this reason. It’s seen as a stepping stone instead of a craft in itself. Some professionals accuse critics of being jealous… and some critics are, but there are many more who aren’t. Many things are easier for competent writers to do instead of reviewing, and with most of them they’ll be better respected and maybe even paid. The medium needs intelligent criticism to continue growing and be taken more seriously.

Writing a Good Review: What to Cover

Ideally, reviews should be written of complete stories, chunks that provide a satisfying experience to a reader. Possibilities include graphic novels, trade paperbacks, complete miniseries, single-issue stories, and complete story arcs within a continuing series.

Reviewers covering monthly comics piecemeal should avoid assuming everyone read the previous issue. Coming up with something new to say about chapter 3 of 6 after reviewing parts 1 and 2 is challenging, but it can be done. Also, a reviewer might be criticized for not waiting until the end of the story to criticize it (especially if the comments are negative). It’s perfectly valid to review anything that’s offered for sale to the public, but it’s hard to evaluate the overall story without an ending.

Reviews should express an opinion about a work and say something interesting and unique. Online reviews should not go on longer than the reader wants to scroll. Also, short paragraphs are better; densely packed text can look daunting and unreadable on a computer screen.
What to Write

Pick a format and style and use them consistently. Include all the relevant pieces of information (creators, dates, titles) to identify the work being reviewed. Here’s one example:

COMIC TITLE: Subtitle (or #Issue Number(s))
Creator Credits, as printed in the work, one per line
US release date, if known, or cover date, or year of publication
Publisher, format (page count, binding, color or black-and-white, whether digital), price

[And don’t forget the website link to show people where to buy the comic. –Editor]

Tell readers something of what the comic is about, but keep it brief, and use spoilers as sparingly as possible. The plot of many standard-length comics can be summed up in a sentence or two. It may on occasion be impossible to discuss a story without revealing elements of it, but that should be a rare occurrence. Recommendations for or against a work should be based on the reviewer’s opinions and criteria, not the events of the story. A reader should be given enough information to determine whether or not she would find the comic interesting without her reading experience being ruined.

In the main body of the review, a reviewer should discuss what she liked and what she didn’t in regards to writing, art, plot, character representation, storytelling, and entertainment value. Comments should be balanced; there is always at least one thing in any comic that was well-done, and one thing that could be improved. Give examples. The reader should understand the basis for the reviewer’s opinions. I shouldn’t need to say this, but avoid personal remarks. Discuss the work, not the creator.

All comic reviews should contain art criticism; one doesn’t have to be an artist to describe what one sees and give opinions on it. Do items and characters look like what they’re supposed to be? Do the panels flow smoothly, supporting the story? Is the reader’s eye led in the right direction by the layout? Do the word balloons fit into the composition? Think about how the words and pictures work together to create the story. A reviewer who doesn’t cover both art and text is reviewing a plot, not a comic.

The tone should be informed and intelligent, but not superior. Readers may be ignorant of the work, but they aren’t stupid. Keep it friendly and entertaining. Readers are interested in the reviewer’s reactions and opinions, and some personal information may be necessary to understand the reviewer’s perspective (if she’s never read a comic in that genre before, for example, or if she previously worked with the writer), but reviews are not about name-dropping or unrelated life anecdotes.

Ratings are not mandatory. Some critics sum up their reviews with one, but other people find them unnecessarily simplistic. Regardless, they should match the comments given. The reader shouldn’t be left wondering why the rating is higher or lower than the rest of the review suggests. The scale should also be obvious and understandable, and the rankings should be consistent across reviews.

Try hard to get an overview of the entire medium. While it’s economically understandable that hobby reviewers can’t afford to spend that much money, reviewers who stick only with what they’ve already decided to buy are doing their readers (and themselves) a disservice. Be creative in finding ways to expand coverage. Many reviewers cut deals with their local shops to borrow comics in order to read more widely, for instance. Reviewers also owe it to their readers to be familiar with the best-known and -respected works of the medium (not just the superhero genre).

Given the bizarre nature of the comics industry, be sure to include information on how to obtain the book at the end of the review. If it’s a small press title, include the publisher contact address and/or website. If someone wants to read the reviewed book, let her know how. Also, be sure to state whether you received the comic for free for review.

Risks of Reviewing

Just because someone’s working in comics as a professional doesn’t mean they’ll have a professional attitude regarding criticism. People who should know better sometimes take comments purely about their work personally and respond on a personal level. No one’s handing out maturity with comic book work; sometimes a reviewer has to laugh and move on. In return, the critic’s behavior must be mature enough that people aren’t laughing at her, either.

There are also many people out there who identify too closely with the published work. With creators, at least it’s understandable; the fans, though, can be scary, especially the ones who take a negative comment on the latest superhero book as a personal attack. If fans become too pushy or threatening, take necessary precautions, such as using a post office box instead of a home address for review copy submissions.

Critics have to put up with being evaluated and reviewed themselves. No matter how bulletproof a review (in terms of pointing out flaws with copious examples; keeping the discussion about the work, not the creative team; and clarifying with terms like “in my opinion”), there will be immature people who will take a differing opinion as an excuse to question the critic’s intelligence, sex life, and general worth as a human being. Be prepared to ignore immature responses, no matter who they’re from.

On the other hand, don’t be one of those people who rank being right over being a decent human being. Keep the work in perspective. A bitter reviewer can be fun to read once or twice, but not long-term. People can be entertained by or find useful information from criticism even if they disagree.

Benefits of Reviewing

Everyone has their own list, but mine includes the intellectual joy of figuring out why I liked or disliked something, and the pleasure of expressing it well. I’ve met a lot of interesting people through comic fandom, and this is my way of giving something back.

Even if you disagree with me, please think about the issues I’ve raised. You may come to different conclusions, but you ought to be able to answer these questions:

  • What approach should reviewers take?
  • What’s their perspective?
  • What are their criteria for “good” and “bad”?
  • Are they able to distinguish “good” from “what I like”?

Reviewing is an art, like any other form of writing. Support the good, avoid the bad, and keep encouraging improvement.

Source: How to Review Comics – ComicsWorthReading.com


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03rd Jun2014

Cloth Room Introduction

by PamHarrison

Cloth Room Introduction
Creating your first cloth simulation

 

Poser 5’s cloth room can be a little rough to get started with. There are lots of knobs and buttons. You have to do things in just the right order to even get started.

This tutorial will help you load and simulate your first Poser 5 cloth. The tutorial is click by click and is intended for Cloth Room beginners.

 

Requirements …
  • Poser 5 or higher
  • A Dynamic Cloth Object.
  • The figure the cloth was designed to fit.
Load the Actors …
  • Start a blank scene in Poser Load your figure don’t pose it yet.
  • Load the Dynamic Cloth Object.
  • Make sure the object is parented to the Hip of the figure.
    • Select the cloth object
    • Press [Ctrl] + I to open the object properties
    • Click Set Parent
    • Click the “hip” of the target figure
    • Click OK
Tip: Ctrl + I is the “hot key” to open the Properties Box
Parent
Create a cloth simulation …
  1. Switch to the Cloth Room
  2. Click “New Simulation”
  3. Check the number of frames is the same as your animation
  4. Set the collision options
    • The vertex to polygon and polygon to polygon setting help produce more accurate simulations, but take longer
    • The Cloth self collision is useful for draping clothes that will hit together. It prevents the cloth from passing through it’s self.
  5. Set the number of drape frames (Some items don’t need draping. See the documentation that came with your item.)
  6. Click OK

Tip: You can change these setting by clicking on “Simulation Settings…”
Clothify …
  1. Click on Clothify.
  2. Select the object to clothify
  3. Click the Clothify Button
Tip: If the cloth object is selected when you click Clothify you won’t have to find it in the list, it will already be selected. Saves a few clicks.
Collision Settings …
  1. Click “Collide Against”
  2. Click “Add/Remove”
  3. Put an “X” in the box in front of your figure
  4. Check the “Start Drape from Zero Pose” box. (Unless your cloth uses a special starting pose)
  5. Click “OK”

Tip: You can speed up calculation by unchecking parts that won’t effect the cloth simulation. For example you could uncheck all the upper torso, head and hands for a skirt simulation.
Now you can pose your figure …
Now you can finally pose your figure. Set the animation slider at least 10-20 frames in. This will give the cloth simulator some frames to get the cloth into the pose you want to use. If you are just doing a still image you will use the slider to pick the best frame when the calculation is done and render that frame.

Tip: The more movement in your pose from zero, the more frames you need to give the cloth room to get the cloth into position.
Calculate!
Before you hit calculate make sure of these things

  • The figure is completely zeroed at frame 1 or set to the cloth’s starting pose.
    • Check the hip translation.
    • Check the body translation
  • The cloth prop was parented to the figure hip at frame 1
    • You can check in the Hierarch Editor to see if the prop is parented.
  • The Simulation Settings > Simulation Range frames are set to the same length as your animation

Finally what you’ve been working for! This will probably take some time. You may even think your computer is locked up. It usually takes a minute or two before the progress bar even shows. Each frame can take up to a minute to calculate. Patience!

Tip: The cloth room “thinks” at 30 frames per second. Keep in mind what real cloth would do as it moves at the speed your pose moves. This one point will help you get great results.
FAQ …
  • My cloth gets bunched up around the figure’s arms.
    • Move the model more slowly. Use more animation frames to get the figure into position.
    • Turn down the friction values so the cloth will slide over the are easier.
  • It ran the calculation and then jumped back to the default pose.
    • Download the latest patch for Poser 5
  • The cloth doesn’t look like I want it to.
    • There are lots of dials in the cloth room Unfortunately there is no “Talent” dial. It will take time and experimentation to get professional results. You will run lots of simulations before you can get just what you want on the first try.
    • Give the simulation more frames to work with. Add frames the the animation and Simulation Settings.
    • The cloth may need more “Drape” frames
  • The cloth falls (flies) off my figure!
    • You may need to add a “constrained” group to the cloth. Use the cloth room “edit constrained group” button and add some vertexes to the constrained group. Neck lines and waist lines are prime targets to be constrained.
    • You may have forgotten to select the “Collide against” figure in the collision settings.
  • The simulation fails and won’t restart.
    • This is a Poser 5 bug. Delete the simulation and recreate it.
    • Always save before running a simulation.
    • Check for crushed cloth. (Under arm area is common)
    • Use more steps per frame.
  • How can I keep the figures fingers and toes from poking through the cloth?

 

 

 

 

Copyright © by Nerd3D All Right Reserved.

Published on: 2005-01-04 (24008 reads)

 

03rd Jun2014

Cloth Room Tutorial For Poser

by PamHarrison

Editor’s Notes: I’ve found a large number of cloth room tutorials for Poser on the web. Rather than duplicate anyone’s work, I’m going to post the sources for you here. Many thanks to Morphography tutorials for providing this first lesson.

 Morphography tutorials
Getting Started in the Cloth Room
• Main Index • Tutorial Index

 

• Introduction

As the title says, this is the very barest introduction to the cloth room imaginable. It won’t tell you about many things, in fact it won’t tell you about most things. Its intention is to get you into the cloth room, get you started, and hopefully get you experimenting for yourself once you’ve overcome the first hurdles.

It’s intended as a companion tutorial to the QuickDress User Guide, but you can use it with ready-made clothing props if you want to.

• Here’s One We Made Earlier

You can download a copy of the summer dress mesh if you want to try this tutorial without going through the QuickDress modelling pages. It’s non-subdivided, and has a simple planar map, although you can fix those things if you want to make it a bit better.

summerdress.zip

You can also use the ready-made clothing props that come with Poser 5 or 6, or things that you’ve bought or downloaded.

• Figure Preparation

You’ll need a figure, of course. Bring Vicki into Poser, turn off the Inverse Kinematics (IK) on her legs, and zero her. To do that, make sure some part of her body is selected (it doesn’t matter which one), then open the Joint Parameters window (from the Window menu) and click on the “ZeroFigure” button.

• Add the Clothing

Import your finished dress mesh that you made (or downloaded); uncheck all the boxes in the import dialog, and it should pop into place over the zeroed figure. If you’re using a dress from some other source, add it from the library; remember that dynamic dresses are props, not figures, so you need to go to the right library.

• Posing

Now we’re going to set up an animation. That’s how the cloth room works – by simulating the interaction of the body with the “cloth”. To do that, the figure has to start off within the simulated clothing, and since the clothing was modelled over a zeroed figure, that’s where we start. There mustn’t be any “poke through” to begin with; so it may be best to use an un-morphed figure for the first steps.

Next, pop up the animation palette. This will come as a surprise if you never do animations. 🙂 Go to the end frame, which in the default case will be frame 30. This can be changed, but we’re keeping it simple here.

Now apply your pose to Vicki. This can be a preset one from the library, or one you prepared earlier and saved in a pose dot. Whatever you use, make sure it’s a single frame pose, not an animated one (pose dots always store single frames).

At this point, it will look horrendous, because Vicki will snap to the new pose, while the dress stays in mid-air. She will almost certainly leap out of her clothes and cause huge embarrassment. 🙂 It looks all wrong, but it isn’t; go back to the first frame and confirm that everything is back as it was.

• Into the Cloth Room

Click on the CLOTH tab to enter the cloth room. The only button that looks functional right now is New Simulation, so go on, press it!

 


You can give your simulation a meaningful name if you like (it isn’t compulsory, though). Leave everything else at the default settings for now. Note that the simulation range is set at 1 to 30, the same as Poser’s default animation length; however, if you change the number of frames in the animation palette, the simulation range doesn’t get updated and you will need to do it here as well.

Click on OK to accept these settings, of course.

 


Now the Clothify button will light up. I know you can’t wait, so press that too.

 


…and select what you want to clothify – in this case, the dress.

 


Now, we need to tell the simulation what the dress will be draping against, and that’s the time to press the Collide Against button.

 


The current collision object should be listed as None, so press the Add/Remove button…

 


…and you’ll get a hierarchy window. Your task is to choose just enough of Vicki to give a proper simulation; if you add body parts unnecessarily, it will slow down the computation.

I’ve chosen Hip, Abdomen, Chest, Right Collar, Right Shoulder, and (out of sight of the screen shot) Left Collar, Left Shoulder, and both Buttocks and Thighs.

If your figure is going to be lying on the ground, or sitting on a chair, you will want to add the appropriate prop to the list as well.

 


Leave everything at the default settings, and click on “Calculate Simulation”. If you’re feeling thirsty, this is a good time to make a cup of your favourite brew, because it may take a while. It depends on the power of your computer.

 


…and there you have it. As you can see, I chose the stock “Legs Crossed” pose from the V3 library, and the dress has behaved itself very nicely, in exactly the sort of way that conforming clothes don’t.

You can render the last frame as a still image, you don’t need to make an animation unless you want to – but I won’t cover that here.

 

• Further Study

The cloth room is obviously a complex place to be, as you can tell by the number of parameters that have been ignored, skipped over or left at the default setting during the making of this tutorial – that’s most of them, in fact.

What are the settings for different types of cloth?

This question isn’t as easy as it sounds. If it was, then maybe Poser would have a collection of preset buttons you could click for instant cloth simulation. In reality, the dial settings for a particular sort of cloth depend on the structure of the mesh you’re using, in particular the polygon density; the simulation treats the vertices as parts of a particle system, and the effect they have on each other depends on how far apart they are.

All I’m saying is that there aren’t any hard and fast numbers, you just have to experiment. Having said that, here are some links which may help you out:

  • Explanation of Cloth/Collision Parameters at Smith Micro. It gets quite technical, but will give you the background.
  • Cloth Parameters and Their Effects is more pictorial than the tutorial linked above – you may find it easier to follow, although it doesn’t dig as deeply.
  • About Cloth Simulation at Poser Fashion. More background, and at the bottom of that page are a few guidelines for certain kinds of cloth. Note: the link above is now sourced via the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, since SergeMarck’s site appears to have been hacked and is currently unsafe to visit. However the Wayback Machine can be slow to respond. It gets a lot of traffic.
  • Dynamic Settings by dana3d – a thread at the Runtime DNA forums. This does give settings for various materials, and is a good starting point for your own experiments.

How can I speed up the simulation?

These things all have a bearing on how fast the cloth room does its job:

  • Mesh density (number of polygons). The more polys in your mesh, the more calculations there are to be done, and the longer it will take.
  • The number of collisions that have to be calculated. If you add unnecessary body parts to the list, they will increase the processor burden.
  • The number of frames in the simulation. You can often cut this down from the default 30 to 10, or even less; remember to alter it both in the animation palette, and in the simulation settings. The penalty is that complex clothing might not settle in time.

Help! It stopped working!

The usual cause of a “frozen” simulation is intersection. If your clothing passes through the figure at any place, or if it passes through itself (e.g. at modelled folds and creases), Poser tends to choke. This can also happen if the figure bends in on itself while posing; if one clothed body part passes too close to another, then the cloth will attempt to pass through itself, with unfortunate results.

Before you click on “cancel”, though, do give it a few minutes to check that it isn’t just going at a snail’s pace. Complex meshes can simulate exceedingly slowly. 🙁

Having insufficient memory in your computer can also hang things up. Vast amounts of RAM are definitely an advantage in these computationally intensive functions, I’m sorry to say.

Can I simulate more than one piece of clothing?

Certainly, if your computer can stand the strain. You’ll need to set up individual simulations for each piece, and also consider whether the two pieces of clothing will need to collide against each other at any point. This could prove to be a strain on your computer resources. Feeling processor envy yet?

Can I use existing conforming clothing in the cloth room?

Yes, quite often; but bear in mind the “no intersection” rule mentioned above. The original Poser 4 clothing, for example, has closed off neck and sleeves, which means it will intersect with the figure’s body; that won’t work unless you re-model if first. Some clothing is modelled in such a way that it intersects with itself, and that won’t work either. You just have to try it and see.

Here’s how. Import the clothing’s mesh directly from the Geometries folder. In the import dialogue, uncheck all the options except “weld identical vertices”. Then proceed as above.

 

Something else you can try is to clothify only a part of a conforming clothing item. This has the advantage of concentrating the simulation only where it’s needed, so speeding up the process.

For this to work, the body part to be clothified should have no conforming function, otherwise the two processes will fight each other. A good example is the skirt portion of a dress, where posing is achieved wholly through morphs and/or “body handles”, such as the Morphing Fantasy dresses from DAZ, which are made in versions to fit all of their female figures from Victoria 3 onwards. In this case, when you are choosing the item to clothify, pick the hip part of the dress and carry on as before.

Help! The clothing fell off!

Sometimes, the cloth simulation is too realistic… This usually applies to open-topped things like skirts and tube tops that have nothing to hold them up. In that case, you need to edit the constrained group to add vertices which will stay in the same relationship to the figure. For a skirt, that would be the waistband; and so on. Full details are getting outside the scope of this tutorial, unfortunately. One thing that may confuse you if you’re familiar with the grouping tool: the cloth room’s group editor selects vertices, not polygons.

Can I use morphed characters?

Yes, you can. The easiest route is when the morphs make the character bigger. Set their morphs to zero at frame one of the simulation, and set them to full at the last frame. The figure will “grow” during the simulation and stretch the clothing.

This approach can even be used to make clothing for a different character fit. If you adjust scaling so that the clothing “sort of” fits at frame one, you can arrange for it to “shrink” onto the figure. Serge Marck has some more detailed tutorials, which are worth reading. (As before, this link is via the Wayback Machine and may be slow to respond.)

• Main Index • Tutorial Index

More Cloth Room Tutorials
Poser Clothes Tutorials
Poser Cloth Room
Introduction to Dynamic Cloth
Getting Started in the Cloth Room
About Cloth Simulation
Draping Vs. Simulation in the Poser Cloth Room
Poser Cloth Room Video Tutorial Search List

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