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1
Develop Your Story / Re: CAIRLANN - Coming Soon
« Last post by Operative13 on January 23, 2021, 03:08:01 AM »
A small teaser for A Tales of Cadamaria story! Full excerpt will be made available this Sunday.

Sign up here to support the project and become an early-access beta reader: https://forms.gle/ovQ1YoShxtqVYzeB9

Teaser
The budding of fresh grass seeping out from the fading snow signaled the end of winter, yet the bright sun beaming across the open road could not wean the dread seared upon Gulbrand's face. He rode hard with four others across the dusty road, past plowed fields and farmers planting the first seeds of the season. Some ceased their hunchback labor to glimpse with dulled eyes the five men in clattering chainmail. Elegant shields bearing the silver wolf hobbled on their backs as dust kicked behind the hardened steeds. Children waved and shouted to them as the banner of the White Goat fluttered in the wind. Their mothers sparkled with warm smiles, yet Gulbrand dared not share their sentiments. He only wished to spare them the inevitable pain. Today was a grim day, though no one in Demorea knew then.
2
Comics and other Gallery / Re: Miscellaneous Arts and Sketchbook
« Last post by legomaestro on January 22, 2021, 01:32:10 PM »
I have a dream of getting through all the scrap paper I've collected. Digital really is awesome and is the way to go but I want to see how I feel after scribbling and drawing through all my stuff. Methinks I'll at least learn something.

Another good day but I definitely pushed it. Will still stay in the regimen but wanna slow it down.

Cars are so freaking annoying: I don't know what to use as a guideline for the shape, and forget about tires lel. Happier about the hands and shoes.




3
Starter Gallery / Re: Looking for feedback
« Last post by Saichonman123 on January 21, 2021, 10:01:21 PM »
It's something I want to know too. Because I don't really have any knowledge of this matter.
4
Members Manga / Re: Fighter No 1
« Last post by Saichonman123 on January 21, 2021, 10:00:37 PM »
It's a very cute picture, I really like it.
5
Manga Art Gallery / Re: Suuper's manga (+digital and 3D)
« Last post by Suuper-san on January 21, 2021, 04:38:51 PM »
@KatDeMilo ahaha thanks for the coment :D

@Lego the rest of this post is dedicated to you lol
wow you kinda went all out on my thread ahaha

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this sort of 'flow' is letting the obstacles be and moving on to something else unrelated but similar so that you still have forward momentum.
Now that I think about it, that's very much like a river would do. A river will always flow downhill but work around the obstacles in its way. Act like a river - very kungfu wisdom there.

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It looks simple and appeals to the eyes, but actually behind that is a buttload of work that was done to be able to execute that simplicity.
True I'm starting to appreaciate other artists' sketchy styles now a lot more. I spent ages trying to figure out how they could draw something so sketchily but still make it look good, and basically a massive amount of skill and experience is the reason. I'm still working towards that :P

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Tracing has always been something I defend and will absolutely add to my regimens again.

It definitely has its place and is quite useful at helping you to gauge certain aspects of your skill. In other words, if you can trace (but not draw as an original) something successfully then you have the coordination, it's just the knowledge that's the issue.

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I feel these are not quite the art styles for you. The folds and details of the second image definitely and the expressive kawaii of the first, but not... Quite...
Hmmmm those two were not from my epic collection but they are close to the sort of work I'd like to produce. I'm still quite vague about my exact style at the moment.
I'd love to see anything you think would suit me better.

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I honestly wish I stopped practicing and just went at my projects, but in my current slump and crisis I want to at least have an idea of my workflow in some sense to be able to commit to something. It annoys me but I am a bit too chaotic in my choices.
I'm starting to lean towards my projects and regimes being the same thing, especially with writing it will start to manifest itself as practice one-shot chapters, but in themselves, they would be no different from projects, but they're still for practice. It's always a hard one when you're on the learning curve to know how much time to balance between regimes and projects.

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By the way, have you noticed how freeer one is with making poses when you DON'T have a 3d mannequin?
Hmmmm since I dont have a figurine I can't say, but with practice I have found I can sketch poses very freely without any references, so I probably agree.
And yes when you aren't copying something you do have that extra level of freedom to change proportions and stuff, although I find that quite difficult and my work will always be a very similar consistency between each set of figures.

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Not only has your fashion become super cool, you're having your characters hold more stuff and/or really stand in space and environments. You're levelling dude.
Many thanks. I'm still working on a fashion workflow but I have a higher range of generic outfits I can play with now. And yes putting props in my characters hands is almost a must these days otherwise I'm drawing wayyyy too generic stuff.

I've read half of Rave Master, gotta get back to finishing that. Pretty good story.

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and even at the highest levels of manga, cross-hatching done right looks so much better than the most 3d looking textures in my opinion.
I think I lean towards more "traditional" hatching rather than throwing textures and stuff down, partly because it's something I would also be able to do with ballpoint, but also in the long run I think it's faster to use the same pen to add texture than to flick through a clip-art library of textures to find the one you want. At the end of the day it's a different art style, so both are good in their own right.

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You not only learn to respect the amount of effort required in making a background but have a realistic estimate of any future illustrations or comics you want to make.
Bingo on the estimation point. I'm thinking that I can use tracing to build up a lot of "easy" experience to improve my speed and consistency for future projects and original artwork.

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I have a healthy understanding that 6 panels is the optimal 'medium' pace. 3 is action packed. '7' is also, funny enough, action packed.
I think panel count is one of those things that doesnt really matter if you use them well. There are so many different panelling styles and camera angles that pretty much anything works, bizzarely.

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Holy freaking wowwwwwwwwww I wish I could draw like this. Like literally this would be an achieved life goal of mine to have this level of comicking
Ahaha thanks very much. I'm also pretty content with this level of quality, I'm going to be going ahead with this quality for a few manga projects while I build up other comic skills and then bump the quality up as I gain more skills.
I think you could definitely get just as good if not better. It's almost 100% workflow and quality control stages that help to increase the quality. Oh that makes me want to do a step by step manga page animation.

and lo, it is made. By the time I reached the end stage it took 6 months from the first sketch. Also the first stage has more detail, actually in my new manga workflow I entirely skip the first sketchy step shown in the animation.

I'm pretty sure detail-wise you've sketched up to at least my half way point for manga, and in individual sketches you've been able to draw at a higher quality, so it's just tying all these skills together. There's a lot that goes on behind the scenes that isn't shown in the animation, such as figure cleanup and proportion checking. Around 30 iterations over 6 stages from beginning to end, about the same as my normal illustrations tbh.



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Man I definitely haven't paid attention to your progress in a while haha. I'm super jealous and want to reach these heights.
Ahaha thanks :P
The best generic advice I can give is to build up your own problem solving ability, which has been the biggest help to me as I can solve issues at any level, be it my skills or workflow, methods or thought processes.
The best advice I can give for you personally is to every now and then produce a piece at your highest level, take as many hours as you need for it (but still have a limit of some sort) and really put yourself out to finish it. That will help you to see more ways in which you can learn. An alternative to that is to take a previous piece and try and improve it. For both, draw the guidelines carefully and do lots of double checking.
I think you spend too much time on low level sketches and quick sketches, which you are already quite good at I think, but you don't finish off any of your work and so you're missing out on learning how to improve the proportions and quality of your pieces.

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Okay I definitely need to graph my life in general.
Like any tool, statistics are useful but they can be hard to use effectively to help you improve. I mostly use time spent drawing as a general measure of how productive I have been, but there is always a risk that I miss other underlying issues that the statistics don't show.

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Proud of you, suuper.
*sheds tears of joy*

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Teach meeeeeeeeeeee. (Except I suspect it's something that only really works for you personally. And I want to find my own in the end.)
I definitely endorse finding your own method because only you know what will work exactly for you.

If I were to tell you what works for me it would take a whole 2 A4 pages because I was logging all the different emotions and phases I was experiencing as I was trying to crack the final layer of the zone and that's how much I wrote.

In the simplest form I just massively psych myself up as quickly as possible.
In part I shed off any form of negativity and doubt about my art, I fill my mind with useful art related thoughts such as awareness of proportions and concept prompts, and keep a positive attitude.

I know that sounds pretty bizzare but it's based on multiple analyses of what is in my mind in good periods of drawing, and trying to recreate those states. I basically force a manual override of my mental state into one that is more conducive to drawing. It's the fine tuning of the exact state to create a "zone" that has taken the time, and it's still not the ultimate form yet.
So whatever psyches you up will vary. In my case it's a tiny collection of my absolute favourite songs (mostly anime ahaha)
With practice you can "power up" much more effectively and with a higher chance of success. My success rate used to be around 20% but it's closer to 90% now which is ridiculously awesome. It's basically a mental crowbar at this point.

But even being in a high power state has its limits. Without your art skill and experience, visual library and so on, you're just a steamroller without a driver.

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RE: YOU FINALLY INKING THE PAGES I WAS ALREADY BLOWN AWAY BY

DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUDE
Ahaha many thanks :P

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Oh wait, the time travelling story had nothing to do with the student selection hahaha. Botched that one up.
To be honest I did have overlapping thoughts when I did these pages, so although they are officially unrelated they could both be part of a larger story :P

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I sort of feel the gesture has been lost?
Ahhh perhaps I wasn't too clear on that, the sketches are not the same concept, the later one isn't meant to be an improvement of the earlier one. It's just two similar unrelated sketches to show the difference in line quality.

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-You've added not only backgrounds, held- objects but also other characters and them interacting with eachother. And judging from the numbers in record time too. Dude. Hooowwwww hahaha.
Partly the drop in line quality made it easier to sketch more complex ideas, but also just a result of constantly trying to reach that ability. I still have off days when it comes to making cool ideas.

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My favs are
....
You pretty much mentioned all of them lol
To be honest almost all of them are my favourites too :P
I had a very good day for that set.

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Mirror girl seriously deserves some recommendation. This alone deserves as much props as the level up in your sequential art. You've mixed all aspects from dimensionality, expression, storytelling and kawaii in one image. NICE.
Thanks, that's my top favourite along with the twins. I can't say I'll get as consistently good as that for a while, partly because I'm just practising core proportions and not putting a massive focus on amazing concepts at the moment.

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Shibari gal. She is my favourite. No I feel sorry for her. Ahem too smexy. But noo. But yeessss. But nooooo. But yessssssssssssssss. ((This comment will delete itself in 24 hours))
ahem.
thanks.
:P

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Means less time spent on WIP stage, means same result with awesome finish.
Yes that's exactly the direction I'm trying to move towards. It's still hit and miss, but generally more hit these days.

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Duuuuude how much have you been drawing haha.
LOTS ahaha :P
well I have 2 "art days" a week in which I draw for about 10-12 hours each day, and about 4-6 hours a day the rest of the week. I average about 6.5 hours a day assuming I hit 100% of my targets (I have a specific target for each weekday depending on my circumstances), which is still hard for an entire month.

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Nice that you're working at different expressions too.
Yeah it's not a major focus but it's too good an opportunity to pass up trying out lots of expressions.

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the expressions sell all of their hairstyles for some reason haha.
To some extent I am adding hairstyles that suit the expressions so curious you should say that :P

And yes I too love progression GIFs, so satisfying :P

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Overall it sounds like ther'll alwas be a complicated shifting of priorities to achieve your main projects, but I feel you've significantly reduced the amount of micro-decisions that you have to make for certain things. You've sort of 'risen above' certain considerations and now you have even more brainspace to tackle your time-consuming projects. The need for patience and quality is still there, but you've shed some scales for sure (IMO A LOT of scales) I need to reach this state.
That is so true, that really sums up well what has been happening with me lately. A lot of moving things around, and definitely reduced the time micro-managing it. Lately I'm more just sledgehammering the problems now with a massive amount of time instead.

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Yes. Definitely do this. Without even drawing a new illustration, posting your progress GIFs and explaining how you've personally levelled up as an artist in a long form text with images will at least gaurantee you a buncha likes, an opportunity for collaboration and a couple of subscribers.
I keep telling myself I will do this but it's just time that I lose from drawing that I dont want to lose at the moment. But I'm thinking if my productivity keeps up then I can set aside a specific block of time for managing my public profiles and stuff like that. I'm glad to hear you think I've got a change.

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Look up SrGrafo by the way.
Ah yeah seen plenty of his comics, quite an interesting story and also interesting to find out he's also a programmer/artist combo.

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YOU IMPROVED THE IMPROVED
Ahaha I find it a lot easier to work in stages for this reason, it makes it so much clearer how to improve an artwork when you have clearly defined stages that you are working with. It's sort of the core reason why my WIP work is going so well.

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Nice, nice. And damn that's a large amount of time addition, but knowing how you'll go these images will turn out quite awesome (They're already by my standards awesome but yeah you do you hehe. Can't wait to see the other iterations)
Yeah I was a bit annoyed by the time jump. But there's a huge difference between casually sketching an idea, and actually finding the final lines for it as an illustration. I'm betting I can boost the speed after a few more sets. This stage is still finding a new balance since I improved it a while back, and I didn't really pay enough attention to increasing the accuracy of my proportions to the next level. I thought that like 5% error was OK but really as I improve I should be working to about 0.1% margin of error. I only realised how much more accurate I needed to draw after realising how to be more precise with my lines so it's a constant learning curve.

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HOLY YESSSSS SUUPER-SAN TEACH ME HOW TO DRAW LIKE YOU
Ahaha you are too kind in your praise, I'm just a massive learner still :P
most of my skill is in my mindset and methods, not really in any art ability (yet), so really just spend a ton of time drawing and you'll improve along your own path just as much.

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Props dude. Keep at it.
Thanks, I definitely will now. As I've gained in skill I've also found my motivation and determination to get good have also increased, so It's starting to enter the final snowball stage (I hope :P)

and once again, a wall of text is born :P
6
break Room / Re: The Gunpla Thread
« Last post by Manimal on January 21, 2021, 08:04:25 AM »
Ya water slides are annoying like that but damn they look good. It's the trade off. I'll have to watch some more videos on them. I just ordered water slides for my Perfect Grade Mk. II so detailing that will be next. I was too scared to panel line it and do a lot to it but now I feel I can take it on.

HGUC Rick Dom



Coming at us from 2006, this is the original Rick Dom. Let's see how this High Grade looks and how much work it requires to look as good as the pictures in the manual!

Spoiler
Unboxing


The runners for this kit are basic. A lot of big pieces that are spaced out. The purple instantly pops out for how light it is. This will be quite a different looking Gunpla. The black runner is also pure black and not super dark blue. The plastic quality appears to be a bit cheaper than modern kits, especially on the grey runner for the weapons. All these big chunks tell us that the kit will be full of seamlines. We'll see how bad they are when the kit is put together.

There is a small sheet of foil stickers. Three purple circles and one yellow. This kit doesn't need a lot of painting! Of course it's always nice to add some extra detail so I'm going to see the areas where a little paint would fit. I won't be using the stickers either, but it's nice to know they are just for the mono eye, weapon scopes and chest piece however.

Build


The build for this kit is nice and enjoyable. There were a few trouble areas and spots that things didn't quite go together well. These areas include the bell bottom jeans and one of the arms. A few cool things to note as the red inside the shoulders which is a separate piece. Since this is an older kit it relies heavily on polycaps so they are used everywhere. The weapons have good part separation and so do the side skirts. Anyone can build the Rick Dom and enjoy themselves, it's a good time and even going slow it won't take you too long. 


 
I made a few mistakes with this kit. I painted and panel lined as I went. For the rocket launcher I painted the clear piece before putting it in the scope and this was a bad idea. The paint created a thick coat that made it impossible to fit inside the scope. I had to clean it off and then paint the top once it was in. I sadly snapped the scope off and had to glue it back on the rocket launcher.

 

I painted pink and grey on the bigger rocket launcher, yellow on the chest, red inside all the thrusters and red inside the legs. The last part is a small touch but it will make the kit look a lot better from below. 



Panel lining this kit is risky! Do not panel line the hands out of the box! I used the Tamiya panel liner on the hands and the plastic is so brittle that they snapped in various areas. The gun holding hand broke so I had to glue it. The beam holding hand on the right side broke and there are cracks in other areas. People recommend top coating and such before using the panel liner and this is why.

Completed Kit


Once the Rick Dom is done it looks awesome! This kit has a simple design with great colours. It's stocky and curvy with an egg head and huge bell bottom jeans. The extended hand is a really nice personality filled touch! The giant rocket launcher is awesome. This kit includes parts to convert it to the Ground type as well. These are different bottoms for the feet, a smaller back skirt, and different thrusters in the back. Also the small rocket launcher. I built the space type but of course it's up to the builder how they want to mix and match. Nowadays Bandai would of made the Ground type the normal High Grade kit and the Space type a Premium Bandai release. I appreciate that all this was included.



This kit is not very posable but it's easy to put in fun poses thanks to the hand! The head doesn't really move and the waist is pretty well stuck in place. I'm not someone who poses my kits all the time so I don't mind. The hands are weak so the kit has trouble getting the rocket launchers in place. The big one is a challenge as the hands will snap in two trying to hold it. There are no pegs in the hands however the handle of the weapon can be titled, making it easy to put on the shoulder. The beam saber will go in the closed hand fairly well.



Overall this is a fun and good looking kit. I intend to gloss coat it when the weather isn't so cold. I enjoyed the simple build and although I ran into some trouble it was fun to detail. The Rick Dom is a good simple kit. If you don't like that there are various other versions of it so finding one to suit your preference is no challenge. I like the Scooby Doo looking original from the first anime. This is another great High Grade!
7
Music / Re: What are you listening to
« Last post by NO1SY on January 21, 2021, 07:19:07 AM »
So, now that I have gotten the obligatory piece of writing done as my first post for the year, I can move onto what I'm REALLY here for: to talk Music!

It's been a few weeks since my last post here, but, because it was the Holidays, not a lot of new music released in my sphere...

What I have seen is a bunch of Metal cover-songs that I've actually been enjoying a fair amount:

Affiance - "Take On Me" (A-ha cover): You know, I think there are very few vocalists in modern metal who could convincingly cover this song. Luckily Dennis of Affiance is one of them. This is actually a pretty good cover, where the metal instruments don't go overboard and respect the original song a lot. I feel like they were a little more transformative with 2018's "Breaking the Habit" (Linkin Park cover) and 2016's "Africa" (Toto cover), where I very much enjoyed their added creativity, but I think this slightly more reserved cover is very well done too. Affiance were one of the first melodic metalcore bands I got into when I was first exploring metal, and whilst I find their own music a little formulaic now so don't listen quite as much anymore, I still look forward to hearing a new realease soon.

August Burns Red - "Chop Suey" (System Of A Down cover): Now... for a band known for covering Christmas songs during the holiday season (see "Carol of the Bells"), I did not really expect them to do covers of anything else, let alone one of the most renowned Alternative/Nu Metal songson the 2000's. Of course, a cover of such a tune by one of my all time favourite metalcore bands was always going to be awesome. We also see vocalist Jake Luhrs display his new found prowess with clean vocals - something the group dabbled in on their recent album too. I like it a lot, although I hope that they don't move too far in that direction, as it seems the stunning lead guitar work by JB Brubaker tends to take a back seat during those sections for much more formulaic melodic metalcore strumming. They make up for it here in great guitar layering.

Khemmis - "Rainbow in the Dark" (Dio cover): Before 2019, the only Dio song I knew was "Holy Diver", which, well... it's very 80's... I actually like Dio's vocals on it, but considering my first introduction to the song was Killswitch Engage's cover of it, let's just say that the original felt a little anaemic. Then I saw Wynchester open up for Tenacious D, and end with a country cover of "Rainbow in the Dark", I found yet another Dio song existed! I liked their cover a fair bit, but you know me... I listened to the original and thought "pretty good... interesting strings... sounds like the 80s..." and went a-searching. Khemmis are a relatively new find for me. They are like a slightly doomy version of Iron Maiden, a bit like if Pallbearer had soaring lead guitars and vocals. They slow the song down a little, but they just make it sound MASSIVE, and I love it. Plus they get rid of those squeaky strings for awesome guitar tones!

Fleshgod Apocalypse - "Blue (Turns To Red)" (Eiffel 56 cover): For my final cover we step off the edge into the extreme. The orchestral death metal extrodinares take a shot at their fellow Italian's iconic 90's pop hit "Blue (Da Ba Dee)", and oh boy, it sure is something! I actually think that the intro, chorus and post-chorus all work quite well, and the ourto chorus steps it up even more if such a thing is possible. It's very in your face, but the high-speed riffing encompasses the familiar melody expertly, and even the death-growls sound pretty great. I'm just... not a fan of the verses... Look... You didn't here me say this but... the drums are too much in the verses... shhhh ok! The thrash beat is just too loud, too forward and with the bass it is all just too busy. I think the growls could have been cut from the verses also. Give the song some room to breath here, let Veronica do her thing (Her operatics could have been added as extra background layering in the choruses also...), and I think it would have turned out a lot better for it. On another note; Fleshgod Apocalypse - "No": Yes. That is all.

There is one non-cover related band that I wanted to highlight actually. I don't know why it took so long, but I've finally gotten into the Finnish Folk Metal band Korpiklaani, after being recommended the tracks from their upcoming album "Jylha". I don't understand a word of it, but heck if it's not just a really REALLY good time to listen to! What's really cool on this release is that all the singles so far; "Niemi", "Levaluhta", "Sanaton Maa", have sounded quite unique from one another. However, I implore you. Please, please, PLEASE go back and listen to their 2012 track "Ievan Polkka"! I promise you that this is some of the most fun I've had listening to music in a long time.
8
Comics and other Gallery / Re: Miscellaneous Arts and Sketchbook
« Last post by Suuper-san on January 21, 2021, 05:35:43 AM »
epic work. funny I've been working digital for so long it feels nostalgic seeing art on paper lol
yeah the day can sneak by if you're not careful. having a solid plan is useful, even just for normal stuff.
9
Manga Creations / MR War Arc: Sentai Revival!
« Last post by NO1SY on January 20, 2021, 07:56:32 PM »
Hello everybody!

I wanted my first post of 2021 to be a piece of writing, so here we go, continuing with some MR Canon side stories - this time about the revival of the Sentai. I promise that this will not be a long series.

Many thanks to Lego and Coryn for all the help in getting my head around all the Sentai related Canon, started by Litt all those years ago, so that I can build on it going forwards. I hope you all enjoy. :biggrin:



MR WAR ARC: SENTAI REVIVAL!


CHAPTER 1: DEAL WITH THE BEAST
Deal with the Beast

The night was young but the sky was always dark in this part of the Net. It was the kind of place that, no matter the gait of one’s step, forced you to feel as though you were skulking. It was enough to make a man’s skin crawl. But Major Narcissus was not above such places. After all, he was a man of practicality, and sometimes it was practical to wade through the filth if it meant that you won in the end. Muck or no muck, he marched with perfect military precision, and if someone dared accuse him of skulking then he’d rip out their throat, because he was and it would not do to leave witnesses.
      The location was unassuming; a gaudy neon light show framing the large open doors, belching out the tumbling digital chimes of rolling slots. Specifically, this was the one-hundred and first best casino on the Net. Just competitive enough to draw in semi-noteworthy clientele, but not breaking into any “Top 100” lists. Just comfortable enough whilst still maintaining an air of sleaze. Cooking the odds and programming the dopamine just enough to look legitimate. They even went so far as to stage a pay-dispute class action lawsuit against themselves so as not to be left out among their peers. No doubt, their forward operating base in MangaRaiders City would be equally innocuous, easily escaping any notice by patrols. Major Narcissus was almost impressed. The average 4Kids acolyte, bless them, lacked the imagination required to see through an illusion so overtly on the nose as this.
      It was all a front of course. Whilst more successful casino sites were counting the pennies made from their high-rollers, the Clan were raking in the real credit through the one thing that really sells on the Net: Information. But, as much as Major Narcissus appreciated such a commodity (primarily in the form of the most convincing blackmail leverage or devastating military counter-intelligence), tonight he sought the Net-wide crime syndicate to procure the other thing that they were known for: Their army.
      Major Narcissus strode forth into the hazy warren of the gamblers’ den with purpose. It was designed, as any casino worth its salt, to always lead you to another machine or table if you took a turn away from the one you were at, to always point you inwards away from the exit, to swallow you up and feed you through a digestive tract for your wallet; but if you just walked straight… He stood at ease with his hands clasped behind his back as the concierge pressed the button to the elevator in the lobby at the back.
      An annoyingly pleasant jingle played as he ascended, first past the conference room floors, then past the general office floors, then into the many layers of hotel suites. There was nothing particularly discerning about the 18th floor; it was packed with perfectly serviceable suites just as any of the others were. Major Narcissus looked down to the small leaflet containing the room keycard he had been provided. It had “359” engraved in gold into the matte-black paper. He ambled through the plushly carpeted corridor, admiring the large, polished mirror framed ornately in real gold at the passage’s end, and running his fingers along the coarse quality of the chic wallpaper. The façade was so good because it was real, and the audacity of it he found marvelous. He toppled a perfectly arranged vase off of its stand, half hoping that it would be the thing to cause such a robust house of cards to collapse. It thudded mutely on the carpet without even a crack.
      With a singular, swift stomp it shattered into pieces anyway.
      The door was roughly two-thirds of the way to the end of the corridor, one amongst many. Not positioned at the back of the building, or in a corner, or particularly central either. Major Narcissus presented his keycard to the lock and was rewarded with a little green light and the satisfying sound of the automatic latch releasing. But what greeted him on the other side was not a fresh hotel room. The stainless steel of an elevator door slid open unceremoniously and he stepped inside. He stood, centred, and ignored the lurch of his insides as the elevator began its descent. There was no music this time.
      The journey down took almost twice as long as the journey up, for it brought him as deep once again as he had risen. No doubt that the operation The Clan ran here spanned many layers below the surface; the real offices for their call centres, message designers, data analysts, brokers; the offices of their infamous Phishing Trip Agent; and the barracks for their army of field agents, the Spam Ninjas. If he was lucky he may even lay eyes on one of the “nests”. The strange creatures grew in and hatched fully formed, clothing and all, from large, metallic eggs fed by grotesque blue roots. The breeding facility here was sure to be vast; a sight that was sure to be as stomach turning as it would be inspirational for the military mind. However, disappointingly, as Major Narcissus alighted the elevator, all that was on display for him was a vast and dark warehouse space, in the centre of which a spotlight shone down upon an ornately carved wooden desk flanked either side by two red velvet, armless chairs with legs to match the desk. It was still a good two-hundred paces away.
      The clip of his boots rang like gunshots across the space as he casually, but purposefully, made his way. When he reached within ten paces, a shadow stirred from the dark on the other side of the desk, materialising into a woman as she stepped into the light at precisely the moment that Major Narcissus did, so that they both took their seats synchronously. She was dressed elegantly in a fitted, high-collared, black dress and matching buttoned blazer. The dress split to reveal her well-toned left thigh, which she had subsequently crossed. Her dark hair was expertly and pristinely pinned into a bun. Only a few very well covered lines on her face, and at the corners of her dispassionate eyes, betrayed age on the she-dragon. She was indeed fierce, one of the twelve leaders of the notorious crime syndicate, holding, quite deservedly, the title of Dragon. To anyone outside of the Clan, she was known as Auntie or “Oba-san”. She presided over clan territory in a sector of the Net that encompassed MangaRaiders, and thus was Major Narcissus’ target for parley.
      “The Lost Chorus is grateful for your hospitality Oba-san.” After a slight bow of the head he motioned at the surrounding gloom with his eyes, “love what you’ve done with the place.” He let a well practiced smile veil his face.
      The matriarch of the Clan put on a smile of her own, but she couldn’t hide the edge of genuine pride within it from him. She evidently felt quite confident in this space, proud of her operation. After a few more boring moments, she decided to grace him with a response. “What place?” Major Narcissus could only grin at that. The moment he stepped foot within the building above, her peons had probably begun packing and clearing away every modicum of evidence that there was ever a base hidden here to begin with; ready to cast off such a perfectly constructed cover without shedding a tear. Shame. It would take some small amount of effort to locate their new hive. “Shall we dispense with the pleasantries, Major? I hear that you are a man of action, and business, no?”
      “Of course, esteemed matriarch. No doubt you are aware that the Lost Chorus, in the name of 4Kids, has conquered the once deviant city of MangaRaiders.” A microscopic twitch of her eyebrow let slip her thinly masked envy. “All but a few of the miscreants have been forced into submission, but therein lies the problem. The rebels are like tiny spiders, scuttling around and weaving fragile webs in a commendable, yet futile, fight to hold back our tightening fist.” He waved the notion away, “they will ultimately not be able to divert our... righteous path. However, that does not mean that they should be ignored. Among them, there are a small number that have succeeded in taking something most important. Something that could become quite the problem for all if left unrecovered. I believe you are quite familiar with the group? These so called ‘Sentai Raiders’?” At this the Dragon could not contain her sneer..
      He continued, “What... concerns us is that, with all efforts focused on securing the site and ensuring the productive obedience of the populace, the Lost Chorus just does not have the time nor man-power to spare on pinning these vexatious varmints down. Their movements appear impossible, seen at one moment somewhere in the city only to pop-up moments later in a completely different quadrant. Their frankly ridiculous armour obscures their identities and, although we have been successful in suppressing knowledge of their exploits from spreading thus far, there is much risk in letting the already quelled populace find out about them. They are an elusive problem, and it seems not just for us; it would appear that they leave a trail of ninja bodies in their wake.”
      Major Narcissus let the statement hang in the stale air, hoping that he was pushing enough buttons. He leant forward and rested his elbows on the fine, lacquered desk. Steepling his fingers, he pushed further.
      “Now, I would never suggest that Oba-san would have sent operatives into a zone under Lost Chorus occupation, after all, any old ameteur can grow up a few thugs in black wraps these days.” That placed a subtle sheen of perspiration on her brow. “But what if the city did not have to remain closed to the Clan?” Now, would she put two and two together? Move on the opportunity presented? Her response was slow and careful.
      “Their voice is small but strong, not easy to remove.”
      Major Narcissus stifled a sigh. It seemed that the Clan’s survival was more a product of timidity than of creativity. The casino front had been so promising but now felt infinitely less impressive. “Oba-san, Oba-san, I understand. You did not become so successful through rash decisions. But we find ourselves at a rare moment, where the Raiders can no longer deny us. They are few, we are many. They are weakened, whilst we are stronger than ever. The Lost Chorus has set the snare and tied the noose, all that is required now is a little moxie and some necks for hanging.”  Leaning back in his chair he playfully hummed the tune to “Itsy, bitsy spider”, watching as the cogs turned in the Dragon’s mind.
      “So…” she said finally as the pieces clicked into place, “you wish for us to flush them out?” Moxie indeed...
      “With all due respect, Oba-san, these… leeches siphon power from my dearest, dearest Tan. This is not a time for half-measures. No. What I wish for is a flood!” Major Narcissus did not mind the venom that was creeping into his voice, he had her now. “I want them... to drown. To be battered and broken by the torrent. To gasp painfully for those last precious gulps of air as the raging maelstrom drags them under. To flail uselessly as they sink into the depths of despair. And, at that moment, when they know just how utterly defeated they are, we shall strike in one final, glorious display of might to bring their end.”
      A vile grin cut its way across Oba-san’s face, to match his ugly own. Without breaking her eye-contact with Major Narcissus, and with practiced grace, she raised her hand from her lap, casually holding it aloft. Then, after a brief pause, presumably for some sort of superfluous effect, she snapped her fingers. The bright white spotlight over the table immediately snuffed out, replaced only barely by a diffuse red glow throughout the expansive chamber. An endless sea of shadows surrounded the pair of them at the table, stood perfectly still and waiting.
      The dam would break upon MangaRaiders.
      The Sentai would be crushed beneath the weight.
      MR-tan’s power would be wholly his.
      Through his scarred and pallid skin, Major Narcissus’ blood flashed a vile green.

We open with a piece that was meant to be a two paragraph prologue... but I was having too much fun exploring villany, so it ended up as 3 pages!

More to come!
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Manga Art Gallery / Re: Suuper's manga (+digital and 3D)
« Last post by KatDeMilo on January 20, 2021, 06:43:59 PM »
Good read here xD nothing to add just attentive haha!
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