Since the summer of 2005 the vast majority of ATC environments either have 3d components or are entirely 3d. The move to 3d turned out to be a huge time sink, and not necessarily in the modeling and rendering departments. I used to bitch about both quite a bit; these days I’m comfortable with the process and know how to work with it. Rendering does take awhile but new environments take considerably less time to set up than old environments did, and Mental Ray has turned out to be an enormous time-saver as well as a Make Art Button. I knew none of this in 2005 – when I decided ATC needed to go 3d I was basing that on the fact that I was spending 90% of page creation time on one-off non-reusable backgrounds. I knew moving to 3d environments was the right way to go, though at the time I had no idea what that meant when it came to the learning curve. Blowing the dust off of 3d knowledge that at the time hadn’t been used in six years wasn’t exactly like falling off a bike – it was a reminder that I’d never actually figured out how to ride the bike in the first place.
Yeah, I majored in Computer Animation / Multimedia in art school. I liked the multimedia bits and got a job doing that. In 2005, I had a very basic familiarity with 3d software and I was staring at one of ATC’s many vertical cliffs of skill and asset development. The struggle to get Motion into production was epic, and ended with the uninformed decision to use 3d Studio’s then-default Scanline renderer. The resulting render times were so staggeringly massive that I found myself with an enormous amount of free time between comic pages – with an idle Mac and a grunting, straining PC.
So i started Dead City Radio as a 2d comic with intentionally low production values, in order to do something while The Dualist slogged along in software. If you’ve read DCR you know that the bare-bones thing didn’t last – relative to page count, ATC production values asserted themselves fairly quickly. Whitehouse is unique in that the vast majority of that installment features 2d backdrops, “hand painted” in Photoshop. This page features a number of those backgrounds, created during periods of color comic “rendering hell.”