STAR TREK: LEGENDS - PRODUCTION
Star Trek: Legends got its start as an ever-growing collection of the creator's Star Trek Carrara 3D art gallery, originally under the name of ImageMage.com (and later, DynamicEye.net). Thus, the web-comic owes it existence to one amateur Star Trek hobbyist's long-standing tinkering in various software programs, namely Daz 3D's Carrara and Adobe Photoshop. This page examines the software, and the process by which those programs are used to create this series.
This phase in the process involves scripting, and is actually the most difficult phase because everything else is built on this phase. The screenplay for each episode has to be 100% finalized before any other work can be done, since the work that follows is also time-consuming, and the production schedule doesn't allow for any work to be done that ends up not being used for the final product.
After the script/screenplay is done, I then create the "panels" for each issue of each episode. Unlike traditional comics and webcomics, each panel in this series is the same size, 16x9 aspect ratio, to better emulate a more "cinematic" feel to this series. That saves me a lot of work determining panel size and panel layout as would normally be seen in a traditional comic book. It is still, however, the second most time-consuming part of the entire production process. I hand-draw each panel in pretty elaborate detail, going through quite a few different versions of each panel before I'm satisfied that the panel looks cinematic enough AND conveys the story adequately. After each panel is finished, I then make a list of every single character, all the clothing, all the props, the location itself (interior or exterior), etc. This list is then used for the next phase...
This is the most time-consuming phase - the creation of the countless 3D assets listed in the completed script and seen in the storyboards that will be needed for each scene and each panel of the 3D webcomic. This includes characters, clothing, props, interior and exterior sets, spaceships, etc. Creating these assets over more than a decade as a hobby, as mentioned above, is what led to the creation of Star Trek: Legends in the first place. Many of these assets - especially the interiors, spaceships, and props - were already made in Carrara before I even got the idea to expand my hobby into a webcomic.
Character Design and Creation
I use two software programs to create the people inhabiting the Star Trek universe in this series - Daz 3D Studio and FaceGen. Background characters - "extras" are created in Daz Studio and given clothing that is either purchased from the Daz 3D website, or downloaded from such sites as CGshare.com. (For a complete list of these artists, see the Credits page.) For pre-existing characters from the movies (Kirk, Spock, McCoy, etc), I use FaceGen to apply photographs of the actual actor's face onto the Daz Studio 3D model, so that the character looks as close to "the real thing" as possible.
Staging and Rendering
I then place all the characters, props, and location/background into a Carrara Pro file and create the panel from the storyboard as closely as possible - camera angle, lighting, character placement, etc. and then render that panel. Sadly enough, this series is produced on a nearly ten-year-old computer, so the render-times are unholy... Some rendered panels get run through Adobe Photoshop, where special effects are added. Lighting correction and other compositing are also done at this stage to match the hue and value of the adjacent panels, foregrounds and backgrounds, etc.