I recently had the pleasure of talking with musician, writer, and digital artist, Dreamfullofzen (Renderosity member, dreamfullofz) on his combined release of a digital comic and music album, titled "2035." The first edition of the 2035 comic is available right now for free on his website, and the music is available through iTunes. The music of 2035 is an ambient fusion of Eastern, Electronic, and Heavy Metal music, featuring fantastic guitar work and use of the Armenian Duduk. Here, Dreamfullofzen shares with us about his music and the creation of his 2035 comic.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do outside of creating music?
I'm originally from the UK. I grew up in greater London, mostly farmland, fields and forests, very nice suburban life. Not too far from where music legends Eric Clapton, Jeff beck, and Jimmy Page lived, ironically.
Outside of music, I'm a part time adjunct faculty at The American University Of Cairo (A.U.C), where I've been working for the last 4 years as a guitar instructor and lecturer. Next to that, I do graphic design and some web design, work as producer / audio engineer / digital mastering guy, doing sound and music for film, TV, and stage. Beyond that, I dabble in writing. I've written a screenplay, which I based the comic of 2035 on, and have been slowly writing a romantic comedy movie.
How and when did you get interested in digital art?
I've always used computers for pretty much everything. I knew about creating art on computers from early on using tablets and whatnot, but I had zero ability in drawing or painting. I dabbled a few times in Photoshop, but nothing serious. I think I got more interested when I started seeing things amateur artists would create, like on Deviant Art, and finally, when I saw that program Corel Painter, with all the mixed media and what could be done with it, I was really drawn in. I watched a friend of mine who's an artist and has a great gallery on Facebook, do some work on it, and I was really blown away.
As you created your digital comic, 2035, with Poser and DAZ|Studio, what led you to this software, and what else might you have in your digital toolset?
Ironically, one summer when I was living out by the sea in the desert, I had just finished working on some music and was bored, so I fumbled through some old CDs I had from magazines. One of them had a bundle of free software, mostly 3D apps for free. One of them was Poser 3 I think, or maybe version 4. I read what the software was, and found it interesting. So, I installed it and checked it out. Those earlier versions were very primitive, but I could see that it had potential. After messing around with it for awhile, I decided to check out and see if there was a newer, more powerful version, and I found that it was up to version 6, and that it had improved by leaps and bounds.
I knew about Daz, but didn't really use it much. Wasn't until I started doing the comic, since I wanted to do toon renders, and setting up the toon render for a complicated scene in Poser is difficult without using scripts, something which I don't like doing due to their instability sometimes... Whereas with Daz, I simply choose toon and it will render the entire scene contents in a toon look, which is what I used for all the background renders in my comic.
I have VUE, which I mostly used for illustrations in the past and doing concept design work. But I actually used VUE to create the album artwork for 2035, my recent album.
I have Corel Paint Shop Pro, I forget which version, which I prefer to Photoshop for post processing, since I prefer the filters and features already built in. That said, I recently got a newer version of Photoshop and I have seen what people do with integrating Poser and Photoshop and really want to learn more about doing that kind of work.
I noticed on your website that you've been playing guitar for some 15 years. When did you first start creating your own music?
I was 16, and for my birthday my brother and mother had gotten me a PC with a creative sound blaster live soundcard, which had midi and sound font ability, so I got into using midi and trying to learn to use cubase to create music around then. I attended a pop music course at Stanmore college for several months before dropping out, but the time there was useful in helping me understand more about midi sequencing and about song creation. And just over the years it's something I developed and continue to develop, even if I can't make a strong living out of it (yet!).
How did the idea for 2035 come about?
Well, in short, I spent several years learning to use Poser, but for the creation of realistic art; I was more interested in the illustrative possibilities with Poser, using the sketch room, the toon with line preview mode, and more importantly, the toon shader node.
But it was when I fired up Vue and created some images, one in particular, lead to me writing a piece of electronic music, and I dubbed it "2035," and from that a frame work of a story came into my mind. I'd written a screenplay slightly adapted from the sketch framework I had in my head for 2035, the screenplay being the first chapter of the saga, as it were. I sent it out to a producer but never heard back. I am an idiot though, since it was about vampires... I should have done something about it. This was back before all those vampire movies hit the cinemas... Man, I missed out.
Anyways, I had the idea of producing an animation using the screenplay and Poser, but quickly realized the amount of man hours required to do such a project was just not feasible. So, I said a graphic novel would be more approachable. I shelved the idea till I had the great idea to market the comic and album together... Or so I thought, till I found out another group had done it already. "Eternal Descent" with Llexi Leon doing the music had established themselves already and I was a bit discouraged from finishing, but I contacted him via YouTube and he was very warm and welcoming, saying that my project looked different and was very cool about it.
How would you best describe 2035?
2035 is a metaphor of sorts. The story itself isn't particularly original, more reflective. It's basically a reflection of Cairo, Egypt and its society and structure, and how things were just slowly falling away. Ironically, they actually did last year, which was what made me finish up, since I felt compelled by what I had dreamt up, almost becoming reality. Of course though, reality is boring in the comic world, so I took the vampiric element of my screen play, and jumped onto the second part of the saga. Musically, it's the same, it has a whole bunch of eastern elements fused with electronics and contemporary compositional elements.
For 2035, do you already have a complete story written, or are you continuing it as you work on the imagery?
For the graphic novel itself, it's a multitude of stories. There is no main protagonist, although initially the winged crow-like individual was to be the main character. The idea is to have it seam off into a multitude of stories, all interconnected to one another. I had planned on writing the entire thing, but, for the initial issue, I just had a framework of the story that I worked on as I rendered out the images. Since this whole thing of making a graphic novel was new to me, I just wanted to have the work flow and see what would work and so forth, and that was the quickest way, to be honest.
You had also mentioned your comics may eventually be on an iPad app. Is this happening soon?
I had hoped comixiology would get back to me on having my comic in their app store, but thus far they haven't, and their system for uploading the comics directly to their servers isn't up yet. So, I guess I have to wait for that service to be in place before I can build up my audience for the comic.
Do you have any favorite artists, digital, or otherwise?
I've loved the work of H.R. Giger, it's something else entirely... Especially the guitars he's done! I'd love one of those! Also stonemason... Quite frankly, I'd given up on the comic, since I was trying to model and create my own sci-fi scenes in Vue and it was just a mess... I wasn't getting the results I wanted. Without his beautiful work, the comic would not have been done. There are several other great digital artists whose work I've seen posted around, but their names escape my mind at the moment.
Do you have any final words you would like to extend to the Renderosity Community?
Renderosity is just an amazing place. The market, the articles, the freebies, it's just a great site and I'm happy to be a part of it. I'm sorry I haven't spent much time in the community, but I assure you all I'll be doing my best to be a more common face. Thanks for reading & I hope you dig the comic!
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