So what is WCL, or WEAPON Combat League?

You may have seen my posts here and there (on my DeviantART or Instagram or somewhere else) mentioning something called WCL, or WEAPON Combat League, and maybe you’re not as familiar with my work as say, the folks who I’ve known for a decade or more through deviantART. You might have found yourself asking, “Just what IS WEAPON Combat League?”

WEAPON Combat League is a concept I originally came up with in 2003. The easiest way to describe it is “Mega Man meets King of Fighters”. It started out as a fighting game idea, but I wanted to make a fighting game that had a story that was actually worth reading. I may have gone a bit overboard (I wrote two novels and half of a third telling the story of the concept; you can find links to the first two on the Products page–but since I realized WCL is a story best told visually, I’ve decided not to put too much emphasis on the prose novels).

The story centers on the titular WEAPON, or War-Equipped Armor for Protection, Offense and Navigation (acronym subject to change) and the people who use it. It takes place in a futuristic universe not unlike Earth, in a fictional city called Terradin, the most advanced civilization in the world. The setting (but not necessarily the technology) is inspired by the settings of movies such as Appleseed (and its sequel Ex Machina), Ghost in the Shell and Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.

The WEAPON starts out as a tool of the Defense Force (Terradin’s military and law enforcement unit), but a few years before the start of the story, everything there is to know about WEAPONs is released to the public and soon the devices flood the black market. The WEAPON can be customized much the way software can be programmed, but in this science fiction fantasy universe, the customizations can be used to give the suits unique powers, far more radical what the Defense Force had ever produced.

Faust Raven a.k.a. Ruin, captain of the Reaper Team

The suits are illegal for civilian usage, but this doesn’t stop people from doing what they want. Before long, black market enthusiasts, underground fight circuits, and of course, criminals start spawning all over Terradin. The Defense Force can barely keep up with all the WEAPON-related crimes.

Soon it becomes apparent that if something doesn’t change, Terradin will face civil war. So General Patricia James, the supreme commander of the Defense Force, comes up with a new plan: instead of fighting the custom WEAPON-wielding civilians, embrace them.

The Defense Force starts a legal, sanctioned competition featuring the best of the best WEAPON wielders. Promising them fame and fortune, General James hopes to encourage them to do positive things with their WEAPONs instead of criminal acts and property damage.

These are designs from 2012-2013--I'll be updating many of them.
These are designs from 2012-2013–I’ll be updating many of them.

Twenty-four warriors are chosen and divided into eight teams; each competitor with their own motivations and their own unique, customized WEAPON. A tournament is structured and the battles begin. The WEAPON Combat League is born.

But not everyone in the military–or government–agrees with the idea. Some want war. Others want martial law. Some just want to take control of all WEAPON wielders and either force them to serve the greater good of Terradin, or be crushed under its heel.

A story of epic battles, of rivalry, of love and loss, of haves versus have-nots and a vast conspiracy tying both the military and the government to a dark secret thought buried in the past–this is what WEAPON Combat League is.

I’m giving WEAPON Combat League one strong, solid push starting now. I have resumed working on the comic I’d been planning since the concept’s inception, and I am now well into the second chapter. I intend to post the comic on Patreon, starting once I’ve built up a substantial buffer of content. So far, my momentum is high and I’m doing well.

WEAPON Combat League, Book One, Chapter 2, Page 1

Any questions? Concerns? Feedback? Feel free to contact me!

August Update

In the wake of the completion of the RPB Book I’ve decided to move onto my next project, which is finally getting my WEAPON Combat League property off the ground. I actually completed the first chapter in the story in comic form sometime last year. I had a data loss that cost me the original files from that comic but I thankfully uploaded a PDF onto my DeviantArt Page so I was able to salvage the completed pages at least.

My intent is to put the comic online through Patreon. I want to have enough content to make it worthwhile to readers, so before I make the page go live, I’m going to complete the entire second chapter, which I call Clipped Wings. A few of my online friends and supporters have read this chapter a long time ago; it’s a core component of the WCL story that introduces one of the plot’s major rivalries and central characters.

WCL: Clipped Wings Page 1
Page 1

My goal is to have all 16 pages of this chapter drawn, inked and colored by the end of August. To this end, I am moving away from commission work and putting aside other mediums I tried in the past. I’m shelving ZBrush, game development, and Jet Dancer for a while so I can focus on bringing this concept to life.

Watch this space for further updates, a link to the Patreon page will soon follow.

Mid June 2017 Art Update

I’ve been busy making art! Not only is my 100 Random Practice Babe art book/100 somethings challenge nearing the end, I’ve also done some commissions as well.

First up: some illustrations I’ve done for a coworker. She wanted some ‘toon’ likenesses of models for her upcoming book covers.
     

I also completed a coloring art commission for my frequent client Montreal Mack, this time featuring Mei from Blizzard’s popular FPS Overwatch in a holiday-themed pinup:

Christmas Time Mei by Montreal Mack

And I recently finished an action pinup featuring a gun-toting black action heroine who goes by the name of Dice, for a novelist/screenwriter named Marlon McCaulsky:
Dice by Marlon McCaulsky

Last but not least, I finished several illustrations for my 100 Girl Book as I mentioned before. I’m not showing every single one, but my Facebook, Instagram and DeviantART audience saw this, so I’m showing it here as well (even though at this point, I’ve exposed so many images I’ve done for the art book that any attempt at protecting its value–at least online–is all but meaningless I fear. Oh well…)
The Battle Pirate -- don't ask

(It’s also available in my Redbubble store!)

However, I did have a minor setback. On Facebook, I earlier announced that I completed the thumbnails for my ‘last 12’ girl drawings (I’ve since completed seven of those last 12 entirely). However, I went through the library and saw one that I pulled from the past to include was just too small for print, and I no longer had a high-resolution art file to replace it with. Therefore, I have to produce one more original art thumbnail to finish the 100. That’s not a big deal though; chances are as I get closer to the end, the thumbnails I’ve produced may lose their luster and I may come up with better ideas anyway. I’ve replaced several images I thought were good enough in the past and…well, it’s all just drawing.

I’m eager to be finished, but I’m also eager to make this as good as I can. Once done, I’ll be selling it digitally and through Print-On-Demand sites until I can afford to print some copies and sell directly. Links will be added to my Products page when ready!

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for further updates.

Been busy with Rendr 

I’ve been drawing a lot of traditional art lately, energized by getting my hands on a Crescent Rendr sketchbook. It’s a pricey but high quality sketchbook whose claim to fame is the bleedproof paper, resistant to pretty much any media. I’ve been trying to find paper that made me enjoy drawing with pencil again, having gotten burned out with digital for a while, and this paper fits the bill nicely.

One drawback is the book I bought isn’t spiral bound (they are available) and the binding doesn’t lend itself well to scanning, so for now, photos will have to do as far as showing what I’ve done. Once I’m done with it, I’ll likely use some sort of cutter to sever the pages from the book neatly and scan them. Many of the images I’ve done so far will make fine additions to my 100 girl book project.



The paper is excellent for marker coloring too… I’m going to use a few of these for practice.

UPDATE: Managed to scan these pics in after all. Took a bit of effort. I decided not to bother with the spelunker girl right now, but with a bit of elbow grease and a lot of Photoshopping, I managed to scan them in and clean them up enough to be colored digitally.

Now I can take the markers to them with…a little less fear.

In other news, I recently hit a milestone with the Jet Dancer game: I have a working title screen and a help screen that shows the controls based on whether you’re using a game pad or keyboard. Won’t be long before I have a playable demo for you guys. 

February Update

Sorry it’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve been hit with a wave of indecision again.

My wife feels I need to complete something, get a quick win, focus on the ‘lowest hanging fruit’ so I can have that feeling of having completed a project again. And I’m inclined to agree.

It’s easy for me to sit back and work on tweaking things on my Jet Dancer game. Just earlier today I found myself doing a bit of fiddling with animation speeds and transitions so she’d look a little better in motion and when coming to a stop. I’m really quite proud of what I’ve managed to build so far, but I started asking myself if I could see the light at the end of the tunnel for the Jet game, and honestly, I can’t.

Sometime around the middle of last month, I started working on the game’s first planned boss, a gal named Striking Sphere.

Like Jet, she’s a scantily-clad superhuman female warrior with a special weapon. But while Jet wields her rocket boots, Striking Sphere’s weapon, as her name implies, is a ball. Building her sprite parts was easy enough, as it always is, but when it came time to animate her, I started suddenly feeling extremely exhausted. Every time I opened the file, it was like I was in a blind haze trying to push myself to make things happen with her. I managed to produce an idle pose and a run cycle, but after that, even opening the file made me feel like I hadn’t slept in days. It was weird.

So I assumed my body was trying to tell me it was time for a break from the Jet game. After all, I made a lot of changes since I picked it back up in late November or so…added new enemies, reorganized the code, created some hazards and background objects, even removed some of Jet’s attacks for a more streamlined feel. So I felt maybe some time off was in order. I got interested in traditional art again, even did some fan art for a few of my friends on Facebook:

I went and bought new markers and Bristol board to draw on, inspired by the many awesome traditional artists whose work I see on Instagram. But I didn’t actually create anything worthwhile. And now I’m once again wondering what it is I want to do.

One can be a game developer, or a pro illustrator, or a graphic novelist, or a ZBrush 3D artist, but it’s highly unlikely one can be all those things at the same time, and yet, I keep trying.

I try to trust my feelings. I really, really enjoy making sprites. Made a new one just yesterday, based on my WEAPON Combat League concept:

…And I fiddled with Construct some more, figured out how to make a character move and jump in the traditional ‘beat-em-up’ style of play reminiscent of games such as Streets of Rage and Final Fight. So I got it in my head to try to make a WCL beat-em-up game…never mind that WCL consists of over 24 characters that need to be playable. Never mind I’d want multiplayer, and character/team selection options, and maybe even a versus mode. Never mind I know so little about other aspects of that type of game, like how to make blows connect when the target is on a different y-plane or how to manage grapples and throws. Sure, I could teach myself, just as I taught myself how to make animated sprites and how to make them dash and cling to walls and spring off enemies heads with explosive effects and make certain foes block attacks…

But while I’m doing all of this testing and learning, what am I accomplishing? When is the last time I finished something? Really put it out there? The answer is Jet Dancer #1, which I think I released in 2015: https://www.comixology.com/Jet-Dancer-1/digital-comic/144132.

I was of course working on the 100 Girl Book as well. Full disclosure: while I have 47 girl drawings prepared for the book, only 33 of them are ‘new’ art (meaning, art that I actually produced in 2016 FOR the book) and the rest are old drawings I pulled up from the past to beef it up. Not a bad idea I suppose, but it goes against the original idea which was to challenge myself to make ‘100 somethings’. I also made the mistake of sharing most of them online (there are a few that no one has seen, but that’s like single digits at this point). A good idea for me would be to get back on that project and be more deliberate about it, stop trying to be ‘random’ and actually plan my drawings around themes, and not show a single drawing for the book until it’s done. That would mean more than half of the book’s content would be ‘truly’ new to viewers/buyers.

I also got the idea of producing an e-book detailing my sprite making method. A lot of people seem interested, and it pretty much is my favorite part of this whole game-making shtick I’m on. The desire to bring my characters to life was the whole reason I wanted to be a game developer. I enjoy making sprites and I feel I could show others how I go about it fairly easily, but the problem is I use outdated and potentially pricey software to do it (like Flash…does that even exist anymore?) and while I’ve been thinking about finding alternative methods, the fact is Flash CS4 is the most flexible animation software I have at my disposal right now.

I suppose the best thing to do is to simply pick a project and force myself to stick with it. It’s not about goals or building a bright future or selling something at this point. It’s about reminding myself that I need to stop working randomly and focus on deliberately planning and finishing projects, like I used to…