Time for another 3D superhero. This week it’s Batman’s old sidekick Dick Grayson, aka Nightwing!
The Truth About Nightwing
Anyway, Nightwing was the original Robin, the Boy Wonder. I’m just writing this line as a catch-all, in case there are a few folks out there who don’t know who he is.
After years of being a sidekick, and running around in those shorts, he grew up and went solo as Nightwing. Initially this was an homage to both Batman and Superman, since the original Nightwing was actually Superman when he was fighting crime in the bottled Kryptonian city of Kandor and…ehhhh just read the Wikipedia. I can’t deal with this…I can’t deal with this, man…
Anyway, for those who aren’t in the know comics-wise, I’ll tell you the truth about Nightwing…he SUCKS. Not Fantastic Four level suckage (no one’s that bad), but still it’s pretty awful.
That doesn’t explain why I spent well over 80 hours creating the Nightwing art in this post.
Here’s the thing: I love the potential of this character. I feel like we just need the right writer to come along and take him to the next level. Of course, I’ve been thinking that for over ten years, so if someone was going to do it, they would have by now.
So many comics…
Nightwing had an original mini-series way back in the 90′s, then he moved into his own ongoing series, where he set up shop in a town called Blüdhaven, which was even more corrupt than Gotham.
What followed were years of consistently bland, lackluster stories that failed to capitalize on the gold-mine of this character.
I bought way more of these Nightwing issues than I should have. I don’t have a full run, but I’ve gotta have at least 60-70 of these awful comics.
The truth is, with all of those issues, I can’t think of even one story that acts as the definitive story of Dick Grayson, there’s isn’t even one where I can say to someone “You gotta read this Nightwing!!” They’re all a blur of one forgettable story after the next. Shameful. As a matter of fact, I would routinely see people on the comics forums explicitly saying to avoid Nightwing.
When I’m buying comics, the ratio of money spent to enjoyment can’t be too close or else I’m gone. Here’s my scale:
In my opinion, Nightwing should have been DC’s answer to Daredevil. They both have that wicked sense of humor, but for Nightwing we’d leave off Daredevil’s penchant for extreme brutality and downright insanity.
They needed to stop treating him like a rookie who’s always a step behind and let him get out there, make some clever plans and kick some ass.
Apparently this could not be done, though, because as of this time the rumor is that Nightwing has been slated for death in the DC Comics Forever Evil crossover. And when they say Forever they really mean FOREVER. This crossover has been going on for way too long. We still don’t know how it’s all gonna shake out, though. Dick has been marked for death before, and survived, so it could be another fake-out.
Not that it matters. It’s not as if the stories would be good anyway.
So with all that bad stuff said, for some reason I got it in my head to see if I could pull off a 3D render of Nightwing and make him look cool.
This image at the top is what I ended up with. I feel like I was so close, but I didn’t quite get what I wanted out of it. It doesn’t have some quality that I was shooting for. Compare this one to my last 3D superhero render of Icon. That one I was really pretty happy with all around, but for some reason I couldn’t pull it off again.
Also, this is the very first render where I had to take it to an online render farm to complete it. I ended up using Render Street. I was a bit worried about how much it would cost (can’t sell this one after all), but it really wasn’t bad. The final cost was $25.58 for a 3600px x 2025px. It took about 6 hours, rendered using the Blender Cycles engine up to 2,000 samples (in case any Blender heads happen upon this).
And actually, they give you a $25 sign-up bonus to start with, too. I did a few renders so it ate up that bonus. All in all it worked out great. At one point there was a render where some of the textures were missing. It turns out it was a bug in Blender, so the guys at Render Street refunded my credits and let me render again when we figured a workaround. Very cool of them.
The reason I went to them is my computer would have taken days to render this thing. I left it to render one night, and my battery back up UPS woke me up when it started screaming. I ran out to check and the “Overload” light was on. Wow, rendering this thing pushed my computer right over the edge. I restarted it a couple of times but each attempt to render caused an overload. My poor computer just couldn’t take no mo’…
But anyway, here’s the raw render from Render Street before I did any postwork in Photoshop:
You can see this one is less saturated. If you check the one at the top I made it more blue, and pumped up the saturation a bit.
As a contrast I always take a raw render from Daz Studio (where I begin most projects) just to see how it looks, and here that one is:
Finally, I decided to try a couple of cartoon style renders, straight out of Daz Studio. They came out better than I expected, so I’ll throw these in here, too:
Gallery of Shame!
Here’s a couple of behind the scenes shots in Daz Studio and Blender:
So many renders. I spent so much time on this thing, all for a character that has never been as great as he could be. Check out these working renders to see a little of how I worked my way through this one:
The Wrap Up
Ok guys, I’m getting out of here for now. I hope you enjoyed some of this Nightwing stuff. Those of you on my email list will be getting the link to the large Nightwing image very soon. So if you’re not on there, go ahead and jump on my mailing list so you can get not only this one, but all the past artwork, and future artwork to come.
See you all next time!