Hand in the Darkness

Apr 2, 2022, 8:15:36 PM


The pair made their way back to the Gate of Daitokuin. Catherine nudged Natsumi again and pointed in the middle of the gate. There floating in the center under the roof of the gate was Spuddy. He had his hands (or what passed as hands) clasped together in prayer.

“Hey spudball,” Natsumi said changing course and walking towards them. “We’ve been looking all over for you.”

Spuddy glanced up. “Oh goddess! I’ve been here!”

“Great, where’s the other one?” Natsumi asked.

Spuddy spun around him and stopped when he was looking away from the pair of women. He made the slow swivel back to face them. “They’re not with you?” he asked. “Uh… uh-oh. Uh-oh. That’s bad… If they’re not with you then…”

Natsumi saw it right behind the spudball. There was a fleck of white emerging from the darkness. It took the form of a hand reaching out.

“Spudball…” Natsumi said. “Come here.”

The ghost floated, petrified and unmoving.


Catherine saw the hand too. She undid a button by her waist and unfurled the whip hanging by her side. The heart talisman gleamed in the waning moonlight. Both of them locked eyes for a minute.

“And everything was going so well,” Natsumi said before twirling her Heartstaff and striking a pose of her own. “Hey! Hands off the spudball and show yourself!”

Behind the Scenes


It's been a while since you heard from me directly.

For this week's comic, I challenged myself to 3D model a version of the Gate of Daitokuin for the first panel. It doesn't really look like the real thing, but I'm not going for 100% parity or realism.

Below is the 3D model for the gate.

3D mockup of The Gate of Daitokuin

3D mockup of The Gate of Daitokuin

You can see I cut corners... Well, mainly two corners off the building. I didn't bother with the back as I can have it blend right into the sepia color of the comic.

The hardest part to model was the roof. I'm no stranger to trying to put together an ancient style Japanese roof. This time I used a different approach with Blender's array modifiers and curves. I only created a single cross-section and extruded it into a panel of the roof. Using a curve and array modifier I turned it into a single column of tiles. I then arrayed that across to get a roof. Everything else is quickly built using cubes. Nothing is really measured to be precise. It just has to give the illusion of the Gate of Daitokuin and not be a replica of it.

As for the shading...

Shading for the model

Shading for the model

I used a very simple node setup that took the diffuse color and turned it into a high contrast shading with a color ramp. The ramp is set to constant with a marker for where the brown sepia begins versus the white.

I rendered it out at 3840 by 3840 pixels and it took only a few seconds.

It's not the final image.

To integrate it with the actual comic, I use a color dropper to select only the white color from the render. I can then use that selection as a stamp and delete out the white parts from the sepia brown. And that's it. I use brushes to draw in the suggestion of trees, stars, and moon, and you got yourself a simple backdrop.

I'm not going for 100% accuracy here. I assume the reader will take only a few seconds to glance over the artwork before scrolling down.

The hand further down in the frame is actually a photo of my own. I modified it to look more bony and give it more claw-like nails.

Despite having so many ways to help me produce the end product, it still takes a decent amount of time. I honestly didn't think I'd get this far by the end of the week, but well, it's not terrible.

You'll also notice I've been writing a lot more prose to tell the story or give extra insight, details, or just more of the scene. It's yet another means to help produce the comic. I can write faster than I draw, and I also want to do more prose writing. I hope you've been enjoying the combination of writing and visuals.

I don't do April Fools very often on this site. Usually Webcomic Underdogs would have something but we passed up this year's April Fools, but whatever, I'm not a huge fan of the day.

Have a good weekend!