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    Interview with Kualan

    therfiles
    By therfiles,

    ZhBpLPt.png


    Today we sit down to talk JKHub's resident mad-scientist kitbasher and visionary comic creator, Kualan!

    barlogo.pngtherfiles:
    Hey there! Thanks for talking with us. First off: what inspired you to create comics with JKA?

    Kualan:
    I've always loved making new stories in the Star Wars universe – even as a kid I used to come up with new adventures for my action figures to take part in. As I got older I wanted to find a way to channel this urge to create new tales in the Galaxy Far Far Away, and I even dabbled in using those old action figures of mine for a stop-motion film. It failed miserably - imagine the Nightmare Before Christmas, but with General Grievous instead of Jack Skellington and moving at 6fps!

    So I started looking at machinima – using video games to create films or comics. I settled pretty quickly on the idea of making a comic instead of a film, and as I had loved the game as a kid, I knew Jedi Academy would be the ideal medium to use.

    barlogo.pngtherfiles:
    So what about JKA makes it easy to create these kind of projects?

    Kualan:
    There are two big reasons that make JKA the best video game by far for those who want to make some Star Wars machinima.

    The first is the sheer amount of assets available for the game. Unlike many modern games (Star Wars and otherwise), JKA is insanely modder-friendly and that's naturally led to thousands of different maps, character models and vehicles being created for the game over the years. There isn't a single era in the Star Wars universe that doesn't have a significant amount of content for it, from the prequels right through to The Force Awakens. For anyone wanting to make some Star Wars machinima, JKA is like one big toy-box with every action figure you could ever need inside.

    The second reason is down to the tools available for the JKA modding community – most importantly the tool 'Modview'. This is a tool that lets you render, view and pose any character model in the game and is vital to the 'green screen' process I use to put the comic together. If Raven Software hadn't released this and similar tools all those years ago, I wouldn't have been able to even think of making the comic, let alone do it.

     

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    barlogo.pngtherfiles:
    Your past four volumes have been set during the Clone Wars. What made you choose this era for your stories?

    Kualan:
    I'm part of the generation that was still growing up when the prequels were hitting the cinemas – old enough to have seen the original trilogy first, but young enough to not want to put my head through the wall whenever Jar Jar Binks walked onto the screen. So the Clone Wars were the real focus of Lucasfilm's output for many of those years and I became really engrossed in the stories set during that era.

    I think the scale of the Clone Wars also gives them great potential as a backdrop to new stories. Whereas the major events of the Galactic Civil War tend to boil down to the actions of a close-knit group of freedom fighters, the Clone Wars are more of a grandiose 'age of heroes' where every lone Jedi has their own tale of adventure, heroism and tragedy. It plays more to the mythological aspects of the Star Wars universe, which really appeal to me.

    barlogo.pngtherfiles:
    Out of your four volumes, which one are you most proud of?

    Kualan:
    That's a tough one! There's things I like and dislike about every volume of TFTCW that I've done so far. For example, Volumes One and Two barely feature any emotion in the characters' faces! This is because my knowledge of Photoshop at the time was too limited to portray expressions properly. I sometimes wish I could go back and do 'remastered' versions of those volumes to bring them up to scratch.

    I think overall the volume I like the most is Volume Four, which puts Mace Windu in the spotlight in a way that I don't think he ever experienced in the old Expanded Universe. It also featured the first villain in the series who was given some real depth and history – Railas Tok, the fallen Chistori Jedi and former Padawan of Windu's.

    barlogo.pngtherfiles:
    Can you give our readers a quick synopsis for your four volumes?

    Kualan:
    The plot behind each volume comes from a single idea that I think has potential to bloom into a full-blown story, and usually revolves around things we haven't seen before in licensed works.

    So in Volume One, the story follows Anakin Skywalker as he encounters a maverick sect of the Jedi Order – calling themselves the True Jedi Covenant – that eschews the leadership of the Council and seeks to find their own way to destroying the Sith. The idea behind this volume was that, with ten thousand Jedi in the galaxy, it seemed unlikely to me that absolutely all of them would follow the Council into an unannounced war.

    Volume Two was actually inspired by the premise of the 'Clone Wars' TV show, which sees Anakin receive a Padawan – Ahsoka Tano. Instead, I gave the plot-line of a new Padawan to Obi-Wan, and his attempts to pass on what he has learned from training Anakin to a young Zabrak named Zell. This new Padawan was a great way to explore how trying to teach the Jedi path in the middle of a war (that seems to contradict said teachings) has an effect on shaping the future generations of the Jedi Order.

    In Volume Three, we meet the infamous Jedi spy Quinlan Vos in the midst of his attempts to infiltrate the ranks of Count Dooku's acolytes. To me, Vos was one of the most interesting characters in the old EU, and I thought he was a great way to bring the story into the darker, murkier parts of the GFFA. Through Vos, the comic gets to see how the war affects 'lesser' factions in the galaxy such as the Mandalorians, the Hutts and the motley assortment of smugglers and gangsters that thrive in the Outer Rim.

    Volume Four brings the focus back to the Jedi – specifically Mace Windu and his past. For fans of the old EU, it's known that many of Windu's apprentices have a tendency to fall to corruption (Sora Bulq and Depa Billaba among them) and so the comic introduced another former Padawan who is no exception. Railas Tok is probably my favorite villain in the comic so far – a fallen Jedi who believes himself to be the Chosen One, and that bringing balance to the Force means conquering both Jedi and Sith!

    barlogo.pngtherfiles:
    Over the last 5 years, you've created a whopping 55 comics! What is the favorite issue that you've produced?

    Kualan:
    I often find I like the more stand-alone tales – such as the issue 'Just Good Business' in Volume Two, which sees Jedi Master Luminara Unduli take on a Hutt gangster (and his pet rancor!). That was a fun comic to put together.

    barlogo.pngtherfiles:
    What is one of the biggest challenges you face during production?

    Kualan:
    Lightsaber duels are easily the most difficult element to portray. Not only do you need to successfully portray the movement of each combatant, you have to ensure the 'choreography' of the fight transitions smoothly from panel to panel. It can also be tricky to establish a different character's fighting “style” in a single shot – Count Dooku's style looks very different to Anakin's, for example.

    I also don't know why I keep using General Grievous for lightsaber fights – the guy is an absolute nightmare to pose!

    barlogo.pngtherfiles:
    Can you give us a simple breakdown of your process?

    Kualan:
    I begin by taking screenshots for the background of each and every panel in-game. These are then resized and positioned in Photoshop to give me the basic layout of each page – a typical page of the comic will contain anywhere between four and six panels:



    Tutorial1.jpg?dl=1
    Tutorial2.jpg?dl=1



    Then, using Modview, I access the models of the characters I want to put into a scene. As Modview allows you to place and pose the character models over a single-colour background, I can then take a screenshot of the character in the pose I want and transfer it to the panel I want it to feature in. Photoshop's 'Magic Wand' tool allows me to do away with the single-colour background, just like a film studio's green screen:
     

    Tutorial3.jpg?dl=1
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    I then add any special effects or speech bubbles to the panel (after Photoshop and Modview, I use Google the most to find out how to create certain effects) and voila – the comic begins to come to life:
     

    Tutorial6.jpg?dl=1



    That's a very basic overview, but the upcoming tutorial will take a real step-by-step approach to guiding potential comic-makers through the entire process.

    barlogo.pngtherfiles:
    Do you map out the story of the entire volume? Do you sketch out an issue before you create it?

    Kualan:
    I write a small one-page 'treatment' of the volume's storyline as a whole, and then script each issue in detail when I come to make them. I don't sketch anything out, but when writing the script I make notes of how I want to pose a certain scene as this is vital when it comes to taking the in-game screenshots for the background of each panel.



     

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    barlogo.pngtherfiles:
    Your comics tell stories using JKA game assets. How hard is it to find all the models and art needed to tell your story?

    Kualan:
    Very easy! As said before, JKA is a treasure trove of Star Wars assets. The modding community for this game is better than any other Star Wars game I know, and it's still going strong to this day. I learned how to kitbash new models in the past year or so too, which has also really helped bring new characters to the comic, but it is the modding community as a whole that I owe for making such high-quality content available for use.

    barlogo.pngtherfiles:
    Your first issue came out in 2011. Now, almost 5 years later, what keeps you going?

    Kualan:
    Knowing there's a small but dedicated audience in the fandom that get a kick out of reading a new issue is a great feeling! Though it's worth mentioning that the Star Wars franchise just keeps on changing and evolving – from the original films, to the old EU, to the Clone Wars TV show, and now the sequels under Disney – and that makes it very easy to keep being inspired to write new stories.

    barlogo.pngtherfiles:
    In your comics, we've seen characters like Mace Windu and Grand Moff Tarkin in prominent roles Who was one of your favorite film/canon characters to flesh out?

    Kualan:
    Oh, Tarkin. Easily. The guy's always been such a deliciously evil villain, and I've always felt he should have had a more prominent role in the prequel films. The comic has been a great way for me to portray how I think a seemingly normal man with no magical powers could rise to hold the keys for the galaxy's deadliest super-weapon and stand second only to the Emperor himself. He's also a great conduit to show the rising corruption and darkness behind the Republic – a recurring theme in the comic.

    barlogo.pngtherfiles:
    You introduce many new characters in your comics. Who is one of your favorites?

    Kualan:
    Maybe I'm biased because I'm in the middle of writing their stories as we speak, but the two clone trooper protagonists of Volume Five – Corliss and Asher – are great fun to write. Because they act as sounding boards to each other, it allows for a lot of neat 'character moments' to take place between the two amidst all the big plot points and action taking place around them.

    barlogo.pngtherfiles:
    Do you have favorite real-world comic?

    Kualan:
    I read a lot of Star Wars comics, of course! The Republic and Dark Times series were particular favorites of mine, and in fact some of the characters from them will be featured in Volume Five of TFTCW. Outside of the GFFA, I read some of the Marvel Universe – the Civil War arc a few years ago was a really good story-line, and I've recently got into Deadpool as well.

     

     

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    Well, that's all for now folks! Be sure to give Kualan some love down in the comments and check out his comics right here! Be sure to read Kualan's most recent comic, Conspiracy on Coruscant (Volume 5, Issue 2).

     


    Background Contest #2

    eezstreet
    By eezstreet,

    hvNIDqz.png

    After the recent success of the JKHub Holiday Competition, and much staff discussion, we have started a new competition. This time, it will be something a little bit different. Instead of focusing on something designed with the game in mind, we will be focusing on screenshots. Originally, JKHub used a picture of the level t1_fatal. We hosted a screenshot competition in 2014, two years after JKHub was opened to the public, and the current background is the winner of this competition.

    Fast forward to today. JKHub is turning four years old this year, and we haven't had a background change in several years. We need something new to keep the site fresh. So, we are announcing our second official Background Contest. The winning entry of this contest will become the new background for JKHub. Here are the official rules of this competition:

    • The art must be submitted by March 1st, 2016. Winners will be determined over a week-long voting period.
    • Winners will be determined via a voting system similar to the Holiday Competition.
    • Artwork must be a minimum of 1900x1200 pixels in size. The larger, the better! Ideally, your work should look good on all resolutions.
    • Screenshots must depict content which is only available in the base game, or official Raven Map Packs. Hand-made artwork / concept art is also acceptable.
    • Screenshots may be of content in JK2 or JKA only. Submitted artwork must be related to JK in some way.
    • You may submit up to 3 pieces of content for this competition.

    You may submit your artwork to this thread.

    But you may be wondering, why would we hold a competition to change a part of the website, when the prospect of a JKHub 2.0 is looming? In truth, it will take a while to develop JKHub 2.0, even after the software we need becomes available. In the meantime, some small improvements to the website and minor changes, such as the background, will be enough to keep the site fresh while we all wait for JKHub 2.0. More details and information about JKHub 2.0 will be given as we learn more. We are constantly tweaking the website, and continue to evaluate new options to engage the community, in order to bring everyone together.

    In the meantime, best of luck to those who are competing! We hope to see a lot of good stuff out of you guys. :)

    Click here to view the article


    Good, Bad, and Ugly

    Circa
    By Circa,

    Posted Image

    :ph34r: *creeps open door* :ph34r:

    Hello! For those that haven't noticed, I'm back! That's right, after retiring from the staff back in August, my intention was to take a break and focus on other things in my life. I'm in my senior year of university, so that really needed to take precedence. This semester I have a lot more time sitting behind a computer screen, so I figured I could come back to JKHub and help out once again.

    Now, some of you may be thinking, "what happened to the staff applications?" Basically, when i came back, I had a discussion with eezstreet, and we're going to be changing a few things that I had initially tried out before I left, such as the editor position. We have decided to do away with future editor position. Right now, @@Ping is our only editor, and we are looking forward to what he has in mind for future articles.

    We decided to bring on just one staff member, and that is @@DT85! Everyone congratulate DT; he is a key member of this community, not only on JKHub, but throughout the JKA community as well. We think he will make a great staff member.

    So that's the good in this series of the "Good, Bad, and Ugly!"

    The bad is that you're stuck with me for awhile again! :teehee:

    And now to the ugly.

    If you visited the site yesterday, you probably noticed some weird issues going on. Either there was some weird code at the top and the layout was messed up, or the site was just plain unavailable. I won't get into too much detail, but it was all mostly my fault. :P Over these past couple years, there have been lots of modifications implemented to JKHub, rendering it extremely fragile to a careless admin. I was that careless admin, aiming to fix a minor issue, which led to a much, much larger issue.

    So we tried a bunch of things throughout the day to fix it, hoping to avoid the inevitable backing up from an older version of the site, losing hours of content. Long story short, we had to revert to an old backup. :P So about 30 hours or so was lost due to all this. I understand that is a really big inconvenience, especially if you had long PM conversations during those hours (like me and those involved in mine). No files were lost, so no worries there. Just some posts, PMs, and one status update and it's comments.

    I want to give a huge shoutout to Caelum for being an awesome host and friend, helping sort all this out and having a backup in the first place. He's going to have to get used to me breaking things around here again. :lol:

    Anyway, sorry about the mess, and be on the lookout for a news post soon regarding a new contest and possibly a new feature for the site!

    P.S. For those wondering about JKHub 2.0, it's still in early stages. Nothing was done with it while I was away, so be patient and we'll let you know details when they come about. Most of it is due to waiting on a product to be finished. More later.

    Posted Image

    - Circa

    Click here to view the article

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