#203b – “The Boat Project”

Yeah, it’s a bit of a filler. Basically, I spent much of today just setting up the environment with lights and extras and whatnot, so there wasn’t really enough of a decent time frame left to follow it up with a full comic, so I figured I’d put an interim filler together instead. On a fun note, this is the most lighting-intensive scene I’ve lit yet in Beyond the Tree – there’s so many point lights all casting shadow maps that 3ds needs some 40-50 seconds just preparing the lights before it can actually render the scene (which, interestingly enough, it does in half that time).

Also, I know this page is dark – I wanted it to be dark enough that you could feel like this is a dark cavern except for when resonably near a light source; really give the impression that this is somewhere you could sneak relatively unnoticed. It’s perfectly visible for me, but I’m aware that not all monitors are created equal, so do tell if it’s too dark and I might have to raise the ambient light slightly for the pages following.

Edit: after suggestions, I toyed around a little with a version more desaturated where it’s dark. It’s a completely manual process, so I basically just winged it, but focus testing felt it was an improvement. Original available here.


45 Responses to “#203b – “The Boat Project””

  1. 1 WormRunner
    June 27, 2010 at 19:02

    I love the effect.

  2. 2 Jaros (ER)
    June 27, 2010 at 19:03

    Filler or not, I like it. And I don’t think it’s too dark, or, not for me anyhow. And I love the way her eyes glow in the dark! Attention to detail is always something I approve of. (Well, duh.)

    • 3 Nhani
      June 28, 2010 at 05:44

      Technically, the eyes always glow – they have a self illumination value set to them. Unfortunately, in a fully lit situation you can’t really notice since if the rest of the face is fully lit, and the eyes are fully lit, there’s no real difference in luminance between them.

      While I suspect there’s probably some way somewhere to add overexposure to self-illuminated surfaces being lit by other light sources, I don’t know it or how it’d work, so at present the extra luminance unfortunately ends up lost in a brightly lit environment.

  3. June 27, 2010 at 19:09

    I think the dark enviorment is perfect, no need to raise the lights :)

  4. 5 Jacob
    June 27, 2010 at 19:34

    Might just be me and my monitor, but I actually think it’s a bit too light – it’s darker than the previous pages, but still light.

    Now granted, it isn’t a horror movie, but on my monitor I can’t help but think how the lookouts in pane 4 havn’t spottet her yet.

    That aside – I don’t care if this is a filler or not, it still looks great :)

    • 6 Nhani
      June 28, 2010 at 05:58

      I do try to err on the side of caution with lighting; I wanted to hit a sweet spot where we could reasonably easily tell where she was and what she’s doing without her having to be within the radius of a light source, while at the same time convey that she was using darkness for cover.

      I possibly could’ve tuned down the ambient lighting slightly more, but while my own monitor has a pretty good light strength, my laptop one.. doesn’t, and I think this page would be barely visible on it – I didn’t want to exclude people who are stuck with that kind of hardware.

      As for the, well, lookouts (I don’t think they have cause to look for intruders yet), I put most of them near torches, so as Arkanabar says they’d have a much harder time seeing into the dark.

  5. 7 Noriam
    June 27, 2010 at 19:47

    Lighting’s absolutely fine and I think you could even get away with even darker.

    As for it being filler, well… Anyone going ninja/MGS tends to get a thumbs up from me.

    • 8 Nhani
      June 28, 2010 at 06:09

      Heh, “MGS”.. to be honest, with Hani Foonmall I tend to aim more towards the Prince of Persia (Sands of Time+)/Splinter Cell/Assassin’s Creed type of direction. We just don’t normally get to see much of her extended skill set beyond combat because the environment doesn’t really allow, both in terms of layout and interactivity.

  6. 9 Foggy
    June 27, 2010 at 20:11

    Yeah! Perfect. It is a great atmosphere you have created. I literally stopped breathing while glancing from panel to panel. You FEEL the tense Hani moves with silently. Great great work. Epic!

  7. 10 Germ
    June 27, 2010 at 20:23

    its a good thing she put all those skills into Stealth at level 5

  8. 11 Ripwarrior
    June 27, 2010 at 20:30

    I really loved this page, one can just taste the excitement in the air, I thought the lighting was perfect with this one, and when she looks at the boat in the last panel, just wow…

    Great work with this page, filler it may be but great nonetheless

  9. 12 Ripwarrior
    June 27, 2010 at 20:43

    *adds Mission Impossible music*

  10. 13 Timber Wolf
    June 27, 2010 at 21:24

    cute lil houseboat isn’t it?

  11. 14 Ilyara
    June 28, 2010 at 00:04

    I think the lighting looks great, and I love this page: I think it adds to the buildup and atmosphere too, giving you a real sense of place. So it may be a happy accident that way :)

    I think it really adds to the way your telling the story, and it’s nice to give the “camera” a chance to pull back, after all the tunnels and dialogue :D

  12. June 28, 2010 at 02:41

    Bear in mind that if you’re in a lit area, you can’t really see into the dark. The lookouts will have a lot of trouble seeing Hani.

  13. 16 LolDrood
    June 28, 2010 at 06:15

    I’ve never loved night elves more then I love them right now.
    I’m torn between MGS jokes. So take your pic of the one you like best!

    Unfortunately, it took Hani three weeks to figure out she had to look at the back of the Cataclysm box to find the codex frequency.

    Mr. Smite: “I understand how to improvise, you see; I make the chest produce the weapon I want.”

    Tune in next week when Barrel C can bee seen creeping along the deck of the ship.

    Rei: “Hani, what happened? Hani? HAAAAAAAAAANI!!!”

    The real pain in the ass of this adventure is the run to Blackrock Depths and back to de-activate Metal Gear Gunboat’s start-up sequence.

    I can’t wait to meet Hani’s evil blond sister! Did you know the Alliance cloned them both from Queen Azshara?

    ..okay, I’m out.

    • 17 Nhani
      June 28, 2010 at 06:21

      What, all those torches and yet not a single joke about Water Arrows?

      “Avast ye Taffers!”

      Though Areen would make a terrifying Hammerite. Imagine her charging in with a mace going “BUILDERRRRrrrrr~!”

  14. 18 Weertangel
    June 28, 2010 at 16:38

    Really nice page! love the last panel, when i saw it the first thing that sprang into my head was “Dum dum dum” like u see in some comic, when the shadow of doom comes..
    Now Hani can go show off why her kind is called “Night”elves hehe, shadowmeld all the way!!
    keep it going!!

  15. 19 Khordam
    June 28, 2010 at 18:55

    Awesome page, love the atmosphere you’re creating here.

    I think the one thing that makes the dark still feel pretty well lit is the fact that we can still see colors very easily. I’ve no idea if there’s a way to do this, but making the colors less … er, colorful might make the scene feel darker without it actually being less visible.

    • 20 Nhani
      June 29, 2010 at 17:21

      I like this idea; I’m not sure if it’s possible though – suppose it depends entirely on whether 3ds can adjust Saturation in post, and whether it can do so based on Luminance.. I’ll give it a look if I remember to.

      • 21 Arafor
        June 30, 2010 at 11:41

        If not: you can always load up the finished picture in photoshop and slightly lower the saturation manually in darker areas.

        • 22 Nhani
          June 30, 2010 at 16:59

          Having had the time to give a few pokes at it, I can state with a fair bit of certainty that this isn’t something 3ds can do for me; it simply lacks the effects for it. There are plug-in renderers that can, but none that I have.

          I can sort of mess around making something that causes something to that effect by adding a Saturation layer in psp and making it out of a mask built from image source opacity; it’s scarcely perfect, however. Might try it tomorrow, we’ll see.

  16. 23 Nirene Feathersong
    June 28, 2010 at 19:30

    Feels like we’ve ventured into Ahn’kahet – and yes, that’s dark enough for me. *shudders*

  17. 24 Fokker
    June 28, 2010 at 21:55

    The lighting is absolutely perfect, you should leave it like this. Keep in mind that true darkness is even darker. Lmao.

    On a side note tho, where’s the common sense in NE’s having glowing eyes? Doesn’t it make blending with shadows much harder? I guess it has to do something with their ablity to see in the dark, but come on…

    • 25 Nhani
      June 29, 2010 at 17:22


      • 26 Fokker
        June 29, 2010 at 20:48

        Magic is bad.

        • 27 LolDrood
          June 30, 2010 at 07:20

          Bad-ass overrides practicality. Sam Fisher has the glowy eye face, it works for him.
          In actuality, Nelfs have glowy eyes, because they like to make their prey pretend they have a chance. Just like in Jurassic Park.

          • 28 Nhani
            June 30, 2010 at 16:37

            Actually, in the case of Sam Fisher, official canon notes that neither his goggles nor the opsat actually glow – I think this is actually visible in at least one of the Splinter Cell games by looking at Sam in a mirror – the mirrored version lacks the glow; thereby, the enemies don’t notice the glow because it’s actually not there.

            In Splinter Cell, those glowing spots are there part to give Sam recognizable visual cues (let’s face it, those trifocal goggles are a very distinct visual in the series), part to help players easily spot where he is and what pose he’s in by clearly marking his shoulder, head and arm – even in complete darkness.

            Night elves are a bit different in that the glow is there by canon, it’s one of their standing visual features, and in fact a standing feature of Warcraft elves in general, or “magical” entities in general. That said, Blizzard are no strangers to the Rule of Cool and will by large pick what is cool or awesome over what makes sense.

            • 29 Nirene Feathersong
              July 4, 2010 at 22:42

              Hmmm, I might have something very similar to compare with.

              Riddick from Pitch Black/Chronicles of Riddick has the same, visually glowing eyes like night elfs do, and does blend into the darkness quite well regardless. It also gives him the beastial kind of ability to see clearly in the dark. I would like to think the possibility is the same for night elves.

  18. 30 Kai
    June 29, 2010 at 09:21

    How are you doing the backgrounds? Very well photoshoped screenshots? O.o With out extracting the world models, that is amazing.

    • 31 Nhani
      June 29, 2010 at 17:25

      The ship, the walkway and a few other things have been extracted into 3ds – that’d be why the torches look a little different from how they do in game, and why the various doodads aren’t placed entirely like they are in-game.

      The cavern walls in the background are in-game ones, however. But I really wanted the walkway and the ship itself into 3ds so I could more directly interact with it and pick my own camera angles. Hoping to have some fun with the possibilities that gives me.

      • 32 Ilyara
        June 30, 2010 at 15:35

        Sounds like it was a lot of work :O !

        • 33 Nhani
          June 30, 2010 at 17:03

          It’s not as bad as it used to be; I managed to get texture references intact this time around, which is a whole lot less work that had to be done. That said, I did spend most of the sunday just placing lights and doodads, so it’s not exactly something done in an instant, either.

          Not to mention there were some really strange issues with edges and smoothing groups that I don’t quite get why they happened and simply just had to try to reduce and work around as best as possible.

  19. 34 DrainStab
    June 30, 2010 at 21:01

    I mean no offense, but in your webcomic you do several things not popular among serious Rpers… although you probably don’t care anyway..
    You give a cannon-character your own made up personality and set her to find your non-cannon as something of importance, the ‘kill everything in one hit’ even if it’s the same level is godmoding, to openly claim to have wiped the instances in character is sort of marysue-ish, Gnomes cannot be paladins, and there are no Worgen in Ashenvale… atleast not until Cataclysm.. which unless this storyline is set in the beta-testing realms, has not come out yet.
    Even if this is just a webcomic, it reflects how incredibly depraved Roleplay in World of Warcraft is becoming, and it’s really really sad.

    • 35 Nhani
      July 1, 2010 at 00:27

      Um.. there actually are Worgen in Ashenvale, hidden up on a small sidetrail on the way to Felwood. (see Wowhead) There’s an entire quest line dedicated to their presence in Ashenvale and how it relates to the disappearance of a Night elven Priestess named Velinde Starsong that ultimately leads to Duskwood and is one of two (I think?) major quest lines providing background on the Scythe of Elune artefact. Moreover, Blizzard’s current provided reasoning as to how the Worgen come to join the Alliance in Cataclysm ties into (and is an extension of) the plot hooks provided in that quest line, which has been there since vanilla..

      Not that really it matters, because Beyond the Tree isn’t at all set on any in-game realm, roleplaying or otherwise.. (I have no idea why you’d even think it was) hence why there are several things not quite like what the game portrays.

      So in closing, I’d just like to say “Um.. what?”

    • 36 Ilyara
      July 1, 2010 at 03:15

      *laughs, wiping tears from her eyes*

      It’s a shame you don’t like the comic hun, but you are completely barking up the wrong tree :)

    • 37 Fokker
      July 1, 2010 at 10:22

      Well, DrainStab, everything you just said, without exception, was wrong.

    • 38 Gordrake Thunderhoof
      July 1, 2010 at 11:37

      Speaking as a roleplayer myself, I can honestly say that you’re talking kodo dung.

      There are several quests where a lot of the NPC canon characters offer thanks and show care for those who help them. Raene, Delgren, even Tyrande herself has interaction with the PCs, so it’s not so ‘out of the water’ as you might think. And frankly, I find this version of Tyrande more acceptable than Knaak’s version of her (which is a generally agreed upon thing among the majority of us here, so if you’re a Knaak-Tyrande lover, walk away now).

      Killing everything in one hit is generally how most fights are resolved. In real life, you take a sword aross your chest, you get it cleaved open and with your ribs, lungs and heart all spilling out among the blood and gore. In WoW, it takes at least ten hits if you’re about the same level as the enemy you face. And if you ask me, taking a shield to the face and then finding some ability to strike back on that instant is more god-modding than any of this. Oh…and in case you haven’t realised, this is a story. Not roleplaying.

      I’d love for you to show me the point where it’s been ‘claimed’ that the instances have been wiped. And as for Gnomes not being Paladins, I’ve met some Gnomes who have played Paladins ICly (playing as Gnome Warriors OOCly) and they are often far better at being Paladins than I have seen half of the Draenei or even the Humans being Pallys. If people followed your golden example, they’d be so stuck in their class they wouldn’t bother trying to branch out and be something else, so perhaps you should stop calling yourself a roleplayer if you’re even thinking of limiting people’s vision to such an extent.

      And there are Worgen in Ashenvale. Quest much? Because I even played the quest it relates to – and yes, it is one of two quests relating to the Scythe of Elune. The one in Ashenvale shows the story of what likely happened before it was shifted to Duskwood. The other one is in Duskwood, where it is then found by some poor sap who only pulled it out of the ground before tossing it into the abyss of worgen bodies flying out at him. Advice for you on that point is learn the facts before you talk out of your ass, frankly.

      On a final point, you almost hit the nail right on the head – it is just a webcomic, a storyline created for the enjoyment of those who read it – but you smashed your own thumb when trying to blame this comic for the depraved roleplay in WoW. The reason RP in WoW is so bad is because of goofers who have no clue how to roleplay trying to troll and drama-flag every RP that’s around, or simply don’t know how to RP so they meta-game and powerplay their way out of every situation without so much as a scratch. Nothing to do with the comic whatsoever, to take your rant someplace else.

      Or come back with a degree of intelligence. Because a lot of that what you just said is kodo dung.

  20. 39 Fokker
    July 1, 2010 at 11:01

    And that new version is great.

  21. 40 megafire
    July 2, 2010 at 18:19

    I “dabble” in comic writing myself i wish i could post some on the web X( but my friends say it costs ALOT of money :-( how’d u get enough for a site to post comics?!

  22. 41 megafire's sister
    July 2, 2010 at 18:23

    Hay please make More comics me and megafire love them!

  23. 42 megafire
    July 2, 2010 at 18:24

    Pleeeeease make more!

  24. 43 megafire
    July 2, 2010 at 18:25

    These are so good i feel super excited i can’t wait i’ll go insane please make a BONUS comic strip

  25. 44 Yey Science
    July 4, 2010 at 19:24

    This shit is stupid. DERP FILLER!

  26. September 26, 2011 at 00:36

    Lol All it needs is a big ape at the top and some barrels. I think I’ll name the goblin at the bottom right Drainstab.

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Essential box of legalities

Beyond the Tree is based on (when not directly using) the art resources and story setting of World of Warcraft by Blizzard Entertainment.

That and all related and/or registered trademarks are the property of Blizzard Entertainment and Beyond the Tree claims no ownership of these or any affiliation with Blizzard Entertainment but hopes they'll have a sense of humour and appreciate it all the same ;)


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