Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 8

Here's one from the vaults. This was my first work for Marvel, completed way back in 2002, just before my senior year at RISD.

In order to render the chrome of Iron Man's arms, I used a trophy statue (from my cross country days) under similar lighting conditions, even going so far as to use the actual painting as the backdrop. I don't do this too much anymore, but at the time I was very concerned with being "accurate."

So why Iron Man today? Because I'll be going to the Marvel screening of the new movie later this afternoon. Sweet! I haven't taken any kind of break from painting and drawing for quite some time, so I figured I might as well make this one excuse. I'm currently on page 16 of Mythos: Captain America.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Good News/ Bad News

The good news? I found out that I got into this year's Spectrum, the premier competition for "fantastic art." These are the two pieces that were accepted (out of at least a dozen that I entered). The book should be out this fall, so keep an eye out.

The bad news? Late last night, my magnetic paper basket fell from my bulletin board and proceeded to knock down my Mystique bust. She didn't survive the fall. The culprit wasn't the magnets; it was the adhesive that held them to the basket. I'll fix her when I'm done with Mythos: Cap... the deadline for which is only 3 insane weeks away.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Almighty Zeus

Here's the cover to The Iliad #8 that I showed on Monday, but the actual painting doesn't look like this. I gave him dark brown hair in the real version, but my editors wanted the top god to look a little older. So I simply printed out the head on matte photo paper and repainted the silver hair on top of that. I scanned it in and stitched it all back together again in Photoshop. Easy!

This is the actual painting on 11" x 17" bristol board.

I went through a little phase a couple weeks ago where I started using charcoal again. I needed something looser for my bigger images (like covers) because I don't like my technical pencil mark-making at that large a scale. The phase didn't last, however — it's just not tight enough for what I need. Since then, I've picked up my lead holder once again, which seems to be doing the trick.

This is my typical digital color study. Most of the information is there, just less refined. As usual, I like this stage better.

And I've been doing this for almost every color study now. I start with a grayscale painting where I get almost everything figured out compositionally. Then, I come back with a brush set to "color" mode, allowing me to change the hue and saturation without altering the brightness. I really got a handle on this technique when coloring my black and white Hulk paintings. Now, however, it's just a great way to divide and conquer my image-making problems.

In Mythos: Cap news, I'm on page 15! I'll be painting D-Day all day today.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 7

a) "Join me, and together we can rule the galaxy as father and son.
b) "What is pain to Doom?"
c) "Paolo, I am your father."

Today we have our first guest for Wacky Reference Wednesdays. This is my Dad. He's a good sport. He gave me food and shelter for many years... and then let me take these photos.

In Mythos: Cap news, I have 8 more pages to go and 24 days to do them in. Onward!

Monday, April 21, 2008


It's over. The New York Comic Con was a success and I have tons of news to report along with some new artwork. However, I'm still under a tight deadline, so I'm going to pace it out over the next couple weeks. As you can see, the convention floor was a rocking place and I'm still recovering. Optimus Prime even came to my Artist Alley table to pose for this photo.

This is the view from my signing at the Marvel booth on Sunday. They had a life-size Hulk statue from the movie that towered over the thunderous crowd. Marvel gives away prizes to people who scream the loudest, so you can only imagine what that was like.

And why anyone in charge of a convention center would paint the ceiling black is beyond me. The light and space is so much better when it's white, such as in San Diego or Philly. I guess not everyone who builds a convention center has to draw in one.

And this is the eighth and last Iliad cover for the Marvel Illustrated Classics series. It features Zeus and his golden eagle and should be out in July. In a future post, I'll cover the process in depth. It includes a revision so you can see how I go about re-painting something in the digital age.

Also, thanks to all of you who stopped by my table. It's great to put a face with all the blogger names in the comment section. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

New York Comic Con

The New York Comic Con starts tomorrow, so I won't be posting my usual Friday edition, but here's all my information if you'll be attending the convention.

I'll be in Artist Alley at table D 21-22 for all 3 days. I'll be available for signing and sketching (but only head shots).

My art dealer, Mark Hay of Splash Page Comic Art, will be at Booth 1966 which is not too far from Artist Alley. He's got a solid group of talented artists (some of whom I met last night) at his booth throughout the convention.

On Sunday, I'll be signing at the Marvel Booth from 1-2.

Also, I've gotten permission from my editors to bring pages from Mythos: Captain America, so I'll have quite a lot of brand new artwork to show. Pictured above is the pencil stage for a panel on page 10.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 6

As I have mentioned, I'm on "crazy time" right now, which means I work every single hour of every single day in order to hit my deadline of May 19th. This was formerly called "beard time" due to the appearance of thick hair on my face from lack of attention. In honor of that, here's a picture of me from about a year ago. I was near the end of finishing Mythos: Spider-Man and couldn't be bothered with things like shaving.

Of course, after not going outside for several months, Marvel decided to postpone Spidey's release anyway. Oh well.

As you can see, I often take reference photos of myself in the mirror so I can pose exactly the way I want. For some reason, I wanted to post exactly like this.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Necessity's Bastard Son

Every once in a while, I'm really happy with a purchase that I've made. This is one of those times.

I use tons of reference. I'm single-handedly killing half the worlds forests by printing out so many pictures. That being said, how do I hold all of it?

I paint on a dry erase board that I bought a couple months ago. It's just a masonite board that has a white, metal sheet attached to it. When I start a new painting, I tape it down to the board so that it doesn't buckle, and I can use magnets (pictured above) to hold reference pics while I paint. I also use it as a plain old drawing board that automatically keeps my drawing in place. This has made my life so much easier.

I found this board at Really Good Stuff, an on-line "teaching tools" company. The site lists the board at 12" x 18" which is not quite true, but thankfully, it's the perfect size for a comic book page of 11" x 17."

In a future post, I'll reveal more about how I use this board with the easel I've built for my drafting table.

In other news, this is Wolverine:

Inventions: Brush Holder

While it's not exactly the most ingenious creation in the world, it does it's job. This is just another piece of galvanized steel wire that I fashioned into a a zig-zag pattern to keep my brushes from rolling around. It also keeps them organized and easy to grab since they are always evenly spaced and lifted from the table. It also helps at the end of the day when I take them to the sink to wash.

And for those of you who are interested, I use Winsor and Newton Series 7 Kolinksy Sable Watercolor Brushes. Pictured below are sizes 6 and 3. When wet, they come to a sharp point, but can be shaped to into a "filbert" style as well.

We're exactly one week away from the New York Comic Con. I'm working "crazy hours" to make sure Mythos: Cap gets done on time, but I'll be there all weekend, regardless.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 5

Is it Wednesday already? My brain is fried. I've been working crazy hours to finish Mythos: Captain America and almost missed a haircut appointment because of it. I usually work until 3 or 4 AM, so if my alarm doesn't go off, I get up kinda late. Anywho...

Here's a another gem from the vault: panel 1 from page 11 of Mythos: Ghost Rider. You can see in my eyes how much I love my job.

Also, James Gurney is giving a lecture today at the Society of Illustrators, so if you're in the area, I hope to see you there.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Met Animals

Here's a sketch from the Met Museum in a lonely corner of the American wing. There's a large room with low ceilings filled with glass cases struggling to show more of the Met's vast collection. It's definitely worth perusing each and every aisle.

In this particular case, I found several small sculptures of animals, all grouped together and ready to be drawn. As I may have mentioned previously, I love to draw from sculpture since most of the hard work has already been done.

In other news, I am officially halfway done with Mythos: Captain America. That means that to finish the next 10 pages, I've got to go into extreme* mode in order to finish by my deadline in May. Luckily, I've reached all the "fun" pages — a lot of action and a lot of the title character.

*barely time for showers

Friday, April 4, 2008

Inventions: Brush Washer

So I didn't invent the brush washer... but I did invent this weird, curvy thing in the middle of my contraption. It's just a piece of small-gauge, galvanized steel that I bent into an arc with a sharp dip in the center. I use this constantly as I paint.

The straight bar across the main basin is to wipe off excess water (or thinner) after washing your brush. It's a standard feature of most commercially available brush washers. But I needed something more: I wanted to squeeze a certain amount of water from my brush while at the same time shaping it to a uniform taper.

The unique shape allows a variation in pressure or pitch to control the amount of water removed and the resultant shape. And since it can be done with one hand, it leaves your other hand free to hold your palette. The steep dip in the middle draws the excess water back down into the reservoir to be used again. Also, as you can see, I keep a paper towel clipped to the washer so I can further control the contents of the brush. This is also where I wipe off my palette knife.

I would patent this if it wasn't so darned easy for people to make themselves. All you need is some wire and a pair of pliers.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 4

Because you asked for it.

This is from... when I... uh... had to paint all the Jim Lee era X-Men for a... cover that was never published.

Yes, those are my real chops.
Yes, the claws are spring-loaded and fully retractable.
No, they no longer work.

Not pictured: Sabretooth

Friday: Brush Cleaner