Sunday, November 30, 2008

More Head Sketches

In the midst of a convention, while signing books, answering questions, and selling my wares, a simple pin-up can take more time than it would otherwise require. These head sketches typically take about an hour to complete, despite their simplicity. This is the main reason I don't attempt more complex compositions anymore (at least at cons).

Also, here's a quick tip regarding lightboxes. Don't throw away the black pieces of paper that come with those plastic sleeve portfolios!

When I was painting more, I often had to trace a rough sketch onto very thick paper. The secret is not brighter light, but blocking out the light you don't need. You're eyes will readjust to the lower light levels, thus allowing you to perceive more information.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. I'm still recovering from all the food and drink, but I thought I'd share a sketch from the Spidey story I'm working on right now.

Also, I'm not much of a shopper, but I did purchase this drafting tool, which I got in the mail today. It's called a parallel glider. Made by Alvin, it's much like the "roller ruler" I had when I was a kid, only better. It's made of acrylic and aluminum, resulting in a greater accuracy when drawing parallel lines, a typical requirement of perspective drawings. I'll get a chance to use it shortly, and I'll devote a post to it early next year.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 32

In this scene from Mythos: Captain America, Steve Rogers attends a veteran's reunion at his local VFW post. Below are some of the reference photos I used to complete the composition. Sometimes I use a mirror, sometimes a tripod and timer. One thing to watch out for when basing an illustration off of a reflection is to reverse any telling details, such as the the buttons on a coat (men's on the right, ladies on the left).

Months before I painted this, I saw a unique light fixture at a bowling alley in Brooklyn. I try to remember my camera for opportunities like this— I rarely have time to sketch.

In other news, I got my copy of Spectrum 15 in the mail. I was excited to see my entry, a page from Mythos: Fantastic Four, got the full-size treatment. Sweet. Now to gather up my entries for next year. The deadline is January 23.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Big Apple Con, November '08 Pin-Ups

Can't seem to keep quiet these days: I've got another interview this week, this time with Irene Gallo of Tor Books. Link

And below is a selection of pin-ups from the Big Apple Con.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cold, Hard Metal

It got cold this week! Wolverine had better put on a jacket.

In other news, I spoke briefly with Brett White of Wizard Magazine about the newest issue of Spider-Man and my transition from paint to ink. I didn't say anything particularly earth-shattering, but you can find the interview here.

I also got myself an early Christmas present this week. This is an 11-point divider that I use to help me with perspective. It's so useful... but so expensive. I'll have to devote a post to its usage, but for now you can just marvel at it's shiny precision.

Have a great weekend... and stay warm!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 31

I'm guessing this is what I would look like if injected with gamma-irradiated mutant growth hormone:

And this is what I would look like if my husband was injected with gamma-irradiated mutant growth hormone:

Monday, November 17, 2008

Amazing Spider-Man 577 Trailer

Whew. What a weekend. First of all, thank you to everyone whom stopped by my table at the Big Apple Con. And for those of you who commissioned pieces from me, thank you for your patience and support. As some of you might have noticed on Sunday, I had a tad too much fun on Saturday night. Thank you for the food, water, and Advil throughout the day.

Although I didn't post this in time for the release, I thought some of you might like to see the trailer I made for the new Amazing Spider-Man issue. The music is by Portishead. I asked them about using one of their songs and, surprisingly, they got back to me with a tentative yes... but then I haven't heard from them since. As a result, I held off on posting it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

In Good Company

Jim Hanley's Universe Window
Thank you so much to everyone who came to support me at last night's signing! And thank you to all you readers who have been supporting me throughout my career. This signing was the culmination of years of hard work that wouldn't have been possible without the help of my readers, publisher, friends and family. I often lead a somewhat monastic lifestyle, so it's encouraging to meet the people who turn my dream job into a viable profession.

But the week's not over yet! Today is the first day of the Big Apple Con, which goes through Sunday. I'll be there all three days in Artist Alley, signing books and accepting commissions, so please stop by if you can.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Jim Hanley's Universe

I will be signing at Jim Hanley's Universe in Manhattan tonight from 6-8. Please stop by if you'd like me to sign your copy of the Mythos hardcover, Amazing Spider-Man #577, or Spectrum 15, all of which come out today. I'll be the guy behind the table.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 30

Today, on a special Wacky Reference Wednesday, Beanbag Amerika has agreed to the release of certain incriminating pictures. Bean is a good friend of mine from my days at RISD and was gracious enough to let me use him as a model for Bruce Banner, The Hulk's alter ego.

As you can see, Bean was an obvious choice because he is a veritable ball of rage.

If I remember correctly, I did the above sketch from my head, deciding after the fact that it looked just like Bean. After asking him to model, he happily agreed and eventually showed up at my apartment in full costume. I should note that he already had the accessories, all the way down to the Bruce Banner ID card. Now that's dedication.

Thanks for all your help, Bean!

Veteran's Day

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Perspective Trick

Here's a tool that I use fairly often for getting quick, but accurate perspective lines. While at RISD, I picked up the habit of using strings to chart out my perspective guidelines. This is great for general use, but sometimes I need a little more accuracy, so I added a "floating" straightedge to firm up those stray lines.

As you may have guessed, the contraption is made from my old Erector set. The construction is very simple, just 3 pieces plus nuts and bolts. The important thing is that the straightedge lines up perfectly with the string when pulled taut.

I should note that my typical process begins with a rough sketch that is subsequently honed through precise vanishing points and straight lines. To do this, one end of the string is attached to my desk using a binder clip while I attempt to match the string to the angles of my composition. By adjusting the distance between the drawing and the vanishing point (the binder clip) the correct correlation is easily found.

In addition, if you'd like to know more about the basic principles of perspective, then you can't go wrong with Successful Drawing by Andrew Loomis. This is my favorite book when it comes to the technical aspects of drawing, especially for comic book artists. Read it. Please.

Friendly reminder:
This Wednesday, I will be signing at Jim Hanley's Universe in Manhattan. Please stop by if you'd like to have me sign your copy of the Mythos hardcover, Amazing Spider-Man #577, or Spectrum 15.

Thanks to April for putting together the poster!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Silver Surfers

Silver Surfer Studies by Paolo Rivera
There are times when I don't really know what I'm going to do next. For the purposes of this blog, I should probably limit this subject to image-making.

Pictured above are the 12 stages I took to produce the cover to a Silver Surfer comic from 2004. I wanted it to look "real," so I invested a good deal of time in researching chrome, culminating in the purchase of a plastic mask from a costume shop in the city (I'll save some of those pics for a future Wacky Reference Wednesday).

In reviewing my process four years later, I've realized how much I've changed in the way I approach things—mainly, I'm less concerned with so-called accuracy. My focus now is much more abstract, having more to do with design than texture or lighting effects. Those aspects are still important to me, they've just been superseded by a broader goal.

In addition, I don't usually make this many sketches anymore because, ultimately, they all say pretty much the same thing. Some may be better than others, true, but not significantly. In my current approach, there's still room for progressive iterations, but it's coupled with nagging skepticism about the net improvement.

I'm off to a wedding (not mine) and will get down to drawing some Wolverine on Monday (I've got my newest script). Next week is going to be huge! Have a great weekend, everyone.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Wolverine Wednesday

Wolverine by Paolo Rivera
Wacky Reference Wednesday? I don't think so—not today. How about Wolverine Wednesday?

I'd like to direct your attention to Jarreau Wimberly's blog which has just completed a year of Wolverine Wednesdays. To help him celebrate, I contributed a watercolor pin-up of the hirsute hero (featured above). Reau probably won't have all the images up until this evening, so consider this a small preview.

Also, I just wanted to remind everyone (once again) that we're only one week away from my signing at Jim Hanley's Universe in Manhattan. Please stop by if you'd like to have me sign your copy of the Mythos hardcover, Amazing Spider-Man #577, or even Spectrum 15 (I've got 2 pieces in it this year!).

But if you can't make it to that, there's always the Big Apple Con, November 14-16. I'm even advertised on the home page (albeit with my name misspelled, but who cares, I'm in great company)!