Thursday, February 26, 2009

Iron Kid

Iron Man
This was done for the kid who lives in the apartment above me in Brooklyn. He came to my lecture and got the Mythos hardcover (even though he already had all the issues) so I painted an Iron Man in it for him. I haven't had a chance to paint the cinematic version, so I was glad he asked for it. Now if we can just make the comics as popular as the movies!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wait for Me!

Batman plays catch-up in this pin-up from November's Big Apple Con.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 45

I wear my suit more often for reference than for formal occasions — and I'm okay with that.

In this panel, I already had a pretty solid layout sketch, but I wanted those folds to be just right. My memory is a little hazy here, but I seem to remember taking the photos midway through the drawing process. Sometimes all you need is a little clue to fully realize a particular gesture. The good news is, you may not need the clue next time.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Pissaro Portfolio

Late last year, I purchased a portfolio to hold my original art. I was initially very happy with the purchase, but the shoulder strap proved to be a supreme nuisance, as it kept unhooking from the main body (often when I was walking, once while in an airport).

I tried to fix it. It broke. My girlfriend had a spare. Then the main body connector broke (again, while walking). A little frustrated, I went to the manufacturer's web site and submitted my claim. I got a call less than an hour later (while folding laundry) asking for my shipping address. I had a replacement before the end of the week.

I have the 14" x 18" model (that's the larger version pictured above), which is perfectly sized for a portfolio of 11" x 17" comic pages. That leaves just enough room for a small camera, iPod, and a stack of business cards. I can even fit my Wacom tablet inside.

Perhaps I just got a dud the first time around, but I'm very satisfied now, not to mention impressed by Martin Universal Design's customer service. I bought mine from Dick Blick ($25 as I write), though it may be cheaper elsewhere.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

More Punisher Sketches

You may remember these studies from Amazing Spider-Man #577. I had previously posted a selection of them, but never the entire collection together. The purpose was to find my natural inking style, so I just let myself go. What resulted was a new style that is probably more "me" than my painted work — something that my friends were all quick to point out.

That issue also changed the way I work in another sense. In my painted work, every page is carefully planned with preliminary sketches and color studies. I began this project in the same way, but realized quickly that I could get away with less preparatory work. Pictured here are the only layouts I did for the issue, each 4" x 6" in pencil. For the remainder of the issue, I did very rough thumbnails directly on the script, then jumped right into penciling. You can see some of the finished pages at Splash Page Art.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Marvel Mystery Comics

This is one of the covers I've been itching to post for a while. Some of you caught a sneak peak at the New York Comic Con, but here is the official unveiling: Marvel Mystery Comics 70th Anniversary Special #1. It should be hitting shelves May 20th.

I took some progress pics along the way that I thought I'd share. The paint is applied very thinly, leading many people at the last con to think my originals were just prints. I guess I just like conserving paint — I'm still using most of the small tubes from my first Acryla Gouache purchase back in mid-2006.

I'm pretty set in my ways by this point: I almost always begin each piece with a sepia gouache under-painting. My only exceptions are for very bright subjects, such as fire, for which I use permanent yellow-orange and touches of burnt sienna. It helps to keep the final piece from getting too muddy, especially with transparent mediums. I remember noticing back in high school that Alex Ross would paint his entire compositions in black, with the exception of red objects,such as the Flash, which were rendered in their final target colors.

This is the pencil drawing just before I taped it to the dry-erase board. You can see my trusty magnets holding it in place.

Finally, here is the digital color study that started the whole process. I lobbied heavily for the red band, but they wanted the entire line to have a consistent trade dress. You can see the final product at

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Here's the last of the head shots from the New York Comic Con. A big thanks goes out to Rich for the commission, not to mention sending me a jpeg of the finished piece.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 44

In this page from Amazing Spider-Man #577, I utilize one of my favorite reference tricks, Google Sketchup. I find it especially useful for architectural elements (like those pesky staircases) that I have to draw from several angles. Every once in a while, the circumstances warrant construction of a model from scratch, as is the case here — the bridge of a ship.

Luckily for me (and perhaps you), the 3D warehouse provides a virtual library of components with which to build a structure. In this example, I used a prefabricated staircase and railing, but you can find just about anything.

You may notice the rectangle behind each of the 3D models. Those are my initial compositional sketches for each panel. Once imported into the program, the model can be aligned to match a two-dimensional image. Below, I've included those original roughs. As you can (hopefully) see, I've already got a pretty good handle on the perspective, Sketchup just hones my preliminary marks, making the inking process less time-consuming. You can find out more about the alignment process at Sketchup Help.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

President's Day

As some of you have already seen on MySpace, Marvel is celebrating President's Day this year with a couple of digital comics featuring some familiar faces. As part of the festivities, they asked me to contribute a cover for "Gettysburg Distress," a 6-page free digital comic debuting today, written by Matt Fraction with art by Andy MacDonald.

Since I digitally colored the artwork, I gave Marvel a couple options for the background color. They also wanted me to give Cap eyes, so I did that in Photoshop.

The original is in ink on Marvel board. I ended up shrinking Lincoln's hand and altering his nose using Photoshop's liquify filter, a quick fix for any wonktastic drawing.

And finally, this is the 4" x 6" sketch that started the process. Simple and direct is usually the way to go. Happy President's Day!

Also, a big thank you goes out to my my girlfriend, who got me my favorite chocolate for Valentine's Day.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

More NYCC '09 Head Shots

Here's the rest of the head shots from this year's NYCC, including a Thor that I only finished yesterday. They all took much longer than I had intended, but I was juggling a lot of other responsibilities, from signings to panels to plain ol' blabbin'. I might scale things back next year so I can actually mix and mingle on the con floor.

Also, just a technical note, I know many of you out there are Bloggers yourselves, so I thought I'd share some recent finds (at least for me). I've started to publish via e-mail, which makes composition and editing a whole lot easier. There are some quirks to get used to, but the overall process is much more streamlined. You can find more information at Blogger Help.

In addition, I've added a new translation feature that is activated through flags — the code for which you can find at Digital Inspiration.

If all goes well this weekend, I'll have a special President's Day announcement on Monday. Should be entertaining at the least. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 43

Issue #5 of The Twelve focuses on The Witness, a pulpy hero with the ability to remember every heinous act he had ever seen. I may have this power myself, but there's really no way to know for sure. I could have just forgotten, yet still think I remember. It keeps me up nights.

Also, for those of you waiting for commissions, I've added a list at the bottom of the sidebar that displays the next 10 in line. Thanks for your patronage and patience!

Series 7 Brush Sale

There's a big sale going on at Art Supply Warehouse for Series 7 Winsor and Newton brushes. I use the #7 and #2 for watercolors at conventions and a #6 for inking at home. The sale is for today only and it's the cheapest I've ever seen them. I might just stock up.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

NYCC 2009 Is History

Thank you, thank you! There was an overwhelming amount of kind words and good cheer this year and I really appreciate the support. The convention was as busy as ever, leaving me precious little time to attempt commissions. And if that were not enough, the number of daily blog readers has doubled in the last week. Thanks for reading — I hope to earn your time in the coming year.

I had originally hoped to complete one commission per hour on Friday, but I only managed to get two finished over the course of the day. This pattern continued for the rest of the weekend, precluding any new additions to the commissions list. The head studies pictured here are some of the ones that made the cut. I apologize if any of you were not able to get on the list. My next show will most likely be Philly, in June.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

New York Comic Con 2009

In case you haven't heard, the New York Comic Con begins tomorrow. This is the show's fourth year, and it just keeps getting bigger. If you plan on attending, feel free to stop by and visit.

My address: Table D-16 in Artist Alley
I'll be doing commissions, selling prints, and signing books all weekend — except during these events:

Friday, 2-3PM
Room 1A07
The Dos and Don'ts of Being a Comic Professional
hosted by Dwight and Swain of Sidebar
(Yipee! My first panel!)

Sunday, 1-2PM
Marvel Booth
I'll be signing books and doing free black and white head sketches for one precious hour. The line forms fast and there is a cut-off, so please get there early.

On the commissions front, I expect to be extremely busy for the entire con, so I apologize in advance if I can't get to everyone. The only commissions I will be accepting are watercolor head sketches for $60 and black and white head sketches for $20. I will start a new list at the beginning of each day, so everyone has an equal chance.

Also, I should mention that Marvel has (finally) started an official prints program, through which I can get 11˝ x 17˝ prints of my artwork with their official seal. I've received the first batch and will be selling them at the con. They are printed on 100 pound matte cover stock and they look great. Eventually, I will make them available to order on-line. The price is $15.

Thank You!

I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who braved the cold and attended my lecture last night. I really appreciate your support, not to mention your questions.

I ended up skipping some of the material I had intended to cover, but the good news is I still intend to share it. Eventually, I hope to publish the lecture, in its entirety, through a series of posts on my career and color theory in general.

Thanks, again! I hope to see you all again this weekend.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Lecture Tonight!

More info in my previous post. I hope to see ya'll there!

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 42

I finally picked up the my latest issue of Spidey today. I was kind of shocked at how dark it was. I thought I had worked all the bugs out of color reproduction, but I guess computer color is a different ballgame. Oh well. I also spent most of the day going from comic shop to comic shop and passing out postcards for my lecture. I sure hope people show up. At least my girlfriend said she'll be there. And her mom. No pressure.

Without further adieu, here's me acting drunk: