Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 50

To "celebrate" the 50th installment of Wacky Reference Wednesdays (and April Fools Day), I've decided to share a nice, half-naked picture of myself. I hope you all enjoy. Really, I hope you do.

You can see the final cover artwork here.

I don't know about you guys, but, personally, I wouldn't want any daughter of mine to date a guy like the one pictured... or any son of mine, for that matter.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Dynamic Anatomy Man

I came across these progress pics the other day — I didn't even realize I had taken any. This is an anatomical study based on Burne Hogarth's Dynamic Anatomy. I completed the (roughly) 1:6 scale sculpture during my year abroad in Rome (2001-2002). The drawings in the background were used as a constant reference throughout the process. You can see (bad) pictures of the finished piece on my web site.

Eventually, I'll get around to taking some better photos, but the sculpture itself is not faring so well — it's been through a lot.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Panel Peek

This is what I've been working on lately. Tons more to do when I get back from Taiwan.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sunday, March 22, 2009

J.C. Leyendecker

If you've been on the fence about this book, then consider this a friendly shove. I recently ordered it on-line, based on several reviews, and I couldn't be happier. I can't say that I've read a single word yet, but that's not my primary reason for buying a book on Leyendecker. That being said, he did have an interesting life, and I'm looking forward learning more about him.

While we're on the subject, there's also a documentary about him from a few years ago. Admittedly, it's doesn't have the highest production value, but I did enjoy watching it. You don't have to buy the DVD as it's available through Netflix.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

It Had to Be Done

Seriously. Someone was going to do it eventually. Why not me?

Wolverines Playing Poker is based on the painting "A Bold Bluff" (pictured below) by C.M. Coolidge. It's from his famous series, Dogs Playing Poker. I used the less famous of the paintings just because I liked the composition better, especially since I was going to have to make it into a vertical composition.

The cover is part of Wolverine Art Appreciation Month and is just one of three paintings I did for the event. The other two, based on N.C. Wyeth and Salvador Dalí, will be posted once I get the okay from Marvel.

Also, tomorrow I fly to Taiwan for two weeks of pure vacation! I can't friggin' wait! I'll still be posting, but the blog will be on auto-pilot for the duration.

I hope everyone has a great weekend. I'll be back in April.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 48

Who's the most beautiful woman in the world? Why, Helen of Troy, of course! She put the T & A in The Iliad! This was the cover to the first issue of the series, the final version of which you can see here.

And who better to pose as the most beautiful woman than yours truly. Look at that ethereal light! It reminds me of those soft-focus glamour shots from the nineties.

The first photo didn't give me quite enough detail, so I had to take this close-up of my beautifully delicate hands.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Welcome to the New World

I finished the MicroVisions painting this weekend, so here's the final product. I'll do another post when the auction happens in late April.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Friday the 13th, Again

As was mentioned earlier this week at the Art Department, I will be contributing to this year's MicroVisions, an auction that benefits the Society of Illustrators student scholarship fund. I don't often get to do whatever I want, so this was a nice opportunity to explore the recesses of my brain. This is the color study I came up with, the final version of which I should finish next week (it'll only be 5 x 7 inches, hence "Micro"). Possible titles: Hurricane Kachina, The Audacity of Hopi, or (most likely) Welcome to the New World.

I had better finish this next week since I'll be going to Taiwan on the 21st. I can't wait! I get to spend two weeks with the girlfriend that I never see because we're always working so much.

Speaking of which, I'm already a few pages into my current project, Young Allies, part of the Timely 70th Anniversary series. I was going to stick with Spidey for the time being, but I couldn't resist another World War II story. Roger Stern is writing and I'm doing pencils, inks, and colors. Once it gets solicited, I'll show some of the work. It's a great script — probably the most action-packed one I've illustrated.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sidebar at NYCC

If you didn't get a chance to attend my first (ever) panel at the New York Comic Con, you have another option. Sidebar, the dynamic duo of discourse, had the presence of mind to record the event and have posted it at their blog for all to hear. If you haven't heard the show before, please take a moment to peruse their backlog. You'll most likely become a subscriber.

The subject of the panel was the Dos and Don'ts of Being a Comic Book Professional. The crowd had some great questions and I felt like we were actually of some use. As if that were not enough, I finally got to meet Eric Canete, whose work I've admired for some time. Be sure to check out his 90-minute sketches.

Just a side note: the sketch above was for a cover I never painted for a short story I wrote, but never illustrated. Maybe some day.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 47

I often take photos knowing that I'll use them at some point in the future as reference. I don't necessarily have a set purpose in mind, but I can imagine one taking shape. I also just like pretty pictures, so having a handy point-and-shoot camera is a prerequisite for any outing. This even includes road trips with my Mom. The above image is from Mythos: Hulk, completed in 2006, but it's based on photos taken in 2004 while in New Mexico and Arizona, visiting family.

The first image is the actual painting, whereas the second features the layer of digital color, which I've discussed previously.

As you can see, nothing is a direct translation, but their are common elements from each. I don't take photo reference for composition; rather, I use it to record the behavior of light as it interacts with form.

This distinction is not as critical when using your own photographic reference, but it it becomes a problem when searching for visual reference on-line. A point of view inherently belongs to someone, but the natural laws of the physical world can't be copyrighted (at least not yet). You can steal a lot from a photo without copying any of it.

These are just two of my own photos that were assimilated into a final painting. What I haven't shown are the 22 pictures of diners I found on the web, not to mention the cell towers, water towers, highway signs, and vehicle photos. Chances are you can find them with a quick search.

Monday, March 9, 2009

"Extra!" Art

The original art from Amazing Spider-Man: Extra! #2 is up for sale at Splash Page Art. Also, starting now, original art purchases come with a signed 11 x 17 Mythos Collection Cover Print.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Digital Tech Specs

This is a funny sketch of the Red Skull. All right. Enough fun.

It's time for some extremely dry information: my digital technical specifications. I can't think of anything more exciting (which is probably why I am writing about it). I should also note that some of you "asked for it."

I work on a 24" 2.4 GHz Intel iMac with 3GB of RAM. I love this computer. I watch movies on it. It's ginormous. It's the technological hub of my life, both personal and professional.

I use a 4" x 6" Wacom tablet. Aside from the pressure sensitive pen, the best feature is the keypad on the left, which can be programmed to your specifications. I use the touch strip while in Photoshop to change the brush size easily; in the rest of my applications, it acts as a scroll bar. The active area is tiny and I love it because my hand doesn't have to move much. I tried out a Cintiq once and my arm quickly exhausted. That's beyond the fact that there was an unacceptable delay between my pen stroke and the result. And that's beyond the fact that a big, dark hand interferes with one's color perception on a glowing background.

My printer is an Epson R260 6-color printer. The extra 2 colors are light cyan and light magenta. These aren't really 2 new colors, but they make a fainter dot so that light areas in an image won't be made of dark dots, spaced further apart. The result is smoother tones and higher-quality prints.

I use an Epson 3490 Photo Scanner. Good. Cheap. Loud. I'm not even sure if they make it anymore. I scan all my 11" x 17" comic art sideways in three sections, stitching them together automatically in Photoshop with Photomerge. I curse the day I had to stitch these together "by hand." Whenever I have a spare 2 grand lying around, I'm gonna get the 10,000 XL. I'll let you know when that happens.

I just bought the newest version of Photoshop as part of Adobe Creative Suite 4 Design Premium. In addition to Photoshop, the package includes Illustrator, InDesign (which I don't know how to use, but will probably need when I do my own book some day), Dreamweaver, Fireworks, and Flash (which I'm also clueless about).

Begin rant: This one goes out to the students. I know you know a guy who knows a girl whose roommate's uncle can get you a copy of CS4 with a cracked code. I don't blame you for wanting to go that route. The program is expensive and you don't have a job.


Get the educational discount whilst you can! That will cut the price by 50% and it will be treated just like the pro version when you upgrade. In the meantime, you get all the bells and whistles at half the price, allowing you to learn the programs that you will probably be using for the rest of your life. You also won't have to turn off the internet at various times so that Adobe won't find your unlicensed software. And, most importantly, you can stop asking me for a copy of mine. End rant.

I scan the typical painted cover at 400 ppi. I used to scan at 266 ppi, which is fine for what I need, but I like having the option of enlarging images (I also have more hard drive space these days). I save a TIFF of the original scan, as well as a 1000-pixel tall JPEG for my art dealer. Once I've shrunk the file to final print size, converted it to CMYK, and done all my edits, I save a PSD file, which keeps the adjustment layers intact. The final file sent to Marvel is a flattened version of the PSD, a TIFF with LZW compression measuring 6.875" x 10.4375" at 400 ppi (2750 x 4175 pixels). I also save a 593 x 900 px RGB JPEG of the final version for my editors (and this blog).

I hope these answers helped some of you. If you have further questions, feel free to ask in the comments section.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Iron Fist

Here's a recent commission starring Iron Fist.

I'm tired. I think I'm gonna go to bed now. Digital Tech Specs on Monday. Watchmen tonight. Have a great weekend!


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 46

I've always liked toys, so finding a legitimate excuse to buy some is not difficult for me. They really are quite useful, though (so I tell myself). This panel and detail is from Mythos: X-Men, page 14, in which Magneto attacks a military base. Who knew gun casings were magnetic?

Also of note is my consummate ability to ignore the giant hand in each picture.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Breaking in...

Marvel's submissions policy has recently been updated (read: ended). One of the most common questions I get at conventions is how to "break in" to comics. I begin by saying that I'm the wrong person to ask. My path to a career was relatively short and easy compared to most of the stories I've heard. My path, in fact, was neither, but it lacked the "character building" period of rejection that can make any journey disheartening.

In this interview with C.B. Cebulski, he describes what options are left and why the submissions process was discontinued. Newsarama also has an article on the subject. Cebulski mentions the path of independent comics, something I've always recommended. Editors look at pitches and portfolios all the time. Why not prove your abilities with a polished product?