Thursday, May 28, 2009

Old Allies

So long, Young Allies! I finished late Wednesday night and I couldn't be happier with the way it turned out. Now I just hope that what I've learned about computer coloring proves true upon publication. We'll find out on the 17th of next month.

As always, I have a host of collaborators to thank. First and foremost, Roger Stern, who composed a great one-shot while giving me the kind of spectacle that I love to draw. My editor, Tom Brennan, who gives me more time and compliments than I probably deserve. And last but not least, my roommates and girlfriend, who feed me, make me laugh (thus keeping me sane), and kindly remind me to shower.

But just because this project's over doesn't mean I can rest (I actually caught myself drawing "for fun" earlier).

Today I'll be visiting a high school to talk to some kids about my (awesome) job. Let's hope comics are still as cool as they were when I was growing up.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 58

Here I am posing as the Master of Magnetism (yet again) in this scene from Mythos: X-Men.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Happy Memorial Day!

I've had a Photoshop epiphany. I am very happy right now because I've finally figured out what I've been doing wrong for the last seven years (at least when it comes to press-ready files). I'll explain when I get some free time... and after I see the printed results in about a month.

In the meantime, there's a preview of Young Allies at The color images aren't the finals, but they're close enough.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Young Allies Inks

I'm finally done with inking Young Allies, so now I've got the weekend to color the book. I've got a lot done already, thanks to my assistant, Orpheus, who just graduated from MICA. Congratulations, sir!

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 57

I bought a few new toys to help me with the Young Allies issue, a motorcycle and a Thompson sub-machine gun among them. I always prefer a 3D model (real or computer generated) to photographs. It's especially nice when they're small enough to hold in one hand and draw with the other (the gun is 1:6 scale and the bike is 1:18). I use these in conjunction with on-line photo reference for smaller details or, in this case, to add a sidecar.

A tangible model also gives me something on which to anchor my point of view, as in the panel below, which I posted previously. Once I've got a motorcycle in front of me, it's easier to imagine the people interacting with it and the environment in which they exist.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Spidey Pencils

Amazing Spider-Man: Extra! #2, page 7, Panel 1 Pencils. Inks on Thursday.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Ink Studies

When I started doing inked comic art, I was very cautious in my approach, doing a detailed ink study for every page in the story. Pictured here are some examples of those studies, all done in ink over prints of my pencils on regular copy paper (sometimes scrap). I have since taken this step out of the process, but I still abide by the same principles — I just try to anticipate any problems in the pencil stage.

This process was most useful for complicated compositions with multiple subjects. As you can see in some of the simpler panels, the pencils provided enough information to forgo inking.

Finally, just a note about my current project, Young Allies: I'm entering the final week of work now — ought to have everything inked by Wednesday, followed by a few days of intense coloring. If all goes according to plan, it should be on shelves in a month.

Following that, I will be working on a special project (non-Marvel) which is so awesome, I dare not say what it is.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Blue Line Pro

The following is another excerpt from my lecture at the Brooklyn Public Library. This was the introduction to the segment on color.

Let’s talk about color. I try very hard to treat everyone equally. I try to approach people, whether familiar or not, without prejudice. But there is at least one instance I can think of in which I speak differently to someone, based upon their background… more specifically, where they are from.

If, for instance, you are from New York, and you ask me how to get from The Port Authority to my apartment by subway, I will say, “Take the A-C-E to the L, and get off at the Lorimer stop. But, if this is your first time in New York, then I’ll make a simple substitution: I’ll say, “Take the blue line to the gray line, and get off at the Lorimer stop.

This small shift in language allows a novice subway rider to read the map at a glance, just like a seasoned New Yorker, without pouring over every extraneous route. This is possible because color and vision is the world’s most widely understood language — the most native of all “tongues.”

By opening with this, I was hoping to convey the way in which I think about color — more of coding system that can be used in a very pragmatic manner. By the way, if you name the subway lines by color to New Yorkers, they will look at your funny.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 56

Despite my girlfriend's best efforts, I still managed to pull off this pose for the Human Torch. She actually posed for Sue Storm in this painting, but I have been told that bad things will happen to me if I post the photos. I'm taking her threat seriously because, judging from the picture, she's in some sort of gang.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Identification Day

I am pleased to announce that I'll be part of Identification Day at the American Museum of Natural History. While the museum scientists are busy identifying shells, rocks, and insects, I'll be drawing superheroes that have taken a cue from kingdom Animalia. Fortunately, I'll have some help from Larry Hama and Phil Jimenez, who will also be in attendance.

The event takes place Saturday, June 13, from 12:30-3:30, and should be fun for the whole family.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Aqua Tote

If you've seen me painting away in Artist Alley, then you've probably noticed my Aqua Tote contraption, the perfect solution for painting on the go. It's water-tight, holds my extra brushes, and folds perfectly flat. It's also fairly inexpensive.

And here's a nice drawing of a water tower. Thirsty?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Thanks for all the costumes, Mom! I didn't turn out as weird as was feared.

And thanks to you Sbarro's (pictured in back) for those soft as snow, pudgy thighs.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The End is Nigh

Just a reminder, tomorrow is the last day to bid on the MicroVisions lot.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

What Price Glory?

I believe this is the only stand-alone painted color study I've done (I've done others, but they were in conjunction with digital studies). I vaguely remember having some oil paint, a tiny scrap of masonite, and big dreams. It was only my second cover for Marvel, so I was still finding my footing. In fact, I remember a kid in our studio (I was still at RISD at the time) watching me paint it. He stared for a long time, then said, "You're really slow." And he was right.

My girlfriend at the time referred to this as the sequined superhero. I don't think I've painted a shiny Cap since. However, this was the first Marvel painting I ever sold, which I remember being pretty excited about.

Anyway, the main reason I wanted to show this was because I didn't use to do color studies, but now it's an integral part of the process (not to mention my favorite part). What started out as a sort of joke — an oil painting executed on a wood block 1.75" x 2.75" x .75" — ended up being very helpful in the long run.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Punisher Inks

As promised, here is the inked version from Tueday's post.

And while I'm at it, let me go ahead and remind everyone about the MicroVisions auction, which ends this Saturday.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 55

Check out this new addition to my wardrobe. This can only help my method acting... and hurt my social life. If you'd like to alienate your friends too, there might be some supplies left at The Secret Headquarters.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Punisher Pencils

Amazing Spider-Man #577, page 4, panels 4-5. Inks on Thursday. Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Isolated Details

The following is an excerpt from my Brooklyn Public Library lecture... although I don't think I actually got to it. I've also added to it since.

There’s a maxim about lighting and detail that I’ve heard from a number of illustrators, making its source difficult to pin down. It suggests that detail in a painting should be limited to one of two regions: light or dark. Velazquez is the first painter that comes to my mind when I think of this principle. His shadows recede into the background, existing only to give light some competition. Of particular interest in the above painting, The Forge of Vulcan, are the shaded areas on the figures. Where light interacts with the figures, form is illuminated. Where light does not, form (or detail) is lost.

On the other hand, Alex Ross is a great example of a painter who likes to keep us in the dark, so to speak. He often places his figures in blinding light that prevents us from peering into anything but shadow. The effect is dramatic. However, I believe it’s also one of the reasons he’s sometimes criticized for being too photographic. That blown-out effect is a phenomenon that is (I think) subconsciously associated with photography. I’m quite certain that Velazquez never saw anything that looked like an overexposed photo.

Finally, here is an example of my own work for which this principle applies (Mythos: X-Men page 3, panel 1). The effect is always most pronounced in spotlit situations, such as this. With no incident light to reveal form, objects in shadow are only seen when light from behind traces their silhouette.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

MicroVisions 4

The MicroVisions 4 auction has officially begun! Everything starts at $50 and (hopefully) goes up from there. Proceeds go towards the Society of Illustrators Student Scholarship fund. I'm in with some great company here, so you should definitely check out the whole lot.

And if you happen to be in NYC, you can stop by the Society of Illustrators to see them all in person. Irene Gallo posted a pic of the micro-show on her blog, The Art Department.