Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 75

In this, the 75th installment of Wacky Reference Wednesday, we're celebrating with some topless pics (as usual). I hope you enjoy.

Amazing Spider-Man #577 page 30, panels 1 and 2
ink on Marvel board (11 x 17)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Screen Capture Shortcut

Time for Old Man Logan, week 2!

Just kidding. Moving right along, I wanted to share a screen capture tip that my girlfriend taught me: by pressing Command, Shift, and 4, simultaneously, your cursor will become a marquee with which you can frame a portion of your screen to capture. The image will be saved to your desktop as "picture #.png." I use this whenever I need to save photo reference from a web site that won't let me download the image directly (I'm talking to you, Flickr), or when I need to explain a computer process to someone. I used to use the program Grab for this procedure, but this makes things even easier.

Also, just to give you something to look at, I've posted a digital color study from Mythos: Captain America, page 15.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Old Man Logan Gets Older

These pics were taken throughout the painting process and are a good representation of my typical method: pencils, followed by a sepia gouache underpainting, and finished with gouache and Acryla Gouache.

I should mention, however, that I tried out a new illustration board and it worked out pretty well. I usually use Strathmore 500 Series bristol board, 3-ply, vellum surface, so I was happy to see that the company was reaching out to comic artists with a line of products tailored to our needs. In this case, I used 500 Series Illustration Board for Wet Media, which is essentially a sturdier version of my standard paper. You can see the entire line at their web site. I think I'll stick to the 3-ply for most of my work (I need something that can be lightboxed), but I may use the board for larger paintings.

In other news, I'm going to the opera. Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Old Man Logan's Run

This is my inner eight-year-old unleashed.

—Spoiler Alert—

When I first read the Old Man Logan issues that my editor gave me, what immediately grabbed my inner child was a T-Rex bonded to the alien symbiont known as Venom. Couple that with Wolverine and a horse and you pretty much have my entire mind mapped (with the exceptions of spacemen, aliens, robots, ninja turtles, and girls). Alas, it was not meant to be. Though my editor completely agreed with the sheer awesomeness of a T-Rex, covered in an alien, chasing a mutant with a metal skeleton and healing factor on a horse in the desert, the assignment called for a cover that had to either resemble a scene from the issue, or be iconic (read: generic) enough to sum up the series.

Betting that would be the case, I didn't even finish Wolverine and his horse before sending off the comp. Maybe some day I'll get to paint dinosaurs.

By the way, the actual cover came out yesterday, although, being a variant, it might be hard to find in stores.

Tomorrow: we round out Old Man Logan week (Shark Week ain't got nothing on me) with some progress pics taken during the painting process.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 74

As promised, here's Old Man Paolo. The collection of images below is the actual printout from which I painted.

These boots are one of my favorite pieces of reference. They're from a 1:6 scale soldier—purchased á la carte from ebay—and made of pleather, so they fold and reflect light just like their real-world counterpart.

And here is all of my reference "posing" together. The top section is all pictures I found on-line, while the bottom row is my horse collection. I don't have to paint horses all that often, but when I do, those things are indispensable. I can't find the exact package that I bought, but I found one that's similar on Amazon.

Speaking of which, I've just created a personalized Amazon Store which features several books for which I have contributed artwork. In the coming months, I hope to add book and product recommendations as well.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Old Man Logan Studies

My first step in painting almost any cover is to produce a comprehensive sketch, in this case a digital color study. My first attempt, which I'll share on Thursday, was shot down for several reasons (one of which must have been that it was too awesome). For my second attempt, I wanted something that was reminiscent of a Frederic Remington painting, so I used the color scheme from one of his many nocturnes. I was afraid that this wasn't going to fly either and my fears proved well-founded; it wasn't dynamic enough.

As with most of my studies, I like to start out in grayscale, which allows me to hammer out composition and content before I sink too much time into color.

I liked this one well enough, but they asked me to change a couple things: have the horse facing the viewer and lower the point of view, two edicts that I am often compelled to obey (just replace the horse with any character).

I, of course, obliged and it began to look more and more Napoleonic. They asked if I could lower the point of view even more, but I made a convincing enough argument against it. You may also notice that I decided to remove his hat in the final—I wanted to paint some of that lovely white hair.

Tomorrow: Old Man Paolo and his plastic steed(s)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Old Man Logan

If you don't like this painting, then boy do I feel sorry for you, because this entire blogging week is devoted to it (yes, even Wednesday).

The cover, a variant edition of Wolverine: Old Man Logan Giant-Size # 1 (phew), will be on shelves later this week. It was a last minute assignment that was originally just going to be a pin-up, but turned into a full-fledged cover. I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out, but, as you'll soon see, I think it could have been better.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Print Promotion

I've got a new promotion to go along with original art purchases: from now on, if you buy one of my black and white originals from Splash Page Art, you'll get an 11" x 17" color print of your choice. This can be a colored version of the art you purchased, or anything from my catalog.

This is all thanks to my new printer, the Epson Stylus Photo R1900, a large format printer that creates beautiful prints up to 13" x 19". The prints are archival and come in glossy and matte finishes, both of which look superb. I'll have some colorful examples at the upcoming Big Apple Con in October.

Pictured below is the cover art from Young Allies next to its 13" x 19" color counterpart. I hate to say it, but it looks better than the original. Then again, being bigger does help.

Next week: I've got a crazy new Wolverine Cover coming out.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 73

Mythos: Captain America, page 14, (2008)
gouache and acrylic on bristol board
performance piece with bicycle, bicycle pump, spray paint, and African mask (2008)

As if that display of emotion were not enough, here's the page during the underpainting stage:

And for "Wacky Reference" from the bottom panel, check out the previous post.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Thank You, Hanley's!

And thank you to everyone who stopped by as well! This sketch was a jam-piece we did after the signing.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Amazing Spider-Man #616

So I had a crazy idea... and I went with it. This is the second of two Sandman covers I did for the Amazing Spider-Man. Unlike the previous cover, I colored this one digitally.



... and digital color study

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Amazing Spider-Man #615

Here's the cover to Amazing Spider-Man #615. This one is actually painted in watercolor over inks, so what you're looking at is the original (with some minor Photoshop tweaks).

I scanned the inks just prior to painting, just in case I messed things up.

I penciled the cover on my own paper (as opposed to Marvel board) since I knew I was going to paint over it. I employed the same stock I use for gouache and acrylic, Strathmore 500 Series, 3-ply, vellum surface.

And finally, it all started with a quick digital color study sent to my editor for approval. I did a number of quick comps like this, which I'll eventually share. I did the cover for #616 as well, which I'll post next week.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Just a Reminder...

The Jim Hanley's signing has been moved from Wednesday to Thursday, September 10! Details at their blog.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 72

Mythos: Captain America, page 12, panel 5 (2008)
gouache and acrylic on bristol board

Steve Rogers, his cover blown, informs Bucky of his new sidekick status.

Using my trusty Steve Rogers maquette, I snapped a pic with the appropriate lighting. I used this in conjunction with a photo I took of myself (shown below), the main purpose of which was for color.

This pic was taken during the painting process. Surrounding the active area are my study and reference photos. You can see where I've matched color swatches directly on my digital color study printout. Everything is held in place with my trusty magnets and dry erase board.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

"D-Day" +7

Last Monday did not go as I had planned it. The news of Mickey's acquisition of Marvel, unexpected to say the least, caused me to spend much of the day at my keyboard, corresponding with friends and colleagues who, like me, were dumbfounded and had no other outlet to vent their disbelief. Many have asked how I feel about the deal, but I wanted to delay my response until after the initial shock had worn off.

I feel cautiously optimistic (not, of course, all that different from my general demeanor), but I have a good reason: Pixar. After Disney bought them, the studio kept their integrity (and branding) intact, operating much the way they always did, but with a whole lot more muscle. Muscle isn't everything, but it sure can help. Trust me, I draw superheroes for a living.

To be perfectly honest, I don't think much is going to change in the publishing arena. We represent such a tiny blip on the revenue radar of the Marvel marketing machine, that I doubt we will see any major shifts, especially any time soon. Creative people may have built the Marvel brand, but the company represents so many more interests at this point. That's actually the way I prefer it — high stakes can hinder creative freedom because so much is riding on the outcome. I even see this dynamic within my own assignments: I get paid more for a cover than for interior pages, but the supervision is much more heavy-handed. I am rarely asked to make sequential art revisions, whereas covers often go through several iterations. As a result, my sequential work is a much purer representation of my creative vision (if I could be said to have one).

My only real reservation involves commissions and reproductions. As I'm sure many of you have noticed, every comic convention boasts an artist alley where you can meet the creators of your favorite books, maybe even buy a sketch or a print from them. I don't know if this practice is condoned by Marvel, but it is certainly ignored and thus, effectively permitted. I've heard rumors that DC once "cracked down" on the practice, but that the backlash was so swift and fierce that the policy was quickly abandoned. I can't back up this apocryphal account, but it sounds plausible at least.

My dad, who used to airbrush t-shirts in the 80s, remembers Disney representatives visiting shops to proscribe the selling of t-shirts with Disney characters. Disney had (and has) every legal right to do so, but the enforcement of such laws belies an allocation of resources that could, I think, be put to better use. This is not to say that I take trademark and copyright infringement lightly (my livelihood depends on it, after all); rather, it is my hope that the focus remains on new creative endeavors, not simply the protection of past accomplishments. Pixar exemplifies this ideal, and I'd like to think Marvel can follow suit.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Signings and Showings


Next week's going to be busy: I'll be signing at Jim Hanley's on Thursday, September 10, along with Reilly Brown and Chris Giarrusso. More information can be found on the Hanley's blog.

Next Friday, I'll be attending the opening reception for Spectrum: The Exhibition. While the party requires a ticket to get in, the show is up and open to the public right now. As I've mentioned before, page 19 from Mythos: Fantastic Four will be on display. I'm flattered to be in such great company and can't recommend the show enough. You can get a sneak peek at Irene Gallo's blog, The Art Department.

The artwork above, while not in the show, is for the upcoming Spectrum Call for Entries poster.

Have a great weekend!

Update: The signing been moved to Thursday, so as to coincide with new comic book day.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hulk Motel

Mythos: Hulk, page 13, panel 1
grayscale study

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 71

Mythos: Captain America, page 8, panel 6 (2008)
gouache and acrylic on bristol board

This is the frantic moment just after Dr. Erskine, creator of the Super-Soldier Serum, has been shot. Steve Rogers, a 95-pound teenager just minutes before, breaks free from his bonds to deliver a whoopin' to the Nazi assassin. I, on the other hand, am about to beat my kitchen trash can.

For those of you who are curious, the best drawing (ever) of the Human Torch was done by Alex Lukas.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Roger Stern, my collaborator on Young Allies, sent this to me yesterday. I thought I ought to share. I don't know who did it, but he tells me it's from Amazing Spider-Man Annual #5.