Monday, May 31, 2010


Where would the internet be without pictures of cute animals? My girlfriend and I babysat our friends' French bulldog puppy this past weekend... and I couldn't help but share this insane level of cuteness. Never before have I so gladly cleaned up $#¡+. He was a handful, but only just.

Memorial Day, 2010

Mythos: Captain America, Page 19, Panel 1. 2008.
Gouache and acrylic on bristol board, 11 x 17".

Thursday, May 27, 2010

An Amazing Preview

Amazing Spider-Man #638, Page 25, Panels 1-2. 2010. Ink on Marvel board, 11 x 17.25".

My mom has an exclusive scoop today on her blog, COLOR informal. There, you will find 4 inked pages from One Moment in Time, the 4-issue Spider-Man arc on which I am currently hard at work (I'm halfway through inking the second book, for those of you who are counting). I'll be digitally coloring the book as well, so I've got my work cut out for me.

If all goes as planned, the first book should be out in time for the San Diego Comic-Con, which I will be attending. Unfortunately, my schedule won't allow for Philly this year, but I hope to make it in 2011. I've also been invited to 2 more conventions, so I'll be sure to make an announcement as soon as they're official.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 108

Amazing Spider-Man #640, Cover (detail). 2010.
Watercolor and gouache on Illustration Board, 11 x 17".

While I can't divulge the story behind this, the third cover from One Moment in Time, I can show you the ridiculous photos I took of myself holding... myself. To my surprise, I didn't have to alter much to make my legs look like Mary Jane's—perhaps I could be a supermodel yet. You can see the entire image here.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Mythos: X-Men page 20, panel 4 (detail of Cyclops). 2005. Oil on masonite, 16 x 24".

Friday, May 21, 2010

Something Old

Amazing Spider-Man #638, Cover. 2010.
Watercolor and gouache on Illustration Board, 11 x 17".

The cover to the first issue of One Moment in Time has been released via Why not show it here too? I'm afraid the original art has already been claimed (as has the last cover, 641), but the covers to 639 and 640 will be available after publication.

Have a great weekend!

Sculpting Tools

When sculpting maquettes, I use a variety of small tools, some of which are easier to find than others. First up is the Colour Shaper, a rubber-tipped "brush" that I use like a small version of my thumb. Available in a variety of shapes and at least three levels of firmness, these can be used to smooth surfaces, gently push small forms around (like facial features), and impress tiny details. I have a few versions, but the #2 Angle Chisel Firm is probably my favorite.

Next up is a familiar instument (hopefully). During a routine check-up, I asked my dentist if she could spare a dental pick. She gladly gave me a small set, one of which I use more than the others. There are subtle differences to each end—the small rubber band helps to distinguish them— which facilitate working from different angles. This tool is best for scraping away precise forms and getting into small crevices.

Although I didn't learn to use it until my senior year at RISD, the rake has become one of my most valuable tools. While it leaves the surface in a rough state, it provides more control over compound curves, which can easily be smoothed out in later stages. It was the smallest one they had at Pearl Paint in the city, but I'm sure it can be found on-line. While I rigged the back end with a custom rake made from an uncut staple stack, I rarely use it anymore.

For most maquettes, the final stage involves polishing the surface to a nice sheen using a brush and lubricant. I keep a syringe filled with oil (canola, I believe) for easy access and clean dispensing. You can use almost any oil or, for a more aggressive option, turpentine (or similar substitute). The key is to experiment first—you don't want to risk a near-finished sculpture.

Depending on the level of refinement needed, I'll use different brushes according to bristle strength. The first is a Silver Brush Bristlon filbert, #1. In conjunction with a solvent, this can be used just like a small rake. For more intricate work and fine polishing, a soft-hair kolinsky sable will do wonders. Pictured above is a Winsor and Newton Series 7 #1, but any soft brush will do.

Lastly, the yellow tool is a cheap, plastic "knife" that came with a larger set. This is used in the beginning stages to rough-out large forms. I seem to use it less than in the past, as I've found that a subtractive sculpting process facilitates greater precision, coupled with sturdier structure.

This is the first stage (Mary Jane, in this case) of a small maquette. The armature is made from galvanized steel wire that is looped around a lead pointer to produce a circular base. The second stage is a rough shape that is cooked and hardened before the actual sculpting begins. This gives more dimensional stability than wire alone would provide.

Finally, I should mention that my medium of choice is Super Sculpey Firm, a polymer clay that remains pliable until baked in a conventional oven. Featured here is my Steve Rogers maquette, aka Captain America. As always, you can find more examples of my three-dimensional work under the Sculpture label.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 107

Amazing Spider-Man #641, Cover. 2010.
Watercolor and gouache on Illustration Board, 11 x 17".

Lately, I've been printing my color studies right next to my reference photos so everything is in the same place. As I've mentioned before, I often paint on the printout in order to match my colors in context. The female models come from stock photography I found on-line after a search for "wind-swept hair." I probably could have done without the extra reference, but I'm sure it informed my decisions in some way.

Hanley's Tomorrow

Mythos Limited Edition Print. 2009. 100# Stock, 11 x 17".

Just a friendly reminder: I'll be signing at Jim Hanley's Universe tomorrow night. In addition, I will have Mythos prints (pictured above) for $10 and Spectrum 17 Posters (pictured below) for $25. Unlike the Call for Entries Poster that Spectrum entrants received in the mail, these are printed on thicker stock, have nothing on the back, are limited to an edition of 100, and are not folded. Furthermore, I'll be happy to draw a black and white head sketch in the "Custom" field at the lower right corner.

Spectrum 17 Call for Entries Poster Limited Edition Print. 2009. 16 x 20".

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Something Borrowed

Amazing Spider-Man #640, Cover. 2010.
Watercolor and gouache on Illustration Board, 11 x 17".

Well, I didn't get enough done this past weekend, but I do feel fully-rested. I'll have that post on sculpting tools this Friday (I promise). In the meantime, here is the second of two covers revealed in Marvel's August solicitations preview. This leaves just one cover—the first—to be unveiled. All four covers feature Peter and MJ together, though under very different circumstances in each case.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Something Blue

Amazing Spider-Man #641, Cover. 2010.
Watercolor and gouache on Illustration Board, 11 x 17".

I was going to write a post on sculpting tools today, but yesterday slipped away from me... still recovering. Your consolation prize is a first look at the last cover of the One Moment in Time series. This is one of the few times an image just came to me, fully-formed, and I probably owe more than a little to Coles Phillips.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 106

Amazing Spider-Man: Extra! #2, Page 1, Panel 1. 2008.
Ink with digital color on Marvel board, 11 x 17.25".
Original Art

As I mentioned on Monday, Google Earth is an invaluable tool for both reference and perspective. Here is an example in which I used a screen shot as the basis for an establishing panorama of the city. Using the time slider tool, I set the time of day to yield the greatest contrast, thus making it easier to trace. While the gray block-buildings help considerably in visualizing the space, the program now features photorealistic models for most of Manhattan, a boon to anyone who dreads drawing windows. (For another example, check out my process post on the Baxter Building).

I supplemented the core reference with other photos, in this case taken from a 15th-floor apartment in the city. I was there to photograph the model for this painting, but when I saw the view, I knew I could utilize it at some point in the future (nearly 4 years later, as it turned out).

By the way, in my constant search for reference, I came across an interesting article that revealed why most water towers appear to be old and worn, as well as the people behind the constuction of these urban rooftop icons.

Signing at Hanley's Next Week!

I will be signing at Jim Hanley's Universe on Wednesday, May 19th (that's a week from tomorrow). Please check out their blog for more info. Hopefully, I can avoid the hand cramp suffered after signing 100 issues of Sabretooth for Dynamic Forces.

Frank Frazetta, R.I.P.

Sad news.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Earth View in Google Maps

Google just keeps making it easier for us: now you can utilize all of the power of Google Earth without opening anything but your web browser. If you haven't downloaded the full application for some reason, now you have no excuse.

Just a note—I find it easiest to navigate their virtual world using my Wacom pen and tablet. In addition to making the "click" and drag motion more fluid, I can orbit through space by depressing the top modifier button (which I've set-up as "middle click"). Holding the bottom button (set to "right click") functions as a sliding zoom, although I rarely use this because the same function is provided by the touch strip (or mouse scroll wheel). These commands work in both the web browser and Google Earth.

Not to be outdone, here is Microsoft's take on the same idea, taken a step further (although I haven't tried it myself yet):

Friday, May 7, 2010

Iron Man Process

It all began with this sketch, which was deemed too close to a cover that had just been solicited. I decided to turn the figure around, a move that was lucky to get approval (so I was told).

Once I had gotten the basic pose locked in, I toyed with the idea of including the armory, something that my editor, Tom Brevoort, seemed to like. He only asked that I move the oculus to the right side so as not to interfere with the trade dress.

Initially, I used a photo I had taken of the Pantheon as a perspective guide for the dome, but, at my dad's suggestion, I went ahead and used the ceiling pattern as well.

This being my first cover for Marvel, I did a final preliminary rendering (shown above) to ensure that we were all on the same page. I secured their approval and transferred the drawing to the illustration board.

This was the basic underpainting, in which everything was blocked in. Although I had originally planned to use blue exhaust jets framed by a warm background, I switched the colors, again at my dad's suggestion.

I have a feeling that this image may have been "helped" in Photoshop. Early on in my career, when faced with a painting problem (especially with regard to color), I would photograph the painting and try to solve it digitally. Now I just try to solve it all in Photoshop before I even touch real paint.

By this point, I had a pretty good idea of what the finished product would look like—all that was required was rendering time.

This is the last image I took before the entire painting was completed. It was around this time that I decided to add the electrical outlet in the empty bay. I'm glad Marvel didn't say anything.

Back in the day, I had to scan my work in several pieces (10 in this case) and stitch it all together in Photoshop. This is what it looked like as soon as I had assembled all the images in roughly the right place. I'm glad I don't have to do this anymore.

Thankfully, it all came together nicely, and I've been working for Marvel ever since! The painting still resides in Florida with my 'rents.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Iron Man Art Attack!

Iron Man Commission. 2009. Gouache and acrylic on paper, 7.5 x 11".

This is pretty much every piece of Iron Man art I have ever made, presented in (roughly) chronological order. I know I did one other black and white piece in San Diego a number of years back, but I failed to get a picture. I'll live. In other news, Iron Man 2 was friggin' awesome!

Iron Man
Iron Man Commission. 2009. Gouache and acrylic on paper, 7.5 x 11".

Iron Man Commission. 2009. watercolor on paper, 9 x 12".

Iron Man Commission. 2009. Watercolor on paper, 9 x 12".

Iron Man Commission. 2008. Watercolor on paper, 11 x 17".

Iron Man Commission. 2008. Ink on paper, 2 x 3".

Escape from Vietnam. 2008. Acrylic on illustration board, 20 x 30".

Iron Man Commission. 2006. Watercolor on paper, 12 x 9".

Iron Man Commission. 2006. Ink on bristol board, 11 x 14".

Mythos: Iron Man Cover Study. 2005. Photoshop, 1200 x 1800 px.

Iron Man Commission. 2005. Ink on bristol board, 11 x 14".

Iron Man Is Born. 2003. Oil on canvas, 24 x 36".
Original Art

Iron Man #63, Cover. 2002. Oil on illustration board, 20 x 30".

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 105

Spectrum 17 Call for Entries Poster: Crop Cop and Darth Mahl.
2009. Ink and Photoshop.

My friend and fellow illustrator, Scott Brundage, decided to bare some (if not all) last week on his blog. Like many of us, he uses photo reference of himself to assist in the drawing process. However, his primary camera is the one built-in to his computer. This reminded me that I had done this at least twice in the past, it being the most convenient camera at the time.

The third photo below has nothing to do with anything—I had just gotten my hair cut and was doing my best Sylar impression. Going to see Iron Man 2 today! I'm excited, in case you can't tell. Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Spectrum 17 Call for Entries Poster (head shots).
2009. Ink on bristol board, 11 x 14".

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mythos: Captain America Iron Man

Mythos: Captain America, Page 19, Panel 2 (detail).
2008. Gouache and acrylic on bristol board, 11 x 17".
Original Art

For a comic called Mythos: Captain America, there sure were a lot of appearances by the Golden Avenger. Perhaps Paul Jenkins and I were just making up for the lack of a Mythos: Iron Man.

Mythos: Captain America, Page 18, Panel 1. 2008.
Gouache and acrylic on bristol board, 22 x 17".

Mythos: Captain America, Page 18, Panel 2 (detail). 2008.
Gouache and acrylic on bristol board, 22 x 17".

Mythos: Captain America, Page 18, Panel 4 (detail). 2008.
Gouache and acrylic on bristol board, 22 x 17".
Original Art