Thursday, September 30, 2010

Figure Painting

Figure Painting Detail (Session 3 of 3). 2010.
Gouache, watercolor, and acrylic on paper, 12 x 9".

The final session of figure painting included beer and pizza, so fun was had all around. Hopefully, it won't be another 7 years until I paint from life again. The lighting was a good deal different from the previous 2 weeks, so I salvaged what I could (the room doubles as a gallery and was in the process of being prepared for an exhibit). I concentrated primarily on the face and hands, though the background and feet received some attention as well. I used my new brush, the Silver Brush Limited Black Velvet #10, a great (cheap) alternative to Winsor & Newton's Series 7.

I hope this looser (and decidedly opaque) paint handling can find a way into my professional work, but it's tough when deadlines are tight and mistakes cost time. Despite that, I do have a series of covers that allow for some experimentation, so I'm excited about the opportunity.

I'm dabbling quite a bit lately with a host of different projects, mostly covers, but also some new territory. I'm afraid the perspective series is going to have to wait—there's simply too much that I want to say. In lieu of that, I'm making progress on my image search post(s) and should have that ready after the New York Comic Con... only a week away now!

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 123

Mythos: Ghost Rider, Page 21. 2006. Acrylic and Gouache on
bristol board, 8.5 x 12". Original Art
Ghost Rider jumps over the fountains of Caesars Palace.

It was during my work on Mythos: Ghost Rider that I discovered Google Earth, a program that I now use extensively for research, composition, and perspective. At the time, I just needed to know where Caesars Palace was. The story begins outside of Las Vegas as our tortured protagonist returns from a night of hell on wheels. Having never been to Vegas myself, I wanted to get an aerial picture of the city in order to get better acquainted with it. As it turned out, the events of the narrative lined up perfectly with reality, so I was able to choreograph the action around roads, bridges, exits, hotels, and a speedway that existed in reality. Now this had next to no effect on the storytelling, but I hoped that someone somewhere would recognize the landmarks. By the way, if you've installed the Google Earth plug-in for Firefox, you can see just how much the 3D buildings feature has improved in the last 4 years.

However, not all of my reference was from Las Vegas. The bar scenes were inspired by the Boothill Saloon in Daytona Beach, FL (my hometown), which happens to be across from a cemetery. Their official slogan: "You're better off here than across the street."

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Getty Museum

It's over now, but the Jean-Léon Gérôme exhibit at the Getty Museum was a real treat—I'm so glad I happened to be in town while it was up. Photos weren't allowed inside the exhibit, so you'll have to settle for a this shot of the gorgeous gardens.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Figure Painting

Figure Painting Detail (Session 2 of 3). 2010.
Gouache, watercolor, and acrylic on paper, 12 x 9".

Round 2 of figure painting went well, marking the first foray into color. I concentrated on the overall tones of the image, leaving any detail for next week. I'm going to attempt to retain the looseness of this first pass during the next session, but no promises. I'll probably be happier with the results if I just treat it as a "study." It might help if I stick to my chosen brush, a #4 filbert, hog bristle.

I am often asked why I mix media so readily, never settling for a single approach. This painting serves as a reasonably good example of how different mediums can be utilized for their unique properties. The red fabric, for instance, is rendered with a gouache and watercolor underpainting, but the highlights are "plucked" from the shadows with white acrylic, topped with a thin coat of red acrylic (Holbein's Scarlet Acryla Gouache, to be exact). The result is a red that is light in tone, yet deeply saturated. Even when used at full strength, the red acrylic could not physically reproduce the same effect. You can still see "unvarnished" white in some areas, such as the fingers, elbow and left calf. These hot spots were laid down in preparation for future color passes.

Most of the other strokes are gouache and watercolor, both of which I readily mix together, depending on the desired consistency. I actually forgot to bring my palette knife to the studio, but the colors of the scene were limited enough as to not present a challenge. It would have been a different story had the painting been larger.

Just for the record, my favorite part is her left foot. Dirty feet is one of the unspoken joys of painting from life. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

You said it, Stan!

Sandman Studies (detail). 2010. Watercolor and acylic on bristol board, 11 x 17".
After Lee and Ditko

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 122

Mythos: Captain America, Cover (detail). 2007.
Acrylic and gouache on bristol board, 11 x 17".

Before I began work on the final book of the Mythos series, Captain America, I did a great deal of research to familiarize myself with the times, places, and historical figures from WWII. The first piece of art due was the cover and (to my disbelief) my editor, Steve Wacker, approved my first concept: an homage to the first cover of Captain America Comics, in which our hero punches the daylights out of Hitler. My design differed in time and point of view, focusing instead on the charging Captain America. Hitler's terrified face is only seen in the reflection of the shield.

Digial Color Study

After hours of careful rendering with a fastidious eye towards detail, I scanned the finished painting and sent it off to my editors who were very pleased with the result. I also sent it to my dad (one of my first editors) who, apparently, is a history buff of sorts. He got back to me immediately with some disconcerting news: Hitler's hair was parted on the wrong side. It turns out I was a little too fastidious with the reference, painting Hitler as I saw him rather than what should have been his reflection. The irony is that I had the presence of mind to reverse his uniform, but somehow forgot the rest.


No photo reference today, folks—just wackiness. But if you really want to look at pictures of Hitler, be my guest. And if you want to see me doing my best Cap grimace, look no further than Wacky Reference Wednesday, No. 49.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

No Man Is an Island?

Sandman Studies (detail). 2010. Watercolor, gouache, and acylic on bristol board, 11 x 17".

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fan Expo 2010 Commissions (Hot, Hot, Hot)

The (Original) Human Torch. 2010. Watercolor on paper, 9 x 12".

We've finally moved on to the next batch of convention commissions, most of which were done on location in Toronto (the remainder being completed here in Brooklyn). First up is the original Human Torch, an android who was consumed by fire upon his first breath. Had I more time, I probably would have made the fire more "swirly," that being the main convention by which he is distinguished from Johnny Storm, the fiery affiliate of the Fantastic Four.

This has been a swell week for me, not least of all because of Wednesday's trip to Marvel for a Digital Tools seminar, part of a series of workshops headed by Howard Chaykin and Klaus Janson. It was a phenomenal group of Marvel talent, including Ryan Stegman, Mitch Breitweiser, Stephen Segovia, Mark Brooks, and Khoi Pham. Initially, I was skeptical as to what I could actually show these guys that they didn't know already, but we were able to pool our collective knowledge and trade some very useful tips, many of which I'll be condensing for the blog in the future.

Before I left Marvel, I got an awesome cover assignment... the details of which I cannot divulge. Just trust me for now. I finished out the day with a figure painting session, something I haven't done in a good 7 years. It took a while to get back into the swing of things, but I had such a great time that I plan to return for the next 2 weeks. As it turned out, the guy next to me attended my Art Out Loud workshop back in 2007, which was a flattering surprise. A complimentary beer from the organizer rounded out a great evening.

I hope to move on to color next time, since I spent the first session concentrating on draftsmanship and proportion (the model said I made her "boobs bigger." Her words. My bad). If all goes well, I'll have a progress pic one week from today.

Have a great weekend!

Figure Painting (Session 1 of 3). 2010. Gouache on paper, 12 x 9".

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 121

Amazing Spider-Man #641, Page 11, Panel 5. 2010.
Ink on marvel board with digital color, 11 x 17.25".

Like many subjects, I have a much easier time rendering drapery when I can see it in front of me. And while I do have a Dr. Doom cloak that has aided me in the past (thanks, maw), sometimes it's just not practical: aside from taking time to wear and photograph, I lack the means (and/or daring) to make it billow in a dramatic way.

My solution was as simple as it was cheap: a nasty ol' paper towel. By roughly cutting out a cape pattern from a single sheet, I was able to create a surprisingly versatile maquette. The material is stiff enough to hold it's shape fairly well, allowing the form to be "sculpted" to suit the task at hand. When I needed a more relaxed look, I just sprayed water on it until the saturation level yielded a naturalistic hang.


For the most part, I drew "from life," so I don't have many photos to compare with the art. The one exception was Tony Stark's sheet, providing him with a modicum of modesty. In this case, I just used the entire paper towel, soaking it fairly thoroughly in some places.

Why didn't I think of this before? Well, for one thing, Marvel doesn't have many "caped crusaders." Throughout 8 years at Marvel, only Magneto, Dr. Doom, and a handful of Avengers gave me the opportunity. But now I'll know what to do if I ever get my hands on Batman and Superman... speaking of which, I think they're coming up pretty soon on my commission list.

Amazing Spider-Man #641, Page 1 Detail. 2010.
Ink on marvel board with digital color, 11 x 17.25".

Amazing Spider-Man #646 Variant

Amazing Spider-Man #646, Variant Cover. 2010.
Gouache and acrylic on bristol board, 11 x 17".

Monday, September 13, 2010

California Science Center — Lockheed A-12

The Lockheed A-12 was a precursor to the SR-71 Blackbird

In my expert opinion, I think it looks cool.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

San Diego Comic-Con 2010 Commissions

War Machine. 2010. Watercolor on paper, 9 x 12".

Here's the final commission from San Diego, more than a month later. I feel like I should've painted the mini-gun—War Machine's just not the same without it. Maybe I'll give him a weapons upgrade at next year's convention.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

San Diego Comic-Con 2010 Commissions

Magneto. 2010. Watercolor on paper, 9 x 12".

We're almost through all the San Diego commissions... just one more to go after this, which I'll post next week. After that, we've got about a dozen or so to get through from the Fan Expo. I'd like to use that buffer to compose some longer posts, some of which I've been promising for quite some time. I'd like to talk about perspective, faces, inking, color, and perhaps a Red Sonja sculpture step-by-step feature. Any preference as to which I should tackle first? If I don't start to focus on one, then none of them will ever be finished.

On the Marvel front, I'm excited to say that my next project will be a Spidey one-shot with Dan Slott! I've known Dan for a while, and he pitched this story to me back in May, so I'm glad to finally have the chance to collaborate with him. I also just finished an intense Spidey cover with a lot of windows. I'm happy with it, but man... that took some time.

Next week, I'll be teaching a digital tools class... but it's only for my fellow Marvel artists. This is definitely a first for Marvel, but they seem to be making a concerted effort now to facilitate communication between their many freelancers. I hope the trend continues. I'll ask if I can tape the seminar (but no promises).

Also, tonight I'll be attending the opening reception for Blow-Up: Hanuka, Shimizu, Weber. It may require an RSVP, but the show will be up through October 16, if you can't make it just yet.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Last Moment in Time

Amazing Spider-Man #641, Cover. Gouache on illustration board, 11 x 17".

This is it, folks, the day everyone has been waiting for: the last issue of One Moment in Time comes out today! In case you're still not convinced it's worth the trip to the comic shop, here's a small preview.

Joe Quesada was kind enough to take the whole OMIT crew out to dinner last night, which was awesome. It was great to see everyone (especially since it seems like I only get to see my collaborators at conventions, despite the fact that we all live in New York).

Speaking of conventions, if you haven't heard yet, I'll be a guest of Megacon this March. While I've been to the convention several times, this will be my first trip as a professional, so I'm pretty excited. Plus, it's a great excuse to visit home — Orlando's just an hour away from Daytona Beach!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 120

Amazing Spider-Man #640, Page 16, Panel 4. 2010. Ink on Marvel board (with
digital color), 11 x 17.25".

This shot in particular gave me a lot of trouble, so I ended up posing as the damsel in distress in order to move things along. Until I did the gesture myself, I couldn't get her figure to look like it was resting on the ground. A simple shadow under her leg would've made it even more effective, but what's done is done. That being said, I wish I had colored in her lower back; it was my original intent in the drawing phase.

This is how I spend the majority of my days.

Inked with a Winsor & Newton Series 7 #6 brush, using Pelikan Drawing Ink A

Penciled with a 2mm lead holder, hardness of B or 2B, chisel tip

Amazing Spider-Man #640, Page 16. 2010. Pencil on bristol board, 4 x 6".

And finally, here's the panel in context, albeit in the layout phase. As you can see, the meat is all there, but the condiments are missing. Also, panel 6 is a repeated panel, the code for which I've written at the top. This helps to remind me why I did such a bad drawing.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Google is Watching

View Larger Map

Just spoke to my friend and occasional comic book model, Ryan Dunn. He said I'm not the only one to be immortalized in Google Street View. Coincidentally, he didn't realize it until he watched the Arcade Fire's new interactive music video.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

San Diego Comic-Con 2010 Commissions

Mary Jane. 2010. Watercolor on paper, 9 x 12".

If Marvel offered me an "exclusive" contract that prohibited me from drawing anything but Mary Jane Watson, I would sign it. Happy Labor Day!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

San Diego Comic-Con 2010 Commissions

Galactus. 2010. Watercolor on paper, 9 x 12".

Here's yet another commission from San Diego, probably my favorite of the bunch (though I've still got a few more to show over the next couple of weeks). Aside from that, I'm still playing catch up after Fan Expo — I've got a Spidey cover that's due soon. I'm about 40 hours into it right now (with about 20 more to go), but it should be worth it in the end: swinging through the city with the Empire State Building in the background during the golden hour. Doesn't get much better than that.

I did manage to tape my lecture from last weekend, but I haven't reviewed it, and I'm afraid my voice may not be audible. Beyond that, the screen wasn't connecting to my iPad, but I came up with a solution on the fly: the overhead projector (used for drawing demonstrations) was working, so I just slipped my iPad under it. The color wasn't great, but it did the job. Thanks again to everyone who attended. My only regret was not having enough time.

Before I sign off for the weekend, I wanted to alert any non-tweeters that I've posted a number of links on my twitter page, some for tutorials, others for tangentially relevant topics, including good news for my favorite pulp artist, H.J. Ward. Additionally, I thought I'd share a link to a free, on-line typing course that has significantly improved my skills. At the beginning of the year, I spent a couple weeks practicing 5-10 minutes a day and I've been reaping the benefits ever since. If you spend as much time at the computer as I do, but are still looking at the keyboard to type, then it's definitely worth your time. Thanks for the link, Maw!

Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Fox News: Fair and Balanced

Darkseid tells his side of the story to Fox News at the San Diego Comic-Con.