Sunday, April 29, 2012

NYCC 2011 Commissions — Hulk

Grief-Stricken Hulk. 2012. Watercolor on paper, 9 × 12″.

"We have a [sad] hulk."

Thursday, April 26, 2012

"We Have a Hulk"

Hulk. 2012. Gouache and acrylic on bristol board, 11 × 17″.
'Nuff said.

Have a great weekend!

Avengers Assemble!

Mythos: Captain America, Page 18-19. 2008.
Gouache and acrylic on bristol board, 22 × 17″.

In case you couldn't tell, I'm excessively excited about The Avengers, and have been anticipating its arrival since the plans were first made public. Iron Man hit theaters while I was in the midst of painting Mythos: Captain America, and while the movie was a certifiable success, it was tough to imagine how all those potential teammates would ever come together to share 2 hours on a single screen. It's hard enough to draw and paint that many characters on a single page, so I can't even imagine the challenges associated with creating an ensemble movie of this magnitude. The logistics alone would require a super-team.

I'm fortunate enough to be invited to a Marvel screening this evening and will be hooting and hollering and clapping the whole time. There's nothing quite like seeing these movies with an all-Marvel audience, and this is the mother of all Marvel movies.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Wacky Reference Wednesday, No. 172

Daredevil #10, Page 12. 2012. Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on Marvel board, 11 × 17.25″.
Digital color by Javier Rodriguez.

"I've got some dirt on my shoulder, could you brush it off for me?" (Technically, it's diamond dust.) Daredevil knocks Mole Man out cold in this sequence from their epic staff fight in issue 10. I've been using Photobooth almost exclusively for photo reference—no more tripods or delayed shutters—I just keep my wireless keyboard on my lap and hit enter when I like what I see. Of course, when posing as these sightless combatants, I like to close my eyes to achieve more authentic gestures.

1. Digital Layout  2. Digital Composite

My layouts are completely digital now, drawn on a Cintiq. I keep the gutter-background off-white to distinguish it from the panels, each occupying its own layer. The layout is what gets sent to my collaborators for approval, so I include the dialogue (this also helps me to organize my thoughts when facing a blank page). The digital composite tightens up the drawings, incorporating borders, perspective guidelines, and 3D models, if needed.

3. Pencils  4. Inks

Starting with this issue, I drew the "radar panels" in pencil alone, saving my dad from needlessly tracing each and every wire-form line. The negative image of my pencils is printed in black (along with the black borders) on the blue-line page my dad then inks. This leaves the original art looking a little more like the published page.

Alex Ross Interview

So, this interview pretty much made my day. Featured below is my fan art for an Earth X contest (hosted by Wizard, if I remember correctly). I didn't win, but I brought the art to show Jim Krueger and Alex Ross at Megacon while they signed all my books. Later on, Jim introduced me to Marvel; the rest is history. Special thanks to my friend (and former classmate), Andrew Johanson, for the link.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Thank you, Boston!

Hello My Name Is. 2012. Sharpie on backpack, ~14 × 20″.

Boston was a blast. Thank you to everyone who stopped by the table. I'm in awe of all the good will and compliments for Daredevil and I hope to live up to the kind words. I was even given the honor of being on the same backpack with 2 legends of comics (and personal heroes), Stan Sakai and Kevin Eastman.

dunanananananana, Bat-Fam!

An ultra-special thanks must go out to my hosts, Maris Wicks, Joe Quinones, Liz Prince, and Hub Comics for transforming my long weekend into a true vacation. From beer to banana bread to beating TMNT the arcade game on the first try, life does not get any sweeter.

Always 2, there are...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

NYCC 2011 Commissions — Archangel

Archangel. 2012. Watercolor on paper, 9 × 12″.

The blog is on auto-pilot right now and I'm blogging from the past. If life has gone according to plan, I'm already in Boston. I'll be at Hub Comics "tonight" from 6-9. And I'll be in artist alley all weekend at the Boston Comic Con. Here's my commissions policy. Hope to see you there. Have a great weekend!


I. Can. Not. Wait. For. Avengers.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Wacky Reference Wednesday, No. 171

Daredevil #15 Cover. 2012.
Ink(ed by Joe Rivera)  with digital color on Marvel board, 11 × 17.25″.

Marvel's July solicitations have hit the web, revealing my "barbed" cover for Daredevil #15. I already posted the related reference on Twitter, but without the accompanying art. My girlfriend couldn't help herself from photo-bombing me, though she isn't quite as brave as Maris Wicks. I will, of course, be seeing Maris and Joe Quinones this weekend when I attend the Boston Comic Con. I'm sure photo-bombing is on the menu. And karaoke. I can't sing, but that's never stopped me.

1. Digital Layout  2. Digital Composite  3. Pencils

1. Blue-line print  2. And my Dad's inks over it

Sunday, April 15, 2012

NYCC 2011 Commissions — JJJ

JJJ. 2011. Ink on comic cover, 7 × 10.5″.

Anybody tired of Spidey yet? This guy is. Here's a J. Jonah Jameson commission from the New York Comic Con. In other news, I'll be at the Boston Comic Con this coming weekend. You can read my commissions policy here. I've also got a signing Friday evening at Hub Comics.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Ultimate Spider-Man — Spidey at Last!

Spider-Man. 2010. Ink and watercolor on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

Despite having a few less webs, this is fairly close to my typical Spidey drawing. As noted previously, the main differences in this younger version have to do with proportion—the head, hands, and feet are all slightly larger, but the overall anatomy wasn't altered. For the show, they ended up removing the webbing from the arm altogether, a decision that probably saved countless animation hours.

The whole exercise proved very useful in my own work, since I typically don't do character studies that are this refined. Now I often refer to this image when I draw Spidey (especially for the webbing, which can be tricky).

And thus concludes 2 straight weeks of animated Spidey goodness. I hope you've enjoyed the behind-the-scenes peek. I've included links to the other studies below. Have a great weekend!

Preliminary Sketches
Doc Ock
Old Spidey Sketch
Action Poses
Mary Jane
A Copy of a Copy
Peter Parker

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ultimate Spider-Man — Peter Parker

Peter Parker. 2010. Ink and watercolor on bristol board, 17 × 11″.

All the preparatory sketches lead to this turnaround, a clean and clear drawing of what a "Paolo Rivera" animated Peter Parker would look like. The floating arm was a convention I picked up from another artist on the project. It may look a little disturbing, but it provides an unobstructed side view of the character. I did the same thing with my Spider-Man turnaround, which I'll post tomorrow. I wasn't required to add ink or color, but I just couldn't help myself.

Wacky Reference Wednesday, No. 170

Peter Parker Studies. 2010. Pencil on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

After drawing some initial studies for Peter Parker, I was asked to make a slight change to the hairstyle. I usually draw him with messy, close-cropped hair, but I tried to streamline it for animation. The result left him looking a little older (and old-fashioned) so Joe Quesada shared his own take for inspiration. I cleaned up the studies and proceeded to the turnaround, which I'll share tomorrow.

Left: Joe Quesada visits RISD and critiques one of my earliest covers for Marvel.
Right: His hairstyle guides for Peter Parker

Quesada has been giving me advice for quite some time. In 2002, he hired me via email after a cold submission. In 2003, he drove himself to Providence to lecture at RISD and see my senior show, which opened the following day. (Then he drove back—a 6-hour round trip at least.) He even had Kevin Smith call in the middle of the lecture to speak with an audience member (you know who you are). To say I am grateful does not begin to describe the appreciation I have for the man who not only gave me a job and a career, but whom I had revered as an artist since childhood. In 2010, when he asked me to participate in this project, I jumped at the chance.

The initial sketches

The final character studies before proceeding to turnarounds

And in case you couldn't see it in the photo above, Quesada is holding my cover to Fantastic Four #500 (which is technically my first collaboration with Mark Waid). Quesada actually guided me through this cover as well, providing a rough compositional sketch that I used as a framework. I can't find the sketch at the moment, but if and when I do, I'll be sure to share.

Fantastic Four #500 Cover. 2003. Oil on masonite, 12 × 18″.
This is a photo of the actual painting, not the printed cover.

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Copy of a Copy

Spider-Man Studies. 2010. Ink on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

So this is pretty much my favorite drawing of Spidey ever. I wish I could take credit for it. It's a master copy based on an Arthur Adams drawing from the 1986 Web of Spider-Man Annual. (You can see the black and white version here.)

I wasn't the only one who was taken by drawing. While flipping through classic Spidey issues some years ago, I came across a familiar pose. It turns out that Art Adams copied the pose himself from the original Spidey master, Steve Ditko (and it wasn't the only copied pose in the issue).

Needless to say, I still have nothing but respect for Adams, whose depiction of Spider-Man has had the most influence on me (at least from that dog-eared issue). It's just nice to know that even the masters weren't born fully-formed.

"Extra credit" if you can tell me what issue of Amazing Spider-Man the pose appears in.

Tomorrow's Wacky Reference Wednesday will feature my character studies for Peter Parker, including some hairstyle revisions via Joe Quesada.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Ultimate Spider-Man — Mary Jane Studies

Marvel posted the first episode of Ultimate Spider-Man and you can watch it here for free. I must admit, it was pretty cool to see my name show up in the end credits—it was almost like seeing my comics on the stands for the first time.

Mary Jane stars in the show, and I found her to be the most difficult character to portray. Having seen the first episode now, I can see why my designs were deemed a little "too sexy." The show is definitely geared towards kids, and while my goal is not to draw her that way... well, it just happens.

I don't blame myself entirely, though—many of the outfits I used were straight from the inspirational style guides I received... and a little racy no matter how you draw them. In the end, I don't think much of my style made it into the animated character. But the process did remind me that I could draw her all day, every day, and never get tired.

Mary Jane Studies. 2010. Pencil on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Ultimate Spider-Man — Action Poses

Ultimate Spider-Man Action Poses. 2010. Pencil on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

"The name of the game is — Action!" That's what Stan Lee and John Buscema told me in 6th grade when I bought How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way. Nearly 2 decades later, it still holds true. More than any other superhero, Spider-Man has an utterly unique manner of movement: sticking to walls, swinging through urban canyons, and contorting in ways that would make any life drawing professor faint.

If it were up to me (sometimes it is) Spidey would never touch the ground. The top left figure, stagnant and bulky, was an example to avoid. Marvel wanted, at least in the beginning, a very muscular physique, so I drew what, in my opinion, was the logical limit for a teenage hero.

The best part about this whole process was Marvel's determination to get personal visions from each of the contributing artists. It's tough to say what ended up carrying through to the end—the act of animation has its own strictures—but it was nice to be given such free reign.

I've got another week of Spidey art lined up for next week. Hope you're ready for a little Mary Jane Monday. Have a great weekend!

P.S. In case you haven't heard, Daredevil received a whopping 6 Eisner nominations! Thank you so much for supporting the book, and congrats to all the nominees!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Old Spidey Sketch

I've posted this before, but I figured I might as well feature a piece of Spidey artwork every day this week. This is typically how I draw him—lanky, but with a gymnast's physique. For some reason, I always think of a panther when I draw him. Tomorrow, I'll show a page of action poses.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Wacky Reference Wednesday, No. 169

I ended up sketching just 3 different characters for the show, but Doc Ock was the most fun, by far. While I love drawing Spidey and MJ, their designs are nearly sacrosanct, and thus permit only subtle changes to their appearance. The bad doctor, on the other hand (tentacle?), invites myriad interpretations. Marvel knew this, and gave me free reign to explore unconventional characterizations.

Marvel Studios Doc Ock harness, Joe Quesada sketches

They did, however, impose one constraint, pictured above. The harness had already been designed, and so I incorporated it directly in to my sketches by printing it out and drawing over it. After the first round, Joe Quesada provided me with his own take (shown above), a much creepier version. I haven't seen the final product yet... guess I'll just have to watch the show like everybody else.

Doc Ock. 2010. Pencil on bristol board, 11 × 17″. 

And before I let you go, I wanted to get the word out: I'll be a guest on Where Monsters Dwell tonight at 8PM EST. It's a live show, so I'll try to be on my best behavior. You can call in, or post questions via Facebook and Twitter. All topics are fine, but you know I love talking shop. See you on the radio.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Ultimate Spider-Man — Proportion

Spider-Man Proportions. 2010. Pencil on paper, digitally manipulated.

I draw Spider-Man all the time (or at least I did before Daredevil), but this project was uniquely challenging — we needed to depict a younger version of Spider-Man, while still maintaining the physique of a (slightly) more mature adult. From the beginning, it seemed like the team was asking for opposing ideals: he needed to be bigger, more muscular, yet still look like he was 15 and nerdy. In order to graphically chart the challenge, I composed this diagram to compare and contrast differing proportions.

The far right figure is how I portray Spidey in most situations (though I often stretch anatomy to fit the gesture). To his immediate left is an almost laughable bobble head that served as an example to avoid. As we went back and forth in the sketch phase, I finally realized what was needed: big hands and feet. By adding that extra detail, it gave him an awkward quality that could communicate his age without taking away from his superheroic build.

I'm saving my final Spidey turnarounds for next week, but tomorrow I'll reveal my character studies for Doc Ock, including some incorporated reference from Marvel Studios. And while I have your attention, I've also got a new interview with the nice folks at Thought Bubble.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Ultimate Spider-Man — Preliminary Sketches

Ultimate Spider-Man Character Studies. 2010. Pencil on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

Nearly 2 years ago, I was asked to contribute concept art to Ultimate Spider-Man, Marvel's first attempt at a self-produced animated series. I had heard that Marvel was determined to employ its comic creators in other media venues and was quite honored to be asked for my own personal vision of an animated Spidey.

I was charged with creating sketches and turnarounds for several characters, but my comics schedule prevented me from contributing as much as was originally asked of me. Over the next 2 weeks, I'll be featuring all of the artwork that I managed to finish.

This page of sketches was one of the first pieces I did, done as much for me as for the team. I wanted to codify what makes my own take on Spidey unique, while explaining why I made the choices I did. The story centers on a teenaged Peter Parker, balancing high school with superheroics, so my main focus was how to convey a youthful spirit with powerful anatomy. Tomorrow, I'll explain in greater detail how I tried, with more or less success, to balance those competing attributes.