Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sketch Night — Society of Illustrators

Society of Illustrators: Sketch Night. 2012.
Pencil and ink on paper, 10.5 × 8.5″.

Here's another page from my sketchbook featuring Sketch Night at the Society of Illustrators. I finally got to the last page in the book — it only took me 8 years. I went again on Tuesday night and used my pocket-sized Moleskine sketchbook. Art teachers have always told me to draw big — I've never listened. Even if you don't draw, the top floor is worth a visit for the Al Hirschfield exhibit, which closes tomorrow.

I'll leave you this week with a sneak peek of my perspective template, which I'm going to release through Kickstarter (if I can ever get my act together). I've been "beefing" it up with extra patterns, including hexagon tiles, diamonds, circles, checkerboards, windows, and bricks. If there's something you'd like to see offered, now's the time to let me know. I'm even contemplating a curvilinear set if there's enough interest.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Wacky Reference Wednesday, No. 177

Daredevil #1, Page 2, Panel 6. 2011.
Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on Marvel board, 11 × 17.25″.

My girlfriend took me on a Daredevil tour of the city last weekend—completely by accident. We had always wanted to see the Cloisters, so we made a day of it, but as we meandered back down Manhattan, we were unwittingly visiting the landmarks from the first 3 issues: The Cloisters, the building I based the law offices on (both from issue 1), The High Line (issue 2), and the West Side Highway intersection where he fights Klaw (issue 3). It helped that the last 3 landmarks are all near each other, but it was serendipitous, nonetheless.

When I did the above panel, I was basing it entirely off of other people's photos (OPP!) that I found on-line, as well as a Google Maps 3D model of the place. It was nice to finally see it in person, though it was strange to know a place so well that I'd never actually visited. As you can see, I made some minor changes to the courtyard, gutting most of the garden, and putting a large tree on the right (for DD to swing around).

As usual, it all starts with a rough layout, upon which I overlay digital guidelines. I still need to dedicate a series of posts to my perspective template, but I'm planning to offer it as a download, hopefully via Kickstarter. I'm beefing it up so it's worth it. For more of the Cloisters reference that went into this sequence, check out WRW, No. 157.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Memorial Day

Mythos: Captain America. 2008. Gouache and acrylic on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

Thank you to all who have served and continue to serve.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

NYCC 2011 Commissions — Daredevil

Daredevil. 2011. Watercolor on paper, 9 × 12″.

I still haven't made it through all of the head shots from New York Comic Con, so here's yet another. It was commissioned by Christine of The Other Murdock Papers, a great blog on all things Daredevil and an invaluable part of my research for the series.

Here's a photo from the same con with me as Casey Jones from the Ninja Turtles (not Jason) along with my table mates, Joe Quinones (Han Solo) and Maris Wicks (Poison Ivy). I just secured my table for this year's show, so I hope to see everybody again in October.

Last but not least, here's Nova hailing a cab.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Wacky Reference Wednesday, No. 176

X-Men Unlimited #48 Cover. 2003. Oil on masonite, 12 × 18″.

While digging through the archives the other day, I stumbled upon some old reference for this cover, painted while I was a senior at RISD. I spend most of my time working alone now (sniff), but back in those days, the Illustration Building 4th floor studio was a lively place filled with friends and constant inspiration.

I asked one of those friends, Go Sugimoto, if he would like to ride shotgun in the cab Wolverine was surfing. I asked my friend, Maris Wicks, to print out this reference for me in the computer lab. Somehow, a picture of her with glowing eyes and a blurry-handed Juan Diaz ended up on the print. Or something like that—it was a long time ago. You can see me posing as the Clawed Canuck on Wacky Reference Wednesday #20.

Speaking of RISD, my Captain America movie poster will be on display in Providence for the ICON 7 show. The opening is June 13th—I'm going to pretend it's a college reunion.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Consistent Cropping

Daredevil #10, Page 15. 2012. Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on Marvel board, 11 × 17.25″.

Here's a tip for cropping pages consistently throughout every stage of the creative process. It's very minor, almost trivial, but it's a time-saver if digital compositing is part of your otherwise traditional workflow.

I draw on Marvel board, which comes with pre-printed guidelines for bleed, trim, and a copy-safe area. If you've ever aspired to be a comic book artist, then you're probably quite familiar with the pages. (As a young boy, I was pretty sure that acquiring those pages would be the key to unlocking my potential. Ha!) The point is, it's a useful format for comics and is standard practice for a reason.

But if you've ever scanned in large batches of pages, chances are good that not every page was either straight, or the right size. There are many ways to fix this in Photoshop—here's how I do it:

1. After scanning the page, I switch to my cropping tool (just press "C"), then select my tool preset, which was saved previously with the desired dimensions—4125 × 6262 pixels. (You may require different dimensions, but this is standard for Marvel. It's the equivalent of scanning the 11 × 17 art at 400 dpi).

2. Check the "perspective" box. If you select it before creating your tool preset, then you'll never have to worry about it again.

3. Drag the corners of the marquee to the corners of your image—I print a border around the image at each stage. I usually zoom in to the pixel level and drag to the outside of the crop marks. I use the "navigator" window to jump from corner to corner without zooming out. Double click or hit "return" to execute.

We leave the corners blank so the crop marks remain visible.

That's it. You're left with each and every page, perfectly cropped to the correct pixel dimensions. Now, if you need to composite digital elements, like borders, it's a seamless operation. Just remember to keep your corners visible on your art. I always leave a blank corner if the ink extends past the bleed.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sketch Night

Society of Illustrators: Sketch Night. 2012. Pencil and ink on paper, 10.5 × 8.5″.

Here's something I rarely do: draw for fun. Back in March, I went with a group of friends to the Society of Illustrators for Sketch Night, a weekly event that includes quick poses and live music. Despite drawing every day for comics, I felt a bit rusty—the last time I had gone to Sketch Night was back in the mid-2000s. I did do a few painting session back in 2010, but gesture drawing seems like an entirely different pursuit. Even so, I had a great time. Who knows when I'll get a chance to go again...

For those of you who missed it on Twitter, last week I drew a tribute to Maurice Sendak. Although I loved his books as a kid, I never really appreciated him fully until I saw a retrospective of his work at The Jewish Museum—it's still one of the best shows I've seen in New York. Also, if you haven't seen his interview with Stephen Colbert, it's definitely worth your time: Part I & Part II.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Wacky Reference Wednesday, No. 175

Amazing Spider-Man #577, Page 30, Panels 3-4. 2008.
Ink on Marvel board, 11 × 17.25″. Original Art

I rarely use Sketchup these days, unless it's to download and pose a ready-made model, such as a car or building, from the 3D warehouse. It's faster for me now to sketch everything "by eye" and overlay a perspective grid in Photoshop. But back in 2008, I was still building models from scratch, an example of which can be seen below.

It's not exactly the most exciting piece of architecture—it's just the tail end of a mid-size cargo ship—but it was a set-piece that appeared in several panels, and thus required many different perspectives. Like I said, I'd do it differently now, but it worked well enough at the time. What I find these models best for are vehicles with complex curves, and any kind of architecture with repetition, i.e. tiling or columns; this model is neither.

I should also mention that this shot, as well as all the others, were based on several photos of an actual supply vessel. I found a site, Maritime Sales, Inc., that had just what I wanted. If you're ever in need of a particular kind of reference, find someone who's trying to sell it.

Monday, May 14, 2012

It's a Girl!

Beanie Bean. 2012. Gouache and acrylic on paper, 12 × 9″.

All right, so she's not my girl, but "Beanie" is my girlfriend's new niece and she is "nuclear cute." I finally got to meet her in Atlanta this past weekend. It's been quite some time since I held a baby (they're heavy). With a terrifying grip, ample cheeks and hair, I just had to paint her for Mother's Day.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Cover Sketches

Cover Sketches. 2011. Pencil and watercolor on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

I don't really keep a sketchbook anymore, but these are some random sketches for various covers. Most of my comps are digital now, but I'd like to get back in the habit of sketching on paper. We'll see if that happens. You can see these and other covers in my Picasa gallery, which collects all the artwork posted on the blog.

I'm off to Atlanta this weekend for a wedding. Got a brand new suit and shoes, too, so nothing can stop me. I may also have a crazy announcement soon.

It's been a strange week. I'm imagining MCA, Maurice Sendak, and Vidal Sassoon kickin' it in the afterlife. May they party in peace.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Wacky Reference Wednesday, No. 174

Daredevil #10, Page 1. 2012. Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) with
digital color (by Javier Rodriguez) on Marvel board, 11 × 17.25″.

I've checked the dates, and it looks like Wacky Reference #200 will fall on Halloween this year. With such an auspicious coincidence, I may just have to host a WRW contest. I've been mulling over the details, but I'll announce it as soon as I have a some clue of what I'm doing. In the meantime, here are 2 awesome pictures of me in my Daytona Beach, Summer of 2006 t-shirt... with a rolled-up piece of paper.

1. Digital Layout  2. Pencils

3. Blue-line print  4. Inks

Sunday, May 6, 2012

NYCC 2011 Commissions — Captain America

Captain America. 2011. Watercolor on paper, 9 × 12″.

I hope you all enjoyed The Avengers this weekend. Judging by the record-breaking opening, I'm guessing everyone went. I'm probably going to go again once the crowds thin out a bit.

While Cap is probably still my favorite of the team, I like his WWII-era suit better. I hope they can incorporate some of the old-school elements in the next iteration. I've been toying with the idea of designing a revamp myself, just for fun.

It's tough to make those costumes work in the real world, and the design team made a lot of subtle, but key decisions that helped to bridge the gap. Iron Man still wins for me in terms of sheer cool factor. I'd love to get to see a full armory of suits in Iron Man 3.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Superman and Boom Tube (after Kirby)

Superman and Boom Tube (after Kirby). 2012.
Gouache and acrylic on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

I assume everyone on earth will probably be seeing Avengers today, so here's a character you won't be seeing in the movie. What you will see is the creative force of Jack Kirby "krackling" throughout. That level of action and power didn't exist before Kirby put pencil to paper, so remember where it came from. The man was a walking Tesseract.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Wacky Reference Wednesday, No. 173

Daredevil #12 Cover. 2012. Ink on Marvel board, 11 × 17.25″.

Today marks the debut of Chris Samnee on Daredevil—you're all in for a treat. You can see a 5-page preview here. I provided the "pulse-pounding" cover for the issue, going so far as to ink it myself (I can't let my Dad have all the fun).

Hot! Hot! Hot!

I had originally submitted this concept for issue 3 of the series, but there wasn't room for the scene. My editor, Steve Wacker, also rightfully pointed out that we hadn't yet established the radar sense by that point—covers are submitted a couple months in advance. 

The 2 bottom pics are from last year, while I was still living in Brooklyn. Since they were mirror images, the buttons are on the correct side for a woman's shirt. It's a minor detail, but a lot of new artists miss it.

1. Pencil sketch with digital color  2. Digital Composite  3. Original art

This was a relatively simple cover, so I just inked over the blue-line print of my digital sketch. Once I got into coloring, however, I ended up making the whole shirt flat black. It was a happy accident, but I liked the resultant tone.