Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Wacky Reference Wednesday, No. 186

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

There is no detail too small. Here's my internet research for period-appropriate tomato cans.

1. Pencils  2. Digital Color Study

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sadako Sasaki

Sadako Sasaki. 2012. Watercolor on paper, 9 × 12″.

Every once in a while, I get a non-superhero commission. This is a portrait of Sadako Susaki, a young girl who survived the atomic blast at Hiroshima, only to develop leukemia as a result. The folding of 1000 paper cranes has become a symbol of her struggle, as well as the plight of all innocents who fall victim to war. John Higashi, who commissioned the portrait, has a growing collection, which you can see at Comic Art Fans.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Daredevil #19 Cover

Daredevil #19. 2012. Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on Marvel board, 11 × 17.25″.

This cover got lost in the fray—I meant to post it before I left for California, but never got the chance. Coyote is the the first villain I've ever gotten to design for Marvel (with one small exception). I even got to name him! He may not look like much, but I assure you, he'll be one of the toughest foes Daredevil's ever had to contend with.

I wanted to give him a sort of "jester" feel, which led to the faux collar and the medieval shoulder pads—I've always liked that cut, and Game of Thrones reminded me of it. I actually like the first sketch I did more, but felt it was a little too close to a classic Grendel cover. The characters already share a color scheme and I didn't want to make too many comparisons. I can't yet reveal all my design sketches, but I will after the story is published.

This is a Moses Magnum sketch which I don't think I ever shared. I had to redesign him for Amazing Spider-Man #577. It was a pretty simple costume, especially for a guy who makes earthquakes. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Wacky Reference Wednesday, No. 185

Amazing Spider-Man #641, Page 14. 2010. Ink on Marvel board, 11 × 17.25″.

Sometimes, all you need is a piece of paper. And sometimes, all you need is a paper towel. This little cut-out helped me keep that awesome collar in check. You can see this and more pages from One Moment in Time at Splash Page Comic Art .

Inks and Pencils

Digital Composite and Layout

Whenever I notice something that bugs me, I always draw an arrow or write a little note to myself. It helps me keep track of things in the midst of deadlines. I don't always listen though—I can't even remember why I made a note about Dr. Strange's forehead. This is back when I would erase pencil and use white-out; now I fix everything digitally. And since I often draw in blue-line, I don't even bother erasing.

Just a friendly reminder: my contest for Wacky Reference Wednesday # 200 is still going strong. It's your first (and possibly only) chance to art direct a fully-painted commission from me. Full details can be found here.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Painting the X-Men

Mythos: X-Men, Page 8. 2005. Oil on board, 16 × 24″.

This is a cross-post with Muddy Colors—An Illustration Collective.

I've been a Muddy reader since the blog's inception, so it's a great honor to be a contributing artist. My favorite posts have always been about process, so I thought an appropriate introduction to my work should involve just that. Specifically, my first few posts will explore the series of styles and media I've employed over the years, as well as the reasons for shifting gears. I began my professional career as an oil painter, and have slowly evolved into a traditional comic book style over the last 10 years. Mythos: X-Men, featured here, was the first book where I felt comfortable with my style—prior to that, every page was a true struggle. This book was still challenging, but I at least knew what my goal was and how to get there. The only drawback was the amount of time needed, and this 23-page comic (plus cover) took me roughly 10 months to complete. I was also painting other covers at the time, but my output was not adequate by any measure.

1. Pencil Layout, 4 × 6″  2. Digital Color Study

While my media have changed since this issue, my mental process is nearly identical. I begin each page with a small layout to work out compositions and ensure legibility (although now I sketch digitally). This rough is then scanned into Photoshop for a digital color study.

3. Pencils, 8 × 12″  4. Finalized Color Study

Once approved by my editor, it's just a case of refining the draftsmanship and color scheme. It may seem like a superfluous step, but it removes any doubt when it comes time to paint. Doubt can be an inspiring opponent, of course, but not when I'm trying to meet a deadline.

5. Transfer to Board  6. Final Painting.

Using a projector, I would transfer the page to custom-cut, primed masonite with burnt umber, a fast-drying oil pigment, often using odorless mineral spirits to draw by wiping back to the surface. I wouldn't do a full-fledged grisaille underpainting, but important areas—faces, hands, etc.—were fully rendered. Borders were painted in acrylic and taped off. I ended up adding the borders digitally for print, but the extra effort allowed me to sell the original paintings. The palette pictured above is a cookie sheet that locked into place with 2 rubber door stops on the underside of the easel. It was easily removed for more detailed work. At one point, I used a glass palette so I could mix colors on top of my digital color study. It was a nice trick, but I got tired of cleaning the surface.

Panel 4

After that, it was just a case of mixing the right color and putting it in the right place. I would often paint directly on my digital print to ensure the right color mix. While I was happy with the results, this took far too much time and ended up being my last issue in oil. Scanning was a challenge in itself, and I ended up spending a month just removing dust and glare from the pages in Photoshop. That alone was enough to  send me searching for another way to paint. In my next post, I'll show how I made the switch to acrylic and gouache with Mythos: Hulk.

Panel 5

If you'd like to see more of my work, I've been keeping a personal blog, The Self-Absorbing Man since 2007. You'll find the most information about my technique under the Theory and Step-by-Step labels. If you'd like to know how to make Cyclops' optic blast "glow," this post on lightsabers may be of interest. And finally, a good deal of my work can be viewed at my art dealer's site, Splash Page Comic Art.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Happy Fourth!

Captain Marvel #1 (Variant Cover). 2012. 
Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on Marvel board, 11 × 17.25″.

Okay, so this is a little late, but I meant to post it before I left for California. This is a variant cover for Captain Marvel #1, but it celebrates Spidey's 50th Anniversary, as well as our Independence Day.

While we're celebrating, here's a link to a Spike TV piece about the anniversary. I make a very brief appearance, but it was an honor to be interviewed along with such heavy-hitters of Spider-Man lore.

Back to the cover: the digital composite includes a view from Google Earth, as well as my own perspective guidelines. What's the best way to draw buildings? In the dark! You almost can't go wrong with the random pattern of lit windows at night. I think it was one of the Romitas who said to light them in horizontal rows, since that's how most offices would naturally be.

I made a blue-line version of the pencils for my Dad to ink and brought it back into Photoshop for color. The fireworks were drawn digitally using my Cintiq tablet.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wacky Reference Wednesday, No. 184

Bat-Candles. 2012. Ink and watercolor on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

This is a recent birthday present for a friend. It didn't require a ton of reference, but I always like getting the hands just right. Who knew all those utility pockets were for candles?

Since I was going to ink this piece myself, I "penciled" it digitally and printed it out in blue-line, inking and coloring overtop. Any stray blue marks were painted over in white Acryla Gouache, my standard for white-out.

And just a friendly reminder: my contest for Wacky Reference Wednesday # 200 is still going strong. It's your first (and possibly only) chance to art direct a fully-painted commission from me. Full details can be found here.

Monday, July 16, 2012


It would be difficult to find a happier group of people. This is the scene (captured by my wife to be) just after the Eisners ceremony. It was the best possible ending to a fabulous vacation filled with friends and family.

From getting personal tours of ILM (thanks, Sam!) and Airbnb (Thanks, Joe!) to staying in a lovely home in Sea Ranch (thanks, Carly!) to a multi-day Indian wedding with more choreographed dance numbers than a Broadway show (congrats Neha and Vish!) to a private wine tasting in Napa straight from the barrel (thanks Jeff!), this was a vacation for the record books. And to top it all off, I got to see some great shows: Daniel Clowes at the Oakland Museum of California, and Avengers Assemble! (among many others) at the Cartoon Art Museum. If you're in the area, they are must-see exhibitions.

Of course, a huge thanks goes out to the Daredevil team (wish everyone could have been there!) and all the readers who have supported the book. It's an honor and a privilege to be part of such an amazing team. In my 2 chances to mention them, I forgot to thank the formidable lineage of creators who preceded us on Daredevil, specifically Gene Colan and David Mazzucchelli, whose grace and style shines through every pose I've ever drawn of the Man Without Fear.

Photo-bombing the final scene of Die Hard 2—it's a huge matte painting in oil on glass.
Teaching Dad how to tie a tie, right before the Eisners.
Sea Ranch

More Sea Ranch
And last but not least, Thanos.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wacky Reference Wednesday, No. 183

Daredevil #1, Page 4. 2011. Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on Marvel board, 11 x 17".

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Monday, July 2, 2012

New York Comic Con 2011 — Spider-Man

Spider-Man. 2011. Watercolor on paper, 9 × 12″.

Perhaps you've heard of this guy? Sticks to walls. Swings on webs.

I'll be taking a blogging break for the next couple weeks while I'm out in California for a wedding (not mine) and the San Diego Comic Con (also not mine). I won't be signing books (unless you can catch me) or taking on commissions, but my art dealer, Splash Page Comic Art, will be at booth 4400 for the entire show.

Shameless pitch: do I have any fans (or friends) who work at Pixar? I'll be in the area with some time to kill and I'd rent my soul for a tour. Seriously.

Finally, although I'll be on break, Wacky Reference Wednesdays will still be posting on auto-pilot. And don't forget: I'm still accepting submissions for the WRW 200 contest!