Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Wacky Reference Wednesday, No. 199

Bernini's Elephant. 2002. Watercolor on paper, ~ 11 × 17″.

Hurricane Sandy made for a crazy Monday night, but we're doing just fine. Thanks for all the kind words and well wishes via Twitter and Facebook (glad to still have power and internet). There are plenty more people who did not fare as well, so please give to the Red Cross if you can — the storm hit more than just the Eastern Seaboard.

I don't know if this counts as Wacky Reference, but I'm feeling nostalgic today and that makes anything fair game. I painted Bernini's Elephant from life during my junior year in Rome, and took this pic on the same day that I took last week's Wacky Reference. You know how art teachers constantly tell you not to paint from photos? They're right (we just don't always have a choice).

The Disney Empire Strikes Back

Sorry. I had to do something fun today.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Painting Captain America

Mythos: Captain America. 2007. Gouache and acrylic on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

Captain America was the final installment in the Mythos series, a 23-page retelling of his origin. Now that I think back on the project as a whole, Cap was the only issue that wasn't "updated" for modern audiences. The reasons for that are (obviously) unique to Cap's personal story — created before America entered WWII, he preceded even the company that would come to own him. When Paul Jenkins and I were first approached with the concept, the main goal was to bridge the gap between Marvel comics and Marvel movies, easily done through the excision of anachronistic references.

Mythos: Captain America, Page 19, Panel 2. 2008. 
Acrylic and gouache on bristol board, 11 x 17".

But Cap was different. This was a period piece that demanded earnest historical research. Every detail in every panel had to ring true, even though the story itself flirted with fantasy. While I used every source at my disposal, what often helped the most was the on-line community of WWII reenactors, whose dedication to accuracy — and willingness to share — afforded me an authority I would not have otherwise had.

Mythos: Captain America, Page 12, Panel 3. 2008. 
Gouache, watercolor, and acrylic on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

When we started with the X-Men in late 2004, the Marvel brand was a competitive force at the box office, yet those movies were all produced by licensees. Marvel Studios had an ambitious plan, but its first movie, Iron Man, was still 3 years away. While we had less than nothing to do with those carefully laid plans, Marvel's publishing arm did want our schedule to coincide with at least some of those releases.

The series did less than amazing in terms of sales, but Marvel still followed through with the project until we had enough issues to collect into a beautiful hardcover. If nothing else, it proved to be a fantastic platform for jumpstarting my career — aside from being paired with a top-tier writer, I got to illustrate the cream of the crop in terms of Marvel characters. And all that while I was still a rookie: when they gave me the job, I had painted just 34 pages for them.

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

The fact that I was commissioned to work on Marvel's flagship characters so early on was a privilege I recognized from the start, however, the benefits extended to my original art sales, which quickly became a third of my income (a much-welcomed addition since I was such a slow painter). If you're not familiar with the comic book art market, the price paid always comes down to which characters are on the page. Art is a commodity like everything else, and fame always trumps any intrinsic value. Captain America was (and always will be) more famous than me, but he has been kind enough to let me share in the spotlight.

With regard to my painting technique, it had not changed much since Mythos: Ghost Rider. I was a little older, more experienced, and more confident in my skills, but the basic process was the same. If you'd like more details about my methods, I took an exhaustive, 6-post look at the creation of the above page on my own blog. I don't paint much anymore, but when I do, the steps are basically the same.

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

Steve Rogers. 2008. Super Sculpey Firm, 3″ tall.

Another practice that I continued with Cap involved sculpting maquettes. One of the things I love most about Marvel heroes is that they don't always look the part. In fact, Captain America was the first in the entire Mythos series who had the classic heroic look (despite the fact that he doesn't start out that way). Creating that square jaw from scratch ensured that I got exactly the look I was going for, panel after panel. This was the largest of the maquettes I've made — the head's about 2 inches tall — and I still use it as a general reference for all types of heroes. You can see more pictures of it here, and more about my sculpting tools here.

Mythos: Captain America, Page 14. 2008. Gouache and acrylic on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

Mythos: Captain America, Page 2. 2008. Gouache and acrylic on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

Cap's story was also a dream to paint because of the wide array of places and people that set his stage. At first glance, he may seem to be one of the most jingoistic creations of all time, but in terms of setting alone, his adventures spanned continents, from the Lower East Side to Italy to Russia to Tunisia. No other book offered such diversity.

Captain America: The First Avenger. 2011. Gouache and acrylic on bristol board, 16 × 24″.

Perhaps one of the coolest things to come out of painting the issue was to be cited as an inspiration for last year's movie. Cap himself, Chris Evans, mentioned our issue in an interview about his preparation for the role (video below). To top it off, I also got to paint a limited edition poster that was given to the cast and crew, including Joe Simon, who co-created Cap along with Jack Kirby. I heard that he loved it, which is more than I could've asked for.

That wraps up this rather extended look at Mythos. If, by some incredible chance, you still haven't had your fill, here are all the Wacky Reference Wednesdays that feature art from Cap: week 12, 24, 32, 33, 35, 39, 40, 49, 67, 70, 71, 72, 73, 77, 79, 80, 81, 83, 91, 99, 100, 109, 110, 113, 122, 139, 140, 154, 186, and 190. There's also plenty more of the original art that can be seen at Splash Page Comic Art.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Black Cats, Spidey, and a Beast

Black Cat. 2012. Watercolor on paper, 9 × 12″.

Black Cat and Spidey. 2011. Ink on sketch cover.

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

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Wacky Reference Wednesday, No. 198

Sometimes — just sometimes — a painting serves as the "wacky" reference for a photo. I couldn't be more flattered. All I can say is that I hope a similar scene appears in the movie — and that there's an electrical outlet in the empty alcove. This isn't the first time Marvel Studios have used comic artwork as inspiration for movie posters. Just look at the Captain America poster based on Steve Epting's artwork.

Iron Man #63 Cover. 2002. Oil on illustration board, 20 × 30″.

This was my very first cover for Marvel, painted a decade ago in my parents' garage (in between shifts at the Olive Garden). I'm glad I didn't sell it. I'll be the one screaming in the audience opening night.

I've featured this painting on the blog countless times, but here's the photo of the Pantheon that served as reference for the armory. It's not every day that I can make a special trip to Italy for a photo shoot, but this happened to be my last day in Rome after a year of study there (part of RISD's European Honors Program). When I took it, I had no idea that in just a couple months, I'd have my first professional gig for Marvel.

For those of you interested in the Wacky Reference Wednesday contest, I've extended the deadline by one week, so you can all use Halloween as an excuse for dressing up.

And finally, if you happen to stop by the comic shop today, Wolverine Max #1 is out, for which I did a variant cover. And if you still have money left over, the original art is for sale at Splash Page Comic Art.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Daredevil #22 Cover

Daredevil #22 Cover. 2012. Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on Marvel board, 11 × 17.25″.

This was one of my latest covers released in the midst of the New York Comic Con. It features the new "Superior" Spider-Man costume, which is much like the old, save a few tweaks here and there. This will probably be my last Daredevil cover for a while, but I hope to come back at some point — there are still a few images that I just have to get out of my head. I was also able to record most of the digital drawing phase for this cover, so I'll be sure to make a time lapse video of that in the future.

The deadline for the Wacky Reference Wednesday 200 Contest is fast approaching (the 24th). Should I extend it another week? That would give you guys the chance to incorporate Halloween costumes if need be. Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Thanos. 2012. Watercolor and acrylic on paper, 9 × 12″.

Busy week! Here's a a Thanos commission that I did just prior to the Boston Comic Con earlier this year. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

All New X-Men #1 Variant Cover

All New X-Men #1 Variant Cover. 2012. 
Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on Marvel board, 11 × 17.25″.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Wacky Reference Wednesday, No. 197

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

Daredevil #19 comes out today (here's a preview), so I thought it would be a good time to share my reference for the cover. We ended up going with a very simple pose, but that meant I had to get it just right. I'm actually still not happy with the hands, partly because I had always intended to cover them in blood, making them "pop" a bit more while simultaneously defining the form in 3 dimensions.

My first layout sketch is still my favorite, but it was just too close to Matt Wagner's Grendel art. That being said, I gave Coyote a Shakespearean silhouette, so I thought the Hamlet reference was appropriate. Ultimately, we went with the straight-forward approach and a (bloody) red background, as opposed to all black.

Digital Layout

Digital Layout

Digital Composite



Coyote Skull Studies

Character Studies

Thanks, NYCC!

I just wanted to say thank you to all the fans who stopped by my table. A friend of mine sat behind me for a bit and said it must be nice to have a constant stream of people telling you that you're awesome. I can't disagree. Thanks for all the love and support, folks! And thanks to the New York Comic Con for putting on such a great show — it gets bigger and better every year.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Wacky Reference Wednesdays Contest

The White Queen (Tending the Hellfire). 2009.
Acryla Gouache and gouache on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

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

I have an ongoing series on my blog called Wacky Reference Wednesdays. Most often, it just features embarrassing photos of myself taken in the name of reference for my drawings and paintings. To celebrate the 200th installment, I'm hosting a contest. It's very simple: you send me pictures of yourself, your costumes, props, toys, 3D models—whatever it takes—and I'll choose one lucky winner as the basis for a painting which they get to keep.

The Rules:

1. one entry per person, 2 characters at the most in the composition
2. entries must be submitted to wrw200@paolorivera.com
3. they're due on or by October 24, 2012
4. submission of photos grants permission to post them here

The Prizes:

1st Place: an original painting based on your reference
2nd Place: a Daredevil #1 blank variant with DD sketch
3rd Place: a signed print
Runners-Up: photos will be posted on my blog

It's open to everyone. I'm looking for originality (not just a pic from last Halloween), perhaps some humor or narrative (all in good taste), and great lighting and composition. You can even photoshop elements together. Basically, make me want to paint it, and make it a complete composition. Good luck!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Wacky Reference Wednesday, No. 196

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

We have a guest in the hot seat for today's Wacky Reference Wednesday: X-editor Nick Lowe, who sent me this photo of himself along with a description of what he wanted. While I didn't end up using the reference directly, it was enough to get the point across. We ended up flipping the point of view, as we didn't want to reveal just who those hands belonged to.

For the same reason, I colored 2 different versions of the cover — one for solicitations and Previews... and the final (blue background) cover, which subtly hints at the character's identity. There's another hint in an early layout sketch below. Missing from Nick's pic are handcuffs, which were easy enough to find on-line.

This will be my last post for the week. New York Comic Con starts tomorrow and there's plenty to do. Hope to see some blog readers there. Have a great weekend!




NYCC 2012 Info

Iron Man. 2012. Watercolor on paper, 9 × 12″.

New York Comic Con is almost here! I'll be there all day, every day, at table J10, right next to Joe Quinones and Maris Wicks (among many, many others). Artist Alley is in the North Pavilion, so face the water and take a right.

Face Paint will be available for $40 at my table or from Essential Sequential. And if you can't make it to the show, you can order it via the Paypal button in the sidebar. We can ship to the US, Canada, and the EU, but no orders will be filled until after the show.

If you'd like to bid on my Daredevil pin-up while supporting a good cause, check out the art auction on Saturday night, October 13th at 8pm in room 1A07.

I'll be signing at the Marvel booth on Friday from 1-2pm... and at my own table on the even hours of the day, especially if you have multiple books (which I hope you do).

And finally, a special note about CGC grading this year: certified signatures will be exclusively through Hero Initiative at booth 1575. It makes things easier for me and it supports their cause. See you at the show!