Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 248

Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

Merry Christmas! I'll be taking the next couple weeks off from blogging, but I'll be back on January 8th for a very special Wacky Reference Wednesday. That's the day that Batman: Black & White #5 comes out, featuring a story by Ivan Brandon and myself. Happy Holidays, and happy New Year!

Curse you, people on my roof!

inks by my Dad
blue-line print of pencils

pencils of digital sketch
digital sketch

digital layout

Monday, December 23, 2013

Inking — Part 3 of 3

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

Ink on bristol board (with digital color), 11 × 17″.

This is the final installment of my 3-part series on inking (here are parts 1 and 2), but that doesn't mean there's not tons more to say about the craft. Having said that, talk is cheap — there's no substitute for actually doing it (or at least watching someone actually doing it). That being the case, I've put together a 1-hour inking demonstration that features fundamental mark-making, brush dynamics, and the thought process behind some of my choices.

It's a long video, so feel free to skip around. I talk for most of it (trying to channel my best Bob Ross) but there's a substantial audio delay in some parts. My apologies. If you make it all the way through, but still have questions, don't hesitate to ask in the comments section. As I said, there's quite a bit more I could say on the subject — hopefully that will eventually coalesce into a future post.



digital composite

pencil layout

Friday, December 20, 2013

Zürich Zoo

Zürich Zoo Sketches. 2012. Ink on paper, 10.5 × 8.25″.

Here are some sketches from my trip to Zürich last year. (My favorite animals are always the ones that stand still the longest.) In other news, this week was crazy in terms of new clients — 2014 is already shaping up as an interesting year with new opportunities. Hope they pan out.

As for prints, I may wait to offer Precious Cargo to international customers until after the new year. I'm going to close down the online store until Jan 8, so today is the last day for new orders. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 247

Green Hornet #8 Cover. 2013.
Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

Green Hornet #8 is out today and here is a preview. My contribution is pictured above, with a step-by-step breakdown below. I did this cover while visiting my 'rents in sunny Florida — the unfamiliar background behind me is my Dad's studio. I colored it there as well, using my old Cintiq 12WX. (All my old technology eventually finds its way to Florida.) Aside from the Photo Booth pic of myself, I used plenty of internet reference to get the look of the car right.

Nice Red Sonja sculpture, Dad!

inks by my Pops
blue-line print of pencils

pencils over digital sketch
digital sketch

digital layout

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Lord of the Rings: Precious Cargo

Precious Cargo (Lord of the Rings). 2012.
Photoshop, 24 × 36″ @400ppi.

The first 5 of 20 screen prints will go on sale here at 11am PST today. Posters will be shipped in heavy-duty tubes, wrapped in tissue paper. Please indicate if you'd like it signed. US Customers only. 1 poster per household. The cost is $100, plus $15 for shipping and handling. Thanks! (Photos courtesy of Mondo)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Daredevil #1 (Again)

Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

You may have seen this posted on Twitter last week, but I figured now was a good time to add it to the blog. I actually had the rough idea for this quite a while ago (we're talking 2004-ish) but I just never got around to putting it to paper. When I was asked to contribute a variant cover for the relaunch of the series, I felt the time had finally come.

The background was done digitally, but I had my Dad refine it in the inks. I'll show the step-by-step process (along with the "wacky" reference) when it comes out next year.

Speaking of next year, I'll be in Amsterdam next February. If there happen to be any stores there that would like to host a signing, just let me know and hopefully I can fit it into my schedule.

Lastly, I'm almost ready to start selling my Lord of the Rings prints. The cost will be $100 plus shipping. I have about 20 to sell, and the first 5 will go up tomorrow (Tuesday). These will be open to US customers only, but if everything goes smoothly, I'll expand it to international orders. Thanks!

original inks by my Dad

Friday, December 13, 2013

Supercon Commissions

Ink and watercolor on sketch cover, 7 × 10.5″.

Here's a sampling of some of the sketch covers I did this past July in Miami. The Punisher sketch below was something novel for me: I watercolored over an ink drawing by Ariel Olivetti. I had never considered doing that before, but I had a lot of fun with it (especially because all the hard work had been done). I never had the chance to meet Ariel, but we share the same art rep.

In other news, I bought Manga Studio 5 this week. I own 4, but never used it, so now I'm making a special effort to learn it. It's going well so far — I'm using it to do layouts for my graphic novel. I still prefer Photoshop, but that's probably because I'm used to it. What I wanted from MS5 was the ability to treat a book as a single file that could be easily edited. Since I'm writing for myself now, I wanted a little more freedom with the page and panel count. Hopefully it can speed me up a bit as well.

Have a great weekend!

Ariel Olivetti. PUNISHER. 2013.
Ink and watercolor on sketch cover, 7 × 10.5″.

Ink and watercolor on sketch cover, 7 × 10.5″.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 246

Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

Five Ghosts #7 is out and I provided a so-called Phantom Variant for the issue. From what I understand, I think that means it's rare... though I'm not sure what that means, numbers-wise. (Here's a review of the issue.) What's not rare are pics of myself on my hard drive. Here's this week's sampling.

For those of you not familiar with the title, it follows the adventures of Fabian Gray, who is haunted by the ghosts of 5 literary figures. It's high-concept, high-adventure, and a joy to read.

Aside from the "selfies," I found plenty of stylistic reference online

inks by my Dad
blue-line print of pencils

pencils over a digital sketch
digital sketch

digital layouts

Monday, December 9, 2013

Inking — Part 2 of 3

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

Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

Part 1, Part 3

In the last post on inking, I covered the thought process behind inking, but not much of the technical aspects. This post (and the next) will cover my primary tools and why I use them. At the end, you'll find a time lapse inking video for my Weird Science cover, the process for which I detailed in October.


I use Holbein's Special Black ink, which is waterproof, meaning that once it dries, it's impervious to water. That allows me to go over it with watercolor if need be. I used to use Pelikan Drawing Ink A, but I stopped after I tried the Holbein. (I also use their products for my paints. You can often catch them at comic convention like San Diego and New York where they offer great discounts — that's almost exclusively where I do all my shopping.)

I always pour my ink out into a palette cup with an airtight lid. Having a decent-sized opening to dip into will keep your brush clean (and your fingers too). I also like to let it sit for a bit before diving in — fresh ink has a very low viscosity, which means less covering power. I keep a water spritzer close by in case it gets too thick, or I want a wash effect.

Ink and watercolor on bristol board, 11 × 17.25″.

White Out:

I use Holbein Titanium White Acryla Gouache, which is an acrylic paint that dries to a matte finish. This is not its intended purpose, but it works really well, especially if you have to go back over it with ink. I use it mostly for special effects and "negative" shapes where it's easier to paint in white than ink around — stars, wires, leaves, etc.

2009. Ink on bristol board, 11 × 17″.


I ink (and draw and paint) on Strathmore 500 Series bristol board, 2-ply with a semi-smooth finish. It's pre-cut to 11 × 17″ which is standard size for comic art. The 500 Series is ideal because it's cotton-based, which means it's more archival and can hold up well to water. I watercolor on this all the time, and sometimes even do more involved gouache techniques.


I use a Winsor & Newton Series 7 #6 brush for most of my inking work. Most people tell me that's bigger than they prefer, but I wouldn't have it any other way. A large brush holds more ink and, as a result, can supply consistent marks for an extended period of time. It can cover large areas quickly, or provide as fine of detail as its smallest counterpart. Because the individual hairs are longer, they have more "time" to escape from the ferrule and reconvene at the point. The shorter the hairs get, the greater the chance that a small kink at the base can culminate in a splayed tip.

The whole reason we use brushes is their flexibility. A large brush acts a shock absorber for your hand, smoothing out any stray movements into a flowing line. With a tiny brush, every minuscule tremor, especially at slow speeds, is directly translated (and hence recorded) to the paper.

2008. Ink on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

All that being said, I do own smaller brushers. I usually keep a #2 or #3 around just in case — this is mostly for lettering, special effects, and lines with little variation in width (I'm looking at you, Spider-Man). I have a #2 brush that I purposefully take piss-poor care of — the ends have splayed out in such a way that I can form a small "rake" that creates 4 tiny, parallel lines — perfect for scruffy beards (now at you, Punisher).

2009. Ink on bristol board, 11 × 17″.


When I go to comic conventions, much of the day is spent drawing and inking commissions. While I prefer the traditional brush and ink setup, you can't beat the convenience of a nylon brush with a self-contained ink reservoir. The warm-up sketches below were all done with Pentel's brush pens. I like them quite a bit, although I have to say that their "gray" is much, much darker than their black. Maybe I just have a defective batch? There are 3 colored brushes in the set (black, gray, and sepia), and an empty one intended for water. I just fill that with Holbein ink and it works just as well as the others. You never have to wash the brush; just put the cap back on.

WARM-UP SKETCHES (after Jordi Bernet, Alex Raymond, and Moebius).
2013. Ink on paper, 10.5 × 8.25″.

Brush Washer:

Last, but not least, I find the brush washer to be more important than most people give it credit for. Half of inking well is just loading the brush appropriately. I've found that many who shy away from inking with a brush (preferring instead a pen nib) are dipping the brush much too far into the ink well. When I ink, I keep the ink far away from the ferrule which, aside from making the flow easier to control, gives the brush a longer lifespan. My loaded brush is actually on the drier side — I want just enough ink to keep the hairs together, but not so much that it drips. When I touch the brush to the paper, I only want ink to flow when I move.

I have a standard brush washer, but I attached a steel wire that helps me squeeze out all the excess water. I keep a paper towel clipped to it as well. I'm not just drying off my brush; I'm modulating the water content according to the effect I desire. I also keep scrap paper on the drawing board to help shape and test the brush. Above all, you inking demands predictable results, so always test things out until you're comfortable and confident.

Ink on bristol board with digital color, 13 × 19″.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Luna Lovegood

LUNA LOVEGOOD. 2012. Watercolor on paper, 9 × 12″.

I still haven't read any of the Harry Potter books, but I've been to the ride at Universal Studios which makes me an expert. I also saw the last movie. Above is a portrait of the character Luna Lovegood… that's all I know.

For those of you near my hometown of Daytona Beach, I'll have some signed comics, prints, and an original sketch up for auction to benefit Empty Bowls. It will take place at my old high school this evening. We were the Buccaneers, which may explain the sketch below (it may not). The sketch is inside a Walking Dead #100 hardcover collection.

Ink on book page, 7 × 10.5″.

And lastly, I wanted to let you know that a friend of mine (and former RISD Balls teammate), Cameron Davis, has a project you can support on Crowd Supply called Sleepwalker. He's already hit his funding goal, but there's still a week left to join the parade and get sweet rewards. I've gotten the chance to look at the project as it progressed and am very happy that it's finally going to see the light of day. He describes it as the children's book he always wanted to read as a child.

Have a great weekend!

Cameron Davis. The Spirit of Generosity