Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Walking Dead 100 Project

The Walking Dead #100 Project. 2012.
Acryla Gouache on sketch cover, 14 × 10.5″.

I finally got the go-ahead to reveal my contribution for the Hero Initiative's newest "100 Project." I imagine the scene to be taking place around issue #67 or so. Things are not going well, to say the least, but they're about to find hope. These covers aren't up for auction just yet, but the Hulk I did for them is on the block.

I'm off to Providence today to speak to RISD students. I don't think it's going to be an open lecture after all, but it will include a couple classes. In other news, I'll be doing a variant cover for Action Comics #18, my first professional gig for DC (!). And for those of you who enjoyed my recent Lord of the Rings work, I'll be doing another movie poster for Mondo... for one of my favorite movies ever.

Have a great weekend!

Rick, get out of there!!

Look out!

You're surrounded!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 210

Spectacular Spider-Man #14, Page 1, Panel 4. 2004.
Oil on masontie, 16 × 24″.

R. Kikuo Johnson plays a great thief in this panel from Spectacular Spidey #14. And Ryan Dunn plays the inquisitive cop. Ryan also played the part of Joey, whom some of you might remember. All part of a great story from Paul Jenkins — and my first crack at Spider-Man. Fond memories all around.

My roommates were always willing to lend a hand (or a face).

I bought a lot of groceries from this Key Food.

Digital Color Study
Pencil Layout

Sunday, January 27, 2013

100 Covers!

100 Marvel Covers. 2002-2013. Various mediums and sizes.

As promised, here's a compilation of my first 100 Marvel covers. It only took me 10 years. Crazy to think that N.C. Wyeth did over 3,000 paintings... and he didn't have Photoshop. I uploaded this pic a bit larger so be sure to click on it for the full effect.

I'll be heading to Providence on Friday to give a lecture at RISD, my alma mater. Not sure of the venue yet, but it may be open to all students. (Hopefully, we'll get the ISB Gallery). Hope to see you there!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cyclops — The Other One

Cyclops. 2012. Watercolor with acrylic highlights on paper, 9 × 12″.

I've always been a huge fan of Ray Harryhausen, so I was happy to get this request for the Cyclops from The 7th Voyage of Sinbad. As is often the case with commissions, it's painted in watercolor with white Holbein Acryla Gouache used for highlights. In general, it's faster for me to paint transparently, but nothing beats a quick opaque stroke, even on a mug as lovely as this one.

Thanks to everyone who came out for Dare 2 Draw! We had a fantastic turnout, and it made for a wonderful evening — we even got some drawing done, some pages of which I've posted below. I hope to participate again, so stay tuned.

In case you hadn't been following along, my Lord of the Rings poster, Precious Cargo, sold out in about 3 minutes. Much as I'd like to take full credit for the demand, that seems to be the standard for Mondo posters. That being said, I've since had many requests for copies. While I will eventually have a small number of posters to dispense as I see fit, I haven't decided how to do so just yet. As soon as I do know, I'll post it here.

Have a great weekend!

2-5 minute poses
10-20 minute poses

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Precious Cargo

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

Part of me wanted to name this "Precious Moments." This limited edition, screen-printed poster will be available today from Mondo Posters. From what I hear, these things go fast, so follow them via social media for the latest updates. This is my first time working with the team, but I hope to work with them again. We wants it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 209

Avenging Spider-Man #16. 2012.
Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on Marvel board, 11 × 17.25″.

This cover came out last week, but I'll bet you can still find it at your local comic shop. I'm working on the cover to issue 21 at the moment. Judging from the picture below, it looks like I was working on this cover just after waking up. Yeesh.

I was actually fairly tired while drawing this cover. So tired that I just gave up on Wolverine's foot — the old hide-his-feet-with-smoke trick. It was all going to be hidden by the Marvel Now! trade dress, so I let myself get away with it. As you can see in the pencils, I actually drew his foot... I just didn't care for the way it looked.

Inks by my Pops
Pencils (with increased contrast)

Digital Composite
Digital Layout

Dare 2 Draw

I'll be hosting tomorrow night's Dare 2 Draw at the Society of Illustrators. Mark Chiarello was originally slated for the event, but he had to bow out due to the flu. (Hope you feel better, Mark!) I'm only in slightly better shape due to a tumble on the ski slopes, but I can hobble around to answer questions and lead the discussion. Hopefully, my mutant healing factor will kick in.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Iron and Spider Men

Iron Man Variant Cover. 2012.
Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on Marvel board, 11 × 17.25″.

Hope everyone is enjoying the long weekend. I'm taking a little break, myself. These 2 covers were just released in the latest Marvel solicitations, so I thought I'd share them here as well. The Iron Man variant is based on his second costume (I think) which introduced the world to the familiar red and gold color scheme. It also featured enlarged eyeholes to "provide a psychological advantage over his adversaries." I'm paraphrasing, but it happens to be one of my favorite panels in Marvel history.

Spidey is pictured below (Superior Spidey, if you haven't been following along) and faces a villainous threat from the land of dreams. Will he survive? Probably. But that's comics. I'm really enjoying this run on Avenging Spider-Man. The book seems to have a little more fun with the character, and I hope it shows.

Avenging Spider-Man #19 Cover. 2012.
Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on Marvel board, 11 × 17.25″.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Bettie and Bond

Bettie Page. 2012. Watercolor on paper, 9 × 12″.

I think Bettie Page would have made a magnificent Bond girl. But then again, so would Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Both of these portraits were based on various pics I found on-line. I did my best to make it my own, but it's hard to deviate too much from the source material without losing the essence.

As for me, I'm going skiing this weekend. That means I won't have time to finish Part 3 of my "Presearch" series for Monday, but I'll finish it in a couple weeks. Life will go on, I promise. But if you can't get enough of my art, you can always bid on Iron Rex, an inked drawing I did (on stage) at the Thought Bubble Festival. Proceeds go to charity, so spend those quid! For those of you who are wondering, Iron Rex is a Tyrannosaur who wields the power of Iron Fist (despite the size of his own, admittedly tiny, fists). Copyright: Paolo Rivera, 2012.

Have a great weekend!

Jame Bond. 2012. Watercolor on paper, 9 × 12″.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 208

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

Daredevil #22 is out today! I provided the cover for the issue, my first time drawing the Superior Spider-Man, whose first appearance in the Marvel Universe happened last issue. Details and a preview can be found here (it includes a 4-word phrase never before uttered in any language). I recorded the digital sketching portion of this cover, so I hope to edit that together into a video soon.

Speaking of Superior Spidey, Avenging Spider-Man #16 is also out today. That cover will be the subject of next week's Wacky Reference Wednesday.

I used this quick pic for both Spidey and Daredevil.

Blue-line print

This cover was done so close to the deadline that I sent the blue-line to my Dad before I had finished penciling the background. The missing portion was added digitally by increasing the contrast and editing in Photoshop.

Pencils (with increased contrast)
Digital Composite

Editor-Approved Layout
Digital Layouts

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Avengers #5 Variant Cover

Avengers #5 Variant Cover. 2012.
Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on Marvel board, 11 × 17.25″.

Here's my latest Marvel cover, starring Hawkeye, Sunspot, and Cannonball. Posing for this reference made me want to shoot a bow and arrow again — might just have to have go to the archery range soon. As for spontaneous combustion, I think I can wait. This also happens to be my 100th Marvel cover! Once the last 2 have been revealed (Avenging Spidey 19 and an Iron Man Variant) I'll post a 10 x 10 montage of the whole lot.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Lost Loves (And Those Responsible)

Gwen and Spidey. 2012. Watercolor on paper, 12 × 9″.

I already posted Green Goblin before, but I feel like he belonged in this group. As for my schedule, I'm working on quite a few different things right now, including several covers and a couple "special" projects, all the while chipping away at my sci-fi graphic novel. I'm about 25-30% of the way through the script and I hope to start illustrating by the middle of this year. Single covers are lots of fun, but nothing has as much meat as a story.

If you like these portraits, they're available — along with dozens more — in my full-color book of commissions, Face Paint, available from Essential Sequential for $40. I'm probably only doing 2 conventions this year, Heroes and NYCC, but if you buy a copy, I'll be happy to do a quick sketch in it for you.

Have a great weekend!

Update: I wanted to clarify that while the Face Paint books are already signed, the inventory is out of my hands, so I can't take sketch requests. However, if you see me at a con, I'll be happy sketch and personalize your copy. Thanks!

Mary Jane Watson. 2012. Watercolor on paper, 9 × 12″.

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

Green Goblin. 2012. Watercolor on paper, 9 × 12″.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 207

Mythos: Captain America, Page 9, Panel 6. 2008.
Gouache and acrylic on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

In this scene from Mythos: Captain America, Steve Rogers is surveying the aftermath of Erskine's assassination — and realizing that he may be the first and last enlisted man of the super-soldier army. I used Sketchup to model the underground lab, constructing some elements from scratch, as well as downloading props from its 3D Warehouse. You can see another view of the model on page 6. And more photo reference here.

At the bottom of the post, you can see the room from another angle, including the classical sculpture that resides by the stairs. I've also shown an anachronism I caught just before submitting the page: The America Cap knew didn't have 50 states.

Sketchup Model and Half-Nude Model

Missing: My Six-Pack
Last seen: 2008
Age: 31
— Enjoys beer
— Has sweet tooth
— Probably hiding under layer of fat

Published Page

Digital Color Study

What year is it?
Sculptures on Page 6

Sunday, January 6, 2013

"Presearch" — Part 2 of 3

Old Man Logan #1 Variant Cover. 2009. 
Gouache, watercolor, and acrylic on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

Part 2: Where do we find reference?
— Strategies for knowing what's out there —

In part 1 of this series, I demonstrated simple, but useful strategies for finding visual reference on-line. But how do we even know what's out there? While the quality of your query has a tremendous impact on the answers you receive, and while search engines do most of the grunt work, your results are still limited to what is available on-line. So how is one to know what one doesn't know?

For the sake of argument, let's imagine that the picture you need is out there, just waiting for you. Your chances of finding it will vastly improve if you take the time to anticipate the unique circumstances under which it would be published on-line.

Mythos: Fantastic Four, Page 19. 2007. 
Gouache and acrylic on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

Let's start with a mundane example. In Mythos: Fantastic Four (2007), page 19 called for a scene in which the super-family stood behind glass doors with a montage of their future adventures in the reflection. "Glass doors" would provide perfectly adequate results, but by determining the name of a particular brand, Herculite, I gained access to a different kind of photo — those taken in order to sell a product — and thus technically competent, complete with details of components and hardware. While not absolutely necessary in this case, it's a useful tactic that can be broadly applied to any product on earth. If it can be sold (and what can't?), then there is a picture of it on-line.

Mythos: Hulk. 2006.
Gouache and acrylic on bristol board, 8.5 × 11″.

It's all about finding the right keywords. For instance, in Mythos: Hulk (2006), I was required to paint General Ross, a 3-star general in the Air Force. Now searching for "3-star general air force" will, for the most part, give you the needed reference. (I feel like the same search yielded poorer results 7 years ago. Although my memory may be faulty, it's just as likely that the image pool expanded or algorithms improved.) But if you're after authenticity or, perhaps, higher picture quality, searching for a specific 3-star general will give you far better results. By researching a handful of particular people — first discovered through the initial, cursory search — I was able to find a multitude of high-resolution photos from a variety of angles. Many were print-quality, and boasted enough detail to reveal the intricacies of medals, pins, and buttons. Obviously, this works best for public figures, but it is increasingly practical for private individuals as well (for better or worse). And if you still need more detail, don't overlook the uniform.

I should also note that I typically search with the "Large" filter enabled, which can be found under "Search Tools." You can even stipulate the megapixel count. While this limits results to photos above certain dimensions, the side effect is that it can yield less pertinent ones: there are less pictures out there at higher resolution, thus the query must scrape the barrel of relevancy. This is precisely why specificity is needed to reign it in.

Mythos: Ghost Rider. 2006.
Gouache and acrylic on bristol board, 8.5 × 11″.

A related case involved police cars which, if you're going to draw superhero comics, you had better be able to draw. I've downloaded several Sketchup models from Google's 3D warehouse, but additional reference is often needed to reinforce the basic structure with specific details, especially the lights. It was not until I started searching for a certain "light bar" that I found satisfactory images.

Mythos: Captain America, Page 11, Panel 7. 2008.
Gouache and acrylic on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

What if you need to paint something (or someone) on fire? There are plenty of pictures of fire on-line, and even some of a "man on fire," but refining a search to fire stunts or, better yet, finding the web site of a pyro-maniacal stunt man, provides precisely what is needed to bring certain fiery characters to life (or death). Some of you may remember the fantastic pictures I found when I detailed my search on April Fools Day. And if you're just looking for great flames, try "fire breather" or "oil fire." The same goes for energy effects, examples being Tesla coils, wake turbulence, or plasma.

Mythos: Spider-Man. 2007.
Gouache and acrylic on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

So far, what I've detailed is just a more comprehensive exploration of the strategies I introduced in my previous post. While they may be helpful (and I hope they are), I also want to counter a particular search method I've witnessed many colleagues use. I call it the "children playing" fallacy.

Avenging Spider-Man #17 Cover. 2012.
Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on Marvel board, 11 × 17.25″.

Let's say you're painting a playground scene. Whatever. You need pictures of "children playing" and using those 2 words will give you images of just that. Fine. The downside is that you get a lot of generic, ubiquitous stock photography because — get this — they want you to find it. Under what circumstances would someone tag a photo "children playing?" I certainly wouldn't do that to my children (assuming I ever have any). Now stock photography can be useful, but you should only use it for the most generic of information — in other words, the generic purpose for which it was created.

Mythos: Captain America, Page 10, Panel 3 detail. 2008.
Gouache and acrylic on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

So how would your as-yet-undiscovered photographer label their pictures? Perhaps I need children of a certain age? Why not submit "8th birthday party" instead? How about "3rd grade school play?" By coming at the problem from an oblique angle, we've let Google know precisely what we're looking for. And while this example may not be pertinent to your own goals, I hope it illustrates the way I think before I type.

This technique also performs well with Flickr (though quotes around search terms help). Images are often grouped into albums according to event and date, providing individual people and settings from multiple angles. You will also find more candid pictures, since the photographer will be in the midst of genuine action (and very well may be part of it). The main point is to put yourself in the position of both the photographer and the social networker. First things first, what are you drawing? Would someone even take a photo of that? If so, where would they publish it? Finally, what would they call it?

Mythos: Spider-Man, Page 14. 2007.
Gouache and acrylic on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

Now if all this sounds a little creepy, I can certainly understand. (I don't put anything on the internet I don't expect people to see. ) The objective is excavation. What we should be taking from these photos is specific, but anonymous information: clothing, setting, furnituregestures, carshairstyles, foliage, and architecture. We want the elusive "telling detail," not someone's personal photography. I have too often seen portfolio pieces that include a direct copy from an anatomy book that I own. That's fine if you're practicing — I've done it plenty — but don't superimpose knight's armor on a nude model and try to pass it off as your own. If you want real practice, try drawing the same pose from a different angle altogether.

Daredevil #2, Pages 2-3. 2011.
Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on Marvel board, 22 × 17.25″.

Rant over. Getting back to Flickr, it's a great resource because of the skill, access, and personality of its contributors. If they care enough to share a photo, chances are the quality is high enough to be useful to you, the illustrator. I have a whole folder of nothing but NYC rooftops and water towers, all taken by other people. Again, what I'm taking from the photos is not the composition, but 3-dimensional information — nuts and bolts and struts and vents — that the photographer has no claim on.

Mythos: Spider-Man, Page 11, Panel 2. 2007.
Gouache and acrylic on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

I can't stress this enough. Nor can Marvel, my biggest client: every new freelancer gets an "Original Artwork Policy" that unequivocally states what you can and can't include in your work. Celebrity likenesses, for example, are a big no-no (unless you get their explicit permission, which I did in one notable case). Same goes for everyday objects: you are welcome to draw New York architecture, but it had best be your own expression of it. That means no upping the contrast on a photo you found and using it as a background (unless, of course, you were the photographer).

Amazing Spider-Man #639, Page 3. 2010.
Ink on Marvel board with digital color, 11 x 17.25".
Reference Used

Most often, this boils down to the careful extraction of 3-dimensional information from 2-dimensional representations. But as technology has progressed, and 3D graphics have become available to everyone with a computer, the process of finding information has become easier than ever (while making it harder than ever to claim or maintain copyright). What illustrators used to call a personal "morgue file" has become an expansive archive cultivated by the entire civilized world. There may be things that aren't on the internet, but I haven't found them.