Sunday, March 31, 2013

Microvisions 2013

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

Microvisions (The Sink). 2013. 
Gouache, watercolor, and acrylic on bristol board, 5 × 7″.

Above is my contribution to Microvisions 2013, an auction of pint-sized art that benefits the Society of Illustrators Scholarship Fund (you can see a few of last year's pieces here, and my 2009 offering here). I used the opportunity to do a bit of concept work for my personal project, which has languished for the last couple months as I've battled deadlines. This is the first finished painting I've done of my main character, the Sink. It probably won't be the final look, but I hope it will one day look like an early McQuarrie Star Wars painting — familiar, but not quite what made the final cut. (I fully realize how high I'm setting the bar by saying that).

Character Studies. 2012.
Watercolor and acrylic on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

The remaining sketches are studies for Sink and 2 other main characters. Despite my experience with drawing comics, it's always been with established characters, so coming up with something original has been a real challenge. I'm excited to do more concept work for the story, but for now I'm concentrating on writing — something I'm picking up as I go along.

My eventual goal is a 200-page graphic novel, but I've already missed all the deadlines I've set for myself (been busy with other people's cool projects). Part of me hopes that by sharing it here, I'll have even more incentive to get the ball rolling. I've worked out the plot, scene by scene, which means I can move on to dialogue. The good news is I'm in love with the story and the characters, so I won't be happy until I'm able to extract it from my mind.

Character Studies. 2012.
Ink on bristol board, 11 × 17″

Thursday, March 28, 2013

3 Past Midnight

Two Past Midnight #2. 2012. Ink on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

Here are 3 of my 5 covers for 2 Past Midnight, a mini-series from Dark Horse (I finished up the last one recently). These were released a few weeks ago, but I hadn't posted them yet. I actually inked the top one, something I hadn't done in quite some time, but my Dad inked the rest of the series.

I still feel like I'm playing catch-up with deadlines, but I'm slowly digging my way out. For those of you who've been asking, my con schedule for the rest of the year is below. I'm not taking names for commissions just yet, but I'll announce it here when I do. Have a great weekend!

Heroes Con, Charlotte — June 7-9
Wizard World, NYC — June 29 (Saturday only)
Supercon, Miami — July 4-7
New York Comic Con — October 10-13 (not official yet)

Two Past Midnight #3. 2012. Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

Two Past Midnight #4. 2012. Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 216

Amazing Spider-Man #665. 2011.
Gouache and acrylic on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

This is one of my personal favorites — a cover for an issue of Amazing Spider-Man that I almost did the interiors for, #665. I didn't use any of my own photo reference for this one, but I did need to know what a theater marquee looked like. After a tiny bit of digging, I found a particular one in Colorado California that fit the bill: The Grand Lake Theater. The pic below is where I gathered the most inspiration, gleaning structure and lighting effects as best I could.

Not my pics... please forgive me, internet.

I also used a typography site that allowed customers to try out custom phrases in various fonts (can't remember the URL, but there are plenty out there). Since I was hand-lettering, I didn't download the font, but used a suitable substitute. This was composited in Photoshop with a perspective grid and light-boxed onto the final board (these days I would just print it out).

Digital Composite

As things turned out, I ended up not penciling the issue (I had a good excuse), but I moved on to Daredevil, for which I needed all the time I could get. And though I'd like to think that I had some kind of sly commentary in mind, this had absolutely nothing to do with the foibles of the Spider-Man Musical which was the butt of so many jokes at the time. It hadn't even occurred to me until the image became public and everyone thought it was some kind of editorial illustration — seems obvious in retrospect.

Digital Color Study

Pencil Layout

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Medium Carnage

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

Hey, everybody! Remember when I used to blog? That was weeks ago. Anyway, I'm trying to get back into the groove after putting in some heavy hours (... can't wait to show you what I've been working on). Featured above is an old commission done just before Leeds last year.

I also wanted to make an official announcement: I'll be co-hosting a seminar with Andy Schmidt through his Comics Experience forum. (Andy was my editor at Marvel back in "the day.") It's a one-day event, but we plan to pack a lot in, concentrating specifically on design and how it relates to storytelling. It takes place on May 18th, from 10 to 4, during which you'll have our undivided attention. You can find all the details here. I hope you'll join us.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Team-Up Time

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

Indestructible Hulk #9 Cover. 2013.
Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) with digital color on Marvel board, 11 × 17.25″.

Happy Monday, everybody! Hope you all had a great weekend. I've been on "crazy time" for the past week or so, but it's been exhilarating. ("Crazy time" is any week in which I work more than 100 hours.) I've still got a bunch to do over the coming week, but I thought I'd quickly share 2 new covers that were recently made public. Both deal with team-ups, a classic conceit in the Marvel Universe. Above, the Hulk gets some legal advice from a certain horn-headed lawyer. Below, it's high noon on the rooftops of New York as the Superior Spider-Man and the Punisher see who has the quicker draw.

Avenging Spider-Man #22 Cover. 2013.
Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) with digital color on Marvel board, 11 × 17.25″.

I think I'm going to continue my blog hiatus for the rest of the week. I've got too many deadlines coming up (which is always a good thing!)

Thursday, March 7, 2013


The Impossible. 2013.
Photoshop,  8.5 × 11″ @300ppi.

Happy Friday, everybody! I wanted to help promote some Kickstarter projects by some dear (and talented) friends. First up, God Hates Astronauts is breaking barriers and stretch goals. It's a labor of love by my friend and former college roommate, Ryan Browne. (I saved his life once. Ask him.) Attempting to explain GHA serves only to deepen the mystery, so I'll just leave that to Ryan in the video below. I'll be contributing artwork for an 11 × 17 poster print that accompanies every hardcover. Pledge now, or Owl Capone will get you!

Next up is Sean Wang's Runners sequel, The Big Snow Job, which continues the adventures of his band of alien smugglers. I met Sean doing conventions around the country and I can't recommend his book enough. I would've bought the first trade for the design sketches alone — he's an MIT architecture grad who lavishes detail upon every panel. He's a world-builder whose ideas were too big for this one. Smuggle some support his way.

I'm going to take next week off from blogging while I finish up a super-secret, super-awesome painted project of my own (Seriously, it's the coolest thing I'll make this year). In the meantime, you can fill the gaping blogosphere void with an interview, courtesy of Lo Spazio Bianco. Have a great week!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 215

Spectacular Spider-Man #14, Page 1 (Panel 1 Detail).
2004. Oil on masonite, 16 × 24″.

Here's the very first panel of my very first Spider-Man comic from nearly a decade ago. It features a "Spider-Man expert," the first in a series of New Yorkers interviewed about the wall-crawler at the outset of the story (written by Paul Jenkins). He's a not-so-thinly-veined stand-in for Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons. He's even got 3 fingers.

Is that a Sony CD Walman in your pocket, or are you just in 2004?

Aside from using myself as a model, I included several other references, including my own cover to the issue (flipped), artwork by Ditko and Romita, an Alex Ross Spidey bust, and my own sculpture of Mystique. And is that a Klingon Bird of Prey?

To the right is a pic of my studio from the same photo shoot. I was working in oils at the time, and had fashioned a ginormous palette. The wooden box at the bottom right was a cover for my glass palette, complete with weather-stripping for a tight seal. It barely worked, but it made me feel good about myself. The signed Alex Ross poster did the opposite (but in a helpful way).

Spectacular Spider-Man #14 Cover. 2003.
Oil on masonite, 16 × 24″.

The pencil layout below has a bleached-out portion because I hadn't yet learned about non-destructive editing. Now I keep multiple copies of every file, at multiples stages. (And then I post them here on the blog.)

Digital Color Study
Pencil Layout

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Digital Dabbling

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

Captain Midnight #1 Variant Cover. 2013.
Photoshop, ~7 × 10.5″ @400 ppi.

While Photoshop has always been an integral part of my workflow, I have nonetheless rendered all my finished pieces with the classics: pencil, ink, and paint. I am often asked why I don't do everything digitally — the easy answer is that more than half of my income is from original art sales. (That's usually all people need to hear.) The more nuanced reply is that I prefer the resistance, texture, and trials of real materials, not to mention the final look.

But in the past year, as I've taken on my first non-Marvel clients (I was more or less exclusive for 10 years), I've gotten the chance to experiment stylistically, even incorporating graphic design and lettering elements, a whole new challenge for me. The first 3 images were created for Dark Horse Comics, featuring their characters Captain Midnight, Ghost, and X.

Ghost #1 Variant Cover. 2013.
Photoshop, ~7 × 10.5″ @400 ppi.

The bulk of the work was done in Photoshop, but the more complicated shapes, like design elements and lettering, were constructed in Illustrator and imported as vector paths. I had recently come across a collection of Swedish posters (via 50 Watts) and wanted to try my own contemporary take on them. Aside from general color schemes and airbrush effects, I was particularly interested in the hand-lettering, and even lifted some of the letterforms.

X #1 Variant Cover. 2013.
Photoshop, ~7 × 10.5″ @400 ppi.

My first all-digital piece was for Mondo, an Austin-based gallery that specializes in screen printed movie posters. So even though the image was created bit by digital bit, they turned the file into a gigantic, limited-edition art print. The photos below are of the actual posters, courtesy of Mondo. (For those interested in buying a print, I will put them on sale in a month or 2 through my blog.) I'm currently working on my second poster for them, this time for one of my favorite movies of all time. I can't reveal the subject yet, but I can say that it won't be all-digital. I missed my inking brush.

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

Friday, March 1, 2013

Daredevil and Elektra

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

Elektra. 2012. Ink and watercolor on paper, 9 × 12″.