Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 221

Iron Man Variant Cover (Hawkeye #10). 2012.
Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on Marvel board, 11 × 17.25″.

If you didn't get enough Iron Man yesterday, here's a more classic take on the Golden Avenger. This is part of Marvel's Many Armors of Iron Man variant series, so you'll find it on select issues of Hawkeye #10, which hits shelves today (preview here). Aside from the photo reference of myself (really just for the hands), I scoured the web for pics of actual electronics labs and workshops.

I own just one shirt.

inks by my Dad
blue-line print of my pencils

pencils over a digital print
digital composite sketch

digital layout sketches

Iron Man 3 — A Complete Novel

Iron Man Three. 2013.
Gouache, watercolor, and acrylic (and digital) on bristol board, 22 × 17″.

I saw Iron Man 3 last night and it was all-around awesomeness. That being said, there's nothing that can prepare you for Ben Kingsley's Mandarin — quite possibly my favorite Marvel villain now. Oh, and Robert Downey, Jr. showed up to introduce the movie. Joe Quesada usually introduces the Marvel movies, often pretending that one of the stars is going to make an appearance, only to have our hopes dashed as another editor shows up in a wig. But this time he did it. Iron Man himself was there.

And if everything went according to plan, Iron Man got one of these, an extremely limited edition poster made especially for the cast and crew, much like the one I did for Captain America. They asked for something like a paperback novel, complete with wear and tear, which makes perfect sense once you see the end credits.

This was definitely one of my dream jobs, but it meant even more to me since it's based on my very first cover for Marvel, Iron Man #63. Tony's armory bears a striking resemblance to the one I depicted back in 2002, and I was nerding out in the theater. I hope you'll do the same.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Devil in the Details

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

Coyote Studies. 2012.
Ink, blue pencil, and watercolor on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

If you've ever drawn a comic (or any large project, really) then you know the most fun part is doing preparatory sketches and studies for it. That's where the ideas happen — the rest is just execution. You need both, of course, but a solid foundation is key; it bestows purpose to each of the hundreds of hours needed to give true life to a project.

Pictured above is a page of studies for a new Daredevil villain, Coyote. He wasn't "brand new," as his powers stemmed from an existing villain, the Spot, but he was meant to be a sleeker, more menacing version of the classic Spider-Man foe. Furthermore, his powers and relationship to the Spot were not to be immediately apparent in the narrative, so I wanted his look to have subtle cues to his origin without revealing his true identity.

Daredevil #1, Page 4 (The Spot Attacks). 2011.
Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

To accomplish this, I inverted the old costume: mostly black instead of mostly white, his portal spots dominating to the point where the negative white shapes became positive. This left me with a pinched triangle motif that I employed on the eyes, hands, and chest. Eventually, I treated the spots as giant discs that were draped over his body, peeling up to form sartorial embellishments.

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

As things turned out, I ended my exclusive contract with Marvel before drawing the 4-issue arc that featured the villain. Fortunately, I was still able to contribute covers, and the story, written by Mark Waid, was beautifully rendered by current Daredevil artist (and one-man factory) Chris Samnee.

Daredevil Character Sketches. 2011. Pencil on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

As for our eponymous hero, I didn't deviate much from the classic interpretation of the character, just added a few touches here and there to make him my own. In order to update his white cane, I elongated each section and added a crimson spare, 3 in total. The other major change was making the cane rotate into a square hook. (Part of me still wishes I had use the curved version, which makes less sense when it transforms, but looks more elegant. At the time, I didn't realize it worked like that in the earliest issues.)

by Gene Colan (words by Stan Lee)

Daredevil #1 Cover. 2011. Gouache and acrylic on bristol board, 11 × 17″.
Time Lapse

I also changed his belt slightly, having it hang at an angle across his hips, alla Han Solo. I changed it yet again in later issues, extending the diagonal across his body for a more swashbuckling look (example below). Again, these were very subtle changes — I really just copied my predecessors: David Mazzucchelli, Wally Wood, and Gene Colan, among many, many others.

Daredevil #8 Cover. 2011. Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on Marvel board, 11 × 17.25″.

Perhaps you've seen the latest set pics from The Amazing Spider-Man 2? I did some style guides for the movie earlier this year (used for marketing and licensing purposes, I presume) and was happy to see that they reverted to the classic look. I love complicated costumes with intricate details as much as anybody, but it's not until you draw these designs over and over again that you realize the power of simplicity. They're not just easier to draw — I find them more memorable.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Daredevil #26 Variant Cover

Daredevil #26. 2013. Ink(ed by Joe Rivera)
on bristol board with digital color, 11 × 17″.

I'm dipping my toe into the Daredevil pool once again with a variant cover to issue 26. You can check out the preview here. As you can probably guess, Iron Man is making a guest appearance. Speaking of which, I've had a couple people alert me to an Iron Man 3 contest that Marvel and Audi are hosting. It's called Steer the Story, and from what I understand, there's a chance for aspiring artists to submit their work. As for the movie, I'm pretty excited to see it (at the Marvel screening next week!). I did some painted artwork for the film's producers that I hope to reveal after the premiere. Have a great weekend!

(P.S. For those of you who are interested, there's still space in my design webinar on May 18th. I related a few of the core concepts for the class on the Comics Experience blog.)

Daredevil #1. 2013. Ink and watercolor on sketch cover, 7 × 10.5″.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 220

Guardians of the Galaxy #2. 2013.
Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

Guardians #2 is out today! And tonight is the opening of the Microvisions show at the Society of Illustrators. But you don't even have to attend to bid on the artwork, including my first painting of The Sink, the main character from what I hope to be my first graphic novel. All proceeds go to the student scholarship fund, so bid away.

Shhhhh.... don't tell Disney

Inks by my Dad
Blue-line print of my pencils

Digital Composite

Digital Layout

Monday, April 22, 2013

Westward Ho!

Daredevil. 2013. Ink on sketch cover with Acryla Gouache, 7 × 10.5″.

Well, it's official: I'm leaving New York. It's been 10 years since I moved to this wonderful city and it's been very kind to me. I may not get out to see it as much as I'd like, but whenever I do, it's quite the spectacle (especially with all the superheroes).

My wife-from-the-future has gotten a fantabulous job in California and, since I can work from anywhere with an internet connection, we'll be moving to the Bay Area very shortly — next month, in fact. It's all happening a little faster than originally planned, but its pretty exciting.

I'm still planning on attending Heroes in Charlotte and Supercon in Miami, but (sadly) I'm not sure if I'll be able to attend NYCC (I've gone to every show since its inception).

But fear not! Before we go, I've got a micro-painting in the Microvisions show at the Society of Illustrators. The auction to benefit the student scholarship fund goes live tomorrow, but the opening is Wednesday night, from 6-10. Hope to see you there.

Friday, April 19, 2013


Daredevil. 2013.
Watercolor (with touches of Acryla Gouache) on paper, 9 × 12″.

Here's trying to keep some semblance of normalcy as I listen to all the crazy news coming out of Boston (and West, Texas). Stay safe, everybody.

Daredevil. 2013. Ink on sketch cover, 7 × 10.5″.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 219

The Shadow #13 Cover. 2013.
Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on bristol board with digital color, 11 × 17″.

The Shadow #13 is out today from Dynamite, the same fine folks who bring you The Green Hornet every month. This cover didn't really ask for skeletons, but I don't think they ever have to be justified, especially when dealing with pulp heroes. When I needed a bit of anatomical help, I went straight to Zygote Body for an interactive 3D map of the human body (formerly Google body). The part of the gun was played, as usual, by my trusty 1:6 scale Colt 1911, seen below amongst my ever-growing arsenal. The skull, available from Anatomy Tools, has magnets at its base and jaw that enable it to stick to my galvanized steel drawing board (along with the rest of my magnetized tools).

Yes, I actually own a gun rack.

Inks by my Paw
Blue-line print

Digital composite

Digital Layout

Saturday, April 13, 2013

God Hates Astronauts

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

God Hates Astronauts Poster. 2013.
Ink on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

Ryan Browne has created his own mythology... and it's quite irreverent. For those of you who don't know him, he's the creator of God Hates Astronauts, a web comic that has transmogrified into a bulldozing Kickstarter campaign  and a handsome hardcover. He's also my good friend and former college roommate. When I saw how well the pledge drive was going (it made over 75 grand!), I got on the bandwagon by offering my services. The above poster was used as a stretch goal that will now accompany every hardcover. Although the campaign is over, you can still purchase the book from Ryan's Etsy store.

The poster was colored in Photoshop using my basic two-tone style. (I'm currently working on a process post for digital coloring, complete with videos, so I'll leave those details for later.) While my Dad usually inks all my work now, I decided to do this one myself — I do miss using a brush on a regular basis.

It's inked with a Winsor & Newton Series 7 #6 brush and Holbein Drawing Ink. I like using a large brush because it holds more ink for longer strokes and fewer dips in the well. Furthermore, the longer the individual hairs, the better they hold a point. But the real secret of big brushes is that they act as shock absorbers, yielding smoother lines than any tiny brush can provide. The smaller the brush, the less space between your tremulous hand and the unforgiving page. The only way to achieve the same look with a small brush (or a pen) is to move quickly, which isn't always an option when dealing with intricate details.

Blue pencil

When inking myself, I use a non-repro blue pencil that, once scanned, can be easily filtered out in Photoshop. I avoided blue pencils for most of my career because they had a reputation for being waxy and difficult to erase. I was pleased to find, however, that there's a 0.7 mm mechanical lead by Pilot that had all the attributes I desired. Its density requires a soft touch, but that tends to be my preference anyway. They also have a full spectrum of colors. (Any 0.7 mm mechanical pencil will do just fine, but I use the Pentel Graph 1000, which is very lightweight.)

Digital Composite
Digital Layout

Since I bought a Cintiq display in 2011, all of my work begins with digital preliminary sketches. If the composition is complex, or features multiple figures, I try to keep the major players on separate layers. This makes placement and scale very easy to modify. In order to keep things organized in the face of numerous layers, I give each a distinctive color. This feature can be accessed under the layers palette: "layer styles/color overlay" with the opacity dropped down to taste.

Uh-oh... it's Owl Capone

Friday, April 12, 2013

Green Hornet #3 Cover

Green Hornet #3 Cover. 2013.
Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

Reid for mayor! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Double Blind

Indestructible Hulk #10. 2013.
Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

Already repeating myself...

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 218

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

All right, so I don't really have any embarrassing reference today, but I do have a cover that'll be on shelves. I hope you'll excuse the shameless plug (this is my blog, after all). I did, however, employ the help of other artists in my rendition of Sleepwalker. You can see a preview of the comic at CBR.

Sleepwalker by Khary Randolph, (Not sure), and Scott Kolins

Inks by my Dad
Blue-line print

Pencils over blue-line print
Digital composite

Digital layout