Friday, May 31, 2013

Superior Spider-Man Team-Up #2

Superior Spider-Man Team-Up #2. 2013.
Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on bristol board with digital color, 11 × 17″.

Here's the latest Superior Spider-Man Team-Up cover, issue 2 to be exact (I just turned in #3 last week). I had to go back on this one to revise Spidey's costume, which has since been updated, but I figured I'd show the original version here. I also removed Scarlet Spider's "spidey sense," since he doesn't actually have any — a Twitter follower was kind enough to point that out. In other news, I've gotten to about 4 commissions for Heroes Con so far. Hope to do at least that many more before the show (as well as some during). Below is a Cap commission from last year.

Otherwise, California is treating me well. My fiancée and I were lucky enough to find a great apartment. Looks like I'll be calling San Francisco home. Have a great weekend! (And if you're interested in my Walking Dead sketch cover, the auction ends today.)

Captain America. 2012. Watercolor on paper, 9 × 12″.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 223

Avenging Spider-Man #21 Cover. 2013.
Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on Marvel board, 11 × 17.25″.
Avenging Spider-Man 21 hits shelves today, the 2nd of 2 issues featuring the Chameleon (preview here). I wanted to show all the masks he utilizes to portray the Secret Avengers, so I left out eyes and teeth, and gave each face a subtle, plastic sheen.  (I don't know how exactly he would disguise himself as the Hulk, but I try not to think about things like that when reading superhero comics) Highlights and reflections can be a challenge, so I took a look at my Sculptris maquettes for reference. I often use the gold material when I need distinct reflections.

and the Oscar goes to...
I had originally planned for Spidey's eye lenses to be looking in different directions, both to show his confusion as well as to reference a chameleon's eyes. Ultimately, my editors wanted a more straight take, but you can see the unedited version in the inks and pencils below.

inks by my Dad
blue-line print of pencils

digital composite

digital layouts

Monday, May 27, 2013

Bridge to Somewhere

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

Finished pages from my issue of Young Allies

As with any pursuit that spans several years, organizing projects, new and old, can grow to be a daunting task. I use Bridge, Adobe's asset management application, to keep a decade's worth of professional work in some semblance of order. Why use this instead of the Finder on my iMac? Because it does much more than just keep things organized.

First of all, the previews are big and beautiful. Because Bridge is the same place where you can set (and unify) the color profiles for all of your Adobe Creative Suite programs, what you see is what you get. You can view a file at full screen by pressing the space bar, and full resolution by clicking on it. It does it instantaneously, so you don't have to wait for large files to open in order to see all the details. While the Finder has gotten better over the years, it still gives me strange colors, especially for CMYK files (and will do even stranger things to layered files with channel masks). As with the Finder, you can label files with colors so they're easier to spot. Hitting return opens a file, and you can also designate which programs open which types of files.

"Collections" are another simple but effective tool for keeping things organized. They allow you to group files together without moving the original from it's home folder. That means I can put all my Spider-Man artwork in one collection, while still keeping the stories organized by story arc and year. This is also where I keep frequently used photo reference. I've got collections of athletes, NYPD, Rooftops, and suits — all subjects that I draw fairly often.

My various Sculptris maquettes

"Favorites" is a familiar concept, but since this is separate from the Finder's "Favorites," I can keep things strictly professional. Any files or folders that I use often get a link here (you can drag and drop things here, or select "Add to Favorites" from the right-click menu). This includes my templates (pages, covers, and perspective), Sculptris maquettes, my blog folder, and watermark. It's a simple concept, but it makes things very easy to keep track of.

Metadata is available in its own panel window, but can also be shown beneath each and every file according to your specifications. I like seeing the file name, date, pixel dimensions, ppi, file size, and color mode (RGB/CMYK) at a glance. As for naming your files, your client may have their own conventions, so always ask at the beginning of a project. I also have my own 3-letter codes that I append to every name. While not necessary, these work well for me. The important thing is to keep consistent to your own system.

lyt: these are layouts and preliminary sketches, often numbered when many iterations are required.
cmp: digital composites, where I finalize things like perspective grids or type.
pcl: pencils
cyn: the cyan print that I send to my inker (my Dad)
ink: his inked files
flt: the "flats" that my assistant sends me (basically a rough color pass)
col: the final, colored file that I send to the client

But all those benefits aside, the real key is automated tasks. I most often use it to create jpeg previews of uniform size that can be easily sent to editors for review (or uploaded to my blog). You can do this to entire groups of files thanks to batch processing. I've even used it to organize lectures, collecting all the images I want to show, moving them into order, and renaming them numerically to open in another program like Preview (and in my last lecture, I did the whole thing right from Bridge). All of these tricks can be found under the "Tools" menu.

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

I'll leave my favorite feature for last, which is especially important for illustrators who work in series. When you click the "Output" button at the top (also accessible under Window: Workspaces) the entire format changes. You're then free to select any number of files to create a pdf or web gallery. Both are fully-customizable with parameters like columns, rows, spacing, pagination, background, and format. I used the pdf feature to organize my first 100 Marvel covers, shown above. As for the web gallery, there are many styles to choose from, and if you have your own web site, you can even upload it directly from within Bridge. Here's a link to all 20 page layouts from my Daredevil #1 issue.

Daredevil #1, Page 3. 2011. 1: Layout, Digital Composite, and Pencils

While this post may have been on the more technical side, it happens to be the digital tool I use most since it's the primary way I interact with myriad files. If you have Creative Suite and have always wondered what in the world Bridge is used for, I hope this will give you some ideas. (Adobe has recently revamped its business model into a monthly service called Creative Cloud, but I'm still using CS5 at the moment.)

P.S. I hope you don't mind my plugging an auction for a good cause. My painted sketch cover to The Walking Dead #100 is now open for bidding. All proceeds go to the Hero Initiative. Have a great Memorial Day!

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

Monday, May 20, 2013

Hello, California

Green Hornet #4. 2013. Ink(ed by Joe Rivera)
on bristol board with digital color, 11 × 17″.

We made it safely across the country (and so did my iMac). Now I'm just waiting for my printer and scanner before I can fully exhale. But no matter what, the weather is gorgeous out here! And I have a car again. And there's liquor in grocery stores. And I use a cart to hold it instead of a basket. Did I mention we've got pool access?

I'm still pretty busy trying to catch up with work, so I'm gonna hold off on posting until next Monday. In the meantime, here's the 4th cover to Green Hornet. Looks like GH getting a little careless with the knockout gas.

Also, I wanted to thank everyone who attended my web seminar with Comics Experience. I really appreciate the support (and the fact that you listened to me drone on for 5 hours). I think it went really well and would love to do it again someday.

And finally, I received some amazing news this weekend during my travels: I won the Spectrum Fantastic Art Gold Award for Comics! This is a huge honor from one of my favorite institutions. I don't submit my work to many art competitions (Society of Illustrators is the only other), but I've sent entries to Spectrum nearly every year since I was first accepted a decade ago. Here's the full list of winners, many of whom I'm lucky to be acquainted with. As for the winning entry, you may remember it. Have a great week!

Daredevil #10 Cover. 2011. Ink on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

So Long, New York

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

I'm about to move to the Bay Area, so I thought it would be a great time to document my work station as it existed in my New York apartment. I work traditionally, but there is a great deal of digital pre- and post-production in my workflow. Everything fits in and around my drafting table, so my whole studio has a very small footprint. And as you'll see, I really, really love magnets. The video is close to 15 minutes, but it shows pretty much all the tools I use. I've also included links below to some of the equipment I talk about. My printer and scanner are over 4 years old, but they're still working great (assuming they survive the cross-country trip). My apologies for not recording in landscape mode. I wasn't thinking at the time and I'm a little pressed for time with the move, but the basic info is still there. If there is anything I missed below, feel free to ask in the comments.

Humanscale 5G 700 Keyboard Tray
Epson Sylus Photo R1900 Printer
Epson GT-20000 Scanner
Safco B-Size Plan File Cabinet and Caster Base
iMac 27" (this is the new one — mine's a couple years old)
Cintiq 12WX (the new version is the 13HD)
Drawing Board: Max Tile F1 Galvanized Steel Tile (custom cut to 18 × 24″)
Pilot Color Eno Blue Lead
Kuru Toga Mechanical Pencil

I'm also taking a blog break for the next week or so as I move. My next post should be from sunny California. Westward, Ho!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 222

Avenging Spider-Man #20 Cover. 2013.
Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on Marvel board, 11 × 17.25″.

Avenging Spider-Man #20 comes out today! Preview here. In case you're unfamiliar with the characters depicted, that's classic Spidey villain Chameleon giving a wicked smile as he portrays the Hulk, Hawkeye, Nick Fury, Jr., Spidey, Quake, Maria Hill, Black Widow, Agent Coulson, Iron Patriot, and Bucky. And, as you should now expect, here's me acting stupid. Enjoy!

another use for my DD billy clubs

inks by my Paw
blue-line print of pencils (digital bars)

digital composite sketch

digital layouts

Monday, May 6, 2013

TweetChat Tuesday

Daredevil #3, Page 15 Layout. 2011.
Pencil on bristol board, 4 × 6″.

This Tuesday, May 7th at 1:00pm Eastern Time, both Eisner Award-winning artist Paolo Rivera and former Marvel and IDW Editor Andy Schmidt will be holding a #makecomics “TweetChat” discussing comic art, the use of design in storytelling, and more.
A TweetChat is a planned, live event and anyone using twitter can join in — simply follow Paolo, Andy, or the #makecomics hashtag on Twitter. Bring your #makecomics questions, especially those related to design and storytelling…
Paolo: @PaoloMRivera
Andy: @ComicExperience (no “s” on “Comic”)
The TweetChat is part of the lead-up to Paolo’s one-day, live streaming course on The Art of Design and Comic Book Storytelling. on Saturday, May 18, 2013

Deathlok (and My Commissions List)

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

All right. I've been putting this off long enough. My commission list for Heroes Con and Supercon are officially open. Here are the email addresses for each:

Update: the list is now closed. Thanks for all the support!

Prices and details can be found under my commissions policy. I will reply with a form email for confirmation, but I won't require payment until I'm sure I can finish it. Unfortunately, I don't think I'll get many done this year because of my impending move, so this is my advanced apology. If it's any consolation, here's a painting of Deathlok. Thanks!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Captain Marvel (and Updates)

Captain Marvel. 20. Watercolor on paper, 9 × 12″.

Happy Friday, folks! Today is the last day to bid on the Microvisions paintings. All proceeds go to fund the Society of Illustrators student scholarships. Below is a detail of my contribution (which happens to be the main character of the story I've been teasing for some time now).

Up above is a commission of Captain Marvel from last year. I have not yet opened the flood gates for my Heroes Con and Supercon lists, but I shall do so on Monday at 12 noon. Stay tuned to this blog (and my social media) for the designated email addresses. In the meantime, you can check out my updated commissions policy here. I'm going to take as many names as I can, but I definitely won't get to them all — it's gonna be a busy couple of months.

For those of you in the mood for a Lord of the Rings print, I'm afraid you may have to wait a bit longer. I've just got too much going on with deadlines and my impending move to fiddle with packing and shipping such monstrous posters. Thank you for your continued patience. I'll be doing yet another poster for Mondo (for one of my favorite movies of all time) if that's any consolation. Have a great weekend!