Friday, June 28, 2013

Tigra (and Supercon)

Tigra. 2013. Watercolor on paper, 9 × 12″.

Next week is a big week for me, so I think I'm going to take a little blog break. Not only am I making the move from Santa Clara to San Francisco, but I'm heading down to my home state of Florida for Miami's Supercon. You can find both me and my Dad at booth #8-112. We'll be there Thursday through Sunday, so I hope to get a lot of sketching done (I'm gonna put the old man to work too).

If all goes according to plan, I'll receive my brand new banner stand today. Thanks to everyone who cast their votes for their favorite art on Twitter. In the end I went with my fiancée's advice and chose the one tailor-made for type. If you can't find me at the show, just look for my Dad. If you can't find him, we'll be between George Perez and Stephane Roux. Not bad company at all. Have a great week!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 227

Age of Ultron #10A.I. Variant Cover. 2013.
Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on bristol board with digital color, 11 × 17″.

It's Wednesday! Time for another cover on a Mark Waid story, this time with art by Andre Araujo (be sure to check out his blog... looks like he's got his some beautiful creator-owned projects lined up). Age of Ultron #10A.I. is out today (preview here) and it explores the future of Hank Pym, who has gone by many names in the Marvel Universe. Pictured above is Ant-Man, Goliath, Yellow Jacket, Giant Man, and Ultron (Pym's creation). You can see me doing my best pensive Pym impression below.

"Hmm... I wonder if I should go outside today."

inks by my Pops
blue-line print of my pencils

digital sketch

digital prelims

Monday, June 24, 2013

Supercon Commissions List Extension

Batman. 2012. Ink on paper, 9 × 12″.

Hey, folks! If you're planning on going to Supercon in Miami and are not on the commissions list yet, I've decided to re-open it. This doesn't guarantee that I'll get it done, but I'd like to have extras names, just in case I get through the ones I've got. I'll be giving priority to line art commissions since I'll have my Dad at the show to help me with inks. Same commissions policy applies. If interested, email me at Super2013 at Thanks!

Cintiq Tips, Part 1 of 2

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

I totally doctored this official Wacom photo.

I just upgraded from the Cintiq 12WX to the 13HD, so I thought it might be a good time to share some of the tips, tricks, and general practices I've developed over the last year and a half of digital drawing. I held out for many years before making the digital leap, but I'm glad I finally did. My apologies in advance to those not in the digital drawing camp — this is going to get pretty technical for 2 posts.

I prefer the smaller Cintiq because I don't like drawing big. It's one of the few things that my art school teachers chided me for that I never came around to (I understand their point, I just had different goals). Plus, I feel like the 24HD version would dominate my work space — I like to leave room for other, more traditional modes of creating art. Lastly, I just don't like moving my arm that much. If you sit and draw full-time, every extraneous movement can start to add up.

Avengers 34 Digital Composite (step-by-step)

As for placement, the small size allows me to keep it in front of my computer, hanging off the edge of the desk. (The 13HD's new stand doesn't allow the same degree of overhang, but I like the new angle.) Essentially, it operates as a second monitor, so the only thing that ever graces that screen is the drawing.

Since I have 2 monitors, I use 2 windows for the same project. Under Window > Arrange, you'll find the "New Window for..." option. After moving this window to the Cintiq, I can switch between the 2, depending on the task at hand.

my Cintiq screen at actual resolution

The trick to using both screens seamlessly is the "Display Toggle," which transfers the cursor from one screen to the other. (If you do this while grabbing a window, it will send it to the other screen.) By assigning this function to the upper button on the pen, I can use my drawing hand to switch between screens. (More on button assignments next time.) Also, under your computer's display settings, you should be able to specify the orientation of the 2 screens to each other so that the cursor travels between them in a close approximation of real space.

Daredevil #9, Page 9 Digital Sketch. 2012. Photoshop.

Speaking of work spaces, Photoshop enables users to position palettes and save arrangements according to taste. I use 2 distinct modes. "Layout" is for work that doesn't require direct drawing. This includes coloring, post-production corrections, and graphic design (and any non-graphic work). While I'm still using the Cintiq to navigate about the screen, I'm not looking at it (much like an Intuos tablet), and so all my palettes are on the main screen. My "Cintiq" work space moves the application bar and a handful of palettes — tool, layers, color, and swatches — to the Cintiq. Those are the ones most useful for drawing and painting, but they're small enough to leave room to work. (If more room is needed, pressing F6 clears away the color palette, and Tab removes them all.) A nice consequence of the HD upgrade is that even though the screen is roughly the same size as its predecessor, there's more room to draw because the palettes take up less space in high-definition.

breaking in the new Cintiq 13HD

My favorite drawing trick was assigning the "x" key to the bottom button on the pen. This alternates between the foreground and background colors which, when sketching, I always set to black and white (by pressing D). As a result, I can draw easily with either color without resorting to the eraser. In the next post, I'll talk more about button assignments and tools.

digital painting from my Iron Man 3 poster

Friday, June 21, 2013


Nightcrawler. 2013. Watercolor on paper, 9 × 12″.

BAMF! The weekend is here. Have a great one!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 226

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

Indestructible Hulk #9 is out today, by Mark Waid and Matteo Scalera! (Preview here.) I provided the cover to this and the next issue, which means I not only got the chance to draw the Hulk, but Daredevil once again. Reference-wise, this necessitated my best flexing Hulk face, and my trusty (paper) billy club. Not a bad day for referencing. You can see a time-lapse of me sculpting my digital Hulk maquette on YouTube.

brought to you by Google

inks by my Paw
cyan print with black text

pencils over composite print
digital composite

digital layouts

Monday, June 17, 2013

Superior Spider-Man Team-Up #3 Cover

Superior Spider-Man Team-Up #3 Cover. 2013.
Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on bristol board with digital color, 11 × 17″.

This is the latest cover for Superior Spider-Man Team-Up. I was in a  "blue" mood, so I used only blue characters... and I did it completely in Photoshop. Most of my art supplies are currently in storage because of my recent move, so I was out of paper at the time. That being the case, there's no original penciled artwork. However, my Dad still did traditional inks. As you can see below, my digital "pencils" are pretty close to inking.

my digital pencils

Friday, June 14, 2013

Heroes Recap

Kitty Pryde. 2013. Watercolor on paper, 9 × 12″.

A huge thanks goes out to Heroes Con for putting on such a great show. It was only my second time there, but they make you feel like family. Thanks also to everyone who stopped by my table. I was sorta hiding in plain sight all weekend without my banner stand or mirror contraption. I'll do better next time.

I met a terrifying swath of talented artists at the con — the floor was dominated by Artists Alley and the schedule was chock full of engaging programming. I was in billy club distance of Lee Weeks, Joe Quinones, Maris Wicks, Bettie and Mitch Breitweiser, and Ryan Browne. It all made for a great weekend.

But as if that wasn't enough, I came away with this sweet commission by David Petersen (of Mouse Guard fame) for my ever-growing Ninja Turtle collection (here's Shredder). We had met at Thought Bubble last year when we sat next to each other and agreed to a trade. You can see my contribution to his Harry Potter collection below. Have a great weekend!

Michelangelo by David Petersen. 2013. Ink on paper, 12 × 12″.

Rita Skeeter. 2013. Watercolor on paper, 9 × 12″.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 225

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

It's high noon on the rooftops of New York City as the Superior Spider-Man faces off against the Punisher. Avenging Spider-Man #22 is out today! (Preview here.) While I'm proud to say I provided the cover, I just realized what would make it 1000 times better: a tumbleweed of webbing blowing across the background. Why I waited until now to realize that, we shall never know.

 I didn't use much reference for this one besides my rooftops and water towers morgue file. I may have used my Punisher and hands Sculptris maquettes (honestly, I can't remember) but I figured it might be nice to show them either way. Each video is a no frills 20-second turnaround.

inks by my Paw
cyan print of pencils

pencils over digital composite
digital composite

digital layouts

The first 2 ideas were going to be tiny Spidey spotlights doubling as laser sights. It could've worked if I zoomed way in, but we ultimately went with a classic gunfight. This certainly wasn't my first Spidey/Punisher cover, so hopefully I'll get another chance in the future.

a face only a mother could love

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Green Hornet, Covered

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

The Green Hornet #5 Cover. 2013.
Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on bristol board with digital color, 11 × 17″.

Here's my latest cover for The Green Hornet, the 5th in the series by Mark Waid and Daniel Indro. There are a number of nice things about having a monthly cover gig. For starters, it's consistent and dependable with predictable demands. But aside from the work aspect, it allows for more explorations of a character besides the classic, iconic shot that most covers demand. The best part, however, is getting to use the sketches that fell by the wayside. (My other monthly gig is for Superior Spider-Man Team-Up, formerly Avenging Spider-Man.)

The covers also start to add up pretty quickly. I'm working on the 7th at the moment. These are all inked by my Dad, Joe Rivera, as is usually the case with my work from 2011 and later. I color them all in Photoshop, but I'm contemplating giving my Dad a crack at that too. If you'd like to see a step-by-step demo, I detailed the entire process for the 1st cover in a previous post. While that took about 17 hours, the rest clocked in at 14, (including preliminary work, but not inks).

On a final note, if you're unfamiliar with the Green Hornet, all you need to know is in the fantastic book about H.J. Ward by David Saunders. Ward is probably my favorite painter, and it turns out he helped to create the masked hero.

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

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

Green Hornet #2 Cover. 2012.
Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

Green Hornet #1 Cover. 2012.
Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on bristol board, 11 × 17.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Heroes Con 2013

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

I don't know about you, but I'm ready for a Heroic weekend. Heroes Con is almost here! I'm leaving today for Charlotte, so no Friday post, but I thought I'd share a couple commissions. Mysterio is from Leeds last year (big thanks to Martin for providing the scan!), and Spidey is about to meet his new owner.

My schedule for the weekend:

Signing times are every hour on the hour. This helps to maximize my drawing time — I've gotten 10 commissions done so far and I hope to get 10 more done during the con. If I haven't contacted you yet, there's no guarantee I'll get it finished. But if money is no object, I'll have one piece available for the auction on Saturday night.

3:00pm — Paint a piece for the auction (this isn't official; I may paint at my table or up on stage)

12:30 — Marvel Artists Panel, Room 208ABC

2:30 — Daredevil Panel, Room 207AB

I'm at table AA-904. Feel free to stop by and say "hi."
Have a great weekend!

Spider-Man. 2013. Watercolor on paper, 9 × 12″.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 224

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

This may have already hit shelves, but if you somehow missed the issue, I highly recommend you rectify that situation. Mark Waid ties up a lot of loose ends in the issue and leaves us clamoring for more. And the art, as always, is perfection. Here's a preview. I provided the variant cover, so this one may be a bit harder to find.

The figure of Daredevil was mostly drawn from imagination, with the occasional glance at my hand. (The nice thing about sketching digitally is that I can reflect the art so that I'm always drawing my left hand from life.) Aside from my folder of rooftop pics, the only other reference I used was provided by Marvel: a character model for Iron Man's newest suit by Carlo Pagulayan.

Black and yellow, black and yellow...

inks by my Paw
blue-line print

I colored DD's grappling line magenta so that the radar portion could be easily selected. I also digitally "inked" DD's outline for the same reason. As you can see from the final image, I removed the contrail from Iron Man's repulsors — purely for aesthetic reasons.

pencils over digital sketch
digital composite

The perspective grid was created digitally using my template. It's color coded, which is especially helpful for 3 vanishing points. I isolated the grid below to show it more clearly (I also changed the ground plane to a checkerboard pattern). As you can see in the digital composite, I cover the bleed with a gray border. This keeps me focused on what matters while ensuring that all the important shapes won't be trimmed off. I always draw with the trade dress, but because it's a variant, I needn't have worried about the Marvel Now! banner across the bottom .

digital perspective grid
digital layout