Friday, February 28, 2014

Egon and Batman

BATMAN. 2014. Ink & watercolor on bristol, 8.5 × 11″.

The week is done, but I still miss Harold Ramis. I watched Ghostbusters again on Monday... just because. I was a Ghostbuster before I was Batman or Spider-Man, or even a Ninja Turtle. And judging from the response I saw on Twitter, I know I wasn't alone. See you on the other side, Egon.

WHO YOU GONNA CALL? 2014. Digital, 8.5 × 11″.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 254

Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

Miracle Man #3 is out today and you can see a preview here. Despite getting plenty of costume reference, I still made the belt the wrong color. The printed version should be correct, though (yellow, not red). This being a cityscape, I used my trusty Google Earth to get just the right angle on Big Ben. This was, of course, beefed up with plenty of reference I found on-line, including the building across from it. I didn't take any photo reference for this one, but I probably used my Sculptris male maquette to get the angle right.

It looks better in real life.

inks by my Paw
blue-line print of pencils

pencils over digital sketch
digital sketch

digital layouts

Monday, February 24, 2014

KLANG! (The Delinquents)

Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

Hey, folks! I'm back from SCAD and back to blogging. I met a ton of really talented (and hard-working) people, from freshmen to grad students — can't wait to see them make a splash in the real world (or at least the comics industry). This was my third visit to the school as a professional, but it was definitely the most fulfilling, as I got to lecture, visit classes, and talk with faculty about the curriculum.

As for my own projects, I'll be concentrating on commissions for Sacramento and Mexico over the next couple weeks. I've still got a couple openings for the Sacramento show, so send me an email ( if you're interested.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Sacramento and Mexico City

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

I will be accepting a limited number of commissions for Sacramento and Mexico City. There are only 3 options, all of them 9 × 12 inches:

Watercolor painted portrait (on my own paper, no exceptions): $250.
Ink portrait: $80 ($20 surcharge for sketch covers)
Ink with watercolor wash portrait: $120 ($40 surcharge for sketch covers)

If you're interested in getting on the list, please contact me through the appropriate email:

I will reply with an automatic confirmation of receipt, but will not be able to answer questions until just prior to each show.  Please indicate the character you'd like (and which version, if applicable). I will do my best to finish as many commissions as possible (only one per customer) but a place on the list does not guarantee that I will get to it. Thanks for your support (and patience)!

(I'm off to Savannah tomorrow for a mentor program at SCAD. That means no new blog posts for the rest of the week. Sorry!)

DAREDEVIL. 2013. Watercolor and ink on paper, 9 × 12″.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Room for Danger

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

I've been getting back into the swing of painting lately with a variety of projects, but this one was mostly for fun. It was painted directly on the sketch cover of a comic book which, if you're not familiar with the industry,  is just one of many kinds of variant covers used to entice collectors. The "sketch cover" is special, however, because it gives fans the opportunity to get original art from their favorite artists at conventions.

I happened to do this one at home since it will be auctioned off for charity (benefitting the Hero Initiative). I stuck with black and white because I had already missed the deadline (and most of the other entries are usually monochromatic). If my iCal is to be believed, it took exactly 8 hours to finish using Holbein gouache (black plus 3 grays) with accents of white Acryla Gouache.

Gouache and acrylic on bristol board, 14 × 10.5″.

The painting process was pretty loose, especially because the bulk of it is a mess of debris (a favorite subject because of its relative ease). I worked transparently for the most part, only applying paint thickly once I was assured of the form. You may notice the slightly cooler right shoulder of Colossus — this is where I worked more opaquely in order to cover up previous failed attempts at Wolverine's mask. Although I didn't do it here, adding a touch of orange can counteract the bluish, chalky effect of opaque white. Do as I say, not as I do.

As for the subject matter, you may be familiar with the two-man wrecking crew. They're tearing apart the infamous Danger Room while Professor X watches from the safety of the control center. (I'm not exactly sure how Xavier can afford to have such expensive equipment turned to scrap on a regular basis, but I would imagine it has something to do with his ability to read and control minds).

MYTHOS: X-MEN page 6. 2005.
Oil on masonite, 16 x 24".

This isn't the first time I've rendered the duo, nor is it a first for the setting. I first painted the Danger Room in 2005 as part of Mythos: X-Men, a project I detailed in a previous post. That take was not the typical representation, as the writer, Paul Jenkins, had requested a more grounded, realistic version. The result was a cross between the school gymnasium and American Gladiators.

Ink on bristol board with digital color, 11 × 17.

And finally, the "Fastball Special," a particularly popular maneuver, is what helped me transition from painting to line work back in 2008. I completed this piece for a book of commissions my art rep was putting together. When my editor saw it, he asked if I'd be willing to apply that style to my Marvel work. That's pretty much all I've been doing since, but I still like to break out the paints every once in a while.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 253

Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on bristol board with digital color, 11 × 17.

Happy Wednesday, folks! I'm back from a nice, relaxing week in Amsterdam. I did absolutely nothing productive whatsoever — it was fantastic. Fortunately, I was not so worthless in the past and so I've got a new cover out today (preview here). Also, I'll have full details on the commission list for Sacramento and Mexico City on Friday.

Good day, weird sir.

inks by my Pops
blue-line print of pencils

pencils over digital sketch
digital sketch

digital layouts

Monday, February 3, 2014

Psylocke and Wolverine

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

photo by Tory Williams

I made a custom cake topper for our wedding last year featuring some familiar characters. While I already posted a picture previously, I recorded a time lapse video of (nearly) the entire sculpting process and thought I'd share it as well. The material I used is Super Sculpey, a polymer clay that stays pliable until cooked in a home oven. The directions say to bake it at 275 °F for 15 minutes (for every 1/4″ of material). That works fairly well for me, though sometimes I'll bake it at a 250 °F for slightly longer. Toward the end of the video, I show a turnaround of the finished Psylocke figure — Super Sculpey has a sheen to it that's lost after baking.

The sculpting itself is pretty straightforward, but the armature can be tricky. I used a thin, galvanized steel wire no more than 1/16″ thick. It has to be strong because the figures are so small, just 1/12 scale (or 6″ tall). It's also a good idea to use wrapping wire around the limbs, which gives the clay something to mechanically grip. I didn't have any around the apartment, so I used aluminum foil that I rolled into long, rough wires. That actually worked even better and I'll probably use the technique again.

photo by Tory Williams

It took 40 hours to sculpt and about 6 to paint (done almost continuously). Had it been something intended for reproduction, it would've taken even longer. That's one of many reasons digital sculpture is taking over. Traditional techniques are still valuable, especially for learning anatomy, but you can't beat the speed and ease of revisions that are inherent to digital.

For painting, I used Holbein's Acryla Gouache on the matte sections, Martha Stewart gloss acrylics for black and silver, and Testors Acryl for the blue and brown — basically, whatever worked. To be honest, the paint job isn't that great, but it looks just fine from far away, which is all I needed.

Even taking shortcuts, I barely finished in time. I had to bake Wolverine before I finished his arm so I could make a flight (to my wedding). I carried them on the plane with me in a small box (and the TSA didn't even stop me — guess they don't mind adamantium).

I had originally intended to sculpt Psylocke's psionic blade, but I ran out of time. I still have the materials, though, which include a translucent polymer and alcohol dye. (I found a site called The Blue Bottle Tree that details how to make work with the materials.)

Photoshop, 15 × 11″ @300 ppi.

At first, I was going to make the figures 9″ tall so I could use a toy katana, but that proved too large (but I still have the sword, which hangs on my miniature gun rack). For more on sculpting, please check out my previous posts:

(I'm taking a blog break while I'm on vacation... where I will hopefully get some writing done. Have a great week!)

photo by Tory Williams