Friday, May 30, 2014

Daredevil Commission

DAREDEVIL. 2014. Watercolor and acrylic on paper, 9 × 12″.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 265

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

This may have already hit shelves, but nothing's really out in the world until the Wacky Reference is revealed. Enjoy.


inks by my Paw
blue-line print of pencils

pencils over digital print
digital sketch

digital layouts

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day

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

MYTHOS: CAPTAIN AMERICA, Page 10, Panel 1. 2008.
Gouache and acrylic on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

It's Memorial Day here in the States, so I thought I'd share some artwork that pays homage to those who have fallen in the service of our country. Although I was not much of a Captain America fan growing up, I've since had the privilege of working on two stories that turned me into one. The first, Mythos: Captain America, was written by Paul Jenkins. The second, Young Allies, was written by Roger Stern. Both stories had their share of action, but the heart of each was the loss of friends in the midst of bigger battles.

It's a bit overwhelming to visit a vast, military cemetery, even if you don't have a personal connection to those laid to rest. Drawing one can't begin to approach a family's sense of loss for a loved one, but it does, at the very least, force you to deliberate over the life that each gravestone represents.

YOUNG ALLIES, Page 1. 2009. Ink on bristol board (with digital color), 11 × 17.

YOUNG ALLIES, Page 6. 2009. Ink on bristol board (with digital color), 11 × 17.

YOUNG ALLIES, Page 21. 2009. Ink on bristol board (with digital color), 11 × 17.

YOUNG ALLIES, Page 22. 2009. Ink on bristol board (with digital color), 11 × 17.

MYTHOS: CAPTAIN AMERICA, Page 22, Panel 3. 2008.
Gouache and acrylic on bristol board, 11 × 17.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Wasp & Giant-Man

Ink & watercolor on paper, 7 × 10.5″.

Here's another personal commission done for The Hero Initiative. They also just released all the images for the Uncanny X-Men 100 Project, some of which will be auctioned starting May 27. Not sure when mine is up, but I'll be sure to let you know when the time comes.

I'm currently working on another big painted cover — can't say what it is yet, but it might be easier to list who's not in it. I'll have a Muddy Colors post on Monday, but I'll be cutting my contributions back to every 4th week (I'm currently at every other week).

I'm calling today "Flatter Appreciation Day." Orpheus Collar, my coloring assistant is visiting from LA. Have a Weekend of Future Past!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 264

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

This one's from a little while ago. Preview here.

What's in my hand? A fruit?

inks by my Pops
blue-line print of pencils

pencils over digital print
digital sketch

digital layout

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Daredevil Portrait

DAREDEVIL. 2014. Ink & watercolor on paper, 7 × 10.5″.

Here's a fairly recent Daredevil commission for the Hero Initiative. I'll be taking a blog break for the next week — hope to be back by next Wednesday. In the meantime, here's an interview I just completed with Wednesday's Heroes. Also, in case you'd like to follow this blog via Tumblr, I just created a mirror account:

Have a great week!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Comic Book Coloring — Part 3 of 3

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

WOLVERINE MAX #1 VARIANT COVER (color options). 2012.
Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on Marvel board, 11 × 17.25″.

Welcome to the last of 3 posts on digital coloring for comics (Parts 1 & 2). Today's post is all about the finishing touches. I have a very basic approach when it comes to style, so there's nothing particularly fancy, but I do want to go over the various "special effects" that I use. As with most things involving Photoshop, there are countless ways of achieving the same goal — these are just my methods. (I didn't have time to finish up the second video, but there's quite a bunch of info to cover below. I'll be sure to post it at a later date.)

An example of a "color hold"

(Be sure to click on each image to get the full-scale effect.) First up, we have what's known as a "color hold." This is where the black areas of the art are replaced with another color. It's a great technique for pushing things back in space — it's essentially a form of aerial perspective — and also for elements that are glowing (fire and energy beams) or evanescent (ghosts and smoke).

On the "inks" layer, use the Magic Wand to select all the black pixels. If you've done everything right up to this point, there should be nothing but black and white pixels on that layer, making it a clean selection. Press Command-J to copy that to a new layer (also found under Layer > New > Layer via Copy). On the layers palette, click the Lock Transparent Pixels option — this means that the transparent areas on that layer will remain that way.

Lock Transparent Pixels

Using the Pencil tool (to keep things aliased), color every area that you want to be a different color. You are welcome to use as many colors as you want, but it's best to keep things simple, especially if you'll be making subsequent edits.

This can act as your sole layer for line art, but I like to keep things separate. I usually select all the black pixels from the Color Hold layer and delete them. I then select what's left on the layer (by Command-clicking the layer icon) and delete that area from the original Inks layer below. This is not a necessary step, but I like having the option. Since I color myself, I often end up erasing many of the Color Hold lines, and so wouldn't want the ink lines below to peek through. (However, if you're coloring someone else's work, they probably wouldn't appreciate you altering the art.)

Basic, two-tone coloring

My particular style is part of the "flat color" school. It's not an official designation, but people often use the phrase to describe it. All it means is that I use little to no gradients or highlights. The closest I get to the modeling of form is what's known as "two-tone" rendering, which is probably most familiar from animation. It's an economical, but very effective way of creating the effect of light on objects.

Still using my pencil tool, but with a rougher brush preset, I map out the interaction of light and shadow. This keeps things easily selectable, so you can still make color adjustments later down the line. Occasionally I'll use a more textured pencil for "softer" transitions, but it's still just 2 colors — the blending is merely optical.

Make sure the Sample is set to Current Layer.

Most of the time, I'm choosing a darker shade to create a shadow, but if it's a lighter image, I'll "paint with light," instead. Choosing the actual colors is a manual process, but something that gets easier with practice. The first thing I do is option-click the color I want to adjust — this is the equivalent of using the Eyedropper tool, which samples the color you click so that you can paint with it. (An important note: it helps to select the Sample: Current Layer option, which will disregard the effects of any adjustments layers above it.)

Once the base color is acquired, it can be altered by clicking while holding Control+Option+Command. This brings up the Heads Up Display color picker — a new color has been chosen as soon as you release the click.

Fade is a quick and easy way to "Undo" on a sliding scale.

If, after painting with the new color, you find the change to be too drastic, you can split the difference using the Edit > Fade command (Command-Shift-F). The dialog box that appears acts like an opacity slider — you can choose precisely how strong you want the effect to be. Not limited to color, this process can be applied to almost any edit just performed. This is particularly useful on skin tones, where we are most sensitive to subtle changes.

In general, my shadow colors tend to be darker and less saturated — no big surprise there — but I almost always change the hue slightly, thus creating a warm/cool dynamic. This is the same way I play with color in my painted work, it's just a whole lot easier to do here.

The tops of the arms have been slightly darkened with the Burn Tool.

Once I'm completely happy with the overall look of the piece, I copy the Flats layer and rename it Color (in the layers palette, option-drag the layer to copy it above). I then select each and every section that requires additional rendering, mostly the shadow areas. First, I'll use the Burn Tool to darken areas in deep shadow. This results in the subtlest of gradients, but still gives the overall effect of flat color.

Note the way light bleeds into shadow
Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

I then switch to the Brush Tool, armed with an airbrush preset. I copy the color from the lighter tone and "dust" the shadow tone wherever they meet. This maintains the hard edge between, but gives the illusion of bright light bleeding into the darkness. As with everything, the degree to which you do this is a personal preference.

Glow vs. No Glow
Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on Marvel board, 11 × 17.25″.

I save all the super-duper special effects for a separate layer  called "Glow." I set the layer mode to Screen — this makes all colors below it brighter, even when using a darker color — and airbrush over anything that is a strong source of light. This takes a lifetime of practice to do with paint, and a nanosecond on the computer (which is why it's often overused). It may be cheap, but it's effective, (and looks great on repulsor blasts).

Grain vs. No Grain (not a ton of difference)
Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

The final step is not necessary, but I prefer the look. Computer coloring is perfect — too perfect. It can have a sterile aspect to it, and so I use a filter to add a faux finish. All this does is add texture and variation to the otherwise featureless tracts. It's a small gesture, but it gives your eyes something to lock onto — makes it more tangible. I use Filter > Texture > Grain, but you could even scan in real paper to achieve the same effect.

OK. We're done... almost. (Hopefully, you've hit Save already). During this entire process, we've been working in RGB mode, Photoshop's native gamut (Proof Colors turned on). Since our goal is print, we need to convert the image: Image > Mode > CMYK Color. It will ask you if you want to merge the layers. You do. Next, downsize the image to 2750 x 4175 px (that's standard comic size at 400 ppi). Finally, Save As a TIFF file (Command-Shift-S) with no layers or alpha channels. Check LZW under Image Compression (a lossless method) and hit OK. Now we're really done. Please let me know if you have any additional questions in the comments section.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

Virginia Rivera. BABY PAOLO. 1981.
Dry media on paper, ~11 × 14″.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Batroc (Ze Lepair)

BATROC. 2014. Ink & watercolor on paper, 7 × 10.5″.

Here are 2 slightly different takes on the same character. The bottom was based on a still from Captain America: The Winter Soldier featuring Georges St- Pierre.

I'll have a brand new coloring post for you on Monday, but then I'm going to take a week off from blogging while I visit SCAD's Sequential Art department. Have a great weekend!

Gouache, watercolor, and acrylic on illustration board, 16 × 24″.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 263

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

This variant cover hit shelves last week (preview) but I'm always casually late to the party. I used my a 1-pt perspective radial for the bullet trails, along with a "color hold" to lighten them up. I'll go into more detail about that process in the last installment of my coloring series, which posts on Monday. The digital layout at the bottom of the post was one of the first sketches I created using Kyle T. Webster's Photoshop brushes. He gave me a huge set, and I've been having a blast with all the options. Definitely worth a shot — he's got some freebies in his shop to try out.

Look! No cleavage!

inks by my Pops
blue-line print of pencils

pencils over digital sketch
digital sketch

digital layout

Monday, May 5, 2014

Green Hornet #12 Cover

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

Friday, May 2, 2014

Rogue + Gambit

ROGUE AND GAMBIT. 2014. Watercolor on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

Hope you're all having a great week — mine's kicking proverbial butt. Here's a commission from earlier in the year, featuring our favorite couple-without-touching-privileges.

Anyone seen Spidey 2 yet? I'm hearing mixed reviews, but I'll probably go see it eventually. Now that it's out, I think I can post the style guides I did for the movie. I have no idea what they were used for, but I'll see if I can find out.

Lastly, as I've finally managed to open up a digital store, what do you want to see next? Gutter guides? Watermarked jpeg actions? Convert to CMYK? Add grain to digital color? 3D maquettes? It's all building up to my perspective template, but that (as always) is a little ways off.

Have a great weekend!