Friday, June 27, 2014

Moving Day!

BATMAN: BLACK & WHITE #5. 2013. Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

I'm moving today! (but still staying in San Francisco) Hard to believe we've already been here a year. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 269

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

Green Hornet #13 comes out today (preview here), but here's a behind-the-scenes look at the cover to #12. As evidenced by my wedding ring, you can see that I take most of my pics with my iMac using Photo Booth, which reverses the image so as to mimic a mirror. Joe Quinones is the one who got me in the habit, and he also documents the results in Photobooth Fridays. It makes taking reference super quick and easy, though it's best used for drawing — reference for paintings often needs more specific lighting situations. Lastly, I based the design of The Daily Sentinel off the many front pages featured in the 60s TV show.


inks by my Paw
blue-line print of pencils

pencils over digital sketch
digital sketch

digital layouts

Monday, June 23, 2014

"Breaking In" Part 1 of 2

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

Wizard Magazine #77 (January 1998 issue) Magic Words Column.

I spent a few days in Savannah last month as part of a mentorship program for SCAD's Sequential Art Department. The number one question I got there (or anywhere, for that matter) is "How do I break in?" While a damn good question, it can only be answered in retrospect — it's completely different for each and every artist.

Since young artists can't possibly know where their "big break" will come from, they have to concentrate on the factors that are within their control, namely the quality of their work, coupled with the avenues through which it can be seen. Neither are easy to accomplish, but both are essential. Missing just one of those ingredients negates the other.

Thanks to the internet and social networking, it's never been easier to get your work out there. But as a result, the competition has never been higher. You're not only competing with your peers, not just the professionals already working, but everyone across the globe who wants the same career as you.

What I'd like to share today is a fairly detailed recounting of how I got my big break... over the course of 4 years.

Me and Alex Ross in Orlando in 1999

Throughout high school, I was entering contests in Wizard magazine, going to conventions, and practicing, practicing. Most importantly, I knew that while artists at cons could give me advice and help me improve my skills, they were essentially the competition — only writers and editors could give me work.

In 1999 (just before my 18th birthday) I attended Megacon in Orlando, FL, where I met Jim Krueger, the writer of a Marvel book called Earth X. He and artist Alex Ross kindly signed every book in my collection (I'm convinced that I'm the reason Ross no longer does shows). Afterward, I asked a friend of theirs to deliver a small portfolio of my work. When I later contacted Jim via email — I think I got it via the Wizard web site, but I can't recall for sure — he remembered both the portfolio and my entry to a Wizard contest (even though I hadn't won).

EARTH X FAN ART. 1999. Gouache on bristol board, ~11 × 14″.

Jim gave me a deal: if I did a piece of fan art for his creator-owned book, The Footsoldiers, he might publish it in a future issue. Furthermore, If he really liked it, he would commission me for more work in the future. By this time, I was already a freshman at the Rhode Island School of Design, but hadn't yet chosen a major — although Illustration was the natural choice for me, Industrial Design was a close second. Fortunately, RISD has a wintersession mini-mester that's tailor-made for trying things out. I signed up for Sci-Fi/Fantasy Illustration.

ALIEN. 2000. Gouache on bristol board
(with digital effects), 11 × 17″.

Acrylic on bristol board (with Photoshop), 11 × 17″.

The class was taught by Nick Jainschigg, with a guest appearance by John Foster (and fellow classmates Joe Quinones and Sonny Liew). Although just 6 weeks in the Providence winter, it made me realize exactly what I wanted to do. Each week required finished assignments — really no different from what I do today — a mix of traditional draftsmanship, storytelling, and concept design.

Horrible, horrible color choices

My week-long Joe Chiodo phase

Some of the work holds up... some does not. Looking back on it now, I think the ultimate goal was not to create masterpieces every time I picked up my tools, but to raise the lowest of my work to a decent level. That's really what being a professional is all about — even your "worst" is publishable, a baseline level of competency that clients can depend on.

The last assignment in class had a bit more leeway, and so I asked my professor if I could kill 2 birds with one stone and complete the fan art for The Footsoldiers. He agreed, and when my painting skills failed me, I used Photoshop to pick up the slack.

Luckily for me, Jim liked it, and hence commissioned 3 more pieces of art for the series. When not waiting tables that summer at Olive Garden, I painted at my parents' house in Daytona Beach, FL.

I was 19. Just 2 years later, I would be working for Marvel. In the next installment, I'll detail the events that got me into the office, and into a career.

Part 2

THE FOOTSOLDIERS. 2000. Acrylic on illustration board, ~16 × 20″.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Miller High Life

WOLVERINE (AFTER MILLER). 2014. Ink & watercolor on paper, 9 × 12″.

Feels good to be drawing comics again. Still can't say what the project is, but you'll know by San Diego Comic Con at the latest. In the meantime, here are a couple commissions from Sacramento back in March. And on Monday, I'll answer the #1 question that everyone asks me all the time. Have a great weekend!

IRON MAN. 2014. Ink & watercolor on paper, 9 × 12″.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 268

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #638 Page 29. 2010.
Ink on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

The narrative of One Moment in Time jumps back and forth between two eras in Peter Parker's life, but when I was just beginning to pencil, I neglected to keep those eras organized in my mind. Joe Quesada had given me a 3D Sketchup model of Parker's current apartment. Although a great resource, I was a tad too eager and used it in one of the flashback scenes. I didn't realize it until my editor pointed it out to me on the finished pencils.


You may also notice that the perspective of the outside buildings is a bit off. Those were just flat backdrops to give a sense of the outside world. They may look okay from one angle, but not others.

revised pencils
original pencils

pencil layout


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tampa Bay Comic Con

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

I will be accepting a limited number of commissions for Tampa Bay Comic Con this August 1-3. 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 here:

I will reply with 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!

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

Monday, June 16, 2014

75th Sneak Peek

Gouache and acrylic on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

My latest painted cover was revealed this weekend at NYCC: Special Edition. Hope I can show it here soon. In the meantime, here are a few details from the intensely detailed painting, which took over 100 hours. I've been posting some of these on Twitter, but the Hulk is new.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Elektra Commission

ELEKTRA. 2014. Watercolor on paper, 9 × 12″.

I start on a huge project next week. Can't reveal what it is just yet, but it should be fun. In the meantime, here's an Elektra commission from back in March. And below is the sketch for the massive private commission I've been tweeting photos of. Have a great weekend!

THE SINISTER BAKER'S DOZEN. 2014. Digital sketch, 18 × 24″.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 267

RAI #2. 2014. Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

Rai #2 came out last week (preview here)! This is what happens when you fly through the wall of a spaceship. Hope I never know what that feels like. As you can see in the original art below, I did all the stars digitally. I made a brush that randomly sprays circles of varying brightness. It doesn't work perfectly, but it's great in a pinch (and I've never not been in a pinch). It also saves my Dad from having to ink all all the space in the universe.

And introducing the Silver Surfer as Rai!

inks by my Pops!
blue-line print of pencils

pencils over digital sketch
digital sketch

digital layouts

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Delinquents #2 Cover

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

Here's the second cover for The Delinquents, a 4-issue mini-series by Fred Van Lente, James Asmus, and Kano. You can read more about it (and hobo treasure) here.

pencils over digital print

Friday, June 6, 2014

Rocket and Groot

ROCKET RACCOON. 2014. Ink & watercolor on paper, 9 × 12″.

Happy Friday, folks! I've been hard at work for the past 3 weeks on another one of my crazy painted covers for Marvel. Hope to finish soon (and be able to show it before the end of the month). Blog-wise, I've had cut back my Muddy Colors posts to every 4 weeks (instead of every 2). I'll still have a post on Monday, just not the super-in-depth tutorials.

And lastly, for those of you who have been wondering if I will ever return to real comics (as opposed to just covers and such), the future looks bright. Might even have something on shelves before the year is through. That's all I can say for now. Have a great weekend!

GROOT. 2014. Ink & watercolor on paper, 9 × 12″.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 266

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

I couldn't quite decide on a Spidey pose, so I took a few shots for this one. Can't seem to find any Doc Ock ref, so I guess that means I drew it from my head (and the hand models I bring with me everywhere). You can see a preview of the issue (which hit shelves back in April) here.

I pretty much just flex all day instead of drawing comics.

inks by my Paw
blue-line print of pencils

pencils over digital print
digital sketch

digital layout

Last, but not least, here's the pic I tweeted last year when I accidentally drew a dick in Spidey's webbing. Oops.

Some things never change