Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Squid Mobster

Going through a pile of old random doodles on my desk:

Monday, December 22, 2008

IT Crowd

I've been watching The IT Crowd, a British comedy with a lot of the same actors from Garth Marenghi's Dark Place, a favorite show of mine. Just a quick doodle of the main characters who are nerdy IT guys, if you can't tell:

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Original Rebel

Last week Betty Page, the Queen of the Pin-Ups, passed away. I think one could argue that she inspired almost as many young men to pick up a pencil and learn how to draw as Jack Kirby did:

Monday, December 15, 2008

Solomon Kane & Candy Canes

Let me try this one more time - the first time I posted these, the images weren't clickable.

Anyway, I finally got some time to finish the last page of the Solomon Kane story I had intended to wrap up by Halloween. I didn't get the last page done in time, then things conpsired to keep my from finishing it, and suddenly it's almost Christmas.

Here's the whole story:

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Other Stuff

The last page of the Solomon Kane story is coming, but I've been working on a few other little projects too. Here's a little 4"x6" oil sketch I made for a friend in lieu of a card:

It took about 2 hours to paint and about a week to dry (aargh) - I've got to try acrylics some day.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Off the Rails

I missed my Halloween deadline to finish my Solomon Kane story and things keep popping up eat the time I need to finish the last page. Since I haven't had anything to post, I thought I'd point out that my friends at Midway Games just released Mortal Kombat vs. The DC Universe. I drew this back when the project was just getting underway - seems like forever ago:

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Shipwrecked Page Five

Got a little behind this week, so I missed my Halloween deadline, but only one more page to go:

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Forever Cool

Just a quick sketch of Paul Newman, who passed away a few days ago, from his role as Cool Hand Luke. He was one of the last 'Old School Cool' actors in Hollywood. Like Steve McQueen, he didn't have to act cool - he just was:

Monday, September 29, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Halloween Project

I started this blog last year right around Halloween and my first posts were all monsters of some sort. Since I'm holding back on posting anything related to the graphic novel I'm trying to get going I haven't had a lot to post, but I wanted to do something special for Halloween. I've had an idea for a short Solomon Kane story in my head for a while, so I thought I'd do something with that. Here's the first panel:

For the sake of trying something new, I'm doing the whole thing digitally and I'm messing around with making custom brushes to achieve some of the pen & ink techniques of the old E.C. horror comics.

My goal is to have the whole thing done by Halloween - we'll see how that goes.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Operator 5

I've been reading a book about the history of the pulp novels - it's got chapters on all of the usual characters, like The Shadow and Doc Savage, but it also talks about some of the forgotten heroes. Most of them are forgotten because they were either cheap knock-offs or just plain schlock, but a few sounded pretty interesting, like Operator 5.

The premise of the stories is that an invading army rolls through the US in the early 30's and locks the country down under martial rule. The military is destroyed, the government is dissolved (the president shoots himself), and the only hope for salvation is a small band of freedom fighters led by Operator 5, the last remaining government agent.

Like a lot of the pulps, these stories were a weird mish-mash of current events, future speculation and crazy sci-fi which lead to some very strange ideas and imagery. Operator 5, the wholesome hero, wore the death's head skull as his symbol (pre-dating the SS), blew up buildings and bridges and regularly used his girlfriend as bait for enemy. I guess they didn't call it hard boiled action for nothing:

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Keeping Things Under Wraps

I'm still working on the beginnings of a graphic novel, slowly but surely, but I've decided to keep it under wraps for a while. I'm wrestling with the story right now, with art as a secondary concern, and with things changing from day to day (for the better I hope) I think it's counterproductive to start showing anything more yet. Just a last few doodles for now:

Monday, September 1, 2008

Sketch Challenge #2

From the Penciljack forums - illustration based on "the day 15 year old Danny Moore discovered he could levitate objects":

Friday, August 29, 2008

Recharging the Batteries

I haven't been doing much drawing for fun lately, so I looked around online for some sketch challenges to try. James Gurney, of Dinotopia fame, posts a random phrase from old sci-fi books every week on his blog as an exercise for his readers to illustrate. This week's quote was, "the old man felt a tendril of anger rising." My quick take on it:

The sketches don't have to be drawn in any sort of genre style, but I'm a sucker for old pulpy sci-fi.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Giddy Up!

I've been busy recently and have spent most of my free time working on the outline for the story, but I had a chance to do some drawing last night:

Since I was just doodling, I didn't bother with any reference, and so the horses are pretty goofy looking.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Lines & Colors

I'm still playing around with style & technique. I found a still from the Ten Commandments and decided to try and break it down and do a study of it. I like it because it has strong but simple lighting and color and a nice sense of depth with a very loosely defined background:

I wanted to see how it broke down in terms of tone and how I might interpret it in black & white, so I desaturated it and pushed the contrast until I had something I could study:

Using pens and a black colored pencil I made this drawing, trying to further simplify the values and avoid any line work that would make it look to overworked or overdrawn (like feathering or cross hatching.) I like the way the colored pencil comes through in the scan - it holds it tone and gives the drawing some organic texture:

Once I had that scanned in, I colored it using as few colors as possible. The colors I chose had to be a little bit darker and less saturated that the colors from the photo since I was working within a narrower range of values. I learned a lot about using saturation as well as value to define lights and darks. There are only about 4 basic colors, but lots of variation in saturation and tone to create variety:

What did I learn? I learned a lot about drawing less and keeping in mind the overall image - what I would define with line and what I would define with color. The next step is to try something from scratch without reference and see how much I can carry over from this study.

Am I wasting my time? Maybe. I'm sure a lot of artists a lot smarter than I am can figure this stuff out without going through all of this effort, but I want to push my drawing style and make it simpler yet more sophisticated at the same time. I know it's a fool's errand to chase after someone as talented as Alex Toth, but my instincts tell me that that's the direction I need to go in.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Portrait of a Bastard

Still trying to get a handle on this character I've been working on. I'm trying to give him the Romanesque nose, big cheek bones and sullen eyes of Charlton Heston without having to resort to constant use of photo reference. I want him to have that same mix of broad shouldered heroism and haughty indignation that Heston had in his prime:

I was actually looking at a photo of Humphrey Bogart for the lighting, but trying to apply it to this face:

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Long Goodbye

I watched 'The Long Goodbye' over the weekend - a 70's interpretation of Raymond Chandler's last Phillip Marlowe story starring Elliot Gould and directed by Robert Altman. It was a lot different than I expected, more like Fletch and less like Point Blank, which is what I thought it would be like.

Gould did a great job playing Marlowe as though he had just walked out of the Marlboro haze of the 50's into the California hippy culture of the early 70's, but I think Sterling Hayden stole the show as one of his clients - washed up novelist who was one part Ernest Hemmingway, one part Blackbeard the pirate.

Jack Davis (of Mad magazine fame) drew an amazing poster for the movie, so I shouldn't even try to caricature Gould, but what the heck:

Friday, July 25, 2008

False Artifacts

Another quick concept sketch to get a feel for drawing a period look:

This time, a fake souvenir post card from the Charge of the Light Brigade. Both the British and Russians were over confident in their ability to win the Crimean war quickly, so the upper crust of both nations came to watch the fighting. They would set up picnics up on the hills overlooking the battlefields and snack and drink while watching the carnage down below. Merchants set up shop in nearby villages and sold overpriced supplies and souvenirs to the tourists. It was kind of like a crazy Victorian Lollapalooza while it lasted.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

William Bastard of the 8th Hussars

Lt. Wm. Bastard of the 8th Hussars shortly before the battle of Balaklava, better known as the "Charge of the Light Brigade":

He disappeared during the battle, and no body was ever found.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The True Measure of Power

Last year, I started working on a short story, mostly as a writing exercise. Working on it in my free time taught me a few things about doing any future comics work:

1) Although writing the story in prose as opposed to a script felt more natural, the length of the story got away from me. What was supposed to be a 5 page story turned into a 9 page story.

2) Scanning in my thumbnails and doing a rough pass at lettering before I started penciling was probably the smartest thing I did. I was able to refine & edit the text within the actual pages and lay it out so that it worked with the art rather than being dropped in later as an afterthought.

3) Working in the traditional way of penciling, then inking, then coloring isn't going to work for me. It feels like I'm doing the work four times rather than building up all of the elements together. I felt like it was going to take forever and I lost my motivation to work on it.

I'm working on ways to build up a page all at once making the most out of digital short cuts. Maybe it'll work, maybe it won't, but I don't see myself getting much work done otherwise the traditional way, especially something in a longer format, like a graphic novel.

I hate not doing things the 'right' way, but I'm more interested in telling a story at this point than worrying about the original art. I think it'll be more satisfying to have a finished graphic novel on my shelf than a stack of half drawn pages.

This story isn't anything earth shattering - just straight forward action, but I thought it worked out alright, so I'm posting it here in pencil form with the rough lettering added:

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Lord Bastard

A quick & loose concept sketch after all that Photoshoppery:

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Wizard & Glass Process #7

Almost there - just have to do the gun belts and whatever final touches the image needs as a whole:

I also went back and added tags to all of the older posts to make them easier to search.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Wizard & Glass Process #6

Still making incremental progress on this one - fixed the sleeve and finished most of the torso. Getting the shirt to look like suede without using texture overlay or fancy brushes is kind of tricky. I'm going to try to overlay some blotches of color to age it and make it look less monochrome:

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Hulk Smash Puny Pixels!

I was at the Wizard World Chicago comic book convention yesterday and was talking with the friends I was with about drawing comics 100% digitally. Just for fun, I threw together this Hulk sketch today start to finish in Photoshop. The inking is not as smooth as real brush work, but I think with some practice and modifications to my style it can work. The hardest part was sketching in the initial layout. There's something about looking at a drawing on paper that gives you a better perspective on design and proportion that you lose going digital (for me anyway).

It definitely went a lot faster than doing it traditionally, but I don't know if the drop in quality offsets that:

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wizard & Glass Process #5

Not a lot of progress since last time - just working my way down the torso. The chest is done, but there's still a lot of work to do on the shirt. That right sleeve is going to be reworked since the wrinkles aren't working for me:

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Wizard & Glass Process #4

After having a lot of problems with my home PC I ended up getting a laptop, which I've finally got setup for doing artwork on. Since I hadn't worked on this Roland piece in a while I decided to take the opportunity to redo what I had done on the character. He wasn't matching my mental picture of him and I wasn't really working on him in a smart way. First thing I did was to rough in some local color and very simple lighting to define volume:

Once I had that in, I went ahead and started working on the head, which is what really bugged me about the previous version:

I'm a lot happier with that - it's hard to avoid Clint Eastwood-isms in portraying Roland, especially since Stephen King describes him as looking like Eastwood, but I wanted a face that matches the voice I hear when I read the books. He's far from perfect, but better than where I was before.

In case I hadn't mentioned it before, this is all done in Photoshop.