Sunday, April 13, 2014

Savage Dragon

I'm just gonna say it.  Image Comics was the best.

I'm not taking anything away from the Golden Age and all the iconic comic characters out there (where would any of us be without Spider-Man and Batman?), but I grew up in the 90s and the revolution that Image Comics started was incredibly powerful. And I was there to be part of it. To witness it. It was like, my Beatles or Woodstock. And I'm not sure anything will replace it for me in my life time.

Look it up if you don't know anything about Image Comics and its founders.

Now I wish I could say I am still enamored with comic books as I was when I was growing up. But I kinda grew out of them. I didn't grow up - I just grew out of comics. For a handful of years in high school and college, I thought I was gonna be a comic illustrator. When my love of the medium shifted to animation, it just seemed like there wasn't enough room for both. Or maybe that's all a nice way of saying "I couldn't hack it." heh heh.

Savage Dragon was one of the premiere comics from Image and it made a BIG impact on me. And Erik Larsen still writes and draws it today. Endless respect for that. I had a recent issue lying on my kitchen counter and I was inspired by the animation of Robin Davey so I made this little run cycle of ol' fin-head. Amongst some other Dragon doodles. Enjoy :)

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

the Proletariat!

The team at work (Ancalinar and Drew) was talking about Russian-themed superheroes.  This is what came out of it for me:

Sometimes I think I'm more of a decision maker than an artist! - heheh

Oh yeah - so this guy smashes the bad guys with some sorta glowing/fiery hammers that are chained to his forearms.  Bound to deliver punishing justice for all eternity.  I kinda imagined him smashing his own anvil head as some sorta shockwave super move.  Or maybe that's how he'd boost his adrenaline?  Don't worry - he's wearing briefs under that apron...

Things I learned about Photoshop CS6:

- It has timeline-like animation capabilities that are unintuitive and lackluster if you work in After Effects or Flash regularly.  Not really new news, I try to use it to make quick GIFs, but I always seem to want to do something simple like adjusting the timing for each "frame" and it's baffling to me every time.

- Photoshop CS6 still can't edit the radius of a rounded rectangle.  But apparently Phtoshop CC finally can.

- Photoshop CS6 can do 3D a lot easier now, but not for me because the built-in video card drivers in Mavericks doesn't support Mavericks.  No no, I said that right.  Apparently it's a problem for Nvidia and Apple to sort out according to my research.  Or I could buy a new video card/computer...

Monday, September 23, 2013

Latest Marooned!

I've been slackin' with this post and I have no excuse.  But here it is.

I have mentioned my buddy Tom and his Marooned webcomic before, but he's getting the last little details in place for his latest project: the definitive Marooned graphic novel.  He KICKSTARTED it and pulled in more than double his asking price.

He called on some of his artist friends to contribute some work and I did just that.  Tom is putting EVERYTHING into this book.  His entire complete series, a bunch of pin ups, and a couple new short stories.  Not to mention the buttons and prints and a whole other "making of" art book that he was offering up as rewards.  I'm looking forward to seeing it all put together.

So for my latest contribution, I struck with Lian again.  I've drawn a couple other Lian images so I wanted to add to the series of sorts.  Tom has been great in that he has let me do whatever I want with his characters.  It's the perfect opportunity to take established characters and apply whatever it is on have on the brain.  Very freeing artistically.  The thing I had in mind this time was elongating Lian.  I wanted her to have a long face and a long body.  Maybe in an anime-ish sorta way.  Oh, and I really wanted a project where I could sink some time into Drew's mask-painting technique.  Drew will use vector shapes in PS and clip various highlight/shadow/texture passes to 'em.  'Cept I didn't use vectors for Lian.  I just blocked in colors with pixel-paint and clipped away from there.  Not as precise/clean, but vectors induce a different mindset for me.

Blah blah blah.  So ya wanna see the first sketch I did???'s...something.  Definitely, strangely, elongated.  It looks like the browser mighta squished the image but it hasn't.  Thinking back, I remember this working for me.  Something along these lines would satisfy my elongated vision and I liked her head at the very least.  That was enough to keep going I guess.  This is all it took - ha!

Here's a process .GIF:
These never seem to capture all the gritty details for me, but it is pretty fascinating to "see" the thought process.  Funny to see the multi-armed doodles as I try to find the pose.  I definitely played with the hair for a bit.  It's certainly fun to play with shapes and designs for hair and while I wasn't sure where it would end up, I did know that I wanted it covering her face.  You know the phrase, "I'll know it when I see it"?  Well that's exactly it.  I typically don't have the vision, but there's always a handful of things I know I want or don't want. 

One thing I'm personally happy with is her legs and hips.  There is some weird forced perspective in here and her lower body is even kinda squarish.  I think it takes effort for me to say, "this is completely weird, but like it - just keep going."  It takes effort to ward off all those internal arguments.  Hehe.

Here's a seizure-less final:

But wait!  There's more!

After all that, I went back into my older images and tweaked 'em all in one way or another, and served them up to Tom as well.  I don't really like to go back into old work (for fear Lucas-osis will set in...) but I was able to keep myself in check.

Here's the rest with brief notes:
Tom asked me if he could use this for the front cover of the "extras" art book.  I updated the color of his spine to be blue like the rest of his endoskeleton.  I think it was taupe/brown before.  Not sure what I was thinking then.

Nothin' changed on this one.

I tried to make this feel a little like offset printing and there was a little "outline" on the top of his nose that completely distracted me these days.  Removed.

I struggled a lot with the colors in this one.  I wanted everything to be blue and I wanted everything to read clear.  I don't think I pulled it off, but I did try to fix a few other things:  tucked her legs under her and gave her lower body more imperfect shape.  I think I scooted her head around and made it so her shoulder overlaps.  Gave her head more of an imperfect shape too.  Adjusted her gem and her eyes and lips.  Added some edge light.  Eh, I like it more than before, but it still irks me in some ways.

Still my favorite.  Nothing changed here.

I colored the line work as I thought the pure black originally was too harsh.  Adjusted some lights/shadows in her face - particularly her nose.  I remember completely changing her far hand and getting it where I liked it, then going right back to the original.  One thing I admit looks weird are her shoulders, but I like 'em.  It's like her head is sitting in the concave scoop that her skin makes draped between her shoulders.  Or something.

Enjoy!  Time fer bed!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Gallery 1988 Edgar Wright Show!

Gallery 1988 is having a tribute show for Edgar Wright!
It's this month!  Special Guests are expected to drop by!  SPECIAL!

So if you're in the L.A. area, check it out.
I'll have a limited run of my Scott Pilgrim print to sell.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

The Simpsons.

Hey!  I submitted this image to Threadless for a Simpson's design challenge!
Look, vote, comment with your heart up here:

I'm not the biggest Simpsons fan, but something still possessed me to have some fun with these already iconic characters.  I think I was attracted to the limited colors I had in mind.  Which is why Marge is in a red dress and I took some liberties with Santa's Lil' Helper and Snowball 2.  Oh, and the fingerprints.  No real concrete direction there.  I just felt like Homer's big noggin reminded me of a giant thumb so I started incorporating some textures/patterns.

*** UPDATE ***

Just a quick update to show the image on an actual body to help show the size:

Saturday, August 03, 2013


I'm a little late following up here, but the Con was great.  Thanks to everyone that came by our table!  There were a lotta new faces and some repeat visitors!  Regardless of who, it's always great to talk to people.  To say "hi" and hear a little bit about other peoples' interests.  Often times I'll ask people that are buying something from me, what they like about it.  The content?  The art?  What are you gonna do with it?  Frame it?  Burn it? - heh heh.  Personally I'm attracted to all types of art.  Good and bad.  Complex and simple.  Anything that makes me pause and look longer or think.  So for someone to single my art out and recognize it - it's a great honor and so I hafta ask questions :)

There was one individual that bought a print of my character "Bloodfist".  I only had one because it was ridiculous and largely black and white to test the ink contrast.  He was a silly, over the top, comic book "hero", in the vein of Rob Liefeld-type characters, that I drew in Jr. High School.  So this gentleman asked about Bloodfist and wanted to know more.  I was embarrassed to share and explain that he beat the bad guys to a bloody pulp.  Thus his name.  And that I couldn't draw faces so I just gave him a mysterious blank face.  And I was shocked that this guy wanted to buy it.  When I asked why he said, "Because I get it.  I used to draw the same sorta things and make up the same sorta characters."

And THAT is PRECISELY what comic con is about for me.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

SDCC 2013!


Yeah.  We're days away from the world's biggest annual nerd herd. I'm pretty excited. I love it.

Here's my assortment of arts this year.  A couple new things, some reprints, a couple mainstays. I'll have a few others on hand that aren't shown here, but they'll be tucked away as they've proved unlovable by the masses in the past - ha! :)

And here's the roll out for buttons.  Again, some new, some old art now button-ized, some re-punched, and others not featured in the event these sell out.

Dave and I will be at F5 again.  I know there are at least a couple of you planning to stop by and say "hi". And there will be pizza. Plenty of good pizza. I can already taste it.  

Sensory overload.  Lookin' forward to every single second of it :)



I recently finished up a Scott Pilgrim piece and aimed to share.

First a little history:

Scott Pilgrim has had a following through a series of big-eyed, black and white graphic novels, years before the movie came out. Somehow I had absolutely no exposure to them or the characters before the movie. I mean, I know I don't exactly have my fingers on the pulse of pop culture, but ya figure the big stuff cracks through the shell of even the most recluse hermits. Anyway, I started seeing trailers for movie about these kids in a band packed with comic book action and video game references. Directed by Edgar Wright too, so I had to see it.

I saw Scott Pilgrim vs. the World at a midnight show and the theater was completely packed with rowdy-mouthed college kids. Just the right atmosphere. I thought the movie, particularly the characters, were great and I immediately saw it again after work the next day. And again that same weekend with a couple friends.  And one more time with a different set of friends that were visiting from out of state. And I bought the set of books and thoroughly enjoyed them even AFTER seeing the movie. And now that I own it, it's one movie that I can watch, and immediately re-watch again. I dunno what it is exactly. I think every element of the movie is interesting and I'm always looking forward to the next thing: the introduction of a character, some amusing dialogue, an fight scene, the drama of young love, the music, just everything.

Plus, I like feeling young and nostalgic, and no other movie does it more effectively for me. I'm always reminded of my college life and my relationship (singular) and the games I played and the music I listened to and the people I hung around with at that time.

So, that said, it was easy to let the movie motivate me.

On the left is my initial digital sketch.  I decided to zero in on the eyes of the 7 Evil Exes.  There weren't many other ideas.  I've wanted to draw some eyes for a while and I wanted to come up with a look, a process, that I could replicate for each set of eyes.

Part of that process started with the sketches. You'll notice that Lucas Lee's eyes (Second evil ex) are crossed. All of the faces started out as a full sketch for the full head's proportions/sizes, and then I tightened it (slightly) within a smart object of one eye section. That smart object was flipped for the other half of the face, which is what you generally see in the rough here. It's a hack way to get some mirroring in Photoshop. As I started to update those smart objects I also painted over them to break up the symmetry a bit. Highlights, shadows, stray sketch lines, asymmetrical hair, etc. I made note of the brushes I was using, the sizes, the opacities/blend modes of shadow/color layers, where I was using masks and I kept the file very organized. As I moved on to each character, it was basically a matter of repeating myself. It was pretty satisfying because each character came faster and the end result was a process I had already proved out to myself with the first character so there was little doubt as I continued. Generally speaking, I can't help but think about every decision as I progress through an illustration, so this was a bit different in that there was little to second guess. Just repeat the process that I already approved of.

Color-wise I usually have something in my head when going into an illustration. Something bright and bold, something muted, rough with a lot of texture, etc. In this case, I really wanted an unusual, muted set of colors for Scott Pilgrim. A palette you wouldn't necessarily think of for the movie. And initially, it was a lot more desaturated too. Almost monotone with blue gray colors and only the hearts had some rich orangey-reds. You can see, I was kinda thinking of that even in the sketch. Eventually I had it looking alright, I felt I liked it, and then I left it for a few days. When I came back to it, I just felt like it didn't grab me.  I printed one off expecting the physical print to satisfy me instead.  But it didn't and I went back and started changing colors and boosting saturation. It's this type of situation where I wonder what is driving me to make changes. I certainly have a natural attraction to bold colors and illustrations, so why did I try to imagine something different and muted to begin with? I do like working in different styles and just about anything or anyone is an influence to me, so even though I got it to my liking with a desaturated look, it wasn't satisfying. And I guess, since I'm at the controls, I could easily play until I was satisfied.

And then on the right I'm just showing some close ups of a couple eyes

*** UPDATE ***

I don't do this too often, but I made some "fixes".  Some subtle color shifts mainly, but THIS is more how I imagined it.  Remember how I mentioned the muted colors originally?  Well I guess after more tinkering, I eventually landed on something "better" for my mind's eye...or whatever.  Pilgrim reference!  I lost some of the contrast buttchya can't have everything.  I did pull some white hot contrast out of Gideon's glasses and Todd Ingram's glowy eyes.  The most noticeable change might be that I included Scott's hands within his silhouette.  I'm still not sure how I feel about it, but previously I did feel like he was missing a hand or that it was connected to his guitar.
So, yeah.  Cool.  Again.  For now ;)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Threadless challenge: TMNT

Threadless recently had a TMNT themed design contest that allowed artists to use ANY characters from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  I've had TMNT villains on the brain lately so the timing was perfect.  I went with Rocksteady and Bebop.

Threadless is pretty cool operation if you're an artist looking for some feedback.  See what resonates with people in your work.  The community is encouraged to score and leave comments on all the designs and since it's a contest, you can get some instant feedback from the masses.  Even if it's just a one-word exclamation ("Neat!") it's still pretty cool.  And I gotta say - a lot of memories have come flooding back just looking at all the submissions.  Some of the obscure characters and references crack me up!  Mondo Gecko never thought he'd be on a shirt!  I wish I thought up something for Krang!  Or the original NES game!

Anyway, I have these two Rocksteady and Bebop designs up for scoring for the next 5 days or so.  If ya like 'em, login and vote!  :)

Also, I gotta post some development/process pics.  Maybe some other Threadless folks would dig this  :)

Here's the usual slew of initial, embarrassing drawings as I search for shapes and fun ideas.  From this pile I liked 3 doodles/ideas and I developed 2 of them for the contest.

The first idea I latched on to was some sorta pose with Rocksteady and Bebop standing back to back.  These four rough sketches show me really looking for lines and shapes. Something with an interesting balance...hopefully.  You can see I was trying different arms and legs for the most part.  Doing some research on their weapons from the original toy line was fun!

I tightened up the last sketch and went to town "inking" and coloring in Photoshop.  You can see the  tighter sketch in (1).  You can see I also dropped in some red guidelines to show my thoughts a bit.  Toying with some parallel and perpendicular lines of sorts while still trying to maintain balance.  I really liked the idea of a hard line right down the middle that separated the two characters.  When I got into inking, however, my hand loosened up.  Rocksteady gained some subtle curves on his backside and that hardline sorta disappeared.  Hopefully the design sensibilities remained intact though.  In (4) I started to add in the upside down Foot logo.  It was a very loose idea in the sketch that I felt confident monkeying with in the computer.  It's sorta abstract and designy ("what are the standing on?  I pile of shells coming out of a giant foot hole???") and I wondered how people would interpret it.  Between (5) and (6) I made a couple subtle changes that I think helped it overall.  I colored Bebop's knife white to match Rocksteady's knife metal, and then I skewed it a bit more to the left.  And I also shrank Rocksteady's own knife a smidge.  With those tweaks I felt it became a little more center-balanced.  Previously I felt like Rocksteady was a tiny bit longer/wider/bigger than Bebop and I wanted them to feel pretty equal.

Once I posted my first image, I went right back to the drawing board to flesh out another take on the back-to-back pose.  This time I aimed for something tighter, cleaner - something vector in Flash.  You can compare this blue line doodle with the very first red line doodle up top.  When I'm in "vector mode" it's a little easier to push and pull lines in an attempt to find that appealing shape or flow.  I can stare at the screen for hours trying to find the right shape for Rocksteady's gut, but it's pretty satisfying in the end.  And then tomorrow I'll hate it - ha!  It's also very satisfying to spot fill colors quickly and easily in Flash.  I can come up with color schemes and start filling areas quickly to see if it's going to work.  No messy pixels.  I'm not sure where the Foot tattoo idea came from.  I think I just liked that these thugs are mindlessly loyal to Shredder and his gang and show it getting matching tattoos that "connect" when they stand back to back.

The contest deadline was over at this point, but I still had the urge to polish up one of the Rocksteady head heads that I liked.  I did sorta imagine his floating head on a shirt without the background stripe or text.  Just wasn't time, and really there wasn't a whole lot of thought put into it.  No matter though - I exercised my urge to draw plenty of mutant rhinos and warthogs.

Til next time!


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sweet Brown.

Check out a couple seconds of animation up on my DA page:

One of my favorite memes for a while now. Just had to find the time to work this out of my system. Flash CS6.

A small, but completely welcome update to Flash CS6: say you're on frame 26 of an animated symbol and ya double-click to jump inside - BAM - you're on frame 26! Amazing right? It is if you do any sort of nested animation in Flash. Now how 'bout a shortcut to toggle brush-sizes? ...hello? ...Adobe? this thing on?