Friday, December 16, 2011

Christopher Hitchens 1949-2011

I will miss this man's staggering intellect, wit and bravado-laced with erudition. Through his lectures and writing, I learned what it meant to think for myself and strive for the full measure of my mind's capability. The world has lost a great treasure. I will carry a measure of sadness that manifests every time I reflect on his absence and the light he brought to my life.

Do yourself a favor; read his words, listen to his oratorical style and glean what you can from his example. We were lucky to have him for as many years as we did; still, I wish we'd had a few more.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Action Is The Name Of The Game!

My Friend Natalie Nourigat has a graphic novel coming out from Image Comics and she graciously included me in the book. I was tasked with describing a gap year, between her end of college finale and the time this collection will be released, in two pages. I opted for lots of action and excitement.

These are just samples; if you like what you see you should go out and get the 'Between Gears", which includes the pages these frames come from, when it comes out early next year (2012.) Natalie is one of the most committed and promising cartoonists I know. I was glad to be a part of her project because I admire her abilities so much!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Lost In Space

The title of this blog was the theme of a the art cards, made for a charity auction held by IndieCade, that Ron Chan offered some of studio-mates today as a fun little break from our regular work. It ended up being a descent into the bowels of Drawing-hell.

This was the result of my struggle with that little 3X5 bastard.

Through no fault of Ron's they ended up being the worst paper I've ever drawn on. If the surface had grabbed my pen and pushed it away, on top of the other inherent impediments, I would not have been surprised. It rejected everything I threw at it, even sharpie and acrylic paint. As far as supplies go it was a nightmare.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Quick Draw.

My friend Michelle Alba and I don't talk as much as I'd like. I want to share all kinds of things I know she would like and I find her so entertaining that it seems a shame to have a short conversation with her. The result of this is that I don't call her because I know the exchange should be long and detail rich to make up for the interval since our last connection. My relationship to this blog can be very similar.

I'll keep this short and sweet and, hopefully, we all still get a bit of something worth having.

Here are the sketch cards I'm sending out with the most recent order of Tragedy Series prints

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sketchbook Adventures

Here are a few items from my sketch books. Keeping it short and sweet with lots of pictures. Lindsey says people like pictures.

I played a rare solo show and opened for these fine fellows. Then I did a drawing of them.

The one on the left was done while we waited for pancakes to come to our table. The painted study on the left was done with gouache but I did it over acrylic gesso so it's a bit streaky. I just got some 'watercolor ground' to try out. We shall see eh?

More Lindsey. I started by sketching with the gray brush and added the ink after. It was fun. This preceded pancakes as well. I eat pancakes every weekend if I can. It is my favorite treat.

These are my amazing friends Matt and Cathy Hastie. They just got back from Peru where they were living for 7 months. Matt was helping local people to improve their water quality. Cathy was working with kids at a Peruvian school. You can see their fantastic adventures on their website. I did these drawings while they were giving a forum on their experience at the Mc Menamin's Kennedy school in the public room.

I found this sketch I had done for a fella at a comic book signing event. No sketch post is complete without a little Star Wars.

And there you go...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tools Of Tragedy

In one of my recent posts I explained how I generate an idea for the 'tragedy series' and what sort of reference I like to have as I'm drawing. Some of my readers have asked what artistic implements I use so here is an exhaustively detailed breakdown of my day to day drawing arsenal.

Here you can see my drawing tools in their travel case and a few other things that I use on a regular basis for almost all my jobs.

I stole this diagram idea from my studio-mate Dustin Weaver

A. Four of my Staedtler lead holders and a Pentel detail pencil.
All of them contain regular H leads. I don't get too fancy when it comes to pencils because I like to be able to get my materials easily.

B. My corrective tools.
I use Uniball 'Signo' white gel pens (they seem to be waterproof?) for little white-out lines and some highlights and Papermate 'tuff Stuff' Eraser Sticks for fine line erasing. It is super helpful to be able to get in with the erasing equivalent of a scalpel

C. Microns and the remainder of a Staedtler eraser.
I use a size 8 for Tragedy Series lines because I didn't want to get too detail heavy. Most of the time I use four sizes: 01, 03, 05 and 08. It can be very easy to get fussy about line weight and buy a bunch of pens but I don't find a need for much beyond those so I feel comfortable limiting my tools out of pragmatism.

The eraser is good for big areas and broad strokes when tidying up originals. You can see me erasing in the video at the bottom of this post before I do my large black areas and/or toning.

D. One Pentel detail pencil, 2 Pentel pocket brushes and 1 Pentel FRH water brush.

The pencil is just redundancy. The brush pens are really fantastic tools. I use them every day. I refill them with Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph Ultradraw Waterproof Ink. You can fill them with the little refill cartriges that Pentel makes, which are great too, but I prefer to use ultradraw because I like the black it makes while being both cheaper and more environmentally conscionable than buying a bunch of little plastic capsules that require international shipping.

Disassembled to show the capsule filled with Ultradraw

The Gray-tone 'Lightsaber' brush pen. It is awesome. Another studio-mate and friend, Ron Chan, gave it to me a long time ago and for a long time it was filled with pure ultradraw. One day I heard fellow Periscoper Jonathan Case say to some interns that 'you need to keep your waterbrushes wet or you'll ruin them.' This prompted me to fill my waterbrush with some water instead of ink because I hadn't been able to get to the art store. Kablamo. I had stumbled upon a fantastic tool that has been in constant use ever since. I only have the one and it is perfectly broken in. If I lost it or didn't have it, Tragedy Series would be in big trouble.

It looks like a lightsaber to me so I nicknamed it as such.

E. 2 Pentel Stylo pens, A Backup Waterbrush and a Utrecht sable hair Paintbrush.
I don't use the Stylos for my T.S. but they are a great bridge between a micron and a brush line. It has a flexible tip that can vary the line width. The backup brush is being broken in because I need it to be an alternative to the old gray lightsaber.The sable gets used for little gouache paintings, watercolor and occasional touch-ups

F.G.H. Grey Prismacolor markers and a Prismacolor white color pencil.
I used to use these all the time and feel guilty about environmental impact (not to mention how short lived or expensive they are.) Inow use them on rare occasions for sketch cards, con sketches and the occasional catch-all drawing project. I use the white prismacolor color pencil for highlights and corrections on semi rough surfaces like gouache paintings or you soften the edges of greys in more deatil oriented drawings. It is a great little option to have.

I. One of my 3 Beloved 'C-Thru' Rulers.

If you draw and you don't yet have one of these then you need to stop reading this and go buy one right now. It is the most useful item I own. There are countless uses for this thing. You will be really glad you got it. The name on it comes from Bern helmets. I just cut out the 'R' and add them to the front end of each ruler so they don't get accidentally absorbed by any of my studio friends.

J. Masking tape.

I use this stuff all the time to hold drawings and reference materials in place.

K. Yellow Crayola crayon.

I use this to fill in the number of the tragedy I'm doing for the day, on a chart I made, so I don't repeat the numbers or Sadness Reprieve letters.

L. Canson 300 series bristol board.

Studio-mate-mentor-pal Steve Lieber buys this stuff in bulk and the rest of us buy from him. A page costs 50 cents or so and it is well worth it. I used to work on typing paper because I was poor and ridiculous.

Next time will be shorter and filled with drawings. Hooray!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Monsters (And Dames) Of Rock!

I wanted to make a unambiguously pro-Lady piece this year, for Emerald City Comic Con's "Monsters and Dames," that spoke to my love of rock music, mutants and guitars. I modeled the frontwoman on the girl from 27b/6 because she looks cool enough to shred on a yellow lightning V and I based her band on the two Papo figures I keep at my desk because I always thought they looked like they'd make a bad-ass rhythm section.

The piece in the book will be a slightly cropped version of this image. I'll be offering prints right away in the event that it doesn't get included. If it does: then I'll have to wait until after the book comes out.

The pencils/inks were done analog and the coloring done on a cintique. I like being able to knock figures back in space with a gradient or two because it helps establish another layer of depth. One can do that with line quality too but the effect is more pronounced when the intensity of your inks varies in accordance with the depicted figure's location in space.

Come see me at the upcoming Emerald City show and pick up a copy of Monsters and Dames (proceeds go to Seattle Children's Hospital.)

I think that my sketch had some nice energy. I wanted to preserve that, but by choosing to utilize more detail, which I did in the final image, there's a tendency to dampen one's initial spark. The freedom and fun of unrestrained cartooning is why I tend to prefer seeing the fantastic 4, for example, drawn by Mike Wieringo with his naturally bouncy line. That same context with its' potential for aesthetic quirks is a slightly awkward fit for a realist like Bryan Hitch who tends to put his emphasis on design and details that are based on natural forms. In contrast, I love seeing Hitch draw something gritty and cinematic like 'Ultimates.' I just have to learn to give myself permission 'not to draw' when I can say just as much with less.

I'm slowly working more cartooning into my drawing because my favorite artists have demonstrated that a fusion between the strong parts of realistic drawing and the flexibility of cartooning have great potential for exciting storytelling. Detail can be helpful and realism has uses but I want the sort of energy that Stuart Immonen's work displays and the grace that Terry Dodson's work exhibits. Those good qualities come from their particular (hard won) stylizations, not adherence to strict rules of observational drawing (though it does seem clear that they have both practiced that part of drawing quite extensively.)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Busy Bee, Busy Me

Tragedy series and a veritable cornucopia of commercial work have kept me very busy. This is mostly great yet, also, a bit overwhelming in other ways. In the next few months I'm only focusing on a project for Oni Press written by Paul Tobin and the Tragedy Series. Everything else has to wait!

My friends at the studio, in response to the very kind reception my daily strip has received, have prompted me to start an Etsy store mostly focused on Tragedy Series and it has been doing very well; thank you to those of you who have purchased prints! Below is a host of sketch cards that I sent out with those first orders as a bonus to show my appreciation for my initial customers' patience with my inexperience in E-commerce and shipping logistics.

More work including prints of images seen on this blog and tee-shirts are coming soon to the Ety Store.

Here is an hour-long study of poor Lindsey who was feeling sick and watching movies. She was wearing a slowly fading cosmetic-cream facial mask and doing crosswords part of the time. I love her and I really enjoy having her sit because she is patient and, to my eyes, very pretty.

This was done with a limited palette and some clunky brushes but I like studies (even more sometimes) when I know they are done under less than ideal conditions. This reminded me that I miss painting and that doing it from life is where it is most exciting for me.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Hear Ye Hear Ye: More Sketches!

These are some recent pages from my observational drawing sketchbook; it is mostly drawings of Lindsey! I also keep a sketchbook that is for working out more complex images in a rough, nuts and bolts way. My next post will be some of those more clunky sketches and the (eventually) more streamlined results that follow from them.

This is Lindsey on the day I proposed (August 19th) and getting her hair cut in proximity to a girl who had raccoon/tiger stripes in her hair.

These are the food carts right across from where I work. The one on the left is everyone else's favorite but I go to the one on the right because they are 98 percent as good and 60 percent faster.

I have been working very steadily on a host of commercial projects lately. Most of them unfortunately, come with an NDA that prevents me from sharing that work here but I have been sketching in my little observational journal when time allows. I thought I might post a few of my doodles until I can get some of the flashier work approved for public consumption.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Tragedy Series Breakdown

I thought it might be fun to do a walk through of how I make my posts for the tumblr I started in recently. Hopefully this won't ruin your enjoyment (if you do enjoy them- I shouldn't assume) of the 'tragedy series.' It would be a shame to ruin it for you like when I found out that Rivendell is a bunch of foam and Christmas lights and now I can't stop seeing that.

If you want to preserve your neutrality on their development and execution you should stop reading now!

Number 222 is a good example of how these little notions I get can become a thing I was proud and surprised that I made. First I try to think of a subject I haven't done yet that falls within the parameters I've set for myself (that I will spell out more clearly in a bit.) As I progress it gets a bit harder but generally it can prompt something unexpected, since I'm trying actively to avoid clear repetition.

In this specific instance I had thought of a news story Lindsey and I saw while we were in Lincoln city, for our anniversary, about a safari park here in Oregon where they have lions that like to play tug of war. That image is enough in and of itself! once I have a self evidently odd or funny situation then I try and compound that comedy if possible. In this case I tried to imagine what sort of opponent would be funny. It occurred to me that a group of kids in a scout troop might do but they had to be capable or else it would be too close to something genuinely sad (the first of the tenents I try to uphold; No genuine tragedy) At that point I write it down to be addressed later.

I generally do a little drawing (like the image of #57 seen above) if I can't fully imagine it but in this case I had it pretty firmly in mind. It is at this point that I will do an image search to find good refrence that coincides with what I have sketched. I lucked out and found these two images:

Even though I had the elements of the final image, the phrasing wasn't quite there yet though and I went through several iterations of what would work best. I often ask Steve Lieber for advice; this questioning runs the gamut from 'should I buy a house?' to 'what sort of pen do you use to ink nostrils?' He is also a super funny guy who gets how to translate humor into drawings because he has studied it extensively for his own development so I go to him first for comedy.

I had written out a bit about 'ragamuffins' challenging a hungry lion to tug o' war but that seemed too plain. It struck me that a 'rematch' would be funny but it didn't quite fit yet. Steve said "Rematch is funnier if there is evidence of the previous encounter...make some of them amputees." I was hesitant to go there but the more I thought of it the more I realized that he was right about the necessity for notes from the first lion vs. kid showdown. I put a few shoes and scraps around the lion and Steve added the cherry on top the sundae by suggesting that I wrap the ragamuffins in bandages and give a few of them ragged clothes. He was so right! Once I did it the whole thing came together and I got this:

There you go. Thanks for sticking with me through that description. Also much gratitude to all of you out there who support my tumblr and read this blog. I am a lucky guy.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Help Fight Humanity's Greatest Foe!

Dear fellow comics fans and artists there is a fellow creator in trouble and we can help!

Dylan Williams has cancer and no insurance (my own worst case scenario) and Periscope studio has organized and ebay auction to help him pay his hospital bills. There is some really nice work available.

I did a Nightcrawler piece for the benefit but it has not received much attention. It would be great to see more bids on it. I think it is a worthwhile cause and a fun drawing. If you want to be a real hero to someone in need, and if you like any of the following: nightcrawler, me, periscope, Dylan or comics, then you won't get a better or more worthy opportunity to share the love than this!

Ebay auction link here

Please spread the word and/or bid if you feel inclined.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Aang And Friends (And Foes)

Periscope sketch challenge has been a great source of fun for the studio. Sometimes I step past fun into tedium because I try to take on more than I should. It didn't seem like it would be a hard thing to make a mash-up montage between Star Wars and Avatar but it ended up being a lot of work for a somewhat unexciting image. Not enough of either to make something more than the sum of its' parts.

My original intent was to try and throw down a few characters and tip my hat to Luke and the gang in a way that was fun and fast. I used the same ink-wash technique that I used in my ninja turtles picture hoping for similar results. The trick to making a good illustration rather than an OK illustration is not to lose spontaneity or excitement. In this case I was too concerned with the aesthetic of Avatar and I didn't trust myself to make a wholly original composition. Oh well, You draw and you learn eh?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Villains and Rockers.

Last year Rich Ellis and I were tasked with illustrating some stories for Zakk Wylde's soon to be released book "Bringing Metal To The Children" and I didn't want to put these up until the book was announced. I saw a blurb in 'Guitar World' so here you go:

Zakk and Dimebag hang out after a particularly antics filled weekend

Black Label Society takes the stage while the lightning strikes!

Around the same time a bunch of us in the studio were approached to contribute work for Ben Thompson's "Badass" series of books. Here are two of my illustrations from that project:

This little Ragnarok is only measures about 6" by 4" but I like the way it turned out

This was a chapter break for the 'villains' section of the book; it's about 18.5" by 15.5"

Get yourself a copy of both and you'll never need anything else to boost your Radness/Metal quotient.

Well that is all for now. I'll be blogging more again but I had to get my new tumblr off the ground so August was a bit of a dry spell. I'm going to try and do a few more process related posts and add a few more pictures of my day to day for those of you who are interested.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Nate Is Great (Cole is too!)

I teach guitar lessons on Thurdays and it is a lot of fun because I get to relive all the excitement of nascent guitar culture exploration vicariously through my two very promising students Nate and Cole. Nate requested a drawing from me for his teacher and I made him pay me back with an artwork trade. I agreed to color it myself as the accompanying notes suggested:

I kind of want one now

I hear that before he delivered his masterpiece of luthiers' design to me that it made the rounds on the internet creating a firestorm of enthusiasm. Apparently all the well-heeled rockers have started to endorse Z-brothers custom guitars...

Thanks to Nate. I hope you and Cole have been practicing your scales!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Animal Cornucopia

These Kitties were drawn for my friend Becky who is producing a zine about this troupe of adorable little scamps.

Periscope took a trip to the zoo (prompted by Natalie Nourigat) on Wednesday the 27th and it was great! I spent a whole day doing observational drawing. It was a success in both fun and output. Only a few animals presented real challenges; the penguins were tough and one turtle was fast enough (surprisingly) that he avoided a full portrait.

The giraffes were beautiful, The bats were smelly, the crocodile was amazing and stoic. My elephant drawings required some real time compositing. I felt a kinship with the chimps because they are so similar to us in all the most important ways; I owed it to them to portray them appropriately.

The sleepy animals were the easiest to draw. The sea lions were an amazing mash-up of the stay puft Marshmallow man, a jumbo jet and a dog. The penguins were very fast and yes, that is the real Iorek Byrnison.

This particular De Brazza's monkey was fascinated and angered by a raccoon that was taunting him outside his cage. At one point a man came up to me and asked "Do you ever just decide to give up and draw the butt?" I told him that I'm patient and I hope for multiple animals so that I can extrapolate. Though, that being said; it also depends on how interesting the butt in question may be.

I LOVE the Oregon Zoo!