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.)