Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I thought I'd cover my process for some of the Judge parker strip starting with the Sunday for 3/28 this past Sunday's strip. Above is my rough layout for the strip, i did it pretty loose and quick and then took a marker and tightened it up a bit. This was a hit the ground running type of situation as I was still in the "fill-in" category and I had to try and back-search the JP archive to find ref for Abbey's house, the kitchen, etc. It wasn't easy on short notice. I've since gotten a whole bunch of ref that will make this easier in the future. next step i blew this up on my copy machine and then took my lightbox out and transfered the layout to the final strip size. I tightened the pencils up, and then went straight to inks, which you can see below.
I was trying here to keep the style closer to Barreto and used a lot of brush to keep it bold and add little accents with the brush. the hardest things was trying to create in my mind a real stage for the characters when I only had slivers of what that space looks like. I really like to have a complete stage for my characters to act on and that gets cut on a strip pretty easy to to the fact that they are reproduced so small now. I inked using mostly a #4 sable and a hunt 108 pen nib, and i was using some Dick Blick Black Cat ink I bought. Its good for the pen but a little think for the brush as I like the ink to be a little denser for the brush.
Here is the final colored strip. I put the lettering on in photoshop as well. I would prefer the lettering to be on the original but that really isn't possible for right now and I guess it's my "old school" esthetics showing through as I like it to be on the original. King Features gave me a coloring guideline to follow technically but other than coloring so that no combination of colors over-saturates more than 160% I am pretty good.I felt a little better on this strip and it was the first time I got to draw Abbey which I know many people were looking to see how I'd handle her. I was think very much of leonard Starr and John Romita on this strip, both artists were fantastic at this type of strip and work. I recently ordered a bunch of the reprints of On Stage which reprints the first several years of the strip--amazing, amazing stuff. I think Starr is one of the most underrated classic strip artists, I wonder if its because most think of On Stage as a melodrama and not an action strip?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

ROBIN HOOD King of Sherwood

I am now free to cover the process of my painting of the Robin Hood book cover I recently finished for Airship 27 publishing. I had to hold off talking about doing this painting until the publisher had the book for sale, and you can order a copy if it here.

When Ron Fortier, the editor asked me about doing a cover for their new book on a young Robin Hood I said--heck yah! This was to be a updated version, a younger Robin, not the Errol Flynn version, which is a favorite of mine. I'm also a huge fan of NC Wyeth's paintings from his adaption of the hero and his work was a big inspiration for this.

The first thing I did was to do up a sketch and then get my friend Will to come over and model for me. I shot a lot of picks and then settles on a few and went to work on a tighter sketch which you can see below.

I used the photos in what I feel was the best way possible, to get the anatomical and lighting info, but I didn't want to be a slave to them either and have the drawing go lifeless. I just bought the new book on Normal Rockwell and his use of Photos, Rockwell Behind the Camera, and you can really see how much Rockwell altered the photos to his needs--so I was keeping this in my mind the whole time.

Here are a few photos of Will that took, Will even had a cool costume and props to use which really helped.

Next I bought some Cresent Illustration Board and gave it 4 coats of gesso on each side to prevent warping. Then I blew up my skecth on my copy machine and taped it together, flipped it over and using a 6B pencil coated the back. I wanted to do this piece fairly large, 20 x 30 approx. Using a harder pencil I taped the copt to the board and transfered the drawing onto the illustration board.

Then I set about painting away, refering to my pictures of Will and some pics i found on the web use as a guide toe Sherwood Forest. Even though I used the pictures I would say I mostly painted this from imagination, I changed many thinsg to get the "feel" I wanted. The tree and background are made up-- did have some pics, but i used them mostly to suggest details and textures--the main thing is I didn't want to loose the energy of my sketch.
This pic I snapped with my iphone right after I started, you can see the drawing that was traced down.
Here is the painting after one long evenings work, I was really moving fast and I have to say-having lots of fun. The only medium I was using was odorless terps, and just a little 50/50 liquid fine detail and linseed in a few spots in my second sitting, for the hands, etc. My thinking was to also pull the foreground forward and then soften everything as it went back, trying to keep the areas of biggest contrast and detail with the center of interest. All of the plein air painting I've been doing recently has really helped here I think in keeping the painting 'fresh".

Here a closer shot of the painting after the first day's work.
In the end the painting took one long evening and the next day, morning into the afternoon, so maybe 12 -14 hours tops. This is the first full illustration in oil I've done in a long time as I mostly just do pen and ink, but I hope to do a lot more of these as it was great fun and a challenge.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Week 8 Spring 2010 and other things

Last night was the annual Draw-A-Thon at school. Its the annual student run-all night, drawing and painting marathon. The school provides us with several models for each studio and the students set up and run the poses and then the school provides lots of free pizza, coffee and drinks. The poses last from 3-6 hours. My buddy dave and I monitored and ran one of the sessions and this is the painting that resulted from it. This was about 4 1/2 hours of painting time. I think we had the best pose and lighting set up of any of the sessions running. the way we figured it is why make the set-up the same as our daily classes, so we made this fun little narrative of a death figure and her thrall of victim. Everybody seemed to have a great time and liked the pose.
After when we broke down the pose there were a few other poses running, but they were not interesting to me so we DPC members too turns posing for each other to do quickie portraits, this portrait of my friend Lexi, is maybe 90 minutes or so.
This is a quickie one session drawing from my class with Sidney Goodman this week. I've been loving drawing on Rives BFK with charcoal, its a lot better surface to draw on than regular charcoal paper. Sidney seems to change his mind every week, he says we'll have a 2 week pose but then the next week he sets up a new one, so far the models have mostly been draped. the semester is into its final decent and spring is upon us and the tempo at school picks up in anticipation of the ASE and final critiques.

On top of all of this I keep churning away on old Judge Parker, I'm starting my 7th week on the strip as well as keeping on with the TRON project for Disney. Sleep was at a premium this week, but next week things should settle down a bit.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Week 7 Spring 2010 and other things

Well we are flying past the halfway point in the semester into the final decent to summer break. I am probably looking forward to that more this year than last. I have soooo much I need to do over the summer before the fall semester starts and I enter my 3rd year at PAFA and my teaching might start again at Uarts. I will have the summer packed to the gills with painting and drawing and of course my weekly dose of Judge Parker. The blog has been light lately due to the fact that a lot of what I'm working on I from am not at liberty to show yet. I'm working on some Tron material for Disney, a few comic jobs, Judge Parker and the recently finished painting for Robin Hood Kind of Sherwood for Cornerstone Books.

I'll be able to post the painting and my process in the next week or so once the book is for sale. People always ask me how I do so much work, well there is no real trick to it except to just sit and work 16-18 hours a day some days, some days even more. I had a few 2-3 hours of sleep days last week, its the nature of the beast and freelancing. the nature of the world today also forces you to really overbook yourself as counting on any one source for work is a pretty bad business model-and I got stung last year pretty bad on a project that threw my whole financial world in a tizzy, It was really the first time in my career I had something this bad happen and thanks to family and friends I was able to get through the stormy financial winter well.

The other factor is I've always cross trained in my career, i've always had a broad interest in art and cartooning, etc. I think the fact I do and that I also like to try and do everything I can has really helped me be a more versatile artist, not only stylistically--but mentally. There are some great artists out there, but you run a big risk in my book if you are really only good at one thing. If that one thing pays super-well, enough that if it went awy you'd be fine--ok, but also I think that is a quick way to stagnation.

I'm working on the 6th and 7th weeks of Judge Parker, and each week I feel like I'm getting more in sync with what I want to do. I'm still dickering around with lettering and now that I'm getting proofs back from the syndicate I will be making certain adjustments--but one really is always doing that to some degree. So far feedback has been good on what I've done on the first week, which is not my best work on the strip--that was like a cold start in winter on a car I'd never driven. If it was, say, Spider-man, or Corrigan I know those characters well so it would be a very familiar assignment. Again, this is the nature of being a freelance artist and needing to have the best drawing skills and to keep working on them all the time as they will serve you well on those cold starts and unfamiliar worlds.

Monday, March 15, 2010

And So It Begins

Today officially begins my run as the new artist on Judge Parker, here is my first strip. I'm trying to build several weeks ahead on the schedule now. The writer Woody Wilson, editor Brendan Burford and the entire King-Hearst staff been so helpful and welcoming to me in these first hectic weeks and my best wishes go out to Edwardo for his recovery and health, he set a high water mark on the strip, really revitalizing it visually.

I know many people are anxious to see what I'll do on the strip, me too! As the weeks have passed I feel more and more confident and comfortable with the cast, pace and style--and look forward myself to what I hope will be a nice long run.

****UPDATE*** There is a nice interview with me in the Washington Post's Comic Riffss column about taking over the strip.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Week 6 Spring 2010--Final ( Spring Break)

Here is where I stopped with the drawing from Al Gury's figure drawing class and so ends my 6th week of the semester. This is charcoal on rives BFK paper. i had never tried charcoal on the Rives before, just pastel--and I really liked it. I think I'm going to explore drawing a lot more with charcoal on it and I wish I had another 2-3 poses to work on this drawing--but alas, this is what always happens in school, you just never get the time you'd like to finish something. It's really like doing drills. But I guess doing many more starts leads to hopefully in the long run better finishes.

Next week, or rather starting today is my Spring Break, unfortunately I won't have time to show off my beach body next week as I'll have my ass firmly planted in the studio chair between the Judge Parker strips and the other freelance I have going. But I love the word SPRING very much this year as this has really been a tough winter here in Philly. I don't know if I am suffering a little SADS or not, but Goddamn I can't wait till 70 degree weather!!

I'm working on week 4 of Judge Parker right now and I feel I'm getting more and more confident each weeks worth of strips, last week went the smoothest and I'm sorta' anxious for people to see them, and that's only a week away from next Monday.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

WEEK 6 Spring 2010

Well most of the snow has melted and the raging deadlines are raging less, though my freelance plate is of course still full these days--but I am back in school this week on my regular schedule. I had to back track in my sculpture class and rebuild the pelvis from scratch this week, as last week it fell apart as I was trying to adjust it. So I tore it off and put it away and this week went back to work on it. I'll have to do some double duty one day next week to try and catch up.

This is the oil-on-paper study I did in my life painting class, next week I'll jump right in on the big painting--but as we only have two weeks left on this pose I think I'll go smaller than the last painting.