Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Animation Backgrounds: The Steranko Effect

More from the Manley Archives:

These are a few backgrounds from Superman which were based on the style of Steranko's Nick Fury comic work. That episode had a very S.H.I.E.L.D. feel to it and they wanted me do work on the BG's on that show since I was a comics guy and also a Steranko /Kirby fan as well.

These were all inked with a micron pen to keep it very clean and I had my S.H.I.E.L.D. comics out for inspiration the whole time. The tone was done with a Prisma Color pencil using the canvas pad under the drawing to get the texture. These were a lot of fun to do, I really liked working on Superman and still think it's one of the best interpretations of the character

Monday, January 13, 2014

Process: Penguin Trading Card

More from the manley Archives

I came across this page of thumbnail ideas for one of the Overpower cards I did for DC back in the 90's. One of the series of cards I did featured the Penguin.

As you can see initially I was thinking of having him sitting in a club with two gals with the Batsignal in the background, Another with his henchmen being taken out by Batman. But I think the reason I rejected them is the figures were too small and the idea would read better as a pin-up, than a trading card. I settled on the final idea with the big head menacing the city, which I think read much better at the size of a trading card.

Here is the actual final art of the card.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Final Semester Week 1

This was the first week of my final semester as a student...but I had no classes for myself at PAFA but I did start my Visual Development class out at PCAD in Lancaster, PA. Since it was my first day of course that meant that Old Man Winter had to make the travel a mess with sleet, snow and freezing rain. Just as i was pulling out of my driveway it started and by the time I was on the turnpike it was really coming down and made it a slick ride out. But it was also a pretty ride out.
I have 10 students in my class  and they all seem like good eggs as they say. Some of them I knew from my 24 Hour Comicbook Day event I did with them this last fall out at the school. I got a lot of first day help from the staff and fellow teachers which made my first day very smooth. The class I feel will be a challenging and fun one for everybody and I am excited to see the concepts the students come up with. I feel we are on a good track since so many of them love the Golden Age illustrators like Wyeth and Cornwell, etc.

Tomorrow starts the second week at PAFA and I'll have my first class Tuesday, another Writing and Research Seminar and I hope I'll have some feedback on my thesis from Scott Noel. I'd like to knock that out right away then just spend time painting--I was just asked to be in a group show at LaPelle in Feb, so I need to get back to painting. I haven't walked into school since Winter Break started.

I think in many ways I have already left the schools mentally and I am really looking forward to being done with that part of my life as an artist. I will actually start bringing things home week by week so when i get to the end I will hopefully have almost nothing left in my studio to move out. the big decision will be where I move my painting studio? Do I get a studio outside of home? Do I convert my attic or a bedroom? I'll have to consider a lot of things from the financial end as I'll have that nice fat student loan nut every month. There will be pros to staying home and cons---like I'll never see anybody...but that might also might not be a bad thing.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Batman Superman Backgrounds

 More from the vast archives that will one day crowd me out of my house. This being my 30th year as a pro means I have 30 years of drawings from comics and animation filling my house---I also now have a zillion paintings crowding my house as well. I will have to start thinning the heard as they say as one day I won't have any room left for me. The cool thing is that I have a lot of copies of the work I've done like these backgrounds. These are a sample of work from Batman, Superman and Batman Beyond.

 A nice long pan from a board that I know was drawn by my buddy Bret Blevins.
 Sone line art from a background that later I must have toned, but I haven't come across that yet.
I also did some backgrounds as well as storyboards on Superman. The great thing about the cross training comics gives you is the ability to employ different skill sets, this allows you a lot more opportunity to work in various jobs like drawing and designing BG's or character design, etc. If you can do that it means you'll have a lot more fun as well as have a lot more steady employment and opportunities to work on cool projects.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

More Background Designs

 Here is another load of background designs from Batman Beyond. The background above is a really nice dramatic one and really has movement and deep space. These would be sent overseas to the background artist where they would be painted using both the line drawing and the toned version as guides as well as a color guide.
This is an example of the line drawing and the toned version. I used either a mechanical pencil or a no. 2 Pigma to do the line drawing. next I'd make a xerox of it and do the toned version.

 I also came across these designs for a pitch that I think my buddy Bill Wray was doing. He asked me to do some BG designs on it for the pitch. I think it was about some kind of crazy Hawaiian comedy club.
 Having a good memory really helps here when drawing some kind of detailed BG like this. Whenever I'm in a restaurant or diner, I am always looking at the place and recording details with my mental camera to use later.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Background Designs: Batman Beyond

 Here are some more rough designs for Batman Beyond for theChimera institute where people went for fashionable gene splicing--which of course went wrong and Batman had to kick some monster ass.

I even played around with some quick logo ideas

 Sometimes the shapes would go from round to square in design as you can see from this first rough of the institute and the lab with tanks below.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Batman Zero Hour

 More from the Manley Archives! Here is the original cover sketch for batman 511, which I drew on the back of some fax paper--remember that stuff? How many trees died so I could fax stuff back and forth in the mid 90's? I haven't located the other sketches yet for this cover, but I'm slowly working to put my extensive----and I mean extensive amount of drawings, art and sketches in order. Of all of the Batman cover I did this was my favorite. The original is below.

I hated the fact that when I started the book Kelly Jones was doing the cover--I felt that since I was the artist on the book, I should do the covers as well---nothing against Kelly. But DC was always kinda' weird that way, one artist on the book, another on the cover. I was almost always disappointed as a kid when I'd buy a comic with a cool Adams or Cardy cover and the insides were not by the same artist. I think this is pretty much the way it is today, one artist on the cover and another on the guts. i don't really go to the comic shops or buy comics anymore, but when I stop in once or twice a year this seems to be the fashion. Comics are now way, way to expensive for their short entertainment value---but that's for another post.

This was brush and the good old Hunt 108. There is no logo dressing on this which for me is good as the covers at the time were kind of a mess with all kinds of logos and blurbs that really covered up the art.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Background Designs: Batman Beyond

More from the archives! I came across a stash of designs from when I worked as a background designer on Batman Beyond. I liked that show and it was a fun ride before I moved on to do other things like Kim Possible, Samurai Jack, etc. The show of course was set in the future where Bruce Wayne is old with a bad ticker and need s a young replacement--which grew out of the demand from the toy companies for a younger kid Batman because they thought that would sell kids toys. because, well, you know Batman has only been successful with kids because they were dumb to like an old guy dressed as a bat. But anyway I think the Dini/Timm  crew did a good job on what could have been a real turd idea.

 I came on as BG designer on Superman shifting over from boards when the shows were all boarded but they needed background artists. Comics is such a great training ground that doing BG designs was an easy shift and a lighter workload than doing boards. I worked long distance via fax with George Stokes the background supervisor and he was my go-between with Glen Murakami who was the art director on the show.

In general I would do many quick sketches like these and fax them over and see what stuck to the wall. These designs are from a show that had a taxidermy lab where these creatures were spliced together, I think they wanted something like an old sort of half warehouse in the old city mixed with a kind of Frankenstein's lab feel. These are done with markers and the tone was applied by putting the paper over a canvas pad for oil painting and then taking a Prisma Color pencil and shading over the canvas which would create a textured tone. This was a way they had been working on Batman, etc. George was always a fun guy to work with and very helpful.

I'm not sure now what ended up getting used or if the whole thing was scraped, I haven't seen the episode in a long time. These sketches are from 99 I think. Sometimes ideas from different designs from different artists would be combined. It was a fun show to work on and now it would be much easier because we have the internet--no running to Staples to buy rolls of fax paper before they close!

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Blast From The Past: Batman 511 Pencils

I figured I start 2014 by looking backward to around 1994, twenty years into the couldy past on some pencils from my run on Batman.  More pencils from my archives, this time from Batman 511 which was during the Zero Hour storyline. The last two issue of Batman were the only ones I truly enjoyed drawing besides Batman 500 because they were like old Batman comics. Robin, Batgirl, Joker, etc.  Most of the other issues I didn't enjoy so much for a variety of reasons.  The first was since all the books were tied together it was a reference pain in the keister! You had to get ref from what the other artists were doing, wait to get it and there was little freedom for you as an artist. This was in the day of the fax, long before the internet took over the world. It was more like being a hired gun then, no input as an artist, just draw monkeyboy. I wanted to really do single one or two issue stories like the ones I was a fan of, especially during Aparo's run. But that clearly wasn't going to happen. It lead me to eventually leave the book.
 But for a few issues it was fun. I wish I had  more time on these and could have inked them myself, but it was a real race at 3 pages a day at times to keep up with the schedule in those days. 12-13 weeks ahead of shipping! Now things can be late----super late---but back then the "Hot List" was a book 12 weeks from shipping. How things have changed!
 I lobed drawing the Joker the most, and I was definitely tipping the hat to Neal Adams version of the character which was my touch-tone for the character and the whole Batman Mythos as a kid.
There of course are a lot of things that bother me about the drawing now, but I think that's always the way it is looking back at 20-year-old work.