Monday, January 31, 2011


Last year, I asked Mark Heike, my AC Comics editor, if I could do a painted cover for one of the issues. He suggested that I come up with an idea for Gargantarama, which runs on the flip side of the Femforce title.  Gargantarama features giant women. I gave Mark 4 different options and this is the one he liked the best.

My friend, Donna Whalley, was the model and did several poses for me.

This is the drawing that Mark liked the most. He had some additions - that I add a city onto the piece for Earth that was being lifted, that she have a manic smile on her face, and that there should be a raging fire behind her.

This is the revised pencil I sent him.

When I do a painting, I usually start with a marker comp to get a feel for the direction that I'm going in. When I  sent this to Mark, he decided that we should loose the fire in the background and just go with  fire-like colors.

 I paint with gouache and started with a black and white value study.

Once satisfied with the b/w piece, I added color to it. This is the finished painting.

And here is the finished cover. Gargantarama #14, which appeared on the flip side of Femforce # 151, March 2010.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Gesture drawings are very quick drawings of people, ranging from 30 seconds ( or less) to 2 minutes, and can be done anywhere. I usually do mine on the train or in a coffee shop. Even though these drawings are very rough, they are extremely valuable when trying to capture a character. What the artist gains from this is an understanding not only of proportions, but also of fashions and, most importantly for drawing comics, body language. When people talk, they don't just use their mouths, but their entire body. When trying to tell a story silently, everything depends on facial expressions and body language. My favorite comic book illustrators who do this are Tony Harris, Kevin Maguire, and Michael Gaydos. Gesture drawings are a great way for an artist to understand these things.

This was drawn in a restaurant and was a college couple at dinner. The girl, pictured in the first drawing, basically stayed in the same position. The guy, however, started out leaning back and then leaned forward and moved his body down until his chin rested on the table. He then started making circles with his right forefinger.

This was another conversation, taking place in a coffee shop. The guy moved his hands and arms so much that he literally "talked" with his hands.

This was a girl in Starbucks who was working on her computer. As I finished this drawing, she spotted me and stiffened up. Her entire body became straight, she uncrossed her legs and was very self conscious. After a little while, however, she relaxed and went right back into the same position shown here.

This was another girl in Starbucks. She stayed in this same position for a long time while talking to her friend. After awhile, she got up and went to the washroom. When she came back, she went right into the same position. 

Body language is not only an important thing to understand, it's also fun. if you're interested in learning more, Tonya Reiman has a great book about it. Here's a little video of her talking about it: 

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Way back in the fall of 2008, AC Comics editor, Mark Heike asked me if I wanted to draw a few stories for his Femforce title. Mark had inked me on the Marie Curie book I penciled for Capstone Press. The first script I got from him was a 5 pager that saw print in Femforce #147. The story was titled TOMB RETURNERS and Starred She-Cat, Firebeam, and Miss Masque. In short, while breaking up a smuggling ring, Firebeam and Miss Masque discover an ancient artifact. After conferring with She-Cat, the girls realize that they must go to Egypt to unearth a bigger mystery surrounding the artifact.

Want to know where the story goes from there? Femforce #147 was published in January of 2009, but is still available - in it's third printing- here

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Back in 2007, I was asked by Markosia to draw two issues of their limited series KONG: KING OF SKULL ISLAND. Because of timing issues, the workload increased from just penciling 2 issues to penciling one issue (issue 3), penciling and inking an issue and a half (issues 4 & 5). Unfortunately, the time I had in which to do this was cut in half -  14 pages of issue 4 in 2 weeks, and 27 pages of issue 5 in 3 weeks. Oh, I forgot to mention that I have a full time job during weekdays (that some times blends into weekends as well).  So how did it turn out? Well...

Here's the cover of issue 4 - definitely
the best art of the issue. ( I didn't draw it)

This is pages 20 & 21 of the issue - a double page spread.

Cover of Kong #5

The pencils and inks of issue 5, page one

So what do you think? Not too bad? Well, Markosia asked me if I was interested in redrawing the art for the trade. I'd have more time to make the pages look the way I wanted them to in the first place. Feeling very George Lucas like, I agreed. Here's the final result:

The cover of the Kong trade, published Oct. 2009

The original printed pages next to the ones reworked for the trade.

Overall, I think the final pages turned out fairly decent. This project was nice because I got go back and do it right, which does not always happen. I feel very fortunate for having the opportunity to do that. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I've found that learning how to draw has been a combination of classes and from outside reading. There are many art instruction books published every year, but I tend to go back to the classics.

George Bridgman was a fantastic artist who taught both Norman Rockwell and Will Eisner. He published a series of figure drawing books that I draw from over and over, and have throughout the years. Bridgman is the basis for the way I approach drawing people. I have found his works to be invaluable.

These a few drawings that I have done from his works

Monday, January 24, 2011


Every once in a while I am asked to color my own work. I find that adding color often brings the work to life, but if it's done wrong, it can destroy the artwork.  For inspiration, I try to find work that is done well in current comic books. Below is a page that I penciled, inked and colored for MILOS, a story written by Len Strazewski and lettered by Willie Schubert.

After I had inked the page, it was sent to Willie to be lettered. This is 
how it looked when I got it back.

My first step in coloring is to add a multiply layer in photoshop on top of the background layer. "Multiply" is a transparent layer that allows everything below to be seen.
I then add flat colors to the page.

After the first color layer, I add another multiply layer for the shadows. This is what that 
layer looks like without the original color layer.

Here's what the 2 color layers look like together.

After I finish with the second color layer I add a third, and final, multiply layer. Here 
I build on top of the other two layers to achieve a modeling effect. This is what the
layer looks like without the other two.

This is what the final page looks like with all the layers combined.

If you take the linework away, you can see that the color alone
almost forms solid, 3 dimentional-looking objects. 

Coloring is a fun, but time consuming process, especially today.  I'm often astounded by how different the page looks with the added color.  Although it's not my first love,  I do enjoy it. 

Friday, January 21, 2011


Learning how to draw is a very tricky thing. The truth of it is, you never STOP learning. It's an ongoing process with no end. In many ways it's not about the destination, but the journey. No matter what, the more someone draws, the better they get. That being said, there are right ways to draw and wrong ways, depending on what kind of art you are intending to create. If you are intending to become a commercial illustrator, regardless of whether it is in comic books, advertising, or book illustration, you have to know how to draw a human being. One way to learn this is through books ( a recommended list of books I use will be featured in an upcoming post), but that's only part of the puzzle. In order to truly understand the figure it is essential to draw from a live model.

There are different ways to draw real people. A life drawing session is when a live model will pose and be drawn. This happens primarily in schools but there are also places that offer figure drawing workshops or open studios where people can draw from a model for a few hours. Here in Chicago there are two places that I go to - The Palette And Chisel Academy Of Fine Arts and The Drawing Workshop. Both places have quick sketch sessions and long poses. A quick sketch session starts with one minute poses and works it's way up 45 minute poses. A long pose is when the model will hold the same pose for about 3 1/2 hours.

These poses where a minute long. Although this is the 
normal first poses time, The Drawing Workshop starts
their poses at 20 seconds, which is very challenging.

These poses were 3 minutes long.

 5 minute poses.

10 minute poses

10 & 15 minute poses, respectively.

15 minutes

These were all about a half hour each.

I drew this pose for a little over an hour. The drawing has an unfinished 
look because the model moved a lot, which was a huge problem. 
Although there is a little bit of movement that occurs,
usually when a model takes a break, too much movement, especially
during a pose, makes it impossible to get an accurate drawing.

This drawing was about 3 hours long. Usually the model 
is unclothed, but this was an exception.

I have found that no matter how much drawing I've done, it is a requirement for me to return to drawing from a live model. If I don't, I not only stop learning, but it's more likely that I will forget things. I want to be the best artist I can be, and tomorrow I want to be better than I was today. This is one of the ways for me to get there.