When someone talks about doing life drawings, it is natural to assume that they are referring to drawing people or live things. For the most part this is true. I've come to realize that it doesn't have to be though.
Not long ago, someone suggested to me that I could use some work on my backgrounds and that they were not believable. That person was 100% correct. Backgrounds are not just about perspective and lines. It's not just about box shapes. A believable space has to have real things in it. The only way to truly understand what this means is to make careful observations.
Sometimes being an artist is like being a scientist. We have to look, study, understand and take notes. The following are my "notes" - drawings of things I'm come in contact with recently.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Every artist's work changes over time. This only comes with practice. New techniques are learned, old ones discarded, and eventually a style starts to form.
This is work I did in January 2006 compared to work I completed in January 2012. As you can see, there's been a few changes in the way I draw- hopefully improvements. So how did I get from there to here? the answer can be found in the following artwork:
This is the splash page for Marie Curie And Radioactivity, which I did for
Capstone press in late 2005, early 2006. It was my first professional work.
After I completed Marie Curie, I went back to drawing the story I had before. I don't know if I had gained any new understanding, however, I did learn that I could take on a project and meet a deadline. A couple of months later, my friend Len Strazewski told me about a self-published project he was doing and asked if I wanted to draw a story for it. I ended up drawing three of them.
This is my pencils and inks for Len Strazewski's True Colors story, done in the summer of 2006.
Already, there are some improvements taking place.
This is late 2006, early 2007 for Len Strazewski's Milos. I had a lot of fun
with this one and felt like my work took a leap forward.
In the spring of 2007, I discovered 2 things on the internet that would change my artwork forever. One was a social site called Comicspace ( which unfortunately has collapsed) where I could post my pages. The other was a site called DigitalWebbing. DW ran adds by writers looking for pencilers to work with. I answered a couple of ads and started working on some interesting projects.
This was for a story called Swath by writer William Couper.
He presented me with 3 full scripts and we decided that I'd do some pages
from each of them, but not the entire thing. Swath was a great story...
As was A Matter Of Matter, a sprawling space odyssey which
he also wrote.
This was the story, however, that changed things for me. This
is from Project Raven, written by Cherie Donavan and drawn
by me in the summer of 2007. This story was published in the Eleventh Hour #2
by England's Orang Utan Comics.
This was from a 3 page story called the Mist, also written by Cherie
and published in the Eleventh Hour anthology 2008.
The reason the previous two stories were so important is because Orang Utan Comics was about to make a deal with Markosia Enterprises. Markosia had a project they needed finished and asked if I'd be willing to draw 3 issues of a title called Heretic.
This is artwork for Heretic #4, drawing in August 2007.
This is for Heretic #5, fall 2007
I was 2/3 of the way done with Heretic when Markosia put the project on hold and asked if I would draw 2 issues of Kong: King Of Skull Island. There was one catch with this project, though. It had to be done immediately- the deadline was "yesterday". I did pencils for issue 3, finished art for 4 and 5. I had no time to do this project and the work shows it. I think the strength of these pages is in the layouts but not in the drawing. What this taught me is that while fast may be desirable, the quality of the drawing is as, if not more, important than speed.
Kong: King Of Skull Island #3, 2007
Kong: King Of Skull Island #5 (2008)
Kong: King Of Skull Island #6 (2008)
After I finished the Kong project but had yet to receive the final issue of Heretic, Mark Heike, who had inked my pencils on Marie Curie asked if I would do some work with him. Mark is the Editor of AC Comics, which publishes Femforce and other "good girl" comics.
My first story, drawn in late summer 2007 appeared in
Femforce #147. This story, once I saw it inked,
taught me about the importance of adding small details,
such as texture, to objects in order to make them more realistic
In the fall of 2008, I was able to return to Heretic, drawing the final issue.
this was a strange one because my artwork had changed
a great deal from the first two issues. Plus it had been
so long since I had worked on the characters. As it turned out, the
story, and my artwork never got published.
I finished out 2008 by drawing a Blue Bulleteer
story that appeared in Green Lama#2
2009 brought Femforce #149. I attempted to add
more detail to the work. Some things worked well,
Also in 2009, I was asked by Markosia to redraw my Kong work for the trade paperback. I would have more time than I did originally. Because I would be inking, I took a page out of AC Comics inker, Jeff Austin's book and added more detail to the pages. Overall, I think the revisions came out much better.
I did one more Femforce story at the end of the year (issue #151).
Besides having a painted cover by me on the flipside, this story marked an end to a certain approach that I took when I imagined the pages. It was mainly a conversation piece in which the characters stood around talking. The pages were designed to show this, but they weren't done in a visually stunning way. The pages lacked enthusiasm. While I could blame it on the script, the truth is that it was my responsibility to have good storytelling, which this didn't.
My mistakes were rectified when Len Strazewski was brought into AC to do Stormy Tempest. He and I discussed what he wanted to do with the character. Also, I went back and read his previous work, looking at how artists Mike Parobeck and Norm Breyfogle approached his stories. I also tried to look at the script in a more cinematic way.
The first Stormy Tempest story appeared in Femforce 152 (2010)
Also in Femforce #152 was the David Watkins written World
War II era team-up between the FF and the Union Of Justice. There
were a ton of costumed characters in this story and I found myself looking
at John Buscema's run on the Avengers for inspiration.
I sent DC Comic's editor, Mike Carlin, the Stormy Tempest pages. He sent me a very nice email telling me that I needed to improve the way characters "acted" in my stories and suggested I look at Jim Lee and Jose Garcia-Lopez for inspiration. After I thought about it, I realized how static my figures were on the page. I started looking at facial expressions and took time to do gesture drawings so I could start to add some realism into the work.
This story appeared in Femforce #153 (2010)
The second Stormy story appeared in Femforce #154 (2010)
This story was special because I went out and did research
and added a more urban feel to the environment. Compare to the
story from FF #149 above to see the difference.
I also drew a zombie story for that issue. The was a lot
of conversation in that story, but it didn't have to look boring, so
my layouts - inspired by Todd Mcfarlane- brought a more exciting
dimension to a dull situation.
2011 brought the 3rd Stormy story, in which I played around
with layouts some more.
I also did a story for AC's Miss Masque strikes back.
The story, written by David Watkins was fun, exciting, and
allowed me to do illustrations that caught the attention of
I was contacted in the spring of 2011 to draw about 50 pages of The Saint for Moonstone. The story is currently being inked and will hopefully be out soon.
The Saint (2011)
I went back to AC for the final Stormy Tempest story. Unfortunately,
Len and I were unable to continue with the feature and while
I had a strong start on the pencils for the story, my
enthusiasm for the project fizzled and it showed in the final result.
At the C2E2 2011 convention in Chicago I showed my portfolio to Zenescope Entertainment. They asked me to work on a couple of projects for them.
The first was for the adaptation of the Spike TV show 1000 Ways To Die.
I drew Wedding Swinger
and Fried D'oh.
I also drew the second half of Neverland:Hook #2.
like the King Kong project, this was a rush job,
however, I consciously tried to be fast enough to get the pages
done quickly, but slow enough to do a good job.
While working on Hook, I was contacted by Bluewater Productions, who I had sent some samples to. They offered me a choice between 2 series. The one I liked the most was Victoria's Secret Service, which had a wonderful script written by CW Cooke. The script was so interesting that I could each page in my head as I read it for the first time.
VSS #1- Out September 2012
VSS #2 - Out October 2012
Looking back on the artwork from Marie Curie to VSS, there is a steady and consistent improvement in the pages. The change seems to be slow from project to project, but when the first is shown next to the last, the change is dramatic.
Friday, June 15, 2012
The following is artwork for the second in a series of 4 short (10 page) stories written by Len Strazewski, penciled by me, and inked by Jeff Austin for AC Comics Stormy Tempest character. Stormy was created by Bill Black had been appearing in Femforce as a character from the future who was sent back in time to assassinate a U.S. Presidential candidate. She was captured and sent to prison, then escaped only to end up working as a stripper in a gentleman's club in Vegas. The art is my pencils next to Jeff's inks, and the story appeared in Femforce #154 (2010).