Friday, November 30, 2007


Oh man, I'm going to be laying the smackdown on your bandwidth with this one.

A while back I was contacted by Mark Sable, the writer of the HEROES Mohinder story, "Blackout". He had a new comic in the works called FEARLESS and he asked me if I would be able to contribute a pinup. I was really excited to draw some "widescreen" super hero stuff and said, "Sure!".

I asked him for as much material about the comic to read as possible. He sent me some beautiful pdf's of the first two nail-biting issues written by him and David Roth and incredibly illustrated by PJ Holden. Holden's style was reminiscent of Mike Mignola, an incredibly graphic, shadow-oriented style. It's a story about a man sufferring from chronic anxiety who relies on a drug that makes him fearless. Donning a suit of powered armour he patrols the city as FEARLESS until undesired elements start to figure out his identity. It's a fun read, and I highly recommend it.

I then looked at it for a while wondering what I could contribute. What would be my take on FEARLESS? Looking at all those shadows I started wondering what was in them. I decided that my take on FEARLESS would be to create a movie-style visualisation. The thing about films, in contrast to comics is that they spend a great deal on things which are going to visually display the budget. In this case, the FEARLESS suit itself would be the thing which most of the money was spent on. An illustration equivalent would be to spend most of the time on it. So that was my first goal.

I also mentioned I wanted to go as widescreen as possible. Recently I felt like I'd been cooped up as an artist. Blackout was all set in one room in a hospital and my Zero G stuff was all inside at the moment. I needed to get out visually. I wanted to explore just how much damage a being like this could do. I didn't have time to draw all these people scurrying away, so I thought what better way to communicate FEARLESS' power than by having him toss cars around in a decimated street.

Knowing that unlike poor PJ Holden, I wouldn't have to draw panel after panel of this suit (which is why most costumes are kept pretty simple) I decided to go hog wild. Here is a detail of the armour. You can make out all the skull motifs. I really got lost in all the texturing. I'm showing you a close-up here, as really no one is going to notice otherwise. So look closely, damn you!

The next step it to create my greyscale tone. I paste in my watercolour layer and again, using the burn and dodge tool I start to paint the lighting in. My reference is a photo of me in my underwear pulling the same pose. No, you will definitely NOT see that one (even though I look pretty damn good in that one). I start to exaggerate the lighting. I already see him surrounded by flames. I also know that each of the lamp posts are going to be illuminated lighting him up. My goal was to create really powerful, moody lighting which was such a signature of PJ's work. I wanted him lit from behind and underneath with flames so I rendered it as such.

Once I'm happy with the tonal work here, I then start to paste in the background texture. I look at the clock and realise that I'm not going to be able to draw the city I planned to put into the extreme background. I texture the cars on the foreground, again trying to be aware of the different light sources around each surface.

Onto the colour. As I've mentioned before, colour theory isn't my strongest. I like strong, bold palettes that make my illustrations stand out. So I'm about to let you in on a step by step guide as to how I cheat on more complicated pictures like this.

First up I colour in all the colours like a kid's colouring book (trying to stay inside the lines). I tried to pick a wide variety of colours for the cars. I kept to the colouring scheme from the comic for FEARLESS, in fact I think I actually sampled the exact colours from PJ's actual illustrations.

Now normally I would paint flames in myself, but this was a freebie favour for Mark and I was on the clock. I had paying gigs to get onto. So I scoured my files, archives and the web for some nice fires. Using the wonders of Photoshop's clone tool I pasted these flames in to the image trying to merge them as realistically into the scene as possible. I wanted to create as intense a situation as possible. The flame under the bonnet in the car on the foreground should have a powerful foreboding element of danger. I wanted the inferno behind him to just radiate heat. No one should be able to stand in front of a blaze like that.

Now I start inserting all my visual effects. I mentioned I wouldn't have time to draw an extreme background, so I created this one from a couple of photos. I also needed to up the drama. I grabbed my flame textures and started painting them into all the reflective surfaces. The flames inside the car on the foreground might be within the car or simply reflected flames from in behind us. I liked the subtle inclusive nature of those flames. It made it feel more real to me.

Seems pretty honest so far, right? Well here's where the cheating begins. Most good artists would be selecting warmer colours and beginning to blend them to create the heat and reflective flame we would expect from each of the surfaces. That's WAY too complicated for me. Seriously, a warmer red but not too orange? Bollocks to that. So I found this nifty technique. I create another layer and set it to COLOUR under layer effects. I then begin to paint in a texture over the top of the scene, using the eraser where necessary to allow FEARLESS and certain other elements to stand out. This is what that layer looks like without the colour effect on it.

This is what the normal coloured artwork looks like when the Coloured layer is active. Suddenly it unifies my entire picture. The way I see it, everything has a certain colour under perfect white light. I paint everything like this. I then select what light we want to view the picture under. A sickly flourescent like Blackout or a raging inferno like FEARLESS.

I've also started to add my light sources including the lamp post behind him. I also increased the white heat intensity of the flames and added energy from his boots.

And finally the airbrush. My main goal is to make FEARLESS stand out amidst the chaos around him. I add shine and sparkle to the armour (and lose my line art - sob!). I exaggerate the main light coming from above and add a glow to the light from the flames reflecting on his armour. I add lots of shine to his claws as I want them to be white hot from the fire.

Overall my goal was to create a wide a scene of destruction as I could. I wanted to show the unleashed power of this being as he floats above us. It's an impossible scene of destruction with a being poised, above us, totally at home in the carnage he has created.

I can't tell you how much fun this was.

Thanks Mark!


Still taking them. Email me at for all the prices and details.

SKETCHBOOKS: See previous posts for photos. $10 + $2 postage in Australia and $5 to anywhere else.


Kelly J. Compeau said...

And you did all this...for free? Crikey, mate. You're a good friend.

Ororo_Munroe said...

Wow, the detail you gave Fearless is unbelievable. I would pick a comic up with that sort of detail regardless of whether or not I'd heard of the character. That sort of care means someone loves the character and or really loves their job.

What amazes me most is the detail in his suit (I looked closely I swear!) is still there after you colored him in. I thought it would disappear after coloring. I had to zoom in to see it, but it is still there.

He looks ominous. Certainly don't want to be on the receiving end of his fury.

"My reference is a photo of me in my underwear pulling the same pose. No, you will definitely NOT see that one (even though I look pretty damn good in that one)" --So, I wonder if you still have this picture or if someone broke into your house and stole it. ;)

Ron said...

hey man.... you just keep knockin' it out of the park!!!!!

Flawedprefect said...

Jason - when are we gonna see your work in a compilation release like "flight" or the such?

jasonb said...

KJC: Not free. For promotion. Mark's putting out a comic book, not putting this on his wall. To me, that's promotion for me. But yeah, I'm a good friend anyway. =)

ORORO: I agree, passion goes a long way. You can tell if someone loves what they're doing or not. The incriminating photo is on my hard drive. Even if you could hack my hard drive you'd have a hard time finding it through all the porn. ;P

ron: thanks man!

paul: boy, a collection would be nice, but a long time coming. Hopefully not more than five years away.

Begemot Geroi said...

Frelling awesome work as always. I enjoy reading about how you go about creating the colour schemes and cheat and whatnot. The detail is absolutely incredible. I love stuff like that. You truly make comic books into an artform.

Sad that we get no Badower-in-underwear pics.


I'll go fangirl elsewhere for a bit. XD


Ororo_Munroe said...

Lol if someone wanted that picture badly enough I'm sure they could find it in all the porn... which I'm sure is there for artistic reasons. =)

BG! No sexually harassing Jason!

Lilithia/Stef said...

That's amazing! I envy such talent!! Is it wrong to say that I really like the flames? Keep it up!

Mark Sable said...

Hey Jason! First off, I can't thank you enough. I'm really proud of all the pinups this issue, but yours is a real standout. If this is what "cheating" looks like, I can't imagine how it would look if you haven't taken the shortcut. I also love this blog entry explaining how you did it. I'm going to link to it on my message board.

To everyone else, Jason is not only supertalented but an extremely nice guy. I hope this writer's strike ends soon so we can team up for some more Heroes work soon.


PJ Holden said...

G'day Jason!

Thanks for the pin up - it's pretty goddam kick ass!

- pj

jasonb said...

BG: I might have to set up a separate site, cos I don't think pictures of me in my underwear is appropriate here. =)

Ororo: Stop telling the fangirls to not sexually harass me! I need all the harassing I can get.

Stef: not wrong at all. Seeya soon!

Mark: Woah! Mark! Thanks for stopping by! Thank you again for the invitation and I hope FEARLESS is doing well.

PJ: Another celebrity poster! Woo! Thanks PJ. Your artwork is astounding and inspirational. Your work was the petrol in my engine for this piece, mate! Wait. That sounds a bit wrong.

begemot geroi said...

See, Lee, even Jason says he needs all the harassing he can get. XD

Seriously, though. Despite the fact that I've learned not to judge comics by their covers (since some of the comics I've read have had good cover art, while the art on the inside...leaves a lot to be desired), I'd totally pick up a copy of any of these comics just for the cover alone.

You're really starting to make a name for yourself, and that is awesome.

-- Sarah

Ororo_Munroe said...

BG: :p

Jas: Well then, BG and I are your girls. ;)

Ororo_Munroe said...

lmao we could bring the rest of the army over too.

BG lets form the JArmy!

begemot geroi said...

I will gladly join the JArmy! But I think it needs a different name. JArmy sounds like that stuff you get between your toes.

Too bad Jason and the Argonauts is already taken. That actually sounds cool.

-- Sarah

Ororo_Munroe said...

Our mission statement: "Because every Artist needs a legion of rabid fangirl's to sexually harass them."

BArmy would be suitable. - we are a bit off. ;)

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