Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Sorry I've missed a couple days. I normally try and blog at least three times a week. But I've been really under the gun as far as deadlines go.

I'm officially a fulltime comic book artist! I've left my personal training business, Body United and embarked on the world of sequential illustration. I couldn't be more excited. It's taking some getting used to. My goal is for five pages per week. Throw in the commissions and that makes Jason a very busy boy. I will talk more about the nature of the job sometime. I had an interesting conversation with the boys at Alternate Worlds about it. I think I let them in on some stuff they previously hadn't considered. But I will go into that more some other time.

This is a commission for a very good friend of mine, Brett. Near the start of this blog I did a party invite for Brett's 30th featuring him standing atop a pile of superhero bodies. Brett had long been musing about getting me to do this piece. He had long loved the camaraderie between these two characters and wanted a piece to capture the love he has for this era of the X-men. It was my pleasure to draw this. I'd been chomping at the bit to draw Wolverine and I love Havok's design - yes, even that goofy tripod head piece.

We started out with a bunch of sketches. I did ten sketches. For some reason I find single characters very easy, but two or more figures start to get very complicated. Brett and I both agreed on a direction and finally honed it towards this piece. I was adamant at this stage, that while Hugh Jackman did a great job in the movies, comic Logan should be 5'2, incredibly muscled, hairy and ugly. Brett agreed.

My favourite part of this stage was Wolverine's claws. I just loved how they turned out. They looked so sharp and deadly. In fact, I moved him to the left to show off the points of them. As I draw I begin to create a story in my head. Departing from the original sketch, I moved to a lower angle with Logan and Havok looking upwards. I visualised a huge robotic Sentinel towering above them, its search lights illuminating the two mutants. When I submitted this version of the linework to Brett he had created his own story in his head of the two facing off against multiple opponents who surround them. Wolverine taking on the front runners while Havok picked off the leader and those trying to flank them. I had to realign their heads and bodies to cater for this.

We went back and forwards and eventually worked towards this design. Mentally, I was thrown. So clear was my vision that it was a little difficult changing it to accommodate Brett''s direction. But as I began to create the tonal layer I found myself exploring the light. This is hands down the most satisfying part of the drawing process. It's when the characters become real to. It's funny, I used to do the most elaborate line work and rendering, and now I do it all at this stage. I even do it for my sequential comic work. This is now my signature style. (tm) =)

I was really excited about having Logan illuminated by Havok's energy blast. I found that exploring that was the most enjoyable stage for me. I love lighting. I tend to zone out when listening to people as I'm studying the lighting on their face, trying to memorise it for a future picture. I get some unusual looks, but no restraining orders yet. This is what the tonal layer looks like under the linework. It's almost a painting unto itself. But there's something old skool comic book about me, and I just can't seem to give up my linework.

Now in the past I'd let my backgrounds dictate my colour palette for my foreground. Not so in this case. I knew exactly what sort of colour palette I wanted. Havok fires blasts of super heated plasma that are normally indicated as white hot. I though that what better colour communicates heat than red. I know, I know. I'm a genius. Get that Nobel Prize ready, I've almost figured out world peace.

So I just slapped down basic colours. Havok's costume is mainly black, so that was easy, but Wolverine's skin is a little more complicated. The background is a couple of photos sneakily slapped together. Brett didn't request a background so I just wanted some sort of ruined industrial texture.

To keep with my solid comics background, I used basic "Jack Kirby" power dots to get started. For those of you who don't know them, comic book legend, Jack Kirby would communicated powerful energy with these crazy circles everywhere. Trust me, he doesn't just make it work, he kicks it out of the suburb. So before I went crazy with the glows and the airbrushing, this is my little homage to him.

So here is Havok with all his special effects circles. It's one of the coolest designs for a power. These huge crazy concentric circles. I hadn't seen anyone play with the light off them or a crazy glow before, so I felt like I was dethroning that artistic virgin. Settle down, let me have my moment. This is the most action I get!

Ok, so now it's a matter of integrating the two figures into the background. Their palettes are so strong that they're basically just popping off the image. First up, I figured that the white light from Havok's blast would illuminate them in a clear and untinted fashion. So, that meant that every spot that wasn't illuminated by the blast could be painted with a red fill light reflecting off the background. I had fun finding the right colour and saturation that brought the exact level of depth without making them look like they're in a 80s video clip.

Here's that red fill light. It integrates them nicely into the painting. My final red overlay is very subtle this time as I want to let the white hot light pop the most. Some more air brushing over the top to make the light from the plasma burst seem insanely bright.

Overall this piece, (like many of my pieces) is an exploration of stylised, impossible lighting. It's like taking a photo of a lightning strike. These blasts would probably last a second, and in that exact moment the camera goes off. It's an impossible picture that I try to make as realistic as possible. My favourite kind.

As an aside, I'm totally over drawing all of Wolverine's body hair. When I do my Wolverine story, in the first scene Wolverine's going to be walking out of a waxing parlour.

COMMISSIONS: Booked pretty solid, but I could still get one or two in before New Year. Email me at grael23@yahoo.com for more details.

SKETCHBOOKS: Still hocking these babies: $10 + $2 postage in Australia or +$5 anywhere else.


ryangibsonstewart said...

Jas, I'm really enjoying your last few posts. Your level of detail is astounding. The fact that you are documenting every step of your process is your usual M.O., but remains a breath of fresh air in the art world. When so many artists are focused on the end product, you have your sights set on the process. Bravo.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jase, nice work, but I have to say I think sometimes your photo-reference pics (while beautifully-drawn) tend to lose some of the energy of your original thumbnail. Granted, in this instance maybe your wolvie pose was a little too liefeld, but Havok really looks a bit pedestrian even though the pose is virtually identical to the thumbnail.

just my 2 cents.

- darren c.

Ororo_Munroe said...

Congratulations on working as a full time comic artist! Yay for creatively paying homage to the King!! Your Krackle is SO bright very much like real plasma.

Wolverine definitely looks hairy and ugly. Looks similar to a Cro Mag. How old is your Wolverine anyway?! ;) Wolverine at a waxing parlor.. lmao I do believe he'd leap off of the page and kick your butt by sheer force of fanboy will.

Flawedprefect said...

Kudos, Jason, for bringing back Wolvie from the brink of Jackman. He's a bricklayer; a removalist; a wise-guy; a cigar-chewing, muscle-on-muscle working class hero. Next time, give him that ol' Jim Lee coat of coarse body like back in Uncanny X-Men 1# (early 1990s).

And I MISS havok! He was an old school bundle of awesomeness right there, always in the shadow of his nobler, older brother Scott.

leper messiah said...

I love you Jase... hope you know that.

These two (and Nightcrawler) have long been my favourite Xmen. Wolverine is obvious, but Alex was always the more interesting Summers brother. He always seemed to have so much more of a personality than Cyclops.

Thanks so much again mate. Another awesome Badower piece hanging up in my house!


Lilithia/Stef said...

Hooray! Full time comic artist!! Tried to organise stuffs but the answering message going, "Body United" kind of freaked me out. My apologies.

Kelly J. Compeau said...

So, you've finally taken the plunge into drawing full time. Big step! I know you'll succeed beyond your wildrest dreams, Jas.

The Polsons said...

AHHHHH!!!!! Not only are you living the life, that's one of the HOTTEST Wolvie's I've ever seen! And I'm a Wolvie fan from way back, like early 1980s.

You da man!!!!!

(Even if you did lose my Rush CD. ;) Lemme know your new LA addy and I'll mail you another one.)