Monday, March 31, 2008


Ah, I just have to say what a great day I had yesterday. I judge whether a day is "good" based on either an enjoyable or significant experience, or simply if I got a lot done. Yesterday was the latter. On a good day I'm happy if I draw a page. Yesterday I drew two pages (including the first page of the HEROES story which came out GREAT!), did a photo shoot, adjusted some layouts, wrote a blog entry, watched an episode of Veronica Mars and the first episode of Doctor Who, finished the last Harry Potter book (the Deathly Hallows which had a slow middle but a fun start and great ending) and went to the gym. I was buzzing with satisfaction by the time I had to go to bed. A nice, full productive day. It was like some sort of weird time dilation effect came over me yesterday. I just can't figure out how I got everything done. I just wish that every day was like that!

Ok, let's talk about the pretty picture.

This was a commission that I did back in Melbourne. In fact, I think it was the last one I delivered. It was the day after my going away party and my last day in Melbourne. Just before I hopped my train up to the country to head to my parent's place, I dropped in to see Jarrod from Classic Comics. We chatted and I left him this piece for our good mate, Corey Low.

I had met Corey at my Classic Comics signing, and he was a great guy who introduced me to his lovely fiance, Vanessa. Corey got in contact with me later as he was looking for a commission piece of his favourite character, Deathblow, Michael Cray fighting back to back with The Grifter, Cole Cash.

I couldn't wait to get stuck into this piece.

I believe this was the 5th sketch that I did for Corey. Despite my concerns that the 6'8 Deathblow would obscure the smaller Grifter, Corey really wanted Deathblow in the front. I thought I would try and capitalise on the visual dynamic between the two. If I could find a moment that describes their individual fighting styles I would be happy. I figured Deathblow is more your "stand and deliver" sort of fighter, while The Grifter is more the darting, weaving nightmare of guns firing from all angles. I think this sketch captured that, and Corey agreed.

I really enjoyed drawing the characters. I had only drawn Deathblow once before (for a sketch for Corey no less!) and I don't think I'd ever drawn the Grifter before. I did heaps of research into guns, combat vests and army pants. I wanted the solidity of Deathblow's static pose to offset the The Grifter's flowing movement. I really like how Cole's coat came out. It looks dynamic yet realistic to me. My perfect blend!

Always my favourite stage. Looking back I love this piece at this stage. It has a great deal of energy and truth to the characters. Deathblow was originally drawn by Jim Lee in the most incredible adaption of Frank Miller's Sin City style. The Sin City style is identified by its heavy blacks and carefully pre-meditated whites. While Miller is the true innovator, Lee is a technician. He took Miller's artistic idea and honed it to a razor-sharp illustrative idea on Deathblow. So to me, Deathblow always looks best in black and white. I just wish Jim Lee would do more experimental artwork like that. He's a brilliant artist pandering to a fan base that would buy whatever he does anyway.

Boy, I get annoyed by the constant correction by every program I use about how I spell "colour". that red spelling line really bothers me. I pride myself on my spelling and I can't abide it telling me I'm wrong. My parents paid a great deal for my education, and my spelling is one of the few things that I like to feel they got their money's worth on. And no, turning it off is not an option.

Anyway, rant aside. Onto the colour. I'm an ok colourist, and lets take you quickly through my mediocrity. What I do first is lay down the basic colours for each of the areas. At this stage I'm just making sure that the colours are the character's colours. For this I needed some extra texture. I found some great camouflage textures and painted them into his clothing to roughen up and make the texture more organic. I don't often do this, and it was a good choice. It brought the fabric to life.


I had a whole step by step thing going on here, but I figured if I found it tedious, everyone else would find it torturous. So here's one we prepared already. Let's go over what I did. Corey didn't want a background and left it up to me. I visualised that that the two would be infiltrating some military camp and shooting their way out as explosions they'd rigged went off in the background. I put together a nice background explosion from about 6 different photos and screen caps. I was happy how it came out. Next up, I sampled the background and began painting over my colours to merge the figures with the background. My approach to colour is to take flat, basic colours and then affect them by the lighting around them. This stage is harder than it looks, but it merges everything together. I then made the explosion hotter and whiter with some airbrushing. Some gun shots from the guys wrapped things up. As a final touch I added a tattoo on the inside of Deathblow's right arm that said "Vanessa". Coincidentally Vanessa is both the name of Corey's fiance and Deathblow's wife. Ta da! How's that for attention to geeky detail and coincidence? I told Corey that there was an Easter Egg that would get Vanessa to approve of the piece and his eagle eyes spotted it immediately.

Thanks again, Corey! All the best at the wedding. When you guys get to the states for your honeymoon look me up.


Onward with the Madame Tussaud stuff!

ROYALE WITH CHEESE: Will these two ever live down this timeless team-up? I like this photo. It's like John Travolta farted or something. And I don't care how high-brow I'm gonna get, fart jokes are still funny.


After the celebrity walk, came the action stars room. Guess which was my favourite room? I was stunned to see Spiderman, and couldn't wait to jump into the frame with him.

This is probably the best photo of the day. My sister is a genius who has an unknowingly good eye. I did eyeball the lighting (I'm getting pretty good at visualising how lighting will look from all the photo reference I take) but it turned out beyond my expectations. It's like a magazine cover. I remember getting a lot of laughs and looks as I posed for this one, but hey, you gotta go for it. But, if I ever decide to do a Spiderman book, this can go on the cover of Wizard. =)

FACEBOOK: Sometimes I chuck up artwork, smaller comments and photos. Say "hi" if you wanna friend-link to me.

ps two posts in a row! I might be back!


Kelly J. Compeau said...

Boy, I get annoyed by the constant correction by every program I use about how I spell "colour". that red spelling line really bothers me.

OMG, you too?!

The Badowers said...

"Boy, I get annoyed by the constant correction by every program I use about how I spell "colour". that red spelling line really bothers me. I pride myself on my spelling and I can't abide it telling me I'm wrong. My parents paid a great deal for my education, and my spelling is one of the few things that I like to feel they got their money's worth on. And no, turning it off is not an option."

Okay Jas, good news, you don't have to turn it off to stop it from doing that. All you have to do is either click on the word which has the red line underneath it and then a box should come up. Then type in the correct spelling and hey presto, it's all good again. If the box doesn't come up when you click on it, then you have to go into your settings and look for "custom dictionary", then just type in the words as you want it to be spelt and voila!

If that doesn't work, lemme know and I'll ask the oracle that is my brother!


DeletedSeen said...

That's wonderful, I love all the strong contrasts you use, it's something I think is so powerful about your work. I really like the shading on the muscles and the bold colour scheme.

Ah the old colour vs color chestnut, it sounds like your wordprocessing software is set to the default U.S English... there should be different English dialect settings in your options menu - if you set it to UK English, for example, you would stop any further US style spelling corrections permanently.

Wow, the Spiderman pic is absolutely ace, that must have taken a bit of nerve! And I can't believe you've not seen snow before, glad you got to see a bit!

mike n said...

f**k, I actualy thought that was actualy Sam Jackson for a second...

really like the wildcats due by the way :)

Mike Nason said...

uh, let me correct that...
obviously Deathblow isn't a W.i.l.d Cat member...(or have they changed something while I wasn't paying attention?)...I need sleep...coffy...then some sleep.

later dude.