Friday, April 18, 2008


Welcome to page 4!

God, I thought I'd already posted this to find that it had been sitting in my draft folder! Gawdemmit!

So yeah, I've been a busy, busy beaver. The animal, not the ah... genitalia. I just realised that I had no idea if that saying would cross the cultural divide. I'm currently drawing page 26 of the final 29 page issue of Zero G. I'm so excited. It's going to be some rip roaring work.

Four years ago JAn and I gained some prominence with a Killeroo story that we did together. I've just finished the first draft of a 12 page story. I'm so happy with it. I think it's a great story that should drag you through some pretty seedy scenes to make you feel all warm an tingly at the end. It's like Amelie meets Fight Club. =)

I'm planning on drawing it after I finish Zero G (I still have a week to go back and clean up all my artwork). I've also done and found a bunch of artwork. Commissions mainly, so you can expect to see heaps of pretty pictures up soon.

But let's talk Heroes.

I should talk a bit about this new tonal style that I've developed. It's probably the first time you've seen it coloured by Annette. It originally began way back on the Death of Hana Gitelman as a way to replace the time-consuming layered greyscale effect that I used on Road Kill and War Buddies. I loved that effect but I needed something faster as comic pages were taking way too long, and to be honest, it was too little bang for the time I was spending on it.

So let's go back in time (queue wavy effect) and see what the hell I was thinking.

Adi Granov (go to his PORTFOLIO section) gave me the idea when I looked at his step by step guide. He uses a pencil to create a greyscale tonal image over which he digitally colours. I tried doing this but it took a hideous amount of time. There was no way I could do a page a day like this. But it did give me a clue to create a grey tonal area. I just needed to create it faster. My next solution was to paint it with watercolour. If you wander over to the LABELS on the side navigation you can see my efforts under LUCY.

But again, it took a fair amount of time and I didn't have the acute control I wanted. That's me, impatient and a control freak. Ladies watch out. So I painted a simple watercolour of just swirls on a page. I scanned it in then placed it under my line work. I then "burn" and "dodge" (two tools in Photoshop) to darken and lighten areas. This was fast and effective. I ran a test page by Annette and she loved it. My problem now, was that when Annette coloured it, it looked like a photo! So I made my toning more harsh with blacker blacks and whiter whites for a more graphic feel. It now straddled the line of realistic without being photographic. And it was fast!

My goal exactly!

The final effect is to produce what John Cassaday communicates with his dry-brush technique. More importantly, I'm pretty confident that it's unique and places me somewhere in the middle of painting artists and traditional line work artists for a look that is familiar yet has never been seen before. It also uses my medium to it's best potential. Can you tell I'm a little proud? The development of this style actually goes back four years ago to culminate today. It's been a long time coming.

I was initially reserved about writing about this in such detail as I was worried that people would copy me and I would end up with a couple of clones. The last thing I want to do is lose my individuality that I've worked so hard to achieve. But that was out-weighed by the desire to communicate my artistic process such that another artist struggling to create a style can follow my thoughts rather than my process.

So if this helps someone, then my work is done. =)

But let's talk about HEROES and break this down:


I had to deviate here from the script as it asked for a full jazz band playing here. While I did some research on what jazz bands looked like in the 60s, I felt that they would hog the panel. Besides, a lone saxophone player screams "jazz and blues" to me more than a full band does.

I asked Annette to pop a glow from inside catching Linda's eye and she did a magnificent job.


Ida May Walker. Relative of Molly Walker. R.D never mentioned this in the script, and the reference completely soared over my concrete head. I was disappointed that I didn't catch it. I don't know what sort of Easter Egg I would have put in, but I guarantee you I would have found one. As it is, we have a lovely old lady with the designated "pixie hairstyle" that R.D requested. I did have to do a bit of Google action to find out what the hell a pixie hairstyle was. Having just read Artemis Fowl, they're lucky I didn't give her pointed ears.


Ah, her horrible old friend and domino partner. My personal mandate was to draw a crotchety, old and angry Aunt May. As a stylistic thing, Annette and I decided to drop the auras here. It was getting ridiculous and I felt that the shift of the story had moved. It wasn't necessarily all from Linda's perspective anymore, and therefore we didn't need to see the auras.


Looking back I don't think I've ever drawn so many old people in my life! The subject matter is what sets the HEROES universe and graphic novels aside from most other comic books. Generally not a lot of call for drawing rooms of old people or retirement homes. But maybe that's just the comics I read and get asked to draw?


Ah Annette with her crazy floral drapes. This again is another example of how I use models - and that is only as guidelines. The same model posed for both the nurse and Linda. I just used the model as an indicator of lighting and expression. The rest all comes from my twisted little head.

FUTURE POSTS: I'm planning on one to two posts a week until the dust settles. I'd like to commit to more, but it's not you, it's me. Bear with me while I struggle through this. Heaps of art and ranting to come.

COMMISSIONS: I have a fair plate full, but if you don't have anything urgent, email me at and I will send you my pricing document and you can have a little think.

I will finish off my Paris trip some other time.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


I hope you all like the new look of the blog. It was actually inspired by Paul Caggegi's blog (Of 3HEROES podcast fame), THE PROCESS DIARY (a digital sketchbook of his creative process, which is well worth checking out.) I saw how good his blog looked and realised that I really should get my own act together. Another thing he does which I really should do myself is podcasts as blog entries. I'm getting less and less time to write these huge posts (they can take up to two hours - which is why I'm not posting every day). A podcast would save lots of time and get more people to check out my work. Hell, I love speaking about my work (260 odd posts would probably indicate that), so I should really get into that action.

But the new look of the blog was put together in about half an hour. The real work is in the new navigation interface. I figure newcomers don't want to read every post. You only want to read what's relevant to you. So I first designed a navigation system and then went through and tagged ALL the posts (which took half a day) and added the instructions under the navigation menu. Now you can find anything you want. If you want to see all my black and white line art, click LINE ART. If you want all my pictures of Sylar, click SYLAR. It's that easy and I'm glad I did it.

Ok, onto this page.

I am a huge fan of Bryan Hitch and Paul Neary's work on THE ULTIMATES. I love their layouts and the street scenes that they draw. I used this page to tackle their style. This page also contained the majority of my research on 1967. Clothes, hairstyles, police uniforms, cars, buildings, buses. One of the few changes to my layouts is in the first panel where her pose is different. Once I decided that she would look sexier in a skirt, I knew I couldn't have her with her legs up like that. That would be beyond fan service.

Technically it's one of the best pages I've drawn. I'm so proud of my attention to detail and really got to draw the hell out of all the scenes. Panels 3, 4 and 5 really show what I can do. I also like how the mess of detail contrasts with Linda's solid black figure. Again, I avoided drawing her feet to give her an ethereal, floating feeling. She's not grounded in this story. She floats though it like some sort of unwordly spirit.

Special note has to go to Annette here for juggling all my excessive detail as well as the auras. I believe this was Annette's hardest page to colour because of all the auras. You see, a good colourist creates a limited and distinctive palette for each scene. By each person having a different aura Annette was forced to throw in many more colours than she normally would. This became a tough and delicate juggling act.

The real visual fun came from R.D.Hall who suggested the tie-died aura on the hippie. It's hokey, but it works so damn well.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


It seems that if I try and leave blogging to every second day, something comes up and I get caught out and don't end up blogging. It looks like I'm just going to have to blog when I have time.

I love this page. It's hands-down my favourite from the entire graphic novel. I didn't even use a model! I had great fun drawing it, but once I saw the life that Annette injected into it, I almost fell out of my seat. This is Annette and I at our harmonious best. I would argue that this is the best page Annette has ever coloured. She just kicked every element of every panel clean out of the park.

Instead of approaching this in stages, I'm going to approach it in panels. It might mean you have to do a bit of scrolling up and down, so I apologise. Actually I don't. It's all just a plot to wear out your mouse.

PANEL 1: I don't usually play with different angles, but I really liked this design and composition. I thought it made it very clear that she's asleep and from the expression on her face that she's dreaming. I was more concerned with the graphic elements of lighting and clothing than anything else. I had great fun drawing her left hand and the way it affected the lines of her top. I was especially pleased with that.

It was only when I finished and had a good look at it that I got a little concerned. I got an amusing comment on the 9th Wonders boards which mirrored my thoughts. They speculated that this first panel might be classified as "fanservice" which I'm led to believe that means it's a little on the saucy side. I was worried about depicting a 16 year old girl in this light, as it wasn't my intention. But, I figured if there was a problem, NBC would let me know about it. Given that I was never asked to change it, it obviously made it in the goal posts of decency.

PANEL 2: I love playing with panel borders as a means of communicating different scenes. Transporting a reader across scenes is actually a really tough thing to do. It's something I've chatted with Annette about. My take is generally to attribute each scene a unique palette to separate it from any other scene. In this case, I wasn't sure what Annette would do or how she would tackle it, so I felt I should do something at my end. My decision was to narrow the panel borders slightly and then add that misty effect to give it that dreamy feel.

I really shouldn't have worried, as Annette's colour palette was so ethereal it floored me. Looking at this panel is like looking at a movie! Look at the way she's lit that! I asked for the stairway (which was a PAIN to draw) to disappear into the clouds, but she made it so much more epic, and larger than I could have visualised. Compare the black and white to the coloured and you will see the sense of scale she brought to it. Then the gold glow of the figures was intense. They really drew your eye in a way that would mirror Linda's own hunger for them.

PANEL 3: I again wanted to emphasize Linda's vampiric nature. The thick flowing black hair and the red top really help sell that. Looking at the message boards, I'm extremely please that it looks like people made that connection also. Mise en scene ftw! Now, while I really like what I drew here, this panel is all Annette again. I had looked through the previous stories and found that we had never seen Linda actually connect and draw the energy/aura/life force out of someone. We had only seen her glowing blue hand loom over someone. I asked Annette to make it look like veins of energy being sucked out of this guy's aura. How Annette communicated the movement of the energy is beyond me. Look at it! It's really swirling out of that guy and being sucked into Linda. This is hands down the best storytelling visual effect I've ever seen in a comic book. If you don't agree, I'd like to see the other contenders. =)

PANEL 4: I'm not sure if he's being sucked up or falling down, and that's because of my drawing. I made a bad decision and should have had the facing up parts of the stairs white instead of black. My bad. The idea is that he was supposed to be falling down into an endless landscape of bodies. I don't think that's quite clear, but it is clear that his aura is gone and that he's at the very least not conscious if not dead. Hell, it's a dream! It can go either way!

PANEL 5: While I love this picture, it doesn't look like her. At least not the Linda that I developed from page 3 onwards. It's so hard to put black shadows on a woman's face and still create structure and beauty without aging her, and I think I pulled it off here. I also really like the expression, but it just doesn't look like her. I guess I can joke and say it's what she looks like without her makeup. =)

Day 2 saw me up bright and early and off to Versaille. The Chateaux itself is a beautiful magnificent building:

My problem with it wasn't the outside, but rather the inside. I found it... tacky and over done. It's a horrible thing to say about a national landmark and such a pillar of history, but it was furnished with absolutely no design sense. It's just beautiful things all crammed in to create such a density of information that it just becomes noise. I found it overwhelming and just switched off. I found myself muttering that all the money in the world can't buy you taste. I don't have any photos as I wasn't interested in wasting my time taking them. There was nothing I wanted to record for posterity. The audio tour also bugged me. It was badly signed, marked and designed. When I came out of the end of one tour, I found myself at the end of another section and had to do that one backwards! Wtf?!

On the other hand, the musical gardens are quite beautiful. I saw them on an overcast day that hung on the promise of rain and I still enjoyed them. My sister says it's stunning on a bright sunny day. My only gripe was that all the fountains that I was dying to see were all off! What's up with that? I pay my EU$8! I want water! Hit the switch you tight asses!


There's a couple more I wanted to show you guys. So the room with Spiderman in it was the "action heroes room" which I loved the most.

How could I not get one of me and my hero? It wasn't a bad one of Christopher Reeve. Looking at it, I was pretty convinced I could have sculpted a nicer one. I woulda just needed help with the eyes and hair.

Ok, now how awesome is this massive Hulk?!! To get an idea, look at the size of my hand on his thumb!

Just for its sheer scale it was easily the best figure there. I had never seen anything so huge. And then when you think that this massive thing is supposed to fight the tiny little Thing from the Fantastic Four movies, you just kinda snigger and know you will be looking for little orange rocks under your feet.

The Spiderman was cool, but this Hulk floored me and just helped me visualise the potential mass and size of the Hulk. If I ever have to draw him, I will be going back to this photo for inspiration.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


I got an email out of the blue from Frank Mastromauro, editor extraordinaire. He asked me if I was free for a HEROES gig. While I was pretty busy with Zero G, the idea of drawing something that wasn't a space suit was more appealing than Angelina Jolie covered in chocolate.

I got the script and despite an upcoming holiday to Paris (details below), I was really eager to do this. The script by RD.HALL was fantastic. Moody, smart, tight and gave me a whole bunch of exciting stuff to draw.

I'm so proud of the final product. What I really dug was that R.D.Hall seemed to have such a clear idea of how he wanted this to look. Annette's colours bring so much life to the piece. People have really noted the brilliant job she did on the auras, and have especially commented on R.D.Hall's great idea of the hippie with his tie-died aura. I also have to comment on the great lettering job. Again, R.D.Hall asked for her captions on lined diary paper, but Comicraft went above and beyond with their lined school-paper captions. They made her seem younger and added a great juxtaposition between the content of the captions and the normal school work or kids notes we would normally see on such a piece of paper.

My biggest goal for this project was to quite simply, draw the pants off anything I'd done before. I wanted to inject as much detail and life into the graphic novel as possible. I saw this as a horror story. It's about a serial killer's first victim. And more than that, it's about a vampire. Randomly, Annette coloured Linda's jumper red on the first page, and I asked her to maintain the red to add to Linda's whole "vampiric" nature. After that, I followed Micah Gunnell's lead on War Buddies part 7 and kept her clothing and hair flat black after this page.

For my part, I started off researching the year 1967. Cars, clothes, hairstyle, makeup (I drew her eye lashes different to how I normally draw eye lashes), architecture, fashion trends (I had to carefully plan all her clothing, although R.D. Hall did suggest the turtleneck sweater on the first page), music and movies. I have a huge folder full of everything I managed to soak up from the web about everything 1967-ish.

It was a huge challenge to figure out what a 16 year old girl's room would look like in 1967. I will be honest, I don't see the inside of a lot of 16 year old girls these days (despite all the disparaging comments about the age of my ex-girlfriends). So again, it was off to the research library. R.D.Hall helped me out here with some specific direction. He asked for her room to have lots of stuffed animals and "curiously, lots of old shoeboxes". I decided to go overboard on the stuffed animals, as I saw Linda using them as a substitute for real human contact. An indication of imaginary friends. The shoe boxes were easy.

Panel 1 I wanted to explore as much detail and mood in her room as possible. Long dark shadows line the walls, and I wanted a singular very strong light from the window. I had a ball drawing all the folds of the quilt (I haven't drawn fabric in Zero G for a VERY long time). The stuffed animals were fun and so was the design of the bed-head. For this page, my lovely sister helped me out and modeled for Linda and her mother.

The parents were fun. I liked the idea of these parents cowering around the edge of the door frame, scared of their daughter. I really wanted to communicate that Linda has done something in the past to really scare them. When viewing the page in black and white, I noticed that the shadow cast by the back of the door almost looks like a panel border and heavily bisects the panel. I asked Annette to help me out by adding a glow from the lava lamp to help soften this shadow.

I really wanted to include proper band posters, but there just wasn't enough time (nor was it important enough) so I just played with some random posters and made sure they were illegible.

The withered squirrel was also fun to draw. How often does one get asked to draw a withered squirrel? Answer: not often enough. It was the final panel though, that I drew my first real Linda. Even though Micah Gunnell and Robert Atkins had drawn Linda, neither of them had drawn her as a 16 year old. And also, there's kind of my take on the character. I have to figure out what I want to say by her appearance. It was this last panel that I was happy with how she looked. She looked a bit old, but hey, girls always look older than guys.

I was going for something vampiric, aloof and cold. Big, wide blue eyes, full lips (denoting passion and hunger) and a slight widow's peak resembling our classic Christopher Lee vampire. No detail is too small for me.


A beautiful statue leading to the underground metro (subway) overlooks the Obelisk marking the Place de la Concorde, and in the distance the Eiffel Tower.

So yeah, I haven't been blogging because I haven't had any internet. I did purchase a 30 minute card for an exorbitant amount, but with a French keyboard it took me 25 minutes to write two paragraphs to Annette giving her some suggestions and feedback about the Heroes gig.

It was a whirlwind trip where I devoured Paris in four days of non-stop walking, touristing, and photoing. My parents had been to Paris twice before, and for my sister this was her third time. So while they wandered off to satisfy their shopping urges, I wanted to gorge myself on culture and history.

The view looking right outside of my parent's window from our hotel.

It was the first time I'd been in a non-English speaking country by myself. My previous forays to Malaysia had been buffered by my parents and cousins. I found it an amusing and interesting experience. You can basically get by with please, thank you, yes, no, excuse me, good day, good evening and good bye.

What I couldn't get by with was the terrible coffee. First, they have no idea what soy milk is (soja), so it was all long blacks (cafe noir). Then it was the size. They basically serve it in a cup that looks like an espresso cup mated with the tiniest latte cup in the world. So it was heaps of mediocre, small coffee at Starbucks price. Ow.

What I also found hilarious was the changed names of the movies. Now, this happens in Australia too. Your WAR (Jason Statham and Jet Li) was called Rogue Assassin here. The Rundown (with the Rock) was called Welcome to the Jungle. So I found this especially funny. I guess "The Game Plan" just doesn't translate. Is this a comment on their language or their inability to play sports?

This was my observation about Paris to my sister. London was inspired by history, but Paris is inspired by creativity. It's not enough to have a large, imposing building. It must be made into a work of art. Every building was beautiful and oozed character. But oddly enough, very few of them (and I seriously mean maybe a dozen or so) rose beyond 5 stories in height.

NEXT: Page 2 of Moonlight Serenade and Paris day 2: Versaille.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


HEROES NEWS: First up, my story is going live next Tuesday. Unfortunately there was a mixup with the deadline (it's the 7th not the 10th). But no fear, it will be delivered and it will still look a million bucks! There's only one page to go and I think it's some of the best stuff I've ever drawn. Annette's colours are fantastic! Wait until you see what she's done with effects you've seen already...

I'm also in Paris over the weekend (yeah, it's a horrible life) and it's unlikely I will be able to do any blogging. But plenty of news and stuff when I get back. In fact, the HEROES story should be live and we can chat about that.

Have a great weekend!

FACEBOOK: Look me up and add me to your friends by mentioning how you know me. I don't add anonymous people.

COMMISSIONS: All those waiting for commissions can expect an email from me when I get back detailing exact dates I will have pieces ready for you. Thanks for your patience.