Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Covering new ground

New comic project:
I'm drawing a comic for the boys at Beserker Comics, publishers of The Dead, among other fine comics. They're a relatively small comic company based in Belfast, but the talent working with them (Alan Grant, Simon Bisley, Glenn Fabry etc) is HUGE. Its fantastic just to be able to say I share a publisher with those guys.

We're not 100% sure what the comic itself will be called (it might be a 'Beserker presents:' sort of title) but the story I'm working on is called 'My New Best Friend' and is written by Micheal Baxter. The above image is the cover to the comic, pencilled by myself, inked by Andy Brown and coloured by Ryan Brown. Those guys really know how to do a good job, and we'll be working on the interiors together.

The story will be 24 pages but we're taking this at a slow pace, as the Beserker boys are busy with their publishing business and I've still a good bit of work to do on Slaughterman's Creed. It may even be Halloween 2010 before the comic hits shelves, but I'll update as we make progress.

You will actually hear the Beserker Crew talk on the Sunnyside comics Podcast next week, which is now back on Itunes. (Which also means you've no excuse if you havn't heard Andrew Croskery and myself's so called 'interview' on Ep. 7)
Speaking of Podcasts, Cancertown writer Cy Dethan has been interviewed by the Comicbook Outsiders. This is another one of my regular podcasts and I'm away now to listen to what Cy has to say...

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Photogenic Fiends

It was a lot easier getting photo reference for Cancertown, considering that Morley was one of the few humans in the story and I could base him on myself. There's a much bigger cast for Slaughterman's Creed, so I had the idea of doing lots and lots of layouts, then having one big photoshoot. I've had two so far, and basically just had a few friends round, with a few drinks, a BBQ and some silly posing.

Here's Andrew Croskery, writer of kronos city with Aidan Largey, who wrote a neat crime story for Insomnia's Layer Zero: Choices anthology, acting out a quick scene and the resulting panels. This is from the first photoshoot, but when I get a chance I'll show a longer video, maybe a whole page worth and the resulting panels.

Its not that I'm atrocious at holding a camera, I was just explaining the next shot to the guys and kept the camera rolling. At least if I ever need a good crotch shot I can always use Andrew as reference.

Looking forward to BICS next weekend and sorting out my portfolio. I'll think I'll be bringing the cover I did for an upcoming project that I'll reveal on wednesday before I head off...

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Mr. Green

Mr. Green is another twisted character from the warped mind of Cy Dethan. He's covered head to toe in leaf tatoos to resemble the Mr. Green force of nature from English legend and will be appearing in our upcoming Markosia comic Slaughterman's Creed
Sounded like fun to draw. Here's my initial character design:

I can be a stickler for panel continuity so I wanted to layout Green's tatoos before I got to drawing him in the actual comic pages and keep it as consistent as possible.I drew the above intricate image with the idea of scanning it at a high resolution and simply using photoshop to place it over the inked drawings of Green. I gave it a try once, but the warping/shaping and cutting it took to make it fit from various angles was more effort than it was worth and I ended up losing time.
Since I would be drawing each tatoo by hand, I wanted a simpler but still detailed tatoo layout; both because I would be drawing it over and over again and because I didn't want the face looking too cluttered when rendering the tatoo in ink. The above version has less leaves but, I think, a bolder design overall. Most of the leaves and sections divided into prongs of 3, so it should be easier to draw without having to count how many prongs were on each leaf every time.
I ended up adding more leaves surrounding the face/design, but the main structure is still there on the page. You can see I done something similar with the chest/arms to give the tatoo a consistent focal point and the 'in-between' parts will be filled with leaves. Now that it scanned, and in my Slaughterman's Creed 'tools' folder, I just open the file for reference when drawing Mr. Green.
If anyone is going to BICS next week, I'll be carrying about a few pages of Slaughterman's Creed if you'd like a closer inspection.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Sunnyside bring the Bees out

The Red Bee (and Michael the bee)! Re-imagined for a modern audience with an exciting noir twist, coming to a comic store the 1st of Never!
If you want to hear the inspiration behind this quick digital sketch you can download or listen online to the latest Sunnyside comics podcast.

Andrew Croskery and I were the first ever 'guests' on episode 7 and talked a bit about Cancertown, Kronos City, our Publishers Insomnia Publications, and the Belfast comics meet up.

You can hear me um, ah, mmm and babble my way through the podcast, but I did manage to finish a few points (mostly got distracted though), forget how to pronounce Cy's Dethan's name and take part in the hilarious 'Superpower or subpower' quiz (which I'd like someone to count up as I'm sure I got more points :P)


Thursday, 17 September 2009

Little preview image from a short project I'm hoping to get finished today. Still a good bit to do, so it'll be a quick blog...
Got home late last night from recording a podcast with the guys at Sunnyside comics, so missed my Wednesday blog again! Myself and Andrew Croskery managed to squeeze in a few words about Insomnia, Cancertown, Kronos city and the Belfast comics meetup before losing the Superpower or subpower comics quiz.
Very enjoyable time with PJ, Ron and Scott. There's a few photos up on their site now and hopefully the podcast will be up on Sunday night and I'll stick up a link to it.
In other comic related news, Bob heske is showing off the really spooky front cover for the upcoming 2012: Final Prayer anthology for which I've drawn an 8 page story (you can see the front cover by Preston Asevedo below). If you look here, you'll also find a full list of contributers, including details of the foreword, foreboding and afterword by a few 2012 research experts.

The book also features artwork from Cancertown colourist Mel Cook, who is providing the whole art this time for a story called "2012: APOCALYPSE IN FIVE PARTS", and will sport a variant cover by Cancertown cover artist Paul Cartwright.

Speaking of Cancertown collaborators, Cy Dethan is showing off some new pages of my Slaughterman's Creed artwork on his blog as well as some art from his other projects; The Indifference Engine and The case files of Harlan Faulk.

I knew it was a matter of time before we took over the comicbook world :D

Sunday, 13 September 2009

The Power of the pencil!

Look what a simple redraw can do. I was having a particularly bad drawing day and produced a panel that wasn't fit for print. A quick redraw later (I actually used the same reference for the figure in the centre/foreground for both versions, the background figures were drawn from my head) and the panel looks a lot better.

The second version (please don't judge me on the first) was inked using the new brush pens I reviewed last week. I've updated that review with these width comparisons (the update has the name of each brush used:

In other news:

  • Insomnia Publications (publishers of Cancertown) have big plans for the BICS this October (less than three weeks away!). They're launching Burke and hare, Milk, and Buskers original graphic novels. They also have unbeatable special prices at the Insomnia table for all their current and books. I urge you to check out their blog here for more information and a lot more insight and previews of the upcoming graphic novels.
  • Nic Wilkinson, Insomnia's creative director and letterer for Cancertown and Slaughterman's Creed has been interviewed by the girls at the comic racks podcast. Lots of insight not only the creative but the editorial side of comics publishing. I'm mentioned a few times as well :)
  • Go and support your Irish Artists by voting for Will Sliney and Dave Hendricks The Symptoms over Zuda comics. It's well worth your vote (some lovely art and great characters) and they need votes if we want to see more.
  • Speaking of Podcasts, I had the pleasure of meeting Stacey Whittle of Small Press Big Mouth podcast, of which I'm a regular reader, and Lee Robson, who has just signed his GN Babble with Insomnia, when I was over at newcastle (England, not the place with the bumper cars) this past week with Aimee. Great comic chat with lovely people.
The trip to newcastle was incidently why there was no Wednesday blog this week (no internet connection at all), but back to a regular schedule now...

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Brushing up..

I ordered 4 new inking brush pens last last week. The Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush - Medium, Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush - Fine, Zig BrusH2O Waterbrush Detailer and Tombow ABT Dual Brush Pen Ink - Black (which all together came to just over £10 with free shipping). Now that I've had the chance to try them out I'm going to give my opinion of them.

The following piece, of Lenny Addison from Slaughterman's Creed, was drawn with the first 3 brush pens I mentioned. I didn't use the Tombow, which I'd tried the night before and found the ink to be a little faded with almost a hint of blue-ish to it. It did have the thickest of the 4 brushes (on one end, with a smaller nib or the other side) but it sat out for this particular piece.
The piece below was drawn on plain a4 sketchpad paper (which I'm using to draw most of my comic pages in a3 size these days) but I'll test the pens on bristol board in a follow-up blog.
Pencils: The Gif below is animated just to show my first pencils, then a little correction to the eye, as I noticed it was too high when I first scanned the piece (looks like Lenny has a twitch).

I then used the The Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush - Medium to draw all the outlines and main features. The first thing I noticed was that the width of the brush is less that half that of the Pentel brush Pen I would normally use, The brush itself is firm but flexible, giving it a nice 'bounce'. I found myself inking more than I was going to with this pen as I could get quite a small line as well without having to switch to another tool. The flow of Ink is lovely and a steady movement will result in a very dark line. You won't be able to get a full dry brush effect as the tip is constantly wet, but moving the brush really fast can produce a somewhat rough effect, as seen on the hair above Lenny's ear: As I said, I ended up using the medium brush more than I had planned, but I did add in little details with the Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush - Fine. This needs a firmer pressure to create a decent line (with quick stokes being a little whispy), and my first impression was that the pen was almost reduntant considering the varied width that could be achieved with the medium brush. However since then, while switching between the two, I've noticed the fine pen allows weight to be leaned firmer on the paper/pen and removes the delicate approuch to drawing fine lines that would be needed for the medium brush or a normal paintbrush. The fine brush is closer to a normal pen than the medium, but with the added bonus of being able to alter the line weight, if to a lesser extent than the medium Kuretake.
However, this is when I first noticed the drying time for these brush pens. While erasing the pencil under the ink, the lines I had created with fine brush slightly smudged (it may not be very noticable in the picture below but there is a smudge at the bottom right of the lip and the eyebrow on the left). I think the drying time for the Kuretake Brush pens is somwhere over 30 seconds, but I'll have a proper comparison on my next blog. As I'd menitioned above,, the medium Kuretake is smaller than the Pentel brush pen, so you will still need a larger brush for big blacks. I wouldn't want to fill any blacks more than a sqaure inch or so as it would be both time consuming and waste the pen ink. The big blacks on the jacket, tie and neck were filled in with a normal Winsor & Newton brush and ink. I then went back to the Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush - Medium and added more line weight to the left outline of the face, a few of the features and added a few more details around the collar with the Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush - Fine: The Zig BrusH2O Waterbrush Detailer is an empty compressible tube with a brush tip on the end. This lets you fill the tube with either water for blending, or an ink soloution (or I suppose really any thin liquid) letting you brush with it. It took a few tries to get the right balance of ink and water for a nice grey, I'm not sure what the combination was, but I'm guessing somwhere near half and half. I put the water/ink in a sink and submerged the tube while compressed and let it fill with water.
When applying the ink, changing the pressure you apply on the tube will push more of your solution onto the brush tip, but if you squeeze even a little to hard the point where the brush meets the tube will leak although I found it fairly easy to control after a few tries on a scrap of paper. Before this, I would have dipped my pen in ink, then water and hoped for the best, but this is a really nice solution (ha!) to producing a nice and faily constant grey:

This revealed a crucial flaw in the Kuratake pens; They're not waterproof. Any amount of water applied to them will blur the fine lines created earlier. The waterproof Indian Ink that was applied with the Winsor & Newton brush stayed perfectly still on the page while the Kurake ink smudged. Anyone who wants to paint watercolour or grayscale over preserved fine sketching had best avoid the Kuratakes. Initially this did put me off, but I realised that for the sort of style I could create with this combination of pens, the grayscale sort of made fine hatching irrelevent.
Overall I'm really happy with these three brush/pens, and hopefully have more to show using them.
Update: Brush width comparisations: First line is finest line I could get with the brush/pen. The second line being the widest. In theory these should be actual size but I don't know how it will differ screen from screen:
Brush rolecall (In order of appearance above):
Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush - Fine,
Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush - Medium,
Zig BrusH2O Waterbrush Detailer (which I've just realised is branded Kuretake on the side)
Tombow ABT Dual Brush Pen Ink - Black
Faber-Castell Brush pen (bare in mind, mine is worn and running out)
Winsor & Newton paint brush and Winsor & Newtwon Black indian ink size 000, size 00 and size 2
A old thicker brush that I can't remember the name of and is quite worn away (used for filling balcks).

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Digital vs Real

Every now and again I experiment with creating art digitally and with mixed results.

During the week I was drawing a little Tank Girl warm up piece, simply for my own amusement.

Sinnce my rough pencils were a little cartoonier than usual I thought I'd try some digital inking.

I used both the freehand brush tool (for the eyes and nose etc.) and a little bit of the vector pen tool (the shape of the face, general outline et al). I do like parts of this. The pen tool enabled me to get a really nice curved shape to the hair and I like the varied weight of the brush tool on the eyes, and the ability to undo when I messed the eyes up. The shape of the face was interesting, but wasn't really what I was going for so I gave up on the digital inking and just inked the original drawing.

This is the drawing inked with a Pentel brush pen. Again I like some aspects of this, the face looks more organic, and inking by hand enables me to turn the page around (without messing up the spatial relationship between the image and tablet that would occur with the digital approuch) that helps me get a steady hand with odd shapes like the mouth and cigarette, but the overall look isn't as tight or clean as the digital version. The hair in particular looks a little sloppy, and only having one go at the eyes didn't yield brilliant results.

One thing I always do digitally is the colouring. I scanned in my ink drawing and started colouring in photoshop. I'm much more comfortable with colouring with a tablet as it doesn't require the fine line and control (for m y approuch anyway) that inking does.

My first attempt at colours were much too suturated and also realised that it looked like Tank Girl was pointing to her cigarette and not giving us the finger so I was able to digitally mess around with image by desaturating the colours, moving the hand around and switching round the cigarette (as seen in the little animated GIF above).

I ended just going back to the original layout which I liked the shape of, with just a little tuck of Tankies right arm that I thought stuck out a little too much at the shoulder in the inked drawing.
I have drawn and coloured some strips from scratch, such as my Rí Rá comic strip (you can see page one in an earlier post), but even getting the shape of the boys face right on panel one took a fair number of undos. So I'm making some headway on the digital approach, but for inking I'm much more comfortable with a pen or brush (I've ordered some new types of brush pens so I've review them once I've tried them out), with touch ups and colouring in digital. On a side note; one good thing about drawing bigger than printed size is that a little bit of resizing/shaping wont look pixalated when resized if you need some photoshoppery.

I was twittering today with Tommie Kelley who is the creator of Road Crew, an excellent web comic based on the misadventures of Jim Soundman. Tommie tries to convert people to the all digital revolution. It shows if can be done quite well, and the difference between Tommies digital and pen lines are shocking (in a good way - check out the new readers section on the Road Crew site for proof).

Anyway, until I get a Cintiq and can draw straight on to the screen (with the added bonus of the undo button) I think I'll stick to pens and brushes for my regular work.
Oh and make sure to check out and the inspirations behind this little sketch.