Friday, July 31, 2009

From the Vault - Venom Painting 1995

It's been a busy week of inking and I've been so consumed with it I've forgotten to take any photos of the process. I just get right in the middle of it and don't lift my head until the end of the night when it's time to go to bed.

It's usually around that time that I think, "oh, I didn't take any photos today...ooops!"

But, I couldn't forget "From the Vault Fridays"!

Continuing the theme from the last few weeks I've pulled out another airbrushed painting from 1995. Apparently I had some time on my hands back then because I did a few of these in between painting stuff for Marvel and starting the Exit 6 comic book.

This piece features the Spider-Man villain, Venom, a sort of evil version of the old web-head. Like last weeks piece I did the same ghost image technique of the Venom head while I did his alter ego, Eddie Brock, in a pretty much straight forward way. I think, at this point, I might have abandoned the idea of doing video game covers and decided to do pieces to appeal to someone I already had contact with, Marvel Comics. At the very least, I know I made copies of these and sold them as prints at comic conventions.

I do remember one person being angry that I was calling color copies of the paintings "prints" and selling them. We had a bit of a discussion but they still ended up buying a few. I guess some people feel it's their right to gripe a bit if they are paying you. But, in the end, they liked the work enough to want to take a piece of it home.

And, since this is a photo of the painting, forgive the glare the flash made while I was taking shots of it. If anything else, it does add a bit to the painting.

OK, back to inking. Have a great weekend!

Monday, July 27, 2009

It's Moving!

For years I've been trying to figure out a simple way to mix my art with some of the music I do in a music video. I didn't need to have people talking or running or playing instruments. I just wanted a few still images of my work moving across the screen in a simple way along to some music.

Friends suggested Flash, Adobe After-Effects, and Premiere. These programs were great but, honestly, seemed really complex to me with what I wanted to do. So, I never really sat down to learn them too well. There was always something else I had to or wanted to draw. Sitting at the computer all day figuring these programs out wasn't fun for me so I gave it up.

Then, last week, Jeff Lafferty suggested Windows Movie Maker. He had used it on one of his own trailers for Jack the Giant Killer a few years ago and, better yet, he said the program was probably already on my computer. So, I went home, searched around and, yes, there it was.

I'm sure it's not the BEST program to use but it's so stupid simple that it makes me think of creative ways I can use it. All I need to do now is download some plug-ins for it so I can custom zoom and pan my images and I'll be all set to go.

The video above is a test to see if I could do a lens flare transition using images manipulated in Photoshop and some fade effects in Movie Maker. Like I said, I love that it's a limited program because it makes me more creative. It's not as easy as pushing F12 and letting the computer make the decisions for you.

So, here's a start. I am on track. Soon, very soon, I'll have some custom OilCan Drive videos up on YouTube.

Now, I just need to figure out how to make them go viral!

On Guard!

I'm not sure why blogger is being such a pain in the ass today but every time I try to upload this image it keeps rotating it. You'd think then, logically, if I uploaded a rotated image it would self correct and turn the right way up. But, matter what I try it uploads just like this. Ah well, lay on your side and take a look. Or grab your monitor and turn it on it's end. I'm sure it'll look great that way.

Anyway, it was another busy weekend with the Stone Arch books. Here are the latest pencils, laid out on my living room floor, of the newest book, "On Guard." It's another in the four book series of basketball stories. I am really enjoying these books because it's the first time I've had reoccurring characters featured throughout a series of books. It makes doing the character designs that much easier and it's fun to read each story from a different character's point of view.

I am waiting now for approval and, I'm sure, changes.

And then it's ink, ink, ink.

Enjoy your Monday!

Friday, July 24, 2009

From The Vault - F-14 Tomcat Pilot 1995

Since the "Space Trucker" piece from last week seemed to go over so well I decided to pull another painting out from that period.

At the time I was doing a lot of airbrush painting for Marvel comics and was probably looking for some way to branch out and do something new. Actually starting my own self-published comic book was a few months to a year away. I'm sure I wanted to start it but doing a full comic book is a huge undertaking and I don't think I was ready yet. So, I started painting more.

I have a feeling some of my paintings at the time were geared with an idea to doing video game covers. A lot of the games I was looking at had great paintings as covers and I thought that might be a neat avenue to explore. Of course, this was the pre-internet days so I had no idea how I was going to find anyone within the video game industry to give me work. Maybe someone would walk by my window one day when I was painting, see what I was doing, stick their head in, and offer me a job. But, living on the second floor, that never seemed to happen.

One of the things I was playing with at the time was doing ghost images in the skies. I'd draw my figure's head out and then, using just black dye, airbrush and paint his head in a nice gray monotone pattern. When I was happy with that I'd paint the sky in and the dyes of the monotone painting would show through. Another pass with some white acrylic paint through the airbrush and I'd put in the highlights. Then it was just a matter of going in with a brush, some paint, and maybe a bit of colored pencil, to give the character some detail. It's a really neat technique and I used it a bunch of times during this period.

Now, using the computer to do an effect like this would probably be too easy. But, back then figuring things out like this and trying them was always fun and creatively fulfilling.

So, if any video game people are passing by this blog and want to give me a call about doing some covers, now you know where to find me.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Just a quick post today as I'm about to head out the door for some lunch with a friend.

The clip above is for a song called "Sugarfoot" by the band Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears. It's a great James Brown-ish type of song and, if my life had a soundtrack, I'd want this to be the song I'd wake up and jump out of bed to every morning. Unfortunately, the full video isn't available for embedding but you can see it HERE. For now I can just share this little clip with you.

And yes, this is one of the songs I've been drumming along to lately. It's just too much fun!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I Give Hugs!

Well, I don't give hugs...well, maybe I depends on how good a day I'm having when you catch me. But, my good friend Adam Trapani is a big fan of giving hugs.

So much so that he created t-shirts to share his passion with the world .

Adam has been a great friend to me the past bunch of years. He's been a musical inspiration and has helped guide me on my own musical journey. He was the guy I called when I decided it was time for me to buy my first guitar. Pursuing his own musical dream, Adam moved to Nashville, TN a few years ago. We've kept in close contact over the years and he is the one guy I talk to when I am trying to figure out songs I am writing or new music I am playing. He's also the one who helped me buy a piano. So, yeah, it's safe to say that without Adam around I wouldn't be doing what I am doing with music right now.

So, you can either thank him or hate him, depending on how you feel about what I'm doing. Ha ha.

But, yes, Adam enjoys giving hugs and created a t-shirt to celebrate that fact. And, right now, he is having a big sale on them. So, help a struggling musician pay his rent, eat some food, and celebrate hugs.

The sale can be found HERE and his main website, with some of his music, can be found HERE.

And, while I am hyping things other than my own work, I found a podcast I've been listening to the last few days that I absolutely love.

"The Devil and Me" is a podcast by comic book artist Skottie Young and his girlfriend, singer/songwriter "Casey McCauley". I was hesitant to listen at first. Most podcasts I come across are boring and just because someone can produce a podcast doesn't mean they always should. But, after listening to the first episode of these two talking, I was hooked.

Skottie and Casey are a couple who've been living together for almost ten years, even though they are still young, both in their early thirties. Just listening to these two talk about the week they had, the movie they might have seen together, or arguing about who is right about any given subject is just too funny. They answer listener's email questions about relationships, work, or entertainment choices. And then they read Cosmo together and laugh at the advice. It's too funny.

More than once, while working, I've had to put down my ink brush because I was laughing too hard to draw a decent line. So, yeah, I recommend it. It might not be the safest thing to listen to if you work with a bunch of people. But, then again, I don't know where you work. So, maybe you can. But, if no one around you minds foul language coming out of your computer speakers then I'd give it a try.

You can find the most recent podcast, as well as an archive of past episodes, HERE.

As for me, time to start drawing the newest kid's book. I plan on having the whole book blue line pencilled tonight before I go to bed. So, I better get to work. Have a great day!

Monday, July 20, 2009


It was a late night last night but I finished up the newest book for the Stone Arch Jake Maddox story.

It's now inked, scanned, gray toned, and sent off to my art director.

As for me, I'm just tired.

But, no rest for the wicked. I start penciling the next book this week. I'm sure I'll take a few photos as I go.

Have a great week.

Friday, July 17, 2009

From The Vault - Space Trucker 1995

As I start reading the third book in the John Carter of Mars series I can't help but be wrapped up in the world that Edgar Rice Burroughs created.

My mind is full of images of fantastic landscapes, brave warriors, beautiful women, epic battles, freakish aliens, and high adventure.

It led me back into my old portfolio to pull out this painting I did almost fifteen years ago.

An everyday man, trucker hat on head, having adventures in space armed with a laser pistol and sword. How it took me so long to start reading the Burroughs' Mars series is beyond me. You can tell just by looking at this piece that I already loved this sort of thing. I guess I just didn't know how cool the Mars series were. Why didn't someone shove these into my hands back then? Ah well, better late than never.

The piece was done mostly with airbrush, Doctor Martin's Dyes, and acrylic paint. I loved painting with the dyes because they were transparent and vibrant but you can see the problems they have. Over the years water somehow hit this piece and the dyes all streaked. It's not the best medium to use if you want your painting to last a lifetime. The figure work on the hero is a bit wonky but, like I always say, if I can't see something wrong with pieces I did fifteen years ago then I can't be getting any better. But, I really do like the space sky and planets I painted. Those are still cool.

Looking back at this piece and reading the Mars series I just know, somewhere in me, sometime in the future, you'll be seeing a John Carter of Mars piece come out of me and hitting this blog.

Stay Tuned!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Coming Along

As I'm inking away on the interiors of a kid's book this week I thought it would be a good time to show you the progress of the little guy I've been sculpting.

I usually work on him a little bit each night after I'm done working, riding my bike, and working out. I move stuff around a little, put some clay on him, take a little more off, and then, when I like what I see, I found I can smooth the whole thing over with a little rubber cement thinner. It smooths everything out and gives the whole thing the appearance of melted wax.

Then I put him in the fridge so the clay that I like can harden up a bit. It's so I can work on new parts of him without messing up the previous work. The only odd thing is when I open the fridge in the morning to get some milk there is a little man in there staring out at me.

He's coming along a little bit better each day. Again, it's my first attempt to do something like this and the head is only about an inch and a half high. So, as a first try, not too bad.

OK, back to inking. Have a great day!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


I finally got approval on the thumbnails I submitted for the new kid's books last week late Friday afternoon.

So, it was a very busy weekend penciling away on the interiors on one of the books so I could get them in to Stone Arch by Monday. I had planned to try and wrap up the pencils by Sunday night but I hit the wall and had to get up early on Monday to wrap up the last few stragglers.

But, I made it, submitted the pencils, and am now waiting for these to make the rounds and get approval so I can start inking and finishing these up.

Now, what do I do today? Well, there is always OilCan Drive...more inking, more penciling, lettering, graying in pages, not to mention a full album of music that needs to be worked on.

Or, I could do the responsible thing and start penciling the next Stone Arch book. I got one book penciled but I got approval on two books worth of thumbnails. So, I think I'll do the responsible thing and start doing the next set of pencils.

Ah well, at least it's not the weekend...

Friday, July 10, 2009

From The Vault - Ryan Burke, Avalanche Hockey 2002

After yesterdays news I thought this piece was a fitting one for today's "From The Vault".

It features Ryan Burke, from my cartoon band, OilCan Drive, in his earlier days as a Colorado Avalanche hockey player. I conceived the OilCan Drive concept in early 2001, the same year the Colorado Avalanche were on their way to winning their second Stanley Cup. I'd fallen back in love with hockey a few years earlier and was having fun watching my new team but this was the first year you could really feel something special happening with them. So, of course, putting everything I loved into the concept of OilCan Drive, Ryan Burke became an ex hockey player who still wore (and still wears) his Colorado Avalanche jersey.

This piece was done after the Avalanche won the Stanley Cup and the pose was based on a photo from a Sports Illustrated special edition. Even the background was taken from that photo. I altered it and blurred it a bit to give it a nice effect. The funny thing is that, doing that once on this piece, has become the basis for almost every cover I've done for the Stone Arch line of children's books.

The man this pose and piece was based on was Avalanche team captain, Joe Sakic.

Joe Sakic announced yesterday his retirement from the game of hockey.

After twenty years of playing his favorite game for a living he decided his body wasn't up for it anymore and it was time to hang up his skates. I watched the whole press conference live and it was a very emotional scene. Joe read his statements about his love of the game, his love of his family and teammates, and his reasons for retiring. Fellow players, general managers, and players across the league shared their feelings about Joe. A video montage was shown of one of the greatest players to play the game. It was amazing to just look at the numbers and accomplihments he had made over his twenty year career in the sport.

But, it's not the numbers alone that make him a great player. The things that impressed me about Joe Sakic were the things that made him a great human being. He was a great athlete, yes, but also a great person. With all of his skills he was the humblest of players. He never talked about himself, to the point where the media dubbed him "Quoteless Joe". There was no "I" in his staements. He always talked about the team and other players and how great they were doing. He did community service and always gave back to the town that had taken him in and given him and his family a home. He was one of the most respected players on the ice, by teammates and opponents alike.

In 2001, the Avalanche won the Stanley Cup in game seven against the New Jersey Devils. As captain of the team, it was Joe who first got a hold of the cup. Most captains would be the first to hoist the cup in the air in victory. But, Joe, being the guy he was, turned to 42 year old Ray Borque, a gray bearded veteran who had played in the leauge for twenty two years but had never won. Joe handed the cup to Ray and Ray, with joy in his eyes, hoisted the Stanley Cup above his head for the first time.

That's the kind of guy Joe Sakic was.

So, for me, a guy who never really had sports heroes growing up, I can say that Joe Sakic is one of my heroes. Not just as a great hockey player, but as a great all around human being.

Joe, you'll be missed.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Still Waiting...

No word yet on approval for the thumbnails I submitted for the latest kid's books. So, it's back to inking OilCan Drive for the day.

Here the second half of the two page spread I started to show off yesterday.

What happens when a giant gorilla, riding a little flying robot, is on a collision course with a punk kid riding an air cycle?

Well, when the book is done and released, you'll have to find out!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


I submitted two books worth of thumbnails to Stone Arch on Monday and, while I am waiting for them to get back to me with approvals, I find myself wondering what to do for the day.

I had planned on roughing out the children's books today but I don't think it's wise to jump ahead and do a bunch of work that I may end up having to change later.

So, I think I'll go back to inking the few remaining pages of the OilCan Drive book. I only have five pages left and, while I had planned to have them done by last weekend, I kind of stalled during the middle of last week and haven't touched them since.

So, I think that's it. I will go back to inking. Of course, you know, the minute I decide that and sit down to the board to ink I'll get an email saying the thumbnails look great and I'll have to switch gears and draw all day. But, such is the life of a freelance artist.

And, because I've decided to ink today, I am posting one of the inked pages from the OilCan Drive book. I figure I've teased enough with the penciled pages that an inked piece might be a nice change of pace. Plus, I've found that Henry is by far one of my favorite characters to ink and draw.

Enjoy the day!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Creepy, creepy...

Every so often I get the itch to try and sculpt a figure. So much so that, a few years ago, I bought a few blocks of Super Sculpey clay and a few sculpting tools. Well, that itch went away and all the supplies have been living in a drawer for the last few years.

Until last weekend.

For some reason I started looking at maquette sculptures of animated characters. I found a few cheap ones on that looked really good and I may still pick them up. But, that's what started it. I started wondering what my own characters might look like in a 3D sculpted form. So, I looked around online and found a bunch of great sculptors who had some informative tutorials.

Out came the blocks of clay and the tools.

Monika has some experience with stuff like this so she gave me tips on how to build the armature skeleton underneath. Then I filled the whole wire skeleton out with tin foil and covered it in a layer of clay. After baking that layer to harden it up I started working on the face.

It's been both a lot of fun and a lot of frustration. But, at times, I can look at my first attempt at sculpting and think, "that doesn't look too bad."

Of course, there are those other times when it just doesn't feel like it's working out right and I want to throw it against the wall.

But, for now, I'll keep working on it and see how it turns out. It's not any one character right now. Just me trying to do a basic person and see how the clay and tools work.

But, looking at his face in close up in these photos all I can think of is one thing.

Creepy, creepy!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Back To Work

After a little more than a month off to myself, working away on the OilCan Drive project, I finally got an email from Stone Arch books saying the vacation was over!

It was great to get a new manuscript to work on but the line in the email that really got my attention was, "how is the book we sent you a month ago going? When are we going to see some of that?"

Umm...uh-oh...I didn't get a manuscript a month ago so I haven't worked on anything! Ack!

So, this week starts not one new book, but two.

I did thumbnails this weekend so we'll see how those go over in the next few days and then it's off to the drawing board to work on two books at once. It shouldn't be too bad as the four books in this contract all inter-relate and feature the same characters.

But, the updates to the blog might not be as daily as I was hoping to make them. But, don't worry, there is always From the Vault Fridays and I'll try and snap some photos of the art table as I work away over the next three to four weeks.

I've learned my lesson not to let the blog go for too long without an update. I feel like a neglectful parent when that happens.

Have a great week!

Friday, July 3, 2009

From The Vault - OilCan Drive Stand-Ups 2004

Well, Jeff mentioned on Wednesday how he wanted an OilCan Drive Stand-Up of his own. So I thought, "what better thing to feature on From The Vault Friday?"

I did these pieces in 2004, not so much to make stand-ups, but to have some character shots of each of the main characters from the OilCan Drive comic book. It also gave me a chance to size them up in relation to each other so I could get a better visual idea of how they would look if they stood together on stage.

The stand-up idea came later because, honestly, it's the closest I could come at the time to make anything that even resembled an OilCan Drive action figure. Yes, I know they are a poor excuse for a real life plastic figure. The playability alone is very low and they don't come with any accessories. But, apparently I've liked them enough that over the last five years they've always been in my art studio looking over my shoulder.

And, they're also in good company. Right next to my characters is a little figure of Kurt Cobain, looking upon my up-and-coming rock band with envy. Well, maybe not envy. Maybe he's scowling. Maybe he doesn't like my band. Ah well, screw him. I'm sure he's not alone.

Here is the original art for each of the stand-ups including one I never built. Two actual villains from the OilCan Drive world, the Lobos Brothers. They're twin brothers who, depending on which incarnation of the story they're appearing in, usually turn up as werewolf-like shape-shifting bodyguards. As their shirts say, you really don't want to mess with them.

Click on any of the pieces to view a larger image.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


I totally hit the wall last night while inking the latest page for the OilCan Drive comic.

There were only a few little things to do to call it a finish for the night but I just couldn't seem to do it. So, I sat down and watched a movie instead. And then I took a bike ride.

I'll probably finish up last nights page today but, for the better part of the day, I'm planning on staying away from the drawing board. I'll take a drive, do some errands, and maybe scan in some of those finished pages that have been piling up behind me. Just something different.

The funny thing I realized about the pages I have left is that they are mostly pages featuring Vincent and Nicole. I guess I like inking Ryan and Henry a bit more than those two. Not that I don't like Vincent or Nicole. I think Ryan and Henry are just more fun to play with. Ryan is generally the guy who seems to get the group into more trouble and Henry, bless his heart, is usually right there next to him. For a second, I thought, well if I don't enjoy drawing Nicole or Vincent, why are they even in the book? But, it was just for a split second. Everyone in the book has a role they play and if not for Vincent and Nicole, I think Ryan and Henry would have gotten themselves killed long ago. So, Vincent and Nicole pages are just as important as the Ryan and Henry ones. Just not as much fun :)

I was trying to get all of these pages done by the end of the holiday weekend because I had a feeling some client work would be showing up soon. And boy, was I right. Not only did one new manuscript show up today but two! So, those will keep me busy for the next four weeks. Hopefully sometime in there I can figure out how to wrap up the OilCan Drive comic.

But, for now, I plan on having a relaxing day.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Ink, Ink, Ink...

I can't remember the last morning I didn't wake up and think, "by the time I go to bed tonight I want to have another page of the OilCan Drive book inked."

The bad news is that the days are turning into blurs and I'm having a hard time keeping track of which day is which.

The good news is that the pages are slowly piling up on the shelf behind me so, as of this writing, I have only six pages to go to complete the interior of the book.

I figured it might be a bit boring to show another photo of my desk as I'm working on a new page so I spun around and took a shot of the shelf behind me. Here's where pages go into a few different piles when they leave the desk. One pile is completely done and ready to be scanned. The other, to the left, still needs to be erased, blacks filled in, and some white out touch ups applied. There are a few other piles not seen of pages that haven't yet been touched by ink as well as a pile of completely finished pages that are done and scanned into the computer.

So, the assembly line continues.

For now, I'm off to bed. Because tomorrow I have to get up and ink another page. Have a great day!