Monday, May 31, 2010

Mountain Biking

Alright, I'm trying to get back into the swing of things and getting this blog up on a more regular basis than I have been recently. Being busy is no excuse not to show you what's going on.

Here's the finished cover illustration for the new kid's book I've been working on. I showed off a few of the different elements of the cover here and there but here's how all the pieces fall together. Once the designer is done and the logo, type, and other elements of the cover are in place I figure this one can be called done and done.

Thanks again to Jenny who gave me the great idea on where to find a place in Boulder to get some good photos of a mountain biking track for the background. And thanks again to the weather for giving me a good day to get this photo. After months of snow, rain, and gray skies, I think this was the first nice day we had in a while.

It's always nice when things fall into place so easily when you need them to.

Friday, May 28, 2010

From The Vault - Big Jim OCD Cover 2005

Geez, you know it's been a long work week when you finally look up from the drawing board and realize it's already Friday. And here I meant to post a few more blogs this week but time just got away from me. Luckily there is always "From the Vault Fridays" that forces me to find something to write about.

Today's piece is a cover I did for one of the many OilCan Drive comic book incarnations. And look, it isn't a new "number one" issue! It's actually issue four! But, how can this be, you ask? How can a man who's done multiple issue ones of the Wastelands favorite rock band and a bunch of unfinished issue twos get to issue four of a book?

Well, while working on this incarnation of OilCan Drive I had the first book done and was working on issue two of a continuing story (how many times have I done this now?) Anyway, while working on the second issue an old college buddy of mine who was having trouble starting his own comic book proposed an idea. He said if I did a horror story that he'd also do a horror story. He figured if we were both working on something similar it would give him incentive to work on his own book. So, wanting to help him out with his motivation, I said sure.

Thinking that the third issue of this OilCan Drive volume would wrap up the story I was already working on I thought issue four could start a new story and introduce Big Jim, a villain in the OilCan Drive world who has two werewolves as bodyguards. I figured the werewolves was enough to satisfy the "horror" aspect of the story outline I had agreed to while keeping it all within the OilCan Drive universe.

The story dealt with Big Jim, a corporate big wig, who was looking for the next big thing in music. He auditioned various bands, being disgusted by them, until one of the bands, feeling they were being treated unjustly, gave him a bit too much lip. Jim gave the word, his bodyguards wolfed out, attacked the band, and had an early lunch. Jim then got on the phone and said to keep the auditions open.

Like I said, it satisfied the horror aspect of the story and started the next OilCan Drive adventure all in one fell swoop. I penciled, inked, and lettered this entire story. I even did the cover.

Five years on and I have yet to see even one thumbnail, penciled page, or even character design from my college buddy.

The other sad part to this tale, other than I never went ahead and finished issue two or three of this series, is that my computer crashed and I lost all the work I had done on this cover. All I am left with is the original art I inked by hand and a few of these small-res JPGs. But, at least I still have these and it taught me a valuable lesson in backing up my files as I work on them.

Here is the original inked piece as well as the colored cover without the logos. I'm glad I still have them.

OK, back to work. Have a great holiday weekend!

Friday, May 21, 2010

From The Vault - Nicole 2002

And no, this is not the "Nicole" from OilCan Drive. Although, I was happy to find someone out there who shares her name and looks just as good.

I did this piece back in 2002 as an experiment and to simply play around.

Using a friend as a subject I drew her on the cardboard backing of a pad of bristol board. I wanted to try drawing on the cardboard so I could use both dark graphite pencils and white pencils to produce both shadows and highlights on a piece of board that wasn't simply white.

Not a bad experiment and, looking back eight years ago, I'm still happy with the result.

I just hope Nicole liked it.

The Archies!

I found this illustration today over at Cliff Chiang's website through an article at

I absolutely LOVE this piece and love the way Cliff chose to portray Riverdale's favorite band.

Who needs the Gorillaz when you have the Archies?

"Sugar, Sugar" indeed!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Back to the Future Part 2

Oy, it's been a long long day but I figured now might be just the right time to share with you the continuing time traveling adventures of yours truly.

Here is a photo of me when I went back in time, met two friends, and, together, we took on the ugly troll monster and his hideous trouser snake! Look at us giving that ugly troll a good what for!

Actually, this is another photo of my Dad back in college circa 1964. I have no idea what is going on here and my Dad hasn't given me any hints. Either he, too, has no idea what is happening here, is too ashamed to tell me, or, probably, is doing his best to forget about the whole crazy night.

Either way, another photo of my Dad that, for those of you who know me, should make you do a double take.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Adding a Little Color

Here are a few screen shots of the piece I showed off yesterday. It's been scanned into the computer and I've been laying down colors on it all day.

Since I showed off what the inks looked like by themselves yesterday I thought it was only fair to also show what just the colors looked liked without the black and white lines.

And finally, not only did I have to color this piece but I also had to find a photo background to merge it with to complete the cover.

After reading the story I thought and thought about places near Boulder that I could use for the background. There are a lot of hiking and biking trails around town but I was trying to figure out somewhere that didn't look like it was at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. The story is supposed to take place on the flat plains so a background that looked like a hiking trail in Boulder, Colorado simply wouldn't work.

I asked around and a girl I know who works at my usual lunch place told me about a mountain biking track that was nearby that I had never heard of. I took a ride over to a small dirt road behind a business park. There, amongst some small hills was the track she had talked about. It was perfect!

So, I took a few photos and made sure the mountains couldn't be seen in the distance. Luckily, it was also a beautiful day to get some shots. With the winter and spring we've been having here a normal day has been overcast, cold, rainy, and sometimes even snowy. So, to get even one day where it looked this beautiful and clear out was a real blessing.

Now, to put all the pieces together...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

From The Desk

Just a quick shot from the desk of both a thumbnail sketch and what the finished piece looks like when it's finally inked.

As I showed a few days ago, the wheels for the bike will be generated in the computer. It's still the simplest way I could figure out to make a detailed spoke pattern on both tires.

But, this is what it looks like before it's scanned into the computer and manipulated.

Next up on this piece, a little scanning, a little tweaking, and a lot of color!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

OilCan Drive Finished Cover

After showing off the different versions of this cover I did a few weeks ago I figured it was time to show you the finished version of the one I finally picked.

Probably to the dismay of both Rob and Manu, I didn't choose the one they picked (and for those of you who don't read the comments sections of blogs it was the second option.) It was a good design and my second choice but, when the cover was folded over, I felt I lost a bit too much of Vince's head to the back cover. It's why I came up with this, the third and final option.

So, yes, I chose the third one. I am putting both the wrap-a-round version and the front cover only version here so you can see how it will work when all is said and done.

But, I did notice one thing wrong when looking at these flattened images before posting. Henry's bass neck should be on top of and overlapping the OilCan Drive logo. Oops. Not a big deal but it means I'll have to go back into the layered Photoshop file again and fix it. Just one more thing to do.

It's no wonder that I feel some days that I'll never get this project done.

Friday, May 14, 2010

From The Vault - OilCan Drive 2004

I spent the majority of the day getting my computer back into some sort of working order and I am beat.

But, I didn't forget about you or the "From the Vault" Friday blog post.

Here are a few more of the pages from the same story as the cityscape page I featured last week.

I'd love to talk more about what is going on here but hopefully the tale tells itself. I am just too tired.

I will mention that these pages feature a rival band from the OilCan Drive universe named "The Ass Clownz." One of these days I'll work these guys back into a new storyline. With a name like that and the look they have going on how could I let these guys simply fade away?


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sneaking in Some Inking

In between a few client jobs I found some time late last night to lay some ink down on an OilCan Drive piece I penciled last year.

I'm not sure when this piece will be done or what it will be used for but it's fun to have something I can tinker away with at the end of the night that's for me and me alone.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Rain Rain Rain

It's been raining and snowing here in Boulder for the last day or so. I can't tell you how ready I am for spring already. Every time we get one nice day of weather there seem to always be reports of rain and snow on the horizon.

So, what better way to express the feeling I'm having today then show off one of the pieces I worked on last weekend for the new kids book.

Let me tell you, riding a bike when you're caught in the rain is no fun.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


This weekend I've been finishing up a kids book that not only features bicycles and dense woods but also pouring rain and lightning striking trees.

So, it's been a long weekend as I figured out various ways to pull these things off.

When it came to the bicycle tires I figured it might be better to build them in the computer so I could get the curves and arcs of the wheels correct. Here are a few tests I did before I got to the final to make sure they would work out and look OK.

It's been a long weekend trying some of these new techniques out (thank God the rain idea I had worked. If it hadn't I'm not sure what I would have done at this late hour.) But, it was fun to try some new ideas and put a few new tools in the old toolbox.

Friday, May 7, 2010

From The Vault - OilCan Drive City 2004

This page is a spread from yet another attempt to do an OilCan Drive comic book. I don't know which version of "OilCan Drive #1" this was but I think it was done sometime in 2004-2005.

I always liked the idea that the OilCan Drive world was a barren wasteland with population centers few and far between. And since I didn't want a simple city to be sprawled out across the landscape I thought it would be a neat idea to make these giant tower cities. The whole city is within this giant structure.

I thought it would make the city an easy place to defend from the outside elements, similar to a castle in the middle ages. Plus, I liked the fact that commerce and modern living were right there in the city while a stones throw away was the danger of the outside world.

Plus, it made for a fun place to try and break into as well as escape from when the going got tough.

And, it looked cool to boot.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

From The Desk

The inking continues...


I mean...just....Wow!

How nice does this new book published by IDW of the late and great Dave Steven's Rocketeer look?

I first became aware of Dave's work my first year of art school. One of the great things about art school is not only the learning you get from the various teachers but the students you live and go to school with as well. Everyone around you loves art so you're exposed to a lot of artists and books you've never heard of before.

I'm not sure who first made me look at the collected Rocketeer graphic novel but I'm sure the initial conversation went, "you don't know who Dave Stevens is and have never seen the Rocketeer??? READ THIS!"

Within the week I had bought my own copy.

So now, years later and after his untimely passing, IDW is putting out "Dave Steven's: The Rocketeer, Artist's Edition."

It's every page of Dave's Rocketeer work scanned in color right from the original page. This way you can see every cut and paste mark, every blue line sketch under the ink lines, and all the actual work it took to make every page so beautiful. Some people may not like seeing the "man behind the curtain" aspect of a book printed like this but, for me, it really gets my juices flowing and makes me want to work. Nothing inspires me more than to see the actual nuts and bolts of how something is put together.

And, even seeing the few posted pages on the website really fired me up.

This book comes out sometime this summer, after the San Diego Comicon. so, if anyone out there wants to buy me a gift, put this at the top of the list!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Band Press Kit Photos

About six months ago I went in to my dentist for a regular check up. He's a music fan and collects guitars as well so we always have interesting conversations as his hands are shoved down my throat.

I told him all about OilCan Drive and, as I was right in the middle of making some headway with it six months ago, I told him, "OF COURSE I'll have the whole thing done in six months when I next see you."

But, of course, six months went by quickly and life, client work, and other things got in the way. Two weeks away from seeing him and I was nowhere near done with any aspect of the project.

For some reason I put the six months when I 'd see him next into my head as some sort of deadline. So, when that deadline was fast approaching I kind of freaked out. I raced to get some of the music done but nothing was feeling right. And then, when it was feeling right it took me five days to dial the drum sounds in. That self imposed deadline was coming up fast.

When I felt the art wouldn't be done for the books and covers in time I had some wild idea about making a quickly put together OilCan Drive press kit. It would mimic other press kits I had seen with a cover letter, band bio, an EP of music with three or four songs on it, and some photos of the band.

Most of the press kits I have seen (well, actually, I've only seen one in person) had a black and white photo as opposed to a color one. I thought it would be cool to have the OilCan Drive photos sport a sepia tone to convey that look of a retro-futuristic rock and roll western. I also thought it would be cool to put my cartoon characters in real backgrounds. I brainstormed for a bit and decided to take photos of a few of my favorite places to eat here in town. Armed with my camera I shot a bunch of photos of Deli Zone and Einstein's Bagels.

But, of course, things got in the way and, before I knew it, it was time to go see the dentist. I had blown my deadline and felt like I failed. Not that he seemed to mind. He liked the stuff I gave him last time and told me to keep going. I told him it wasn't done yet but I was working on it.

Maybe next time.

But, I did do these little test photos using some existing art with the photo backgrounds I shot. I really like the way they came out. I think when I have the time to do it I'd love to do individual photos of each band member in my favorite eateries. The thumbnailed ideas are sketched out. It's just a matter of finding some time to work them up into finished pieces.

But, I think I'll skip the self imposed deadlines this time. I have enough stress getting all of the client work I have done on time. I don't need to do it to myself as well.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

From The Desk

Ink ink inking the day away!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sports Illustrated Kids - April

Since I have it on good authority that these images have already been printed in the April issue of Sports Illustrated Kids I thought it would be safe to show them off here.

Another month and a new round of wacky sports situations that asks the reader to call if the play was fair or not.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Back to the Future

For those of you who know me in person and know what I look like I thought I'd share this photo my Dad sent me of himself as a junior in college in 1964.

If there was ever a doubt that I am my father's son this should erase any concerns.

I figure this is what I would look like if I had a Delorean, a Bill and Ted phone booth, or a Hot Tub Time Machine and could travel back in time to 1964 myself.

Even Monika, when first seeing it, said, "oh, look at you...wait minute..."

Have a happy Sunday!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Happy May!

Another new month and another new blog header. And, yet again, OilCan Drive makes the cut and makes the header.

This is a piece I did for the new OilCan Drive book. It will be the header for an article where I get to interview the band on their new upcoming album.

Now, if only they would finish the stupid thing so I could talk to them about it!

For now, though, here's to May and hopefully the end of the snow!