Saturday, July 31, 2010

Done and Done

After three plus months of doing client work, sometimes juggling up to four projects at a time, the desk is finally cleared, all the invoices have been sent, and I am done done done.

Now to back up all the work I've done these past few months, clear my plate, and get ready to tackle the next project.

Question is, what is the next project going to be?

Friday, July 30, 2010

From The Vault - Spider-Man 1996

I've been pulling pieces out of an old portfolio I found on my bookshelf a few weeks ago and I finally got to a page with ol' Spidey on it.

The interesting thing about this piece is that I think it was one of the first pieces I did when I got to Boulder, Colorado.

I had left New Jersey a few months before. I simply packed up my jeep with as much stuff as it could carry and headed out on the road. I didn't even know where I was going but anywhere, at the time, seemed better than staying in Jersey. I traveled to Washington DC, North Carolina, and even set up shop for a little while at my friend Craig's house in Ohio. But, I still didn't know where I would settle down.

Finally, I took the long trip west, across Indiana and Kansas, and ended up in Colorado. I figured it was far away enough from anyone I'd ever known that it was a good place to start fresh.

But, after all that travel time, I was really itching to just sit down and draw again.

I think I did this Spider-Man piece for a few reasons. One, because I love Spider-Man, two, because I was itching to draw again, and three, because I had a relationship with Marvel Comics at the time as a painter and I thought if I could show them I could do more than color that it might mean some more work.

I'm not sure if I ever sent this piece off to Marvel or not. This is in the days before I had a computer so it wasn't as easy as scanning a piece and sending it off in an email. But, at some point, I did move from coloring work to inking work so I must have shown them something to give me those assignments..

But, yeah, Spider-Man...probably the first piece I did when I had my western based studio set up.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


One of the last kid's books I finished up this week dealt with the sport of geocaching.

Now, I've never tried this sport or even knew too much about it but I have a friend or two who has done it and really seem to enjoy it. Personally, I'm not sure what the fuss is all about. It seems like hiking but with a purpose. But, if that's what it takes to get you out walking then I am all for it. Then again, I'm a guy who takes midnight bike rides around town so who am I to talk about what's weird and what isn't?

The one problem I had with this cover is that there are NO forests here in Colorado. Well, maybe there are but none within an easy driving distance from me. I mean, we have some great landscapes here in Colorado. We have mountains, streams, valleys, meadows, you name it. But, there aren't any deep forests like you find back east. And, I guess there are no oceans here either. But, that's beside the point.

So, after driving around for half the afternoon trying to find a place to make it look like these kids were running through the woods I finally gave up, came home, and went through some old photos. Luckily I had something I could piece together to create the above image.

The kid's books are done. Just a few more client jobs to go.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Techland Contributors 2

And, finally, here is the Wil Wheaton piece for Time's Techland website.

Again, I think his beard turned out well using a bit of color and subtle shading and then messing a bit with the opacity of the whole thing. It integrates the facial hair into the piece without it being an overwhelming black ink line. I feel like I've talked about and thought about these beards forever. Maybe I've developed some sort of beard obsession. Hopefully it will subside once these pieces are out the door. But, I do like the technique and will probably use it in the future when it's called for.

Since Wil has been known for his blogging lately I decided to head over to his site and pull some of the colors off the page for the background of this piece. I thought it would be more apt than going for some sort of Star Trek type space background. But, my contact at Time thought that might be a little too close to promoting his blog and asked if I could take the pattern off of his header and use that in the background. You can check out his blog and the title piece HERE.

Pulling a small pattern off of a website that already has a gradient to it was a bit difficult. It really had me scratching my head trying to figure out how to pull it off. But, in the end, I got it and I think what I came up with has subtle touches of his blog in there without full-on aping the look of his blog page.

And yes, that is an OilCan Drive t-shirt I have Wil sporting. I figured it was easier and more copyright safe than trying to put any other character on his comic book-type t-shirt.

Unfortunately, once the piece was used on the Techland site it was cropped in such a way that my cartoon band got left on the cutting room floor. Ah well, that's what blogs are for. To show you what could have been and what you may have missed.

You can check out all the new Techland contributor illustrations as well as all the old ones I've done over at the Techland website HERE. Simply scroll down the page and they are on the right hand side. A click of each thumbnail gives you a larger image and information about each contributor.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Techland Contributors 1

Two of the three illustrations are done and colored and have been sent off to my contact at Time Magazine.

So, what do you think? Did I pull off the beard idea or not?

Two down and one to go.

Tomorrow, I tackle Wil Wheaton!

Have a good one. As for me, back to work!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Inking Away

The pencils have been approved so it's on to inking the heads for the new Time Techland contributors.

Because each of these guys have a beard, and since none of them really has a full on mountain man type of beard, I decided to try a new technique. They all have that slight beard that I didn't think would work well if I simply inked in the hairs with black ink. So, I inked the heads and then laid a piece of vellum paper over the top of the finished illustrations and inked the beards on there. I put a few little x's around each face and beard to serve as a crude registration mark so I had some idea where the beards went when I put them together in the computer.

I think doing the beards this way will allow me a little more wiggle room when rendering them. This way I can add color to the whiskers or bring the opacity down a bit so they aren't as in your face.

Here's hoping it works. Keep your fingers crossed.

On to the color!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

New Time Techland Illusatrations

I got an email from my contact at Time Magazine telling me he needed a few more illustrations for some new contributors to their Techland website.

One was for a second go-round of a gentleman named Peter. He was the first person I had drawn for the Techland website when they were first starting out. At the time they still hadn't worked out quite the style they wanted so his piece came out a bit too cartoony and I was really happy to have a second try at him. I hope he'll be happy with the newer style and the way I've rendered his beard this time.

I'm also doing another guy named Graeme. The only thing I know about him is that he's holding plants in the photo they sent me to work from.

And finally, I'm doing an illustration of Wil Wheaton, Gordy Chance of Stand By Me and Wesley Crusher of Star Trek fame. What's funny is that he amost looks exactly the same as he did all those years ago but is now sporting a beard.

Because all of these guys have beards and I'm going to try some new techniques to render them I'm dubbing this round of Time Magazine illustrations the beard sessions.

The pencils are done. Now it's time for some ink and color!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Questions and Answers

Sometime last week, during the stress of the great computer meltdown and being buried in client work, I got an email from a student wondering if he could ask me a few questions about my art, my technique, and my career.

So, I took my new laptop with me to lunch, sat down, and answered his questions.

This is what I had to say:

What is your choice medium, or does it vary according to the nature of the project?

I usually pencil and ink all of my work the old fashioned way, with pencils, 2 ply Bristol board, black Pelikan ink, brushes, Micron Pens, and white out. I still love pushing ink around on a piece of paper even though a lot of people have gone totally digital these days.

I then scan the original art into the computer, clean it up a bit, and color it in Photoshop. I use an old version of Photoshop (6) and use a mouse to do all of my work. I've tried Wacom tablets but didn't like them too much. I have yet to try a Cintiq tablet but, maybe, someday.

Right now, the mix of doing things old school and new school really appeals to me and, I think, gives my work a look that you couldn't achieve by just traditional or digital means alone.

I pretty much always work the same. I tend to put up work on my portfolio that reflects this style so the client knows what they are getting. While I can airbrush, traditional paint, and do a lot of other artistic styles I figured it's best to show potential clients this style since it's what I'm best and quickest at doing.

How do you prepare for a project?

Well, it depends on the project. But, it almost always follows the same path. I'll either have an idea myself or get an idea or manuscript from a client. Of course the first thing to do is read what the idea is and make sure everything is clear between the client and myself before I do anything. I want to make sure we're all one the same page before I put anything on paper. Once I have a good idea of what they (or I) want there is always a bit of brainstorming. Just thinking through ideas of what I want to convey.

And finally, again, to make sure we're all on the same page, I always do thumbnail sketches of everything before I start penciling. Even if it's a piece for myself I tend to do thumbnails. It gives me good ideas of postures of characters, the type of shot I want to convey, and just gives me a nice general idea of what I am trying to achieve.

Doing this helps convey and idea to the client visually that I may or may not have gotten across successfully by just talking or writing about it.

And, once everything is approved in the thumbnail stage it's off to do pencil sketches.

What kind of options do you present to an art director?

It depends on the art director and the assignment. I've been doing a line of kids’ books for years so I pretty much know what they want and what they expect from me. So, generally, I'll give them one set of thumbnails for how I think the interior of a new book will look.

For new clients, I'll sometimes give a few different thumbnail ideas so they have a choice. But, usually, I'll just sketch out what I think they want and we go from there. If it's not what they want I can always do a new set of thumbnails quickly.

What kind of instruction or education do you have in the arts?

I took art classes in high school and even went to a VocTech type of class in my senior year for illustration that lasted half the day. I went on to the Joe Kubert School of Graphics and Cartoon Art in Dover, NJ for three years for my college education. During the summer between my second and third year I worked as an assistant artist in a small studio doing a lot of marketing and merchandising for comic book related materials. I worked there my last year of school and a few years after that.

It was invaluable to be able to work in a place like that while still learning art. It's one thing to learn art in school but it's a whole other thing to work in a real art environment, learn all the tricks, and have the real life deadline pressure a place like that brings.

From there, it was on to working for myself...

Have you had to reinvent yourself as an artist to stay relevant?

Not really. The only time I can really remember having to "reinvent" myself was when I had to switch from airbrushing and move into the digital world of Photoshop and Illustrator. I went kicking and screaming but, after figuring it all out, I really loved it.

But, there was never a time when I felt I had to change my style or my approach to art. I just had to learn a few new tools.

Do you have an agent? If not, how do you get new clients?

Nope, I've never had an agent. I've never even tried looking for one. I've heard both good stories and bad stories about having an agent but I seem to be doing fine without one.

As for getting new clients, I have my own website, blog, and I pay to have my art on two sites. One is and the other is CreativeShake. com. Both cost money but I'd gladly pay double because having my work out there on these sites gives me the great career and clients I have today.

Did you pursue a style or did your style find you?

I never conciously pursued a style. I'm sure I was influenced by things here and there throughout my life but there was never a time when I thought, "I'm going to draw just like this guy." I would look at artists I loved and picked up things from each of them here and there but it was always incorporated into my work in my own style.

So, I guess my style found me.

What memorable moments do you have, good or bad, from your professional career?

Well, I try and focus more on the positive than the negative but I'll try and give a good rounded answer to this one.

+ Getting my first gig from Marvel Comics doing some airbrush painting over Jason Pearson on a Spider-Man piece. I was finally working for THE Marvel Comics and it started a great working relationship that lasted for years and years that had me both painting and inking for the comic book giant.

-Having the Marvel work dry up and having to get a regular job type job again. After working for a company I loved as a kid it was a huge ego blow to go back to a nine to five type job. But, things like that keep you humble.

+ Having the first issue of my own self-published book, EXIT 6, come out. It was great to have a box of printed comic books that I had done all by myself.

- Having to stop publishing EXIT 6 because the sales just weren't there. I had to stop after three issues and spending a little over ten grand. It was a hard decision to make and sent me into a depression for a while.

+ Putting work up on and getting my first outside of comic books assignment. It was for a small magazine in Ohio called Cincinnati Magazine. When I was first offered the assignment and I thought about how much money I would be paid I was still thinking in comic book money. I thought for a full illustration and two spot illustrations that maybe, just maybe, I could talk the guy into paying me four hundred bucks. When he told me his budget and said, "sorry, but the money we have for the whole project is only twelve hundred dollars," I knew, finally, that I could make a good career with my art.

+ When art became a "job" again I decided that, this time, I needed some other kind of hobby so I could get myself away from the drawing board. I started playing music. I learned guitar, bass, drums, and a bit of piano. Learning music made the whole universe make a whole lot more sense to me. And it was nice to finally have some other interests and focus other than illustration.

+ Creating OilCan Drive, a concept that mixed both illustration and music in a futuristic cartoon band. It’s a band that features a giant gorilla on bass guitar and the whole gang travels around the burned out wastelands of America in a stolen air ship.
I figured, if I was lucky, and OilCan Drive ever got onto the radio, it would be some small college station during the “crappy new music hour.” But, for some reason, because of a few lucky breaks coming my way, OilCan Drive’s first radio appearance was on a Milwaukee radio program. The song was punk rock cover version of Bob Dylan’s “When I Paint My Masterpiece.” It was played on a program that featured Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Elvis Presley, The Ramones, and Led Zeppelin.
For some reason my little cartoon band was among those greats. They seem to fall ass backwards into opportunities most real bands would kill for. I find the whole thing funny and very satisfying. What’s not to love about that?

Who are your influences?

I'm never sure if “influences” is the right word or if it's just artists I love and respond to. But, for people whose work really rubs me the right way, here is the partial list (I'm sure I'll forget someone):

Adam Hughes, Dave Stevens, Mike Mignola, Arthur Adams, Alan Davis, Mike Wieringo, J. Scott Campbell, Mike Allred, Drew Struzan, James Cameron, Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan, Green Day, Blink 182, The Who, and Pete Townshend.

And you thought it would just be people who drew pictures...

What is your opinion of the future of the illustration market?

I think, no matter the tools or the delivery system used, the world will always need creative people who can actually put the ideas in their head out into the world. Whether it's on paper, a digital pad, or some future holographic projection the need for creative people will always be there.

It's an interesting time now where, if you have the drive, the time, and the imagination, you can do anything you want and somehow get it out there for people to see or hear. You can draw an image, make a movie, or record and album all by yourself and get it out there. I love that freedom and now, more than ever before, you're limited only by your imagination and dedication.

It's a fun time and I'm really enjoying the ride.

What advice do you have for young illustrators?

If you love it, keep doing it. Even if no one believes in what you're trying to do but you love it, keep doing it. At some point, even if it takes years, something will happen for you. As Dave Sim of Cerebus once said, "God grinds the axe he intends to use."

Always do your best work and always keep learning. Keep your mind open to new ideas.
Never work simply for the money. Whether a client is paying you a hundred bucks or fifty grand for a piece do the best you can at all times.

Always have some sort of project of your own that is yours and yours alone, even if it sits on the back burner because you're too busy with client work. It will give you a safe creative haven to escape to when the clients get too crazy or if there is some new art technique you want to try. Having something of your own that no one can tell you to change or fix is a great thing to have.

Don’t be so focused on art that you don’t try new things. Don’t put yourself in a box. Just because you’re an artist doesn’t mean you can’t like other things. It took me years to realize I love sports like football and hockey. I wish I had started playing music sooner in life. Don’t let being an “artist” mean you have to play some sort of role of what you think being an artist means to other people. Love sports, cars, mechanical engineering, doing your taxes, whatever. The world is more than ready to pigeon-hole you into some sort of box. Don’t do it to yourself.

And, finally, have fun. It's why you started creating in the first place. If it's wasn't fun you never would have done it in the first place.

If it wasn't for the fun, you might as well be a plumber.

Friday, July 23, 2010

From The Vault - Jim Lee Silver Surfer 1995

As I get the new computer sorted out and put together the way that it makes sense to me I thought now would be a good time to dig back into the vault and show that I didn't always need a computer to do my art.

Back in 1995 I didn't even own a computer. All of my work came from a phone call and a FedEx shipment. No email, no Photoshop, no digital files being traded back and forth. Just me, my hands, an airbrush, and some Dr. Martins dyes and acrylic paints.

This is one of the few Jim Lee pieces I painted for Marvel Comics. Because I started working for Marvel a little after most of their main artists jumped ship and formed Image Comics I never got a chance to work with some of the big guns at the time. Luckily, this is one of the exceptions.

The interesting thing about this piece is that when it was given to me all it had on it was the black and white image of the Silver Surfer himself. I was asked to paint all of the outer space stuff, the planets, stars, and cosmos, all on my own. For a guy who they simply knew as someone who could lay color down at the time it was nice for Marvel to have the trust in me to do a few things on my own.

I added the planets, the spinning cosmos, and even the power charges coming from the Silver Surfer's fists. I also added the motion trail coming off the Surfer to make it really look like he was on the move.

The funny thing about these older pieces is that I still had to paint the logo and the cover elements all by hand. So, not only did I have to paint the figure, the background, and the special effects but I also had to paint the little figure of the surfer in the logo box as well as the logo itself.

And, I can't remember how long this piece actually took me, but I never remember having more than one or two days to paint pieces like this. So, it was fast fast work.

And all without a computer, email, Photoshop, or any digital help.

Ah, the good ol' days!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Back on the Air

I knew it was coming. I knew it was coming and I was taking steps to get ready for it. I knew it was coming. I just didn't know how quickly it would get here.

A little back story for those of you not in the know: I have two computers here in the studio. One is your basic run of the mill computer. It gets me on the internet, let's me read emails, has music and photos on it, and does what any home computer does. The other is in my work area and has never been connected to the internet (well, there was that one time to get it working when I first bought it.) But, it's not connected to the world wide web. It has all of my art work and music projects on it. It has all my financial information and important documents on it. It's safe from viruses and hackers out there in cyberspace. Like they say with a shark attack, the only sure way not to get attacked is to never go in the water.

My work computer has never been in the water.

Now, the other computer, the computer hooked to the internet, the one that lets me check emails and write blog posts, that one, well, that one felt like I just threw it into the middle of a great white shark feeding frenzy.

I woke up last Friday, ready to write my weekly "From the Vault" blog post to find that my internet computer had been attacked by a major virus. It was one of those viruses that disables every system on your computer and replaces it with a program telling you that you have tons of viruses and, if you'd only click "here", it would make it all better with the new program they want to install. I hate viruses like this. They prey on uninformed people and make them install even worse viruses on the computer. It was so bad that even trying to open something as simple as WordPad gave the the prompt "WordPad is infected with a virus and is trying to send your credit card information over the internet." I didn't even know WordPad HAD my credit card information! Like I said, I hate these things because I think of the poor uninformed grandmother in Florida who falls for crap like this.

But, I did find a way around the bug long enough to get online and do a quick check of my email. To add to the stress of the virus I had two emails from clients about work, one wondering where their new project was.

Not a fun way to start the morning.

Then, salvation showed up. The new laptop computer I ordered arrived half an hour later. I had ordered it two weeks ago because I knew the internet computer was on it's last legs. It's eight years old which, in computer terms, meant I was still driving around in a 1972 Gremlin while the rest of the world was cruising around in flying cars.

Monika had purchased a laptop a few months ago and I really loved it. Finally, after going over it again and again in my head, I finally broke down and bought one of my own. I figured an internet computer I could carry around with me couldn't be a bad thing.

Of course, getting a new computer and setting it up brings with it its own sets of stress. So, it wasn't a fun Friday. Dealing with computer issues is never fun and adding the stress of a bunch of client jobs I needed to get done just meant the next handful of days got away from me.

But, all seems better now. I reinstalled the operating system and have been reinstalling programs on the old internet computer so I can pass it on to a friend who's never owned a computer. I've been learning the new little quirks of Windows 7 on the new laptop after using Windows XP for the last ten years (a lot of the same but getting used to all the new buttons and new look is taking some time for a guy who hates change like me.)

And, I've been getting all of the client work done...slowly but surely.

Speaking of which, it's back to work for me. These kid's book pages aren't going to ink themselves.

But, at least I am back to the blog. Sorry I've been away so long.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Move Move Move!

A few weeks ago I found myself having lunch with my two good friends, Jeff Lafferty and Ken Truhan. Both are amazing artists and have pushed themselves into the realm of animation (Ken with traditional style 2D Flash animation and Jeff with his new stop motion puppet animation.)

So, it got me thinking and asking a few questions.

I've always had in the back of my mind to do some sort of animated OilCan Drive piece where I can blend the art and music of the project into some sort of video. Talking to these two just brought all of those thoughts back into the fore front of my mind.

So, after lunch I ran home and started playing a bit with what I had to see what I could do.

Initially I tried something Jeff suggested because I told him I had been having trouble figuring the Flash program out. He suggested I simply make the frames individually in Photoshop and then put them all back together using something as simple as Windows Movie Maker. It seemed to work OK but it was hard to envision how the piece would turn out when I was simply moving the pieces a little at a time in each frame. I simply don't have the knowledge or experience yet to know, "if I do this, it will look like this when I am finished."

But, a few jagged moments aside (I think I miscounted when I was moving a few of the elements around while creating the frames) it came out OK.

Then, I switched into the Flash program and figured out how to make it work like I wanted it to work. For any of you out there who even have the most basic knowledge of Flash this will look like first day teaching stuff. But, it's moving, and I think it has some promise.

So, it's not much, but it's a start and it has the wheels in my head spinning.

But, for now, back to the three client jobs I am juggling. Hopefully if I can wrap them all up I can jump back to the world of OilCan Drive sooner than later.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sports Illustrated Kids - June

Here are few images I did for the June issue of Sports Illustrated Kids.

Nothing caps off a nice lazy Sunday summer afternoon like basketball, hockey, and a baseball piece where an outfielder hops into the other team's bullpen to shag a fly ball.

Friday, July 9, 2010

From The Vault - Ryan Burke 2007 (?)

It had been about a year since I drew anything related to OilCan Drive when I sat down and did this piece of Ryan Burke, the lead singer of the cartoon band.

I don't remember now what kept me away from the band for so long but I suspect it must have had something to do with me being busy. I also think that I had sent the previous OilCan Drive work out into the world and the feedback was less than flattering. So, I put it away for a while.

But, as we've found out, the little band in my head will not die an easy death and they all came back to the forefront of my brain about a year later.

I think I originally intended this to be some sort of t-shirt design or something. Here's a secret I learned about myself a long time ago. I NEVER draw just to draw and have fun. Somewhere in my head my artistic side needs a reason to do something. So, from time to time I can fool it into creating by telling it I need an image for a t-shirt or a flyer or a CD cover. Once the brain think it's for a project it goes to work. Even if I never use the piece for which it was first intended it has helped me yield some great pieces over the years.

The only odd thing about this piece, looking at it now, is how darn small I made Ryan's head! It's teeny! Maybe this was Ryan's "fat Elvis" period or something.

But, again, that's how we get better. Do it, look back at it later, and learn from our mistakes.

Always learning, always learning...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

EMS Lighthouse

One of the projects that came my way a few weeks ago while I was really busy and in the middle of a few client jobs was a request to do a logo for a group of Maine EMS workers.

Because it was for a friend of a friend I agreed and threw it into the schedule.

After thinking of a few ideas I came up with the concept of a very iconic looking lighthouse with the symbol of life at its base. I think it was what they were looking for so I did a few versions and sent them off to see if this was going in the right direction.

It's been more than a few weeks now and I have yet to hear anything back.

But, I like the piece. I like it's simplicity and how different it is from most illustration work I do.

Still, it would have been nice to get an email back.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Tech21 Leeds Pedal

One of the thing that showed up in the mail while I was under the media blackout was the Leeds Pedal I pre-ordered from the fine folks at Tech21 a few months ago.

It felt like I had been waiting forever for this thing and I kept checking the website to see when it would be available. The problem was that every time I would check it seemed like the release date was pushed back another week! day...out of the was here!

And it sounded just as good as I thought it would. The Leeds pedal is built to mimic the sound of the old Hiwatt amplifiers used by both Pete Townshend and John Entwistle of one of my favorite bands of all time, The Who. Not only was I plugging my guitars into this thing but it works amazing with my bass as well. Of course, because I was so busy I only got to play with it for about a half hour or so before I felt guilty and had to get back to work.

But, of course, being a Who pedal, I couldn't put it away before I grabbed my guitar, jumped up on my art table, did my best arm windmill, and crashed out a huge power chord.

It looked almost exactly like this.

So, thank you Tech21, thank you. You have just given me another tool to play with in my search for the tone and sound of OilCan Drive.

But, for now, back to work...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Whitewater Courage

I finished up the interior illustrations for the "Whitewater Courage" kid's story last night so I figured it was time to show off the cover.

The story deals with a couple of kids who visit their uncle in Australia and take a rafting trip down a surging river. Of course it becomes dangerous and in the end all three of them are fighting for their life in a very Indiana Jones type moment. It was great to draw and a lot of fun. Actually, to make the job more fun for myself I simply pictured their uncle as the Asian version of Indiana Jones. That seemed to help a lot.

I showed off a few stages of this cover previously on the blog and you can see those HERE and HERE.

I also used some of the photos I snapped when I ducked some of the police tape and made my way along the Boulder Creek Bike Path to see the surging creek a few weeks ago. I'm glad to see that my bending the law was well worth the trouble.

I think all the images and photos came together well to make a nice cover. I'm looking forward to seeing what it looks like once the title and credits are thrown on top of it.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Race Race Race!

So, one of the pieces I got done during my so called "media blackout" (Rob's words, not mine...but it seems apt) was the new cover for the collected Jake Maddox Speedway kid's books.

Using the reference I created in the computer, this angle was chosen and then the real work began. The funny thing about a piece like this is that the drawing and inking of the cars is almost the easiest part of this piece.

Then there are all the little details it takes to pull a piece like this off. Painting the cars in such a way that they look shiny and metallic, adding all the little stickers and numbers to give the cars that sense of Nascar detail, and then creating a background that makes it look like these static images are jumping right off the page at you.

It's no wonder I was in a media blackout.

But, I think I really pulled it all off with this image. Of all the images I created for the Speedway race car books I think this cover is, by far, my favorite.

Friday, July 2, 2010

From The Vault - 2005 The Trap Door Maker

Back in 2005 Peter Bregman, a guy who was one of my art directors at the Geppetto Marketing Group, was getting ready to unleash his graphic novel, The Trap Door Maker, on an unsuspecting public.

The story dealt with Erik, the man who would one day become the Phantom of the Opera, and his adventures before he found his way into that fateful opera house. It was a three issue series and, after the publication of the first issue, he asked me if I'd like to do a pin-up for the second issue.

This is what I came up with.

Later, after Peter got some feedback from his first issue, a lot of fans pointed out that his version of Erik looked a bit too bulky and muscular. He asked me if I'd go back in and slim down my pin-up a bit. But, because I did the piece for free and as a favor it was one of the few times that I worked with Peter where I felt comfortable saying no. If he didn't want to use the piece, that was fine by me.

Plus, I find it's best never to listen to a few naysayers when you're doing your own projects. There are always going to be a vocal few who try and tell you what you should and shouldn't do. Even on your own project. But, that's why you're doing your own project in the first place. So no one can tell you what to do.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy July!

Happy July!

I was planning on looking for something a little more Americana and patriotic for July but, with time being at a premium these days, I figured a nice shot of Mr. Mucho just might fit the bill. I figure, if nothing else, a shot of the little rag doll in the middle of summer will make Manu happy.

It's been a busy past couple of weeks. I almost forget how easy it is some days to NOT do a blog until I try to start writing again and realize how hard it is to start it up again. But, here's hoping it goes a bit smoother over the next couple of days.

In the past few weeks I've finished up one kid's book, designed and penciled another, and am in the middle of inking it as we speak. I've also done two new covers for the new books as well as doing a new race car cover for the collected version of the Nascar books I did last year. I did my monthly Sports Illustrated Kids gig and been doing a lot of illustration for a new educational website that mixes a bit of social networking with academia. On top of that I did some logo work for a friend of a friend back in Maine.

Like I said, it's been busy and a bit overwhelming.

OilCan Drive and the music side of things have taken a seat WAY in the back of my head.

In the middle of this I somehow bought myself a laptop computer. I'd been looking for a new system to replace the computer I'm using now to get on the internet and send my work out. So, on the advice of a friend, I bought the same computer he has. I got it in the mail and played with it a bit. Honestly, it felt kind of the same way it did when I walked out of Star Wars Episode 1. I didn't like the movie but felt I had so much invested in liking it that I couldn't admit to myself that it wasn't that good. I felt the same about the laptop. It sat on my shelf for a few days before I admitted to myself it wasn't the laptop for me and I brought it back. So now, while I'm still in the market for a laptop I'm a bit gun shy about pulling the trigger on a new one. I feel like I'll just mess it up all over again.

So, yeah, it's been a bit busy these days but I can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel and I've been relying on some late night bike rides through town to keep me sane.

OK, back to more day of inking on the interior of this kid's book and then its on to the computer to add some grays.