Wednesday, January 26, 2011

For your consideration, Mr. Lee and Mr. McFarlane

A few years ago when I had one of my dalliances with art, a friend of mine, who is a very talented writer, and I hashed out some ideas for a graphic novel. I even did a couple character sketches for him. But like most things I worked on back then, it sort of fizzled out. However, that was the past. Now there is a new and improved me (Me 2.0) who wants to follow through on projects and actually finish something.
This is the original character sketch
I did for one of the characters, Grim

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote to him and said I was hungry for a project...FEED ME! I asked him if he would be willing to work with me again on the graphic novel we came up with. That night he sent me a script. I am probably driving him crazy as of late because I send him concept art almost everyday. It sounds crazy but I think I am now addicted to drawing. When I am not drawing, I think about drawing. Everything I see, I think about how it would look on paper. 

While working on some character designs, I came across this art contest ad sponsored by the immortal Stan Lee and Todd McFarlane (creator of Spawn), which they would like to see submissions for new superheroes.  The winner gets to a trip to San Diego Comic-Con to meet Stan Lee and accept an award and more importantly, the winner also gets to take a trip to Todd McFarlane's studio in Arizona to sit with him and talk art and learn a few things. Another cool prize is that a limited run of action figures will be made of the winning character. How freakin' sweet is that???

Needless to say I was just a little excited about this and immediately began working on some new character pages. I will say that coming up with a design worthy to submit has been a challenge. However, its has been an extremely rewarding experience. I can't believe how quickly and creatively I am working. What normally would take me days to complete, I can design, draw, and ink (both pen and brush) a full 11x17 page in about 5 hours.I have been through several iterations of the character layouts the past few days and am having trouble figuring out which layouts works best. So I need your help dear reader(s). Please take a look at the 3 drawings below of the main characters of our novel, Smiley and Grim, and vote which one is best as well as give me any constructive feedback. Just put the number you like along with your feedback in the comments for this blog entry. I want to get this right because I am not only a perfectionist but I really want to win this contest...It's an amazing opportunity. Thanks!!
Smiley and Grim #1
Smiley and Grim #2
Smiley and Grim #3

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Jack of All Trades or a Master of One?

I know it's been a long time since my last post but I have still been working on my sketching every day. I've learned a lot these past few weeks, the most important of all is that I still have a long way to go. For Christmas, my lovely wife spoiled me and bought me a book of art by my favorite comic book artist, Jim Lee. Not only did she buy this book for me but she found a way to contact him and asked him to personalize the book for me. Lo and behold the below picture is what is drawn on the inside cover of my book along with his note. Needless to say I was as giddy and a school girl on Christmas day. It was definitely the best gift I've ever been given and I can't even begin to say how cool it was that Jim Lee took the time out of his schedule to do this and mail it to us. 

Once I had this book in my hands, I was immediately inspired to draw so I decided practices on some of Jim Lee's art for DC Comics holy trinity of characters: Wonder Woman, Superman, and Batman. The first sketch I worked on was Wonder Woman. This was a lot of fun since I rarely draw female characters and and I learned a new technique using a whiteout pen. The pen is used when adding highlights to areas that are all black...simple concept and ingenious!!!

The second sketch I did was  of Superman. This pic really got me to start paying attention to light sources in my work. I am also improving on my figures insofar as it relates to poses and muscles. Still struggling a little with faces and expressions but I know that will come with time.

The final drawing I worked on was of Batman (obviously, Jim Lee's original is on the right and mine is  below on the left). This one really made me appreciate how difficult it is to be a comic book artist and it opened my eyes as to how much I have yet to learn.  I need improvement in creating more drama in my figures...notice the difference in the extended leg of Nightwing in his and my drawing. Also, my Batman is running a bit more upright while his is leaning more forward adding a greater sense of motion and urgency to the picture. The area that is the most difficult to replicate is the background. The amount of detail that he spends on the background is incredible and it's the one thing that is often overlooked in comic books. The background is what makes the scene complete.

The thing that blows my mind is how observant you need to be to be able to properly draw backgrounds. You need to pay attention to everything...broken glass, crushed soda cans, buildings, cars, etc. More importantly, you need to be able to draw them accurately. Therefore, a comic book artist needs to be a Jack of All Trades...they need to be an architect, car designer, fashion designer, even a florist to make their art believable. 

 It's a little overwhelming to think about that but it has truly opened my eyes to a new way of seeing the world.  I am finally starting to get what Da Vinci was talking about when he said Saper Vadere, "To know how to see." I am starting to look at everything like a crime scene...paying attention to every little detail. You never know when you will need to draw an archway or a Prius with a dented quarter panel. Until next week folks...SAPER VEDERE!!