Throughout the 80’s, Hayao Miyazaki created a comic called Nausicaä. I didn’t discover the series until about 10 years ago, but I was blown away by the style it was done in. There was a lot of hashing instead of solid blacks (for shading) and everything was done in a kind of loose, organic line work. It created such a unique feel for everything, and really even created a mood for the whole world. I feel like these 3-value drawings of Father Robot I’ve done in the past couple of days remind me of how Nausicaä made me feel back when I first read it. Not that it’s in the same style or anywhere near as well-rendered, but I do like how this has come out.
Again, this was done with Copic technical pens and sketch markers. I got a little more variation in value by blending the markers together when I could.
Someone asked me at the last comic convention my process for creating drawings. At the time I was working on commissions I had received at that event, which could be anything from superheroes to caricatures of the attendee, but normally they were good ol’ robots. This is what happened when both your table banners feature giant robots. At the table, I work a lot faster than I do in my studio and erase all my pencil lines, but I thought I’d share my ideal process, when I have more time and all my gear, here for you all. So, let’s start at the end. Then, scroll down and I’ll lay out the process a little but more. Here’s the end-product, a hand-drawn bust of Father Robot with value (shading):
To get to this, I first lay down a bunch of wild sketches with light blue (non-photo) pencils. Because I am an extremely messy sketcher, I prefer a very light pencil that erases completely. Some brands are very greasy and, even if used lightly, don’t erase very easily. This is important if you plan to “color” directly on the original drawing later. This pencil lines need to be able to be removed, or maybe I just want to be able to correct the shape with an eraser. I prefer Prismacolor Col-Erase pencils. It ends up being very vague and light:
Then I come back with either a soft, dark lead either in normal gray/black graphite or a drake color of blue. I like art pencils, but any ol’ pencil will do, preferably (for me) 2B or harder. While traveling, I carry mechanical pencils with me, with a variety of leads preloaded. With the right tool in-hand, I render a clearer drawing that’s going to be pretty close to the product I want to end up with:
After that, I can draw right over the top on the pencil lines with ink. Sometimes the paper won’t take the ink if the pencil was to greasy or too much drawing was done. So, I can just lay a piece of tracing paper, vellum, or, in this case, marker paper over the sketch and draw clean, inked, line work. This process is also good if I want to make multiple drawings from one sketch or I know there’s something I want to fix in the composition. Here’s the result with Copic technical pens on some Bienfang Graphics 360 marker paper:
As you can see, I wanted to turn the eyes a bit and feel free to sketch some more details of the neck and the body around the head, but for the most part it retains the point of the original sketch. Then I get out my Copic markers and just have fun. When I’m at conventions, I try to bring at least a dozen different values with me to do commissions, but on this, non-con, trip I’m on currently, I only carried three values, or shades, with me. I can compensate for this lack of variety by working fast and laying down, then blending, two values together with the pigment is still wet. I think I got a pretty good result! Here it is again:
That’s about it. If I work fast, I can get a piece like this done in a little over half an hour. I spent more time on that for this one because no one was waiting for it. Hope you enjoy a little peak into my work process!
I did some drawings of Father Robot’s head yesterday and, after I finished, I decided that I liked one for a new profile pic of FR’s Facebook page. It’s nice to feel “back in the saddle” with this book. I think I’ve had some real hang-ups about finishing the series, but even doing a couple of little drawings of this big lug have made me realize how much I like him. So, look forward to lots more of this kooky automaton and enjoy this image.
I drew the line work traditionally, with Copic technical pens, but cleaned it up in Photoshop and Illustrator. The coloring was all done in Photoshop, using my buddy‘s Cintique (it was my first time to use one for coloring!) Of course, all lettering is done in Illustrator.
Just warming up with a little Father Robot today. I miss this guy!
I forget how hard he can actually be do draw. When I designed him it was from some very static poses, which I was able to set up with some profiles and shapes I found very pleasing. Twisting and turning him all around, though, makes some problems for me. I always preferred him without his rocket-launching backpack. So, this is a little variation on the robot you see in my comic, with some new shoulder patches and forearm cannon as well.
This was done the old-fashioned way, with technical (Copic) pens on paper.
I’m trying to get momentum up and going for the next issue of Father Robot. So, this morning’s warm-up is this funky sketch of some poor, robot bastard who with lost the rest of his “jaw” or just had a real wicked designer. Because, what ‘bot doesn’t need some scary tusks to make his daily existence easier?
I started with his arm, which is my favorite part of any robot drawing. I don’t know why… and then I moved on to the creepy head. Once I got to the “waist”, though, I kind of lost interest. He deserves more care, I think, but it’ll have to wait for another day.
No matter how many times I study reference books, go to a live model study, or just look at my favorite artists’ work, I always end up slipping back into my old patterns of drawing folds. Those standard clothing fold that happen with all tight, hipster garb, regular fitted clothing, loose, oversize idiot-wear, or even the occasional spacesuit have some definite rules to follow. I can’t help but ignore some of them. So, I try to constantly retain myself with what clothing does on certain limbs, joints, body types, tension points, and all that jazz. It’s a losing battle. If I don’t keep up on it, i always revert back to bad habits.
Anyway, here was a warm-up space suit I did this morning, trying to get my folds focused.
I used a Copic drawing pen. I love the feel of the thing, but the one I bought has the most inconsistent ink flow of any tool I own. Sigh…
Have you heard that when you live in zero gravity for extended periods of time, you’re eyeballs start to squish? That’s amazing! I’m a pretty big fan of all-things-spacey, but this is news to me. Not good news, I guess, but still interesting…
So, I assume that any career spacers would need robot eyes pretty soon. I sketched this guy out this morning, inspired by the need for my space-suited characters to have mechanical lenses instead of stupid, squishable, meat balls for seeing all the awesome stuff out there in the cosmos. Also, it seemed right to give him a little cone head too.
Still loving the pillowy, fluffed-ot space suits for now.
When I do a turnaround for a new design, I always include a silhouette. This helps me to make sure I have the shape and style right, that i’m not going to start using a concept that isn’t going to end up fitting correctly for what i need it to. Also, silhouettes are great shortcuts for storytelling, especially when you’re just totally burnt out on drawing the same character over and over again. My designs tend to be heavy on detail (because I LOVE details!), so it’s nice to know that the overall shape is clear too.
This is the silhouette from the lady’s space suit in the Garman Hagland project.
You may recognize the pose from other work I’ve recently put up. That’s because I reworked the pencils, laid down some vellum, and re-inked the drawing to try a little variation of the regular suit. I really like the “puffy”, padded kind of space suit fabric, and while I didn’t commit to covering every section with that here, I still think it’s an improvement.
I only had one-sized pen with me today, so I didn’t get a lot of line thickness variation. However, some a little practice piece, I’m pretty happy with it.