Category Archives: Commisions
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!
Back to ol’ Thunderbird again. I rarely draw superheroes, but I’ve got a need for a good understanding of this discarded mutant. So, I end trying out different versions of him time and again. The problem is, it’s hard to find good reference for this guy. Even within one book, there’s a rather large variation of what his details are. This problem is only increased by his ability to morph into a radically different version when angered. Anyway, I did my best, but I know I forgot the little gauntlets he’s supposed to have popping off his meaty forearms.
I had lots of fun drawing Thunderbird. Because of his powers and variable appearance, I felt it was a good excuse to exaggerate proportions and just enjoy myself. Then, I went after him with Copic markers, and there’s nothing more fun than coloring a solid drawing with those! The only thing I’m not completely satisfied with is the red tones. It looks like my scanner couldn’t pick up the variation of that color, as I had actually used a darker value in many places. Oh well, maybe I’ll go over the piece again with some warm gray in those areas…
One of my favorite things about Copics is the flexibility they have to be blended. here’s a revision of the first post after I went back and added some darker value to spots. I just took some warm and neutral grays to the areas where there was already flat (or at least lacking enough variation of) color, and now I think it looks much better.
I have a small surplus of pieces that came from commissions and projects that the client(s) failed to make payment for. I try to hang on to them for as long as possible in case the delinquent account does pay up, but this one has been waiting a couple of years. So, I assume they’re never coming back for it.
Here, then, is a wise Chinese-like sage, armed against those who would sass him. I thought he came out great, but I guess the person who contracted for him did not, leaving him a sad, awesome orphan…
Remember this one? A dedicated fan (hi, Milutin!) asked if I had a version of this spacesuit with suped-up arms, and I felt inspired to comply.
I always loved how out-of-poportion Mignola’s Hellboy is. That giant arm just makes him great. So, I definitely was influenced by that character when updating this design. I seriously thought about adding a gun on that right arm, but since I was going over-the-top on this one anyway, I thought I should just add the one thing no one concerned with the integrity of an environmental suit would have near them: Chainsaw!
You need those is space a lot, right?
The writer and co-creator of Father Robot, Kristopher White, came up with a great idea to promote our book for Father’s Day. Basically, Father Robot should participate in an old-fashioned photo op for the holiday. I couldn’t help but taunt Reggie (the real father of Clarabelle, the heroine of the story) in the piece, as seen below. Both Kristopher and the publisher like a friendlier version, but I still like this tongue-in-cheek version.
Wondercon was fun. I admit, my feelings were hurt when the event abandoned San Francisco under obvious, false pretenses, but having been down to experience the setup in Anaheim, I admit it’s better off there. The convention hall there is amazing, the hotels a few hundred feet away, and, best of all, food trucks were everywhere. No more over-priced bagel dogs for me! Seriously, the food trucks made that con.
So, I had a great time, but I have the feeling that was my last Wondercon as an exhibitor. It was just too expensive for the sales that came back and I’ve been having a better time at smaller cons. I met some great folks there, though, and that alone made it worthwhile. Also, our friends were down there with us, and that made for a great vacation.
While at the table, I got some fun drawings done. Here’s one:
Here’s the end-result of my custom remake of an old Nancy Drew cover. I didn’t try to replicate the illustration skills of those talented cover artists before me, but tried to put a new spin on an old concept and do it in my style. I’m pretty happy with the result. Although, I do wish the composition was a little bit closer to the initial sketch/study.
As you can probably tell that, after finishing it, I traveled back in time and left it in a public library, just so it would get that worn-in, well-loved, dog-earred look to it. Sweet.