Like a bolt out of the blue, the desire to create and produce new artwork just comes back. I've been wanting to draw for some time, but wanting to and feeling compelled to are different things. Life gets busy, priorities can change, and time becomes a thief. However, when that itch finds its way under your skin, there's nothing for it except to start scratching…
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 almost never draw superheroes. It’s usually robots, spacesuits, starships… or robots in spacesuits on starships. Well, recently I had a good reason to draw Superman, and while I can’t share that one, this drawing of Green Lantern came out of the process of getting the pose for that drawing down.
I used some good ol’ Copic multiliners (technical pens) to lay down some nice, clean lines, and then I use some Adobe apps to clean things up and smooth the rough edges.
I’d like to color it this week if I have time. So, maybe look forward to that!
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.
John Scalzi got me again. This time, while reading Zoe’s Tale, I became obsessed with what the wild, native werewolves on some alien world look like, only to find no other reference online. So, I’ve made my own again. In the book, they are intelligent and four-eyed, but not in a nerdy way. They hunted the human colonists at times, though, and so got introduced to modern weaponry from time to time…
The line work was done by hand, cleaned up with good ol’ Adobe CS5, and then I colored a print out on marker paper with my trusty Copics.
With this rig, you’d be ready for anything.
I wanted this space suit to have the look of “too much” room inside the helmet. One thing that always bugs me about the space suits I see in movies, comics, and even my own artwork is that it always looks like the person’s head is going to bounce off the inside of the helmet if they got a good shakin’. Unless the neck is being secured by some kind of collar, there’s still many degrees of head movement, and in the rough environments these suits are made for, one is going to end up getting a bruise from numerous smacks against that protective covering.
This design would not only keep that from happening, but leaves lots of room for screens, cushioning, windows, and communication equipment. Since the technology involved with such suits would be able to see the surroundings better than the human eye (through thick glass), the front-facing port is above the wearers head and service a camera. The person inside has a screen in center-view, and would be able to take advantage of a range of vision types.
I got the look I wanted for this one by drawing the suit by hand, scanning it into the digital realm, and then printing out several copies of the lifework on marker paper. I then did the value and local color separately, with Copic markers, combined them in Photoshop, and did a little clean-up and tweaking to get the image you see here. It was lots of fun.
I love a good comic convention, but I sure do hate having to go back to work after a day full of traveling. Sigh…
Back to the grind it is, though. My time spent at Rose City Comic Con was worth it, because I feel rejuvenated to draw more cool stuff and post it here for you cool folks. Here’s a little sketch I did at the table on Sunday, augmented with a helmet/bubble in good ol’ Photoshop…
He started off with shorter legs, but after looking around at all the great work I was surrounded with at the convention, I decided to try and break the “proportional mold” I often fin myself stuck drawing in. So, long legs for you, fatty. You can’t tell it in this sketch, but this good-lookin’ fella is a total jerk. He would steal your keys just for a laugh.
So, I’ve decided this is Father Robot during his little-known high school football years. Here we have him executing some deft maneuver before catching the pass to score the winning touchdown, bringing the home team victory over the evil town just to the south…
Anyway, this is FR with a little variation in design. There different elements to him here than in the comic, and the colors are all changed. My favorite are the wings upside the head.
I worked the pencils for this at Emerald City Comicon, the inks at Wondercon, and then added the colors and value with my treasured Copic collection this week at home (and at work). At first, I was sure this drawing was a lost cause, as I didn’t really like where it was going in the sketch phase(s), but I like how it’s turned out. You never know what a piece can turn in to if you give it a little love.