Blog Archives

Under the dome

I was recently told by someone that they are tired of spacesuits with domed, or bubble-helmets. For some reason, those have always appealed to me. I want to say it’s because you can see the expression of the person inside, or maybe I always thought that mask-like helmets are better suited for combat armor or robots. It’s also possible that I add them to my spacesuits so often because they’re easier to draw…

Whatever the reason, I’m trying something different.

I used Copic pens on tracing paper, taped over my sketchbook for this lil’ guy or gal.

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Food for thought

I always try to get away from the building I work in for lunch. I work long days and am unbelievably busy just about every minute I’m there. So, it’s really essential that I am not thinking or talking about work for at least an hour around mid-day.

Sometimes I read. Often I watch something online, but once in a while I’ll draw.

Living in Oklahoma City is very different than living in San Francisco. The sight of a guy in business clothes with a sketchpad out is unusual here, and I get weird looks quite often. That didn’t stop me today, though!

Getting ready… for action!

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…

Shades of gray.

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.

FRx6

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.

How I learned to love a robot.

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):

FRx4

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:

FRx1

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:

FRx2

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:

FRx3

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:

FRx4

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!