Webcomic Cover Pencils

Rough photo of the rough pencils for the webcomic cover. This is Savachia, the star of the first story arc in the comic. He’s a secondary character in the novel (an important one though) and we’ll get to see how he ended up in the Conjurian in the first webcomic series.

He’s a little bit of David Blaine and a dash of Criss Angel. More importantly, he’s not what you initially think.

Illustration Process: Flatting

Here we go with the boring part of this illustration: flatting. In essence I’m blocking in color, or in this case, grays. Each major section of the illustration gets colored in with a flat color (hence “flatting”) and they’re each on their own layer. There are several advantages to this approach.

First off, I can adjust the tones until I get the atmosphere I want. And get the focal points where I want them. Second, having each element on its own layer makes the detailing and texturing steps a lot easier.

It looks sloppy but here’s the flat stage:


Another illustration

Here we go with the second sample illustration from the novel. I’m doing a bit better recording the process on this drawing. This drawing shows the arrival of Christopher Aggler and the two spying faces of Alex and Emma. Here is the scanned inks:


As you can see, the drawing had to be scanned in two parts and pieced together in Photoshop. I line up the two scans as best I can then use the eraser to “blend” the seam. After that I mess with the levels to get nice, crisp line art:


Once I’ve rid myself of the blue pencil lines, I convert the image to grayscale, select the gray channel and fill it with black on a new layer. Now I have all the black lines on a transparent sheet which makes the coloring process easier.

In the next installment I’ll show the flatting process (insert yawn here).

Progress on the Illustration

Making some progress on one of the sample illustrations for the novel pitch. The first image is the start of the flatting process. Each element gets painted in with its own solid color. For this drawing I’m working in three sections: foreground, middle ground and the background. By keeping the elements separate, it’ll make it a lot easier later on to establish depth and get the tonal range right.


In the illustration below, I’ve finished the flatting and have started working on the lighting and textures. And you can see where I started adding some fog in the middle ground. That’s when having the elements on separate layers makes things easy.


Hopefully the next installment will have the finished piece.

Illustration Process


As you can see, this is not a continuation of the previous post on my illustration process.

This one is titled “The Gate” (you can see the inks for this in the main post at the top of the page). I’ve scanned the final drawing in and have started the painting process. I would love to color these by hand with just ink washes, but I don’t have the setup to scan in final product. So I’m recreating the same technique in Photoshop.

At this stage, I’m laying in my greys and only focusing on getting the tones right. Then I’ll build up the shadows and lights with light washes until I’m reasonably satisfied.

The edges are sloppy for now, as I’m creating a custom border for all the illustrations. Needless to say that’ll go on last.

Building an Illustration, Part II

Continuing off the sketches I posted last time, here are the pencils for the actual drawing:


And a little closer up:


As you can see I’m keeping the pencils almost as loose as a seagull. An that’s hard for me. For years, I worked for hours creating spandex tight pencils before whipping out the ink.  My main focus is on the composition and the lighting. And those are two things I’ve always slacked on in the past.

And if I’m being perfectly honest, if the novel sells, I’ll probably re-do the sample illustrations. Just like in writing, re-drawing what you think is a ready to go layout usually brings about better results.

One last pic. Here’s the beginning of the inking process. I’ll have more details and pics on that in the next post:


Also, in the coming posts, I’ll write a bit more about the tools I’m using on this project.

Building an Illustration

I’m creating three or four sample illustrations to go along with the sample chapters from the novel. Thought I’d share the process from doodles to completed drawing.

This first one is popped out of chapter two: the arrival of eleven strangers to the mansion, focusing on man in particular. Choosing what to illustrate is the same as rewriting a chapter. You have to whittle it down to what’s important, or more importantly, what moves the story forward.

If you look in the top right corner of the page below you can see a thumbnail idea for the final drawing layout. The rest is just playing around with details until something sticks.


Here’s another page showing more of the main focus of the illustration. I’ve decided to go with more of a worms perspective, so the straight on guy in front of car is out. Although I think the sketch of the character is on track.


Also wanted to mention a charity cookbook project. I contributed a cartoon featuring Doug and Sophie. You can click on the link below to learn more and hopefully donate:


A long and winding road.

Hark! A new post! Indeed it is. Rather staggering when I look back at when I first started “The Conjurers”. It has been a wild road. Between then and now, I’ve published two books and have another picture book wrapped and ready for release next fall. Wedged in their also is book one for “Fussbucket” and of course the daily chronicles of Doug and Sophie.

So where am I now? In short I’m finishing up another from scratch pitch for “The Conjurers”. It consists of three chapters of text and a few sample illustrations. And that is what I’ll be documenting here, starting now. There’ll be posts on the re-writing process and, once my agent has something to show, bits and pieces about the hopeful sale of the novel.

mansion1_detail Let’s kick it off with the most recent piece of art. These are the preliminary inks for an illustration of the mansion at the beginning of the book. I’ve gone around the block multiple times on what style i want to use, and I think I’m close. The initial drawings are loose, sketchy but detailed inks. From there I’ll scan it in, add some grey washes in photoshop and a stylized border to fit the tone of the book. Seems like a lot of work to make a drawing look relatively haphazard and a touch sloppy.

Stay tuned. Lots more to come.

New Podcast up at Tall Tale

Tall Tale Features

This was a fun podcast. Of course doing any podcast with Tom Racine is a joy. The man is smooth. And I also got to chat with Francesco Marciuliano, an infinitely talented cartoonist and writer. Mike Witmer, the brilliant mind behind “Pinkerton” also swung by. We mostly chatted about the big man Berke Breathed ending Opus. So pop over and turn it on:

Tall Tale Features » Episode 5 – Talkin’ Berke

Dog eat Doug: It's a Good Thing They're Cute       Nighty Night, Sleepy Sleeps Dog eat Doug Book Store

Super Fogeys in Print

The SuperFogeys: "Dictator Tot's Revenge" Collected Works 3Honest to God, I was like a kid at Christmas today. The first three issues of Super Fogeys came in the mail! Now I’ve read them all online, but getting those books today reminded how cool it is to see your favorite strips in print.
The SuperFogeys: "The Techno Shuffle" Collected Works 2
Comic books still have the lead in the resolution game, not to mention the nostalgia of a lifelong addiction to the printed sequential medium. So now, if you’re new to SF, these books are a great way to get started, and you don’t have to worry about battery life while trying to get through all the strips. And if you’ve been a fan of SF and are all caught up on all the Space Pig goodness, you’ll treasure these books even more.

The SuperFogeys

The Nightmare Revisited

Dog eat Doug: It's a Good Thing They're CuteI just can’t say enough on how much this movie has inspired me over the years. And obviously judging by this album I’m not close to alone.

I also have the original children’s book Burton published. Absolutely one of the prizes of my pic book collection (I mean my son’s collection…ahem).


Just a note to check out the Guest Strip Project that benefits the Make A Wish Foundation. New strips everyday and hopefully lots of donations:

Today’s the day for our first event as such, the Donationathon. Every
day this whole month we’re doing a strip every single day to raise
money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Don’t forget to read every single day and also hit the donate button every so often too!!!!


What could get me to go to Vegas?

I don’t gamble but I love casinos. Figure that one out. Not enough to go to visit. I love magic. In fact I’ve been practicing and performing magic since second grade. Vegas has lots of great magicians. Still not enough to make me go.

Combine Criss Angel and Cirque du Soleil? Ah, that might just push me to the ticket counter.

Either way, you need to check out the website. Just went live:

Cirque du Soleil – Believe