Friday, July 29, 2011

Another Spider-Man

So, above is my newest piece. Let me first say that I LOVE Spider-Man, and if anyone cares to know, yes I'm excited about the movie reboot! I think Andrew Garfield is a perfect casting decision. But before I lose myself and go off on a tangent about that lets talk about this piece. Spider-Man is probably one of if not my favorite character to draw. I don't really know why, maybe it has something to do with how you can contort him into virtually any position and it still looks correct. Or maybe it's that his costume is one of the most well designed costumes in all of comicdom (In My Opinion). I'm not really sure I just know I love to draw him.

Now I was thinking of doing another tutorial for this, but process wise not much really changed between this and the last Hellboy piece with how I constructed the image. So to avoid redundancy I didn't make a full blown tutorial but I did post images of the various steps from start to finish with a few comments under each one. Enjoy!
Above is the initial sketch I did in my sketch book. It took me a long time to get it so the legs didn't look weird. I think I managed it but if I stare at it for too long he looks very strange.

Next I lightboxed the drawing from my sketchbook onto Canson Marker paper and blue lined in the basic pattern of the city behind Spidey.
I then spent probably 5-7 hours painstakingly referencing and drawing buildings. This was a piece where the architecture was something I really wanted to get right. I've noticed that I often don't put enough detail or character into my buildings and they often look very generic and dull. Or I cheat and just do a silhouetted skyline which can work but is sorta a cheat in a piece like this since there isn't much else going on. Hopefully I succeeded in making the buildings look believable and visually interesting.
As always inking is almost meditative for me. I spend so much time on my pencils that I don't really have to think much about the drawing while doing it. I actually have to admit that I used microns, for the buildings because using a crow quill for uniform line weight is just frustrating and ineffective. I did use a crow quill on Spidey to get more flowing lines. I have to say I didn't love the Canson paper as much as the mylar (which I discovered is officially called drafting film. at least in Utrecht) but it was sufficient and got the job done.

The gradations on the buildings were done with a dried out black marker I had as well as black colored pencil. The nice thing about the colored pencil was that it gave a nice texture to the buildings which I'm not sure I could have accomplished as easily with ink wash.

The other benefit to that was when I did use the ink wash on Spider-Man, it gave his costume a smoother feel in contrast to the buildings. I'm glad this worked because texture is a really important aspect of drawing that I think is often overlooked. I'm in no way saying that I'm a master of texture but it is something I feel is important and something I'd like to improve on.

Once the inks were done I brought it into Photoshop and added a blue gradient background and flatted the image. The first image is just the very basic flat colors and the second image shows what it looked like after I erased the color out of the windows and tightened it up. I limited my color choice on the buildings to more muted reds and golds so that it wouldn't distract from Spider-Man and because brightly colored buildings are not the norm in a large city like New York.
This was just a bit of color variation. I selected the flat colors and added subtle gradation to add depth to the image.
Then I added some more texture to the buildings and the sky.


This was actually kinda an accident where I filled a layer with more blue than I meant to, but I kept it because I really liked how it made the image pop. I also started to add some lighting to the buildings and added a few clouds.

You can also see that I added high lights and shadow to Spider-Man using the lasso tool and an air brush technique. (Check out the Hellboy tutorial if you want a refresher on how that's done)
Next I added a light yellow-gold "glaze layer" to add an overall sunbathed feeling. I almost stopped here but something didn't quite feel done. You'll also notice that I converted the lines of the webbing to white in order to make it look less solid and more wispy and light.

This seems a bit complicated at first, but you basically select the lines of the image create a new layer and then choose a color and an area of the selection to fill in using a brush. I'll do a tutorial on this at some point
I decided that it felt a bit too yellow, so I added another overlay layer with a deep blue gradient to light blue (almost white) in order to cool down the lower half of the image.
Finally I added some, I guess you could call it sun glow? I'm not sure but it adds the effect of bright sunlight bouncing and glowing off the surfaces of the buildings and Spider-Man.

Overall I'm pretty happy with this and I feel accomplished with the image as a whole.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My entry for the Recreate a Hellboy Cover contest! (and a tutorial)

Original Cover

My Cover

Okay so I've been in a bit of an art slump lately and as such I haven't updated on here for a while. That being said I've got a good one today. There was a "Recreate a Hellboy Cover

Contest" Over on the Darkhorse comics blog that I was told about, so I decided to enter. (the winner will be announced on July 15th) I decided on the above cover because of the action and movement, plus Hellboy fighting skeletons is always a fun thing for me to draw.

However My process for constructing this piece was a bit different than my usual process so I thought to make up for my lack of posting I'd do a process blog on how I got to the final illustration. So I'll now bore you all with a tutorial and a crazy amount of pictures chronicling how I did this from start to finish!


This is the thumbnail I decided to go with. More or less the same as Mignola's original design with slightly altered poses.

I drew my preliminary sketch with blue colored pencil. This allowed me to get all my searching lines down without having to worry about erasing them when I was going back in for detail. I just recently started using this technique after resisting it for years and I now Highly recommend it.



It allows the regular pencil lines to be a lot cleaner and more thoughtfully placed since you already have the skeleton of the drawing finished on another "layer". You can then mainly think about clarifying detail and not have to worry about erasing the understructure of your drawing while simultaneously trying to clarify the details.
In short, it works well. Try it! I mainly used a mechanical pencil and an HB for the larger shading areas.

This was a very different step for me. Normally when I ink I do it either straight on the original pencil drawing or on another piece of bristol with a light box. This time though I overlayed a sheet of transparent lightly frosted Mylar/Vellum. Honestly I'm not exactly sure what the proper name is because I've heard it called many things. However I do know that whatever it's called I need more of it because I really love to ink on it! It just lets the ink move so freely and smoothly. If you can afford to get some of this stuff do it! It is kinda expensive, but worth it.

I primarily inked with a crow quill dip pen, but I used brush to fill the larger black areas. I did adjust the levels on Photoshop a bit to make it a bit more crisp.

Now we get to the coloring. I'm using Adobe Photoshop CS5 for this but most versions of photoshop can be used for this tutorial. As you can see I started with the dreaded "EVIL GRADIENT". I know it's sorta looked down on but I do use gradients and it is normally how I start a piece. I do this because it makes it easier to create a color palette for a piece. It's harder to go out of your palette if the base color(s) are staring you in the face the whole time you're making a piece. As long as it's obscured by the time you reach a finish it's a good tool.

I should also mention that if you are unaware of how to separate your line drawing onto a separate layer in Photoshop and color under it there are a few ways and many tutorials online. This tutorial demonstrates the process which I use.

Next I went in and laid down some flat colors for the figures and the rocks. I just used a normal "hard round" brush at 100% opacity for this. I should also note that these colors are being applied on a new layer, called "flats", which I place under linework layer but above my gradient layer.

Then I went in and created another layer between my "flats" layer and the gradient layer to add some texture. I used some custom brushes for this.

I then used a new coloring technique I found on this youtube video demonstrating a simple way to add highlights and shadows using the lasso tool and a normal airbrush at 30% opacity. Although I'm sure you could experiment with other brushes. I recommend watching this video if your piece often starts getting overworked at this point like mine tended to. I often had trouble knowing when to stop adding highlights and shadows, and the image became muddled and I'd have to spend hours to make it look right. But, the video linked above splits it into a process of steps that is much more efficient and in the end yields better results in half the time.

...I apologize if I began to sound like an infomercial for a second there.

It works though!

Next I added some clouds and slight mist using custom brushes.

Finally I added a dark rust and phthalo blue gradient on a new overlay layer ( about 60% layer opacity) to add a bit more vibrancy to the color, and also unify the colors just a bit more. This layer was placed on top of all my other layers so that it would effect all of them. This is similar to the effect you'd get by glazing a painting.

Then I more or less lifted the typography off of the original cover including the bottom banner. I'm really happy with this and feel like I've made a few jumps in skill level with this piece. So even if I don't win the contest I at least have a new illustration I'm proud of.

If somehow I missed something in this tutorial leave me a question in the comments and I'll do my best to answer it.

Also, Hellboy and all related characters are © of Mike Mignola.