Supergirl 38

Here is the cover to Supergirl issue 38. It is drawn in ink and colored in Photoshop. It grew increasingly colorful and "glowy" as I went along. When I started out, I rendered the background character (Superwoman) in natural light, with a lot of contrast and a fair amount of detail. Unfortunately, it looked like a Sears portrait, so I kept working on it. I knew what I wanted, something atmospheric and somewhat cosmic, but for whatever reason, I kept drawing a blank on how to do it. Eventually, with a lot of constructive criticism from my wife, I stumbled onto something that worked well enough.

My wife also had me reduce the size of Supergirl's left hand, which was originally rather large, although I didn't see it as the enormous baseball mitt that my wife did. Apparently, I tend to draw overly large hands with some regularity. I have also learned that I am inclined to draw gigantic heads. My wife claims that Supergirl's noggin on the cover of issue 35, the newspaper cover, is a good example of my pumpkin-headed tendencies.

For those of you who check the comic book solicitations in the Previews catalog, you can see the earliest incarnation of this issue's cover in the solicitations. I couldn't finish it completely in time to make the catalog's deadline, so we had to go with what I had completed at that time. You can imagine your own wagon wheel and scenic backdrop.

Thanks for looking,



Supergirl lines

I've had several requests to share more line art along with the finished color work. To satisfy those requests and pass some time while I finish up some more work, here is the line art for two recent Supergirl covers.

Both are drawn in ink, but the Supergirl versus Silver Banshee image is drawn in my more typical fine-line style, with great attention given to each line. On the other hand, the Superwoman descending image is a little bit of a departure in that I first sketched the figure in blue pencil with a fair amount of midtones and rendering. Unsure of how to approach the final line art, I eventually threw caution to the wind and went at it with the pens, replacing the blue shading with linework. If you go back and look at the final color version in my October 18th post, you will see that I wound up coloring out a lot of the linework anyway, but it did serve as a good foundation for the color by injecting some movement in the line.

How those first strokes go down on the paper can really influence the final look of an image, no matter how much time we spend on it. It is sometimes good to mix things up a little in the early stages to force a new approach when finishing the image- more opportunities for experimentation and the blessed happy accident.

Also, for those folks who have been contacting me about purchasing original art, I will have more art available soon (including the above drawings), so please keep checking the blog for updates.

Thanks very much to everyone for their interest.



The Silver Door

This is the wraparound cover for "The Silver Door", the forthcoming sequel to "The Ruby Key" from Holly Lisle's "Moon and Sun" series of fantasy novels from Scholastic.

The line art was drawn in ink and colored in Painter and Photoshop. I designed the dragon/bird ship based on notes and sketches from the author, although I kind of went off on my own a bit with the flourishes in the armor.

Perhaps the biggest challenge of this cover was settling on the size of the ship. Although the author's original notes had the ship substantially larger, it was decided that my initial layouts left the characters too small. After a lot of discussion with the editor and several more passes at the layout, I had to adjust the scale of the ship quite a bit, reducing its size relative to the characters in order to make them more visible.

This is a common dilemma in illustration; it is very easy to imagine characters riding a giant beast, or in the window of a huge castle, but when artists are asked to draw such a scene while capturing both the human-sized characters (even their smiling faces) along with the gigantic elements, it is often an impossible task. I first ran into this trouble when I started in comic books, with writers describing impossible panels: "A massive star-destroyer is hurtling through space, weaving through meteors. Through the cockpit glass, we see the captain gritting his teeth." There are many more examples, but in every case, it's an impossible panel that leads to one irritated artist.

But that's the challenge, and in this case, the ship had to be reduced. As it is, it is still easy to miss the cat!

As always, thanks for stopping by.



Two more Vixen covers

Here are the covers to issues 3 and 4 of DC Comics' "Vixen" limited series. We are continuing with the theme of Vixen and animals.

The one with the birds is the cover to the fourth issue. The editor requested the image, and I mentioned that I had already done something very similar with a Supergirl cover a while back (as well as a Sky between Branches image even earlier), but since the Supergirl image has yet to see print, we figured it was okay.

I drew the Vixen cover in Japan and colored it on a laptop without referencing my earlier Supergirl cover. After coming home and seeing them together, I realized they are much more similar than I had imagined.

Now that I think about it, Vixen's pose in the third cover (running with the antelope) is rather similar to a Flash cover I did a while back, too. Wow, I am apparently completely out of ideas for poses.

I've been stepping all over my own toes. I'd better move along.



Supergirl 37

Here is the cover to Supergirl issue 37, which actually features Superwoman. The cover follows a theme DC is running through several books the same month, with a character on a black background and up-lighting of some sort.

More soon-



Supergirl 35 (or 36)

Here is the cover to Supergirl issue 35, my second as regular cover artist. -UPDATE: It seems that there is an Alex Ross cover lined up for issue 35, so this cover will probably run as the cover for issue 36. I apologize for any confusion.-

I am sorry for not posting more frequently. I will try to pick up the pace!

Thanks for stopping by.



Vixen and Jackals

Here is the cover to the second issue of the upcoming 5-issue Vixen miniseries for DC Comics (The image of Vixen and a lion I posted a while back will be the cover for the first issue).




Supergirl 34

DC has just released this image, so I will share it here, too. This is the cover to Supergirl issue 34, my first cover as the new regular cover artist for the Supergirl monthly series.

The idea of having Supergirl and Silver Banshee busting out of a newspaper article came from DC (I believe the new writer, Sterling Gates, suggested it originally) and after sketching a bit, I thought it would be nice to make the cover itself the newspaper, incorporating the logo and other trade dress into the design, rather than showing a newspaper sitting on a table or something. DC liked the idea, so I set to work figuring out how to incorporate all of the text. DC was kind enough to provide me with all of the logos so that I could marry them to the drawing naturally.

In the end, placing the text was a bit of a pain, especially on the torn pieces from the reverse side of the paper. I actually cut up some newspapers to figure it out. I hope the end result is worth all of the effort. I did learn a bit more about Photoshop's text editing tools, which are more powerful than I had realized.

Fans of the series with a careful eye may be able to piece together some story "Easter eggs" in the various headlines.

I am already working on the next one, which might also incorporate the logo into the art in an interesting way. I'm going to try to keep it interesting every month.

Thanks for stopping by,



The War That Time Forgot

Here is a cover I did a little while ago for an upcoming issue of The War That Time Forgot, a DC Comics series which looks to be a lot of fun. It is nice to see a book with a classic, fantastic adventure feel to it.

Perhaps the classic feel of the book influenced my approach to the cover as well, which I drew in a more traditional "comic book" style, with spotted blacks and line weights in ink (although I colorized a lot of the black while coloring in Photoshop).

I will have more work and more news soon, including some info on my new regular cover assignment for DC. Thanks as always for stopping by and having a look.



Long walk

Here is a little digital sketch done primarily with Painter, with a touch of Photoshop here and there. Once again, I was just experimenting a bit between jobs. I didn't give much thought to the composition and it is a little too symmetrical as a result, but I did make an effort to keep it simple and to stay away from making tons of global adjustments or playing around with filters, instead trying to choose the right colors and put them in the right places.

It's not spectacular, but at least it pushes Hitchcock down a notch.

As always, thanks for stopping by.




I'm sorry I have been away so long. I have been working on all sorts of things, but don't have much I can share just yet. I do have this Vixen cover I put together a few weeks ago.

This one was tough, so much so that I completely scrapped a completed version of the pencils and started over, something I have only done once or twice before. My first pass at it was just too realistic, as I leaned on reference too much. I had completely rendered it in pencil, but after a lot of wasted time trying to "fix" it, I decided to give up and start over. It just isn't possible to make something bigger once it has been put down small.

The second time around, I drew more from my head, and was much happier with the figure in the end. The lion could have been pushed more, but I was running out of time (a shame, since I really love lions. I'll have to find an excuse to draw some more...), so I went with something fairly plain jane.

My first abandoned pass wasn't a total loss, however, since I scanned it to use the shaded tones as a basic shade layer for the new one, albeit with massive cranking of the levels to lose the pencil texture.

I should also mention that I swiped myself for the pose: I drew a Princess Leia for the inimitable John H. a while back and decided to build on that. Just picture Jabba instead of the lion.

Well, there you have it. I will have some more stuff soon, and some news about upcoming projects.

Thanks for looking,



Girl in black

Continuing the series of character designs started with the last post. Ink and Photoshop. I don't think she will mind me saying that all of these characters are based on descriptions by the gracious Barbara Canepa.



I noticed these images were saved as a draft I never got around to posting. I can't recall if I shared some of these in another post, so forgive me if there are some repeats in here. These are some character designs I was working on a while back. The project hasn't been realized, so I won't say too much about these drawings, other than they were drawn in pencil and colored in Painter.





Here is an image I co-created with the lovely and talented Barbara Canepa to help promote the new "Metamorphose" imprint of Bande Dessinée (French "comic" books) for Soleil, a dynamic publisher in France. This image was used as a fold-out poster in a new Soleil catalog released for Angoulême, France's premier Bande Dessinée festival, which just occurred a week or so ago.

For those of you who may not know, Barbara Canepa is a talented artist and writer, and is behind the highly successful Sky Doll series (amongst several other things), which is soon to be published in the United States by Marvel Comics.

For this poster, I drew the basic layout and imagery based on Barbara's direction, and then handed it off to Barbara to finish. She tweaked the colors, re-arranged some of my drawn elements, and added the lettering to bring the whole thing together. The images in the ovals are from each of the three new series the poster is promoting. My part was drawn in pencil and colored in Photoshop.

As many of you must know, France is a world-leader in the production and appreciation of sophisticated, diverse, and beautifully executed sequential illustration. It would do most of the American comics audience a world of good to look beyond their fetishistic fascination with putridly colored men-in-tights to the wonders being drawn in France and around the globe.




Here is a look at the first of a series of covers I am working on featuring DC Comics' heroines. I will post details on where and when they will be published when that information becomes available.

Along with the Photoshop-colored finish, I have posted a detail image to better show the line quality, something I am often asked about. I have also posted the art as it looks on the board, and finally the original thumbnail sketch I sent my editor for approval.

Supergirl's pose was inspired by a picture of a Japanese model kit/figurine I spotted while flipping through a magazine. I don't know anything about the figurine, but I sure wish I owned it. The Japanese are the best sculptors in the business. I was approached many years ago with the possibility of producing a statue based on the Psylocke cover I did for Marvel. My delight quickly turned to horror with the realization that the sculpting would be done by the same folks responsible for the many American superhero busts and action figure abominations out there. Thankfully, it was never produced. I still look forward to the day when I can be involved in the production of a high-quality figure with one of the good Japanese outfits. I'd love to see some figures based on Sky Between Branches characters gracing my shelf one day.

Speaking of Branches, some of you may notice the composition/theme of this Supergirl piece is very similar to a Sky Between Branches image I produced a while back. Let's all just pretend I am not completely out of ideas.

Thanks for stopping by.



Happy New Year- and last JLA cover

Happy New Year! I hope 2008 is a fruitful and productive year for us all. Best wishes to each and every one of you!

Here is my last cover of 2007, completed a couple of days ago. It also completes the JLA Classified arc. Although this cover doesn't really look like "me", it was fairly enjoyable to work on. The original is drawn in pencil, and the rock formations were shaded in pencil as well, which provided a nice textured base for the color, which was done in Photoshop CS2.

I'm not much for resolutions, but I do plan on making 2008 a strong creative year. The stars have been aligning to that end, and I am excited to share more personal work in the coming months. Endless thanks to all of those who have kept an interest in my work.

More soon,