Supergirl 49

Here is the cover for Supergirl 49. I am too busy at the moment to provide much commentary, but I will try to post some process shots and info when I have some more time.

As always, thanks for stopping by.



Sämmtliche Gedichte

Here is a cover I did a while back for Sämmtliche Gedichte, a German-language novel written by Dietmar Dath.

From the beginning, the author knew that he wanted a fairly straightforward shot of the Amelia Earhart-type character, so my thumbnails were basic compositional variations of this image. It was ultimately decided that I go for the most direct version.

When drawing an image like this, where there is one central figure with little movement and few background elements, the smallest details can significantly change the feel of the image. In this case, I recall a debate about how to direct the eyes- originally, I had her looking straight at the viewer, which can be engaging or even intimidating depending on the expression, but we decided it would be more in her character to direct the gaze slightly away from the viewer, creating a little distance.

The image was sketched in pencil, then inked with a brush and pen, and colored in Photoshop and Painter. I established the basic color design during the thumbnail stage, which is always very helpful since it can save a lot of time screwing around with colors in Photoshop when the deadline is creeping up. It is sometimes good to have a plan.*

Thanks for stopping by.


*even if you choose to completely ignore it at least half of the time. Sometimes it seems my favorite plan is coming up with a new plan.


Supergirl 48

Here is yet another Supergirl cover, issue 48, along with some process shots.

As you can see from the above thumbnail, the final image stayed pretty close to my initial concept. In fact, when I was adding some color to the thumbnail in Photoshop to submit for editorial approval, I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to reproduce the "scream ring" effect on the final- I was just screwing around when I came up with it and couldn't remember exactly how I did it, but I liked it. My goal was to get the final cover pretty close to the thumbnail.

I agonized over how to draw the actual cover; I knew that it would technically be much easier to draw Silver Banshee and Supergirl on two different pieces of paper so that I could work with them separately in PS, but I would be sacrificing a nicer looking piece of finished art. In the end, practicality won, and I have yet another cover drawn in pieces. It was the right choice, however, because having Supergirl on her own layer floating over Silver Banshee allowed me to add all of the effects without having to make selections or deal with weird edges around Supergirl. I was also able to adjust Supergirl's size and position with ease since there was a complete background behind her, which is pictured above before making any adjustments. I drew Silver Banshee in blue pencil, then inked her with a brush and india ink.

Above is Supergirl as she was drawn on a vellum overlay. Vellum is like a heavy tracing paper, so the transparency allowed me to draw her basically where I wanted her over the background. Supergirl was first drawn with blue pencil on a sheet of vellum, then I laid another sheet on top of that and drew the final lines in ink with a pen. I could have just inked directly over the blue pencils, but I was really struggling with some parts of the drawing (including the skirt, as usual) and wound up with a lot of smeared pencil. Vellum is easily erasable, so pencils can smear, and sometimes ink doesn't want to stick. A fresh sheet took care of the problem.

The color was done in Photoshop, and I tried to keep it fairly simple. The most important part was getting the balance right between Supergirl and the black and white background so that the contrast is striking, yet reads well. I had to lighten the background a touch and added a little bit of a soft halo of white around Supergirl to help pop her off the background. After staring at it for a while and nearly getting dizzy, I decided it was done.

Thanks as always for stopping by.



Supergirl 46 and 47

I am very sorry for the long wait between posts. I'm still quite busy, but I hope to get back to more frequent posts soon. In the meantime, here are a couple of Supergirl covers. You already saw the Hamlet-themed one when I posted it a little too early for DC's taste and had to take it down a couple of months ago. Now that it is finally on the schedule as issue 47, you can see it again.

More soon.




Here is the cover for Thresholds, an upcoming book from Viking Press.

I worked out the basic concept and color palette with a digital sketch in Photoshop, then drew the cover in pencil, scanned it, and colored it using the initial sketch as a foundation. I worked primarily in Photoshop, with a little bit of Painter here and there.

That's all for now.



Supergirl 45

Here is the cover for Supergirl 45. I will try to post some process shots in a future post. For now, enjoy the final image!



Supergirl 41 process pics

I was shooting a little reference for my next Supergirl cover when I noticed these old process pics from 41 still on the camera. For whatever reason, I never got around to posting them, so here they are now.

As you can see, I drew this cover in blue pencil, a Prismacolor Col-Erase 20044 Blue to be exact. I don't always draw in blue nowadays- it depends on the piece and how I am feeling at the time. In this case, I knew that I would be drawing the final in ink, so I decided to go with the blue and then straight to pen, skipping the graphite pencil altogether.

In the second image the blue pencil drawing is nearly done, save for Supergirl's skirt, which can be difficult to draw, although I generally enjoy drawing drapery. Maybe it is because her skirt is too short to allow for many folds, or because I often have to bend the rules of physics to protect Supergirl's modesty, but for whatever reason, the skirt is often drawn last. As you can see, I drew her entire body even though the skirt will cover her pelvis- it is very important to always "draw through" your images. You can see that Supergirl's leg is drawn through Superwoman's body as well.

Here I am inking the blue pencils, though I don't mean "inking" in the traditional comic book sense, in that I am not going in with lineweights and spotting blacks. I was after a simple line drawing so that I could have plenty of room for color later, so I just drew the image in ink in much the same way as I would if I were using a graphite pencil. There are occasions where I will ink with lineweights and spot heavier blacks, but then I would probably use a brush. When I choose not to ink at all and draw the final in graphite, it is usually because I want to maintain a little more delicacy to the drawing while working on it. After scanning and adjusting, it doesn't really matter what I used to draw the image as long as the line quality is good.

The pen is a regular disposable technical pen, of which there are several good brands. Most popular is probably the Pigma Micron series, which I like, but sometimes hurt my index finger due to the way I grip the pen (my finger falls right on the seam where the pen tapers for the cap to fit). Staedtler and Copic also make good pens. I think I am using a Copic Multiliner here. As is always the case, the best tools are what works for you.

I hope these pictures are of some interest. If nothing else, they help give a sense of scale to the art. As always, thanks for stopping by.



Supergirl 42

Here is the cover for Supergirl 42. Supergirl is heading to the pink energy-domed city of Kandor. The logo and other trade dress will obscure a fair amount of Supergirl on the published comic, which was my intention.

I made several complete planets in separate files before combining a few to create the small portion seen here. Now I have plenty of extra planets should I need them.



Supergirl 41

And here is the cover for Supergirl 41.

For whatever reason, the DC heroes always seem to beg for very saturated, pure colors. When I have tried to pull things back, it always looks odd to me, even though I often shy away from super-saturated colors in my other work. So once again, Supergirl and Superwoman are soaked with red and blue.

Something else to keep in mind about the covers I post here is that they are designed for print on a comic book, and as a result, they will never look as bright and shiny in the real world as they do on a glowing computer display. I have learned over the years to push the levels about 10% further than I think I should while working on the computer. By the time it sees print, it usually looks about right. Early on in my career, I was often frustrated that my printed work always seemed washed-out compared to what I was staring at in Photoshop. I didn't stop to consider the properties and limitations of ink on paper, just one potential pitfall of working digitally.

I suppose I could knock the saturation back just a touch on the JPEG's I post here to better approximate the printed look, or better yet, you folks can go buy the books!

Thanks for looking!



Supergirl 39

This is the cover to issue 39 of Supergirl, featuring Reactron.

I wasn't sure how to go about rendering all of the metal, and wound up experimenting quite a bit. I started with a quick digital sketch as a foundation (which I used to get approval for the image from my editor) and made a new line drawing by tracing the rough sketch cleanly. I then shaded the line drawing by hand with some water-soluble graphite pencils, which I was able to blend with a clean wet brush. I also went in with some white paint to pull out some highlights. I scanned the gray "chrome" rendering back into the computer, placed it over my basic sketch, and tried several different blending modes to marry it with the base layer. It required quite a bit of brushing and smudging to look decent.

After a lot of playing around, I somehow arrived at this. I'm not sure if I pulled off exactly what I had in mind originally, and the metal is more convincing in some areas than others, but that's how it goes.

As soon as I finished this one, I went straight to work on another Supergirl cover, which I will post this weekend.

Thanks for stopping by.



Supergirl 40

Here is the Supergirl 40 cover. It seems an identity will be revealed. Gasp!

I skipped over issue 39 due to some deadline troubles which made me work out of order, but I will be providing the cover for that issue as well. I'll be sure to post it here as soon as it is finished.

To those of you who have been waiting patiently for me to make available more original art, I apologize for the delay. I will try to get everything online soon.

All the best,