The Doom Patrol - Work in progress

I thought I would present the work in progress as a slide show this time. If you go to full screen mode, I'm afraid I used too small of a file size and it will be a bit blurry. Sorry about that. I will remember to do it differently next time. If you just want to see where I am at right now on the piece, below is a larger image to review.

The Doom Patrol © DC Comics

This is Post #1780

Mister Miracle - New Gods

Mister Miracle © DC Comics

Staying with the unofficial New Gods theme of late, today is Mister Miracle. Rough sketch in my sketchbook, ink and color in Photoshop. I really think this would be Young Mister Miracle. Wouldn't an adventure comic feature Scott Free growing up on Apokolips be pretty cool. I wouldn't make it "all ages", I would make the content no harsher than what I grew up with and I think it would work. :)

This is Post #1415

Harley Quinn!

Harley © DC Comics

This is a piece I did for a friend of the family. Her sister got a Captain America piece from me and she wanted a Harley. She asked for it at MegaCon. D'oh! Better late than never. :)

HeroesCon Advance Sketch List Update

I will be heading up to Charlotte, North Carolina for HeroesCon two weeks from today. This show is creeping up fast. I mention this because I still have spots left on my advance sketch list. That would be okay except for what happened with the Pittsburgh list. Some folks waited until just days before the show. That's still in advance of the event, but doesn't leave me much time to start, let alone finish their pieces before the convention. So if any of you have been on the fence about getting on the list or forgot about it, please contact me as soon as you can. Details are here. And if you were not going to get on the advance list or you are sick of me mentioning it, well, never mind. :)

Harley was done in ink on an 11" x 17" sheet of bristol board.

This is Post #1326

The Golden Gun

Artwork © 2011 Gene Gonzales

One of the tough things about doing my own work isn't just finding time, it's also finding direction. As a commercial artist/illustrator I am told what is needed and I draw it. Coming up with solutions for clients is what I do. When I am the client, I am the worse kind. With no one to give direction, my brain fires off with a hundred different ideas. I start down one road and think of a better solution. Work on that solution, find another one.

Case in point...I have a story involving my space girl with the tiki guys. Not to be confused with my space jungle girl or the purple haired assassin above. I have done four pages of roughs and dialog. I want to have at least 10 pages done before presenting the first page. BUT I have redone all but the first page two or three times. The same thing happened when I wrote and illustrated TALES OF THE CHEROKEE. Along with the original art for those two books, I have a dozen pages in various stages that were abandoned. There is no real point to all this. Just an observation that I wanted to share. I wonder if other creators have this same problem. Or a variation of it. Too many ideas to be able to focus on one. Hmmmm.

Today's artwork was created in Adobe Photoshop.

This is Post #1213

Lil Timber Wolf & Guest Artist Dakota Gonzales

Timber Wolf © DC Comics

Still having fun with the Lil Heroes. They are something I can pick up and put down in between scanning and working. Today I wanted to try a Legionnaire. I know, big surprise. :)

Guest Artist of the Week

I thought I would try something different and special. As I may have mentioned, my daughter Dakota is an artist as well. Though her mother and I have encouraged her artistic endeavors from an early, early age, I have never given her any instruction. She is a self taught artist who specializes in digital painting. So with her permission I thought I would share something she finished last night. Done in Photoshop using a Wacom Tablet and her MacBook Pro laptop.

Artwork © 2010 Dakota Gonzales

This is Post #1100

Power Girl!

Power Girl © DC Comics

I still have Power Girl on the brain it seems. :) Thought I would post this before running down to the corner Starbucks to load up on a triple non-fat cappuccino - no whip. I have a VERY long night ahead of me.

(Yeah, I know that "WELL" probably should have had a question mark but I've already uploaded the art and I'm too busy to fix it right now. Need coffee!)  :)

This is Post #1097

Sketchbook Friday - SJG Digital Inks

I played around with this for about an hour today. Trying different things. Actually did a video of it. Or tried. I hit record and it didn't start. And I didn't find out until I hit the shortcut for "Stop" and it started recording. D'oH!

Above is the scanned image from yesterday and my Conte pencil/brush work done in Photoshop.

Here I have added a layer of color behind the digital drawing. It's nice to not have the bright white screen in your face when I start coloring.

Below is a detail shot of the image.

All artwork © 2010 Gene Gonzales

Not enough time in the day to do anymore. I have just started getting close to catching up on things that I fell behind on when my computer was being repaired. That really has made the case for me to buy another iMac to have in the studio.

This is Post #1072

Captain Marvel

I have an early post today. I am working on comic pages today and tomorrow and I felt the need to "stretch" those drawing muscles before digging in. Of course I got carried away and what was a 45 minute inked piece on the new 9" x 12" 150 lb Canson Comic & Manga paper, turned into a 90 minute color piece in Photoshop.

For this piece I wanted to make every color subdued with the exception of Captain Marvel. Maybe even a bit drab. But the good Captain? I wanted his colors bright. He is magic based and I thought the idea that even in the dirtiest, darkest battle, he is a bright beacon of good and to a degree, innocence. I did play around with the saturation of his colors. Dropping it down so he is not quite a bright and more balanced with the surroundings, but I didn't think it had as much of an impact.

Captain Marvel © DC Comics

Below is the original line art. The only Photoshop work done on it was adjusting the levels to get a nice solid and balanced black. This is normal procedure after scanning and cleaning up. I was right about the Canson paper I used for this and the piece yesterday in that a regular graphite pencil would work better than using a Col-Erase pencil. And the graphite erased cleanly. I didn't realize that the paper is a smooth finish and I usually use a vellum finish. The vellum having more tooth, or texture. Still the ink flowed nicely. No bleeding or fuzzy edges. Nice quality paper.
Captain Marvel © DC Comics

This is Post #1043

Challengers of the Unknown

This is little something I played with over the last week or so. This wasn't a difficult piece, it's just that when you only work on it a few minutes at a time, it takes a while. I love the idea of the Challengers of the Unknown. Four guys who should be dead, and are living on borrowed time. Now they live life to the fullest and tackles all kinds of challenges. I have several original pages from the run in Super-Team Family. Jim Sherman was the artist on those pages. Being a fan of the Challs and Sherman makes those pages pretty darn special to me. Those could only be topped by Jim Sherman Legion pages! (Remember that at Christmas and my birthday) ;)

So this is just my take on the Challengers and their mountain headquarters. Below left is the first sketches I did weeks ago while waiting for Dakota at the orthodontist. On the right is the finished inks from another page. From there I scanned it and put it in Adobe Illustrator. Digital inks and colors were done there, then brought into Photoshop for the last touches. I added some digital noise to the final art just for some texture. Gets rid of the slickness. All in all I am happy with the piece.

Have a good weekend everyone.

This is Post #995

Dr. Eville

Dr. Eville ©2010 Captain Action Enterprises. All Rights Reserved.

I think I used up my quota of words for the week yesterday. I will keep it short today. I have a BIG deadline looming and no sleep in sight tonight, so I will just say that this is Dr. Eville, villain to the heroic Captain Action. This panel was drawn in Manga Studio.

This is Post #866

Digital Dilemmas - Capt. Action

I thought I would show something that causes me a great deal of indecision. I work in both Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop pretty extensively. Both programs are great for what they do. But they are different.

Photoshop is a pixel based program. Pixels are squares or rectangles that are black, white, gray or color. Reducing and enlarging art made with pixels can cause problems. If you make a 200 x 200 pixel image in PS and need to make it a 1200 x 1200 pixel image you will have a fuzzy image when it is enlarged. That's because you only have 200 pixels, or dots to work with, not 1200. The program looks at the pixels and tries to duplicate them to make the change. Which is fuzzy. It's like a digital camera. You have a optical zoom which uses a the lens to zoom in, and an digital zoom, which uses software to guess what color pixels are needed to make the image larger. Reducing a PS image is easier as you can imagine.

When using a raster program to digitally ink, there are many things you have to think about. Like traditional art, you want to work larger than print or at least a higher resolution. Though you can use the pen tool and other tools for clean smooth lines, for the most part PS is very free form. Much like traditional inking with a brush. Below is a partially inked panel of Captain Action. I did this in PS, using my rough sketch as my guide. Much like pencils are the guide for inks on paper. There is some unevenness that happens with the lines, much like traditional inks. Zooming in to work can be a problem in that everything can get a little fuzzy or jagged. Like ink bleeding on paper. Not a crisp line, but fuzzy as the ink seeps into the tooth of the paper. Zoom back out, and it looks good. Everything but the brim of the hat was done with a brush in PS. The brim was done using a pen tool which allows me to make a bezier curve and assign a stroke to it. It's a flat weight line when finished. If I do this job right, you would assume that this image was done traditionally.

Captain Action ©2010 Captain Action Enterprises. All Rights Reserved.

On the flip side, Illustrator is a vector program where the elements are mathematically defined. Enlarging and reducing a vector image does not affect it's quality. Inking in Illustrator requires shapes to be made and filled in with color. (Color=black/white/red/blue/gray/etc) Unlike PS where I can just draw, in Illustrator I have to plan things a bit differently. The image below is Captain Action partially inked in Illustrator. The shape of the hat is done with a pen tool making bezier curves. You will notice the line is flat. There are a dozen ways to make it have the thick and thin lines of a brush stroke, but I can't just draw it and have the control I have in PS or with a brush. But look at the eyes. Crisp. Sharp. Very "graphic" looking. They were done using the pen tool to click and create points to make a shape and fill with black. I like the sharpness of the eyes here. The shape of his face was made with custom brushes. The brushes were made to have that tapered look you get from a brush. But you don't have much control. The widest part of the stroke will always be in the middle. Unless you make a custom brush that has the widest part somewhere else. But it will always be in that spot. Not much you can do. The nose and mouth were done with a pencil tool. With it I make a shape in a free hand fashion and filled it with black. Again, a different approach to digital inking. If this were finished, it might look computer generated. It might come off a little "cold".

Captain Action ©2010 Captain Action Enterprises. All Rights Reserved.

Personally I don't think one program is better than the other. They both have some qualities I like. I can make a final image in Illustrator look like a traditionally inked job. I do that everyday. You would be hard pressed to tell the difference if you held up what I recreate in Illustrator to the original printed art. But it's a longer, more precise process to get that natural look.

I haven't worked in Manga Studio enough to form a strong opinion about it and what it can do. So far I am impressed but I have created anything of substance using the program. When I do I'm sure I will see the strength and weakness of it. And then I will have a third program to add to my dilemma of digital inking. :)

This is Post#865

Windy - Progress

I only had time to work on this for a little bit today. Most of my day was filled doing some graphic design work that came to me late Friday. It was one of those projects that slipped through the cracks and the client asked me to help out. I had planned on taking a weekend off but I couldn't leave them hanging. We've had a good relationship for a lot of years so I am happy to do what I can. I should have it done tomorrow morning and then move on to some DC work that needs some polishing up.

I did pick up a couple of commissions to do after the Aquaman piece. I will be doing a Canson Cutie of Catwoman, in the hi-slit dress and plunging neckline and the second one will be Scarlett from G.I. Joe. Both should be a lot of fun.

Back to the piece above, after doing the line drawing I have started adding some color. I played around with three or four hair colors and treatments but came back to my initial plan of black hair. The sun dress went through some color changes as well, until I settled on the color above. Dakota was around to chime in on the choices too. Always nice to get another artists opinion. I will continue to refine this image and then create some background.

Tonight I picked up a copy of Manga Studio program at the Apple Store. No, I'm not going manga on all of you. The program has some real nice natural drawing tools. Better than Photoshop and Painter from what I have read. As part of my plan to move towards a digital workflow, I downloaded a free trial a couple of weeks ago and really liked it. So it was time to take the next step and buy it. I will be playing with it in the weeks to come and will share my results.

This is Post #841

Illustrator Brushes Exercise

The project I am currently working on has me digitally inking in Adobe Illustrator. Normally I use Photoshop for that so I am learning some new tricks. I did this little pin-up girl in order to practice with some custom brushes that were given to me to help with the project.

The top left drawing was done in my sketchbook with blue Col-Erase pencil and Pitt brush markers. I scanned it and placed it in Illustrator. From there I used the brushes that were supplied to me. They mimic a thin to thick to thin brush stroke. They are really quite handy. The colors were added by creating a shape and filling with color. Nothing terribly exciting but fun nonetheless. :)

The is Post #727

Valentine Vixen #6 - Inks

Cooking along today. Er...tonight. I changed the hair style on this one after I inked it. That is the nice thing about doing the inks digitally. I just put the hair I did on another layer, turn it off so I don't see it and do a new hairstyle on another layer. That way if I decide to keep the original hair, it's still there. Had I inked her in a traditional way, I could still alter her digitally but it would have been a bit more work.

Valentine Vixen #3 - Final

I knew I wouldn't leave her alone. A few changes: I added the hearts on her stockings and shoes. I also changed the background as well as saturated her colors and darken them a bit. Just a little pop. And the faux plaid pattern on her skirt was added. Not too much really but I like it better now. :)