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Wednesday
Aug062008

How-To #1, Terminus; The Life And Times Of A Sketch Card


 I've been asked many times how I do my Sketches and what I use. So, I've decided to put together a "How I Do It" type of post.  I've been lucky enough to get full approval from Marvel Comics and Rittenhouse Archives to post this using an upcoming Fantastic Four Sketch Card.  Thanks to them enjoy. 

(Click on the thumbnails for larger image)


This is the classic comic book method. Although I use different styles and techniques for others, the majority of my cards are drawn this way. As far as subject matter, I do put a lot of thought before hand on what I'm drawing. I try to keep every card interesting and also relate each card to the rest of the sketches I'm doing. Yes, portrait cards are easier, but lets face it, they're pretty boring so I try to keep them to just a few and usually only with characters that I will be drawing multiple of. Variety is the way to go but it does take longer. 


1) I start out lightly using a very dull hard lead pencil to rough out the basic forms and layout. These light lines are so much easier to erase when you screw it up or come up with a better composition. I don't use blue line pencils here because it's a finished piece of art and the blue pencil doesn't erase well. 


2) Moving to a softer and sharper lead, I tighten up the lines and details I need to see better. That usually entails, facial features, fingers, little odd whatsit's. I do find as I get better at it and more confident, I need to do less at this stage and go right into inking it which is great time wise. (I did most of the lines here in pic 2 just to show it better.)  


3) I use Black India ink and pens with a comparable quality ink to keep the image strong and fade resistant. I try to use the brush as often as I can to give it a more natural feel and it's much quicker putting down blacks.  I look back at some earlier sets and find the sketches that stand out have more black in them. Using the brush also helps remind me of that and I find myself slapping the black down more now.


4) I use the pens to get in those little details in that make it bit more visually interesting. On the whole, I try not to use markers if I don't have to. I put a lot of time into these cards and I would rather they didn't fade 10 years down the line. 


5) After the inkings done, I start putting down the base colors. I've found that watercolor pencils are awesome for this. They're fast, can cover a wide area or a fine one, and they blend with each other really well when you water them. I have a large stash of black watercolor pencils and use them for the dark areas and shadows. 


6) Blending in the colored pencils is the fun part. Most of the time I use just straight water, but where I want a stronger color, I will blend them with a dye instead. I use Dr. Ph. Martins for this as they're great for an almost radiant color.  Yin and Yang. The dark shadows blended right into a vibrant dye... sweet. 


7) It really comes down to layering. That's what makes it pop and gives the sketch depth and a completed feeling. To finish it off I go in with some Graphic White for highlights, halos, cover mistakes, or whatever. The Graphic White actually pulls the color through from the dyes which makes for a less stark transition. On the Terminus card, I splattered GW with a toothbrush for the blasting effect from his almighty staff. That's also a great technique for space scenes. 



There it is in a nutshell. (a really big nutshell)
Thanks to all for the emails and kind words, hope this was interesting and informative for you. 
Now I need to stop talking about it and sit down and do it. 

Later
WM

Reader Comments (5)

> . I was wondering what type of Water color pencils you use and what you use for skin color?

Thanks to Gary for an email with another question I get often. (Skin tones) Hey I can't tell all my secrets, right? Well, actually it's pretty easy, I use the dyes for that. A good base for skin tones is 3 parts Sepia, 1 part Vermillion. (Although in Marvel land , I noticed a lot of characters are either blue or green) I sometimes add black or blue/grey watercolor pencil for extra tones or whatever color is needed for each subject. I use Derwent (72 color) Watercolor p's. I got a set of Inktense pencils but didn't really like them that much yet.

Thanks and your quite welcome.
WM

August 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterWarren Martineck

Hi WM
Thanks for showing us just how detailed a good hand drawn card can be & how it is done by a card illustrator extraordinaire like U. G
PS great looking card!

August 10, 2008 | Unregistered Commentersketchcard

Warren, That was very cool and set up very well. You can do one of these How To's anytime. Keep up the great work.
Cheers
Glenn

August 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGMoore

Thanks for the info Mr. Martineck- that's very generous of you to open up your world of awesomeness to us random fans/novices in the artworld. So here goes- do you have an opinion on smooth versus vellum bristol board if working in pencil and ink only? (i'm about to dump 100s of bucks into 220 bristol boards & dont want to goof) thanks.

August 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Paper? Another good question. I've spent a lot of time (and $) trying to figure my way through the Diner-like menu of all the paper thats available and I think I've got a handle on it. It really comes down to what you need it for, once you figure that out, it gets easier.

Basically, if you want your drawing to be smoother looking, go with the smooth. Trying for a little rougher look, try vellum or regular.

What I use: I needed paper for mostly pencils and ink for comics. I like a nice smooth line and I can go pretty heavy with ink for large black areas. So I went with a Strathmore Bristol 400 Smooth. The 400 series takes ink well and it's thicker so it won't buckle under my mighty load of ink. Plus it comes in pads of all sizes so it's easier to handle. I've learned not to get the cheap paper, you have to be happy with what your working on. Plus there are so many other things around you that will try to ruin your day, your paper shouldn't be one of them, so I shoot for the better stuff. Now the 500 series is even better and thicker, but was actually overkill for my needs so I didn't bother.

You really should try a few different papers at the art store if you can, to see if that paper is right for you before you fill the drawers of your studio with paper you found you won't use. (been there, still have that paper) Window shop then buy online to save $.

Go here, scan to the bottom of the page for more explanation of paper. It won't be as magical as my take on paper, but what can you do.
http://www.dickblick.com/categories/
artboards/#bristolboards

Hope that helps.
WM

August 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterWarren Martineck

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