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Wednesday
Sep032008

Studio Journal Entry #1: Renovation Or Rejuvenation?


I think this is more of a "Studio Journal Entry" than "hey everybody, come read this!" type of post. That's not a bad idea for a sub category. I think I'll fix the Title. 

 One thing I've learned about myself over the years is that I need a change every once and awhile. This usually occurs right after a big job or right before another and mostly involves cleaning the studio, picking up and filing the piles of papers and reference, and occasionally a rearranging of the furniture.  I'm not sure if it's because of necessity or because I'm at that point with work where a few jobs are ending and another is soon starting, but I've begun working on my studio... again. But this time it's major.
  I have a floating wood floor over a very uneven concrete base. This has, over time, really started wearing on the wood floor joints and has gotten worse lately. My Plan: While I have the spare time... I can't believe I just called it spare time, let's just say, if I don't do this now, it will be mid 2009 before I can get to it unless I quit my job. (In which case I know divorce would soon follow) I need to remove all the furnishings including ALL the comic boxes, baseboards, completely lift and remove the flooring, and take away the sub flooring and vapor barrier. After that I need to put a ton of concrete leveler down, wait for it to dry, then put everything back the way it was.
 Well, not exactly the way it was, as what really triggered this was an idea in the back of my head to build myself a new drawing table. One that had all the features I dream about all day while I'm sitting there working. (I think this will be STJ #2) Anyway, stuff started happening and I knew I needed and really wanted to fix the floor before anything else and before it got worse. "Form Before Detail." (Another future post) or "A strong Foundation makes all the difference" or "If your going to do it, do it right", or "The Horse, then the Cart". 
 So, right now I just have my table and computer desk left to move out and temporarily set up elsewhere in the house so I can keep working and hope this turns out to be easier than it sounds. 

Later
WM

Friday
Aug292008

Hopping On The Speedway.


 For any Earnhardt fans out there, here's a commission I just finished, the last one on the list that I've been putting off for too long. Between the work I have already, the work I need to jump on this week, and the new work that will start soon, if I didn't finish this now it would have never gotten done. 

I thought the Nascar theme fits well with the way it's been around here in the studio lately. In the past year I've come up with a business plan for the near and far future and for the direction I would like to take my career in. I've set up a time frame for certain things to happen and to my surprise and happiness, like barrage of stock cars, it's all happening a bit quicker than I expected. So for the next few weeks/months, it looks like I'll be putting in some extra overtime to keep up with the pace and not end up just a big smear along the racetrack. 
 Looking forward to posting what's been going on around here lately.

Until then..
later
WM

Friday
Aug152008

A Post About Almost Nothing.

 
 I wanted to send out a big thank you to all that responded or sent me a line about the Terminus Sketch post. It was great reading all the emails and comments and was pleasantly surprised by the amount of them. I may have to do that again sometime.
 As to other stuff, there is actually a whole bunch of things going on around here that is keeping me busy or that I'm busily preparing for, unfortunately I can't say anything about anything and can't show you any pictures of anything. It's kind of frustrating, but as time goes on, I should be able to trickle out information. 

In the meantime, a comment from the previous post asked me about paper, and it got me
thinking of something I could post. Recently, I did this quick doodle of Wolverine as a test for this paper I was trying out before I spent all my money stocking up the studio with it. I did this in my car outside the art store where I was window shopping. The paper worked out fine, bought a load of it online, and if I get the chance maybe I'll finish up Wolvie and Ink it too for another post sometime.

Later
WM 

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

Tuesday
Aug052008

Obligatory Studio Tour


  So, it's 5:00 in the morning, can't sleep, too many thoughts about the day ahead, wife's awake too and there's that all too familiar feeling of knowing you'll never get back to sleep in time to salvage an "awake working day".  I know extra food and caffeine will be on the menu today. So I've decided to drag my butt downstairs and make a post figuring this shouldn't take much thought. ...and here it is; the obligatory studio tour.
 C'mon, you knew it was coming. 
What better way to start a Tuesday than to take the nickel tour of the studio, also known around the house as the Dungeon. Four walls, a door, and a window to nowhere. I redid my basement a few years ago and fit a room in where I could for my studio so my wife could use the extra room upstairs for her office.
 
 Nothing too elaborate, fairly simple and cozy. Drawing table, a computer and phone to keep me connected to the outside world, and a stack of comics. The only thing high end in this room is my chair. Best advice I could give, keep your butt happy. 

 If you've ever wondered about those comic box drawers, they are awesome. No more back breaking to get to the bottom box... another must. 
 The window actually goes to the next room. (My work shop) Call it a wacky thing but I just thought the room was incomplete without it. Now, although I need constant media stimulation, there's no TV in the room! Way too visually distracting for me but I do have the TV speakers piped in.
The walls are covered in posters and images only because that's what I thought a comic studio should look like. It's not really my style, I had to work at it to make it look this crappy. (That's another post for another time)    
End of tour, off to caffeinate myself now.

WM