Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Rise and Fall of John Carter and the Monkeys from Mars

San Diego Comic-Con puts out a souvenir book every year and they ask both fans and pros alike to contribute artwork to commemorate an anniversary to some comic book character or creator.  My original plan was to send THREE pieces of art. One for the 100th anniversary of Tarzan, one for the 50th anniversary of some classic Marvel heroes, and one for the 30th anniversary of Love and Rockets.  Due to constraints put upon me by work, I found myself with barely enough time to do even one. I started on a Tarzan piece but it wasn't working for me. I started doodling on John Carter, and surprisingly found it much easier. I was familiar with this character mainly from the recent movie and the old Marvel comics adaption ( I also worked briefly on ILM's bid for a John McTiernan directed John Carter many, many moons ago).

My original plan was to do a digital painting, but I just didn't have the time. Having had so much fun and artistic success with the recent Rocketeer poster, I decided to go back to good old pen, brush and india ink. And at least this way I'd have a piece of original art to sell at Comic-con.

My original vision was to do John Carter fighting off some 4-armed apes in profile on a tower, lit in near silhouette with some rim light and a bit of fill.  But things changed.  I started with some thumbnails.


 As I continued on with the roughs, a picture started to come a bit more into focus.  I started to play a bit more with the details.

                                               I decided to bring the camera down a bit to have a greater feeling of.
 height as a danger element.  It also brought Carter and the apes closer together in the composition.  As I started in with the inking I was having a lot of fun.  I got more into the rendering of the forms and playing around with the feathering ( especially on the main ape ). It kind of brought me back to my youth when my art was a bit more about that ( that is, rendering the volume of muscles and folds ) than about an overall scheme when it came to the lighting.  I do admit it was fun getting lost in noodling and doodling.

After I finished, I started to look at the piece a bit more objectively.  The simplicity and directness that I had learned from Toth wasn't there.  There was no "opinion" as my old art school teacher Barbara Bradley would say. What was I doing with the lighting and how did it contribute to the composition? Was the camera angle I eventually chose really the best one to do the job?  I'd have to say "no" on both counts. The piece was fun to render but was not as successful as the Rocketeer piece I did last month.  Don't get me wrong, I like this piece, but It wasn't nearly as
good as it could have been. Perhaps I'll try it again, but it better to keep in mind in the future that it'll take more than a lot of pretty rendering to make a picture work.
 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

RIP Jean "Moebius" Giraud






The art world lost another great one today with the passing of Jean "Moebius" Giraud at the age of 73. I became familiar with Giraud's work through a class on comics I took when I was in junior high school.  At that time I wasn't familiar with "Arzach" or "Lt. Blueberry", but soon became a fan of his beautiful work. It was amazing to see the breadth of his imagination, be it a scene in a wild space fantasy, or a scene in the wild west. No matter the subject, it was always delivered with an easy grace that really underlined his knowledge of drawing.  And man he could draw anything.  I was lucky enough to meet him once when he visited ILM. He was in the Bay Area shortly before his video arcade The Airtight Garage opened at the Metreon in San Francisco. Even in his later years, he was always trying something new and trying to break through new barriers. A really amazing artist.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

RIP Ralph McQuarrie


Just heard the sad news that legendary concept artist Ralph McQuarrie died today at the age of 82.  I just happened to be in the Bay Area this weekend.  The place I'm staying overlooks Berkeley, where Ralph lived.  I had the honor of meeting with Ralph two times.  The first time was at Spengler's, one of his favorite restaurants, where we had dinner with some friends while I was still working on The Phantom Menace.  I was on Cloud Nine.  This man had been an inspiration to me ( and to thousands of illustrators who do what we do ) sitting right in front of me, quietly chowing down on seafood.  His work amazed me as a kid.  My brother and I poured over his work in the old "Art of Star Wars" books and the beautiful portfolios of his work for the first three Star Wars films.  The books showed a lot of the work up pencil sketches and roughs he would do before working on the finished paintings.  I would look at those and kind of thought they might demystify the process of making the beautiful paintings he did.  If anything, it made it even more mysterious, as they were so darn perfect in their simplicity yet meticulous in the detail.  That night I felt like I had met a god--someone anyone who ever did or wanted to do concept art for a living measured himself against and aspired to be like.  The second time I met Ralph, was at his home.  I was there with my friend Jim. We were in his studio looking at some art that he had done for a proposed Forbidden Planet remake Irvin Kershner was going to direct. I was floored by the lovely simplicity if these little environmental paintings. He didn't seem to think much of them, but I thought they were great.  We asked him to join us for lunch at an Indian restaurant down the road.  Ralph at that time had a little bit of a skin problem and had some scabs on his forehead and he was a bit hesitant to be seen in public--not because he was vain but because he was so embarrassed. We persuaded him to join us, but it struck me that here is a guy with phenomenal talent who inspired an entire generation of artists, but he was still so humble and shy and unassuming.
That's what I will remember most about Ralph.  We saw him as a monumental talent, he saw himself as a simple, ordinary guy.


Thursday, March 01, 2012

Rocketeer and the Wolfnazis in Color!

Here's the finish( or at least close to the finish, may have some touch ups )!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Work In Progress ( part 2 )


So here is the black and white, inked version. It was a pleasure doing something with real india ink again.


The original will be auctioned away to support the the Hairy Cell Leukemia Foundation ( the cancer that took Dave Steven's life ) and CAPS. Stay tuned for the colored version.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Work In Progress ( part 1 )

Just thought I'd show you some stuff I'm working on.  I'm doing an original piece of art celebrating the 30th anniversary of The Rocketeer.  Cartoon Art Professionals Society is auctioning off original artwork to benefit the Hairy Cell Leukemia Foundation and CAPS activities.

This will be the first time I've done a finished piece of art with real ( not digital ) ink in a couple of years.

I started off with a few quick doodles to get the basic idea.  I did a few more sketches to refine the poses and gestures of the main figures.









I finally refine a final rough of The Rocketeer and Betty.



Here is the next faze moving towards the final pencil drawing:





I make a photocopy of the pencil drawings and I do a few practice runs on the inking style using my trusty Pental brush pen.  I find it's a good idea to figure out the lighting and brush style in advance.




Next posting I will get into the final inking.  Hopefully, I won't screw it up!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"It's A Christmas Miracle."



So a painting I did for the NBC television series "Parks and Recreation" aired recently.  It portrays the character April ( played by Aubrey Plaza ) as a barbarian woman who has just vanquished the band "Black Eyed Peas". In the episode, April receives the painting as a Christmas gift and drolly states, "These are the Black Eyed Peas, and I finally killed them.  It's a Christmas miracle."



It was a fun painting to do, and the fans seemed to love it.
It's even been getting a little press.

You can watch the entire episode here.  It's episode 410 "Citizen Knope".

It's not the first thing I did for the show.  I was also asked to do line drawings for a couple of murals that appeared on the show. I didn't do the painting part, just the initial sketch. Those paintings appear in episode 409. Thanks to art director Jeffrey Mossa for the fun work!