Kickin' It Old School

My girlfriend and I recently moved into a new apartment. And moving into a new place is a great excuse to go through all your stuff and realize what's worth keeping and what's worth tossing out. So for the last two weeks, between working, writing, and fixing up the apartment, I've taken a few minutes every night to go through my art materials.

Although I haven't been drawing for nearly as long as other artists I know, I have my fair share of half-finished sketches, folders packed with references, and boxes filled with "things I'll work on later." But as I was looking through some of my early drawings (at least the ones I kept and the ones that have survived numerous moves), I found this little gem...

The drawing measures 8.5x11 and is fully painted. Not too bad considering how raw I was back in the day. And the figure is pretty good. Although I'll give the disclaimer that it may be copied from an Earthworm Jim video game guide or Earthworm Jim advertisement. But don't give me too much grief about it; I was like 13 or 14 when I drew it. I didn't know any better!



Powerpuff Girls

During my time out at San Diego, one of my few fanboy moments was meeting Powerpuff Girls/Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends creator Craig McCracken. Although he was walking the con floor when I ran into him, Craig was kind enough to take a few minutes to look through my portfolio and offer me some advice. Utter coolness.

So in honor of that moment and Craig's great contributions to the animation world, I got the itch to draw a Powerpuff Girls pinup...featuring Mojo Jojo (cause he's so awesome...and a monkey...and he wears a cape).

I wanted the pinup to feature Mojo Jojo standing in true super evil monkey genius fashion in his lab, located high above the city of Townsville. With the con season at full blast, I didn't get a chance to sketch out a thumbnail for the pinup until Wizard Chicago. But here's what I came up with while sitting in Artist Alley:

The robot was a happy accident but I realized as I was drawing it that the Powerpuff Girls were not in the pinup. The drawing would have worked without the girls but I really wanted to draw the Powerpuff Girls AND Mojo Jojo. So I had to lose the robot and come up with something better. My second thumbnail included a monitor in the background where Mojo Jojo would be watching the girls. Here's that thumbnail:

With a solid sketch to work from, I drew the characters separately. First Mojo Jojo:
Then the PowerPuff Girls:
Although Mojo was not 100% completed on the page, I used a few digital shortcuts to finish him. The girls were a lot harder to draw than I expected. They may look simple, but they each have a specific attitude and feel that has to be drawn correctly. If not, they end up looking "wrong." If you've ever seen the cartoon, you know how they should look. So as an artist, you have to take that into account and make them "feel" like the characters in the show. That comes across in their poses, their expressions, and their positioning in relation to each other. But I was happy with all the characters and once they were scanned into Photoshop, it was onto the next stage.

I wanted to play with a one-color background so I choose the color red to really push the evil genius tone. Nothing too sinister though. Plus, considering Mojo Jojo's colors, he would really stand out. And with his headquarters/observatory being located high above the city of Townsville, I was planning on adding a blue-toned city in the background. Again, blue would contrast really well against the red and the character colors. After a quick Google search for color references on the girls and Mojo, I cleaned up the characters, gave them a nice black border (to stand out against the background), and dropped them into the pinup.

The big change was getting rid of the monitor and placing the girls right outside of the observatory's windows. Once I placed them in that location, it added a little humor to the piece. Good 'ole Mojo is standing there, striking a super villain pose, while the Powerpuff Girls stand outside his headquarters, ready to kick some simian ass.

After four or so hours of Photoshop magic, here's the final result:

Overall, it turned out OK. I definitely want to go back and play around with the evil robot idea so don't be surprised if that shows up on the blog next time I get some free time. Whenever that is.

As always, thanks for looking,



Nightlight Comics pinup

As an artist, when you attend a convention, it's easy to spend a good-chunk-o-change on fellow creators. Someone's artwork inspires you and you have to own a little piece of their magic. And between sketchbooks, prints, and commissions, you just end up spending what little money you make (the only real winner is Kinkos). So someone out there, in their infinite wisdom, created the greatest Artist Alley ritual ever - trading.

Case in point...

I met Matt Chicorel at last years' Fallcon and we had a great time. Matt is the creator behind Nightlight Comics, home to the "Non Adventures of Trenchcoat and Kim." During this years' Wizard World Chicago, Matt was kind enough to give me a copy of his latest issue in exchange for a copy of my Space Ghost pinup. Unfortunately, the con's craziness got the better of me and I forgot to give Matt the pinup. So I decided to make-up for my forgetfulness by drawing a pinup of Matt's characters, Trenchcoat and Kim.

Initially, I was going to go with an action shot. But considering that the book is about their "Non-Adventures," Iit made sense to go with something more lew key. And after reading the latest issue, I immediately new what to do: Trenchcoat And Kim sitting on a roof, waiting for something, anything to happen.

Using a technique that's worked for me a few times now, I decided to draw the characters separately from the background. So here's my rendition of Trenchcoat:

And here's my rendition of Kim:

Trenchcoat turned out OK. But I'm pretty happy with Kim. I tried to give her some of the attitude Matt's gives her in the comic. Hopefully, that comes across in the drawing through her posture and her smoking. As for the background, although I did sketch it out on paper, the majority of the work was done in Photoshop.

So after a few hours of blood, sweat, and tears, here's the final outcome:

Overall, it turned out alright. But the important thing is that Matt likes it. He even said he'd put it in the next issue. Sweet.

Lesson learned: Considering that the pinup took about 5 hours from start to finish, I need to find a way to speed up without losing quality. I know, that sounds like a complete contradiction but I think that ability comes with time and practice. Luckily, I'm willing to put in the hours to keeping developing my style. What's the saying? "If you're not moving forward..."



Wizard World Chicago '06 in the Rearview

Wizard Chicago '06 is now in the books...and I've got the pictures to prove it. You can check 'em out below.

Thanks to everyone that stopped by the Element X table in Artist Alley and took some time to check out our work. And big thanks to those out there that purchased our studio artbook (Atomic). We're down to one copy!

And now, with this year's con season in the rearview, it's back to the drawing board...