Sunday, 31 January 2010

Iron Man II Card for Jan. 31

So, here's the second and last of the rejected Iron Man sketch cards. No feedback as to why it was cut, but I dutifully put abig red "X" over it and sent it back with the rest. Maybe they thought I was trying to draw Robert Downey Jr.. I liked using the warm greys for the flesh and cool greys for the armour.

The next card was a it of an experiment -- I think it looks cooler in real life as the scanning dropped some of the values out.


Saturday, 30 January 2010

Iron Man II Card for Jan. 30

I think this is the only one I did sideways. I messed up the helmet, but I'm fine with the body and such.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Iron Man II Card for Jan. 28

Last time I did some sketch cards I had made several "puzzle-cards" by putting 2 or 4 together as a surface for one drawing. The tricky part was making sure each card had something identifiable and interesting on it. The above card isn't a part of such a set. . .
. . . So, yeah, it's just a drawing of Iron Man's hand and shoulder. It seemed like a good idea at the time, really.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Iron Man II Card for Jan. 27

Man, really noticing that I didn't pay too much attention to making the eyes symmetrical. . . .

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Dr Sketchy's: Cherry Temple!

Managed to attend my first Dr. Sketchy's in quite some time last night. The model was great -- I've actually had the pleasure of having her as a model during some of the drawing classes I taught in the past.

There were three performance/posing phases; bespectacled librarian, opera girl and Eve and the serpent. She performed her funny (and sexy, but that should go without saying) librarian routine and then held gesture poses as she went backwards through her routine. So, she stripped down, then slowly dressed. Was pretty cool.

The first drawing challenge was for the best incorporation of a book worm. I lost, so I take this as proof that size really doesn't matter. . . .

The opera series was great -- I found myself more interested in drawing the elegant long folds and sweeping material of her red dress in some of the poses, so i'm only posting this one.

The second challenge was for the best incorporation of the Three Tenors. I went very vulgar here and managed to win a nifty plastic skull with eyeballs and a brain that can be disassembled!

No, I don't think I'll be sharing the winning drawing. . . .

The last series was pretty damn funny. I think I was too distracted and playing with my new toy skull and only managed to do the above drawing during the last sequence.

Looking forward to hopefully making the next one!

Iron Man II Card for Jan. 26

I really liked using the warm/cool contrast between the different grey Copics I used for these. The downside -- or upside -- of doing them all in black and white is that nearly all these Iron Man sketches could just as easily be War machine sketches. . . .

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Iron Man II Card for 0124

Hmm -- not much to say about this one -- he looks a little pissed off and squashed.

Making Less Mean More

Way back in March of last year I wrote a blog entry about the bleed in comics art production.
Here's a link: link
Go ahead, I'll wait if you need to go and read it. . . .
Cool, from this point on we should all be on the same page, so to speak.
So, I'm developing a new project and I know I'll be playing with visual scale a great deal throughout. While playing with all the variables that go into the preproduction of a project you can consider agreat number of things that occur before you even sketch out the first thumbnail for the first page. With the recent success of books like Mouse Guard and VIKING, the standard comic book size and proportions are no longer mandatory. I'd think long and hard before making such a choice, but the choice is there.
Another choice, one that is considerably less risky at the retail end, is one that very rarely gets picked or even understood that it's a choice in the first place; how much art will sit on the page.
In our current comics environment we artists usually fill up the live art area as a matter of course and abuse the bleed in hopes of visually dazzling the reader. The one flaw in this is that the live art area was chosen for production reasons not for aesthetic ones. As artists, everything we put on the page should be there because we want it there, however, we've been quite lazy as a whole group and just accepted the live art area as a design choice we could live with.
However, we're actually weakening one of the major bonuses of working with pages that we can design and draw out to the bleed. The live art area is a production choice, as I've said, it indicates the understood maximum safe area for art and lettering to exist within. This leaves very little real estate between the live art default art zone and the edge of the page for the artist to demonstrate a dramatic visual difference.
Arguments like this are usually best made with visual aids, so I've quickly doodled up a number of pages to demonstrate what I mean. The following pages are all scaled to 6 9/16" x 10 3/16", with the live art area lifted from the most recent of Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead trade collections (art, of course, but the wonderfully talented Charlie Adlard).

Luckily, for these purposes, my blog background is black, so I don't have to draw potentially distracting boxes around the pages.
Above is a pretty standard looking page, about a 3/8" on either side and 1/2" top and slightly more at the bottom (actually, in the trade, there's about 1/4" on every fore or thumb edge of the page and 1/2" towards the spine to allow for the binding). The art fills the page quite nicely.

Two pages facing each other look like this.
And two pages, one of them a full-page splash/bleed page would look something like this.

Two pages, both with bleeding elements would also usually look like this.

Nothing wrong with this, but I feel the bleed doesn't really have much of an impact here. The difference between what sits in the live art area and what gets to run off the page is too minor to have much of a visual impact.
I majored in Book Illustration in college, and there was a fair component of book design involved, so I may be the only person who would find the live art area something worth addressing. Classical book design requires the artist to consider the best visual dimensions of the back, head, fore and tail (bottom) of the page, crafting an attractive space for the body of the text or illustrations to sit within. The similarity between the live art area on the comics page and this designing of book margins always struck me as something to look at and consider.
My text from my college years suggests the classical formula of 1 1/2, 2, 3, and 4 for the back, head, fore and tail as a starting point. So, if one chose a half-inch as the base measure, the back edge would be 3/4", head would be 1", fore would be 1 1/2", and the bottom of the page 2". The formula presupposes a rectangular proportion slightly less tall and art intensive than the 6.5 x10" comics format.
Below, I decided to design an art-space smaller than the typical live art area. About 3/4" for th back edge, an inch for the head and fore edges and roughly 1.5 inches for the bottom.

It's not such a significant change looked at in isolation, really.

Here I pasted the smaller art area on top of the standard format page -- the size difference does seem more dramatic here. It's unlikely the smaller art area could handle some of the page content often included in the standard format -- such a design choice would need to be considered at the writing level. My own personal rule of thumb for standard pages (5-9 panels for talking heads sequences, 3-6 panels for mixed action/talking, and 1-4 panels for actions sequences) might have to be shaved by a panel or three. Or not -- the actual page isn't shrinking, just the default working area.

For continued comparison: a two page spread at the smaller size.

A two-page spread, one of them a splash/bleed page. Here the larger margins start to pay off -- the splash page image becomes much larger in contrast and has more impact.
Back in my late teens, Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns started coming out, and one of the first things that struck me was how much larger the splash pages in that series seemed in comparison to all the tiny panels in his usual grid layout. I had the same reaction to The Watchmen -- working within a 9-panel grid meant a two-panel wide panel seemed really large. As a result the occasionally larger panel devouring 6-panels of space seemed enormous.

Here the bleed panels have significantly more impact when placed next to the smaller art area. The larger margins to draw and design in has a similar effect to what I described happening in DKR or The Watchmen. It does do so by opening up a different series of artistic options, which the creator would need to examine and explore.

I didn't want every comparison page to end up looking nearly identical, so I whipped this one up.
I have seem other artists play with the live art area in the past, though it often seemed more a result of deadline crunch than a choice made for a larger creative purpose.
While I'm making the direct link between comics and books from a design standpoint, an equally forceful one could be made for comics and magazines, and has, in fact, been explored many times before. With the rise of trade collections being the intended end result of comics publishing, I do believe the notion of a comic and its resultant collection being thought of and designed as a book from inception becomes worthy of more discussion.
There are already a great number of books of comics that are beautiful, but there are also a great many that are merely reprinted and bound collections and missed opportunities as a result.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Next Iron Man II card

The scribbly black lines aren't as visible on the original -- I was tempted to photoshop it a bit to make it match, but decided posting all these sketch cards works better warts n' all. The "stars" are dabs from a Pentel fine point correction pen.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Iron Man Sketch Card a Day

I finished 50 of the sketch cards for the Iron Man II set a week or so back and thought I'd share them here. Now, the cards are all drawn "size-as" at 2.5x3" so they're kinda tiny and the stock had a blue hex pattern printed on it so there was little room to fix any errors.
So I didn't!
Here's on at the size I drew it:

I sketched them out quickly in non-photo blue pencil and fiddles over the shetch with cool and warm grey Copic markers (which I really fell in love with doing these). I was surprised at how some turned out and disappointed with how poorly others ended up looking. Two were actually rejected -- though, not for being embarrasing displays of a lack of talent, merely for undisclosed content issues.
Like this one:

I cropped off the Iron Man info here so it's just a sketch of Tony Stark. The other one was also a face shot of Stark. I know we were prohibited from drawing Downey Jr., but I've no idea why this one was bounced. As advised, I drew a massive "x" across this in red and included it when I returned all the cards I drew.

Although I'm unlikely to end up putting these all up in the order I did them, however I think this is the first one I drew. I ended up using a few things to pop out some highlights as I went along -- this one I used a pencil crayon and a Prismacolor Art Stick.
Nothing too embarrasing here, other than the eyes not following the proper line around the midpoint of the helmet. . . . or the "ear" thing being too high. . . .
Hmm, maybe I shouldn't look too critically at these!

Thursday, 21 January 2010

2010 Zombie

Yeah -- I started it on New Years Day, but things just kept getting in the way of scanning and posting it. I have a story in my head from drawing this -- perhaps as a cover for a Halloween one-shot or somesuch. I banged in some really quick-n'-sloppy values, anticipating that I'll do something more with it soon -- inking it or painting it, but developing the environment more regardless.

I like zombies, that's been clear for a while, but I like drawing giants, too. Playing around with their anatomy with my amateur-evolutionist eye towards their anatomy is great fun. It's probably a seed planted with the Giants (like Gnomes) book I was given as a child.

Obviously, my New Year has been pretty hectic so far -- I hope yours has been as enjoyable!