Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The evolution of a page

Nothing to see here... but over at the Holmes Inc comic page, there is a tutorial and preview art by ME!...
Visit the Holmes Inc Comic site to check it out

Watch for Holmes Inc Issue #2, coming July 22.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


More promo art for Holmes Inc, inspired by Safe, the final story of Issue 2, coming your way in just a few weeks.

Also, check out today's tutorial on the Holmes Inc Comic site, by Aaron Feldman, the writer of Safe.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Grace under pressure

I'm done with my pages for Holmes Inc. issue #2! (Technically I've been done for a while, but I needed time to collect my thoughts) I can't wait to see all the finished art next week. Every single one of the contributors to this book is absolutely brilliant, and I couldn't be prouder or happier to be a part of it.

I think I managed to not screw it up.
As I mentioned in my last post, they've given me one of the anchor stories to draw. Having seen the quality of the other art coming in, I found myself a bit intimidated by that.

And by "a bit," I mean "scared speechless." 

I think, more than any other artist/writer assignment on the book, Ty and assistant editor Rob Pincombe took a pretty big leap of faith when they gave me that kind of responsibility. The other guys on the art team have proven they can deliver the goods. I wasn't so sure I had it in me. And not in an "insecure artist fishing for compliments" way, but in a deep and genuine "I hope I don't screw this up" way.

Right about then, the other shoe of awesome dropped. Part safety net, and part exponential Holy Frikkity Froo.

Ty said he wanted to ink my pages this issue, "if that was okay."

Wait. What?

Yeah. That happened. 

Our editor, teacher, mentor, and all-around guru Ty Templeton is inking my pages. After about fifteen minutes or so, once I had regained the power of human speech, I agreed that yeah, that would be very okay. I would just have to come up with the best art I'd ever done in my life. I couldn't just bring my A-game. It was time to find a whole new level of A-game that I didn't even know I had.

Under pressure

(No, not this one)

It's both a motivating and destructive force. So, you may ask, what do you do when you're completely out of your depth? How do you channel the pressure so that it will motivate you, not crush you?

My answer to that was to jump right in and start drawing like mayhem.

The cure for insecurity about drawing?  More drawing!

I started easy, just doing a turnaround for a character that was introduced in issue 1. He was already canon, so there was no design work to do. It was just a matter of copying an existing design, and drawing it from different angles. No sweat, right? That went okay, and he's recognizably the same guy that we met in Night Clubbing.  So, whew. So far, so good. Starting to get my stride.

After that, I did some preliminary character concept sketches for the new characters I'd be working with.


Once the version was picked, these were basically okay, and only needed a few tweaks before they got the thumbs-up, and I did the character turnarounds as posted last month.

The main villain needed a few go-arounds. The first sketch I brought was universally deemed "too handsome". I didn't think to scan it before I started erasing the handsome bits and adding the weaselly bits, so you'll have to take my word for that.

The second go-around was better.  But, in keeping with my needing to do the best art I'd ever done, it needed to be cranked up a few notches.

I got the following notes from Ty based on this draft:

I find his overall appearance a little less "visual" that works for this story.  Can we unique him up a bit?  This is comics, and we can't rely on the actor to be charismatic, we have to dress him with a little more costume the sell his character. Don't go cliche, but go unique character, not face in the crowd.

So, based on that, I came up with this revision, which was approved for the book:


- Streaky hair that is shoulder length, slicked back but loose and wavy at the back, although this may be a little more badger than weasel (a little bit inspired by a dude I saw on his celphone outside the bank office today, only his wasn't streaked)
- Megalodon shark tooth (3" or 3.5" tooth) necklace
- circle/oval scar on his arm that we'll later realize is from where a kid bit him one time. Possibly missing the end of his left pinky for the same reason.
- pinky ring on his right hand (I'm open to suggestions of what it would be, or whether it's too much. If it's OK to give him a whole dinosaur thing, his pinky ring and knife handle could be dinosaur bone.)
I also made him slightly bow-legged and made his ears a little more rounded and a little more prominent, so he would look even more like a weasel.

The actual pages had similar proposals and feedback, and pushing me to do better than I thought I ever could. I'll be doing a writeup on that process soon. Keep an eye on the Holmes Inc site, where the other creators will also be sharing insights into their creative process, and there is preview art a-plenty.

So. Again. What do you do when you're out of your depth?

Step one is stop and breathe. If you're given a challenge, there's probably a good reason for it, and you're probably better equipped for it than you know. So relax.

Step two is do your research. Make sure you know everything you need to know about the environment so that you can include the right details to make it concrete. For the story I worked on, I reviewed a lot of photos so that I could create an environment that had enough specific detail to feel like a real place. After I set up my panels and decided pose and camera angle, I found or took photo reference for a couple of the trickier poses.

Step three is listen to your editor, and ask for help if you get stuck. Sometimes, it doesn't matter how you turn the page, a pose just isn't working for you. When it happens, ask for help, and then listen to the advice you get. Walk away from the panel for a bit, and when you come back to it, look at it with fresh eyes. Take the pose yourself so you know how it feels, and then use that to inform your drawing.

Step four is go out there do the very best you can do. You just might surprise yourself.