Monday, November 26, 2012

Drawing all the things

So, apart from doing some local conventions and shows (which I probably won't be doing any more, because it makes me cranky) I've been busy drawing lots of things.

UysFaber held an artist contest for their SunDragon title, and I did a couple of designs for that, which you can check out at their site.

I've been going to lots of life drawings, mostly Toons on Tap and The Drawing Room, and have kept up my daily sketch challenge sketches every weekday and anatomy studies on the weekends. I've been doing that so much that most of it isn't even scanned  because I haven't had the time.

Steampunk Vixens is chugging steadily along, with new updates every Friday. (Vixens Vendredi!)

I've done a few small commissions, and still have a couple left on my "to do" list before I'm ready to take on any more.

I've finished a couple of line art that I don't completely hate, so that's progress.
Wonder Woman flying

And apart from that, I'm working on a 12-page story for Steampunk Originals, not sure what would come of that but if nothing else I'll have a nice set of sequentials and some fun new designs in my portfolio.

So, all in all, keeping busy and trying to stay productive.

Speaking of which, I have a few commissions to finish, and some comic pages to lay out.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Another appearance!

My next post will be about stuff I'm working on, honest. I've been keeping busy. But for today, it's just a quick post to say I have a dealer table at the November comicon happening today at the Royal York hotel in Toronto. I'll be selling prints and sketches.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

another upcoming appearance and spooky fun

The Comic Book Lounge and Gallery is a venue for Halloween ComicsFest 2012 

I will be on hand to draw free sketches for any little monsters that come by.

There's also a book launch happening for Anything Ghost anthology, in addition to the general Halloween costume & candy festivities.

If you happen to be in Little Italy on Wednesday night, and haven't been swept away by this week's uberstorm, come on by and say hello. It should be quite a fun evening.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Up all night

I'm not sure what I've gotten myself into, but I'm booked to draw at a couple of events during the Scotiabank Nuit Blanche on September 29.

Well, three events if you count the studio open house at the Comic Book Embassy, although I'm not booked to draw there. But hey, if you show up before 8pm and ask nicely, I'll probably do a sketch anyway.

Between 9pm and 11pm I'll be at Strip Art at Guerilla Printing, 587A College Street (College & Clinton) where artists will be drawing based on story ideas from the people attending the event.

Between 1am and 4am I'll be at Persona Grata drawing portraits at the Toronto School of Art, 410 Adelaide St. West, 3rd Floor (just west of Spadina)

So if you're out participating in Nuit Blanche and in the neighbourhood, come on over and see some art happen live and in person.

It'll be fun.

Drawn in 60 seconds

Saturday, August 25, 2012

FanExpo special

Holy cats, kids, I'm in artists alley at FanExpo. If you're going, come by my table and say hi and watch me draw stuff. It'll be fun. I'm at A165, right by the original art of star wars.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

An assortment of etchings

Okay, wow. I've been so busy drawing that I haven't had time to write an update about what I'm drawing!

But here's a character turnaround I did for Holmes Inc 3, which is just about to go to press (more on that next week).

I've still been sketching every day, and going to life drawing sessions as often as I can, although looking at my online art files it seems like most of it hasn't been scanned yet.
I'll do a blog post on different life drawing sessions before the end of the year, but for now here's a sketch based on a 2-minute pose with a model posing on circus hoops. 

Here's a couple of sketches from a "30-day original character challenge" that I did in June.

And now here we are at just under two weeks until FanExpo, and my first big show on my own. Am I excited? Yes. Am I more than a little terrified? Absolutely.

It'll be fine. Right? Sure. It'll be more than fine. It'll be awesome.

Fingers crossed  that it all goes OK. I'll be doing sketches, selling prints, and promoting my next project, Steampunk Vixens. You can keep up with that at or follow the project on Twitter  or Facebook

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Back to Work

Ok, May got away from me. Over the spring I've been trying to learn how to write, so there hasn't been a lot to see.

Compound that with the fact that I have vehemently hated pretty much every single line I've put on paper all year , and I came perilously close to hanging up the pencils and calling it quits.

But, like the blog says, I can't stop drawing, even if my work is utterly lacking in merit or potential. And, in any case, I'm not the type to quit just because I got to the hard part of the learning curve.

So, instead of quitting I study harder. I copy stuff from anatomy and life-drawing books until I understand what I'm looking at. 

For my daily sketches, instead of working on character likeness, I spend a few weeks working on anatomy and construction.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Free Comic Book Day 2012

Hey, if you don't already have plans for Free Comic Book Day, why not drop by the fabulous events they have today at the Toronto Comic Book Lounge & Gallery at 587A College Street in Toronto. 

I'll be there doing sketches and whatnot, along with a number of fantastic artists.

Free comics! Yaaaay!

FCBD. Starring everybody (and me)*

*Yes, that is an intentional Muppets reference.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Keeping it Real part 2

In my last post, I talked about the importance of setting up a perspective grid as the first step in making an illustration.

The other important first step is research. (Exactly which of the two, grid vs research is step 1 and which is step 2 varies for me, depending on what I'm working on.)

Research can be looking up photos on the internet or visiting similar locations and taking photographs of my own. Either way, I'll collect a whole bunch of photos. And then I won't copy any of them, exactly. But I will use them to help me figure out what might be included in the background when I design my locations. If I do use photo reference, it's  as a reminder of what kinds of things are visible on a rooftop, for example, and then I make up my own versions of those things.

I looked up a whole bunch of reference photos for New York City rooftops for this, but I didn't use a single one of them verbatim (or whatever the photo version of "verbatim" woud be) I just used them to remind myself what kinds of things might be found on a roof.

Even if I am using my own photographs for a specific location, I won't make quite an exact copy. In this example, I copied but greatly simplified my photograph of the gates at Trinity Bellwoods Park to set up a specific location, including just enough detail to be recognizable and believable, but without being slavish to the photograph. I didn't want to put so much detail in the background that it became distracting, because the picture is about the white squirrel, not the park gates.

When I was working on Grawlix #2 (which got renumbered as #3 by the time it was released) I used a pillar from one room, and a table from another, and windows and  decorations that I completely made up, and combined them to design the bistro where our characters get together on page 2 of my story.

Set dressing helps to establish the story, and the character. You can use subtle details to support the story and move it forward, or to tell the reader something about the person in the room.

When I was given the job of designing the personal office space for Number Two in issue 2 of Holmes Incorporated, I looked up a lot of images on executive office space and furniture, as well as what other artists had drawn in issue 1.  

Then I took all of that, looked at all of it, and let it influence but not dictate my designs. I used what I already knew about the character to create a space that specifically appropriate to him.

Good background and props design provides an extra layer of communication and another reason for someone to re-read the story, and handled properly it can also help establish and maintain the pace of the story, guide the readers along, and help them get to know the people that inhabit the story world.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Keeping it Real

OK, I know. I get it. 

Constructions and perspective grids are not the funnest, sexiest parts of making a piece of art. There's always a real temptation to skip this step and get right to the good bits of doing the drawing.

The little X is to remind myself which of these lines was the horizon
There's a saying in building things that applies as well to drawing: Measure twice, cut once.

If you take the time to carefully plan your drawing, you're less likely to have the artwork turn out wonky, or end up having to erase and re-draw a bunch of stuff because you accidentally used two different points of view on the same composition*

* and before you say "what about cubism" these rules apply double, or triple in that case, because each of the different points of view presented has to be consistent with itself.

It also helps to establish the settings of your drawings as a real place that people could visit.

When I'm doing constructions I mostly just hint at the location. I lay down the framework so that when I do the detailed illlustrations later, I have a basic idea where the characters are in the setting, and what details need to be added to create a sense of place.

If your viewers believe they could really go to the place where your characters are, then it will give them another way to connect with your story. At least, it seems that way to me.

Friday, March 9, 2012

I'm going to be at Toronto ComiCON

Come by booth A-51 in artists' alley and say Hi, or if something I've got catches your fancy, buy a sketch or a print.

Here's the last preview:

And now, I pay off the teaser from a couple of posts back ... 

My convention exclusive print for 2012 ...(which means the only place it'll be offered is at ComiCON this weekend and FanExpo in August, unless I book any other shows this year.)

Squirrel Girl in the City!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Taking flight

A while back, on what was practically a dare from a friend, I applied for a table in artist's alley at the Toronto ComiCON

And then, to my utter astonishment, I actually got in.

So, March 10-11 I'll be at table A51, with some prints and some artwork, and doing some sketches.

I figured that I would do up a special print for it, and throw in some local flavour.

Here's hint 1, my location photo reference.
 And here's hint #2, my initial construction lines.
So, if you're from Toronto and really, really nerdy you probably know where I'm going with this.

Other than that, here's a couple of other things I've got on hand.

So, here's me. Taking a deep breath and taking the plunge. Wish me luck.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Putting 'em up

So, there was some friendly smack talk over at Outcast Studios discussion boards, and now I've gotten myself signed up for Battle Artist on deviantArt. I guess I'm just a sucker for punishment because I'm out of my weight class going up against pretty much anyone else on the roster. But it's fun, and there's no particular shame in being 0 for 2.

The topic of the last battle was Ben 10, and we had a week to work on it.

The first thing I did was rent a DVD so I could learn what Ben 10 is. I'd heard of it, of course, because I haven't been living under a rock, but I'd never seen it. Incidentally, I will never get that theme song unstuck from my head now. I started out by filling out a couple of sketchbook pages while watching the show and getting an idea of the character.

While I was doing that, I also started working out what my own drawing was going to be about. 

I set up the composition on a simple, one-point perspective with the convergence point between Ben and his giant robot opponent, so that the piece is about the tension and the fight about to take place. Then I did a little design work on the giant robot arm itself so that I had a reference for it. These were done on a wee, 3x5 sketchpad during intermission at a concert. Because I like drawing, but I also like Beethoven.

I was happy enough with this sketch that I developed it a little more than I would usually do for a thumbnail sketch. And because the perspective is pretty straightforward, I skipped right to building a grid and rough construction on full-size comic board instead of making an intermediate construction and blowing it up on a copier. I forgot to scan that stage, though.

I added enough detail in the background to give a sense of location and what had happened up to this point in Ben's day, and checked that the composition still had energy to it. It still goes in a spiral, coming in down the robot arm, going up the black stripe on Ben's shirt, and then back down the pipes leading down the corridor, and even though the robot is closer to us and on the left hand side of the page, Ben is dominant, so it does what I intended.

I only sort of know what I'm doing with inking, but I managed to get some fairly clean lines down for this one, especially by my own standards. Looks like that inking class I'm taking from Ty Templeton is already paying off, halfway through.

And then, because I still had a day or so before the submission deadline, I decided to try doing some colours. I let the background be fairly dark and desaturated, so that Ben would stand out more.
So there you have it. That's how I throw down at an art fight.

I still lost, of course.

But my real opponent isn't whoever the randomizer stacks me against, my real opponent is myself.  And I'm making some pretty good drawings, and they're getting better all the time.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Back to the Basics

I got a copy of Figure Drawing for all it's Worth by Andrew Loomis for Christmas, which is awesome. So, naturally I'll be working through that for the next little while.

I've spent some time over the past few years in learning to draw, so some of the material in the book is stuff I've covered before. And sometimes in learning a skill, you'll find that you're revisiting stuff you'd already learned. 

The important thing in that case is to keep paying attention. Don't take anything for granted. There's the temptation to skim over "blah blah blah, I already know this stuff" but if you focus, and bring your more developed sensibility to the "beginner" material, you never know what new insights you can find.
There's no lesson that you can't still make new discoveries from, if you approach it with an open mind.