Friday, 30 December 2011

The Art Restoration Project Part 5: The End!

At last, I've reached the end of my art save project...well, there's one more but that's a whole illustration rather than just a figure and I can't figure out why it's so bad so that's for sometime down the road, as are two characters I want to draw again so less restoration and more of completely new versions.

Anyway, these are the last of them for now, so from the top:

After fiddling with resizing and tweaks, the previously saved version still felt wrong proportion wise so I just gave in and drew a whole new upper body. Think this works a lot better now and glad I can finally lay this Frankenstein's monster to rest...

Next the middle pic. I actually had nothing against the original version except it was done as a request for somebody and the face looked a bit generic and not really like the subject (I had no reference to work from) so I just did a new head to divorce it from the person it was supposed to be...

Finally, Daphne of Scooby Doo. The original version is OK but I wanted a cleaner polish. Already there were two versions of the original, the second being a slightly altered one extending the legs. I used this as the starting point for the new version, altering the position of the shoulders significantly. I liked the cleaner version but the skirt went wrong so I did it again and finally got it right. I realised the figure would look better with complete legs rather than just tapering off so I drew the legs separately (due to running out of space on the page), resized the upper body to match in Photoshop and voila, finis. Ironically, my original idea was to draw a realistic version of a cartoon character but by eliminating most of the detail, I've returned to an almost cartoon-like version but still like it...

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Recent Reads

In between drawing here and there, I've still been managing to whittle down my Sisyphean pile of reading material. (I'm currently reading a good biography of Joe Kubert and have over 18 books/graphic novels to wade through, though thankfully some of them are artbooks so will take less time to digest).

One of the best books I've read recently is Supergods by Grant Morrison. I've mentioned it previously but it's a cultural history of the superhero, intertwined with a semi-autobiography of Morrison. It's one of the most infectious, illuminating and fascinating reads I've had in a long time so would urge anyone to have a read, even if they're not fans of Morrison's work.

Modern comics, I've been enjoying JH Williams' stuff on Batwoman and James Robinson's return to Opal City in the pages of The Shade. I picked up the Must Have collection of Ultimate New Spider-Man #1-3, mainly as the preview art looked gorgeous and indeed it is, Sara Pichelli jettisoning the cartoony/manga inspired style she used in Runaways for a more natural one, excellently served by some of the best computer colouring seen in comics by Justin Ponsnor.

Again, my gripe with Bendis is his pacing: great dialogue but he sacrifices the plot in favour of it. Three issues in (much like the original Ult Spidey), Miles still hasn't donned his costume. I don't mind that but in three issues, essentially he gets but, manifests powers, moves to a coveted school with his best friend and learns his uncle is a bit dodgy. It's like a McDonald's burger, OK when you're taking a bit but once you're done, you wonder where the real heft was.
Incidentally, I hate the Ultimate Spider-man costume as it looks like you could only comfortably draw it using layers or fiddling with the select tool on photoshop. The whole think looks awkward so I took a shot at revising the costume, this pic being the second after the first (which just eliminated the webbing and played with the emblem really) pretty much sucked.
I've been continuing to sample vintage and Euro comics, turning up some obscure stuff by accident. Blazing Combat is a collection of the 4-issue series from the 60s, featuring short EC-influenced war stories set anywhere from ancient Greece, the Revolutionary War, the World Wars and Vietnam. With art by Wally Wood, John Severin and Alex Toth among others, this was a great collection with terrific art: Russ Heath's sole strip featured perhps some of the finest comic art I've ever seen.
I've never read too much 200AD but the art attracted me to their new collection of Cradlegrave. Great storytelling and art help make the council-estate set tale of a neighbour with something wrong feel totally real, bringing to mind TV shows like The Fades or Misfits: this could easily make a decent telemovie.I stumbled across an edition of Sam Pezzo, PI, an Italian detective comic that I'd never heard of but fell in love with the art: must find more stuff by artist Vittorio Giardino. Legend of the Scarlet Blades is a sumptuous collection of a fully painted European series set in feudal Japan but with touches of fantasy, another pleasant discovery.
My real find is Milo Manara. I've always wanted to try his work but was put off by the sexual nature of a lot of it. I read X-Women, which was pretty but not a great read but then I found Pandora's Eyes and the first edition of Dark Horse's Manara Library. I was blown away by the latter: each line looks effortlessly graceful and the storytelling is beautiful: despite the nasty events, the opening pages are totally silent and really draw you in. Looking at this makes you realise again just how crude most comic art is in comparison to those true artists working in the field. I can't wait for the second (of 9) volumes and may even be tempted by Dark Horse's 3-volume collection of Manara's erotica. Nevertheless, I'd highly recommend the Manara Library...

Saturday, 24 December 2011

The Art Restoration Project Part 4 (of 4 but now 5)

I thought I'd pulled out the last remaining bits of old art I felt able to save (BTW, I saw Kevin Nowlan doing this recently on his blog, which made me feel a lot less pickety :) ) but I've done a fair few commissions this month so while making scans of them for myself, I looked into my folder of commission work (ranging from cartoony, semi cartoony and realistic) and felt I could tweak a few and reclaim them as pieces of my work rather than for others (drawings of strangers don't feel like I own them for some reason...)

Anyway, from the top:

Quite like this one: just had to erase the over sized head (it was a caricature), some stuff from the right hand, specific text from the books and a few other bits and I think this is pretty spiffy now.

This was originally part of a group picture so I dropped the two guys, erased the original head, shaved the shoulders off a bit and added a new head and bingo, another save.

This was actually a cleaner reinked version of an old pic, the outfit based on one somebody I worked with wore: the geometric designs reminded me of a comic/sci fi costume design so thought I'd commit it to paper. This isn't a likeness of the person though (though similar hairstyles)...

Boy, this one was work. Originally a slightly exaggerated A3 caricature of 9/10 year old, I looked at it after and thought I could save that. I had to reproportion the whole thing by shortening the legs, reducing the size of the upper body, repositioning the arms and dropping in a new head (which annoyingly looks to me like Erica Durance, who I can't seem to get right even when I want to I attempt to draw her!!Rrrr!! I coloured this blonde just to break the similarity) and removing an X-factor logo from the microphone. Still slightly odd proportions but not a bad Frankenstein's monster...

Finally, another figure I'd already saved from a group shot. I just went back and slightly reduced the head to more standard proportions and removed details from the face and repositioned some features slightly.

Now there WILL be only one more Art Restoration post to follow (with two other subjects already in mind).

Well, it's 24 December so Happy Easter!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Dr Who Christmas Woddafug?

Not sure how to link to videos (did it so long ago, I've forgotten) but have a look at posibly the most bonkers Dr Who ever...

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Christmas Card Conundrum

Ah, the Christmas card...there are those who begrudge them, feeling you should stay in contact or express goodwill to those you know more than once a year. I can understand that...but annoying and ephemeral as they are, who doesn't really feel a little twinge of pleasure upon receiving a Xmas card?

Friends and family, no problem...but the workplace? Oh, that's an entirely different species of reindeer. Much as you can't choose your family, you generally can't choose your workmates. Some will be great company, others intolerable monsters and other still just..there. So when it comes to card giving, things can get a bit awkward.

There are people in my office I genuinely want to give a card to, a handful of others I really don't and most others floating somewhere amongst my indifference. Thing do you give cards to some and not the others without causing offense or recriminations? If you cave and give cards to all, then what's the value of the cards you genuinely want to give? This is the Christmas card conundrum.

I need C-3PO as honestly, what is the protocol here?

I think I'm just gonna bite the bullet and give cards to the few people at work I really want to...

Sunday, 18 December 2011

The Art Restoration Project Part 3 (of 4!)

Thank God for time off over Christmas as I've been drawing my arse off lately. As well as 6 commissions of varying size and difficulty, I've managed to squeeze in a few other bits here and there. Originally sparked off when sorting out my art files recently, I've had a small number of old pieces I really liked but that could do with a slight tweak. I've been light boxing and re inking these in a cleaner style or adjusting proportions, errors and so on.

As a result of two different stages, the Carol Danvers Ms Marvel above doesn't actually exist in the physical world, as it's composed of a reproportioned drawing from the emblem up with the original body below. The dolphin isn't technically what I'm calling an art save as it's a completely different version of a commission originally let down by a poor likeness but it shows some of the commission stuff I've been doing. The Sharon Ventura Ms Marvel and Saturn Girl are streamlined re-inkings of old pics and technically the angel qualifies as a save as I've added a different backdrop to replace the original done over at the Weekly Themed Art Blog.

Only a handful of stuff left to do then 3 pages for Too Much Sex and Violence to ink and then I'm nearer to pondering my own two projects...

Friday, 16 December 2011

Hugo There!

It has to be said, I'm not a Scorcese fan. That's not to say I don't like his work- he's undoubtedly a master - just that the subject matters for his films (sports, crime, period pieces, etc) usually hold no interest for me. I've only seen the first two Godfathers (both OK but overlong, despite numerous great scenes), Taxi Driver's OK but overrated and I've never watched Goodfellas, raging Bull or many other careers highs.

So last night we went to see Hugo: I've read nothing and heard nothing about it so went expecting nothing...and found myself sucked into a film that feels like a fairytale but is actually totally non-fantastical but becomes a very meta thing. It's hard to talk much about the film much without giving away spoilers but about halfway through, you realise we've been watching a movie about movies, commenting on cinema's earliest days and echoing its effects in the literal world.

There are some great performances: Chloe Moritz's warm and charming turn with a pitch-perfect English accent, Sasha Baron Cohen being brilliantly odd but not extreme (I dread to think how Carrey would have hammed that role up), a stern but soft Christopher Lee and touching support from Emily Mortimer and whoever plays the wife of Ben Kingsley, who also puts in a typically solid performance.

This won't be every body's cup of tea, a critic's dream but a mainstream audience's anathema. It's not a worthy movie in the hand wringing sense...but it's well worth a look if you fancy something charming and intelligent, topped off with some probably the best 3D seen since Avatar...

Sunday, 4 December 2011

The Art Restoration Project Part 2

Been busy with tons of art recently. As well as pencilling three pages for Too Much Sex and Violence #3, I've ghosted a page for #2 (panels above), continued performing art "restorations"(i.e., either applying patches to save previous work or light boxing them in a cleaner line style) (with varying degrees, turns out I still prefer my decade-old versions of Saturn Girl and Ms Marvel than the clean line versions I did today), tried doing a male figure in clean line (dunno why Adam Warlock sprang to mind but he did) and am currently nearly halfway through a commission while pottering about an another art save.

Time to sit back and relax with some good reading before Misfits tonight, so pix above should hopefully speak for themselves but may be interestingly confusing...

Sunday, 27 November 2011

The Art Restoration Project

Whilst off ill this week, I took the opportunity to tidy up a box file of art I have and found a few interesting pieces I'd forgotten. Although I'm dabbling with a clean line style, I found some doodles from a few years back also done in this style. I have no idea what they were done for but with a little tweak here and there, I thought I could save them and transform them into pieces I could bear to look at. So, after some scanning of art patches and usage of Photoshop, here's the pieces I managed to retrieve yesterday:

From the top, these three were done as experiments. The first two just needed new heads to save them (I like the far left one best but it was hard to get decent detail on the faces at the size drawn) but the far right (originally done as Suzy from the Jock on a doodle page with other Jock stuff) needed just the face redoing and the hair filling out slightly...

Of the Supergirls, only the flat colouring was done (replacing more elaborate efforts in the past) but the fast was quite a patch job. Originally done as part of a commission featuring a whole family, I still had a scan of the original line art, as well as a photocopy. I drew new arms to replace ones cut out (as they interacted with other family members), layered them in via Pshop and slightly reduced the size of the head (as it was a slight caricature). Not a bad save, I think...

I'd always fancied redesigned the Flamebird costume (introduced as the post-Crisis version of the 50s bat-Girl) and her reappearance in new togs in Batwoman #3 reminded me of that. I always hated flame designs on clothes but liked how JH Williams III added ruffles of cloth to emulate flame. I came across an4 scan of a Batwoman pic done a few years ago and intended to lightbox but there's something about it that bugs me that I just can't specify so this Flamebird is actually a whole new drawing based on the original. It's a slightly streamlined version of the current outfit, extending the tunic tails into the same skirt as the Flamebird costume and adding Bat-Girlesque scalloping to the cape...

I lightboxed a Power Girl that I used to like but now slightly bugged me. Keeping to a clear line this time, I lowered her left (our right) shoulder and added a whole new cape: now I'm pretty happy with this (though the hair bugs me a bit...)

I quite liked the line art to this Mucha piece but hated the original coloured version. I removed some elements of the background that spoiled the whole thing for me (though I have made another alternate version whilst working on this that keeps certain elements, mirroring them to make a squarish backdrop rather than the more pleasing circular one) and flat-coloured the figure. Like the Power Girl, slight edits but ones that really help this sing for me...

Less of a save and more of a second attempt. Annoyed at how shite the first attempt at Katy Perry went (again, don't ask), I did a really quick drawing using different reference. I was intending to shade this and scan it in, but I really liked the simple line work so scanned it in as is, shaded/coloured it via Pshop and ta-dah, a whole better than KPMk I...

As mentioned previously, this is a reinked version of an earlier pic of Amy Pond that I mostly liked, except for the brush inking (lightboxing your own finished art feels like a weird thing to do for some reason...)

Finally, just another flat recolouring of an older drawing, this Rogue isn't perfect but is one of my favourite pieces of line work...

Tuesday, 22 November 2011


This weekend, I threw caution (and cash) to the wind and travelled up to Leeds for the Thought Balloon comic convention. I didn't know what to expect but was pleasantly surprised, it was a comfortable venue with a range of small press and pro comics, as well as a number of big name creators.

Of course, the main reason for me going was to see Adam Hughes, long since my favourite artist. He has given up doing convention sketches as too many people were flipping the art straight on to eBay, screwing both Adam and his fans over in regards to money charged.

We got there as the con opened, made it in surprisingly quickly and I picked up the schedule/layout thing and darted straight over to where Adam was sitting. There was a queue already forming but it moved fairly quickly and Adam was not only signing but doing free quick head sketches on card slightly smaller than US comic size. Of course, I took my copy of Cover Run (one of my favourite books) and got a Wonder Woman sketch inside (I saw some nice Catwomen and Batgirls that Adam drew, and would have liked Power Girl really but felt it might be a bit generic in black and white so defaulted to WW).

As well as picking up his latest sketchbook, I also got the following items signed:

Eagle #6 (Adam's first published work)
Comics Greatest World: Ghost (first appearance of Ghost by Adam)
Star Trek Debt of Honour HC (early full-length project)
Justice League #31 (Adam's first issue)
Dark Horse Presents #50 (fun one-off strip by Adam and Karl Story)
Gen 13 Ordinary Heroes #1 and 2 (last major interiors done by Adam)
Comic Book Artist #21 (great cover and interview, plus I( get a credit!)
as well as a bootleg foreign sketchbook (that's pretty shonky as it's full of art cribbed from the net) that I pointed out that Adam may not want to sign but he did so before realising it wasn't official (so that's rare but I'll never part with it anyway).

The rest of the con could be a washout as far as I was concerned as I had what I wanted and was well pleased, but the day continued being pretty cool. Definitely do it again, though will have to think about the travel (train was so overcrowded, a girl passed out and the railway still don't even know as it was so ram-packed, they weren't even checking tickets...)

Monday, 21 November 2011

Washing The Ships Roll In...

Typically, my washer/dryer decides to pack up at the most inopportune time, plunging me further into financial woe in the run up to Xmas and curtailing a long-awaited weekend away as I had to be back to wait for the engineer to come out today. Still, took the time to finish a few art projects, as seen above:

Top: I really liked the Amy Pond piece I did recently...but hated some of the brushwork so I decided to redo it using pens. I couldn't find the original ref I had so lightboxed my own original drawing! Much happier with the new version (nobody else will see the difference but I know...). Frustratingly, I found the ref after finishing the re-inking...

Next: Inspired by how Amy came out, thought I'd try another face and settled on Katy Perry (don't ask). As a likeness this is atrocious but as a piece on its own, I quite like this...

Next: Coloured version of a recent Catwoman (done experimenting with a pared down rendering style)...

Finally: Originally done as a Dave Sim/Glamourpuss-inspired experiment with lightboxing, I am fairly happy with this drawing so decided to simply colour it with flats after completing the more involved Catwoman...

Not pictured here are a scan of a Blue Beetle, Booster Gold and Cyclops sketch done on the train this weekend, an old Rogue pic I also started recolouring today and a portrait of Will Self (yet again...don't ask...)

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Indiana Wants Me

I still have a collection of Alex Toth strips from the 50s sitting on my shelf waiting for me to get around to reading but after reading Genius Isolated, I was inspired to try and emulate his approach: no faffing about, just bold simple linework with a minimum of detail.

I did this Indy figure a while back but couldn't figure why it didn't work and it suddenly dawned on me a few days ago. His left hand (as we look at him) arm was a few inches too short so I extended it via Photoshop and suddenly, the basics were right. No time to do a decent backdrop so I cheated on this attempt to capture a pulpy feel. This style's not for me but think this is an ok attempt, nothing I'd keep in a portfolio though...

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Bits n Bobbins

Managed to pop out a fair few bits recently so thought I'd post them here (another piece done is being held back until it's formal unveiling)...

So from the top, the first four of which were all done yesterday (although the second only needed shading):

Thought I'd take a crack at a modern animation style tweak of Space Ghost...

Completed version of a Christmas commission, quite happy with this (though could have been better if my marker's weren't running out)...

Rejected idea for a mashup thread on the Weekly Themed Art Board: after rejecting a Blue Beetle/Booster Gold amalgam and the X-Men done as Family Guy characters, I decided to take the current Star Trek/legion of Superheroes crossover comic one step further and enlisted Saturn Girl (more the 90s legionnaires version) into Starfleet...

Ultimately I decided against this and went for the Loony Tunes as the JLA...

Another Art Board thread was Dinosaurs and I picked Old Lace from Runaways but used Carolina instead of Gertie as it meant I could continue practising render-free detailing...

The last is just a colour job of a Wonder Woman done by Adam Hughes for a DC office mural of the new 52, thought a quick colour version would be nice to see...