Tuesday, May 22, 2012

TMNT Casey Jones Cover Process:

Cover number 6 of 8 TMNT micro-series covers I'm doing for IDW is Casey Jones.
Not as familiar with both Casey in the new IDW series and with drawing humans in general, I talked over the cover with my editor Bobby Curnow. We established that Casey running through someplace in Central Park with vigilante sports equipment in-tow would be just the ticket. I referenced a few photos of hurdlers to get the pose, but found that professional hurdlers have too good of form to be convincing as teenager/vigilante Casey Jones...so I found a photo of a kindergarten field day where a 5 year old was leaping over a hurdle and it was the perfect form for Casey. I sketch out the figure on one page of my sketchbook and some benches on another.

In photoshop I compositied the drawing of Casey with the drawing of some park benches. At this stage I also did some quick lay-ins for how the tone of the piece was going to be and to fill in the background a bit. I told Bobby when I sent this in for approval that I'd be doing some digital painting for the background. I did get some notes on the rough cover, but they had to do with changing Casey's legs and replacing the cricket bat with a hockey stick. I took the opportunity to enlarge Casey a bit and rotate him to make the pose & layout more dynamic.

The inks for this piece went rather smoothly. I used a printed version of the above layout on the lightbox to ink this on bristol board. Normally for folds in fabric, I'm drawing mice in cloaks and use stippling, but here I just concentrated on some well placed contour lines. The most difficult part of the inking process was the tread of that oncoming shoe. I wanted it to read as true to being a converse all-star, but also to not be so detailed that you couldn't believe it is in motion. Something about how painless this piece was to ink should have given me warning...but it didn't.

The next step was to flat the colors and start that digital painting...oh...there is the problem...I don't really digitally paint much...I relly on hard ink outlines to guide my color work...uh-oh. After several attempts to get the painted background to look right in the same image as my hard linework, I opted to add more falling leaves as a background cover-up and distraction. Here you can see the background still in process, but with newly added drawn & inked leaves I patched in. I drew that batch of leaves on a separate sheet of paper...still wasn't doing the trick though.

I rationalized that when I do subtle color backgrounds in Mouse Guard, I often will have inked crosshatched lines that I just color-hold. This adds a unifying texture to the page and is certainly in my comfort zone. So I went back over all my painted background using a wacom tablet to paint in crosshatched lines. I built them up on top of each other more like 'painting' with colored pencil rather than paint. This technique did prove to be the solution that got me through the cover. Here you can see a close-up of the hatching

I'm showing the process out of order a bit. Here is the final rendered cover, with crosshatched background, but by the time I was doing the hatching, I had already rendered the figure of Casey, the benches, and that golf bag. This cover took a lot out of me. I don't know if I conveyed the self-doubt I had while working on this piece in my blog-write-up...but it was crushing. I spent more time on fixing that background than it usually takes me to do a cover from start to finish. But I'm happy enough with it to have turned it in, and IDW and Nickelodeon were both happy enough to approve it!

I've listed the original inked cover art, sketch, & overlay inks for sale on ebay. Provided the auction goes well, I'll list the Splinter cover next...

2012 Appearances:
Heroes: June 22-24
San Diego Comic Con: July 11-15
Baltimore Comic Con: Sept 8-9
New York Comic Con: Oct 11-14
Detroit Fanfare: Oct 26-28

1 comment:

Max West said...

Cool work! Changing the cricket bat to a hockey stick is understandable. To paraphrase Raphael from the first live-action TMNT movie, nobody understands cricket here in the USA.

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