Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Runners: "The Big Snow Job" Pinup:

I did a pinup for my pal Sean Wang's sci-fi comic "Runners" second arc: The Big Snow Job. Runners is like all the Han, Lando, & Chewbacca adventures you imagined happened in the Star Wars universe. I met Sean after his first arc had been collected and I was just in the middle of Fall 1152 and we clicked as friends pretty quickly. I did a pinup exchange with him back when he first started posting his second arc as a webcomic (you can see that process post here). Sean invited me back to do another piece, but this time in theme with the 2nd arc as he worked toward collecting it as a single volume...which is now being Kickstarted here.

Here was the process in creating the pinup. I drew out the characters in my sketchbook without really knowing the final composition. This was more a way of re-learning how to draw the characters and in their winter gear. This image is a bit of a photoshop-cheat for sake of the blog...these sketches were stretched over the course of 2-3 pages in my sketchbook and aside less desirable roughs of the character's heads & hands. But when I got a version of everyone that I liked, I scanned them to see if I could piece together a usable layout from it.

The result of assembling the various drawings in several configurations ended up being a square shaped group shot. To bump it up to a tall comic-sized piece, I added a bottom panel of a plot point from The Big Snow Job: a group of yak-like beasts the crew is interested in smuggling....but ends up being more than they bargained for. The inside-binocular framing and the yaks themselves were taken directly from Sean's pages for the sake accuracy in this layout. The lines you see framing the whole piece represent 'live area' and bleed'. Everything important needs to stay inside the innermost line, but I have the extend the artwork out to the outermost line to guarantee that when this is printed, the art goes beyond where the paper will be trimmed.

I printed the above layout and used it as a guide on my lightbox as I inked the final art on Starthmore 300 bristol. To tie the yak panel together with the characters above it, I added a pair of binoculars to Ril's hands. Inking a piece like this I focus on making sure each character stands out against whatever is around them. Sometimes that has to do with texture, sometimes it has to do with light on dark shapes (or the reverse), and sometimes just comes down to a strong contour line. I tried to give each character a different line treatment either on their skin or clothing so the mass of body shapes didn't just blend together. The linework was all done with Copic Multiliners and the bottom panel fills were done with a brush.

To start the coloring process, I layed in flat colors (no shading or texture) on the scanned inkwork. As I've said in all of my past process posts, flatting is a fancy term for establishing color areas that is the equivalent of coloring within the lines. It makes it easier to isolate each part (character A's skin, Character B's glove, Character C's hair..etc...) when it comes time to render the color. I included my layers menu in the screen grab of the flats. I tend to label them all to make life easier on me. The layer marked 'linework' is the scan of the inks. It is set to layer mode "multiply" so that photoshop allows the white areas to become like a transparency and the black linework to be opaque. All other layers are set to layer mode normal. You can see the layers above the linework are the color holds of opaque color on top of the linework, while the layers below the inks are groupings of color groups: skin, clothes, eyes, etc.

The final colors get redered and textured using the dodge and burn tools (terms used in photographic developing that basically mean lighten and darken or over/under expose). I use a textured brush to get that pebbled look to all the colors. Besides the rendering and color holds, this piece has a few other effects. The falling snow is added in digitally (for Mouse Guard I usually do this in ink on paper and then scan and invert the dots and streaks, but for this piece I just painted them in in photoshop). A few characetrs have cold breath coming out of their mouths, and the binoculars got a grain filter added to look more like a digital display screen.

Runners is a really fun and well written and drawn comic. You can read both arcs on Sean's website RunnersUniverse.com for free! BUT, consider going to his Kickstarter where you can get volume 2, and select not only volume 1 as a reward, but also BOTH of my Runner's pieces as prints!: Click here to view the Runner's Kickstarter

Watercolor Wednesday: 
First up from last Wednesday's offerings is a piece titled Applekettle. The word came to me a while back when I needed a name for something, but it ended up being too odd for that purpose. I later used it as the name of the mouse puppetry troupe that put on the marionette show in the 2012 Free Comic Book Day story. This painting was an attempt at a visual of the word...or perhaps the puppetry troupe's logo?

The second watercolor from last week is simply a radish.

I'll post a new painting in the store next week.

2013 Appearances: 
Fabletown Con: March 22-24
C2E2: April 26-28
Spectrum Live: May 17-19
Heroes Con: June 7-9
Albuquerque Comic Expo June 21-23
San Diego Comic Con: July 17-21
*more 2013 dates coming*

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