Monday, November 30, 2009

Page 3 done. Page 4 undercoat

Finished page 3. I'm having fun playing with the purple smoke. As I mentioned before I tried to get the smoke into panel #5 but it ended up starting to look like light rays so I just went with that on that panel. Light rays works fine for that one. But I am enjoying painting purple swirls in front of the clif walls and behind the character when there's nothing but sky behind him. I hit the wash with a dash of blue to indicate the sky poking through the smoke.

It's fun to paint the dark bees and the darkness of the inside of the cave. I enjoy getting dark colors in watercolor. I never use black. I used to use neutral tint from time to time, but I'm going to do this book without it. I'm getting good darks with different combinations of burnt sienna, sap green and ultramarine blue.

My biggest challenge so far is to remember which concentration of what colors I'm using for the boy's clothes. I've got a color test I did, but as I've been going on I've used a little green here and a little red there that I hadn't used in the color test, so he's changing a little bit like a chameleon from shot to shot. But I'm not too concerned about that. So long as the darks things are dark and the light things are light, I don't think the exact colors need to match from panel to panel. Anyone might appear to be made up of different colors depending on the angle of view and lighting.

I do plan on adding a wash of cerulean blue across the cliff wall to make the stone a bit more cold and help the character to stand out a bit more. The page is pretty orange as it is.

Here's the cerulean blue undercoat for page 4. I've gone in and painted the rope and hinted at the smoke for each panel, and have done a bit of light color work here and there as I got distracted for the undercoat. But soon I'll get on to the full on painting. I can't say what method I prefer most yet. Painting across the entire page and all panels as I've got the colors wet, or working on one panel at a time.

I assume I'll fal into a rhythm at one point, but it ain't happened yet.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Page 3 painting in progress

Page 3 painting is coming along well. Here I am painting a panel with a beehive perched right next to a cave in the cliff wall. I've used cerulean blue as the undercoat shadow of the cave. I prefer it to ultramarine blue as it is light, and I can cover it up if I so choose.
Here I've gone in with burnt sienna and ultramarine blue to get a dark brown, while leaving patches of light which were originally to represent smoke rising (though I ended up making it look more like light shafts in the end). At this stage I'm starting to get the tones I want.
By the end of the panel I've gone over again and popped out the forms of the cave beasts without being to obvious that there are two hairy lumps in the cave. I'd like it to be a little vague as to what they are, but if you can tell, it's not a big deal. I added a touch of cadmium red to their coats to break them up a little from the rocks around them. I painted the bees with a thick coat of ultramarine blue and burnt sienna, with cadmium yellow highlights.

I won't be able to finish the page for a few more days as I'm taking my wife away for her birthday this weekend.

I've really got to pick up my pace soon, but I'm still not that comfortable with my approach yet. I need to take the time I'm taking to insure the quality level I'm striving for. How do you balance quality with speed? In the end I want something that I can be proud of, but I'd like to finish the book within the next year. What I've got now is a product I am proud of, and at the moment, quality is more important than efficiency. So, hopefully in time my efficiency will catch up to my quality and this beast of a book will finish itself.

Thanks for keeping up on my project.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Page 4 pencils complete

I finished the pencils for page 4, though I haven't yet started painting page 3.

At the top we watch as Kodo sews a needle through a piece of wax, then lowers it to his companions below. He continues to carve out honeycomb and pass it down. Then, from within the darkness of the opening in the cliff wall, a beast moves into the light, and Kodo jumps back, panicked. It is only a female, therefore not as large as the males, but Kodo has never before been this close to one of the apes, and it looks large enough for him to make a quick retreat.

I am planning on painting the beast mostly in shadow, but I drew the whole thing so I know where to paint the lights and darks. I do want to show the creature well enough that you can tell how it will differ from the beast that Eleya fights in the arena, so I want to give you a pretty good view. You will see it a bit more on the next page as well. I had originally written that the beast in the arena was your first introduction to the creatures, but later thought it'd be good to show the reader a beast in its natural setting. I want you to see that they are just animals living their lives, and that it is the humans who have created this legend around them.

Tomorrow I'll start the painting for page 3.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

workspace and watercolor board

I"ve been stretching my watercolor out on art boards, which are not meant to withstand the pressure of watercolor paper. They are too weak and warp once the watercolor paper gets wet. But I wasn't wiling to pay $40 for a watercolor board. It's justa piece of wood with a finish on it. So instead of buying a watercolor board, I made one. Well, two, actually.

I went to OSH and bought a piece of birch plywood which I cut to make two 20x24 boards. I lightly sanded the plywood on all sides, as I don't want splinters when handling the watercolor board. Then I dusted off one of the surfaces and applied a coat of waterbased finish (Minwax Polycrilic Protective Finish) to the dusted surface. After allowing to dry for a few hours I applied a second coat. Let sit for a day and voila! I've got two watercolor boards for a total of $13. I like to have two pages on boards at a time so I can make changes to the previous page based on how the painting on the current page is going. I can't tell you how glad I've been to have kept a page on the board after starting the next one.

I began drawing page 4 while I let page 3 stretch on the board. As you can see from my photo here I've got the pages I've completed on the wall along with some character designs of the characters appearing on page 4. Then I've got my reference photos and my layout version of the comic so I know what the hell I'm going to draw.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Page 3 pencils

Here are the pencils for page 3. On this page Kodo has caught his fall, while his grandfather watches from below. Then Kodo sees the beehive. He moves in closer to examine the hive. The hive sits on the edge of a crack, or cave in the cliff wall. Kodo begins stabbing at the hive and peeling away the protective wax.

The panel on the bottom right and the bottom left are opposite framings, one from below and one from above, yet Kodo is the same size in both panels. I'd rather they weren't the same size. Whenever possible I try to avoid drawing a character the same size in two panels. But I'm happy with the drawings, so I'm going to leave them as is.

I ended up adding a jewel hanging from the old man's forehead that I will have to add into page 2. It was actually part of the man's design, but I'd overlooked it. I haven't cut Page 2 off the board yet, so it should be ok to add it.

I'm going to try and pick up a better surface to tape my paintings to as an art board is not really sturdy enough. I want to try something that's cheaper than the watercolor board you buy for $40 at Blicks. Seems like a ripoff. But I need something that will be sturdy enough, will not stain my paper if it gets wet, and preferably isn't too heavy. Someone at APE said he uses masonite, but that sounds like it'd be really heavy. I'll check out OSH tomorrow and see if there's anything that looks promising.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Page 2 complete

I painted page 2 at APE, but was too tired to finish it up Sunday night, so I sat down with it Monday night and gave it a good lookover. There were many pencil lines still showing through and I hadn't really darkened many areas, so I went through and did a tightening up pass. I went over all the pencil lines with a darker color of whatever object I was painting. Dark reddish brown on the skin (burnt sienna and cadmium red), and a more wheat brown on the robes (burnt sienna and yellow ochre). I think the whole thing looks much more cohesive now. I found a new dark brown by mixing sap green with burnt sienna. It gives a nice rich brown that isn't too red. I used it on the boy's cloth that cross his chest.

It's pretty late, so I won't cut the painting off the board tonight. One last glance at it tomorrow woth fresh eyes, then I'm on to penciling the next page.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

APE. Day 1

Had a great first day at APE. I'm sitting next to a guy named Nate Powell. He's done a ton of work and I picked up his most recent book, Swallow Me Whole. I just started reading it tonight, and it is great.

I missed the Jeff Smith panel today which bummed me out, because I hear it was great. He'll be back tomorrow to sign autographs and what-not, so I'm going to meet up with him to get my RASL #1 signed. My son Kodo's going to bring his complete Bone volume (which he's read so much it's in two pieces) to get it signed.

People seem to like my style and I'm coming along with the painting for page 2. I didn't quite finish today, but I will definitely finish tomorrow as I'm that close.

APE today

If you've got time over the weekend, come on down to 620 7th St, San Francisco for the Alternative Press Expo. It's a good time.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Darn Photos

I've been having trouble taking photos of my artwork to create prints from. The photo on the top is one I took a few months back when I was almost finished with the cover. The photo looks nice, with natural white and good darks, but the painting was not complete at the time I took the photo. The photo on the bottom is of the completed painting as it is currently, but the photo is washed out and yellow and looks like crap because I couldn't get decent natural lighting. The one on the top was taken on a sunny day with some nice indirect light. I can't make prints of the Xiola cover from the photos I have of the final piece, nor can I get the correct lighting with my crappy lamps I've got at my house. Tomorrow would be the last day for getting prints made, so it looks like I won't have any Xiola prints for sale at APE. dammit.

I hate not having the proper tools.


APE approacheth!

Well, I have been frantically trying to get some stuff together for APE this weekend. I am in the process of getting some prints made up of my cover art, but can't get a good photo to print from. I need to take a photo during the day so I get good lighting, but I leave for work while it's still dark out, and I get home after sundown. Perhaps it'll be clear enough and bright enough tomorrow morning before I leave for work to take a good shot. Then I can send it to my printer and get the prints made by Friday.

I'm also trying to design my booth. I'd like to get an Uncommon Comics sign made, and create some way fo displaying it. Perhaps with PVC piping I can build some sort of stand. I just don't want it to look shoddy. And I'd like to display some of my original artwork, but don't really know how that would work. Should I frame them? They are weird sizes that would need custom frames, so that's out of the question as I don't have enough time. I need to make a stand of some kind for the posters. Probably out of gator or cardboard. I really ought to have started my booth planning much earlier. I think of myself as a doer, but I'm also a planner, and like to do things the right way... which takes a while.

So here's what I've got planned for my booth. I'll be selling Wanderings books for $1 a pop, just like at Comic Con. I will have a bunch of business cards to give away. I'll have a notebook of Xiola sketches for people to look through. I'll have original artwork posted up somehow. I'd like to have prints of both my Wanderings, and Xiola cover available. I may just print up 10 of each and sell them for $5 and see how that goes. But what size do I print them at? 12x16? Smething smaller? Argh! So many variables. I can't find anywhere to buy mylar bags except online, which would have to be overnighted, so I may go without.

I have always been more used to working with others and didn't realize how much I relied on other people's input. When I'm left on my own I've got a lot of self doubt. Somehow or other, though, I'll have a booth at APE, then Wondercon and so on until I have a system to the madness. Once I've got a system, I'm cool. I like to be organized and efficient. I may just say f-it and go the simple route, just like I did at Comic Con. I'll just hang at my table selling Wanderings, and promoting Xiola. I need to make a decision.

I also need some sleep.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Page 2 painting coming along

I stretched my watercolor paper out on an art board. Check out how warped the board is because of the paper tightening. I really ought to get a real watercolor board, but I hate the idea of paying $40 for a piece of wood. I think I'm going to hit up OSH and see if I can buy a piece of wood for cheaper. Or maybe I can use an old ikea desk top from work.

I am choosing to use 1 palette for the book so that the entire book will have a similar feel. But I do feel limited at times. I mean, I'm basically painting a book where most backgrounds are going to be variations on browns, with people with browns and their clothes which are shades of brown. I'm putting some color here and there, but I sure seem to use a lot of Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, and Cadmium Yellow. I throw in a little Cadmium Red and Sap Green here and there, and use Cerulean Blue and Ultramarine Blue for shadows and to darken my browns. I've got a Purple Madder for the smoke and I keep Sepia on my palette whenever I want a real dark something, but I use it sparingly as it kills all the color beneath it.

I'm going to try and finish this page by the weekend, and get the next page penciled so I can start painting it while at APE on the 17th and 18th.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Page 2 pencils finished

Here's my first page with panels. I'm pretty happy with it. In this page I introduce you to Kodo, a young honey collector, as he makes his way down a cliff wall. He coughs from the smoke and slips, sending stones down on the people tending the fire below. An old man watches him with blind eyes.

The old man on the bottom right is kind of weak. He looks a little flat. But I like the energy in the two middle panels: the close-up of the boy coughing and the close-up of his foot slipping. Those panels have energy to them. I found that while drawing the close-up of the old man I slowed my pace down, and whenever I do that my drawings tend to end up stiff. I've got to let the lead flow. Let it flow.

I started on a color test tonight, but it was turning out real weak. The photo I took of the pencils came out too dark. I really need to photograph the art during the day when I've got nice natural lighting. Hopefully I'll be able to color test and actually start the painting tomorrow night. I'd like to start picking up the pace more. I've got a long way to go. My goal would be to get a couple of pages done each week; pencils to paint.

I've got some planning to do for APE next month. I've got less than three weeks. I'd like to make some prints of my cover, and possibly something else, but I don't know what. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Page 2 pencils in progress

I got most of the drawing for the second page finished this weekend. I did a little redesign on the honey collector character, and I designed his grandfather character and the other secondary honey collectors. I'm running out of steam tonight, so I'll have to finish up the page 2 pencils tomorrow night.

I also took some ref photos of my friend Leonard Robel who is playing the Flyer character named.. Robel. He's got a great serious look. Lots of angles in his face. Jutting brow. Fun features to draw. I like this shot.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Page 1 mostly done.

I wrapped up painting for the night. I was able to really darken up the foreground tree and cliff, but I think I need to add some of the reddish browns into the cliff on the left. I like its color better in the color study up on the right.

You can see some of my reference images here too. Cool cliffs and old gnarled trees. I live for reference, but probably rely on it too much. I guess I feel that I better keep painting from reality as much as possible or I will never get any better. All my work will get too cartoony if I just make everything up.

I'm going to try and pencil out the next page this weekend. It's got panels, a main character, crazy perspective, smoke, fire, and bees. Gonna be a tough one.

By the way. I just signed up for WonderCon SF in April. I am very excited to be all over the convention scene. Now I've just got to become more prolific. I should take a vacation after my current project at work; spend some time working on my book. I need all the time I can get.

Take it easy.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Page 1 undercoat and color test

I did a few color tests for page 1 and here's the one I preferred on the top left. I've now completed the cerulean blue undercoat. I don't know why, but cerulean blue may become my undercoat of the entire book. It helps to lay out my shadows lightly with cerulean blue as I can pretty much cover it up with any color. My darkest darks are going to be on the closest cliff with the tree. The next darkest will be the cliff on the left, and so on into the background. I may leave the far background mountains simply as they are now. We'll see.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Page 1 drawing mostly complete

Drawing out the first page I have lots of questions for myself. How dark do I want my pencil lines? How much detail and shading am I going to do in the pencil stages, and how much in the watercolor? Should I still add the vulture in the sky, or is the tree a good enough focal point? I think I made up my mind on the first two, but I'm too tired to decide on whether or not to add a bird. The sky seems busy to me because of the tree branches, and I'm going to be adding text to the sky on the left, so I can't put the bird there. I think I'll pass on adding a bird to the shot. Originally I thought it would add life, but I think the tree already achieved that.

Hopefuly I'll start painting it tomorrow.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Page 1 finally started in my NEW STUDIO.

I've been so swamped with extra work and what-not that I am only now getting onto page 1 of Xiola. I found the original design for page 1 to be lacking so I added a cool twisted, dead tree. The original design with only the rock formations seemed like an empty panel until I added the tree. Down on the left of the photo is my sketch. On the right, on a piece of watercolor paper is the beginnings of the final drawing. I've really got to start hustling now as APE is approaching and I've got nothing new to show since San Diego.

Another thing that has been slowing me down is that we recently moved my son Kodo out of his room and turned it into my office. The setup in my new office is much better with way better natural lighting. We are in the middle of remodeling the old office into a room for Kodo. It's a larger room with its own bathroom, so he's really excited. We've been tearing out cabinets, repairing water damage to the floors and walls, and installing central heating. Tomorrow night I will be sanding down and cleaning the walls for painting prep. Then we've got to buy and install the carpet, then add baseboard and trim. We're trying to finish his room by his birthday, Oct 3. Kodo's going to be staying in the guest room until the room is complete.

I just need to learn to live without sleep and I will be able to finish all my projects.

Monday, August 24, 2009

What have I been up to?

For the past two weeks I've been slammed with storyboard work and an illustration gig, so I haven't made any Xiola progress. I plan on getting a move on tomorrow night.

By the way, I made it into the Alternative Press Expo here in San Francisco. I signed up for the waiting list, as I was late to apply, but I got in. I am very excited to be able to participate in APE. It's my favorite convention. Small enough that you can get through it in about a day, with time to talk to artists and creators. I don't know my booth yet. We'll see.

I just finished a poster illustration for Steven LaFontaine. He's a hopeful new filmmaker who is planning on making a monster film set in his hometown of Niles. He wants to create it in the vein of old monster movies and wanted the poster to be a throwback to the cool old monster movie posters of the 50s. Here's what the final piece looks like.

Most old monster posters were painted in oils or gouache and I'm comfortable with neither, so I painted this on the computer. I drew the piece out on paper, but painted it using Photoshop.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Page 1 sketch

Here are a few of the sketches I drew for page 1. I looked at a bunch of images of different deserts. My story takes place in a desert region of Xiola called Sidia, which was originally inspired by Cappadoccia, Turkey due to the cool cave dwellings in the rock formations. But I used imagery from lots of different places to help me come up with the final design of the canyon and look of the land.

I want the landscape to be just a little beyond what you might see. Not alien, but amplified. And my first page here must get across the feeling of a strange place, to marry with the words of Eleya at the top.

This is the sketch I went with.
It's supposed to look like I'm standing on a cliff looking over a valley. I preferred having a bit of an arch in the foreground right, and kind of a flying buttress of stone on the foreground left. Then I've got a bit of the crackled spires connecting to a midground left cliff and in the back left a full on arch. I'm going to put a Sidian vulture in the sky and I may have a few light clouds. I'd like to have fun with my skies in this book and not just have plain blue skies. I'll decorate them with clouds, haze, atmosphere, colors and birds and what-not. I've also got what will look like the remains of a stream which runs along the valley floor. Low lying shrubs will be scattered all over the landscape collecting near the stream and along crevices.

I'll be redrawing this on watercolor paper hopefully this weekend or early next week at the latest. I've got a couple of unrelated art gigs that I need to knock out first.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

All done with the cover.

Now on to page 1.

I had a couple of storyboard gigs last week so I didn't get a chance to finish my cover until now. I think it turned out pretty well. I darkened a bit of the background with cerulean blue and burnt sienna which combines as a sort of grey which is perfect to keep the background a bit washed out. Then I darkened Eleya's face, hair and the beast's face. I finished the beast's eyes and darkened up Eleya's legs, skirt and skin to pop her off the background a little. I use ultramarine blue for the foreground shadows. I never use black as it dulls the colors too much. I am not going to cut it out off the board just yet. It's too late at night to make a final decision. I think once I've got the next page finished I'll look at this again and see if there's anything I want to change/fix, but I'm going to start on my pencils for page 1 regardless.

I never did a full design for page 1, just a little sketch. It's basically one large panel of a desert scene. I want to paint a beautiful desert landscape complete with rock formations low shrubs and a vast blue sky. I'd like to make the scene look just within the realm of believability. The rock formations will be a little exaggerated, but not so much that you wouldn't believe they couldn't exist. And I'll play up the colors a little more than reality. Otherwise what's the point of watercolors?

I signed up for next year's San Diego Con and this year's Alternative Press Expo (APE) in San Francisco, but there's already a waiting list for APE so I may not make it in. We'll see. I'll be attending regardless, but I'd love to get myself a booth.

I'll post again once I've got a pass on the page 1 sketch.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Comic Con Wrap-Up

I wasn't able to get to a computer Sunday night and last night I had computer problems, so finally I get to write up my review of how the con was for me.

It was great! I had a real positive experience this year. I was able to speak with artists and fans about my work, their work, and comics in general. I found it both fun and challenging to paint during the con, and the attendees seemed to dig it as well. I have always enjoyed watching others' process and it seemed to be interesting for others to watch mine. And I had many people return to my table multiple days to check in on my progress.

I spoke with my old teacher Barron Storey at the Allen Spiegel Fine Arts booth. He has a new book out called Life After Black. He was out of copies when I saw him so I'll have to pick one up at the next con. He is an amazing artist.

I was not able to check out any of the panels, James Cameron's Avatar, Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, and whatever Twilight stuff the teenage girls were screaming about, but there was a huge Hollywood presence, and videogames and toy companies were a close second.

I talked with a ton of cool people who gave me lots of good advice on what I could do with my book either with publishing, or marketing, or just getting it done. I feel I need to get a little past my first image before I can start talking seriously about distribution. Speaking of which, I mostly finished the cover, but got pretty busy chatting with people during the con, so it's now sitting on my drafting table calling my name. Tonight is a little late to start, and tomorrow I've got some boards I've got to knock out, so I'll try and wrap it up on Thursday, then start on page 1. Only 174 more pages to go. What the hell am I thinking?

One thing I did learn about Comic Conventions is that I've only ever thought about them as an avenue to get your name out there. I never thought about a Comic Convention as someplace you can make money. But everyone around me was making money hand over foot, and they were confused as to why I wasn't doing the same. All I had for sale was Wanderings, and that only for $1 each, almost covering the print cost. Next convention I'm going to see if I can get some prints made of some of my paintings, or something like that. It'd be nice to make some money off my art to help pay off the cost of the booth. We'll see.

Thanks to everyone who came out and visited my booth. You made my first Con in 15 years a wonderful experience. I promise to keep hard at work on Xiola so I'll have more than just a cover to show you at the next convention.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Yet another good day at the Con. I wasn't able to work as much on my painting today as I had a ton of foot traffic. I was yapping most of the day with passers by and talking comics. Pierre Barnard from the Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien stopped by and got one of my books. He's a big comic book fan, and a real nice guy.

I met with Christina Strain, an amazing colorist. I picked up a sketchbook from her with some fantastic artwork.

Gonna get some sleep tonight. I could barely stand by the end of the day.

Friday recap

Too late to write. Too tired. Had another really great day. Again, barely made it away from my table. Got a lot of repeat visitors checking in on my progress. Still painting. Here's what my painting looks like so far. Still have one last pass across the whole thing to pull all the parts together. Dark darks and all that goodness.

Looking forward to chilling out a bit more tomorrow, and cruising through Sunday.

We went out to dinner with Joel and Wendy tonight and had too good a time. We stayed up talking and laughing past my bedtime. I need to catch up on sleep one of these days.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thursday at the Con

First full day at the con went great. I painted pretty much all day on the Xiola cover while talking to anyone who stopped by. I did a full pass on the beast, and started Eleya. I think I may pretty much wrap up by the end of the day tomorrow, or Saturday at least. I still need to go back over the beast once I finish Eleya to help pop him off the background, but it's looking pretty good.

I've been getting really good feedback too. People seem to like my art, and my story. I got a compliment from Dave Dorman yesterday on my Xiola Cover. And today Glen Keane stopped by, bought a Wanderings, and told me he liked my painting too.

I'm having a great time, and look forward to the rest of the weekend. As I've been welded to my chair for the past two days, I am going to try and check out some of the other booths tomorrow while Analia watches over my table. But I'm not sure I can trust her. She keeps touching up my painting whenever I step out to use the bathroom. Then again, maybe she could just finish up the whole thing if I take off long enough.

See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Preview Night at the Con

Tonight was preview night at the San Diego Comic Con. From 5:30-9PM the Con was open to all professionals, press, and 4 day ticket holders. I got there to set up my booth and saw that I was a couple of tables down from Damon Bard, a fantastic sculptor who's done a lot of work with Tippett Studio.

I was surprisingly nervous setting up my table and preparing in general. It's been a long time since I've put my personal work out there, but people seemed to receive it pretty well. I sold a bunch of copies of Wanderings for $1 each. Basically, just making my money back on what I spent on the printing.

I'm in a really great location, near the bathrooms and just by the side aisle so I get a lot of foot traffic. Luckily, the lighting at my booth is very good, and I was able to paint a little tonight. Tomorrow I'm going to work on my Xiola cover all day. I'm going to try and finish it before the end of the con.

A special thanks to my wife Analia, who has been beside me all day. I'd be way more lost without her help. Thanks, babe.

I'll post again tomorrow night and show you the progress I made on my cover painting.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Heading down to San Diego

All packed up and ready to go. I'll try and post something each night.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Delayed, but moving forward

I finally started in on the face of the beast today, as I picked up a storyboarding gig I had to work on Saturday. His mouth is turning out pretty good. Some purple madder, cadmium red, with a little cadmium yellow for highlights and ultramarine blue for shadows. More cadmium red and less purple madder on the tongue to keep it standing out from the gums a bit. Now I'm moving on to his body. I need to put more darks on him and more reds to help him pop out from the background. And if you notice, I lightened up the mountains on his left as they were getting too much shadow and I was losing the round feeling of the cliffs. I may need to lighten up the background, but first I'm going to see how much contrast I can get into the foreground characters. If once I've finished the characters, the background feels like it's competing, then I'll go back and lift some colors off.

I still need a couple more nights of solid work on this thing, but I'm out of time, so it looks like this thing is going to come with me to San Diego unfinished. I'm planning on bringing down all my watercolor gear, so I may just finish it at my booth. I'm going to be there for five days, for crying out loud, and I might as well do something with my time. I just need to make sure I've got everything I need. Paints, brushes, rags, water jar, reference photos, and scratch paper.

Tomorrow I'm picking up my "Wanderings" books, and I have my last day of work. I'll be getting together everything I need tomorrow night so I can head out first thing Tuesday morning. I can't wait.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

More underpainting

I'm calling it early tonight as I'm a little tired. I got a couple good hours in. The background undercoat is done and I started doing a little cerulean blue undercoat on the beast. Now he looks like an abominable snowman. I did an undercoat for what was going to be a brown door, but I like the green. I may keep the door green. Darker of course, but I like how it stands out against all the yellow.


Painting the background

I took the paper out of the block and taped it down to an art board. It's not really the ideal surface, but I didn't feel like springing for a watercolor board. they're only $30, but it's a frickin piece of wood. I'd rather take an old ikea desk and chop it up.

I like to build up my colors slowly, layering in a bunch of colors that will eventually be covered up. Greens are my favorite. For some reason, green makes everything seem more three dimensional. I use it sparingly, though, as it tends to stain and is hard to lift off.

I will continue throughout the background before I touch my main characters. Hopefully I'll get to the main characters by tomorrow night. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Xiola outline

I didn't get to finish the painting for my cover yet as I need to get a file to the printer tomorrow. I spent tonight writing up an ad for Xiola to put on the back cover of the Wanderings books I'm printing up for San Diego. This is the basic plot outline for Xiola. I'll finish the cover painting by the weekend.

Eleya, forced by her father into servitude as a soulbinder, is beaten and left for dead by a cave beast in a Sidian sacrificial ritual. Her father, taking Eleya’s survival as a sign that the Sidian gods have not forsaken them, convinces his people to take a suicidal stance against an invading warlord. Eleya must now decide whether or not she will fight alongside her people. The very ones who sent her to her death.

“Sun burns our skin. Air dries our throats. Our gods ignore us.
“Death, be swift.” - Eleya

Friday, July 10, 2009

Painting the cover

My cover drawing is complete and I'm starting to paint it. I did the drawing on a watercolor block, so I planned on painting it right on the block, but after my first wash the paper started lifting off the block, pulling away from the glue on the edges. I'm down to the last few pages and this often happens to me with my blocks, so I'll need to transfer the paper to a proper art board and tape it off with watercolor tape, but I'll do that another night.

Starting a painting for me is like starting a marathon. It takes me a while just to get ready. I've got to mentally prepare myself. I have to feel completely comfortable with my surroundings and double check everything. Brushes from 00 - 6, a 12 and a flat 12. Plenty of light. Resource materials. Paper towels, a clean rag. I can't paint if I'm hungry, thirsty, too hot or too cold. It's a freaking miracle I ever get anything done at all.

I've got a bunch of photos of desert scenes and architecture, and my color sketch on my desk as reference for lighting and color. I've also taken some photos of my wife for likeness and lighting as my heroine Eleya.

And I always take a photo or do a scan of my drawing before laying down any paint. Just in case something goes terribly wrong I can print out the drawing and use my light table to transfer the drawing back onto a piece of watercolor paper.
I did a super light wash of Cadmiun Yellow across the entire page with my flat 12, making sure to leave a few areas of white on Eleya's face, necklace, the beasts mouth area and eye, and Eleya's father down at her left in the background. The drawing is purposefully designed so all my pieces of interest are in one line. The beast's head, Eleya's head and her father.

Then I went ahead and started to undercoat the background shadows with some Sap Green and Ultramarine. I use Windsor Newton watercolors. And that's as far as I'm going to get tonight. I will go ahead and continue with the background undercoat shadows at first. I like to warm up to the subject of the painting, doing minimal background stuff first. I used to do the subject first, but I'm a little out of practice and find that it takes me a while to warm up.

I'm going to heading out of town for two days tomorrow, but I hope to finish the painting up Monday night. I'll do a pass on Sunday evening and hopefully finish Monday late night.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Finally. Cover drawing almost finished.

I've been slammed by storyboard work for the past two weeks so I've been off Xiola duty. Now I'm back and I haven't much time left before the San Diego Con. I want to finish the cover art for Xiola #1 so I can bring it as promotional artwork. I might print them up as posters and hand them out. I'd like have the original watercolor painting of both Xiola #1 cover and Wanderings Cover set up on easels for fun decoration to my booth. I always like seeing the original artwork of my favorite artists.

Josh Gorchov is too busy managing his Creative Agency to join me down to San Diego so I'll be manning my booth solo. I've got my place all set up. I'm thinking of printing up 500 copies of Wanderings with the cover image of Xiola #1 printed on the back as an ad.

I've got to get my marketing brain kicking over the next two weeks. How will I stand out among all the other rags? I'll keep you posted.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Street Painting

I participated in the Italian Street Painting Festival this weekend. I did a piece from Xiola. A few day ago the main character Eleya had been sacrificed to the gods in the high arena, yet survived the ritual. During the ritual, her mother's necklace had been torn from her neck. But a young boy retrieved it from the arena floor and, determined to give it back to her, attempted to visit her in her tower, but was turned away at the door. Looking up he saw Eleya crying as she looked out over the city, so the boy decided to scale the tower and give her back her necklace.

I had a ton of help on the painting. My Sister Elizabeth, who is an amazing artist, created both characters. I wish I could take credit for how great they turned out, but I had nothing to do with it. Elizabeth is not the type of person you need to manage very much. Just the occasional "Great job, Liz."

I worked on the arena and tree and a bit of the sky, Fred Aquino and my brother Jordan Domont worked on the towers and cliffs. My son and mother and step-father helped out with the sky as well.

I had a lot of help and I needed it. But I was happy I was able to pick something from my story. And even that was Elizabeth's idea. Thanks to all those that helped, and now back to making comics.

By the way, check out the original sketch below in my May 28th posting. I altered the image the night before starting on the street, and it's interesting to note the changes. I ended up taking reference photos of my wife and son as the two characters so their posing and dimensions are much more realistic. I also adjusted the look of the tower Eleya is in, and made the characters larger, as they seemd too small in the original sketch. Then another idea from Elizabeth I implemented was to turn the distant rock formation housing the arena ever so slightly so you can just make out some archtecture within. It makes it much more interesting. Then I added more yellow to the sunset and added a ton more colors. I think it came out great.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Character design slowdown

I think I'm finished with the character design slowdown. I needed to work out my main character more and I thinkI'm finally ready to kick ass on the cover painting. I keep getting held back by random things. I've only got a few hours each evening to work and if one problem comes up the night is shot.

Tonight it was that I needed to prepare for a second print run of my Wanderings book so I can get them printed up before the con. I am going to try and finish my Xiola #1 cover to go on the back of Wanderings as an ad, but I needed to contact the printer to find out how much time they need for another print run. I want to print up 1000 and sell them each for a buck. Whatever I don't sell there I'll give out to local comic book shops in the Bay Area to sell.

I'd like to have my Xiola #1 cover and a few more pages finished by the San Diego con so I can decorate my booth with artwork from the new story.

Yet I've still got the Italian Street Painting Festival this weekend, and I need at least one night before Friday to tighten up the image. I'd like to get more detail into it before we start.

If only I didn't need to sleep so much.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

some sketches and what-not

I've been playing around with Eleya's design because I wasn't totally happy with it. Before doing the cover piece I want to make sure she's looking good. I originally had her with a cape, but it busied her up too much, so I took it off. Now I'm playing with the idea of giving her tails on her vest, like a pianist. Basically, I want some more flowing robe type stuff for cool lines. Compared to Robel she was looking kind of plain, and as she's my main character I want her to stand out more. Here's some sketches I did today. I'm going to try to tighten her up this week and bang out the cover this weekend. We'll see.

Also, I'm looking to buy a saddle stitch stapler. My print company told me they'd give me a better deal on printing if I stapled myself. Heck, I've got a garage. I may end up creating my own print shop in there. Buy a printer that folds and staples and I'm done. Those run somewhere in the thousands, so for now I'm just going to settle for a good saddle stitch stapler.

Looking forward to the convention. Not a lot of time left. I've still got to get accomodations, print up more copies of Wanderings, get this cover art finished for Xiola, and probably a ton more stuff I'm forgetting.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Italian Street Painting Festival sketch

Somehow I missed the signup again for the Italian Street Painting again this year, so I had to quickly sign up, and get a concept together for this year's piece. I chose to do something from Xiola. I sketched out a few ideas, but ultimately chose this one here because it tells a little story and is not as edgy as the other two. Sponsors prefer to have their artists do pretty pieces.

In this painting, my main character, Eleya is standing in a tower, recovering from a battle. She is overlooking the Sidian city, a series of cave dwellings within the rock formations of the desert. A young man named Kodo is attempting to climb up to her tower and return her mother's necklace to her as she lost it in the fight.

I did this painting fairly quickly in Photoshop as I needed to finish an image tonight to send in tomorrow. The main concept is working, but I will probably do a little adjusting with the perspective and layout when I put it on the street.

This idea was when I was still trying to do an image of Eleya in her fight with the beast. I originally wanted to do my cover image, but there's no way that's appropriate for the festival. Giant monster with scary teeth fighting a girl. So I tried changing up the angle a bit. But it's still a big scary monster attacking a girl.

This is one of my other ideas. Kodo, the honey collector of the eastern reaches, is jumping out away from the cliff face as a cave beast pokes its head out from its den. there are a bunch of large bee hives attached to the cliff. the one above the cave is broken as Kodo was halfway through cutting away the honey when the beast popped out. This image would be fun in that it's a low perspective, it's action, there would be a column of smoke, and bees throughout the painting. I just felt it was borderline unacceptable because of the beast, and it didn't have my main character in it.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Color test for the cover

My cover sketch for the first issue of Xiola had been bothering me, but not until a talk with my brother Jordan (, did I realize what to do. The original sketch was too far away. You didn't get a good look at the characters, nor did you feel part of the action. I like this close up view. Same action, but much more intense. Thanks, bro.

I was going to try and finish the final painting this weekend, but I ended up tightening up my main character design, and playing around with this composition. I think I'm going to be much happier. I threw in some preliminary type just to get an idea of where I'm going to go with it.
So this is a quick color sketch I did in Photoshop. I will be doing the final work in watercolor, but I was doing all this resizing and type stuff so it was quicker to play around on the computer.

What do you think?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Xiola#1 cover sketch

Here's my idea for the cover to my first issue of Xiola. I had wanted the cover to be eyecatching and cool. I was thinking of having the cover be of Robel, or Kodo, but decided I'd better make it obvious who the main character is right away, so I knew Eleya had to be on there.

Then it came down to, should I do a painting of her dance before the beast arrives, as that's the focus of the first issue, or do I show the beast in there as well. The first issue does end with the beast charging her, but don't start the fight until issue #2.

I ended up thinking a fight shot was probably the best way to go. I want to have something really cool to print up for the San Diego con in July, so if I can get the cover of the first issue printed up as a poster or some type of promotional material I can hand it out and get a buzz going. People like big monsters and hot chicks.

I am going to watercolor it, as I did with my Wanderings cover. The background will be a little soft focus. Her father will be standing on the dais over her shoulder on the left, and the arena is behind them full of people. The arena is built within a huge rock formation, so that is the top of the jagged peaks above them.

Let me know what you think. To me, it's a little flat, but I like the concept. I'll probably push the camera in a bit so I get more foreshortening on the characters. I'm digesting it right now, but I'm leaning towards it.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Editing back down to 24 pages

I exceeded my 24 page limit on my layout book, so I had to go in and trim some fat. It turns out I had two sections that were bothering me. In this particular case I had a total superhero thing going on, that was a little unnecessary and lame.

I kind of turned Robel into Superman, saving the day and then giving a kid a moral lesson. "Don't hurt animals." I need to foreshadow the oxen as panicking easily, but I had taken it too far and given this little bit too much importance by giving it two pages worth of Robel jumping to the aid of this boy, saving his ox and handing the reins back over without scolding him.
In the edited version, Robel just stops the boy from hitting the ox, tells him to cut it out or else, and the story continues. One page was all I needed, and now Robel isn't as much of a goody two shoes. I like it better, and it saved me a page. YAY! two-fer.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Business, and the King of Peasants

Got my Business license, sellers permit, fictitious business name and website today. That's what one day home from work with a sick kid can get you.


Here's Jol, the King of Peasants. He commands the frontline troops for the conquering warlord. As the emperor conquers, he takes prisoners, and if you don't want to die right away, you are inducted into the army and put into Jol's front line ranks.

Whereas the rest of the emperor's army is made up of well trained and armored warriors, the peasant army is given the castaway armor whatever they can find to use as weapons. They are the first ones into a battle and always take the most casualties.

Jol is a survivor and would prefer to run from battle, but he knows that his value is in commanding his men. If he cannot lead them, then Oshiro will have his head and replace him with another. So for now he will leads the peasant army, but he will always be looking around for an escape route for himself.

Jol's character is based off my friend and one-time collaborator, Joel Emslie. Joel was a founding artist of our original Xiola comic. He now works at Infinity Ward as a character artist on Call Of Duty games. He's a genius, and he's a peasant. WAHH!

Friday, May 1, 2009

More Paperwork

Turns out the BOE form I sent in to the San Diego Convention needs to be accompanied by a seller's permit if I'm going to be selling any comics at the comic con, which I will be. So now I've got to apply for a seller's permit, then put my permit number on my BOE form and send it in before June 1st or I lose my spot. I've got to take care of this right away.

Other paperwork I've got to do is get a business license in the name of Uncommon Comics and buy the website. It seems to be available.

Meanwhile I've finished my layout for the first book, but it's two pages longer than I anticipated. I've got to either go in and edit some stuff out, or just bite the bullet and make my comics 28 pages instead of 24. But that's four more pages per comic, which is 28 more pages total, and that's too much extra work. So I think I've got to cut some pages out. There are a few spots that are heavy that I can chop up. I'll post my before and afters soon.

Here's a detail of a cave beast when he's chillin' and when he's pissed off. I sketched it out the other day at work while in a meeting. I love meeting time doodles.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009


I received my letter of confirmation letting me know my booth number at the San Diego Comic Con. L7. Check it out.

I am starting to plan my trip to San Diego. I've got to figure out where I'm staying and how I'm getting there and all that. I think I'd like to drive so I can carry a bunch of comics. Giving away free stuff is the best way to get people to come to your booth. I've got a ton of old Xiola comics I might give away, while I may sell my Wanderings book for $1 a pop. That's about how much they cost to print so I'd almost break even on them. I don't think I'm going to get together a preview edition of my new Xiola book ready in time, but there is info about it in the back of Wanderings. I may print up fliers or something to hand out as well.

Convention people need free stuff handed to them or they wander away looking for Vampirella costumed teenagers and Princess Leia in slave outfit girls. They've got short attention spans.

I've got a storyboard gig I've got to do tonight and tomorrow, so I won't be back to Xiola production for a few days.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Digital Test

I didn't end up being able to do any artwork on my camping trip. So now it's back to Xiola production.

I've always planned to do Xiola as a waterclolored book, but I did do one test of computer coloring. It didn't turn out as well as I'd have liked. I understand watercolor so much more than photoshop. Even without the UNDO key, I feel more free with traditional medium. And I love seeing an actual piece of art as a finished product. I'm an old fogey that way.

Here's my digital test of one of Oshiro's messengers being killed outside the Sidian walls. I never really focused on the background, but the rider and mount came out ok. The mount is a six legged tanir, or "sticky mule." They are smaller than horses, but sturdy and can travel well over uneven ground. I've still got to do a final design check, but they mostly will look something like this.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Inspiration is important to creation. In fact, it's pretty darn necessary. Sometimes I don't feel inspired to work on anything related to my comic. At those times, I just work on something else. Anything that comes to mind. I love random thought art. Stream of consciousness stuff. It's therapeutic. A guy at my work, Jess Vickery, is a master at stream of consciusness art. Every day he's got a new piece of paper sitting at his desk with tons of little drawings of weird characters and strange imagery. Great stuff. Reminds me of Shel Silverstein art.

I am going to go camping tomorrow with some friends and I'll be bringing my sketchbook along for some random art fun. I'll be taking a break from production and just being creative for cretivity's sake. If I do anything interesting I'll post it on Sunday.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Slow Progress

I sent in my BOE form to The San Diego Con to secure my spot along with my check for the booth. I'll be sharing the booth with my friend Josh Gorchov who's working on an illustrated book. They only gave us two exhibitor badges. When I used to do the comic con back in the day we had four of us in the company and we each got badges. I was going to see if my little brother Jordan wanted to join us at the con to sell some prints of his work. He's an illustrator of his own right. Check out his work at But the con is already mostly sold out, so I'm going to have to ask for an extra badge for him and possibly one for Fred Aquino, another of my comic book compatriots. Check out Fred's blog at

I've been super slow on my comic book production. I've been super tired lately. I think I work best under tight deadlines, and so I'm just postponing my work to make my deadline seem impossible, then I'll crank it into high gear.

Translating from story form to comic book layout doesn't work so well. I keep finding that my dialog is too wordy to fit in the panels, so I'm ripping out anything unnecessary. Also, I'd guesstimated on how many pages I was going to have. Now that I've settled on 24 I'm finding that there are more places I should trim the actions. If I can add two ideas into one and make it play better the one time, I can conserve on pages so I can spread out a few times. I've been cramming a ton of info on each page and I'd like to have a few pages of big panels, especially when you first meet the beasts.

Here's a few of the Sidian councilmen. I like the idea that they've got big tattoos that go along their arms and face, and their fingers are painted black. They'll each be dressed differently, but all have similar tattoos.