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.