Light in the Eyes

Sam_For-Animation-Slower

Something a little different today: a process GIF from a recent illustration commission! This cat portrait was done start-to-finish in Manga Studio with Frenden’s blue pencil and Hairpin Sable inker brushes.

You notice how the cat really comes alive in that last frame when the white highlights in the eyes come into play? Every time I add those to a piece I get this really vivid memory of going to art classes as a kid.

My teacher’s name was Sharon Butler. She was a realist painter from South Africa who painted waist-high stones to look like living cheetahs, crouching in the greenery outside the studio. The two rooms in her establishment were filled with the perpetual, chalky scent of pastels and Prismacolor pencils. We’d get pieces of illustration board handed out every time a new project began, cut down to the appropriate size. I completely lost track of time every session I spent there. My only job was drawing, as well as I could.

This was pre-internet, so Sharon kept a morgue file in the inner room. It was a metal filing cabinet—dull beige and taller than I was at the time—crammed full of photos and magazine clippings. There were folders for horses and dolphins and birds and architecture and chairs and people and costumes. Every manilla folder had a grouping by subject, and since Google simply wasn’t around yet we’d fight over who got the best picture of the dolphin to draw from.

I drew a lot of animals when I went to those classes with Sharon. She’d stop by while I was struggling to render a hummingbird as something other than a crude cartoon, giving suggestions on how I could better train my eye to see what was actually in front of me. The second-to-last touch, before the fixative stopped our pastel smudges from scattering off the page, was to add a dot of white in each eye. She taught us to use a Q-Tip or the back end of a paintbrush.

At the time it felt like wizardry—the amount of life that tiny dot of white could bring to an otherwise flat animal.

It still does, kind of.

New Comic: The Medal

TitleHeaderAt last! I’m so happy to finally share this story I drew for Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover last month (was it only last month?) for their all-ages, Eisner Award-winning series Bandette. The main issues of the comic have been interspersed with these short stories showcasing various supporting characters from the universe. I picked Commander Pippins — how could I not? — because his sideburns are fabulous and his mustache is vast and I have a soft spot for characters with silly names. Paul wrote this lovely script and I had a ton of fun bringing it to life.

Be sure to check out Bandette on Monkeybrain Comics, and read the rest of the Urchin Stories, drawn by various artists, right here.

 

Sherlock and Nina

Back in October I had the pleasure of working with writer Steve Nicolaides on a children’s book called Sherlock and Nina. Here are a few preview shots of the finished product:

Cover

The story follows 6-year-old Nina and her inquisitive basset hound Sherlock as they solve the mystery of the old Triplescoop Mansion.

Interior

I had a lot of fun working on this project, honing my full-color digital illustration skills and getting a crash course in dog anatomy, and am super pleased to finally share some of the artwork with you guys. I won’t spoil the ending, but I’ll finish with my favorite piece from the book — Sherlock and his namesake!

Sherlock02

New Comic: Mr. Tambourine Man

In honor of Mr. Tambourine Man making the official selection for Rock Ink Roll’s anthology (out in November from Altered Aesthetics!), I’ve decided to release the comic online for all to read and enjoy. It was great working with writer Shannon Campbell again, and I’m looking forward to the other projects we have planned for the near future. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, HAVE SOME FREE COMICS!

Nope

Some days, man.

WakeUp

This was largely a practice piece to try drawing a comic start to finish in Photoshop. I definitely prefer Manga Studio for inking, but until I upgrade to the new release I’m still more comfortable doing color stuff in PS — though lordy do I still have a lot to learn. This is all because I’ve started a rad secret project with two amazing digital artists (Bridget and Carolyn!) and need to get myself up to speed with their lightning-fast abilities. Anyway, baby steps.

Leave a holler in the comments if you have any favorite digital coloring resources or inspirations!