Painting reward for Strays' Kickstarter

I painted this as a new reward on my friend's kickstarter for her comic, Strays. The story centres around a teenage girl kicked out of her home after coming out to her parents. Her life is changed by a dog that literally falls on her head. This dog loves bacon so I included it in the image. I like to think of this as a dog's idea of heaven. 

Painted on Arches 140lb watercolour paper with lightfast inks. The image size is 8" x 10" but with border fits an 11" x 14" frame.

Thumbelina

In my continuing quest to get back to traditional media, I decided to do this piece in watercolours with a touch of acrylics and Prismacolour pencil crayons to refine some areas. The idea was born while brainstorming a comic book cover but something about the girl stuck with me and so I put it away until I had more time to work on it. I ended up scanning it and bringing it into Photoshop to play with various concepts before printing it out and transferring it to watercolour paper. Instead of Fabriano paper, I used Arches 140-lb cold-pressed paper which has a slightly different texture than the Fabriano but still lovely to work on. I finished up with a couple of coats of Krylon archival matte fixative. 

I am continuing to try and apply what I've learned from Nathan Fowkes class on Composition to each piece. For now, I will be going into less detail about my classwork to focus more on producing art and blogging about it. I hope you keep reading because I still plan to keep sharing!

The original piece is now available on my Etsy Store and prints are available at my Society6 store.

My first attempt at acrylic painting after many years

About a month ago, and for the first time in years, I tried my hand at an acrylic painting on birch panel. I had to reacquaint myself with how fast acrylics dry, prepping the board, controlling my clumsy brushwork, and cleaning up—some of the reasons I had mostly abandoned traditional work for digital. While my first piece may have been a little too ambitious, there is something about the look and feel of traditional work that is difficult to reproduce digitally so I put the first piece aside to revisit at a later date.

This past weekend I painted a pet portrait on 8" x 10" canvas. It was for some friends, and of their beloved cat, Arthur. I think it turned out quite well. I suppose all that blundering around on the first piece helped with this latest one. I hope to do more of this because sometimes it's nice being able to hold a physical piece of art. 

Wraparound Cover for Seven Strange Stories

I was excited to be asked to create a one-page cover for Oliver Ho's upcoming comic anthology entitled, Seven Strange Stories, even though I had already illustrated a couple of the stories within. As we went back and forth with the designs, it evolved into a wraparound cover to allow for more elements from each story to be weaved in without feeling too congested. With most of the stories containing some supernatural theme my goal was to create an image that looked like a dark fairy tale but without being too extreme—just enough to suggest it. Because I am a huge fan of James Jean and his work often contains disparate components, I looked to his art for inspiration.

My Process on Getting Started

Despite looking at various Fables covers, I still didn't have a clear idea in mind. So, I jotted down some elements from each story that I wanted to draw and then started to sketch them out roughly onto a huge pad of newsprint. I tried not to worry about creating anything concrete but focus on loosening up and get a feel for what might be included on the cover. Sometimes just doodling whatever comes to mind or doing practice drawings will do the trick to keep from overthinking things. Oftentimes, I go into a bit of a trance and drawings begin to overlap because I don't want to turn the page. I'll often look back at my scribbles and an idea will come to me—not always for what I'm currently working on, mind you—but I can always use them for other projects. I liken it to staring at clouds or patterns where images would begin to form.

I sketched out some thumbnails from the ideas and sent the ones I liked best to Oliver. When he approved one I took it into Photoshop to further develop; I created a clean image using a pencil brush on a greyish-toned background that I would later paint over.

Colour Selection

Ah, colour selection. This one's always tough for me because, well, the paradox of choice, of course. :)

I decided that I want a limited palette because it's more efficient and creates a better balance. I went to paletton.com and selected a tetrad colour scheme of blues, greens and their complimentary oranges. I chose this combination to emphasize a slightly sinister theme with warmer tones to balance things out and suggest that things are not all doom and gloom. I also use white but not pure black and combine colours from my palette to create variations. When I was almost finished painting I tweaked some of the colours using a Levels Adjustment Layer.

Design Challenges

I had never created a wraparound cover before and there were a couple of things to consider including: 

  • Not having any important elements overlapping the spine. The spine width depends on the paper stock, the number of pages and binding style, so I worked this all out before painting.
  • I also had to consider the placement of the title, trade dress and promotional text while keeping an overall strong composition. I planned out roughly where all these items would go and made sure that they wouldn't obscure anything important in the art.

The book is still in production but it shouldn't be too much longer. When I have more information on its release, I will share details.

Update

The book is now available and can be purchased directly from Oliver Ho at  www.sevenstrangestories.com. You can also find the book at the Page & Panel: The TCAF Shop, Silver Snail, and Another Story Book Shop.

 

 

My Beloved Monster

As promised, below are a couple of teaser pages and a panel from a later page of Oliver Ho's comic, My Beloved Monster, minus the text. Oliver tells me that this story will be included in his anthology of monster stories he plans to publish soon.

This was a fun story to work on. It's about a man who can't seem to catch a break in his love life and a cat that reluctantly decides to play Cupid. I really enjoyed bringing out the characters' personalities on the page.


Happy The Force Awakens Day!

I was overcome with inspiration to create something Star Wars related after listening to the soundtrack for the Force Awakens last night. I hope you enjoy! :)

The Monster Artist Print

I created this print based on the story's main character, Lily, happily reading the Toronto Comics anthology (meta!) to some of her friends and I thought it might be fun to do a take on the READ posters.

The print will be included in some of the Toronto Comics Kickstarter pledges.  Below is the process from thumbnail to final. I hope you like it.

The Monster Artist News

I'm back with some stuff to show - Yay!  

Between the last post and this, I've finished working on Oliver Ho's story, the Monster Artist, and I'm excited to share that it will now be part of Volume 2 of the Toronto Comics Anthology.  

To check out some of the other amazing artwork and stories being included in the book, follow the project on Twitter at @torontocomix and find out how you can get your copy.  They will also be selling it and and other goodies at table A320 at the Toronto March ComiCon from March 20 - 22nd so don't be shy and come on a by and say hi.

Below are one of the completed pages, some of the revised character designs and one of the rough pages. It's been a very busy few months but it has been a lot of fun and it gave me a chance to learn more of Manga Studio. 

UPDATE: It turns out that Volume 1 will be available but only a sneak peak of Volume 2 will be on hand. Although, there is a Kickstarter now where you can pledge for Volume 2 or both!