Posts Tagged ‘Bonus Content’

BONUS CONTENT: Roka Turnaround

February 25, 2010

For Roka’s snow outfit, I wanted to stick with his established style of elongated vertical shapes, so I gave him a long coat with vertical banding to accentuate the length. The pouches on his belt also have long flaps to continue the motif. I threw in the horizontal bands on the sleeves to break up the verticals a little and also because I just thought it might be an interesting look to have these slight bulges of fabric between each band on the arms.

BONUS CONTENT: Bocce Turnaround

March 4, 2010

As I mentioned in a previous post, with Bocce, I wanted his snow outfit to be very similar in style to his regular clothing. So it sticks to the same black and white palette, with the three wraparound bands at the abdomen. I thought the alternating clasps was an interesting look to go with those three bands.

Bocce’s coat collar is a nod to Star Trek, specifically Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. I love the uniform designs in that movie and really love the jackets/coats that Kirk, McCoy, and Saavik wear when investigating the space station Regula I. The collar here is directly inspired by the collars on those Regula I jackets.

For the most part, I try to portray characters realistically as far as gun holsters and belts go. Generally, when they’re lounging around the ship, they aren’t armed, since I figure a gun belt has to be a bit clunky to wear all the time. Only when they’re headed for a potentially dangerous situation do they get strapped up with weapons. So a lot of the scenes in The Big Snow Job don’t actually show Bocce fully decked out with his gun belt, as shown here.

BONUS CONTENT: Sky Turnaround

March 11, 2010

For Sky, the outfit is probably reminiscent of Princess Leia’s Hoth outfit. I can’t say I deliberately intended it to be, but that’s sometimes the problem with people like me who grew up on Star Wars. The images become so iconic over time, that you actually start to lose track of what’s “normal” and what’s been burned into your brain by repeated viewings. For instance, when I think “female snow outfit,” I think “quilted pattern.” But I have no idea if that’s actually a common look for real-world snow parkas or if I just think it is because of Leia’s Hoth outfit. The white color is most definitely not inspired by Leia though since I had already decided long ago that all of Sky’s outfits would be predominantly white since I really like that white-on-blue look.

I deliberately wanted the types of fur to be a bit different between characters. So while Roka has a bit longer fur in his hat and collar, Sky has much shorter-hair, fuzzier fur on her outfit. It just seemed like a softer, more feminine look. Of course, Cember has that same soft, fuzzy fur on his outfit as well. Masculine? No. And yet, very Cember.

BONUS CONTENT: Art Process “Snow Job” #1 cover, Pt 1

March 18, 2010

For the next batch of Bonus Content, I thought it would be fun to show my art process. I’ll probably do this every now and then and have each installment run over several posts, with each post showing one step of the process. I figured the cover to “The Big Snow Job” #1 would make a good page for the inaugural Process content…

Here we have the thumbnails that I did for the cover. As far as thumbnails go, these are MUCH more polished than what I usually do. My typical thumbnails are really loose scribbles that only I can decipher. And I kinda have to get them into pencils within a few days or so. Anything longer than that and even I have a hard time remembering what was what. Anyway, these thumbnails are a bit more legible.

The main thing I wanted to do was showcase the cast in their snow outfits. I wanted the characters to be a bit static and very prominent since I knew I’d be using the image as a costume reference guide for myself in drawing the story arc. Plus, I figured the other covers could deal with the action. I thought a solid group shot would be a nice way to showcase the characters again after a bit of a long hiatus.

The bulk of the concepts just revolve around different angles and standing order. I briefly toyed with the idea of working in the frozen goat alien to add a little drama to the scene, but ultimately, I decided that since that was going to be the opening image of the issue itself, I didn’t want to duplicate it right on the cover.

I ended up going with a mix of #3 (upper right) and #5 (lower middle), with the characters standing by a rock wall, but without Sky standing apart from the others. I kinda felt like Roka should be the clear focus of the cover since he’s the leader. The prominence of Sky in #3 felt like it was splitting the focus a bit, so I worked her in with the rest of the crew.

Next up, the inking stage…

BONUS CONTENT: Art Process “Snow Job” #1 cover, Pt 2

March 25, 2010

Sadly, I don’t have the page in its pencil stage. At the time, I had no idea I’d be doing a Process feature, so I had no reason to scan my pencils. The same goes for all the pages I did for “Snow Job” issues #1-3. By the time I started working on issue #4 though, I knew I’d be doing this, so with those pages, I started scanning in the penciled pages. So for a future Process feature, I’ll do a page that I can show the pencil stage as well.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I wanted the characters to be a bit static so I could use the image for reference myself in drawing the various snow outfits. Mission accomplished! I’m pretty happy with how it turned out since it clearly shows all the characters and their outfits, but the composition and arrangement of characters is still interesting enough that it’s not a totally boring cover.

You can probably tell from this page that I don’t really throw down a lot of black areas in my pages. It’s something I struggle with and feel like I should be doing more. At times, I think it makes my inked pages look a bit unfinished or at least unfocused. But I always know that everything will come together in the coloring stage. I guess in that way, I expect the coloring to do a lot of the heavy lifting as far as finished artwork goes.

Next up, the colors…

BONUS CONTENT: Art Process “Snow Job” #1 cover, Pt 3

April 1, 2010

Here we have the color flat stage. At this point, I’m just dropping in all the base colors and defining those areas. Just so I don’t kill myself with a ton of different colors on each character, I try to stick to something like 3 main colors per character. For instance, with Roka, I could have made his gloves a different color from his boots and his hat a different color from his jacket, but that would get to be a real pain over time to keep doing on every panel and every page. So for simplicity’s sake, I just use a few main colors on each character and just move them around on that character’s various elements. As another example, with Cember, he has light blue, light purple, and dark purple (with the same dark purple distributed around his body on the neck, gloves, and lower skirt panel). Characters then have some additional embellishing colors as well, but at least the main colors are simplified that way.

A little coloring tip: there are a lot of areas that look white on this page, but when I drop them in at this stage, I drop in a very slightly different white for grouped features. For instance, the sky is one white, the snow on the rocks is another white, the ground snow is another, the white on Sky’s outfit is another, and all the other white bits on the various characters is another. The differences can be as little as 1 value difference in any of the C, M, Y, or K values. The importance is just that it’s different enough that a Magic Wand tool in Photoshop (set to a Tolerance of 1) will pick up one but not the other. That way, if I want to select all the ground snow, I just use the Magic Wand on it, and it will only select that particular white (the ground snow) and not any of the others.

Sometimes I’ll do something similar with other features, like the rock wall. In the Color Flats stage, I might make all the lower rock one shade of brown and the upper rock just a very slightly different shade. The eye may not pick it up, but the Wand will, which makes selection much easier for the next stage.

Next up, color shading…

BONUS CONTENT: Art Process “Snow Job” #1 cover, Pt 4

April 8, 2010

The shading is where the image really starts to take shape. For each flat base color, I add darker areas where things would be in shade, so every color ends up having two tones. I know some artists do a third tone on everything for a highlight color. Personally, for reasons of time management, I just stick with the shadow areas and forego the highlights. I usually only do highlights for certain effects, like shiny materials, reflective surfaces, or rim lighting.

This is also the stage where I’ll use a few gradients here and there to add a little variety to the shaded look. I try not to go overboard with the gradients and blending, since I really do like that clean and cartoony, cel-shaded look. But for something like sky, a gradient works really well in conveying that transition to haze at the horizon.

Next up, mist effects…

BONUS CONTENT: Art Process “Snow Job” #1 cover, Pt 5

April 15, 2010

In the previous step, the grunt work of the coloring was finished. Everything had been colored and shaded to a point that I was happy with.Usually at this point in the coloring process, it gets a bit more fun and experimental as I play with effects and tints (if the page calls for them).

In this case, I always intended for this image to be very atmospheric, with the characters gradually disappearing into the haze of the snow planet as they receded into the distance. I accomplished this by creating several “mist” Layers in Photoshop. Each layer was pure white and had certain elements cut out of it, and I then played with the opacities of the different layers to get the effect I wanted.

In total, I had 3 mist layers going here. The first layer was very light in opacity and covered everything except Roka and the immediate foreground snow that he’s standing on. That way, he’d stand out the most and everything else would get pushed back, visually, to varying degrees. The second layer of mist was behind Sky and Cember, pushing everything behind them back a bit further. Finally, the third mist layer was behind Bocce and Ril. This last layer pushes Bennesaud and the rock wall deep into the background.

I have to admit that sometimes it’s weird to do that sort of thing to your artwork. You think, “Aww, I put all that effort into drawing and coloring Bennesaud and the rock wall, and now you can barely even see them.” But the end result is worth it, I think.

Next up, special effects…

BONUS CONTENT: Art Process “Snow Job” #1 cover, Pt 6

April 22, 2010

So this is the last step of this cover’s Process feature. From the previous steps, everything is colored the way I want it and the mist layers now establish a cool sense of atmosphere and space to the image. Here I add a few extra effects and details to really help sell the piece.

The biggest discovery for me was that the characters looked a bit fake and out of place in the previous image because they didn’t seem like they were truly interacting with the environment. They were just a bit too clean. I found that adding a bit of snow dusting on their lower legs and head and shoulders made it really look like they were in the snow.

I also added some visible breath to Roka to give the setting that really cold look. The hot rope on Roka’s belt also gets finished here. As a glowing object, I replaced the black outline with an orange color hold to make it look less “solid.” I then just added a slight orange glow to it, as well as a white highlight glow running along the center of the rope. Along those lines, I also replaced Bocce’s arm with his glowing blue energy arm. For his arm, I use the Airbrush tool in Photoshop set to Dissolve. I find that gives it a nice spatter look that makes it read more like crackling energy.

Lastly, I add a layer of falling snow over the entire image. As I mentioned in the previous post, sometimes it’s hard to cover up all that finished art you’ve worked so hard on, but in the end, the final image is worth it since sometimes the obscuring bits are what really sells the piece.

So that’s it! I hope you enjoyed the multi-step process of this cover image. The next time I do one of these, it will be for a full page of paneled artwork, possibly with some color tints, so that should be really interesting…

BONUS CONTENT: Con Sketch

April 29, 2010

I thought I’d do something a little different for this week’s Bonus Content. A few weeks ago, I did this commissioned sketch of Sky at the Boston Comic Con. I thought it came out pretty well, so I thought I’d post it here. Sorry for the low quality of the image. I was working from a photo posted by the person who got the sketch, since I forgot to take a picture myself. Anyway, I touched it up as best I could (without spending a huge amount of time on it). I’m hoping to get a good scan of it sent to me, but in the meantime, I think this will work. If you ever see me at a show and would like to commission a RUNNERS sketch, feel free to ask! And I’ll remember to take a picture next time so I can share it here.

BONUS CONTENT: Sketchbook: Preegans

May 6, 2010

As you might guess, I did a lot of concept design work for The Big Snow Job. I’ll be posting images from my sketchbook in batches, breaking up the batches with other Bonus Content every now and then. This first group of sketches goes back to the first issue of the story arc.

Here we have the Preegans, the double-crossing bug aliens that first show up in The Big Snow Job #1,  Page 4. I wanted them to be small and insectoid but had a bit of trouble settling on something that didn’t look like just another typical alien bug. Once I sketched the roach/beetle-looking guy with the 90-degree bend between the torso and abdomen, that was it. I liked that the hunched-over back made them look a bit sneaky, while the round bellies kept them looking comical.

I figured I’d do a few quick facial expression tests too since I knew they’d have to look pathetic when pleading their case to Roka, and I wanted to make sure I’d be able to capture that in the art.

BONUS CONTENT: Sketchbook: Preegan Gear

May 13, 2010

As I mentioned in the post for The Big Snow Job #1, Page 7, I wanted the Preegan henchmen to have a Western bandito look, so I gave them crisscrossing ammo belts across the torso. But to make the outfit a little more interesting, instead of just being two ammo loops going diagonally across the torso, it’s one continuous belt, that goes around the back of the neck, crisscrossing in the front, and then attaching to the waist belt in the back.

Here I also did a few sketches of the Preegan oversized gun to figure out how it would work for four-armed usage. For all the thought that went into them, the guns ended up barely showing up at all in the actual sequence, which is kind of a bummer. But at least they’re already designed, so if the Preegans ever show up again, that concepting work will be done. Hurray for recycling!

BONUS CONTENT: Sketchbook: Root Beetle

May 20, 2010

It’s funny how I can nail the look of a complicated piece of machinery like the Preegan gun in just a  couple sketches, but then something like a beetle can take so many different attempts. Ugh. Anyway, the root beetles first appear on The Big Snow Job #1, Page 7 and it took a little while to settle on something I thought looked believably alien.

Most of the early sketch attempts looked a bit too similar to insects that actually exist in real life. Given the sheer wackiness of Mother Nature, I’m sure the beetle I finally settled on resembles something in real life too, but as of now, I’m not aware of it. It will probably be discovered in the depths of the Amazon some day. Or tomorrow in my pantry, at which point I’ll go hoarse from all the shrieking.

Note to self: the final beetle design would also look pretty cool as a space ship…

BONUS CONTENT: Sketchbook: Roka, Bocce

May 27, 2010

So here we have the costume designs I did for Roka as he appears on The Big Snow Job #1, Page 4 at the Arqq-Olem port. Basically, I just wanted to continue the long sleeve shirt and vest look that was established in the first story arc, since that seems to be his signature style.

Roka’s gun satchel was something I thought up for the first arc, although I never ended up drawing it. So I figured the opening port scene in Snow Job would be a good place to introduce it. I like that it’s something he can easily put on when he needs to be armed, but he can just as easily take it off if he’s on the ship and doesn’t need it. Since it’s the biggest gun of the entire crew, it would probably be a bit clunkier to sit around in than, say, Cember’s pistols.

Bocce’s outfit is the same from Bad Goods, but I needed to concept his energy cast and crutch, not that you end up seeing the crutch all that much in the actual story. I wanted to keep the crutch fairly simple and not over-design it. So it’s basically just a cool sci-fi crutch that can telescope to varying lengths or retract completely into a more compact shape.

Additional commentary about the outfits can be found in the posting for The Big Snow Job #1, Page 14.

BONUS CONTENT: Sketchbook: Cember, Sky

June 3, 2010

Here are the sketches I did for the Cember and Sky Arqq-Olem outfits. For Cember, I kept going with variations of his established look of split, 2-piece tops and skirts. This time around, I added some pattern embellishments to his outfits. While I like the solid blue outfit he wore in Bad Goods, the little bits of patterning just add that extra bit of flash that suits his character. So I’ll probably do more of that going forward.

For Sky, the first few sketches here were a bit too dull, “girly,” or fancy. I do kinda like the back skirt of #3 though, so maybe that outfit (or some variation of it) will show up in the future. But for the most part, I really like the banded jumpsuit that I ultimately settled on. It’s a fun outfit to draw, what with all the piping, so I’m pretty sure it’ll be showing up again on a semi-regular basis. I really like the headband as well. Not sure where that came from, but it definitely adds a youthful, cute look to her. That’ll probably stick around too.

Additional commentary about the outfits can be found in the posting for The Big Snow Job #1, Page 14.

BONUS CONTENT: Sketchbook: Ril

June 10, 2010

I designed Ril’s port outfit to have some slight stylistic similarities to his Bad Goods outfit. In this case, I like that the top has a crossover flap that wraps all the way around the back and clasps onto the front again on the opposite side. It just seemed like a cool look that was a bit different from the norm. Probably not the most practical thing in the world, but then fashion rarely is, I guess.

With Ril’s gun, I like that it’s a bit odd in proportion, with its oversized, thick stubby barrel. I’m not a huge fan of trying to make every weapon look “badass,” so I intentionally try to keep some weapons non-flashy. I was pretty happy with all three rifle sketches, but I ultimately settled on the bottom left one, again because it had the most unusual proportions of the three.

I haven’t decided yet if the pistol on this page is Ril’s signature gun or if it’s just one of many different handguns he’ll carry on different jobs. I imagine him to be a bit of a gun collector, so it would make sense for him to use a wide variety of weapons over the course of the series. I guess we’ll just see how lazy I am during the design phase of the upcoming arcs…

Additional commentary about the outfits can be found in the posting for The Big Snow Job #1, Page 14.