Category Archives: comics

Working Traditionally

While I was temping a few months, I decided to start working with traditional mediums again, watercolors, gouache, markers and ink brushes. When I first started illustrating, I did traditional illustrations in acrylic.

I shared a table with Scott Brundage at New York Comic Con this year. He did a lot of commissioned drawings, and did quite well. Normally I’m not to interested in trying to sell the original art, because when it’s digital, there’s really nothing physical to sell.

But I thought I’d give it a try, and made a bunch of small spot drawings there. I sold one. But I liked it, and have been experimenting more with traditional medium. Here are some of the sketches and drawings.


The Power of Doodling

I love doodling. I find it to be a great activity that allows an artist to let thought flow more freely. Whenever I have the chance to doodle in prep for an illustration, I always find the end results to be richer and more detailed. Story elements also creep in. My visual language to express a character expands.

For cartooning, I think doodling is a valuable exercise. Kool Aid Gets Fired came from a doodle of Kool Aid having a moment of existential crisis. Many of my background characters come from doodles in sketchbooks. I doodle something that I feels really captures the visual essence of what you might think such a person looks like. When I drew the little guy down in the right hand corner, I thought he looked like an everyday background office worker, someone who pretty much comes in, does their job, and goes home.

His final incarnation in Kool Aid he had glasses. But the basic idea for what many of my office workers would look like came from this doodle. To me (and everyone is going to see different), it says, he’s been at his job not just years, but a few decades. Not fully beaten down, but definitely a corporate cog that knows his place.

As contrasted by this doodle, who I always thinking of as Ken Newman, bright, shiny, energetic, looking for ways to make a change and improve things. Often I will take a doodle and expand on it, working out how the character might look expressing different emotions.

Sometimes a character from a doodle ends up in a full illustration. I’m not sure if I specifically used the person on the left in the drawing on the right. The one on the left was a women who got onto the train with her chello and bags and insisted on squeezing into the space. I was trying out some new brushes in Painter for this. Clearly the way I drew the head stuck in my head for the crowd scene I drew.

When I worked in offices, often my meeting handouts would end up covered in doodles. Often they were of co-workers.

I think that moving forward, I’m going to devote some time to just doodling each week. No specifics, no goal, just a journey.

Just when you thought you were done…

So, the last entry, I showed some goblins standing in a field near a forest. I thought the illustration was done, and sent it out to some friends for opinions. For the most part, they agreed it’s there, but that I could push it a little more. So I did. Here are the two versions, and the second version, I agree is much better.

However, The top one is closer to style of this illustration:

I wanted to stay closer to this flatter style of illustration. I did find myself getting more and more detailed as I worked on the goblins. Take the sleepy goblin in the back on the right hand side, he’s leaning against his spear. I had to go back and flatten his face some, because the level of lighting and details I had on it were more realistic in style then say the goblin sitting on the rock.

And I certainly feel that the grass moves much farther away from the style below.

Not that I think the after version is a failure. I love it. I’m glad I took those extra steps and pushed it even more. The far right goblin, picking his nose, I think his feet and legs are awesome. They have a real sense of space, direction and shape. I love the sitting goblin, his face, the legs. I feel I managed to really make each goblin have character.

What is lacking is any sense of story, as they are just standing around by some trees. So, now I have an idea to do a second drawing of these goblins around a camp fire, as if bedding down for the night. It will also let me do some lighting from a strong source, as I’m working to expand my skills and learn something about light and coloring.