Kickstarter Commissions Rolling Right Along

Hey everybody. Just a quick one this time. Along with everything else that’s going on, I’m diligently working on the commissions that certain backers of my Kickstarter get. I want to get them finished in time to ship them with the books (which should arrive in the next couple months). So, While I don’t have a lot of time to make process posts, here’s a quick rundown of the latest one I did.

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It’s Scout. One of the stars of my book. And, as usual, he’s nervous about something. The fact that he’s quick-to-panic is a big part of his personality and character. And that’s exactly what this particular backer wanted. A good, old-fashioned, scared Scout.

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So here we go. Pencils on Bristol Board.

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I’m using those Sakura Pigma brush pens I’ve been fiddling around with lately. Really like the control and variable-width line I get with those.

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All done inking. Time for color.

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He may seem white, surrounded by all that color in the comic, but Scout’s not white. He’s kind of a very light cream color with warm brown markings. I’m using a Utrecht marker I like for the base color, but most of this will be finished with Copic Markers.

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So there’s Scout’s markings and shadows, done with Copic Sketch Markers. I like those brush tips. Not much left to do here….color in the mouth area, text, and grass.

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Not sure my phone camera captures color very accurately, but here’s Scout — all finished and ready to run from trouble. When I start sending out Untold Tales of Bigfoot: Crossing Paths to backers in a couple months, he’ll be packed into the envelope with the book. So. Another one down. But I have more to go. Better get to work. -v

Copic Marker Wonder Woman (Yeah, I gave her straps to hold up her top…what of it?!)

First, some good news: My Kickstarter is 100% funded. But I have another week to go to hit some stretch goals. I’m hoping one way of doing that is by people choosing the “private commission” rewards where I’ll draw any figure you’d like (black/white or color). Since I’ve been working on some examples of those commissions, I thought I’d post some process shots of some of them here.

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So here’s ol’ Wonder Woman. I did this line drawing on Bristol Board (smooth) with a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen and some Pitt Artist Pens. The brush pen is great for those thick/thin lines, but my hand is way too shaky to attempt tiny details with it yet. So the Pitt pens come in handy for that.

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I started with the legs. Not because I felt really confident about the colors I chose, but I figured I could douse them in shadows if I really screwed up. But they’re not too bad. I think I used four different colors (E colors in the Copic line of markers) and a blender to smooth things out. If I’d had a few more dollars in my wallet, I might have picked up some light pinks and blues and really gone crazy, but these few light-peachy colors get the point across.

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Real quick: There are a handful of different styles of Copic markers. I used to use the squarish, Copic Original style (on the bottom in the photo). They have a chisel tip end and a small, pointed nib. Perfectly good markers. But lately, I’ve grown accustomed to the Copic Sketch Markers (on top in the photo). They’ve got a chisel tip as well, but their opposite side is a really nice, long, felt brush that has a lot of give (for nice weight variation) with a point sharp enough for detail work. It’s entirely up to you, though. So try out a few different styles. Different tools for different jobs.

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Ever stand in front of a rack of Copics and try to pick colors and stay on budget? It’s nuts. There were about 50 blues that were calling to me. In the end, I thought these three could do the job. I think these were Light Blue, Cyan Blue, and Peacock. Don’t quote me, but you get the idea. Three values of blue, and I dragged a toner grey over some of the skirt to dull/darken it.

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Here I’ve started in with the reds. R22, R29, and R59 I think.Basically a pinkish highlight, a bold, bright midtone, and a subdued, darker value. There was a lot of blending (and these reds seemed really liquid…not sure if it was just the three I happened to buy, or if they’re always like that) so I didn’t have to use a colorless blender with them. They self-blended for the most part. Some of the highlights you see are either blank paper or, when I needed it, white gel pen to add highlights. Speaking of which…

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Here’s a close-up of her headband. I wanted some variation in the colors (not just flat yellow and red) so there’s a bit of yellow, orange, and brown in there to make the gold. And in that bottom image you can see that I went in afterward with a white gel pen to add highlights. I’m always looking to try new white inks, so if you’ve used one you love, let me know about it in the comments and I’ll probably try it out. In this case, I used the pen below.

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This is a Gelly Roll 08 White Gel Pen by Sakura. Like I said, I’ve tried a lot of white inks, and this one, so far, is pretty smooth, covers well, and doesn’t dry into a hard, white brick of useless ink inside the pen too quickly.

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And here’s the final full-color Wonder Woman. I figured, with a metal chestplate like that, she’d probably need some sort of support straps to avoid a wardrobe malfunction during battle. It just feels more secure. Ladies? Agree? I’d have put tough, leather leggings on her too but that’d cause a riot. As it stands, I think I covered her in enough armor to make it believable,  while still doing that ancient-Greek-warrior-aesthetic justice.

Hope you got something out of that. Or at least had fun reading through it. And hey, if you wanna show me your undying appreciation, feel free to head over to my Kickstarter before next Thursday the 23rd and drop a couple bucks in the pot. Every little bit helps. Have a great weekend! -v

Shameless Plug: My Kickstarter is Live!

If you’ve been coming to this blog to see my process work (thank you) you may know I also work on an award-winning webcomic called Untold Tales of Bigfoot. Well, I just launched a Kickstarter Campaign to get that comic into print, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t post that info here.

If you have the time, go check out the Kickstarter. Untold tales of Bigfoot is an all-ages adventure about a lost dog and a lonesome bigfoot, and the theme revolves around the importance of friendship and family (but Bigfoot also wrestles with a mountain lion and stuff like that). Thanks for listening to my pitch. : )

Untold Tales of Bigfoot Kickstarter Page

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Quick as a Flash! A speedy marker sketch process.

Hey everybody! I haven’t posted in a bit because I’ve been getting the Kickstarter for my graphic novel ready (it launches Tuesday, May 24th). But I was just fiddling around with some grey Copic markers and thought I’d snap a few pictures and run through the process just for the heck of it. (The Flash ©DC Comics, Silver Age Flash design by Carmine Infantino)

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I wanted to draw The Flash. I love the original, winged-helmet, Jay Garrick-Flash. And I’m a big fan of the re-design they did on the CW TV show. But my first Flash was Infantino’s Silver Age re-design, and my version sticks fairly close to that. So I sketched out a rough, then used a lightbox to clean up the lines a little. That’s smooth Bristol paper. It’s a little dim….not as bright white as some others, but still pretty bright. Most of the yellowing in these photos is from my terrible phone camera. : )

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I used the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen to ink most of this. It has those long, flexible bristles that allow for a nice variation in line weight. But it’s got some play to it, so you have to have a steady hand. Mine’s not as steady as I’d like, so I chickened out and used a Pitt pen for the fine features in the face.

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Another thing about the Pocket Brush is that ink takes a while to dry. Especially if there are large black areas (like under his left arm). So I finished the inking and let it dry before laying down the markers.

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I’m just a newbie with the Copic markers, but I love the smooth flow of the tones. I just wanted a greyscale image, so I used an array of Copic greys and a clear blender. The blender is nice to have in a pinch, but I find that if you lay your colors down quickly enough, they start the blending on their own.

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You can see in the is last detail, even with the smooth Bristol, you still get a good deal of texture from the paper. There were a few spots where, even after hours of drying time, the Copics re-hydrated the ink lines and I had to use the blender to work in the smudges. Overall, I enjoy working pen-to-paper every so often. It keeps you sharp, and this was good practice. -v

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Coming Soon: Giant Sea Monster!

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This is a quick sneak-peek of a project I’m working on with some comic-creator friends. Just an informal art-jam kind of thing. We’re supposed to wrap up by the end of the month, maybe a little while after that. But when we do, I’ll be sure to post my process on this monstrous page. I just wanted to give you a little preview because I’ve been having a lot of fun working on it and I wanted to share. -v

My Watson Guest Strip

Looks like my Bigfoot & Scout characters had some new visitors to their neck of the woods! That’s Fudgey and his dog Watson, the main characters in the online comic Watson, created by cartoonist, family man and notorious nutball, Jim Horwitz.Watson_UntoldTalesofBigfoot_GuestStrip_VinceDorseJim came to me a while ago and asked if I’d be interested in collaborating on a Watson guest strip. Look at that winning smile. How could I say no?  Watson_JimBioNot only is Jim a funny, talented cartoonist, he’s also a nice guy with a high-energy personality and some impressive writing chops. In fact, he wrote that last sentence. Here’s a recent Watson strip that’s a good example of Jim’s style.Watson_SimonSays

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So, Jim had an idea for a gag where Watson and Fudgey meet Bigfoot and Scout, who are turning a decent buck selling Bigfoot merchandise. Jim had a script all written out, so I roughed out a first draft.Watson_UntoldTalesofBigfoot_GuestStrip_VinceDorse

I sketched directly in MangaStudio (ClipStudio Paint) this time. No pencil or paper, just digital. Jim hated it. Well, maybe hate is a strong word.  But he did want some changes. He suggested I open up the space a little more, create some breathing room between the characters. Turned out to be a good note because, even though I was shooting for BIG and BOLD, the text Jim wrote wouldn’t have fit in my original composition. So I took another pass at the composition.Watson_UntoldTalesofBigfoot_GuestStrip_VinceDorseI’ll admit…I didn’t run this second draft by Jim because I was afraid he’d have more changes and, frankly, I did not have time for those kind of shenanigans. But I was pretty confident I nailed the aesthetic he was looking for (hope so, anyway). I jumped into to the inking phase.

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Inks were done in MS with a standard brush. I didn’t try to match Jim’s style — a dynamic mix of stylized blocks of borderless color and lines so thick and heavy you could use them to beat someone unconscious. I just went with my standard style, hoping it would do Jim’s idea justice.

Jim and I bounced around a few different ideas for the color. But here’s the thing: Jim and I make different kinds of comics. His strip is punchy and gag-based and often leans toward bright, bold RGB colors while my long-form comic benefits from the laid-back, subtler CMYK mixes. So we compromised…Watson_UntoldTalesofBigfoot_GuestStrip_VinceDorse

I laid down my flat colors in MS, but went a little lighter and brighter than I normally would. Afterward, I exported the file, converted to RGB and used Photoshop adjustment layers to brighten and saturate the colors even further. In the end, what I sent to Jim wasn’t quite as bubbly as his usual strips, nor was it as mellow as my usual color palette. A decent, middle-ground.

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Here’s a close-up of some of the modeling I did on the trees and figures. All done in MangaStudio. Jim’s strip is very sharp and crisp, but since this was my guest strip I decided to throw all that out the window and try something different. I used soft, textured brushes to model the trees, and built up the highlights on Bigfoot’s fur with some rough-edged, low-opacity brushes to give him a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling. Did Jim like it? I don’t know. But what’s he gonna do? Recolor it? With his deadlines? I’d like to see him try.Watson_UntoldTalesofBigfoot_GuestStrip_VinceDorseIn case it’s of any interest, here’s what my colors look like without the ink lines.

And, finally, here’s a mock-up of what the strip looks like with all the text, full color and with the official Watson border around it. Not too bad.  Watson_UntoldTalesofBigfoot_GuestStrip_VinceDorseI had a great time working on this guest strip with Jim, so big thanks to him for giving me the opportunity! Why not visit the Watson site , support Watson on Facebook, and browse through the archives where Jim celebrates the subtle moments in life and pokes some lighthearted fun at politics, Hollywood, technology, pop-culture, and other cartoonists. -v

Sleestak Vs. Gorn! Winner Eats Chaka!

So, if you’re into retro, ’60s/’70s sci-fi television at all, you might recognize these goons. The Sleestak terrorized the Marshall family in The Land of the Lost, and the Gorn famously kicked Captain Kirk’s butt around the desert in the Star Trek episode, Arena. I’ve watched rerun after rerun of these shows and these creeps still give me the heebie-jeebies. So I thought it’d be fun to do a mash-up where they battle each other.

SleestakVsGorn_VinceDorseI ran a poll on Twitter to see which monster people thought would win this scrap. 21% sided with the Sleestak, 79% went with the Gorn. I’ll embed a poll down at the bottom of this post. Maybe you guys have a different opinion on who’d beat who, but if you want to see how I put this mash-up together, you can scroll through my process below.

PencilsPencil sketch. I sketched these guys and scanned them in, put ‘em on different layers in Photoshop to arrange them, then roughed out a general idea of the background and masthead. This is the point in the illustration where I ask myself, do I really wanna blow off my current illustration job to goof around on this junk? As usual, my answer is yes.

Layer Color button in MangaStudioI pull the piece into MangaStudio to begin inking. MangaStudio has this great little button in the Layer Property palette called Layer Color that gives everything on the selected layer a specific color cast. You can choose any color, but the default is this light blue, which is perfect for what I need.

Inking in MangaStudioInks: I use the Layer Color effect on my pencil layer to give them the look of traditional comic pencils done in non-photo blue pencil. Then, on a layer above that, I start my inking. It’s a lot easier to see the inks against the light blue pencils then the regular black/dark grey pencils. If you’ve never used that Layer Color button, give it a try.

Background inksBackground Inks: Here’s a detail of the cover where you can see some of the background inks. I just scratched in some tree bark and long grass with a standard brush. To draw the fern-like leaves in the background, I first filled the space with black, then switched my “ink” color to white and painted in the leaves.

Imaginary comic pitting the Sleestak against the GornFinished Inks: So here’s the finished inks for the illustration. Those hissing sound effects were done in Photoshop. I’ll keep saying it until it changes, but the text tool in MangaStudio is subpar and most of the time I pull things into Photoshop or Illustrator to layout/modify text. I guess I could’ve hand-lettered those hisses, but I really like the look of that typeface. For those of you who’ve never heard it, here’s the sound of Sleestak hissing.

Flat colorsFlats: If you enjoy coloring books, then laying down flats is your dream job. Otherwise, it’s a spirit-draining exercise in painstaking rigidity. It’s all about filling in the shapes and staying in the lines and it has to be done so there, I did it. Ladies and gentlemen…the flats.

Modeling the backgroundModeling the background: Here’s where I get to add some texture to the environment. You can see I sprayed the ground with some speckles of black during the inking stage to give the idea of a granular, sandy surface. Now I can use a rough-edged brush to splotch in some lights and shadows on the ground, varying the opacity, layering the color, keeping it nice and random.

Modeling the figuresModeling the figures: For the figures I used a harder-edged brush to add highlights and shadows to the rubber costu— er, slick, leathery, reptile skin. I dotted in the idea of scales with some lighter and darker greens, supplementing the scales I brushed in during the inking stage. Look at that toothless, old-man mouth on that Sleestak. I can only assume, in hand-to-hand combat, they must be deadly with those horns.

More modelingMore modeling: I used the same technique on the Gorn’s skin. In this progression of images you can also see the flat-color tunic, followed by the highlight/shadow version, followed by the finished tunic with that trippy ’60s design. The Gorn were such space-hippies. I had a Great Aunt in Philly and that mini-dress thing looks like it was cut from her plastic-covered couch.

Masthead letteringFinally, the masthead for my fake comic book cover. I hand-scrawled “Sleestak” to emulate the hand-scrawled “Beware Of Sleestak” warning from the walls of the caves in the show. The Gorn text I typed after routing through some monster-type fonts on my system and finding one that fit the bill. So, now that you know how I did it, who do you think would win this fight? -v