Untold Tales of Bigfoot Wins Medal

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Just a quick note to let you know that Untold Tales of Bigfoot : Crossing Paths has been honored with another award! This time we earned a Bronze Medal in the category of Graphic Novel, Humor in the 2017 Independent Publisher Book Awards.

There’s a ceremony in New York that I may be too swamped with work to attend, but I hear they’re going to send me my medal. An actual medal. That oughta be fun. Congratulations to all the other medalists.

In other news, I’m working on a few projects right now so I hope to have some “process” to post on this news & process blog soon. -v

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Pittsburgh Indie Comics Expo

It’s been a while since I posted, so let’s catch up. Last weekend I brought some books and prints to PIX, Pittsburgh’s Indie Comics Expo, held at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture in Pittsburgh. A nice venue and a great collection of small press/indie comics.

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I sat in with the guys in the Pittsburgh Chapter of the National Cartoonists Society and had a blast. As you can see, one of us didn’t get the memo about wearing black. : )

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I was there to promote the NCS (a great organization that does charity work, hands out an annual scholarship to a budding cartoonist, and supports the art of cartooning ) and to premiere my newest project, Wish On A Halloween Moon, a spooky, all-ages storybook/artbook/coloring book. I hope to put up a process post on that book soon.

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It was a nice afternoon, talking cartooning, meeting people from all over who came to exhibit and attend PIX and, of course, signing books. I managed to take a few photos of some of the doodles I’ve done in the books. I know I drew a happy jack-o’-lantern for a younger fan, but I guess I didn’t snap that pic.

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It’s always fun to visit the August Wilson Center, not only for the fantastic exhibits celebrating African-American culture, but also because their restroom doors are inordinately tall and make you feel like you’ve been hit with a shrink ray.

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I’ll be using this news/process blog to post about any upcoming con/expo visits. So stop back to see if I’ll end up in your neck of the woods this year. -v

Mickey Mouse Birthday Card

Wow, it’s been a while since I posted. I’ve been prepping and shipping my book out to my Kickstarter backers, so I haven’t had time for much else. But I just inked up a quick Mickey Mouse Birthday Card for a friend and thought I’d snap some photos during the process just to have something to post.

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This was the initial rough sketch. I tweaked it a little in Photoshop and printed it to size so I could trace it on the lightbox.

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The pencils, up close. I darkened them a little for the blog so they’d be easier to see, but I generally try to work pretty light (4H pencils) so the rough lines aren’t so visible in the finished piece.

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I’m inking with the Sakura Pigma Brush Pens again. Working on larger areas (like Mickey’s ear) I get to use that massive Bold Brush.

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Most of the figure outline is done with the Fine Brush. It really does have a pretty dynamic range of widths. In some cases I might use the Medium Brush too, but mine’s getting a little chewed up so I didn’t want to risk using it until I picked up a new one.

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This is the finished piece. 8×10 on Bristol. Just a fun birthday illustration. I scan this in and resize it to fit the card template I created in Photoshop. And then…

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Here’s the finished product! All ready to stamp and send. Hope everybody has a Happy New Year! -v

I’m drawing Haunted Mansion Ghosts for Inktober 2016

Every October people all over the world people celebrate “Inktober” by getting out their ink pens, brushes, and markers and attempting to do a new, ink drawing every day of the month.

Sometimes it’s random subject matter, sometimes people try to follow a theme. This year, I picked “The Haunted Mansion” as my theme and I’m trying to draw a different Disney ghost every day. Not sure if I’ll get one done every single day, but if you want to follow along (and see other Inktober drawings that other illustrators and cartoonists are doing) check out the #Inktober2016 hashtag on Twitter and Instagram.

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As I make my way through Inktober, I’ll try to keep updating this post. Each happy haunt is done the same way: pencil sketch light-boxed onto Bristol board, then inked with Sakura brush pens and Pitt artist pens. Oh! And I’m trying to draw the ghosts in the order you encounter them in the Haunted Mansion. I’ll also try to caption them with the names they’ve been given, if any (though, there seem to be conflicting views on what certain ghosts are named, depending on what source you go to). Click to embiggen. Happy Halloween! -v

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Alexander Nitrokoff

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Daisy De La Cruz / Sally Slater

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Quicksand Trio / The Hobbs’

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Abigale Pateclever / Constance Hatchaway

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The Sea Captain / Capt. Culpepper Clyne

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Medusa

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The Hanging Man

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Vampire

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Jack the Ripper

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Madame Leota

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Birthday Ghost

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Birthday Guest

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Ballroom Dancers

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Passenger in Hearse

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The Organist

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The Duelists

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The Bride

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The Caretaker

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Pop-Up Ghosts

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Skeleton Hound

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Mummy

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Hard-of=Hearing Ghost

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Lady Opera Singer

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Opera Singer Guy

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The Executioner

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The Headless Knight

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Gus (Hitchhiking Ghohst)

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Ezra (Hitchhiking Ghost)

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Phineas (Hitchhiking Ghost)

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The Hatbox Ghost

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Rush Job! City Paper Cover.

Right before the weekend I got an email from Charlie Deitch, Editor at the Pittsburgh City Paper. “I know it’s short notice, but do you have time to do a cover this week?” The answer to this, even if I don’t have time, is always yes. Yes, I do. Because money. And because I could use another portfolio piece. Not to mention the CP staff is great to work with. And, honestly, I kinda’ like the challenge of a rush job. So here’s a quick process breakdown.311_citypaper_digitalcover_sm_vincedorse-copy

Lisa, the art director, wasn’t in the office this week. But vacation be darned, she still managed to scribble her idea for the cover on the back of what looks like some humorous, cat-themed notepaper and get it to me. I hope she won’t mind my posting this, but I thought it’d be fun to show the process of building a cover from start to finish. 311_citypaper_process_dorse_02

That first, rough drawing is really all about getting the idea across. And Lisa’s not the only one who scribbles out wonky doodles in a hurry. Here’s the one I sent Charlie for approval.311_Process_DorseTerrible, right? Still, it’s about getting the idea across. I thought it’d be fun to spin the angle a little and have the girl walking right out toward the viewer, but basically, everything Lisa mentioned in her scribbled notes is here. Approved! Next step, polished pencil sketch.

311_Process_DorseWith these covers, I always begin with the file of the City Paper masthead that I keep handy. It helps me lay out the composition. Here are the polished pencils I sent in to Charlie, done in Clip Studio (Manga Studio) with a basic pencil tool. The brief didn’t indicate “Fall” but the first day of Autumn had just gone by and I thought it’d be appropriate to do a cover with a bunch of warm, Fall colors.

Initially, I was planning to ink over these pencils, like a traditional editorial or comic illustration. But the more I thought about it, the more I felt the image would work better as kind of a softer, storybook illustration. So I left the pencils in as my main lines and started in on the colors. Clock was ticking, too, so not inking over the pencils saved me a little time.

311_CityPaper_process_VinceDorseClip Studio has dozens of brushes I like for this kind of work: chalk brushes, watercolor, airbrush, and plain old flat fill brushes. I used all of those (and more) to start laying in color under my pencils.

311_CityPaper_process_VinceDorseI think most of what you see in this detail was done by various chalk brushes, layered on a little at a time. I enjoyed figuring out different textures (like the hair and sweater), and I’d be lying if I said drawing a nutty squirrel didn’t make this job twice as appealing.

311_CityPaper_process_VinceDorseThe water was done with a couple different airbrush tools in Clip Studio. I wanted the sidewalk to look a little wet and sparsely covered in fallen leaves, so I used a watercolor brush to get a bit of a wash effect on the colors.

311_CityPaper_process_VinceDorseThe manhole cover was textured with a pastel brush and some pencil tools. Same with the hole in the sidewalk, and then I blended it with a watery blender.

311_CityPaper_process_VinceDorseThe thing that took the longest was this tree. It was easy enough laying down colors in the trunk and then blending them, but those leaves! I know I could’ve gone with a red/orange/yellow watercolor wash. And I almost did, because I was under the gun. But once I started painting in the leaves (pencil tool) I really liked the look of them. So I just kept doing it until I was done. I turned in the illustration the next morning and it’s on the stands today! Here’s the finished illo without the cover text:311_CityPaper_process_VinceDorseThis was a really fun job. I got to experiment with some brushes, made the folks at the City Paper happy, and added another amusing illustration to my portfolio. Wins all around! I hope the City Paper considers me for their next rush job. I’m up for it. -v

Here’s a link to the online issue of this week’s City Paper.

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

What’s in the case?

I rarely leave the house without a sketchbook and this beat-up, old, faux-suede-covered pencil case. I’d have preferred black, but it was a gift so who am I to complain?

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Anyway, at home I’ve got shelves loaded with art supplies (and, of course, my trusty computer). But what if I have to go outside?! The horror! Well, this case has everything I need if I want to make some art on the fly. People have asked before what tools I use to draw, so I figured I’d lay it out here in this exhaustive post that is for drawing nerds only. The rest of you will fall asleep. So. What’s in the case?

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Organized, right? But this is just the first side. This case has a second compartment ’round back:

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I’ll run down most of the things in here on the off chance you wanna try ’em out for yourselves. I’ve burned through a lot of different tools over the years, and this is my current set-up because they get the job done. Maybe there’s better stuff out there – and if you’ve found different favorites, feel free to let me know – but so far these are my go-to tools. Let’s get to it!

Pentel Finito X-Tra Fine (Pentel)

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We’re starting off slow. This Pentel Finito X-Tra Fine was given to me by a Pentel rep as part of a sample package and, though I don’t use it often, it’s a great pen with a fine-fine tip that’s nice for detail work in a pinch. I also like to sign artwork with it because it’s just a nice pen in general. Very precise, but no give or variation in stroke. Perfectly workable all-purpose fine-tip pen, though. And not expensive.

Pentel Sign Pens (Pentel)

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The Sign Pen Variety Pack is an all-purpose set of pens from Pentel. Two of the pens are basically regular felt-tip pens with medium to heavy nibs. Neither one has a ton of flexibility. The best pen in the pack is the brush tip with the speckled barrel. That one has a great little felt brush tip that offers a good deal of variation in line weight. Here’s some quick scribbles:

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The first two Bigfoots were done with the felt tip sign pens. They’re klunky. Good to have if you don’t want variation in your line, or if you’re filling in small areas with black. But that third Bigfoot that I sketched with the brush-tip pen? You can tell the line just feels more natural on the paper. You get a pretty broad range of thick-and-thin considering how inexpensive this pen is. You can buy the 3-pack, but honestly, that brush-tip pen is the only one I really use. When these dry out I’ll likely just replace that one.

Pilot Precise V5 and Mystery Pen

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Look, sometimes you just need to write something. Not draw. Write. These are just pens I use to write/sign with. The Pilot Precise V5 (extra-fine) is a great everyday pen. So is its brother, the Pilot Precise V7 (fine). They both have these teeny-tiny needle points that are great if you like to write small. If you’re one of those people (like me) that’s always looking for “the perfect pen” then give these Pilots a try. EDC06a_Dorse

That other pen? I have no idea what it is. It was part of my sample pack from Pentel. Take a look at the odd point, though. What’s going on with that point? It’s like a weird spear-head with a nib threaded through the center. I have no idea what pen this is (the markings have all worn off), and I only keep it around because it’s a mystery I’d like to solve. So if you know (and if you understand what that weird tip is all about) leave me a message in the comments. I rarely use it and I’ll probably ditch it soon unless I can figure out what the heck it’s for.

Pencils & Erasers

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Nothing to see here, folks. Just a mechanical pencil I use sometimes (with a darker 2B lead), some regular pencils (4H, very light) and erasers. There’s an old-fashioned pencil holder/extender because I’m too cheap to throw away short pencil nubs. I also keep a 6-inch ruler and a small pencil sharpener handy.

Now, the real workhorses in my inking workflow:

White Gel Pen (Sakura)

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Lots of different folks have lots of different solutions for white ink pens. I’ve tried a few different brands, and this Gelly Roll White Gel Pen by Sakura has proved to be the most effective and reliable. It lays down a smooth, opaque line, and unlike some others I’ve tried, the gel doesn’t dry out too quickly. I’ve thrown away white pens half-unused because the ink dried in the barrel. So far, the Gelly Roll has stayed fluid the longest. And they’re inexpensive.

Pigma Brush Pens & Graphic Pens (Sakura)

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If you’ve read through my recent Bigfoot/Star Wars post, you know I recently discovered these Pigma Brush Pens and that I love them. They come in three sizes (fine, medium, bold), have a lot of bounce to the tips, and lay down a very nice variable-width line. The ink is waterproof and dries quickly. No refills, by the way. Like most of the pens in my case, these are disposable. Here’s a look at their felt nibs.

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And if you’re looking for a bold, consistent line, the Pigma Graphic Pens are great.The #1 brush is your basic, bullet-tipped felt pen, while the #2 pen has a broad, chisel tip. Great for lettering too!

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And I don’t know what to call this version of the Pigma Brush Pen to distinguish it from the other Pigma Brush Pens above, but the felt nib on this version is long and wiggly.

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Not quite as bouncy as the three Pigma Brush Pens above, so my control with this isn’t as great, but it lays down a nice thick-thin line. This brush pen (and the #1 & #2 graphic pens) boast archival ink.

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You can see this nib is getting a little chewed up. I’ve had it a long time. And since finding those other Pigma Brush Pens, this one might work its way out of rotation. But, in a pinch, it’s a nice brush pen if you can’t lay your hands on anything else.

PITT Artist Pens (Faber-Castell)

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I use the PITT Artist Pens from Faber-Castell a lot. They’re great technical pens that lay down a consistent line. I mean, if you fiddle with your hand pressure a bit you can get a teeny-tiny bit of variation in the line, but mostly these are great for solid, consistent lines. There are different sets available, but the one I always pick up has four sizes: Medium, Fine, Super-Fine, and Extra-Super-Fine. Kooky size names, but great pens.

Now, the ink in here is said to be “water-resistant” and “permanent”….which may not be quite as good as “waterproof and archival” but the ink comes out so smooth and solid that I can’t give them up. Somewhere in my art shelves I have a set of Sakura Pigma Technical Pens…maybe I’ll dig those out and see if they’re waterproof and archival. I may be switching up if that’s the case. But aside from that, I really love these pens.

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And their brush pen (above) is also a nice felt-nib brush pen. Good responsive tip. One drawback I’ve found with this brush pen – and maybe it’s just me – these tips seem to lose their points quicker than any other brush pen I’ve used. They mush down and get a little ratty. Maybe I’m pressing too hard? Maybe when I’m out the cat’s messing around with my brushes? I don’t know. But that’s been my experience.

Pocket Brush Pen (Pentel)

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Finally, probably my favorite (and a lot of people’s favorite) brush pen, the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. Yes, the Sakura Pigma’s are great and I love ’em. But this pen is the closest I’ve come to an actual brush feel without digging out my Windsor-Newton and bottle of India Ink. The tip isn’t felt. The tip is actually made up of synthetic bristles that fill with ink once you snap in the ink cartridge. You can lay down a line that has amazing dynamics – from a razor sharp fine line to a really thick, heavy line. It’s a very expressive brush pen and it may take some practice to get used to how live the tip feels. Lots of play in those bristles. But if you want something close to a brush, you should give it a try.

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As I mentioned above, the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen is refillable. And they sell the refill cartridges in these handy six-packs.

So that’s what’s in the case. I got to this point by constantly experimenting with different pens and brushes from various companies. But just putting this post together made me realize some stuff in the current line-up could be replaced with some new heavy hitters. Maybe there’s something out there I’d like even more. If you think there is, drop a note in the comments and I’ll probably give it a try. I’m always on the lookout for ways to make my workflow flow more smoothly. -v