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

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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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Little Leota

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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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

RunRedRun’s Hatbox Ghost Process

Hey! Since this blog is all about process – and since I just got back from Disneyworld and I still have “Small World” running through my brain – I thought I’d share this fun process post my needle-felting friend RunRedRun put up. It’s a step-by-step process on how she put together her Haunted Mansion/Hatbox Ghost felted sculpture and diorama. If you like Disney, ghosts, or needle-felting, you’ll enjoy looking at her process.

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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

 

 

Untold Tales of Bigfoot 3D Figure by Blokko: How It’s Made!

I’m happy to present the very first, official Untold Tales of Bigfoot 3D Figure by Blokko! Months in the making, custom designed by me and the folks at Blokko, and beautifully sculpted by Blokko co-founder Prad Lal, Bigfoot’s one of the first figures ever released by Blokko. And since this is my process blog, I thought it’d be fun to show (and tell) you how this figure was made.

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HOW DID THEY DO THAT?

Way back in January, I got a call from Blokko co-founder Rahul Thayyalamkandy. He wanted to tell me about Blokko, an innovative new company that designs 3D printed figures based on engaging stories and comics. At Blokko, you can read stories, learn about the creators, and buy toys based on those stories. Rahul wanted to create a 3D figure of my Bigfoot character. It seemed like a fun idea, so we started the ball rolling.

The first step was providing a turnaround view of Bigfoot so Prad would have a basic design to work with.

Bigfoot model sheet for Untold Tales of BigfootPrad then blocked in this first, red sculpt (below) before pulling in the turnaround drawing. This base sculpt gets the ball rolling and gets some rudimentary features into the figure.

Early mesh for Untold Tales of Bigfoot figureAfter that, Prad used the turnaround drawing to get the proportions closer, evolving the early mesh, each step looking a little more like our furry friend. Prad sent me some screen shots of the process.

3D modeling process for Untold Tales of Bigfoot figureBut Prad’s a meticulous artist. He didn’t just rely on my model sheet. Both he and Rahul are fans of Untold Tales of Bigfoot and, as such, Prad pored through pages and pages of my comic, working with me via emails, tweaking the design, fine-tuning it, and making sure it reflected not just one static image of Bigfoot, but his attitude and personality as well. You can see the progression of the sculpt below, including changes to color, the design of the base, and the evolution of the shoulder area and body mass.

Untold Tales of Bigfoot 3D figure by Blokko process

ONCE IT’S SCULPTED, THEN WHAT?

The next step was the test prints. It’s not just about aesthetics at this point in the process. Stress-testing and breakage are important things to consider. Since we weren’t sure how the sculpture would stand up to everyday wear, Blokko tested two different versions of Bigfoot: one with the waving arm attached at the hip and one free floating.Untold Tales of Bigfoot Blokko Test PrintsThe test prints withstood the drop tests and looked good — but not quite perfect. And these Blokko guys are perfectionists. Prad thought the fur texture could be more obvious, and the color still wasn’t right. We had to wait a few more weeks while the testing and tweaking were repeated and perfected. You can see the alternate colors and alternate arm position below (along with Jason Brubaker’s Victuals figure from his graphic novel reMIND).

Untold Tales of Bigfoot 3D figure test prints by BlokkoWith figures like these, there is no after-sculpt painting or assembly. The figure is created through a process called polyjet printing (a lot like regular inkjet printing). The object is built layer by layer, using a composite of gypsum and, I assume, magic, depositing colors and a binding agent from multiple tiny nozzles at the same time. Once this part is done, the object is cleaned with air jets and dipped in a solution to give it strength and bring out the colors. One more coat of cyanoacrylate to resist against weathering and it’s ready to be shipped!

UTOB 3D FIGURE TURNAROUNDAnd here he is! Some friends lent me their figures so I could shoot a single-shot turnaround pic. Now there’s a whole herd of Bigfoot in my studio. Bigfoot’s personality leaps right off the page and into this figure. All those months of working and waiting and painstaking tweaking have paid off.

How Do I Get One?

Anyone who’d like to have this friendly Bigfoot for their desk, bookshelf or workstation, just head on over to the Blokko Bigfoot Page and pick him up for $48 + shipping (which, in my case, was only 5 bucks). The figure stands 12.5 cm (about 4.9 inches) and is the very first collectible toy based on Untold Tales of Bigfoot. For size comparison, here he is making friends with the Dark Knight.

Bigfoot and Batman

Discount Code?!

Yup, there’s a discount code for loyal fans. Right now, for a limited time, you can get 10% off with the code FORSCOUT. Plus, if you help spread the word via social media, you can get an additional 5% off when you share on Twitter and another 5% off when you share on Facebook. And that’s all taken right off the top, so you have the potential to get 20% off of your total! Just stop by the Untold Tales of Bigfoot page at Blokko and give Bigfoot a home.

Untold Tales of Bigfoot : Blokko 3D Figure

Edit: I just uploaded a short (2-minute) unboxing video of me opening this toy up. It’s not gonna win any Oscars, but if you wanna see it, it’s here.