Friday, July 27, 2007

07/27/07 - Drawing Aids: Photoreference & Computer Models

Is it OK for artists to use photo reference? What about tracing photos by hand (lightbox) or with software (Photoshop, Painter)? What about using 3D software (SketchUp, Hash Animation Pro, 3D Studio Max, Maya)? These really help with that tough perspective you really don't have to hand draw out... (see my previous post about using the computer as a perspective aid). Did famous classical painters use devices like the camera obscura? If they did, does this lessen the value of their work?

Greg Land
(a favorite of mine from back in his Birds of Prey and later Cross-Gen's Sojourn runs) is really getting pounded (too harshly I think) recently in a lot of on-line chats and forums for what seems to be pretty obvious tracing of photo reference (also for the sources of these images). This debate seems to have really heated up and a lot of consumers of comics (fans) are incensed and seem to feel this is cheating. Illustrators, to my knowledge, have used photo reference and tracing as pretty common working methods for years. But there is usually some effort to disguise the source image (through creative deviations in the final art) when the work will be publicly displayed or published. If folks are aware of the photo reference then that hurts the final product.

I found this (CBR) Comic Book Resources article by Stuart Immomen (penciler of Superman and Nextwave) linked to over at the Drawn blog. He apologetically acknowledges his use of photo reference and software models. The article is pretty good, but the discussion it spurs is even more interesting. Don't skip the comments!

My personal take is that reference is OK if used to fill in your gaps of your knowledge for a particular subject matter. That means your design takes precedence over the exact layout shown in the photo (or model). The reference serves your idea not the other way around. Sometimes (most if you are not really experienced) you have to start with reference (Joe Kubert's cartooning courses explicitly tell you to look for reference needs as you read a script, then gather them before you even start to draw ). Say you need to draw scenes from the Forbidden City in the 1700's - not many of us have any visual memory to pull from for something like that, right? That's when you have to research on things, locations and times frames that you are not familiar with. But, you should be building a personal visual data bank while doing that (you really should be doing this all the time in everyday life).

There are differing opinions about this; one comic artist, I really admire comes to mind - Paul Pelletier will quite proudly will tell you he doesn't use any photo reference (it all comes from his mind's eye, I guess). If you can do it and keep your readers (and editors) happy more power to you! I do think as visual artists we should strive to be able to do that but I don't know if we can all hold that much visual data in our heads! Do you want to attend your first convention as professional and you have to tell little Timmy that you can't draw Mustardman without being in your studio do you? Nah, you want to be able to whip out a nice little con sketch (that his parents will later sell on EBay) for him to tack to his bedroom wall!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

07/24/07 - More Positive Reviews for The Experts

Long time local comic creator and artist Kenn Minter and collaborator Clarence Pruitt have gotten more supportive media reviews for their work: The Experts - this time from People Magazine (Australia). It's great to see the little guys get a seat at the table and of course CCG is proud to have Kenn as a member (and source of inspiration to us all)!

Monday, July 23, 2007

07/23/07 - Instructional Video Links on Making Graphic Novels

How-to videos on creating a graphic novel! I just found this one -

Does anyone out there have experience with this site?

7/23/07 - Newsarama's One Step Column 2007

Lots of books have been written about it and lots of web space is dedicated to it - HOW TO BREAK INTO COMICS (?) (Get a crow bar and flashlight - oh not how to break into a comics shop? Oops, Never mind!)

You may remember I have posted about the One Step column (15th installment and looks like only one for this year? Use the "One Step" label to link to the previous post) by Jim Zubkavich (project manager and illustrator for Udon Comics as well as a part-time animation instructor somewhere in Toronto) over at newsarama was an ongoing Op/Ed column trying to give comic artist rookies some insider advice about how to get a professional gig.

Jim has written a lot about what should be in your portfolio in the past but this latest post is more about the old saying "'s all about who you know...". The article makes a lot of sense, nobody wants to work with a social retard or an arrogant jerk - so remember to polish up on those people skills along with perfecting your page layout skills or your Photoshop coloring prowess. It's the networking and your skills that will get you that exclusive contract from Marvel or DC.

By the way, all the previous One Step columns are accessible as links at the bottom of the current post. Check them out!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

07/15//07 - Todd Klein On Hand Lettering

If you want to master the skills of cartooning you will eventually need to develop hand lettering skills (even if you want to use computer lettering it's really cool to be able to use your own font derived from your hand lettering). So here's a link to the website of one of the masters of this art form, Todd Klein, winner of several Eisner awards for his calligraphic skill in comics. Specifically here is his page on hand lettering - come on now you can find out what that Ames Lettering Guide is really used for!

Thanks to Chuck at for the heads up to this great site!

07/15/07 - DC Comics Creates Web Comics Portal

Hey web comic artists! DC Comics has started a new online publishing venture and they are soliciting for content. This was sent to me by Chuck Moore at

Per the New York Times article...

The imprint, called, will permit aspiring cartoonists to register at its Web site and submit an eight-panel sample of their work. Starting in October and each month thereafter, editors at DC Comics will select 10 entries, post them for public view and invite people to vote for their favorite. Editors may also declare as many as six submissions to be instant winners during the calendar year.

“We’ve always found interesting stuff in submissions,” said Paul Levitz, president and publisher of DC Comics. “One of the problems that comics have today, I think, is that open door is much more closed. This creates a more open door.”

Most people who produce online comics do so as labors of love. Some post their work online free, hoping to catch a publisher’s eye or gain a following, but Zuda will offer a rare chance to become a paid professional.

Before I could post what Chuck had sent me another Charles (Lines and Colors Charley Parker) posted this on his blog with some analysis of the ramifications from someone who has been doing web comics for over a decade (and may have been the first to do so?).

07/15/07 - Collaboration: The Sum is Greater Than the Parts!

My goal in setting up this blog were many fold (and continue to be) but besides just promoting our group and our goals (see mission statement, still a work in progress, hint, hint..) was to have a collaborative site that was more (grander, more intelligent, more insightful, more knowledgeable, more inspiring, unfettered by geographical restraints...OK , I hope you get my drift..) than any one person. This is a TEAM blog and anyone who is regular attendee (heck, just come to more than one meeting..) is encouraged to ask me to be added to the group (a quick and painless procedure).

SO I was greatly pleased on one hand and little frustrated on the other when a visitor to our last CCG meeting sent me several ideas for posts. Pleased because this is the type of collaboration that can make this site really click and frustrated because for the most part this blog ends up being my singular voice. Please support this blog with your posts, comments or even emails (for the very shy :-) . Opposing viewpoints or opinions are encouraged... an ongoing dialog is a great way to learn and grow!

Monday, July 02, 2007

07/02/07 - Digital Painting Accelerated Videos

There are more and more of these type of videos popping up on YouTube and other video sharing sites. This one struck me because the artist follows a pretty sound academic approach: layout the structure and form and then work out tonality before jumping into the hues (colors). Well at least he did in this painting - but you will still see a lot of back and forth type edits in this time accelerated video. Painting with software and your computer can be very time consuming and frustrating so having a structured approach really helps. Here is the site of the artist, Nico de Mattia if you want to see more. He calls these speed paintings but that is phrase used by most digital artist to mean a short (less than one hour) painting session - his videos are more like (accelerated) art demo music videos.
Links to some other art demo videos:
Painting the Mona Lisa with MS Paint
Jim Lee Draws a Comic Scene
Adam Hughes Con Sketch Part 1
If anyone else out there has some favorite art demo videos please post or provide link in a comment - we could start a collection of links for those like what I propose for reading material.

07/02/07 - 2DArtist Magazine

2dartist is excellent and I have been buying this online PDF magazine for over a year and highly recommend it. Best of all you can check it out with a free preview for each issue and if you like what you see the cost for the full blown issue is only four bucks! Support a great magazine and get a great deal at the same time!
Geared for the digital artist crowd out there, this and ImagineFX are really the top two art tutorial magazines available.

07/02/07 - Excellent Videos With Ron Lemen Art Instruction

Ron Lemen has been involved in art education for a while and recently been involved with Gnomon Workshops out in California. You may remember that name from previous posts - they offer training to and with some of the best concept design and FX artists in Hollywood.

xTrain is a newish web company that wants to deliver high quality video based training over the web. Right now several wonderful training videos are available to you free once you set an account. I highly recommend the Ron Lemen training on traditional art media and also on Painter X (although I found the traditional media instruction to be more informative). If you have a fast Internet connection I encourage you to JUMP on this great opportunity to learn!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

07/01/07 - Suggested Reading

Suggested Reading:

OK- Here's the beginning of what I hope will be a community effort to point interested readers in the right direction for some quality books. I am only posting books I own or have read or partially read. (So post your recommendations and or add them if you are a part of the team blog.) Updated: 3/27/15

Examples of the Medium
Graphic Novels
  • Art Spiegelman - Maus I, II
  • Craig Thompson - Blankets, Habibi
  • Marjane Satrapi - Persepolis I, II (required reading at one or more US military colleges)
  • Alison Bechdel - Fun Home
  • David b - Epileptic
  • Alfred Bester (w) & Howard Chaykin (a) - The Stars My Destination (amazon) [Novel Adaptation]
  • Archie Goodwin (w) & Walter Simonson (a) - Alien [Movie Adaptation]
Comic Trade Paperbacks
  • Bryan Talbot - A Tale of One Bad Rat - Dark Horse
  • Tom Veitch and Bryan Talbot - The Nazz - DC Comics - (great insight as to how cults form)
  • Various - Batman Black and White - DC Comics (SCAD sequential art faculty reference this work often!)
General Comics and Cartooning

  • Matt Madden & Jessica Abel - Mastering Comics: Drawing Words & Writing Pictures
  • Matt Madden & Jessica Abel - Drawing Words & Writing Pictures
  • Scott McCloud - Understanding Comics
  • Scott McCloud - Making Comics
  • Will Eisner - Comics & Sequential Art (have not finished this one - hard read for me)
  • Will Eisner - Graphic Storytelling (have not finished this one - hard read for me)
  • Steve Lieber & Nat Gertler - The Complete Idiots Guide to Creating a Graphic Novel 
  • Mike Manley & Danny Fingeroth - How to Create Comics From Script to Print - Twomorrows
  • Jack Hamm - Cartooning the Head and Figure - Perigree
Writing Comics
  • Denny O'Neil - DC Guide to Writing Comics - Watson Guptill
  • Danny Fingeroth (Editor) - Write Now! (Magazine) - TwoMorrows Publishing
Drawing Comics
  • Klaus Janson - DC Guide to Pencilling Comics - Watson Guptill
  • Klaus Janson - DC Guide to Inking Comics - Watson Guptill
  • Various - DC Guide to Coloring and Lettering Comics - Watson Guptill
  • David Chelsea - Perspective for Comics - Watson Guptill
  • Mike Manley (Editor) - Draw! (Magazine) - TwoMorrows Publishing
  • Bob McCleod (Editor) - Rough Stuff (Magazine) - TwoMorrows Publishing
  • John Buscema and Stan Lee - Drawing Comics the Marvel Way
  • Bob Hickey (Publisher) - Sketch (Magazine) - Blue Line Productions
Drawing General
  • Jack Hamm - Drawing the Head and Figure - Perigree
  • Jack Hamm - How to Draw Animals - Perigree
  • Jack Hamm - Drawing Scenery: Landscapes and Seascapes - Perigree
  • Gary Fagin - Facial Expressions: A Visual Guide for Artists - Watson Gutptill (have not finished reading)
  • Andrew Loomis - Figure Drawing For All It's Worth - Out of print (PDF versions are available on the web or from CCG folks)
  • Ron Tiner - Figure Drawing Without a Model - David and Charles Publishers