Friday, 3 January 2014

Welcome to 2014!

Hey Everyone,

I know it's been like a month since I last posted but I've been busy between sorting my girlfriend's birthday, my birthday, Christmas, working over-time, being ill for a week and then new years, oh and setting up to move to China which will be happening at the end of the month. As I've said to everyone so far it's scary, exciting and everything in between.

As far as arty stuff goes I rung in the new year with my first pieve of 2014, this window painting I did for the comic store I work at (right). If you're ever on the streets of Leeds this month go seek out Travelling Man Leeds, pick up a bargain from our sale and check out my awesome window painting, it'll be the last for a good while, possibly ever.

I've also been working on this piece of fan-art of the upcoming game "Hyper-Light Drifter" for far too long, hopefully I'll get a chance to finish it soon, for now here's the latest screen grame of this WIP.

I've also been working on the sequel to Fu's Quest, the basic plot is outlined and I've started designing some characters, I'll post them up as soon as some more head way gets done. Fu's Quest for Ramen so far has sold over 75 copies since it's d├ębut at Thought Bubble so a huge thank you goes out to everyone who bought a copy.

I'm most likely going to be very busy for the next three weeks but, I hope to maybe get another post in before I fly off the China.

Last year was pretty awesome let's try make 2014 even better! Thank you to everyone!

Monday, 9 December 2013

Fu's Quest For Ramen at Thought Bubble and Other News

It's been about three weeks since the Thought Bubble Convention in Leeds and man was it a blast, I got to chat to some cool creators such as Jeffery Brown, Nicholas Gurewitche and Becky Cloonan well as meet some awesome people from the internet like James Harvey, Becky & Frank and Olly Moss.

More importantly all the copies of Fu's Quest I took to Thought Bubble sold out and currently to date I've sold over 50 copies in just three weeks, which for a first time self-published comic I think is pretty good. What was even more awesome was Adi Granov of Marvel Comics and Iron Man fame even bought one, which I can't describe in any other way, humbled me to do more work as much as I can.

As well as selling out at Thought Bubble, Fu's Quest also sold out at Travelling Man Leeds, York and Manchester so to celebrate this I've decided to lower the price of Fu's Quest to £1.75 as opposed to £2.00 indefinitely which hopefully means Fu can reach even more people. It's been a strange experience selling a comic as every once in a while some one will ask me if I can sign it for them which is both a bewildering and awe inspiring experience pushing me to want to create more for these people. To say I have sold this many really is breath taking for meso please keep an eye out for more Fu related stuff and other comic-ky things, so please don't forget to check this blog and my twitter/tumblr (links to the right) for updates.

For those interested in the sequel I've got the basic plot mapped out and I'm in the process of designing the character's that will appear in it and for the foreseeable future the next Fu will be produced entirely digitally for ease. To sell as many copies as I have it really is inspiring and urges me to do more work and not just Fu related stuff so don't forget to check this blog and my twitter/tumblr (links to the right) for more updates, doodles and what have yous.

Remember Fu's Quest For Ramen is currently only available from Travelling Man Stores.

Thank you once again with being patient with the site, the comic and store pages should hopefully be functional soon and you'll be able to buy things straight from this blog as well.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Fu's Quest Update

Hey everyone, please mind the mess of the website just whilst I sort things out.

First the good news, you can now download Fu's Quest for Ramen in the new Store section of the website, there are to options you can download it for free, I'm currently working on a way to set up a "Pay-What-You-Want" system too

With your download you get DRM-Free PDF and CBZ file formats for you to read Fu on your computer, iDevices or e-Readers.

Also today I've just ordered 100 copies of Fu to get printed and with any luck it should be here before the end of the week, just in time to appear at Travelling Man Shops and Thought Bubble (Fingers Crossed) the physical copy will cost £2.00. Once they're in stock you'll be able to purchase copies from the Blog Store and have them posted out to you.

Unfortunately due to time constraints I've not been able to do much in the way of extras for Fu's physical release, but I'm working extra hard to make more content in general so a new Fu story shouldn't be too far away.

Thanks again to everyone interested already and remember go to the Store to get your digital copy of Fu, then tell your friends about it!

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Colouring Avenging Spider-Man #21: Part Two

Hey guys and girls I'm back and I'm going to talk through how I coloured Paolo Rivera's cover for Avenging Spider-Man #21. As I discussed last time I felt the overall quality of the work I did was to an acceptable level for an amateur so this time we're focusing on the how as an insight in to the processes of using photoshop to ink and colour works of art, during the time of colouring this piece I did refer to the original for reference.. (Click on images to enlarge them)

 1. I first started off with by downloading the pencil work that Paolo Rivera posted on his blog and taking it into photoshop. I like to work big as you can get more dynamic shapes with your brushes the larger they are, as not to stick at brush sizes between 1-10px? To do this I double the size of the image in the IMAGE > IMAGE SIZE options in the top tool bar and double the width and length of the image manually.

I next prep the image, since technically to ink and colour it we'll be drawing on top of it I make it easier on myself by selecting MULTIPLY under the layer options, I also name this layer "Pencils". This makes the image transparent in a sense when you when you add colour on a layer underneath it. Finally I add a layer of pure white underneath the "pencils" layer for the sake of making it easier to distinguish the inks and colours when I start applying them.

2. So photoshop should be set up in a way that the "pencils" layer will always be on top and the white layer should be on the bottom. Above the white layer I add a solid block of light blue for use of the sky, because of the "Pencils" layer and it's setting at 'Multiply', it looks more like a turquoise and generally all colours under it will look a little darker (You can take away this 'darkness' just by turning off the 'pencils' layer with the eye symbol next to it). I then block in the red and dark grey of Superior Spidey's suit on a separate layer keeping in mind to stay within the lines, I did this using a custom brush that basically has no transfer settings so you only get the bold flat colour. On the left ankle I start to replicate the inking process ever so slightly with a black...
3. I basically continue painting in, what I like to call, "The Flat Colours" which are your basic colour layers for the piece that you'll be building upon. Here you can see that Spidey is fully coloured and even got a few lines added in to give him more structure. The background has also been drawn in using the pen tool to give straight defined lines of the buildings that is needed. Most importantly, as in the original, the Chameleon has been drawn in and is imposed in the background using the transparency function to give that over shadowing look.                                                                                                                                                                          All of this is done using references from the original and the line work underneath (currently turned off in this screen shot). To give spidey some more depth I've also started to add the dark parts of his suit which form the shadow around his muscle and the outline of the character, again this was achieved by following the line work of the original but also with a custom brush from Kyle Webster's brush pack to give that painted and some what charcoal look. Again this was me experimenting with brushes, you can use what kind of brush you prefer if you know what you like.

 4. I continue adding in colour such as The Chameleon's face and the highlights of his costume as well as the grey shades of the buildings in the background. Just as importantly I've added in ol' web-head's eyes and some shading on his torso and limbs to make him pop from the scene, as a note when I need to add a new colour or detail to a piece I also put it on a new layer so that if something goes wrong it's easily changable.. When I choose to shade things in colour with photoshop I usually bring up the colour pallet and select the shade that is diagonally in the bottom right of the base colour. It's not an exact science but you kind of get muscled trained into selecting the shade you want. For pretty much all the shading I used Kyle's Brushes to keep with that painted look.

As we can see the image itself looks like it's not far off from being completed.

5. With the basic shape of things coming together so well it's time to do what I think is always fun, Spidey's webs. No I've heard of artists complaining about having to draw in Spidey's Webs all the time but I love them so much as it just completes the character so well. Like the line work for the body form, the webbing was completed by following Rivera's pencil and using Kyle's Brush, I added a slight highlight on the chest spider to make it shine out a little bit.

Now a really interesting part of both the composition and how I dealt with it is the faces in Chameleon's body (obviously signifying his ability to shape shift but, like a Drew Struzan piece it also tells you who you'll be seeing in this issue). Obviously I coloured all of Chameleon's body in so to do the faces I start a new layer and add in the base colours over the spaces mapped out by the pencils, with the "pencils" layer still up I draw in the inks and line work. Already it's looking much closer to the original in sense of composition.

6. With the faces coloured and outlined the only thing that's left is to make the blend into Chameleon's body as per the original I ink in the spaces around the heads to create that coming-out-of-the-shadows look.

The only thing left to do is add in Spidey's trusty webline. Drawing on the original, I used an off yellow colour and as per followed the lines of the pencils. To give them depth I added an off grey line to make the 'spaghetti' webbing look. Like the final cover I adjusted the goggle lense to make it appear as spidey is facing forward as a opposed the the chameleon style that Rivera was going for in his pencils.

I give the whole piece a good look over to check of any gaps in the colours.

7. Finally I remove the pencil layers and flatten the image using the tool bar function LAYERS>FLATTEN LAYERS, this gets rid of any layers I may be not using and lowers the file size.

Now remember when I said I like to work big? This is because you can get away with minor mistakes when working bigger as once I'm finished I then reduce the size of the piece back to the original size that Rivera had the pencils at. This instantly makes the piece seem a little more sharper than it was. During the whole process I used my own estimations of colours that I'd like to use instead of just drawing them straight from the original with the waterdroplet tool, this was just my preference but you can always get Spidey's threads to match the  exact colours seen on any Marvel with the waterdroplet tool.

With that done I add in Rivera's signature (as he was the one who drew it!) and mine as I coloured and call it a day. As I said previously this is a great exercise to work on both colour theory and practicing using photoshop for inking and colouring. I hope you enjoyed this post and if you want me to go in depth about anything else you can always just ask in the comments section!.

Ciao for now~

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Piccolo Piece for Dragon ball Zine

Over the weekend whilst I wasn't at work, I found out about a little project over on Tumblr called the Dragon Ball Zine. It basically seems to consist of fan art of the characters from Dragon Ball.

The deadline was on Sunday meaning I had 2-3 evenings to get it done. Eventually I settled on doing Piccolo as there wasn't enough love for this dude and I can only remember the episode where he and Goku take a driving lesson.

Overall I think the colours work well and the line work is relatively good considering this was massively rushed. I wish I could have thought up a better composition for this piece but, I just glad I managed to get something done. Hopefully I'll make it into the zine when it's printed.

Check out more submissions for the zine here:

Monday, 9 September 2013

Colouring Avenging Spider-Man #21: Part One

I was looking through Paolo Rivera's blogspot a while ago and was just blown away by the lengths he goes through to create a cover/comic, as well as loving his artwork as there's just something about his style that is an awesome mix of modern comics and silver-age art styles.

One piece that caught my eye in particular was Rivera's cover for 'Avenging Spider-Man #21' (you can see the original here) for it's unique composition and it's almost nostalgic aesthetic. What was really interesting was that he broke down his process for creating the final piece from this I thought I would take his pencils for this piece and attempt to ink and colour it myself giving my own spin on it to find out several things;

1. If inking can change an original artists pencils.
2. To test some new brushes I had bought for photoshop.
3. To hopefully practice colour theory and working within photoshop again.

For this piece I predominately used two brushes. A custom inking brush for drawing the lines and colouring the base layers and a rough inking brush for the shadows/shading on the characters. Before I go further into the development of this piece (I'm saving that for part two) I'm going to self evaluated the piece.

My main objective of this mini-project was to see if I could replicate the professional colouring and inking job done on this cover and to see if I can work to another artist's pencils. Overall I feel my attempt isn't quite as up to scratch as the original but for a sophomore effort is pretty good, there are little nuances that may not be obvious when looking such as the webbing isn't as sharply done and the goggle-eyes are a little rough. I tried to keep the painted look with the rough inking brush, especially on the shaded areas which work pretty well making the divide between the two colours not as sharp and more subdued.

One thing I was worried about was doing the faces inside the chameleon's body but this too was executed well enough proving that Rivera really is a master at composition as there was little I could do wrong if I just followed his frame work. Doing this I believe I achieved what I set out to do, prove that I can work to another artist's ground work and by doing this piece I have a better understanding of colour and how to use my custom brushes which will hopefully lead to better original pieces.

For people looking to up their skills, after going through this process, I recommend finding an artist's work comic book or other wise and try recreate something they've done as a way of improve your skills or testing new tools to get a bearing on how they work and achieve the effects they have in their pieces, it also gives you a weird rest on trying to come up with something if you've got artist's block and mat result in some inspiration when you're done.

In my next post I'll talk about the process I went through to get to the final version.

Check out Paolo Rivera's Blog: The Self-Absorbing Man
Get the brushes I used for this piece from Kyle T Webster's site: Here.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Fu's Quest For Ramen Cover

Hey guys and girls, I've been relatively busy the last few days sorting out my office and practicing my art/3D skills. In the mean time of that I've also finally inked and scanned the little comic I've been working on passively since 2008 (it's only eight pages, who knew University would take up so much time?).

'Fu's Quest for Ramen' features a small ninja named Fu as he must go on a quest to find a new set of ramen for dinner, the comic is a sort of ode to both kid's stories and over the top shonen style manga.

This 8 page mini comic will be available to read for free on this site both in it's own little section and as a PDF download, a print edition will come later which will have exclusive extras and will be available directly from this blog and at exclusively at Travelling Man stores in the UK (prices/dates to be confirmed).

It's been really fun working on this project especially as over the years when working on it my skills have increased and style changed slightly, along with Bartkira this marks my first set of comics I've finished this year and it feels pretty good. I hope you'll love Fu as much as I've loved drawing him between uni assignments and my job.

For now check out the cover. Get Hyped.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Blank Variant Thanos Sketch

To celebrate the release of Infinity #1 by Jonathan Hickman and Jim Cheung, I decided to take a Blank Variant of the issue and draw a Thanos over the top. I tried to incorporate the design of Thanos as featured in 'Thanos Rising' currently being published by Marvel.

Drawing on the covers can be quite tricky just due to the format size but this came out quite nicely. I had previously drawn a Thor (seen here) on one of these Blank Variants, it's a pretty fun experience and a cool way to customise comics, as well as a good excuse to practice drawing characters I'm not used to.

In light of how fun these are to do, if anyone wants me to draw a custom cover on a Blank Variant or just a general commission for them, give me an email on:

Monday, 17 June 2013

Final Bartkira Pages and Evaluation

 Volume 5, Page 036
It's been a while since I've posted as I've been busy flying off to China and finishing up Bartkira in an incredibly hurried fashion due to bad planning and not having my art equipment with me whilst abroad, with that out of the way I wanted to share with you my final pages I did for James Harvey's Project: Bartkira.

    The first thing I did when recreating the pages I was assigned to was carefully look at all 5 pages, soaking them in. Once I was satisfied I had looked over them enough times I set about roughing out the pages by drawing out the panels on B4 size paper with HB Pencil and then using a 2H mechanical pencil I draw in the backgrounds and the rough forms of the characters. After that I use a H mechanical pencil to start drawing in the details, such as faces and background details, once the pencils are completed I then start about inking.

    For the inking process I use several sized pens, a 0.05 for small detail, 0.1 for general details, 0.3 for outlines of characters and buildings and a brush pen for large areas of black. The first thing I always ink are the boarders of the panels, followed by the standard details and then the backgrounds and outlines. For the Akira pages that have tones on them I use the inks to try re-create the effect as best I can, once all the inks are completed I carefully rub out the pencils, scan them in and adjust the levels in Photoshop before finally saving them at the correct resolution.

Volume 5, Page 037
    Overall I felt this project has been instrumental in restoring my interest in creating comics, I feel that what lets these five pages down the most is the subtle style change over them that shows I was getting to grips with drawing the characters but, by the last few pages the quality of the pencils/inks are much better despite a few discrepancies. Drawing backgrounds really challenged me but, they are one of the things that I think are consistently well-done and I really want to do more elaborate backgrounds in some future comics.

One of the main things I feel that let me down was drawing at B4 size as opposed to A3 as it forced me to draw smaller and not quite getting the whole original panel in my re-creation but, the final pages look good enough I feel for my skill level, the other is the fact that I created the speech bubbles by hand which, makes it look kinda sloppy, next time I do a comic I'm going to research the correct way to do speech bubbles traditionally or create them digitally. For my next comic I'm going to try do the base pencils in blue digitally then ink by hand as I feel my traditional inking is much better than my digital inking and start using grayscale colours if not fully colouring them. The main point of this project was to recreate the assigned Akira pages with Simpson characters, despite my flaws in making it these five pages do what they're supposed to, the characters look like who they're meant to be, the composition follows that of the original and there's a distinction of uniqueness to the pieces so in that sense my work was a success.
Volume 5, Page 038

I'm grateful I had the chance to take chance in Project: Bartkira as I feel it's been good for me, creatively, to take part in such a large scale project and it has also inspired me to continue on with my artwork especially comics. Heck! If I everget time I'd want to try do a coloured version of these 5 pages.

For more info on Bartkira check out James Harvey's Tumblr where news of the torrent file to Barkira will be up:

Volume 5, Page 039 (my personal favorite)
Also check out the #Bartkira tag on Tumblr for the fantastic work that other artists have done on the project:
Volume 5, Page 040

You can find my Bartkira pages without the comparison to the originals on both my Tumblr or in the Illustration section of this site. I would love to hear your opinions on my pieces in either the comments here or on any of my twitter/tumblr.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Nostalgia Review: Spider-Man #532-#538 The War At Home

The War At Home
Following last week's review of my first three issues of The Amazing Spider-Man, we'll continue through to issues #532-#538, titled "The War At Home" written by J. Michael Straczynski with Art By Ron Garney.

When we last left Peter Parker he was falling asleep after delaying the Super Human Registration Act whilst news of a disaster in Stamford, Connecticut played on the TV. This arc deals with Peter's intimate experience during the Super Hero Civil War including how he deals with his identity becoming public knowledge after Stark's urgency to unmask in public and to help re-enforce the call for heroes to register, fighting against Captain America and learning that he made the wrong decision. All of this comes with the family drama that Spider-Man is best known for and comes to a fantastic cliff hanger for the next arc

My first complaint about this arc though is that to get the absolute best out of it you have to read Civil War as well as these issues as you miss out on the key fights that happen in the event series and time-progression some times feels a little odd but, this arc does do what it sets out to do which is to present Peter's perspective of the event and how they effect not only him but, also Mary-Jane and Aunt May.

Straczynski once again shows his great handle on the Parkers, both in dialogue and the way they act and react and there's some really great scenes with Peter confronting Reed Richards, Tony Stark and other Pro-Registration heroes showing a different side to the character. The arc comes to a great second act where Peter realises he's made a mistake backing Stark and the rest of the Pro-Reg' heroes and the story takes a much more personal turn as Parkers become fugitives including a great fight scene between Spidey and Iron Man when he tries to defect to the opposite side. The arc ends with the King Pin putting a hit out on Spidey and the Parkers which, ends with Aunt May getting shot, all of this is done with great malevolence on the part of the King Pin with some real "because I can" sinister tones behind it which makes up for the lack of pacing due to the event title.

Ron Garney's for this arc really works to the strengths of the character and scenarios. His Spidey as always is lean and spindly but his Peter really shines through in showing the raw emotion of the character. Garney's composition really works in getting the most out of the script especially when Peter confronts the other heroes both physically and verbally, of course there's also great shots of Spidey web-slinging. The covers unfortunately feel cramped due to the big Civil War banner on each of them but Garney works well to try convey the main feel of the issue (or at least an image of what's happening in Civil War).

Overall this arc does it's job to both move the story forward and show Pete's side of The Civil War event and how a person can be at conflict with themselves in abiding by the law or doing what's right by yourself. It does lose marks because of the reliance on the main event book but, it gives great gravity to the situation by adding a single perspective of the every man that Peter is supposed to represent.

I give this arc a 6.5 out of 10. A good read for Spidey fans but, falls short because it's not the complete story.