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: http://dragonballzine.tumblr.com/

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: kenneth.c.mcfarlane@googlemail.com

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: http://harveyjames.tumblr.com/

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: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/bartkira.
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.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Nostalgia Review:Spider-Man #529-#531 Mr. Parker Goes to Washington

Here we are for the first Amazing Spider-Man nostalgia review. Part of the reason why I wanted to review my back issues was to firstly to make good use of the money I spent buying them back and secondly to see the high and low points of the series and more importantly when I felt that the quality slipped that it made me sell them in the first place. I started collecting right on the cusp of the event series Civil War so it's a bit of a deep dive for people completely unfamiliar with the character but, for me it was the beginning.

Now being that this arc took place over 6 years ago I'm not going to give warning of spoilers so, with out further ado let's review The Amazing Spider-Man: Mr. Parker Goes to Washington (issues #529, #530, #531), written by J. Michael Straczynski with Art by Ron Garney (#529) and Tyler Kirkham.

These issues act as a warm up to Spidey's participation in the Marvel event 'Civil War' and whilst aren't fully needed it gives a great background for readers to fill in blanks when the Civil War tie-in issues begin.

This arc opens with Peter and Mary-Jane being woken up by Tony Stark via an intercom styled as a bird statue (it seems a few issues ago Stark ask Pete and M.J. to come live at the Avengers Tower), he announces that he has something to show Peter, this being a new Spider-Man costume as the original "was just...cloth", Stark goes through the features of the suit mentioning that it has resistance to small arm ballistics, has the ability to glide and of course an onboard computer like everything else Stark builds, at this point I'm surprised Jarvis hasn't been put into an android body yet.

Stark works on the Iron Spider Suit
Pete takes the new "Iron Spider" Suit out for a try when some thieves are trying to get away from the cops in a stolen car. We see Pete make use of the gliding as a means to bypass the fact there was nothing near by to swing a web from to get to the vehicle along with  a cool couple of pages of apprehending the ne'erdowells  along with a scene where one of the suspects tries shoots at Spidey only to have the bullet fall to the ground, the cops take the thieves into custody and Spidey swings off. The issue caps with Pete asking what the catch is for the new suit and Stark outright tells him that he needs his unwavering trust and that he needs support in Washington tomorrow when he faces a group of senators to try revoke the upcoming Super Human Registration Act.

The next two issues take place in Washington where Tony and Peter meet with a board of politicians to try talk them out of approving the Registration Act. There's a nice bit with Tony explaining he's upgraded Pete's suit over night to be able to change the physical appearance of the costume and even go invisible so that he doesn't have to worry about street clothes and it now comes with three mechanical legs that pop out of the back. This issue has some nice characterisation of politics in that the duo are doing terribly at swaying their opening with Pete even learning a thing or two about how politics work (which also teaches the reader somewhat but don't go getting your law degree based off this!). During a recess of the meeting Titanium Man who has been watching the pair since they landed strikes and tries to attack Tony with Pete stepping in as Spidey to trade punches with mechanical menace.

During the fight Titanium Man announces that the death of Stark would lead to the Bill's approval which would then result in all of America turning against it's super heroes (like Russia did apparently). Spidey uses his new extra legs to damage Titanium Man's helmet resulting in him retreating. Back in the hearing room Tony is still debating with the Politicians using footage recorded from Spidey's mask of Titanium Man's scheme to sway the result, the board retort how do you have any proof this is real? When Spidey enters and announces he was there and why the registration act would endanger his and other heroes family, unfortunately because his identity is unknown the board cannot accept his testimony proving that there maybe a need for the registration act.

The arc ends with Tony talking to Pete about how it's good that he stood up for his morals and spoke his mind and that the bill has been delayed. The epilogue shows Iron Man meeting Titanium Man and passing over a briefcase of money for successfully attack Stark and helping in swaying the boards decision to pass the bill there and then but, Titanium Man warns him that America's government may well turn on the heroes sooner than they think and that Stark will find himself collecting briefcases of money in the near future. The last pages focuses on Peter as he falls asleep in front of the TV after a hard day as the speaker announces a terrible tragedy has befallen Stamford, Connecticut and Speedball is to blame.

Pete learns about Poltics and at the same time, we do!
These three issues are a great way to gear up for Civil War Stracznyski has a great way with dialogue in that Peter feels exactly how you would expect the character to sound like an average guy but is still very intelligent. The way he captures the board room scenes with Tony and Pete being out-debated by the politicians really gives the bill some weight (as it should do with it being the cause of the upcoming event), there's also scenes of good humour which what Spider-man needs as without it there's no heart to the series. The way the epilogue sets up the next story arc is very subtle compared to other comics and it works so well as it invests you on a level of intrigue rather than a cliff hanger.

Ron Garney's art captures the world of Spider-Man very well too, Spidey looks lean but not too muscular the way he sets up panels is dynamic that it flows well when you read it and there's no confusion to what's happening. Most Importantly the design for the new suit works on many levels too, you can tell it's designed by Stark with the colour design but it's also quite minimalistic compared to the ol' red and blue whilst re-enforcing where Pete's alligence lies. Tyler Kirkham's art does the job but it doesn't quite capture the feel of Spidey's world as well but does capture the awe that the character feels when standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial extremely well.

This arc is very political based and shows a different kind of threat facing super heroes but also reminds us that sometimes we should face our own politicians and in that sense draws great comparison between the story and the reader, the art is dynamic and tells the story well and the characters are portrayed extremely well with a good few humourous bits thrown in. If you've only read Amazing Spider-Man: Civil War go back and check this precursor out as it shows interesting character development like Tony being opposed to the Registration Act but also that he would not fight against his government.

Overall I give this three-issue arc 7/10.

Come back next Time when I'll be reviewing the Civil War Arc  (#532-#538)!

Monday, 15 April 2013

One Bartkira down, four to go

I've had a busy past two weeks but so far I've got my first page of Bartkira done, I decided to do it with pen and paper as I found the stuff I was doing digitally didn't feel up to scratch (sorry for the crappy photo, I should be getting a scanner soon though). Also checking out the comparison to the original page, I don't think I did too bad of a job.

This was a good challenging exercise that should improve my comicing skills especially my difficulty with backgrounds aswell as drawing people interacting. I think my inks could have been a bit better and for my next page I'm going to use my drawing table instead of just my computer desk with is riddled with knife marks from my younger days of making Warhammer models so, hopefully the next page will look at least 5x times better.

I'm still really pleased to be a part of this project and it's fun to draw really detailed stylised simpsons especially with their mouth shapes.

Don't forget to check my tumblr (link is found to the right) for more frequent updates on my Bartkira pages and don't forget to click on the Bartkira Tag on there too to see everyone else's contribution, the ones already completed are mind blowingly awesome! Check here>>>> http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/bartkira



The Amazing Spider-Man or, Fandom Strikes.

Back in December 2012, Marvel released The Amazing Spider-Man #700, inside that issue a certain event happened that made me incredibly disappointed with the whole creative team who made that issue and it's previous issues leading up to this event.

I felt that it was rushed and smeared the character's history and defining moments all for a gimmick, my reaction in hindsight was one full of passion but at the same time. The way I dealt with this feeling, looking back on it was idiotic at the very least.

Due to one issue and a change to the status quo I sold all of my Amazing Spider-Man issues that I had been collecting since I was 15, over 7 years of collecting (#529-#700) and reading stories about one of my favorite characters. After ASM#700 the title relaunched with this change in status quo still in place as The Superior Spider-Man, I was determined not to read it but as the issues came out my comic reading felt some what empty without Spider-Man or Peter Parker.

Several months later I decided that I needed Spider-Man back in my life but not just the new series, the issues that I had also sold too but they had to be the ones that I had bought myself  I was incredibly lucky in that the comics dealer I had sold my issues to still had them and had only sold issues #698, #699 and #700 and I could accept that I would have to hunt them down myself (Which now I thankfully have!). I got off lucky with this mistake but I've learned my lesson which is if you really love the character never get swayed by one issue as with all super hero comics it'll eventually go back to status quo.

So, with my comics back I've decided to make the re-purchase of them worth it. I'll be posting a review of each story arc and pin point great stories from the lesser ones, I'll also be boosting my digital painting skills and portfolio by doing illustrations of key plot points of costume changes as best as I can so, to celebrate this I've started off by doing a tribute to the classic spidey pin-up which served as the cover to ASM #300 (drawn by Todd McFarlane). This is only the second time I've done a large photoshop piece but I think I'm getting faster at it, there are some anatomy issues but that comes both from inexperience with the tablet and using the original picture from reference. Overall though I'm proud of this piece and it serves as a good start to this little side project and I can't wait to start reading Spidey again!

It's good to have you back boys!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Check This Out: Godzilla: The Half Century War

Last week the final issue of "Godzilla: The Half Century War" was released and with it concluded one of the best Godzilla stories ever!

Written and drawn by James Stokoe (Orc Stain, Sulivan's Sluggers), this 5 part series tells the tale of the arrival and key battles of Godzilla through the eyes of a soldier. I highly recommend this short series to anyone who enjoys comics as I didn't pick this up because I was a fan of Godzilla, what caught my eye was the stunning artwork, with a mix of eastern and western artistic influences, Stokoe builds fantastic imagery that's never boring to look at, even panels that just feature people talking is dynamic and interesting to look at and of course the most important thing, Godzilla and all his fellow monsters look bitching! All of this ties together so well with Stokoe's use of inks and unconventional colour choices and gradients that it really is just a please to flick through and even more to stop and read and just let it all soak in.

The story itself is really ingenious too, I've seen some Godzilla films and they're generally dip when it focuses on human characters often because they're quite two-dimensional but, Half Century War differs in that the story is told solely from the perspective of Japanese soldier Lieutenant Ota, the reader gets to hear Ota's intimate thoughts on Godzilla as he soon becomes obsessed with trying to understand the King of Monsters and the situation he's be put in time and time again by the creature, this really helps capture the sense of Godzilla as this towering unstoppable force of nature and humans are powerless against it.

(Stokoe captures the visual representation of Godzilla's Trademark roar perfectly.)

Half Century War is definitely a pulp read as it's doesn't try to pretend it's more sophisticated than it really is and just delivers on a really compelling read with kickass art that would be great stepping on point for anyone interested in getting into Godzilla films or comics but with Half Century War being so good, it may be a tall order to beat within the franchise. 

So, go, go now! And try track down all the parts that make up this fantastic story or wait until May 21st when IDW will be releasing the Graphic Novel which will collect all issues. I can't say enough how good this little series is so please, please give it a try!

Monday, 25 March 2013

Check This Out: The Private Eye

For those of you who are into your comics I highly recommend the new comic "The Private Eye".

Created by super star writer: Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, Saga and Ex Machina) and Marcos Martin (Amazing Spider-Man), this comic already has a strong pedigree, what's even more interesting is that the comic is only available online through a pay-what-you-want system. This is an bold move for the creators but after reading the first issue of the proposed 10 issue maxi-series I can proudly say it's well worth the higher tier price of a comic published by either of the big two ($3.99/£2.85).

The Private Eye tells a story of a world where the internet is no longer used and the most valuable possession a person can have is their identity. The most prominent piece of technology in this world are devices that skew or completely change a person appearance making the truth about a person even more valuable than it ever has been. Enter the main character who goes by the handle of "Patrick Immelmann", a self titled "Paparazzi" who lends his truth-revealing services to those who would pay enough for the right kind of job. I don't want to go any more into the plot but, Vaughan seems to be on a bit of a sci-fi kick at the moment with this and Saga running side by side and it's good to see such amazing stories come out especially when it's got such wonderful imagery from Staples (the artist on Saga) and Martin, hopefully this will pave the way for new scifi classics to or become classics them selves and escape the all eclipsing shadow of Star Wars and Blade Runner.

(Art by Marcos Martin)

The Private Eye weaves such a rich and luscious sci-fi world without resorting to much of the usual crutches such as out-of-this-world technology or aliens and it's stronger for it, the plot is exciting and well executed and the art makes the story flow like a dream (I read all 32 pages in under 10 minutes as I couldn't wait to turn a page). Regardless to say I can't wait for more and the trade paper back to come out and read it all as one big story, I recommend this to anyone interested in good storytelling/art and general comic readers a like.

Available in several formats including PDF (no comixology format yet) you can download The Private Eye #1 from Panel Syndicate to your computer or tablet device, just remember to leave what you can cause this book is totally worth it!

Original story found on Comics Alliance.

Bartsuo

Back when I first emailed off to be a part of Bartkira (before a proper cast of characters was made and when Bart was Tetsuo) I did this quick and dirty doodle of Bartsuo in photoshop.

It turned out alright to say it was rush job, but it still shows I've got a way to go in working with colour in photoshop, I should also slow down better as looking at it now there are some glaring errors with anatomy and the way the shading falls on what is supposed to be folds on the clothes.

This quick piece did help me fix the issues I was having with my current copy of photoshop and gave me an excuse to try re-create my custom brushes. This only took little over an hour to do so it does mean I'm getting faster/more confident in my work and skills but for better quality I should probably slow down and think more whilst drawing. For Bartkira I'm probably going to work in black and whites for the sake of my own skill but to also play better homage to Akira itself.

Whilst we're on Bartkira keep an eye out for character study sketches of Principal Skinner, Laura Powers and Dr. Hibert. If you're following the project, you'll know who these characters are standing in for heh. This project is going to be too much fun I think...

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Springfield Is About To E•X•P•L•O•D•E

Earlier today I got a very awesome e-mail. An e-mail that told me I would be taking part in possibly one of the best projects seen of the face of the internet (this year atleast).

BARTKIRA

Helmmed by James Harvey, Bartkira is a large scale artist project where in 468 artists will come together to re-draw all 6 volumes of Katsuhiro Otomo's sci-fi epic 'Akira' but with the animated cast of 'The Simpsons' in place of every character.

This is perfect chance to pay homage to two huge pieces of pop-culture at once whilst being hilarious!

The project came around through Ryan Humphrey's original Bartkira pieces (which can be seen here), wherein he drew panels from Akira with characters from The Simpsons standing in for the original cast. Fellow artist James Harvey saw this and decided that this needed to continue on a grander scale which is where we are now. Each of the 468 artists will be given 5 pages each to draw replacing the characters with the relevant Simpson characters given on the swap sheet.

I came across the project whilst looking over comics alliance last Wednesday whilst being off my head from Codeine Phosphate for a inflamed lung and I don't regret this choice of delirium one. damn. bit! I'm going to start roughing out my 5 pages tomorrow and as I go along I'll be posting my development as I go along as this is to interesting not to document. I mean how can you not want to see this project finished with such awesome imagery??

(art by Ryan Humphrey)

Once the project is complete it'll be available via torrent download also, there are still spaces left for the project for those who want to join in. Those interested should email James at bartkiracommittee@gmail.com.

For those interested in just following this project as it unwinds check out the links below:
James Harvey's Tumblr
James Harvey's Twitter
Character swap sheet
Ryan Humphrey's Personal Website
The original news story I found out about the project

Springfield Is About To E•X•P•L•O•D•E!

Thursday, 21 March 2013

The Gent of "Ladies & Gentlemen"

Hey guys, just here to share a traditional pen and pencil drawing of a character from my friends Richard Worth and Jordan Collver's comic "Ladies & Gentlemen". Drawn on a rainy evening a few weeks ago we have 'The Gent' a masked Victorian-era Hero, a strong and courageous man who never speaks he appears when ever injustice may happen to rear it's ugly head!

It was good to get back on the traditional tools between getting a new copy of photoshop and remaking all my brushes again. I'm now torn between doing more traditional based things (mainly comic based ideas) and digital painting but, I'm sure I'll find time to fit them both in, heh.

Check out more of Rich and Jordan's work including the chance to read the first issue of their comic over at their blog; The Water Closet Press, there's some pretty awesome stuff going on over there!

The first two issues of "Ladies and Gentlemen" are available at Travelling Man comic shops across the UK.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Laput Robot

I painted this picture of a Laputa robot last August whilst I was doing an internship over at Rockstar Studios Leeds over the course of several lunch breaks (FYI Rockstar Leeds is Awesome!)

I always found that I can colour digitally but I'm not great at 'Digitally Painting' so, this piece was done as a way to hone these skills I'm not as well skilled in to apply it to conceptual pieces. I think the end result isn't too bad but still no where near as good as I want it to be. I'm also improving on my skills with adding and making use of backgrounds as this is something that is severely lacking in my work.

As soon as I get my photoshop up and running again (I recently upgraded my hard drive and this was the only casualty) I'm gonna aim to do more pieces like this and develop my digital painting style/skills.

For anyone who used to come to my blog regularly, sorry for the year gap between posts but expect more stuff soon!