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#24 WINTER 2013 $ 7.95 In The US THE PROFESSIONAL “HOW-TO” MAGAZINE ON COMICS AND
#24 WINTER 2013 $ 7.95 In The US
#24
WINTER 2013
$ 7.95 In The US
THE PROFESSIONAL “HOW-TO” MAGAZINE ON COMICS AND CARTOONING GLEN ORBIK DEMOS HIS NOIR PAINTING TECHNIQUE
THE PROFESSIONAL
“HOW-TO” MAGAZINE
ON COMICS
AND CARTOONING
GLEN
ORBIK
DEMOS HIS
NOIR PAINTING
TECHNIQUE
ROBERT
VALLEY
INTERVIEW
WITH THE
ANIMATOR OF
TRON: UPRISING
& “THE BEATLES:
ROCK BAND”
BOB McLEOD
CRITIQUES A
NEWCOMER’S WORK
PLUS: MIKE MANLEY
AND BRET BLEVINS’

Contains

nudity for

figure

drawing

instruction

Mature

Readers

Only

0 3 8 2 6 5 8 2 7 7 6 41 2
0 3
8 2 6 5 8 2 7 7 6 41
2
DRAW! #4 DIGITAL DRAW! #5 DRAW! #6 DRAW! #7 EDITIONS AVAILABLE FOR ONLY $2.95
DRAW! #4
DIGITAL
DRAW! #5
DRAW! #6
DRAW! #7
EDITIONS
AVAILABLE
FOR
ONLY
$2.95

DRAW! (edited by MIKE MANLEY) is the professional “HOW-TO” magazine on comics, cartooning, and animation. Each issue features in-depth INTERVIEWS and DEMOS from top pros on all aspects of graphic storytelling, as well as such skills as layout, penciling, inking, lettering, coloring, Photoshop tech- niques, plus web guides, tips, tricks, and a handy reference source—this magazine has it all!

and a handy reference source—this magazine has it all! Interview with ERIK LARSEN, KEVIN NOWLAN on

Interview with ERIK LARSEN, KEVIN NOWLAN on drawing and inking techniques, DAVE COOPER’s color- ing techniques in Photoshop, BRET BLEVINS tutorial on Figure Composition, PAUL RIVOCHE on the Design Process, reviews of comics drawing papers, and more!

(88-page magazine) $5.95 (Digital Edition) $2.95

MIKE WIERINGO interview, BENDIS and OEMING on how they create “Powers”, BRET BLEVINS shows “How to draw great hands”, “The illusion of depth in design” by PAUL RIVOCHE, art books reviewed by TERRY BEATTY, plus reviews of the best art supplies, and more!

(88-page magazine) $5.95 (Digital Edition) $2.95

Interview & demo with BILL WRAY, STEPHEN DeSTEFANO interview, BRET BLEVINS shows “How to draw the human figure in light and shadow,” Photoshop tutorial by CELIA CALLE, inking tips by MIKE MANLEY, reviews of the best art supplies, links, and more!

(96-page magazine) $5.95 (Digital Edition) $2.95

Interview/demo by DAN BRERETON, ZACH TRENHOLM on caricaturing, “Drawing In Adobe Illustrator” demo by ALBERTO RUIZ, “The Power of Sketching” by BRET BLEVINS, “Designing with light and shadow” by PAUL RIVOCHE, reviews of art supplies, links, and more!

(96-page magazine) SOLD OUT (Digital Edition) $2.95

NOTE: Some issues contain nudity for purposes of figure drawing. INTENDED FOR MATURE READERS.

DRAW! #8 DRAW! #9 DRAW! #10 DRAW! #11 DRAW! #12 DRAW! #13
DRAW! #8
DRAW! #9
DRAW! #10
DRAW! #11
DRAW! #12
DRAW! #13

Interview & demo by MATT HALEY, TOM BANCROFT & ROB CORLEY on character design, “Drawing In Adobe Illustrator” by ALBERTO RUIZ, “Draping The Human Figure” by BRET BLEVINS, a new COMICS SECTION, International Spotlight on JOSÉ LOUIS AGREDA, and more!

(96-page magazine) $5.95 (Digital Edition) $2.95

WRITE NOW #8 crossover! MIKE MANLEY & DANNY FINGEROTH create a comic from script to print, BANCROFT & CORLEY on bringing characters to life, Adobe Illustrator with ALBERTO RUIZ, Noel Sickles’ work examined, PvP’s SCOTT KURTZ, art supply reviews, and more!

(88-page magazine) SOLD OUT (Digital Edition) $2.95

RON GARNEY interview & demo, GRAHAM NOLAN on creating newspaper strips, TODD KLEIN and others discuss lettering, “Draping The Human Figure, Part Two” by BRET BLEVINS, ALBERTO RUIZ on Adobe Illustrator, interview with MARK McKENNA, links, and more!

(104-page magazine) $5.95 (Digital Edition) $2.95

STEVE RUDE on comics & drawing, ROQUE BALLESTEROS on Flash animation, JIM BORGMAN on his daily comic strip Zits, BRET BLEVINS and MIKE MANLEY on “Drawing On Life”, Adobe Illustrator tips with ALBERTO RUIZ, links, a color section and more! New RUDE cover!

(112-page magazine) $5.95 (Digital Edition) $2.95

KYLE BAKER on merging traditional and digital art, MIKE HAWTHORNE on his work, “Making Perspective Work For You” by BRET BLEVINS and MIKE MANLEY, Photoshop techniques with ALBERTO RUIZ, THE VENTURE BROTHERS, links, and more! New BAKER cover!

(96-page magazine) SOLD OUT (Digital Edition) $2.95

Demo of painting methods by ALEX HORLEY, interview and demo by COLLEEN COOVER, a look behind- the-scenes on Adult Swim’s MINORITEAM, regular features on drawing by BRET BLEVINS and MIKE MANLEY, links, color section and more!

(88-page magazine) $6.95 (Digital Edition) $2.95

DRAW! #14 DRAW! #15 DRAW! #16 DRAW! #17 DRAW! #18 DRAW! #19
DRAW! #14
DRAW! #15
DRAW! #16
DRAW! #17
DRAW! #18
DRAW! #19

In-depth interviews and demos with DOUG MAHNKE, OVI NEDELCU (Pigtale, WB Animation), STEVE PURCELL (Sam and Max), MIKE MANLEY and BRET BLEVINS’ COMIC ART BOOTCAMP on “Using Black to Power up Your Pages”, product reviews, and more!

(84-page magazine) $6.95 (Digital Edition) $2.95

Covers major schools offering comic art as part of their curriculum, in an ultimate overview of collegiate-level comic art classes! Plus, a “how-to” demo/interviewwith BILL REINHOLD, MIKE MANLEY and BRET BLEVINS’ COMIC ART BOOTCAMP series, and more!

(84-page magazine) $6.95 (Digital Edition) $2.95

DRAW! #20

WALTER SIMONSON interview and demo, Rough Stuff’s BOB McLEOD gives a “Rough Critique” of a newcomer’s work, Write Now’s DANNY FINGEROTH spot- lights writer/artist AL JAFFEE, JAMAR NICHOLAS reviews the best art supplies and tool technolo- gy, MIKE MANLEY and BRET BLEVINS offer “Comic Art Bootcamp” lessons, plus Web links, book reviews, and more!

Bootcamp” lessons, plus Web links, book reviews, and more! (84-page magazine with COLOR ) $7.95 US

(84-page magazine with COLOR) $7.95 US • (Digital edition) $2.95

In-depth interview with HOWARD CHAYKIN, behind the drawing board and animation desk with JAY STEPHENS, COMIC ART BOOTCAMP on HOW TO USE REFERENCE and WORKING FROM PHOTOS (by BRET BLEVINS and MIKE MANLEY), and more!

(84-page magazine) $6.95 (Digital Edition) $2.95

Interview and tutorial with Scott Pilgrim’s BRYAN LEE O’MALLEY on how he creates the acclaimed series, learn how B.P.R.D.’s GUY DAVIS creates his series, more Comic Art Bootcamp: Learning from The Great Cartoonists by BRET BLEVINS and MIKE MANLEY, reviews, and more!

(84-page magazine) $6.95 (Digital Edition) $2.95

DRAW! #21

magazine) $6.95 (Digital Edition) $2.95 DRAW! #21 Urban Barbarian DAN PANOSIAN talks shop about his gritty,

Urban Barbarian DAN PANOSIAN talks shop about his gritty, design- inspired work with editor MIKE MANLEY, DANNY FINGEROTH interviews “Billy Dogma” writer/artist DEAN HASPIEL, plus more of MIKE MANLEY and BRET BLEVINS’ “Comic Art Bootcamp”, a “Rough Critique” of a newcomer’s work by BOB McLEOD, product and art supply reviews by JAMAR NICHOLAS, and more!

(84-page magazine with COLOR) $7.95 US • (Digital edition) $2.95

Interview & demo by R.M. GUERA, Cartoon Network’s JAMES TUCKER on the hit show “Batman: The Brave and the Bold,” plus product reviews by JAMAR NICHOLAS, and Comic Book Boot Camp’s “Anatomy: Part 2” by BRET BLEVINS and MIKE MANLEY!

(84-page magazine) $6.95 (Digital Edition) $2.95

DOUG BRAITHWAITE demo and interview, DANNY FINGEROTH’s new feature on writer/artists with R. SIKORYAK, BOB McLEOD critiques a newcomer’s work, JAMAR NICHOLAS reviews art supplies and tool tech, COMIC ART BOOTCAMP on penciling & more!

(84-page magazine) $6.95 (Digital Edition) $2.95

more! (84-page magazine) $6.95 (Digital Edition) $2.95 DRAW! #22 Interview with inker SCOTT WILLIAMS from his

DRAW! #22

Interview with inker SCOTT WILLIAMS from his days at Marvel and Image to his work with JIM LEE, FRANK MILLER interview, plus MILLER and KLAUS JANSON show their working processes. Also, MIKE MANLEY and BRET BLEVINS’ “Comic Art Bootcamp”, a “Rough Critique” of a newcomer’s work by BOB McLEOD, art supply reviews by “Crusty Critic” JAMAR NICHOLAS, and more!

(84-page magazine with COLOR) $7.95 (Digital Edition) $2.95

THE PROFESSIONAL “HOW-TO” MAGAZINE ON COMICS & CARTOONING WWW.DRAW-MAGAZINE.BLOGSPOT.COM WINTER 2013 VOL. 1, N o

THE PROFESSIONAL “HOW-TO” MAGAZINE ON COMICS & CARTOONING

WWW.DRAW-MAGAZINE.BLOGSPOT.COM

WINTER 2013 VOL. 1, No. 24

E ditor-in-Chief • Michael Manley Designer • Eric Nolen-Weathington Publisher • John Morrow Logo Design • John Costanza Copy-Editing • Eric Nolen-Weathington Front Cover • Glen Orbik

DRAW! Winter 2013, Vol. 1, No. 24 was produced by Action Planet, Inc. and published by TwoMorrows Publishing. Michael Manley, Editor. John Morrow, Publisher. Editorial address: DRAW! Magazine, c/o Michael Manley, 430 Spruce Ave., Upper Darby, PA 19082. Subscription Address: TwoMorrows Publishing, 10407 Bedfordtown Dr., Raleigh, NC 27614.

DRAW! and its logo are trademarks of Action Planet, Inc. All contributions herein are copyright 2013 by their respective contributors.

Action Planet, Inc. and TwoMorrows Publishing accept no responsibility for unsolicited submissions. All artwork herein is copyright the year of produc- tion, its creator (if work-for-hire, the entity which contracted said artwork); the characters featured in said artwork are trademarks or registered trade- marks of their respective owners; and said artwork or other trademarked material is printed in these pages with the consent of the copyright holder and/or for journalistic, educational, or historical purposes with no infringement intended or implied.

This entire issue is ©2013 Action Planet, Inc. and TwoMorrows Publishing and may not be reprint- ed or retransmitted without written permission of the copyright holders. ISSN 1932-6882. Printed in Canada. FIRST PRINTING.

holders. ISSN 1932-6882. Printed in Canada. FIRST PRINTING. TABLE OF CONTENTS 3 GLEN ORBIK Mike Manley

TABLE OF CONTENTS

3

GLEN ORBIK

Mike Manley interviews the painter/teacher about the dying art of book illustration.

40

THE ORBIK WORKSHOP

Glen Orbik details his step-by-step process for creating a painted book cover.

45

56

62

ROBERT VALLEy

The animator/designer/comic artist gets his Swerve on.

ROuGH CRITIquE

Bob McLeod gives practical advice and tips on how to improve your work.

COmIC ART BOOTCAmP

This month’s installment:

The Eyes Have It

78

THE CRuSTy CRITIC

Jamar Nicholas reviews the tools of the trade. This month: Crusty tricks!

It 78 THE CRuSTy CRITIC Jamar Nicholas reviews the tools of the trade. This month: Crusty
It 78 THE CRuSTy CRITIC Jamar Nicholas reviews the tools of the trade. This month: Crusty
It 78 THE CRuSTy CRITIC Jamar Nicholas reviews the tools of the trade. This month: Crusty
It 78 THE CRuSTy CRITIC Jamar Nicholas reviews the tools of the trade. This month: Crusty

-ING AHEADI t seems another year has come and gone, and that means another year full

I t seems another year has come and gone, and that means

another year full of Drawing! As I write this I am already

drawing the Judge Parker strips well into 2013, and it seems

the Judge Parker strips well into 2013, and it seems like I just got used to

like I just got used to writing 2012 on them instead of 2011. Yet, I still have only half my Christmas shopping done! Luckily, as an artist, giving the gift of art makes time spent at the mall a lot less.

Time runs a lot slower in comics than in real life. The con- cept of time itself seems to even be suspended for most comic strips and books in general. Some characters seem to never age despite there being strips or stories by the dozen dealing with the Christmas holiday, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, and especially New Year’s, when you actually address the passing of one year into the next. But as we ring out the old year, I ring the bell once again. My hat’s off and a cup of holiday cheer to my regular con- tributors, Bret, Jamar, and Bob, as well as publisher John, and Eric, my Main Man who really helps get this mag out. These guys really help make DRAW! the best how-to magazine on comics and cartooning being published today. I’d also like to thank Glen Orbik for taking time out from his busy schedule and giving such a great interview and pro- cess coverage on how he works. It was also a blast to talk to Robert Valley, and cover his career and the amazing and excit- ing work he’s doing now on Tron, and on his past work on projects like Rock Band and the Gorillaz! My goal is to keep the pages of DRAW! as packed as possible with real info on how to work, as well as with a diversity of styles and approaches. Next issue, DRAW! goes full-color throughout, which requires #25 to ship in July, giving us extra time to gear up to our new quarterly full-color schedule. As always, your feedback and kittens are welcome at: mike@actionplanet.com.

Till next time—go draw something!

mike@actionplanet.com . Till next time—go draw something! NEXT ISSUE in JULY, FULL-COLOR! DRAW! #25 (80 pages,

NEXT ISSUE in JULY, FULL-COLOR!

DRAW! #25 (80 pages, now in its new FULL-COLOR format, $8.95 print/$3.95 digital), the professional “how-to” magazine on comics and animation, features the über-talented Lee Weeks! You know his outstanding work from DAReDeviL, inCReDibLe HULk, et al. His insight into the artform is must-read material. Also, DRAW! gets to know DC’s Turkish sensation, YiLDiRAY ÇinAR! From his work on nObLe CAUses to the recent New 52 FURY OF tHe FiRestORms, Yildiray is making quite a name for himself. We also welcome comic book veteran inker JOe RUbinstein for a chat about his storied career, plus there’s the usual assortment of columns you know and love: “Comic Art Bootcamp” with mike mAnLeY and bRet bLevins, “Rough Critique” with bOb mCLeOD, and “The Crusty Critic” with JAmAR niCHOLAs! Edited by mike mAnLeY.

sUbsCRiPtiOn RAte: Four issues US: $30 Standard, $40 First Class, $11.80 Digital Only OUtsiDe tHe Us: Canada: $43, Elsewhere: $54 Surface, $78 Airmail

LEE WEEKS INTERVIEW & DEMO DC’s Rising Star yildiray çinar inking legend JOE RUBINSTEIN ROUGH
LEE
WEEKS
INTERVIEW
& DEMO
DC’s Rising Star
yildiray
çinar
inking legend
JOE
RUBINSTEIN
ROUGH STUFF’S
BOB MCLEOD
CRITIQUES A
NEWCOMER’S WORK
PLUS MIKE MANLEY
AND BRET BLEVINS’
A NEWCOMER’S WORK PLUS MIKE MANLEY AND BRET BLEVINS’ TwoMorrows.A New Day For Comics Fans! TwoMorrows

TwoMorrows.A New Day For Comics Fans!

AND BRET BLEVINS’ TwoMorrows.A New Day For Comics Fans! TwoMorrows Publishing • 10407 Bedfordtown Drive •

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Under the COVerS Glen Orbik Interview conducted October 2012 by Mike Manley Transcribed by Steven
Under the COVerS
Glen Orbik
Interview conducted
October 2012 by Mike Manley
Transcribed by Steven Tice

DRAW!: You’re from what I seen via Facebook, you’re mostly

a night owl?

GLEN ORBIK: Yeah, yeah, if I had my choice, such as it is.

Laurel Blechman] got to do a bunch of Batman covers, and

DC did a line of pulp superhero annuals for the summer, and

that’s kind of when we started with that.

DRAW!: And you’re also teaching now, right? GO: Yeah, usually I teach the later-in-the-day classes. One of them is in the afternoon, but most of them are evening classes.

DRAW!: Where are you teaching now? GO: Right now it’s basically the current version of the school

that our teacher Fred Fixler started, the California Art Insti- tute in Calabasas, which is

about 20 miles west of us, and then on the weekends

we go to Pasadena, which is, like, 20 miles in the oth- er direction. Right now it’s just the two schools within that range. Last year I was flying up to San Francisco every week to try that for

a while, but the traveling

was too much of a pain in

the ass.

DRAW!: Have you ever taught at the Los Angeles Figurative Academy? GO: No.

DRAW!: Okay, so you’re working at the place in Calabasas. GO: Yeah, Calabasas— Thousand Oaks, actu- ally—is the California Art Institute. It’s the one that Fred started when he sepa- rated from the school he was teaching at in the ’80s.

DRAW!: I seem to re- member Steve Rude took some classes there.

GO: Yes. Steve likes to go anywhere in the world, though, that has Andrew Loomis’ name mentioned frequently.

DRAW!: [laughs] How long have you been doing this? GO: I started taking classes in ’84 and started teaching in ’86.

DRAW!: I think I became aware of your work when you started doing the covers for American Century, which was done by Howard Chaykin. GO: Yeah, American Century. That was ’99, 2000—some- where in there. That was after we [Glen and his partner,

DRAW!: Was that for the Warner Brothers store? GO: No, no, no. The one at the store was later. That was actu-

ally supposed to be a cool deal where we were going to get in

with them and do a bunch of artwork, and they were going to

fly us to Chicago to the WB store and do a big opening. And then the Time Warner/AOL merger happened and everything kind of stopped. Our big flight and big to-do turned into a half-hour drive south to

Torrence to the last re- maining WB store at the time.

to Torrence to the last re- maining WB store at the time. Glen Orbik at work

Glen Orbik at work on a painting.

DRAW!: Were you into comics as a kid? GO: Oh yeah. Would any- body else choose to go into comics? I mean, if there was not some sort of childhood fantasy in there to…. No, actually, I started collecting comics in the mid-’70s, and Lau- rel was collecting from the mid-’60s, so our two collections kind of butt up against each other. We went on purpose to do the comics stuff.

DRAW!: Have you ever done any interiors? GO: No, I’m just too slow.

DRAW!: Would that be something you’d like to do, maybe as a long-term project? GO: Yeah, I wouldn’t mind; it would be fun. It’s just the reality of trying to

pay some bills and things. When we were doing the painted covers about 15 years ago,

we had several different people from DC and Marvel ask us

if we would do painted books, and I said, “Well, we would,

but we’re really slow.” And they’re like, “Oh, it’s okay, take

four years.” I can’t really afford to take four years. It doesn’t really work that way. You can’t get 400 bucks for something

you spent six months on.

DRAW!: What do you spend most of your time doing?

GO: Right now it’s mostly paperbacks, doing a lot more of

the detective sort of things. The Hard Case Crime covers are

supposed to be covers that look like they were done 50 years ago and forgotten about. Basically, whenever it’s supposed to look like it was done a long time ago, they call us.

DRAW!: And then you can hire models that look like Steve Holland that everybody used to hire in the old days? GO: Yeah, that would be great. We have a couple of people that we’ve used, or when we get into a pinch, we use ourselves, but, yeah, we’re usually trying to push them to look like Holland or whoever would fit the bill. Actually, when we did the American Century covers, we used the same two models. There were, like, a dozen covers, and we used the same girl for all but two of them, I think, just different wigs and things.

DRAW!: Back in the Golden Age, the agencies used to do things like hire the models, or pay for the models, and do all that to help the illustrator. You have to do all that yourself now, right, wrangle all the models? GO: Yeah, those days are done. We sort of got in during the tail end of that when we started doing paperbacks in the early ’90s, and some of the companies basically would reimburse for a few of those things, but that didn’t last long. That’s an- cient history. Now it’s just part of the fee, I guess. DRAW!: When you’re going to do a cover, do you have mod- els in mind? How do you go about getting them? I suppose it’s easier in L.A. because it’s like central casting out there. You can probably get a guy that looks like a pirate, or a guy that looks like a judge, crook, etc. GO: Well, yeah, that’s the cool thing about teaching is that you’ve got quite a few models and students who could make good pirate models or cowboy models. So that’s one good thing about it. I stopped teaching for about four years, I don’t know, twelve years ago, and it was a lot easier if I kept my fingers in the pie to keep aware of who was out there. When you’ve had some models work for you in school, you get to see if they’re good at doing action poses, or heroic poses, or whatever kind of poses. Or, if they’re really stiff but they have a good face, you kind of keep it in mind where you can get away with it.

DRAW!: I bought the book Rockwell behind the Camera, which was great to really see the amazing depth that he went to get his reference. GO: Yeah.

DRAW!: Do you do sort of the same thing? You try to get people to ham it up or push their poses?

GO: That book literally was the idea of what we were shoot- ing for, no pun intended. But very abbreviated, not quite that elaborate, just because there isn’t that much time or money.

I mean, they don’t pay you what they paid back in the glory days, when illustration was a huge moneymaker.

DRAW!: What I’ve heard is that basically the rates have stayed the same for a long while, so if you got $1,500 for

doing a cover in 1985, you pretty much get $1,500 for doing

a cover in 2012.

1985, you pretty much get $1,500 for doing a cover in 2012. Glen’s photo shoot and

Glen’s photo shoot and final cover to American Century #27.

American Century ™ and © Howard Chaykin, Inc. and DC Comics.

(far left) Glen’s rough sketch for the box art for ComicBase 7, a program for
(far left) Glen’s rough sketch for the box art for ComicBase 7, a program for

(far left) Glen’s rough sketch for the box art for ComicBase 7, a program for organizing a comic book collection. (left) Glen’s value comp of the proposed box art.

Artwork © Human Computing.

GO: Yeah, but the problem is that the [Saturday Evening] Post was paying $3,000 to $3,500 per cover in the ’30s, and my grandparents spent $3,200 on their first house in the ’30s. So Rockwell was making enough to buy a house six times a month. So, yeah, we’re getting similar to the $1,500, $2,000 that we were getting 20, 30 years ago, but it’s worth less than it was then, and insanely less than it was when they were pay- ing that in the ’40s and ’50s.

DRAW!: I guess by going into comics and things like that, you have really branched out. It seems to be the way it goes, because editorial has sort of died out. I just read the other day that Newsweek’s going to stop printing newsstand editions. I guess they’re going online. GO: Yeah, that’s what they say. Well, most of the artwork done for finished illustrations seems to have less and less opportuni- ties to be seen. It used to be that the artwork would be used to sell everything, and now they can use a lot of different ways to get an image on something, and they don’t really care whether it’s artwork or not, so the artwork has basically stuck around in the places where they do care if it’s artwork, like comics or fan- tasy or westerns, or a few genres where they actually view it as part of the package. But for a lot of other covers, or anything in general, now if they use a painted image, it’s more for the retro effect than because they need a painted image, usually.

DRAW!: I’ve been going, I guess the last four years, to the Illuxx Con here in Pennsylvania, which is a great conven- tion because you get to meet all the top-flight artists and talk to them, and it’s a really small, very intimate convention. It seems like a lot of people are really having to branch out, and that the biggest haul for illustrators is the whole pre-visual thing, pre-vis for movies, or games, or whatever.

GO: Yeah, it’s all on the concept end of it. There is a lot less of the finished illustration out there. I mean, it was in its heyday at the turn of the last century, when magazine publishing got to

a point where it was king, and there was a large audience that

knew how to read, and had a day off a week, and had a little bit of spending money, and there were no movies or TV or ra- dio. Magazines were everything. It’s always been evolving, but we’re at the point where there’s a lot less of the finished stuff just because they’ve gone on to other things now.

DRAW!: The interesting thing is, as the market is shrinking, you have these smaller vanity press operations, like the one that you’re doing, the retro private eye— GO: Yeah, that’s the deal with Hard Case Crime. They realized that the artwork was part of the packaging. They realized that when people buy the detective books and the Carter Browns and things, it’s because they like the whole package: the artwork,

and the story, and the small paperback, you know, “I can carry it around in my pocket,” whole thing. They realized that the cover

is one of the selling points, so that’s why that is part of the deal.

DRAW!: How much of your time is spent looking for work as opposed to working? Do you have an agent, or do you not have an agent? A lot of people used to have agents, and now I don’t know whether it pays to have an agent. GO: It paid us in the beginning mostly because the agents, if they’re decent, it’s their full-time jobs. They know how often to bug the publishers, and how to bug them. We went to New York in the late ’80s and contacted a bunch of publishers, and even the ones that really liked our work and wanted us to bug them said, “If we don’t call back in a couple weeks, then you call back in a couple weeks.” And they’d say, “Oh, call back in a couple weeks.” And it would

Glen takes multiple shots of his models to get different expressions and poses for reference
Glen takes multiple shots of
his models to get different
expressions and poses for
reference when it comes time
to paint.
(left) Glen’s underdrawing, which he will paint over. (above) Glen’s 3" x 5" color comp.
(left) Glen’s underdrawing, which he will paint over. (above) Glen’s 3" x 5" color comp.

(left) Glen’s underdrawing, which he will paint over. (above) Glen’s 3" x 5" color comp.

ComicBase © Human Computing.

get to the point where you felt like you were bugging them. It’s like, “Well, you told me to call.” The decent agents were there in town where the art directors were, and they knew how often to bug them and what was ex- pected. So, no, it was actually really helpful in the beginning. I don’t know if it’s as much of a thing now, with the Internet and how easy it is to get your artwork in front of somebody, but it probably is a similar situation as far as, “How often do you bug them?” Some of it’s timing, being there in the Rolodex when the job comes in that they think about you. It’s a little different now, and that’s part of the thing with the teaching is that the teaching keeps things consistent. That way, when everybody calls all at once, we have to do a little juggling, but when everybody stops calling at once, then we can focus on the teaching 100%. That’s the exciting thing about freelance is it’s not overly consistent. It kind of goes in waves.

DRAW!: The other thing I find about teaching is that it keeps you actively engaged when you’re having to help students. You do two things: you re-teach yourself principles, and you keep the mind sharp for having to solve problems, because that’s what the illustrator is doing is solving problems. I find that you’re constantly solving a problem, maybe the same problem but from different angles, because everybody has different issues with drawing.

GO: Yeah, I think that that’s really the secret to the good il- lustrators, the good artists; it’s not the ability to draw or paint, it’s the problem-solving part of it. What worked on somebody else’s piece, and what am I trying to get across, and how do I do that… it’s a little bit more cause-and-effect than people think that art is. They think of it as something you’re born with or not born with instead of a skill. You go to a cabinet maker who makes cabinets because they have a craft for it, and they’ve worked at it.

DRAW!: People just think it’s like you were born with some magical ability where you just, ding, touch your finger and magic comes out and the job’s all done. GO: I know. It’s insane. I mean, we all know how to read and write—well, most of us—and we assume we have to go to school to learn how to do that, or at least get training some- how, but somehow the artwork is considered as, “You were born with it, or you were not born with it,” and I don’t under- stand where this came from.

DRAW!: We were talking about how things have really changed. GO: When I think about things changing, the one thing that I always remind myself is that Norman Rockwell used to talk about the fact he felt that the Golden Age of Illustration was done and over by 1923. [Mike laughs] So, yeah, that’s always

DRAW! WINTER 2013 9
(above) Glen’s initial sketch for his Punisher cover. (right) While shooting the photo reference, Glen
(above) Glen’s initial sketch for his
Punisher cover.
(right) While shooting the photo
reference, Glen sees a better crop for
the cover.
(bottom right) An idealized sketch of
the photo reference.
Punisher ™ and © Marvel Characters, Inc.
my reaction. We think of him as being dead center of it. So
part of it is perspective. Part of it is, yeah, it was different,
but what’s still going on? You mentioned the concept work.
I mean, there’s some amazing stuff going on in the concept
field that’s not on the cover of a magazine, but….

DRAW!: You don’t see it unless they do an Art of… book or something like that, but there’re people out there just doing really amazing work. I forget, there was a guy who had a site called goodbrush.com, and he did this pre-vis stuff, and it was just amazing. Because usually work that’s done on the com- puter, when you look at it, you go, “Oh, computer. That was done in Painter.” This guy was really good. When you looked at it closely, you could tell that it was done in Photoshop, but at first glance that’s not what you thought. Now, you’re still doing, from what I’ve seen, pretty much

straight, traditional stuff. Are you incorporating the digital as- pect into your work? GO: Nothing other than as a glorified Xerox machine. I use

it for layouts and stuff, but mostly it’s for cutting and pasting

and trying things out that’s easier than doing freehand, to save me some time. But, for the most part, I want to get it out of

that machine as soon as possible so I can draw it or paint it. Yeah, I like the actual brush in my hand.

DRAW!: I’m right there. I think that’s actually one of the big- gest issues that we face as artists now, not only commercial artists but even fine artists, is the fact that we are deluged with imagery all the time. The demand of the industry sort of drives the way the work has to be delivered. You don’t send

(left) Glen’s new cover sketch and his color comp for the painting. (above) Glen’s underdrawing
(left) Glen’s new cover sketch and his color comp for the painting. (above) Glen’s underdrawing
(left) Glen’s new cover sketch and his color comp for the painting. (above) Glen’s underdrawing

(left) Glen’s new cover sketch and his color comp for the painting. (above) Glen’s underdrawing that will guide his painting.

Punisher ™ and © Marvel Characters, Inc.

your paintings in to the publisher anymore, like Rockwell did. You have to somehow get them digitally scanned in or what- ever. There’s a lot more of that that’s actually on you now, as the artist, to be able to use FTP and all of these other things. I can sort of see a generation gap just because of the digital aspect. Like, a lot of the people that you or I would teach, maybe they don’t quite have the love for the original. I love having the brush. I can do digital and I do, but I always default to having what I call the “meat world” item. I like the piece of paper or the canvas. GO: It’s like the argument of comics going online. We who grew up with comics are always saying, “Well, it doesn’t feel

the same. It’s not the same as having it in your hand, and the smell of the paper, and it’s your thing.” But, on the other hand, if they never knew that sensation, then they may not miss it.

DRAW!: Do you find that to be an issue with your students at all? GO: No, I’m finding it to be the other way, actually, that I’m getting some people that really only have an interest in digital or computer work, but they come to take classes with real drawing and painting so that they have a better con- cept about manipulating the shapes and values so that when they’re working in the computer, they understand what it is

that they’re actually moving around. They’re not waiting for the computer to have a special program to draw it for them. So, the ones that are actually, I think, doing some really in- teresting stuff, recognize the component of the real world that should be in there too.

DRAW!: Two points. One, when I can look at an illustrator or painter, I can always tell if it was an artist who developed

before Technicolor. You can also tell if people only learned to do coloring on the computer because you’re seeing light being projected at you, not light hit- ting the surface and then com- ing back to you and hitting your eye. If you look at the artists who developed before Technicolor, their understand- ing of color was not influenced by cinema, so it is different. It is different. And then you look at people who have developed post-technicolor, and they are very influenced by the colors that you see in movies or TV. I think it is really important for the young artist to learn about color, but not learn about color on the computer. You know, use the computer, but learn about color before you’re us- ing the computer. GO: Yeah, it’s all the stuff around you. I remember lis- tening to an artist at the So- ciety of Illustrators out here. He’d lived in New York, then moved out here, and when he came across one of his old palettes from 20 years earlier when he had been in New York, he was stunned at the difference in the color.

He was a landscape painter, but he was stunned at the dif-

ference of the atmosphere around him and how it changed the way he viewed color. So I’m sure if that’s the situation, then it’s the same sort of thing. If you grew up looking at the computer screen versus whatever your color influence is, your view is going to be tinted by your surrounding.

was talking about storytelling, but he always referred to it as like throwing a ball against the wall and it only comes back half as strong as you threw it. You have to say it a little loud, because you know when they reproduce it, it’s going to lose something. So you’re trying to figure out what the message is, and then you have to be a little noisy about it so it still reads. Part of it is, figure out what the story is. In a way part of the reason that we had more fun with the detective stuff than some of the superhero things, there’s the component of storytelling on the westerns, the detectives. You have kind of free rein to do whatever you want with the color schemes, whereas with the superheroes, you also have to throw in that most of them come to the game with their own color scheme attached al- ready, so if you’ve got Super- man standing next to the Hulk, you’ve got to pay attention to whether or not these colors look like crap together.

DRAW!: [laughs] Right, right. When you look at back to when Neal Adams started coming on the scene, and he started using those K-tones or grayer tones when he would color covers, the color had a big effect on me. So I was wondering if you did indeed think about the differences. When you’re working for DC, do you submit a layout to Chiarello or the editor? What’s your process like? GO: You know, it is different for everybody. It just depends on what their working meth- od is. Usually not so much submitting the color. It was always different working for Mark, because he is an art-

ist, he was speaking my lan- guage, so…. I would get very odd comments from people that were not artists—“Make sure the baby is cute and creepy”— things that didn’t always work together. [Mike laughs] With Mark, he would tell you something that was actually English, and it’s like, “Oh, this is going to make sense.” Occasionally, art directors like to see the color roughs and things, but generally it’s more just, “Make sure it’s scary,” or night, or whatever, more than instructing us to be 50% gray and 6% purple.

DRAW!: Because of the way everything is all wired up, be- cause you can do a comp and send it quickly, they can say,

cause you can do a comp and send it quickly, they can say, The finished painting

The finished painting for the Punisher cover.

Punisher ™ and © Marvel Characters, Inc.

DRAW!: Speaking of that, do you think of how you use color in your illustrations for the covers of a comic book as opposed to a romance or a western? With a comic book cover, are you thinking to punch the colors up ? GO: Well, yeah, it has to be. I mean, with the Rockwell thing, I don’t believe he was referring specifically to coloring; he

(above) For the cover of 1997’s Resurrection Man #1 from DC, Glen painted these heads
(above) For the cover of 1997’s Resurrection Man #1 from DC, Glen painted these heads

(above) For the cover of 1997’s Resurrection Man

#1 from DC, Glen painted these heads of the main character, which were then used as

a lenticular

image—an image that changes depending on the angle at which it

is viewed—within

the eye of a full- page skull. (left) Glen’s photo

reference for the project.

Resurrection Man ™ and © DC Comics.

“Oh, change it.” They can ask for a lot of tweaks because they can just keep asking you to send them the images. Do you find that to be more often the case, depending upon the client? GO: That’s the one saving grace about having clients for a number of years is you kind of know which ones are going to be a pain in the neck and which ones are going to be a pleasure to work with. Usually when they want to see every little nuance and every little detail, they’re more hassle than they’re worth, so hopefully they’re going to pay enough for it.

DRAW!: Do you have a standard way of working? Do you do a couple of thumbnails at the start? How many choices do you give them? GO: Well, it depends on the deadline. Usually I like to at least try a couple. The last couple of Stephen King jobs we did, we sent in six or seven ideas, but it’s usually two or three. But I haven’t done a comic cover in a couple years actually. We’ve been so deluged with the retro sexy girl thing that I’ve been happy to focus on those.

DRAW!: Do you have a limit? Do you have a contract that says, “You get three changes, and after that I have to start charging you by the hour,” or…? GO: I should, but no. No, when it gets nuts, we just try to avoid those people in the future. [Mike laughs] I mean, when it gets stupid, usually it’s not to that degree. Usually what we’ll do is we’ll get the script or the synopsis, and we’ll send them several stick figures or basic drawings saying, “How about this?” and, “How about that?” We can narrow it down so that if we need models or whatever, we can go get the right references and costumes as necessary. If they need to see a tighter sketch, if it’s going to be a big deal where they need to make sure that everything works before they get to the fin- ish, then…. But we’re not usually working for those sorts of clients. We are usually a little looser and send them some stick figures, and especially if they’ve seen our work, they start to trust us after a while that we’re going to give them something that looks decent.

DRAW!: When you do your comp, do you hire a model, or do you just draw it straight out and then hire a model later on? GO: It just depends on what’s going on. Whatever it takes to get the idea across. Usually it’s either basic enough that I can make it up, or I can shoot a couple of quick snapshots of Laurel or me in the basic pose. I also keep a scrap file of ideas that I think are really cool so that when a job comes in I can flip through it and have a jumping off place. You know, I might have a great pirate image that I could also use as a great cowboy image. That way you’re not working with a blank picture all the time.

DRAW!: Do you always work in a certain way? Do you like to work with pencil? Do you do the thumbnails in color or in black-and-white? GO: Usually the rough sketch is just a pencil sketch. It will occasionally include tone if we think it’s going to help sell the concept or sell the mood a little bit more. It’s more a matter of value, because we don’t want to deal with the color again.

The thumbnail sketch and photo reference for Hard Case Crimes #11, Branded Woman , by
The thumbnail sketch and photo reference for Hard Case Crimes #11, Branded Woman , by

The thumbnail sketch and photo reference for Hard Case Crimes #11, Branded Woman, by Wade Miller.

I’ve had clients that have said, “Well, this part could be more Im- pressionistic, and this part would be more realistic,” and at this point we’re just trying to figure out if it’s a guy on a horse or a girl on a Buick before we worry about style and that kind of stuff. So it’s a matter of trying to narrow it down. But mostly we read through the script, or, if we can come up with a simple scribble right away to give us a general idea of where we’re going, and if it’s possible to tighten it up from there, we will, and if not, we’ll say, “Okay, this idea I think works, but I could make a more convincing sketch if I shot a quick Polaroid of one of us in the pose.

DRAW!: How do you and Laurel Belchman, your partner, actually work together? How do you divide up the labor of the process? GO: Most of the time, if it’s Laurel’s job or my job, we’re mostly playing backup for the other person, so it’s not so much dividing up the work. The ones that we did together—both of us physically working on the actual final painting—had a lot of times more to do with needing to get it done because we were running behind. We both trained with the same teachers, so we can work similarly enough so that it works. But usually, if it’s a general job, it’s one of our projects. It’s not so much that we’re always the studio. So if it’s my job, she helps me out, and if it’s her job, I try to help her out. And then, usually, we just kind of work together on every part of it. Whichever one is painting it, if we run into trouble, the other one is there for input, to see if something seems to stand out funny, or if an area looks like it needs a little bit more attention. We don’t pick up the brush and work on the other person’s piece that often.

DRAW!: Your hands aren’t crossing over each other as you’re painting on the same painting at the same time? [laughs] GO: Well, we have done that. We did a couple of Batman covers that way, where literally she did the left half, and I did the right half, and we met in the middle. I mean, that’s more do-able when you’ve gone through all the preliminary stages together, and you’ve worked out the color reference together, and you’ve got your reference and your idealized drawings worked out.

DRAW!: I guess the Hildebrandt brothers worked that way; they would work on the same things together. GO: That’s what I understand. I don’t really know much of the de- tails of it. I got the impression that it was basically they would take shifts—one would work while the other one slept—but I wasn’t there, so….

DRAW!: So you do your comp, get that approved, and then you go out and spend time hiring the models. How long do you take? I mean, do you have an average time, or is it just how much time the client gives you? Like, you’ve got two weeks, or a month? GO: It depends on the project. Usually we try to get it where there’s enough lead time in there. Right now I’ve got half a dozen things that go through the beginning of next year, so it’s easier to juggle things. But generally if it’s less than two weeks, or the amount of research and stuff that we’ve put in—it’s mostly those that are going to be a pain in the neck, especially if I’m teaching half the time.

(left) Using the photo reference, Glen idealizes the figure of the woman, then superim -
(left) Using the photo reference, Glen idealizes the figure of the woman, then superim -
(left) Using the photo reference, Glen idealizes the figure of the woman, then superim -

(left) Using the photo reference, Glen idealizes the figure of the woman, then superim- poses it over the figure in the photo. (above) Glen’s underdrawing is slightly modified from his mock-up.

We get the sketch to work out so that we have a clear idea of where we’re going, and then, yeah, we’ll get the models in from that point. If it’s going to be something where it’s fo- cused on a really ideal model, or a superhero model, or some- thing that is really primo for the perfect statuesque type or something, we’ll focus on getting a good model for that, and then, for all the background characters, we’ll use friends and people that are good at hamming things up. But we can usu- ally pay them in doughnuts and pizza.

DRAW!: Do you redraw the image on canvas? Do you proj- ect it onto a canvas? GO: It depends on the piece, but all of the above. If it’s going to be minor changes, then I’ll work things up, cut and paste in Photoshop, and project it up. If it’s going to be changing my 5' 8" model to a 6' 5" Superman, then I’ll do up a freehand drawing, then I’ll project my drawing up to the size it’s going to work.

DRAW!: I don’t know if your teacher worked in the Frank Reilly method at all. Is that part of your process?

16 DRAW! WINTER 2013
GO: Well, not per se. I mean, not to the degree of mixing up ten

GO: Well, not per se. I mean, not to the degree of mixing up ten values of red flesh and yellow flesh—

DRAW!: Yeah, where you have those strings of all your flesh colors. GO: No, it was more a matter of understanding the concept and then just paying attention to whether or not you were sculpting with a light pattern or with a dark pattern. It was more a matter of recognizing that half of your battle was a three-dimensional, sculptural issue, and half your battle was a two-dimensional value and shape issue. So that was more where the Reilly stuff came in. It wasn’t taken that far.

DRAW!: That was something that I would hear about, and now you hear about it a lot. And some of his older students have put out books on the Reilly method, but until the last couple of years, I never took classes at the League or any- thing, so I didn’t really know what they were talking about. GO: Reilly was really all about trying to make some sort of system that you could teach to people. He felt that instructing music for instance had certain rules about scales and things that you could teach, and he wanted to make some hard and fast rules about value, and edges, and shapes. There were al- ready some in existence, but he was just trying to put it into a nice, neat package so that it was workable.

to put it into a nice, neat package so that it was workable. (previous page) Sketches

(previous page) Sketches for the cover of Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #121. The center image was the chosen idea. (left) A value study drawn on tracing paper. (above) Photo reference for the Batman figure. (right) Glen used this Batman action figure frozen in a block of ice to get a feel for the way Batman should look in the painting.

Batman, Mr. Freeze ™ and © DC Comics.

in the painting. Batman, Mr. Freeze ™ and © DC Comics. When our teacher went to

When our teacher went to school there right after World War II, most of the guys there were on the G.I. Bill, and they had two years to learn it or pick another career, so they were trying to figure out how to get to a point where they could make a living in a short amount of time. So Reilly was really all about trying to figure out how to make it logical and a little bit more cause-and-effect and step-by-step than so much into the theory of the artistic end of it.

DRAW!: I guess he was very practical. GO: Usually the complaint I hear about Reilly’s color is that it’s not good color. Well, that wasn’t his deal. His deal was to control the value, and then you could go play with color if you wanted. But it was more about the, “Did it work in black-and- white” contrast?

DRAW!: Which comes out of Howard Pyle. GO: Yeah. And that’s the one thing with Howard Pyle: within ten seconds you know the story, and you’re looking at the right parts of it, so that you’re not getting lost by some extra- neous detail that’s distracted you.

DRAW!: Do you always do a color comp, or do you sometimes just wing it? GO: We usually do a color comp. We do kind of the abbrevi-

ated thing that Rockwell did. If time is the issue—and it usually takes me longer
ated thing that Rockwell did. If time is the
issue—and it usually takes me longer to
get to the painting than to do a painting—
if I know what my color scheme is going
to be and what the effect is going to be,
and I’ve obviously already got my layout

and my values worked out, I can spend my painting time focused on designing the shapes the way I want them to be solved so that I can make a cool drawing out of it, so I can make nice design areas so the brushwork looks the way I want it to look. I’ve already worked out all the rest of that stuff. I’m not juggling 47 things. I’ve already solved those problems, which is part of what Rockwell was doing with those photos. He was already illustrating when he called the model in there.

DRAW!: Oh, yeah, very much so. GO: He was thinking about the lighting, and the pose, and the angle, and it wasn’t so much about getting something he could trace. He was illustrating before he turned the camera on, and that way he had a lot of the problems worked out so that, by the time he got to the painting, it was all about just crafting a beautiful cabinet. You know, he didn’t have to in- vent things without having a plan worked out.

DRAW!: Right, and especially with the way he was working. I mean, he wasn’t a broad artist, say, like Harvey Dunn; even Cornwell was much broader. He could be tight, but Rock- well’s stuff had a very fine focus all over, so if he didn’t, he’d have weird holes in his paintings. GO: Yeah, but he also did know where to direct your eye. Ten years ago they had—I don’t know how many paintings it was—the Rockwell show that was traveling around the coun- try, and I was surprised at how many of the pieces had really loose areas that I’d never noticed before.

DRAW!: Yeah, I saw the Rockwell show at the National Por- trait Gallery—it was of the collections of the paintings that

Gallery—it was of the collections of the paintings that (left and above) Photo reference and the

(left and above) Photo reference and the ideal- ized figure sketch for Mr. Freeze. (next page) Color comp and underdrawing for the LODK #121 cover.

Batman, Mr. Freeze ™ and © DC Comics.

Spielberg and Lucas own—and the guy was just an incredible painter. There’s a lot that is actually lost on those covers as far as paint handling, surface, color. GO: Oh, yeah.

DRAW!: On the covers you can’t see the paint-handling, and they were using the best printing they could. They’re so much richer in person. The colors are so much more dynamic and richer in person. GO: Oh, yeah. Well, that’s always the case. I always find it interesting that people like Dean Cornwell and Rockwell and all the really top illustrators were illustrating to impress their fellow illustrators, but their client was the guy on the street who was looking at the story and really didn’t necessarily see the craft involved.

DRAW!: Vincent Desiderio calls it the “technical narrative.” Rockwell’s technical narrative was so good that you were under his spell without even noticing it. You were just sort of swept right in. GO: Right. And that was kind of the point. If you noticed that you were being told a story, then the magic was gone. You’re not supposed to notice.

DRAW!: You were saying that, out of, say, a two-week dead- line, it sounds like at least a week is just getting all the stuff ready so you can actually paint it. GO: Yeah. Getting the ideas worked out is usually the hardest part for me—going from nothing to something—and that’s where it’s really good working with Laurel. We can sit and bandy ideas back and forth, and then when you sketch them out, you can tell

whether or not it feels like it’s telling the right kind of story. And then you try to figure out how you’re going to make that work. Do you need to shoot

a certain kind of reference? Do you know of some reference you have stuck

away somewhere? So it’s better to spend a little extra time getting the photo

reference to work. In fact, when I was doing the first couple of Spider-Man/ Batman pieces that I had, you basically had a choice of going from a guy in

a Speedo and making up some fabric, or a guy in a costume and making up

some muscles. Which way do you want to approach it? With a couple of the really, really black costumes, like the Punisher, with the early ones I would take the guy and paint him without his shirt, and it was a nightmare to try to go from white flesh to rendering some- thing that had a really small range, that only went up to a mid-grade. So we found some models that were willing to let us do a little body paint here and there, and sometimes an extra half-hour of discomfort for the model saves me hours of bullsh*t when I’m painting.

DRAW!: I guess that’s one of the biggest differences between doing superhero stuff and doing regular illustrations. I was just at the Andrew Wyeth studio the other day. He had actual costumes, and he had stuff from his dad in there too. N.C. Wyeth actually had somebody sew up a Robin Hood costume. That also brings up an interesting point. Painting a detective novel or a western paperback cover, you kind of have your Zane Grey idea or whatever, but when you’re painting Spider-Man or you’re painting Bat- man, are you thinking like Neal Adams or John Romita? It’s a different thing because there is already this world that really has been incredibly

illustrated for, like, 60 years now. GO: Right, but it’s also generally only been illustrated in pen and ink, and it’s kind of like the first time you hear your favorite Sunday strip cartoon character on TV and the voice is never what you think it’s supposed to be in your head. I mean, there’ve been more people painting these days painting more realistically than there used to be, but when I would look at trying to flesh something out more realistically, but I’m starting with

a John Buscema or a Neal Adams, there’s a bit of a gap between the line

drawing and the finish that you’re trying to achieve. You’re having to change things drastically to flesh it out. Basically, if it’s a superhero char- acter that has a history, I’m mostly pulling out the images of what I think

the guy is supposed to look like, and I stick those all over the place so that I’m inundated with the image, but when I sit the model in front of me, I try to A) find a model that’s sort of in the direction I want it to go, and B) push them farther in the direction I want them to go.

DRAW!: Today, with the cosplay thing, every time I’m on the Internet there are all these people who have better and better and better cos- tumes. It used to just be fat guys and nerds wearing costumes, and now it’s hot chicks wearing them who look like Wonder Woman. You go, “Wow, I can hire that model.” GO: Even so—you’ve done the illustration bit. Even if you get the model perfect, you still have to improve on it. Nobody’s as perfect as they are in the book.

DRAW!: Everybody’s neck is always too short. [laughs] GO: Yeah. I saw one guy at the airport that I think was about an eight- heads-tall character, he was 6' 2", 6' 3" or whatever, but he looked like a pinhead. I mean, what we expect as the ideal figure on paper is kind of scary in real life.

a pinhead. I mean, what we expect as the ideal figure on paper is kind of
a pinhead. I mean, what we expect as the ideal figure on paper is kind of

DRAW!: Yeah, that’s true. That’s why when you see a fash- ion model photographed, it’s like, “Yeah, it looks great.” And then when you actually see a real fashion model, they look like birds. They look very strange in real life. GO: Well, that’s mostly because the camera’s seeing with one eye, and we see everything with mostly two eyes, hopefully. We’re seeing a little to the left and a little to the right of each thing, so we’re slimming things down when we see them in real life that a one-eyed camera doesn’t. So the models have to compensate by being ultra-thin.

DRAW!: With costumes, do you not put the folds in? I mean, we never draw the folds other than on Bat- man’s cape and a few little things on Superman’s trunk, but in reality, if the person’s jumping around or mov- ing, you’re going to see that amount of— GO: That’s when you fall back on Rockwell’s idea

about anything that doesn’t help the story hurts it. You’re trying to figure out when you squint at the reality in front of you, which parts of it do I want to keep, and which parts of it do I want to play down so that it doesn’t get in the way? Part of the Rockwell puzzle that people seem to completely gloss over is that you never look at a piece and think, “What the hell’s going on here?” Within ten seconds you know the story. You’re immediately look- ing at the kid, or the dog, or the grandpa, or whatever. He bends over backwards

to make sure that he doesn’t

confuse you.

DRAW!: Would you say that it’s harder to do the su-

perhero stuff because of that, or that it’s easier? GO: It’s just different. That’s been kind of the fun thing about doing the superhero work, you’re kind of pushing the Greek god version of people. You’re trying to make them the most perfect icon of whatever the image that you have in your mind

is supposed to be. But it kind of seeps in when you’re doing

a detective novel, and you want it to be just a heroic guy.

You’re looking at the model in front of you, you’re making it

look like the guy in front of you, but you’re still throwing a little of that Greek god thing in there and deciding how much of it to include. It’s just with the comics you can push that stereotype pretty far, and then, when it’s supposed to be more realistic, then you have to decide how far to go that way. But it’s actually kind of cool. It makes you feel a little bit more like you’re the driver instead of the passenger when you’re looking at your reference. You’re deciding where to go in- stead of just saying, “Oh well, that’s what was in front of me, and I was just trying to copy it well.” Every person doesn’t see your reference, they just see the final result, and they don’t really care whether the model’s costume fit them well or not. They have to see the final image come to life for them.

DRAW!: If Superman had really hairy knuckles or something. [laughs] GO: Yeah, I don’t need to know that. That’s not the issue.

DRAW!: If you pick up an issue of Eerie or Creepy from 1970, every great comic book artist was in there. You had Adams, and Toth, and Colan, and Frazetta, and Williamson, and Wood, and all the top Silver Age guys would be doing work on those maga- zines. I’m wondering if we will ever get back to an era like that in comics. GO: It’s going to be a com- bination of things that lets it happen. You know, at the height of classical music in Beethoven’s era there were different stimuli and oppor- tunities than exist now for that kind of music. I mean, part of it isn’t just some-

body sitting down, saying, “I’m going to do this and make it wonderful, and it will sell.” That’s a big chunk of it, but it’s also a matter of whether or not the universe is laid out so that those things can survive.

DRAW!: I saw that you were teaching the gouache class, and that looked really awesome. I would have loved to have come and sat in on that class. Are you working in gouache and oil, or mostly just gouache?

Are you working in gouache and oil, or mostly just gouache? The final painting for the

The final painting for the cover of LODK #121.

Batman, Mr. Freeze ™ and © DC Comics.

On the left is a two-minute demo drawing done in one of Glen’s classes, and
On the left is a two-minute demo drawing done in one of Glen’s classes, and

On the left is a two-minute demo drawing done in one of Glen’s classes, and on the right is a 15-minute demo.

Artwork © Glen Orbik.

GO: Most of the finished covers these days are in oil just because it is easier. The gouache is the medium we learned in, because it’s what Fred [Fixler] did for his movie poster career, and it’s part of what they were doing when they were in school. But the advantage to gouache is that, if you use it well, it forces you to design everything you put down. You can’t be quite as sloppy without actually paying attention to what you’re designing. It’s more direct if used more opaque in terms of if you want to turn a form; it’s not just a light and a shadow and then smearing it. You’re actually trying to fig- ure out what the shape in between is, and if there’s another shape in between that, and how do you make them not look cartoony?

DRAW!: When you look at people like Coby Whitmore, it’s amazing to look at his originals, because they’re rougher than you think. The reproduction smooths everything out. In the original you see all this dry brush crosshatching, kind of like Wyeth. GO: Right. It made you pay attention to the shapes. You don’t get to a James Bama Doc Savage finish without being able to start with his gouache training, where it made him pay atten- tion to the shapes before he went nuts with the detail.

DRAW!: My friend Ricardo Villagran is really good with the gouache, or the tempera as he calls it. He’s an old-school guy, and he really has that finish. He’ll paint something, and the

next thing he smacks a little edge on something with his fin- ger, you know, to soften a transition or whatever. But I really admire the way you do the gouache because, like with Ricardo’s work, sometimes you look at it and it looks like it’s oil. And when he was done, he would seal it or coat it, and then it wouldn’t look like oil. GO: Which actually makes it easier to scan. That’s the one issue with oils is the damn reflection.

DRAW!: When you do oil, do you scan it, or do you shoot it? GO: I have it shot. The place that I’ve been going to for 25 years has shifted over to digital, but they still shoot the things just because the scanner can’t get the colors and values right. So far I haven’t found anybody that can control it intelligently so it looks nice.

DRAW!: I take it it’s oil on board, right? GO: Yeah, yeah, just on illustration board.

DRAW!: In oil your dark colors will tend to sink in. So do you work with a medium, or, like, a retouch varnish or some- thing to bring them back up? GO: Retouch, yeah. I just use turpentine and then spray re- touch varnish or real varnish if it’s that long.

DRAW!: Do you work with that as a medium, similar to what Rockwell did, where you do one part turpentine, one part stand oil, and one part Damar varnish?

GO: For the retouch it’s half-and-half, Damar and turp, but I’m kind of lazy. I

GO: For the retouch it’s half-and-half, Damar and turp, but I’m kind of lazy. I didn’t experiment a lot with it, it just works, and I know it works, and I just leave it alone. The trick is to make sure that you get the painting dry enough to be able to deal with that phase of the work.

DRAW!: Do you do an ebauche, or do you do a warm gri- saille underpainting and then work, or are you working pretty direct over your drawing? GO: I usually have my little color roughs, which has worked out the values. When we get our drawing worked out, and our photo reference, and we’ve idealized everything, I’ll just slap some tracing paper over it and make sure that the light and dark patterns make sense in value. And then, when I do my color rough, I make sure I pay attention to my value rough. But when I blow it up on the actual painted board, I have a map in my comp of where I’m going to go with it. So, for the most part, I’m wor- ried about the sculpture of my drawing more than the values in the beginning, and then I’ll just wipe enough tone on there to get rid of the white, and then I’ll just take sections and paint them in pieces. You know, I’ll do the upper half, or the arm and the sec- tion around it, or whatever it is, because I have the comp for the big effect. I just make sure that I use it as a road map.

big effect. I just make sure that I use it as a road map. Two of

Two of Glen’s more finished life drawings.

Artwork © Glen Orbik.

DRAW!: How do you prepare your surface? What kind of surface do you like to work on? GO: It’s just an illustration board. I’ll do two or three thin coats of gesso—enough to give it some texture and protect the board from the oil. But that’s mostly from the gouache background where we just got used to working on the board. It’s nice to work on something that doesn’t bounce around too much.

DRAW!: Do you use Crescent? GO: Yeah, yeah.

DRAW!: Four-ply, or the illustration board? GO: Three-ply, although it sounds like they’re starting to not make it anymore, so I’ll have to find out what’s going with that.

DRAW!: Somebody else told me that. My friend Bret has a bunch of old Whatman board, and that stuff was great. But the Crescent is not as good as it used to be. It’s like they don’t have the same amount of rag content in it or something. GO: Right, right. Which is not as big of an issue for us if we’re going to just do it anyway, but still…. None of the prod- ucts seem to be going in a better direction; they all seem to be doing what they can to cut corners.

DRAW!: So you tend to work on sec- tions? Do you do that the same

DRAW!: So you tend to work on sec- tions? Do you do that the same way whether you’re doing the gouache or the oil? Or, because gouache dries faster—

GO: With the gouache, the cool thing is that you can go into it 30 years later with

a wet brush and keep on working with

it—once you know that you’re working opaquely. You know, if you’re going to do something that’s big and brushy and wet into wet, you plan that ahead of time, but everything else you’re going to be paint- ing directly, so it doesn’t really matter. Basically, I would just paint a section of it. Actually, I would get the overall effect so that you can see how some- thing looks in its universe and can tell whether it’s falling down or needs more attention. So, generally, it’s the same way, it’s just with the gouache, you could decide to go and cover the whole thing if you wanted, whereas with the oil, if I want to work in sections that are still wet enough to work into each other, I make sure I don’t take on too big of a chunk that I can deal with in a day.

DRAW!: I guess they kind of screwed that up, huh? GO: Yeah, well.

DRAW!: You could still do it. I mean, you could still do it in comics, I guess. GO: Yeah, but at this point it’s cool that we get to do the retro thing. You know, when I was going to school, most of the guys that we really looked at a lot were doing the different paperback covers, so even though there’s a lot less paperback work out there than there was in the ’60s, a lot of it so far, knock on wood, has funneled down to us.

a lot of it so far, knock on wood, has funneled down to us. DRAW!: Well,

DRAW!: Well, that’s because all the old guys went out to the West and became Westerners. GO: Again, it’s evolution. It just keeps on going. It’s like the F.R. Grugers and the guys who became the newspaper artists at the turn of the century, they would go to a scene and take some notes and go back to the office and draw the front page of the newspaper from memory. The guys that were in school at that point, training for that job, by the time they got out of school and got into the field, that field was gone, so they went into serial illustration or whatever. And by the time the guys who were in school studying for that got out, some of that was going away, and they had to go into another field. So it’s kind of cool that we get to actually do the thing that we thought was cool in school.

DRAW!: I take it you’re using a digital camera now to shoot every- thing yourself? GO: Yeah, it’s too cost prohibitive not to.

DRAW!: And then usually about

a week to paint the cover?

GO: It varies. At the most. Usually it’s three to five days. Once you’ve worked out all the mechanical things, it’s just a matter of sitting down and designing the paint. So occasionally it’ll take a week, but usually it’s more in the four- or five- day range.

DRAW!: Depending on how many

figures, and whether it’s the Battle of the Bulge or just Batman on top of a

building?

GO: Exactly, yeah.

DRAW!: And there has never been a better time in our lifetimes to be a figurative artist than now, because there’re also a lot of galleries. I mean, you’ve got the whole Southwest cowboy art thing. You have all the galleries. In fact, we’re going up Sat- urday to the drawing show in Arca- dia where they have Aron Wiesenfeld and a lot of guys like that, so there is still an emerging fine art market for people who have the skill to do narrative paintings.

(left) Glen’s rough thumbnail and two sketched ideas for the ComicBase 16 box art.

ComicBase © Human Computing.

DRAW! WINTER 2013

23

DRAW!: Is there a dream job that you’d like to illustrate? GO: Back in the day, it probably would have been the John Carter thing, because that seemed….

There are actually only two models in this photo layout. Glen took several shots of
There are actually only two models in this photo layout. Glen took several shots of

There are actually only two models in this photo layout. Glen took several shots of his models in various poses and composited them in Photoshop into the layout for the final painting. Glen then penciled his underpainting from the composite photo layout.

ComicBase © Human Computing.

GO: It’s funny, though, because a lot of the guys that I went to class with, as well as some of my students, have gotten into the gallery world, but they try to avoid using the term “illus- trator” because it doesn’t sell as well.

DRAW!: I think that’s dying out. GO: You think that’s changing?

DRAW!: You always got the feeling people like John Buscema were ashamed to say they were comic book artists or some- thing, but now if I tell people I work for Marvel or Disney or DC or whatever, people are like, “Wow!” And the gallery

I’m in, the owner tells people. That’s one of his selling points.

It used to be, if you were still drawing a comic book, or you

were still painting a paperback, you weren’t a real artist. But

I think that’s all blurred now, because the geek culture is actually popular culture now. GO: Yeah, we’ve taken over.

DRAW!: Well, Bill Gates and all those guys have taken over, so geek culture now is popular culture. And the gallery world is also changing. Have you thought about pursuing that yourself?

GO: From time to time. A lot of the guys that I personally know that are in the field, I know what it took for them to get going in it. So there would be that lag time of getting rolling in it. And I really like seeing the book covers and having an image on them. There’re certain things that you get to do on the covers that sometimes are a pain in the neck, but there’re things you get to do that you wouldn’t necessarily get to do in a gallery. I mean, I suppose you could, but it’s not too often you get to do Martians attacking Earth.

DRAW!: You could be Glen Orbik, the Painter of Martians. [laughs] The Painter of Light is gone, but now we have the Painter of Martians. GO: There you go. Yeah, it’s also a business. I know that gal- lery artists kind of get into one area, and it’s best to stay there and not move around too much just because people like to know what they’re buying. There was a well known artist out here that did a talk a while back showing some of his more recent paintings, and they were gorgeous, but they were not really the subject matter that he was most associated with, and at the time he wasn’t able to sell any of the new stuff be- cause it wasn’t what people thought of him as doing. I don’t

remember what all the mechanics behind the scenes are, but there’s a certain amount of the gallery public that’s looking for something they can make a profit on more than whether or not they like the piece.

GO: I have mixed feelings about that. It’s great on the one hand because you and I will acknowledge it, but, on the other hand, if it’s that easy to get, maybe it doesn’t quite have the same value. “I hit a button, and I downloaded his entire life’s work.”

DRAW!: Something you deal with all the time now, are people who just don’t know, “Oh, yeah, this guy also did westerns, and he did a sci-fi paperback.” GO: Yeah. I was surprised when I went up to San Francisco. You know, when I was in class, you weren’t allowed to like both Boris and Frazetta, and now they don’t know who either one of them is.

DRAW!: That is something that shocks me, and it happens every year. I have students who

come over from the illustration de- partment to take my class, and they all want to be fantasy artists. “Oh, like Frazetta?” And they go, “Who?” And I say, “That’s like saying you want to be president of the United States and you’ve never heard of George Washington.” GO: And what’s even sadder is that they usually have a style that’s sort of a fourth-generation copy of Frazetta or whoever.

DRAW!: Right. Yet, at the same time, it’s easy for anyone now to go on the Internet, type in “Frazetta,” and see everything the guy did. That’s the funny thing.

and see everything the guy did. That’s the funny thing. Glen Orbik, Painter of Martians. Glen’s

Glen Orbik, Painter of Martians. Glen’s color comp and finished painting for the ComicBase 16 box art.

Artwork © Human Computing.

DRAW!: I also liken it to when people come to visit you in your town, and you go see things that you don’t go to see when you live in the town yourself, because you do take it for granted. So people, say, under the age of 25, kind of take this for granted, whereas for us it’s a miracle that you can go type in any old illustrator and probably find somebody who has a blog. When I was 17, that didn’t exist. GO: Yeah. It’s another world.

somebody who has a blog. When I was 17, that didn’t exist. GO: Yeah. It’s another
Three of Glen’s 25-minute demo life drawings, along with one 20-minute demo life drawing— the
Three of Glen’s 25-minute demo life drawings,
along with one 20-minute demo life
drawing— the head shown at bottom left.
Artwork © Glen Orbik.

DRAW!: Are you thinking that you might have to learn how to embrace doing some of the work digitally? Have you messed around with that at all? GO: Not much. Just a little bit. There seems to be a place for retro, I guess, for lack of a better term, but I know when we first started trying to get into book covers, we liked painting people, but a lot of people would tell us that it’s hard to get into the book covers and blah, blah, blah. Mostly it had to do with the fact that some of them weren’t so hot at drawing and painting people, and that’s what the publishers needed. You know, you basically have to adjust your ability to fit the market, or you have to find a market that’ll pay you to do what you want to do, or some sort of balance in the middle.

DRAW!: I take it that’s probably something that you espouse to your students? GO: Yes. You push the idea of teaching cabinet makers how to build a quality cabinet and then “go from there.” See what the client needs, or see if you can produce something that’ll find a market. So, yeah, at this point it’s just more a matter of trying to figure out what I’d like the drawings to look like, and what I’d like the paintings to look like, and then the more of the sort of imagery that I like to do that I paint, the more people think of me for that instead of trying to have me do things that are all over the map.

DRAW!: You have a nice website. How important is that, do you feel, for your presence, because, again, you’re constantly being hit with a firehouse of images all day. How do you go about trying to keep your profile visible. “Hey, here’s my flag. I’m over here, over here.” GO: Well, I try to stay off the numerous posts you put up every day [Mike laughs] so I don’t get lost in the myriad of names that are out there. The website’s a great place to be easily findable. You don’t need a detective to find a certain artist anymore, so that part of it’s great. The balancing act is not using too much time being on the computer and dealing with…. It’s one thing to be talking to clients, it’s great when people like your work, but you also have to balance that you don’t spend 24 hours a day on Facebook or whatever.

DRAW!: But there’s always something interesting on Face- book! Every second! GO: And there always will be. Every time I write some- thing clever, I think, “Wow, that was a waste of time.” [Mike laughs] “I’m so glad I said that clever thing. Now I have to go back to work.”

DRAW!: You were posting those Andrew Loomis drawings, like, from a sketchbook. Those things were gorgeous, and you said that they used to have some in a store you used to go to? GO: Yeah. One of the art stores here in North Hollywood had about 15 or 20 originals. The story that I was told was that the guy who was the boss when I was there married the daughter of the man who started the store, if I’ve got my stories right, and that man used to go visit Loomis when he was a teenager.

and that man used to go visit Loomis when he was a teenager. More of Glen’s
and that man used to go visit Loomis when he was a teenager. More of Glen’s

More of Glen’s 25-minute demo life drawings.

Artwork © Glen Orbik.

Another of Glen’s 25-minute demo life drawings. Artwork © Glen Orbik. And the story he

Another of Glen’s 25-minute demo life drawings.

Artwork © Glen Orbik.

And the story he told was that a couple of times when he left, Loomis said, “Look, you’ve got a pickup truck, and you’re go- ing by the dump on your way home. Would you take some of these?” [Mike laughs] I’ve heard the story from several people. But those drawings were on the wall forever. They were up there at least since 1960, and when he retired and sold the busi- ness about two or three years ago, he put the stuff up for auc- tion, and it went off to the four winds. So now it’s just kind of weird, because you go and look at the walls and there’s some-

thing missing there. But it was just one of those things where you could tell the serious artists were sitting there staring at them trying to learn, and everyone else was unaware of what was on the wall. And then when they were gone, you’re kind of like, “Oh, sh*t. I should have paid more attention to that.”

DRAW!: It’s funny, I think it was one of the big galleries I went to in Scottsdale. I’m in there, and I’m looking, and the guy says, “You’re an artist.”

GO: Mm-hm. Mm-hm. The beginnings of an - other cover for the Hard Case Crime

GO: Mm-hm. Mm-hm.

The beginnings of an- other cover for the Hard Case Crime imprint, this one entitled, Fifty-to- One. An interesting slant in this cover is that other books in the Hard Case Crime series are being used as photo reference, and each chapter of the book is named after one of the first 50 novels in the series.

Hard Case Crime © Winterfall LLC.

DRAW!: “What?” He says, “I can tell by how you’re leaning in and looking at the picture.” Because other people come, and they don’t lean in, I guess; they don’t look at the paintings that closely. GO: We had that experience up in Carmel. Laurel and I went into a gallery, and within two seconds this lady came and said, “You guys are artists, right?” Like, what, is it sticking on our foreheads? Yeah, I know, it’s the same thing. When we went to see the Rockwell show when it was traveling around, you had the group of people who were two inches from the pic- tures, trying to figure out what he did, and then you had ev- erybody else that was laughing at the jokes, It’s a different mentality. All the artists that are leaning in, they’re squinting as they’re getting close, and they’ve got to focus.

DRAW!: When you look at a book by any successful artist, it’s like, home run, home run, home run, home run, home run. So it just looks like they started out as a kid, they were really talented, they went to school, got even better, and then every illustration they did, every painting they did was great right to the end, but we know that that’s not the process. GO: Yeah, yeah. We have friends who are writers, and it drives them nuts when they meet aspiring writers who have “a” story they’re going to tell someday. It’s like, “No, no. You write all the time.”

DRAW!: Yeah, you don’t save it up and just write War and Peace someday. GO: That’s kind of the way it has to be, an ongoing excite- ment. I’m hoping to get those Loomis books out sometime. It’s that balancing act between what will sell and looking for the skill, the craft that’s necessary. I’m sure you’re looking at it more the way I do, where you look at Dean Cornwell and you go, “Wow, that is so cool! I want to do something like

you go, “Wow, that is so cool! I want to do something like that!” But I
you go, “Wow, that is so cool! I want to do something like that!” But I

that!” But I think a lot of the impetus for getting into things is a little bit more monetary influenced, as least at the outset.

DRAW!: Well, even in the fine art world now, it’s really come 180 degrees around. GO: Yeah, I know, because I’ve got several students that are making big noise in the galleries, and it’s exciting that they’re actually looking at real art again.

DRAW!: Do you know Jeremy Lipking? GO: Yeah, he’s one of my students.

DRAW!: That’s what I thought. GO: I mean, he had other teachers too.

DRAW!: You taught him everything he knows! GO: That’s right. If I get to take credit for all the famous guys, than I also have to take credit for all the guys that went nowhere.

Glen idealizes the figures, with photos of the faces for reference, then assembles a photo
Glen idealizes the figures, with photos of the faces for reference, then assembles a photo

Glen idealizes the figures, with photos of the faces for reference, then assembles a photo mock-up with the idealized figures.

Hard Case Crime © Winterfall LLC.

DRAW!: Actually, his stuff will be at that show that I’m go- ing to see. But, really, I tell that to so many of my fellow stu- dents at the academy, and the people that I teach: this is like the Golden Age, in a way. I wish it was like this when I was 18, graduating from high school, because there would have been places to go and do that. Really, nobody was teaching that stuff in Michigan where I’m from. Nobody was really teaching that stuff. GO: Well, when I first came back to teach, our teacher got that a lot from people who were just like, “What’s this deal with drawing the head over and over again? What is this weird quirk?” No, it’s where you develop the craft. Now there’s a lot more of it out there, but just 23 years ago, people were like, “Oh, yeah, we’re good head drawers. That’s wonderful.”

DRAW!: My feeling is that the reason that happened is that, if you remove craft, if you remove the hurdle of crafts- manship, more people can get into the game. Getting more people into the game means that you can manufacture more wealth, because more people can get in, become famous, be discovered, and be heralded by certain critics, and certain rich people, and certain institutions. If, however, you raise the bar craftsmanship-wise, like it was in the end of the nine- teenth century, if you raise it to that level, it knocks 95% of the people out of the game because they just won’t have that skill set.

GO: Yeah, that’s what I mean. It’s always about that end of it. If their goal is to make a lot of money, then their priorities are not the same as mastering a skill and then going with that skill. Not that one is really more important than the other, I suppose. I mean, it is to me, but if Thomas Kincaid’s goal was to make a lot of money, then he’s a huge success. If his goal was to be reach a certain level of skill, then he wasn’t a success. It just depends on what target they’re shooting at. But remember in the ’50s when Steve Allen used to say that rock and roll was invented so people without talent could be famous too? [Mike laughs] It’s all in your perspective, I guess.

DRAW!: Yeah, I guess. One of my teachers, one of my favor- ite artists, Vince Desiderio, spent ten years on this one paint- ing. I mean, it’s a great painting. I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I come from comics. I don’t know if I could spend ten years on something. I think I would go crazy. GO: That’s funny. I agree, but I remember we had Alex Ross and Steve Rude over here for dinner a couple of years back. I had done a piece, and for me it was smoking fast because I did it, like, in five days. And Alex was like, “God, if I ever spent five days on a painting, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself.” So we’re not even talking ten years, we’re talking five whole days!

DRAW!: Rockwell would probably spend at least, what, a month on some of those things, right?

GO: Well, that’s the trick is to spend the time on it, but make it look as fresh as you want it to look. Whether you spent months on it or days on it, it should look like the kind of storytelling you wanted it to look like.

DRAW!: That’s the same thing with someone like Sargent or Fechin. Their work looked like they did it in five minutes, but they crafted it to look like they did it that way. I was surprised to learn that it would take Fechin a month to do some of his paintings, because they look like he did them in two or three hours. GO: That’s the exciting part is figuring that stuff out.

DRAW!: That was one of the things I remember reading in [An- drew Loomis’] Creative Illustration, which, after going back to art school, I have come to realize how great that book is. I mean, it’s actually written on a very high level. It’s written on a level that the amateur can appreciate, but it was also written on a level that someone who’s much more experienced can appreciate. There was that section where he was talking about the paint handling going across the form or with the form. GO: We have the dummy for that, and there’s three times as many notes in there than in the published book, so he actually narrowed it down for the book.

DRAW!: Really? GO: The thing I find amazing about Loomis is that he was a full- time illustrator and still managed to find the time to write the damned books.

still managed to find the time to write the damned books. DRAW!: But that feeling of

DRAW!: But that feeling of sharpness, or crispness, or speed…. Like, Eakins would go across the form and kind of pad at the form, but Zorn and Sargent would go with the form, and it makes everything have a snap to it, and be kind of cool. GO: Right. It wakes you up

to the idea, because most of us think of artists work- ing the way they work be- cause it’s their style, what- ever that means, instead of thinking, “No, they’ve crafted it that way because it tells the kind of story they wanted it to tell.”

(above) A value study of the photo mock-up of the cover. (below) Glen tightens the idealized figure drawing, then overlays a sketch of the background elements.

Hard Case Crime © Winterfall LLC.

the background elements. Hard Case Crime © Winterfall LLC. DRAW!: It wasn’t some- thing that I

DRAW!: It wasn’t some- thing that I had thought of in that way, but then, rereading the book, and reading that passage…. We have a mu- seum at the school which has a Sargent, and a bunch of Cecilia Beaux, and a bunch of Thomas Eakins, so it’s really interesting to go in and then actually look at something like that in life.

32 DRAW! WINTER 2013
(previous page) Glen’s pencil underdrawing for the cover painting. (above) Glen’s 3" x 5" color

(previous page) Glen’s pencil underdrawing for the cover painting. (above) Glen’s 3" x 5" color comp. (right) Glen’s underpainting, done over the pencil underdrawing.

Hard Case Crime © Winterfall LLC.

the pencil underdrawing. Hard Case Crime © Winterfall LLC. Do you think about that, yourself, like

Do you think about that, yourself, like the way you apply the brushstroke in fact gives a certain—? GO: Not from the original’s standpoint because I’m painting for reproduction. What I took away from the Rockwell show was the idea that he was trying to pay attention to what the effect would be in the reproduction. I definitely think about using more harsh brushstrokes on things that are supposed to look crude and scary or whatever, and finishing things off more when I want things to be more quiet and turn the volume down.

DRAW!: I always noticed he was really good at shoes. He did amazing, beat-up old shoes. When I saw that show in Wash- ington, sometimes I would go back and just look at the way he painted the shoes. They were just fantastic, you know? And the hands. Beautiful, beautiful…. I don’t know if there’s any- body who painted hands any better than he painted hands. I

think he drew and painted hands as good as anybody in the history of painting. GO: I know. In the beginning, when we were taking classes, we were just trying to think, “God, that looks really cool. Let me figure out how to steal a little piece of that.” And then later on you start realizing it’s part of the storytelling. When you get the skill far enough along, you can start thinking about pushing it in the direction to get the correct idea across.

DRAW!: Are you “across the form” or “with the form,” would you say? GO: Fred used to use the terms “design” and “decoration” a lot. Basically first I try to figure out how to make the form look like the object I want it to look like, and then I look and try to figure out if it’s interesting enough. So it’s kind of like the Loomis idea, “understand nature and glorify it.” The

Detail shots of Glen’s progress on the painting. He starts with the figures and uses
Detail shots of Glen’s progress on the painting. He starts with the figures and uses

Detail shots of Glen’s progress on the painting. He starts with the figures and uses photo reference for detail and lighting issues.

Hard Case Crime © Winterfall LLC.

and uses photo reference for detail and lighting issues. Hard Case Crime © Winterfall LLC. 34
and uses photo reference for detail and lighting issues. Hard Case Crime © Winterfall LLC. 34

idea of, understand the rules of why things work, either in structure or in edges and val- ues, and then make it as cool

as you can. So it’s not so much “with” or “across.” Literally,

if I’ve been doing nothing but

“across” for a while, I’ll look for an excuse to go “with” it, or vice versa, so that it’s got a variety to it. It’s more a mat- ter of straight versus curved instead of having everything all the same.

versus curved instead of having everything all the same. Detail shot of the mostly finished figures.

Detail shot of the mostly finished figures. All that remains to be done is the man’s arm on the desk.

Hard Case Crime © Winterfall LLC.

GO: Right. I want that to be in there for the person that’s look- ing for it, but the kid on the street’s not going to notice that. A friend of mine was doing a landscape painting from pho- tographs, and he was having a hell of a time with it. It was a beach scene. This ten-year-old kid walked in front of his studio, and he grabbed the kid, pulled him in, and said, “What’s wrong with this painting?” And the kid said, “It looks really windy.” Meaning: Too many brushy strokes! So I always keep that in the back of my mind. What’s the viewer going to see? They’re not going to see my lovely brushstrokes. They’re going to see the story that comes across, whether I intend it or not, so I’d better make sure that they see what I want them to see.

DRAW!: And I guess you kind of flex that also, depend- ing upon the subject matter? GO: Yeah, yeah. It’s all about trying to figure out how you want to design it. There are certain muscles that should be straight, and certain muscles that should be round, and then

a whole bunch in the middle

that just kind of depend on the

viewpoint you have and how you want to push it.

DRAW!: Do you have any sort of edge philosophies? Be- cause that’s the other thing:

value, edges…. GO: Well, when we were do- ing a lot of what Fred had us do in gouache class, he would have us avoid softening things too much. He wanted us to figure out if there was

a way to design the shapes

so that everything looked de- signed like tiles in a mosaic,

then you could select which edges to go with first. So it’s mostly just trying to get the design across so it looks like what the object is supposed to look like, and then I stand back, and if the paint still looks like paint—it sounds weird, but if I notice the paint before I notice the object, then I

need to refine the edge until I’m happy with it sticking out in there or not. Unless I actually want one that stands out and

is visible.

DRAW!: And I guess that’s different because you’re trying to create this very illusionistic feeling where you’re not try- ing to do a painting where you’re saying, “Look at how I use the paint.”

(above) Detail shot of the desk in progress. (left) The published cover of Fifty-to-One. (next
(above) Detail shot of the desk in progress.
(left) The published cover of Fifty-to-One.
(next page) The finished painting.
Hard Case Crime © Winterfall LLC.
DRAW!: That’s the priority; everything in service of the story.
I guess that’s the thrust of Loomis’ whole approach.
GO: Basically everything that doesn’t help the story, hurts
it. That goes for the stuff you put in the background, the way
you’ve applied the paint, and whether you’ve made the main
character wearing a red shirt or not. You don’t have to get
stupid about the Freudian reasons behind things, but if some-
thing takes you away from what your intent is, then find a
way to manipulate it so it doesn’t. Buscema did it with super-
heroes—play down anything that doesn’t make them heroic,
and play up anything that does.
DRAW!: Right. And I guess those are the kinds of things you
can never tire of on the job. I mean, that’s the heart of the
whole thing right there.
GO: That’s the fun part. That’s what gets you away from just,
“Oh, I’m rendering again.” You look at it, and you say, “How
do I get this across, and do I want this to be subtle or bold?”
DRAW!: Right. Well, I will let you go be subtle and bold.
DRAW! WINTER 2013 37
All characters ™ and © DC Comics. 38 DRAW! WINTER 2013
All characters ™ and © DC Comics. 38 DRAW! WINTER 2013
All characters ™ and © DC Comics. 38 DRAW! WINTER 2013
All characters ™ and © DC Comics.
All characters ™ and © DC Comics.
Hard Case Crime © Winterfall LLC.
Hard Case Crime © Winterfall LLC.
the Glen Orbik Workshop
the
Glen Orbik
Workshop
the Glen Orbik Workshop Glen Orbik has produced several covers for the Hard Case Crime line

Glen Orbik has produced several covers for the Hard Case Crime line of novels—hardboiled detective stories that harken back to pulp traditions of the 1940s and ’50s when illustration still reigned supreme. Glen was kind enough to take us step by step through the creation process of one such cov- er—Songs of Innocence—and provide us with further insight into his work.

F or this client—the Hard Case Crime book series— looking for the pretty girl in the story to feature goes without saying. Our heroine is a fairy princess

for FAO Schwartz in the morning, a college student by day, and a sensual masseuse by night. We were aiming for an image that gave the feel of the book but didn’t actu- ally need to be a scene from the story itself. Ironically, the author liked our idea well enough that he added a scene into the story which matched the one from our cover.

STEP 1

STEP 1 We drew up three ideas for this assignment, little more than stick figures. My

We drew up three ideas for this assignment, little more than stick figures. My partner, Laurel, and I will sometimes shoot a few Polaroids to try out some pose possibilities. Of these three, they went with the third one, but they liked the first one well enough to consider using it for another book.

STEP 2

well enough to consider using it for another book. STEP 2 We shot photos of our

We shot photos of our model in the pose we had plans for. Then, since we had the model, camera, props, costumes, and lighting worked out, we asked the model to try some variations: head up, head down, arm over, etc. A good model often suggests better ideas than we do. You never know what is going to look the best, so an extra five minutes and 30 pictures is a good investment.

STEP 3 After I’ve chosen my favorite photo or composite, I get to the drawing.
STEP 3
After I’ve chosen my favorite photo or
composite, I get to the drawing. Again, each
project has different solutions depending on
the problems involved. For this one, I wanted
to do some anatomy construction studies so
I would have a better idea of how I might
idealize the figure. These drawings are only
for me to see, to clarify the design so I can
understand it better.
STEP 4
I then idealize the figure: shrink the
head, lengthen the limbs, push the action
or flow, play up the things I like, play down
the things I don’t. Only I see this stage, so
my goal is to make the figure work for
me and give me enough info to project
larger onto the board I’ll be painting on.
This time I pasted a Xeroxed photo of the
head on my drawing to save a little draw-
ing time. If we were dealing with a more
elaborate background, we’d mock all the
elements together at this stage so as much
as possible is figured out before we get to
the final projection stage.

STEP 5

I Xerox my mock-up so that it’s small enough to project, and I make another Xerox about 2" x 3" big. I cover the small one with acrylic gel medium to protect the paper, and then paint my color rough over it. I did this in oil for this project, but I usually do it in whatever medium I plan to paint the finished version in. Usually one color rough will do, but sometimes we’ll try several variations to see what the effect will be. (A warm version, a cool version—whatever might best tell the story.) I get my best results when I remind myself that the finished image will only work if the big impact comes across even when the image is small. Plus, it’s easier to experiment on a small scale than on finished art.

easier to experiment on a small scale than on finished art. When I’ve projected my drawing
easier to experiment on a small scale than on finished art. When I’ve projected my drawing
easier to experiment on a small scale than on finished art. When I’ve projected my drawing

When I’ve projected my drawing onto the larger board, the figure usually needs some adjustments, so I place tracing paper over the projected image and work on idealizing any area I want designed better. Then I’ll refer to my tracing to alter the image on the board. It often takes longer to get to the painting than it does to actually execute the painting itself. But working this way insures that I have a clear idea of how to solve and design the finish before I get to the actual painting. In the long run, it saves me time.

STEP 6

design the finish before I get to the actual painting. In the long run, it saves
STEP 7
STEP 7

I tape off the edges of my heavy-weight illustration board, which has been thinly gessoed first. I spray-fix the 6H pencil drawing and go to work. I do a very basic underpainting in about an hour, mostly to get rid of the white board. Then I refer to my color comp and tackle the painting by sections: the head and hair, the background, the upper half of the figure, and the rest of the figure and hand. Then I mail in the art, get paid, go buy art supplies for the next project, and repeat.

and hand. Then I mail in the art, get paid, go buy art supplies for the

Get

Your

Swerve with

On

Get Your Swerve w i t h On ROBERT VALLEY Interview conducted on October 2012 by

ROBERT VALLEY

Interview conducted on October 2012 by Mike Manley Transcribed by Steven Tice

DRAW!: How did you come about working on the Tron project? ROBERt VALLEy: I kind of wonder, myself. I think that a couple of different things came to- gether. One was Alberto Mielgo and myself worked on that Beatles: Rock Band cinematic in London, and Char- lie Bean, who’s directing Tron, was in London at the same time, so there’s an obvious connection between the three of us knowing each other. And the other connection I think comes through Titmouse because those guys asked me to do some designs for Motorcity a couple of years ago, and that kind of put me on the Disney radar. And so, when Charlie started to staff up on Tron, I guess my name came up again, and it just seemed to be a bunch of happy coincidences.

DRAW!: And you were the main character designer, right? RV: I was, yeah.

DRAW!: I know that they’re doing it in a 3-D program. It looks like they’re taking your designs and then basically

building 3-D characters and then doing some form of cel shading on them. Were there any issues with that from your side as a designer? RV: You know, we came up with some pretty specific designs, and I wanted to introduce some gradients on the characters to specifically soften some of the shad- ows around the eyes, or add wrinkles on some of the male characters, or create something that looked like mas- cara or kind of like a smoky eyes look on some of the girls. So some of that stuff is actually painted right into the 3-D model. And then the incidental shadows that you’re talking about, with the Toon Shader, that’s more on the Polygon side of things.

Toon Shader, that’s more on the Polygon side of things. DRAW!: So it’s a real combination

DRAW!: So it’s a real combination of the surface texture versus the lighting? RV: Yeah, the way we sort of referred to it was that there were shadows that were baked in, and then there were shadows that were specific to the lighting of whatever scene. Those were just incidental shadows. Charlie, Alberto, Polygon, and I, we looked at some different Toon Shaders, and some of them looked too liquidy, and some of them weren’t quite right, so there was a bit of back and forth on that kind of stuff.

DRAW!: Are these plug-ins or different programs? What’s the program that you guys are rendering everything on? RV: You mean the 3-D stuff?

DRAW!: Yeah, the 3-D stuff. RV: Oh, I don’t know any of that.

DRAW!: So you don’t know if they’re using Maya, or Light- wave, or whatever? RV: No, I don’t know any of that. It shows up and it’s like magic.

DRAW!: [laughs] How was that different—or was it differ- ent—than designing the Rock Band stuff, or working on the

Gorillaz videos? Is there a different set of overall design cri- teria or problems that make things easier or more difficult for you when you are going between projects like this? RV: I think, going back to the Gorillaz stuff, the dynamic there was Jamie [Hewlett] would show up with a storyboard and the character models, the design pack, which is basical- ly the way he wanted to draw the characters. And what they were wearing. You know, he was really specific about the kind of groovy details that the characters were wearing. And from there we would go on to a paper-

drawn methodology or pipeline, and that was kind of a similar thing with the Beatles: Rock Band ex- cept, instead of getting designs and storyboards from Jamie, I was do- ing the designs and the storyboards. And then, again, we would go on to a traditional 2-D pipeline. The difference with the Tron stuff was because it was set in the digital world, and Charlie said, “Let’s do it all on the Cintiq. Let’s keep it all digital.” This goes back about two years, I guess. I got a Cintiq, and started drawing every- thing in Photoshop.

got a Cintiq, and started drawing every- thing in Photoshop. (above) Traditional 2-D pencil design work

(above) Traditional 2-D pencil design work for The Beatles: Rock Band video game. (below) A page from Robert Valley’s “Junk.”

The Beatles ™ Apple Corps Ltd. Rock Band © Harmonix Music Systems, Inc. Junk © Robert Valley.

Band © Harmonix Music Systems, Inc. Junk © Robert Valley. DRAW!: So this was all digital,

DRAW!: So this was all digital, just like the movie? There was no paper process on the Tron work? RV: There might have been really early on, when I was waiting for my Cintiq to arrive. There was about a six-week wait for them to get more in stock, so in the meantime I was doing what I usually do: drawing on paper, scanning it, putting it into

Photoshop, cleaning it up, and then sending it to Charlie. Then

I got my Cintiq, and everything went digital; I was drawing

right in Photoshop, and that really lends itself to more of a…

I don’t know, a slicker look, less chalky-looking than with the

linework, and that was starting to integrate better with Alber- to’s stuff. You know, it’s just the way it went. Now I’ve totally fallen in love with my Cintiq.

DRAW!: I always like to talk to artists about that because

I see people who work digitally because the demand of the

job says, “We need it digitally,” but who prefer to work traditionally. There are people who like working back and forth between both—the virtual world and the meat world, as I call them. Going into your graphic novel, are you doing that tradi-

tionally, or is it a combination, or are you also doing that all

digitally?

Scenes from Robert’s graphic novel, Pear Cider and Cigarettes. Pear Cider and Cigarettes ™ and
Scenes from Robert’s graphic novel, Pear Cider and Cigarettes. Pear Cider and Cigarettes ™ and
Scenes from Robert’s graphic novel, Pear Cider
and Cigarettes.
Pear Cider and Cigarettes ™ and © Robert Valley.

RV: Well, I was just all in as far as the digital stuff on Tron, so I put my paper and pencils away for, like, a year-and-a- half, and then I sort of transitioned from that kind of mindset right into my first Pear Cider book, and kept all that digital.

I launched the book with an art show in France, and I didn’t

have any original artwork. It was all digital, so I made prints. Afterwards, once the book was released and I started to promote it, I realized that what people really wanted was the tangible, 2-D, paper artwork. And I thought, “Wow, that makes sense. Now I get it.” So with the second book, the one that I just finished, I did all of the planning, the thumbnails, and the rough drawings on paper, and then I scanned that in and used that as the first step. Once it was all digital, then it was all Photoshop after that, but at least there’s some aspect

of the pipeline that’s analog.

DRAW!: So you were doing that for the people coming to the

show. Do you find that doing it that way also adds something

to your process as an artist?

RV: It does. I find, while I’m doing some storyboards this morning—I’m just starting a new project—that the very initial ideas, where you’re just kind of conjuring up ideas in your head, and you want to get them out real fast? For me there’s no better way to do that than with thumbnails, pens, and paper, and I just record those first nuggets of ideas as quickly as pos- sible. It seems like trying to do that on the Cintiq, there’s a bit more of a delay time, it takes a bit longer, and it’s not quite as immediate, especially with what I’m doing right now, because those flocks of ideas are so fleeting. They just come and go so quickly that it’s a really delicate time. [laughs]

DRAW!: In a way it’s sort of like when you have a dream, and when you wake up from your dream, if you don’t write it down, you start to forget it really quickly as the rest of the day creeps into your memory banks. Then, later on, you’re like, “Wow, was that in my dream, or was that part of another dream?” It sort of reinforces what I was saying to some of my students the other day; I was saying that, like you were talking about,

48 DRAW! WINTER 2013
(previous page and above) A three-page sequence from Robert’s graphic novel, Pear Cider and Cigarettes
(previous page and above) A three-page sequence from Robert’s graphic novel, Pear Cider and Cigarettes

(previous page and above) A three-page sequence from Robert’s graphic novel, Pear Cider and Cigarettes.

Pear Cider and Cigarettes ™ and © Robert Valley.

the spark, the first impression that you get, you want to get it down as soon as possible. When you add all those little steps of mediation between you and your ability to express your idea, there is always some delay, and the energy gets lost sometimes. I think it’s different in the case of someone like you, who has worked traditionally, and now you’re choosing to work digi- tally, and you mediate your digital experience based upon the things that you liked from your traditional experience, and you have a lot of drawing experience. One of the things I notice about a lot of young people who jump to working digitally is that that command-Z kind of mentality erases all their history. Sometimes when you’re doing a bunch of rough sketches, or a bunch of rough doodles, you do something and you don’t like it, and then you move on, but that mistake or the part you don’t

like is actually part of the process that you can go back and ac- cess or look at, sort of like building your idea. You have really good drawing chops, so you enhance that or add spice to it in

a digital way, whereas if you just learn to draw on a tablet, I

think you hurt your drawing strength, your drawing curve, you know? I don’t know if you agree or not. RV: Yeah. Going back to the point that you started with, that’s

a really good way of putting it, but I was just going to add that the ideas that you have in your head, for me, they’re not as

fleeting as a dream. You know, they’re there, and I can walk around with those ideas for a while, sometimes months or even over a year. But when it gets translated, when it gets re- corded, that’s the really delicate part, I find, because if one of

the expressions of those ideas, if it isn’t right, then I can never go back again. It’s almost like if it comes out and it’s recorded incorrectly, it’s totally contaminated. [laughter] So that’s how

I feel about it. If I record it, and I get it mixed up or I’m in- terrupted or something, then it’s never going to be the same because now it doesn’t exist in my imagination anymore. It’s materialized in a bad way. It’s recorded. And it’s hard for me to go back from there.

DRAW!: You can take a piece of paper or a sketchbook and

a pencil, and you can go sit down anywhere and draw. You

don’t have to worry about the battery running out, or the wire getting pulled out, or something crashing, or whatever. It’s also a very intimate experience. I think personal computers are intimate too, but there’s just something that’s very human about making a mark on a piece of paper. I’m really interested in talking to artists like you who are at the front edge of what’s happening in the entertainment busi- ness, because the need of the client is sort of driving the way

work has to be created. In your case, you’re doing your book, it’s a choice to work that way. But sometimes you work on a project or you work with a client where they want something a certain way, and it might not be your chosen way of work- ing. Do you choose projects based on those kinds of criteria? RV: I think I’m still trying to figure that puzzle out. I’ve al- ways prided myself, when I work with clients, with getting a brief pretty quickly. When people explain their idea to me, I usually go out of my way to try to figure out what they’re thinking about, to try to flesh out what their ideas are. And that’s kind of what I tell myself. [laughs] It’s funny, in the last month or so, I took on a little freelance job, and, man, that was so far off the brief it was amazing. But it’s always a different puzzle, right? I don’t know what to say. Sometimes it looks good, and sometimes it doesn’t.

DRAW!: Right. It seems like it’s very important for you to not only work on these great commercial and fun things like Tron or Gorillaz, but it also seems like it’s very important to you to con- tinue to keep your own projects going at the same time. Was that the idea behind the Kick- starter thing, to just keep your own projects going as well? RV: Actually, I was just thinking about that the other day, that I had sort of started off my career doing advertising in my early 20s in San Francisco, and I thought things were going pretty good. The money was certainly good, and I was getting some pretty good jobs. After a few months, I would return back to my peers—people that I used to go to school with in Vancouver—and I’d say, “Hey, do you want to see what I’m doing?” And they’d say, “Yeah! Robert, he’s an artist; he’s going to do stuff,” and they’re always kind of interested. So I showed them some commercial work, and they just glazed over.

Images © Robert Valley
Images © Robert Valley

All the work that goes into appeasing the client’s needs, and polishing that turd up, it doesn’t go beyond, “I’m just go- ing to sell a product,” basically. So I learned pretty early on that if I was going to get any satisfaction out of my career, that that wasn’t going to be it. And then I went back to what the unsaid goal was between me and some other people that I had worked with in San Francisco, which was, “Let’s do our own comic!” We just shut the doors and pulled down the window shades and got to work on our own stuff, and that started back in 2002 when I did my first book. In spite of any Gorillaz stuff, where you could hang Jamie Hewlett’s name on it, or Aeon Flux stuff, where you associ- ate it with Peter Chung—this Tron stuff is Charlie’s stuff— it seems like the books are the main way I can project my own thinking, my own storytelling, my own stylistic take on things. If you have one of those books on your bookshelf, you can go and you can see, “Oh, that’s what this guy does.”

And it’s got my name on it. At the end of the day, it pays a fraction of what any other job pays, but especially at this point in my life—I’m 43. I really want to make a go of it, and the only way it’s going to happen is if I stop spending my time working for other people and trying to manage their ideas. I just am finishing my fifth book, so if I keep going, I’ll just explode, and then I’ll have ten books. You know, Milo Manara’s got, like, 50 books, and Moebius has so many books. You get a larger library.

DRAW!: Moebius had a whole life of books of his different personalities, you know, the Blueberry personality and the Moebius take. At a certain point they kind of merged a little bit, where the Blueberry stuff began to look a little bit more like the Moebius stuff. I agree with that. I started self-publishing back in the late ’90s because of that. I found that it’s great to play with

other people’s toys—play with Superman or Batman or whatever, or work for Disney— but in the end it’s always that other person’s name on the project, and you’re only a cog in the machine. It’s just not wise for your artis- tic self to not do your own thing. Even com- mercially, people think of you differently if they see your own work. I know that, com- ing from comics and going into animation, people tend to typecast you just like they do in Hollywood. “Oh, you’re a character ac- tor. You always play the evil boss,” or, “You always play the heavy,” or whatever. And sometimes if you don’t show people another side of you, they won’t even know that you can do something else. I get that now with people because I’m spending a lot of time

that now with people because I’m spending a lot of time painting and drawing things that

painting and drawing things that don’t have anything to do with comics. I just had somebody say that the other day on Facebook. “Oh, I didn’t know Mike Manley could paint.” They just thought of me as some guy who drew for Marvel or DC. Do you have a typical work routine? Are you a nine-to-five guy? Are you all over the place depending upon the job? RV: I’m early morning, usually 5:30 a.m. until 6:00 at night, basically. If there’re any sporting events going on, I want to make sure I get my work done before they start. [laughs]

DRAW!: Al Williamson was like that. He would get up early in the morning, come in, sit down, do his day, and then at 5:00, that was it. He wasn’t working until 4:00 in the morning on something. He didn’t do that after a certain point. RV: Nope. No way. This is a marathon, and it just doesn’t end. You’ve got to be fresh to do it again the next day.

DRAW!: You said you have a Cintiq. What’s your work set-up like, your studio? Do you have a digital side and a traditional side, or is it all mixed together? RV: Like I just said, this morning I busted out the paper again because I was doing thumb- nails. I set that up right underneath the foot of my Cintiq, so I’ve always got the Internet available, so if I need to draw, like, Desert Rat style jeeps today, or Camaros, and dunes, and beaches, and stuff, I’ve always got Google available. I’ll drag the images off and make a little library of images that pertain specifically to the project that I’m working on.

DRAW!: Are you a Mac or a PC person? RV: Mac.

DRAW!: Are you using a tower, or are you using a laptop? RV: [laughs] I’m using my laptop, and some- times it doesn’t cut it.

DRAW!: Because of the power that the Cintiq demands? RV: Well, no. For working on my book, it’s okay. I throw all my stuff on external hard drives, and I try to keep my desktop as clean as possible not to bog it down. But this project that I’m just starting right now, it’s going to be an animation proj- ect; pretty soon the laptop won’t be able to cut it.

DRAW!: Will you have to buy another laptop, or will you have to buy a tower? What will you do? RV: I’ll probably get a tower, probably a PC, and just use that.

DRAW!: I guess that’s another difference with a piece of pa- per and a pencil, you never have to worry about, “Oh, man, this thing is lagging.” [laughs] I imagine you have to con- stantly be backing up, and then backing up your back-up.

Images © Robert Valley

Images © Robert Valley RV: Oh, definitely. I think I’ve got six or seven hard drives

RV: Oh, definitely. I think I’ve got six or seven hard drives here.

DRAW!: It looks like the inside of the Hal 9000 computer— nothing but hard drives, right? [laughs]

RV: Well, I was just thinking, if one of those hard drives mal- functioned or something, just how depressed I would be if

I lost all that work. And that’s enough to just scare me into backing that up as many times as possible.

DRAW!: I’ve actually had that happen twice in the last cou- ple of years. There’re hard drives I need to send out and see if they can be recovered. You should probably have that stuff on

a cloud or offsite, because if something happens to your house or your studio, that doesn’t do you any good either. So you’re pretty much a nine-to-five guy, five days a week, or do you work weekends too? RV: Oh, yeah.

DRAW!: Oh, okay. So if you worked only eight hours a day, you would feel like you weren’t really working, right? “Hey, that was pretty easy!” [laughs] RV: [laughs] Well, you know, the days go by so quick. I’ve just got to make the most of every day.

by so quick. I’ve just got to make the most of every day. DRAW!: Where did

DRAW!: Where did you go to school? RV: It was a place called Emily Carr College, basically a fine arts school, but they had a little animation department, which was kind of geared towards independent filmmaking, so a lot of the students would get on this National Film Board track, or Canada Council Filmmaking track. I tried that, but I couldn’t get any of that free money. [Mike laughs] So I just ended up taking the commercial route, and the rest is history.

DRAW!: It sounds like you’ve lived all over too. I take it you’ve lived in England, or is this all telecommuting for you? RV: Oh no. I’ve done work in various places. I spent a lot of time in London.

DRAW!: And you’re from Canada? RV: Yeah, I’m from Vancouver.

DRAW!: So if you could have made your own version of “The Cat Came Back,” then we never would have seen the Robert Valley version of Tron? RV: I don’t think so. I think that once you’re in with that kind of government funding track, it’s a bit exclusive. And people that get funding, they continue to get funding, and f*ck that. I don’t want any government money anyway.

DRAW!: Is that where you went to school? RV: Yup. I did a four-year animation course. I graduated in ’92, and I moved to San Francisco shortly after.

DRAW!: I know the demands of commercial work, and then you’re doing your personal stuff also. What do you do to feed your head? How do you keep yourself inspired? What are you

looking at? What are you studying? What do you do to keep the artistic inspiration
looking at? What are you studying? What do you do to keep the artistic inspiration

looking at? What are you studying? What do you do to keep the artistic inspiration flowing? RV: I don’t do much, really. I don’t look at a lot of art books. I don’t know. It just seems like I’ve got a whole lot of stories I’ve got to tell. There’s just not enough time to do it all.

DRAW!: Which is, I guess, why you like to have that regi- mented schedule, where you can get in there and try to pro- duce on a regular basis. You’re using the Adobe Suite, and you’re using the Cintiq. When you’re using the traditional materials, what do you like to work with? RV: Oh, just paper and pencil.

DRAW!: Bond paper and pencil, or a sketchpad and, like, a 2B pencil? Part of the DRAW! audience are tech junkies, so they always are interested in what people like to work with. RV: Well, I usually get a ream of Xerox paper. Because we’ve been traveling a bit lately, I just have a ream of 8½" x 11", but the 11" x 17" is pretty good because you can get lots of draw-

ings on there. And I got these mechanical pencils. I got a whole bunch of them because the lead keeps breaking. And that’s it. I try to make those thumbnails as tight as possible, because they get you as far down that road as possible. That just saves hours and hours of work later on.

DRAW!: Are you then scanning those in and inking them digitally in Photoshop? RV: I’ll scan them in, and then I’ll just clean up the linework a bit. The nature of those drawings is they’re really small, so once you scan them, even if it’s at a high resolution, and you enlarge it, it has a bit of a chalky, crumbly look to it, so that’s going to need a little bit of cleaning up. But it doesn’t get re- drawn. If anything, I’ll paint up some areas and sort of clean up the lines a little bit. And then I’ll add to it. There’s a lot of taking away and then adding, basically. But there’s a certain part of the original drawing that stays in there right through to the end, and that makes me really happy.

DRAW!: I’m on your website and looking at the previews and the prints. I’m looking at the one, I guess it’s Preview 6. There are these girls in the foreground, there’re cool blues, and there’re speakers on these rock guys in the background with cars. Is that something that you would have started as a little thumbnail, and then blown that up and finished it in Photo- shop? How does your process happen on something like that? RV: That would go back about to 2007. If it’s something like a poster—that was an album cover—then I do thumbnails. I do that for storyboarding, basically, but if it’s for poster artwork, most drawings are quite large. Well, large for me. They’ll sit on a piece of 8½" x 11"–ish paper. The drawings themselves would be about six inches tall. I’ll draw them separately, scan them in, and then there’s a lot of compositing, so if you look at that image, and then look at the original artwork, it was probably done on about 20 different pieces of paper.

(above and left) The cinematic of a Texaco gas station was re- purposed as part
(above and left) The cinematic of a Texaco gas station was re- purposed as part
(above and left) The cinematic of a Texaco gas station was re-
purposed as part of a super-wide pan shot (above), and also as a
background in a panel from Pear Cider and Cigarettes (left).
(below) A print entitled, “Urban Camoflage.”
Pear Cider and Cigarettes ™ and © Robert Valley.
Urban Camoflage © Robert Valley
DRAW!: I’m also looking at
the one you did of the cars driv-
ing down the highway past the
old gas station. Is that some-
thing that would be done the
same way, where you would do
different sketches and compos-
ite them together?
RV: Right. I was doing some
storyboarding for a cinematic,
and I had to do a layout of the
city and some cars. When that
job was over, I had all these
elements on various pieces of
storyboard paper, and I just sort
of cobbled them all together
into that one long pan. I’ll do
a lot of that. I’ll repurpose art-
work and put it together. I’ll
reuse backgrounds that have
been drawn before. Life’s too
short to draw everything over
and over again, right?

DRAW!: [laughs] So that’s the way you work on something like the Massive Swerve. I’m looking at the Print #12, where there’re all the beer bottles in front of the guy, and the cigarette, and the guy’s way back in the background. Is that a bunch of different drawings spliced together too? RV: No, I wish. You know, it seems like, as many times as I’ve drawn a beer bottle, I can never find one that’s at the exact angle that I want. So that was specifically one of the im- ages from my Pear Cider book, my first book.

DRAW!: So you take that in as line art, and then what do you do? Adjust the contrast to make it denser, and then color it in Photoshop? Are you going back and forth like that?

RV: That one with the beer bottles was done within the last year. That would have started off all digital. I think I just drew a column of beer bottles, and then I copied and pasted that a couple times. I think there’s a lot of copying and pasting of beer bottles in there.

DRAW!: It’s one thing if I were to paint or draw for 12, 14, 16 hours a day, but if I do it on the computer, sometimes I feel more tired after looking at the screen that long than if I was actually just working on a sheet of paper. I mean, you’re still tired. Do you find there to be any issue with working digitally for really, really long periods of time as opposed to the other way of working?

RV: Oh, yeah.

DRAW!: Do you have the arm for the Cintiq so you can move it around and twist it and every- thing? RV: No, I just have it on my table.

DRAW!: My friend Scott got the arm, and my friend Bret Blevins does a lot of storyboards, so he got the arm so he could, like, flip it around. Before that I guess it was harder to do that. RV: Right.

DRAW!: So you’re done with with the first season of Tron? What I heard, and I don’t know if this is true because it’s off the Internet, is that they’re waiting to see how the TV series goes before they decide whether or not they’re going to do another movie. Or the next movie was actually going to look like the TV show, and not like the last film. RV: Is your question specifically about developing the Tron property further?

DRAW!: Yes. Are you working on developing that further? RV: I don’t know, really. I saw Charlie the other day over at Disney, and they’re going to be wrap- ping up the season, and there’s no talk about con- tinuing on to another season yet.

to be wrap- ping up the season, and there’s no talk about con- tinuing on to

W hat exactly makes a comic page professional? What separates the struggling amateur artists

from the pro artists working for the big publishers? Other than their bank accounts and their egos, I mean. Is it figure draw- ing? Composition? Storytelling? Perspec- tive? Technique? Well, it can be all of those things, or not really any of them in particu- lar. It’s usually a combination of things, and they can often be relatively minor. What I try to do in this column is puzzle out what those main stumbling blocks are for an artist trying to break into comics. It almost always comes down to the fun- damentals of art; those things I mentioned above. But it can also be something more elusive, such as style. Comics are fun to draw, and learning the fundamentals is hard, so many artists try to skip all that studying and rely on raw talent and an excess of busy line work to cover up their faults. This issue, we have a very nice sample page submitted for a critique by the talented Antonio Rodriguez, and he’s not one of those guys. It’s rare that I see a sample page with this much going for it. Antonio has obviously been doing his homework and is working hard. His page is extremely well composed, with good camera movement, nice backgrounds that show some under- standing of perspective, clear storytelling, and even some fairly good figure drawing! He’s really choosing his shots well to tell the story in the most interesting way, and he’s expertly leading the reader’s eye from panel to panel by placing the center of atten- tion in each panel to create a C formation on the overall page.

constructive

ANALYSIS&

CRITICISM

of a newcomer’s work

by

BOB McLEOD

& CRITICISM o f a newcomer’s work by BOB M c LEOD Artwork ©2013 Antonio Rodriguez.

Artwork ©2013 Antonio Rodriguez.

FIGuRE 1

FIGuRE 1 His storytelling is fantastic. He opens with an establishing shot, as well he should,

His storytelling is fantastic. He opens with an establishing

shot, as well he should, showing us we’re indoors, observing

a couple watching the news on TV. I so often see beginners

draw shots like this from behind the sofa only to see the sofa is up against the wall in the next panel, meaning we were somehow looking out from inside the wall! Antonio wisely avoids that trap by placing the sofa in the middle of the room

in panel three. He’s decorated the room with pictures, a plant,

a bookshelf, exposed brick, etc., not just a blank wall in an

empty room, like so many beginners try to get away with. He then smartly goes from that long shot to an extreme close- up with no cluttering background, introducing the characters. Then he goes to another, even better establishing down-shot, and right back to another extreme close-up for the kiss, before ending with a medium shot to show her glowing. The elaborate backgrounds in panels one and three allow him to eliminate backgrounds in the other panels, where they would be distracting clutter. So many beginners have either too little backgrounds or too many. This is first-rate stuff in these respects, and I just don’t see that in most sample pages. Take a bow, Antonio. Well done! So Antonio’s no doubt gotta be thinking, “For cryin’ out loud, what more do I need to do to get work drawing the X-Men for Marvel?” Maybe you’re thinking that too. Well, as the old expression goes, “Close, but no cigar” (I guess they used to give you a cigar when you won at a carnival game or some- thing). At any rate, sometimes it’s seemingly little things that can hold you back. Little things here and there that maybe by themselves seem trivial, but when they’re added together, the work becomes just subpar enough to get that dreaded rejec- tion slip (though frankly I’ve inked many, many far worse pages than this for Marvel and DC in my career). But let’s see what can we do to help Antonio get to that next level. The big, primary problem I see here is simply the loose sketchiness of the pencils. This is like a page from the 1980s, during my heyday (yes, I’m that old). I preferred inking loose pencils like this because I could take over more and make a

FIGuRE 2
FIGuRE 2

bigger contribution. I was no mere tracer. But the days of loose pencils are pretty much long gone. Today, most editors want everything nailed down tightly in the pencils so that nothing can go amiss in the inks. Most pencilers just want the inker to lay down clean lines and not screw anything up. They don’t trust the inker to be able to add anything worthwhile, and may even resent it if they do. And many current inkers prefer tight pencils because they’re not pencilers themselves and don’t really have a finished rendering style of their own. They don’t have a solid knowledge of anatomy. They mainly just know how to do pretty, controlled line work. (Current inkers can send hate mail to me care of DRAW! magazine.) Inking has become such an extreme specialty that figure-drawing ability is no longer needed. “Just follow the pencils, Bub.” It used to be a fairly standard practice (particularly on rush jobs) to put an X wherever you wanted solid black, rather than taking the time to color it in with the pencil, when the inker just had to erase all that pencil after he inked it anyway. I always preferred to add my own blacks and lighting, and eras- ing pages by artists like Gene Colan (were there any?) was a smudgy nightmare where half the ink came up with the erased pencil lead. Today, I guess editors think X’s are being lazy, and prefer that you color in those blacks in pencil. Especially on a sample page, where you’re trying to impress the editor, why would you want to take shortcuts, anyway? Save that for when you’re getting steady work, and the editor is calling you asking where the pages are. So as good as panel one is, it’s bordering on “breakdowns” (typically pencils with no blacks or rendering added), rather than finished pencils. Another thing that sticks out to the inker in me is the com- peting patterns of the plant and bricks in panel one. Detail can create gray patterns, and I don’t like to put gray on gray.

I mention this only so you’re aware it can be a problem. It’s a

minor thing, but if I were inking this page, I’d make the plant

a black silhouette. Panel two starts revealing some weaknesses. As you can see in Figure 1, the noses are consistently poorly drawn, for

FIGuRE 3

FIGuRE 3 example. Her nostril is too low (for the standard ideal), and his is too

example. Her nostril is too low (for the standard ideal), and his is too high. Her mouth is vaguely defined, and the lower lip is too thick. Both of their right eyes are too close to their noses, another consistent fault I noticed. A good way to gauge eye placement is to draw the tear duct directly up from the edge of the nostril (on a slight curve, since faces aren’t flat). His glasses are way too small, and the nose cushions are mis- placed (they belong behind the lenses). As I said, these are seemingly small problems in the overall scheme of things, but they begin to add up.

It’s generally not good to show disembodied hands. It can be confusing to know to whom they belong. Here, I think it’s clear enough that it’s his hand, but when you take a closer look in Figure 2, he’s not quite holding that remote like a person ever would. It’s not really in his hand, but just lying across his fingers. Hold a remote and you’ll see what I mean. Can you see your forefinger? So often it really helps to act out the pose you’re trying to draw. He also didn’t bother to draw the remote in perspective. Many artists “eyeball” perspective, and if you have a sound understanding of it, that’s usually okay, but to my mind you need to get it closer than this. Linear perspective may be the most consistent weakness of even published comic artists. As an inker, I corrected the per- spective in almost every job I ever inked. I wasn’t asked to, I just found it easier to ink buildings if I found the vanishing points. Ignorance of the rules of perspective won’t stop you from getting work unless it’s egregious (as I think it is in pan- el three here) because editors, bless ’em, don’t understand it any better than you do. But it really stands out to anyone who does understand it, and perspective errors can make people “feel” there’s something wrong, even if they can’t quite put their finger on what it is. Panel three looks great at first glance, but when you take a closer look (see Figure 3), it actually has a number of prob- lems. Since we’re on the subject of perspective, I’ll start with that. Perspective can be fairly simple, but it’s easy to go wrong if you don’t really know what you’re doing. A little knowl- edge is a dangerous thing, as they say. The main problem here is that there’s more than one horizon. Once you decide where you want your horizon (a critical first step beginners often ig- nore at their peril), which is high in this case, since we view- ers are up high looking down on the scene (the horizon rises or lowers with the viewer), things parallel to the floor like the front side of the sofa should recede to a point on that horizon off to the right, which they do. The lines on the front end of the sofa should recede to a point on the left, which they also do. Good man, Antonio! So far, so good. However, everything else in the room except the sofa and figures recedes to a lower, closer horizon (see Figure 4), and everything is too small in relation to the figures. I sat a figure of the girl on the bed the size she would be if she were where the bed is (see Figure 5), and you can see she’s way too big for the bed, and couldn’t fit much into that minute night table

FIGuRE 4
FIGuRE 4
FIGuRE 5 FIGuRE 3 (REVISED) A B C D
FIGuRE 5
FIGuRE 3 (REVISED)
A
B
C
D

(whose drawers are strangely off-center). A simple trick to find how large a second figure would be at any distance once a first figure has been drawn is to extend lines from any two parts of their bodies to a vanishing point on the horizon. Here, I used the top of their heads and their right knees. Thank you, Andrew Loomis. For this and many other drawing wonders, I highly recommend his book Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth, now back in print at last from Titan books for a paltry $40. You could correct this double horizon problem by hav- ing the sofa and figures also recede to the lower horizon, or you could correct it by making everything in the background larger, receding to the same horizon as the sofa, as I did in Figure 3-A. This is the proper solution, because unless the background is more important than the figures, you should always draw the figures first, then create the background to fit them. In Figure 3-B, I corrected and enlarged the chair. You wouldn’t want to sit in a chair with a straight back like that. It would be very uncomfortable, and would fall over back- wards easily. Chairs are designed with the back and rear legs at an angle, which I’m sure you know if you just stop to think about it. This is a very common mistake most begin- ners make. In Figure 3-C, I enlarged the guy’s head a bit. We typically make heads smaller than normal in superhero comics to make the bodies look bigger and more powerful. But for normal people, you should draw the head normal

size. The average figure is about seven heads tall. The “ideal” figure is eight heads tall. In Figure 3-D, I also enlarged her head and drew in her left eye. I simplified her neck because you don’t want a lot of extraneous lines on a woman’s neck area. They just make her look old. On women, the fewer lines the better whatever part of the body you’re drawing, usually. I redrew her right arm at an angle just because diagonals are almost always more inter- esting than verticals. I shortened the fingers on her left hand and raised it to the angle Antonio started to draw just because I think it’s a better angle. I drew in her left upper arm to show that he’s not really gripping her arm; he’s just holding it with his fingertips.

FIGuRE 6

FIGuRE 6 His thumb can’t be at that angle because it’s physically impossible (try it), and

His thumb can’t be at that angle because it’s physically impossible (try it), and because his hand would have to be enormous for us to see both the thumb knuckle and finger knuckles with the hand open enough to encircle her arm. Ev- eryone has trouble drawing hands, but if possible, try to act out the pose, and things like this will become more apparent. The hand is also a problem in panel four. As I show in Figure 6, her thumb is too short (as Antonio’s consistently are) and it’s unclear where her fingers begin. The hand is not as much of a problem as their noses here, however. His nose is practically gouging out her right eye. I know from experi- ence it’s difficult to draw people kissing. You have to angle the heads a bit more to give the noses some room. His glasses are once again too small, and her eye is again too close to her nose. Her nose tip can dip down like Antonio has it if you’re drawing the Wicked Witch of the West, but otherwise it’s bet- ter to tilt the nose tip up slightly. I also don’t like to see a dark shadow on a face that isn’t also on other things in the panel, which is something so many weaker comic artists do. If his face is so shadowed, why isn’t hers? Why isn’t her hand shadowed? Where is the light com- ing from to cause a shadow like that on his face and nothing else? It’s as if her face is a flashlight. Lighting needs to be fairly consistent. It should make some kind of sense. Artistic license allows for some leeway, but try not to get too illogical.

allows for some leeway, but try not to get too illogical. FIGuRE 7 Panel five is

FIGuRE 7

for some leeway, but try not to get too illogical. FIGuRE 7 Panel five is good,

Panel five is good, but as I show in Figure 7, his head is pretty tall and thin. The ear needs to come back more. Remem- ber that it’s behind the jaw. The glasses are also once again a problem. So as I said, these are all relatively minor problems, but they add up to keep Antonio out of the big leagues. Now that I’ve made him aware of them, I think he should be able to correct them rather easily. There are several good books on perspective at the bookstore. The biggest hurdle for Antonio, and so many others, is going to be cleaning and tightening up his finish style. The easiest way to do that is to slavishly copy your favorite artist. That’s what all the top artists did when they started out. You can worry about being original after you break in. A light box may help if your pencils are messy, or some artists sketch in blue pencil and tighten up in graphite. Good luck to you, Antonio, and thank you for submitting your sample page. If anyone else would like to get a Rough Critique from me, email me at mcleod.bob@gmail.com.

Bob McLeod is a veteran comic artist who’s worked on all the major titles for Marvel and DC, and is the author/illustra- tor of Superhero ABC, published by HarperCollins. He also teaches at the Pennsylvania College Art & Design.

ABC , published by HarperCollins. He also teaches at the Pennsylvania College Art & Design. 60
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SeeinG tO by Bret Blevins and Mike Manley W elcome to another installment of Comic

SeeinG

SeeinG tO by Bret Blevins and Mike Manley W elcome to another installment of Comic Book
SeeinG tO by Bret Blevins and Mike Manley W elcome to another installment of Comic Book

tO

by Bret Blevins and Mike Manley

W elcome to another installment of Comic Book Bootcamp. This time around we are going to cover the eye, which poets have called “the window to

the soul.” The human eye is the first thing we look at when looking at someone’s face, being it a drawing or in life. We “look people in the eye” and are suspicious of people who don’t look at us back in the eye. It’s the key for expressions, and emotional attitude, and acting, especially for the artist.

emotional attitude, and acting, especially for the artist. As a result the eye is probably the

As a result the eye is probably the feature that is drawn more often than any other by artists from antiquity to the pres- ent because it is our window to the world, our focus or portal, the view both inward to the psyche and outward. The eye is also a feature than many artists struggle to draw—along with the human face—to get the expression and position in the head just right. One of the most common mistakes in drawing the eye stems from drawing the form of the head as an egg, which it is not.

drawing the form of the head as an egg, which it is not. If we were

If we were to draw the head as an egg and then try and fit the eyes on, we would end up with a very strange and alien looking creature. The only part of the head that is “round” is the cranium. The rest of the head is comprised of a series of blocks and planes.

A C
A
C

(Figure A) A drawing of the human skull to show the form of the skull, the orbital fossa, the mandible, etc. (Figure B) In this simplified drawing of the skull, you can more easily see the blocks, curves, and planes of the form. (Figure C) A drawing of the human eyeball in its socket.

One of the most common mistakes artists make in drawing the eyes in the head is that they often draw the eye more as a decal on the face, rather than as an eyeball in its socket within the skull, so the eye lies flat on the surface. This affects the perspective of the face. Most of the times you will be draw- ing a face, you will be drawing it in perspective, and that will have a crucial effect on the scale and placement of the eyes set into the head.

B
B
1 2 3 4
1
2
3
4

The form of the eye itself is always the same, with any differences being due to

variations in the sex, age, and racial char- acteristics of the muscles, eye lids, etc. Important details to remember are:

The upper lid is thicker than the lower (see Figure 1).

The cornea is slightly raised from the surface of the eyeball in a convex spheroid shape (see Figure 1).

At the outside, the upper lid folds over the lower; at the inside, the up- per and lower lids are separated by a small triangular pad of flesh (see Fig- ure 2). The outer meeting point of the lids is higher than the inner, except in extreme old age, where gravity and a loss of elasticity can cause a dropping fold that is lower on the outside.

The lashes grow from the farthest protruding edge of the lids; they do not meet or touch the eyeball (see Figure 2).

The eyes curve back around the skull as they approach the side of the head, retreating from the front plane of the face. This allows us to see via a “sidelong” glance, looking to the side without turning the head (see Figures 3 and 4).

5 6 • The eyes work in tandem with the eyebrows to create expression, and
5
6
• The eyes work in tandem with the eyebrows
to create expression, and should always be
treated together as one drawing problem
(see Figures 5 and 6).
7
This gesture sketch on the left (Figure 7) communicates an attitude with
very simple symbolic caricatured shapes. In the sketches below (Figures 8, 9,
and 10), more anatomy has been added, but the expressions are conveyed by the
big, simple shapes of the eyelids and eyebrows. The rest of the features accent
the attitude, but if you cover the lower parts and just view the eyes, you can see
how much emotion is carried by them alone.
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10
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Remember that the visible portion of the eye revealed by the lids is not perfectly symmetrical. The lids curve most at the upper-inner and lower- outer edges, and are straighter at the lower-inner and outer-upper edges. (Trying saying that sen- tence correctly five times very fast.)

Including a highlight is very important. The healthy, living eye is always wet, and the highlight is a reflection of the light source. Multiple sources create multiple highlights, but it is best to use artistic license and limit yourself to one unless a specific effect is re- quired; too many highlights in the eye tend to make the person look disoriented or ine- briated. This single highlight can appear any- where in the eye, but it is most effective if it is within or overlaps the black pupil; the strong contrast clearly conveys a spark of animation.

Iris lighter opposite highlight
Iris lighter
opposite
highlight

Shadow of

upper lid

Upper

lashes

thicker

Eyelashes

radiate out

from center

lashes thicker Eyelashes radiate out from center Remember that the direction of the eyelashes radiate out

Remember that the direction of the eyelashes radiate out from a center point within the eyeball.

radiate out from a center point within the eyeball. Here I’ve shown how much expression can
radiate out from a center point within the eyeball. Here I’ve shown how much expression can

Here I’ve shown how much expression can be conveyed by the simplest indica- tions of eye shape and glance direction. Here, again, you can cover the mouths and see that the essential information is in the eyes. Once you understand the anatomy of the eye, it is easy to start with this kind of gesture indication and construct a more realistic drawing by keeping these big shapes in mind.

This illustration from the title sequence of the second Garfield movie shows how clearly simple
This illustration from the title sequence of the
second Garfield movie shows how clearly simple
circles-within-circles can communicate emotion
in cartoon designs. In extreme stylizations like
this, the eyebrows aren’t crucial; cover Humpty
Dumpty’s and his expression isn’t compromised.
Garfield ™ and © Paws, Inc.
I included this Ghost Rider page because of the
extreme distortion of the eyes in the transforming
character. The unequal sizes and different pupil
shapes make the expression more wild and hysterical.
Joker ™ and © DC Comics.
Ghost Rider ™ and © Marvel Characters, Inc.
Here both characters’ eyes
are half-closed, but the dif-
ferent angles of the upper
lids and eyebrows create two
completely different attitudes.
Bruce Wayne ™ and © DC Comics. These shots of elderly Bruce Wayne from the
Bruce Wayne ™ and © DC Comics.
Bruce Wayne ™ and © DC Comics.

These shots of elderly Bruce Wayne from the Justice League episode “Epilogue” show how very slight variations in the (very stylized) eye shape and tilt can underscore dialogue and convey thoughts and emotions of the character. Animation design concentrates the anatomy of the eye into strong, simple shapes, but it is amazing how much human emotion can be conveyed with these limited means.

I’ve included some life drawings, done very quickly from the living model, to show how the knowledge we’ve discussed can be utilized in very quick notations and still convey an essence of life and consciousness. The head portion of this figure draw- ing was literally committed to paper in seconds—it is just a sketch—but my understanding of structure allowed me to convincingly dab and jot a few marks that place conscious eyes in her head, and even suggest her thick but light colored eyelashes.

and even suggest her thick but light colored eyelashes. Very simple indications surely placed will create
and even suggest her thick but light colored eyelashes. Very simple indications surely placed will create

Very simple indications surely placed will create convincing mass. A close look at the shut eye reveals that I lightly “felt” the curve of the underlying eyeball mass with a light block-in stroke before defining the details of visible form. Knowing structure helps “decode” what you are look- ing at when drawing from life.

Here accurate recording of the curves formed by the lowered lids add a subtle sense
Here accurate recording of the curves formed by the lowered lids add a subtle sense

Here accurate recording of the curves formed by the lowered lids add a subtle sense of person- ality/attitude as well as informing the structural solidity of the entire skull.

Here the model was directly facing a single strong light source, creating a large glisten- ing highlight in her pale blue eyes. The high- light is almost the only visible element of the far eye.

in her pale blue eyes. The high- light is almost the only visible element of the
A very quick warm-up sketch, done in less than a minute—but see how much expression
A very quick warm-up sketch,
done in less than a minute—but
see how much expression is con-
veyed in those few deft marks
that place her eyes in her skull
and reveal her attitude. It is dif-
ficult to work this freely unless
the eye structure is thoroughly
understood.
This drawing clearly shows how
the lids “wrap around” the eyes and
arc back toward the ears—espe-
cially apparent in the far eye as it
“tucks” around into the underlying
cavity of the socket.
Here the tendency of the eye, when seen from this angle, to appear to be

Here the tendency of the eye, when seen from this angle, to appear to be opening wider in the direction of the glance is clearly shown. This is why the animation principle of the iris/pupil “pull- ing” the shape of the eyeball toward the viewed object works. This effect is not as apparent from a straight frontal view.

Eyes of War © DC Comics.
Eyes of War © DC Comics.
You can often break artists down into two categories: body actors and face actors. This

You can often break artists down into two categories:

body actors and face actors. This distinction is based on the signature styles of certain cartoonists. For some the expressive close-up is a hallmark or their work, while for others it’s the body or the environment on which they tend to focus. Joe Kubert (previous page) and Steve Ditko (above and right) immediately jump to my mind when thinking about artists who use the face, as super-expresive faces are a hallmark of both men’s work. The eye itself is one of the biggest design motifs or symbols Ditko uses in his work.

work. The eye itself is one of the biggest design motifs or symbols Ditko uses in
Frank Miller’s groundbreaking work on Sin City (left) falls right in line with the work
Frank Miller’s groundbreaking work on Sin
City (left) falls right in line with the work of
artists like Ditko and Kubert when going for a
graphic impact.
The hero is only as handsome
as the monster is ugly. If the hero
is not good-looking enough, then
he won’t stand enough in con-
trast to the villain. In these great
examples by Neal Adams (below
and right), you can see some hall-
marks of his work: great drawing,
great facial expressions, dynamic
lighting, and tough angles drawn
well. Adams really pushed the
expressions and amped up the
excitement and tension through
his understanding of the structure
of the eye.
Sin City ™ and © Frank Miller.
Images © Robert Valley
© Ambassador Records.
Adams was highly influenced by Stan Drake and his trendsetting work on The Heart of

Adams was highly influenced by Stan Drake and his trendsetting work on The Heart of Juilet Jones comic strip. Drake was one of the best drafts- men ever in the field, and his ability to draw the “pretty girl” set the stan- dard for other artists to follow. In Drake’s work it is often not what he drew but what he didn’t draw that made the women’s faces so glamourous. You need real command of the form and anatomy to know what to leave out and what to show on a woman’s face. A few extra lines in the wrong spot, and she goes from pretty to harsh, 20-something to 50 really quickly. Though he often worked with models and photos, it is still Drake’s drawing knowledge that directed him in what to take or leave from his source, and where to push the anatomy to get the expression he wanted.

where to push the anatomy to get the expression he wanted. The Heart of Juliet Jones

The Heart of Juliet Jones ™ and © King Features Syndicate, Inc.

It’s not always about realism either. There are a lot of art- ists who push style and anatomy to great effect. This cover by Michael Golden is a great example. What a great face on the policewoman, and look at how big and expressive the eyes are. There is always a line you can cross in the exaggeration of a face or drawing where you go into ugly, or too extreme. Golden pushes the limits and makes a great and powerful cover image. It’s no secret as to why he’s been one of the most influential comic artists of the past 25 years.

The old axiom “practice makes perfect” always applies to drawing. It can be amazing to see the results of what a few short weeks or a month or two of diligent study can produce in your work. The confidence you gain is invaluable. A big part of a professional artist’s skill set is his or her confidence to work well under pressure.

Cops: The Job ™ and © Marvel Characters, Inc.
Cops: The Job ™ and © Marvel Characters, Inc.
Sky Doll was originally published in France by Soleil Productions. The art by Ales- sandro

Sky Doll was originally published in France by Soleil Productions. The art by Ales- sandro Barbucci has a simi- larity to Golden, as well as a Euro-manga feel. Though pushed in style to have a very manga look, it’s not as flat and stylized as most manga artwork is. You can see and feel Barbucci’s knowledge of the anatomy of the eye as shown here in these two great examples.

Sky Doll ™ and © MC Productions/Canepa/Barbucci.
Sky Doll ™ and © MC Productions/Canepa/Barbucci.
Cannon ™ and © The Estate of Wally Wood.
Cannon ™ and © The Estate of Wally Wood.

Wally Wood was another great “Good Girl” artist. You think you see a lot here, but it’s really al- most like a high contrast photo. That great use of highlights in the eyes was always a signature of his work.

These two panels by Frank Frazetta from “Un- tamed Love” (below) and “Empty Heart” (right) are icons of comic art. The series of romance stories Frazetta did in the ’50s set his fellow comic artists ablaze, and were hugely influential on the next generation of comic artists like Dave Stevens, as well as Bret and myself.

comic artists like Dave Stevens, as well as Bret and myself. In the Judge Parker comic
comic artists like Dave Stevens, as well as Bret and myself. In the Judge Parker comic

In the Judge Parker comic strip, I follow the lead of artists like Stan Drake and Leonard Starr in how I strive to draw the expressive and pretty girl’s face. One of the issues in producing a strip like Judge Parker is the fact that I don’t have the budget to hire models and work from photos. Also, the strip is run at a much, much smaller size than strips in the glory days of the ’50s and ’60s. As a result of the smaller size, the strip is even more of a “face acting” strip than it might otherwise be. I do a lot of close-ups on the faces to carry the emotions and expressions. Some- times even a 16th of an inch change in an eyebrow can really make an expression read! In the extreme close-ups, I try and think of the head as almost like one of the sculptures on Mount Rushmore. I really work on using perspective to push the space and angle on the eyes.

using perspective to push the space and angle on the eyes. Judge Parker ™ and ©

Judge Parker ™ and © North America Syndicate, Inc.

Don’t hesitate to spend hours studying and drawing your own eyes by using a mirror—you can practice all sorts of expressions and observe what happens to the muscles and shapes. You will never fail to see a mirror at the side of an animator’s desk. This is no coincidence!

See you next time, Mike and Bret!

at the side of an animator’s desk. This is no coincidence! See you next time, Mike
UNDER REVIEW CRUSTY TRICKS!
UNDER REVIEW
CRUSTY TRICKS!

S alutations to all and sundry! ’Tis I once again, your valiant chronicler of creative crafting, your maven of meticulous mark-making, your beacon of light in the

fog of art supplies, the Crusty Critic, back on the case to bring you my best choices for your art dollar, the best buys for your buck, and to help you navigate through the mine-laden fields of the art supply store. It is my mission to make sure you get out of the shop alive, and through those cartooning deadlines in one piece! What I present to you this time is a few of my favorite art

supply tricks. As we all know, it’s important to keep several trick arrows in your art quiver—who knows when those sec- onds you’ve shaved off a job by using the right technique or tool can add up to hours saved down the road? When the deci- sion between getting the job done tonight or a day later can spell doom, you need all the help you can get! Any good cartoonist (or hoarder) worth their salt has a hard time throwing things away, as you can always find a use for something. Don’t throw away that old toothbrush! I need to make some starburst effects or drippy splatter! Done with that kitchen sponge? Cut it into small shapes and use it for cool patterns after you dab it in some of your favorite ink. There are no beret ratings this time around, just plain ol’ fashioned sharing and caring.

time around, just plain ol’ fashioned sharing and caring. (above) The Faber Castell PITT B artist

(above) The Faber Castell PITT B artist pen. (right) The large PITT B pen has a fairly sharp felt nib.

Once again I have called upon the aid of my pals at Al- legheny Art Company just outside of Philadelphia, who are always well-stocked and in the know.

TRICK #1: THE RE-APPEARING BRuSH PEN NIB!

You need:

• Faber Castel PITT brand India ink brush pen

• Tweezers or pinchy fingers

It is well documented that I am a fan of various brush pens. Though nothing beats a brush, sometimes you can really get what you need from a decent India ink brush pen. I reviewed several from jetpens.com a few issues ago, but didn’t discuss the Faber Castel PITT brand “B” brush pen. The B has a pretty sharp felt nib and isn’t made out of synthetic fibers, so it doesn’t act like a brush, but has a nice feel. These generally run three to five dollars a piece in an art shop, and can cost a bit more if you grabbed the B but it was surrounded by several other PITT pens with different tips. But I have seen the large B pens—which I love!—which really seem to keep going and don’t die as fast as these little guys. And therein lies my first trick.

seem to keep going and don’t die as fast as these little guys. And therein lies
If you’ve ever used these pens, you’ve probably noticed that they start to wear down

If you’ve ever used these pens, you’ve probably noticed

that they start to wear down or even bust apart after a while. I threw out dozens of these when they got to a place of non- use, until I found out that the nibs are double-sided. With a

pair of tweezers, gently pull out the felt nib, and you will see that there’s another tip ready to rock and roll on the other side! Simply reverse, plug it back into your pen barrel, and you’re back in business.

If you’re watching your pennies and want to squeeze every

ounce out of your supplies, this trick is a godsend. Also, I have heard an eyedropper dollop of ink onto the felt nib will revitalize a pen, but this Critic hasn’t tried that out. Mayhaps in the near future….

TRICK #2: ROLLING THuNDER!

You need:

• ALVIN Rolling Ruler

TRICK #2: ROLLING THuNDER! You need: • ALVIN Rolling Ruler A few years back I picked

A few years back I picked up an Alvin brand Rolling Ruler

—something that has been around for some time now, but I had never seen any of my cartoonist pals use one, and I really am not a fan of using the old tag-team tandem of a T-square and a triangle, or a ruler to lay down straight lines on my comics pages. The Rolling Ruler does exactly what it says it does: it allows you to roll the ruler across the surface of your page and create straight lines. What’s the greatest about it, is that it allows you to, with slight pressure, easily create paral- lel lines across your page, as the ruler will easily stay put, allow you to measure (using the compass inside the rolling bar), and let you make quick work of laying out a page with- out a lot of eyeballing and guessing as to the straightness of your lines. You can pivot the ruler with the use of a pencil to

create ellipses as well. The Rolling Ruler comes in twelve- and six-inch sizes, and can be picked up for under ten dollars retail. One drawback is that the beveled edge seems to nick up after time, and as you can see in my Crusty Camera footage, I have labeled this one “Penciling,” as the edges are pretty worn. I can still lay down lines with it, though I don’t trust it to ink with.

TRICK #3: THE WATER BRuSH FILL-’ER-uP!

You need:

• Water Brush with a refillable reservoir

• Your favorite, trusty India ink

a refillable reservoir • Your favorite, trusty India ink Another way to really get down some

Another way to really get down some quick painterly lines is this slick trick I picked up a while back. A great, refillable way to always have a brush and ink on your person without the fuss of dealing with brushpen cartridges and other prob- lems is this: Buy a water brush! The water brush was designed for watercolorists to be able to have fresh water to saturate their pages without having to carry around a messy jar of water. Forsooth! What a great, inky repurposing tool for your Crusty Critic!

What a great, inky repurposing tool for your Crusty Critic! The water brushes I’ve found are

The water brushes I’ve found are the Pentel Aquabrush (shown above), the Sakura brand Koi water brush, and also the Niji water brush. I haven’t found much difference in them, except the Koi (and I believe the Niji as well—they weren’t available for this review) come packaged in different syn- thetic brush sizes, and reservoir-bulb lengths. If you’re truly looking for a pocket-sized brush, the Koi #2 small will get the job done, with an added issue of making sure you don’t misplace it! But I digress. With any type, easily unscrew the brush head from the bulb and carefully load the barrel with your favorite India ink and get it flowing. My very first experience with this was a pretty bloopy, sloppy mess. It could’ve been the ink or the fact that I would press too hard on the bulb, but needless to say I had a great brushpen that bled all over the place. The last three or four of these I’ve made have been great and never give me problems.

No real need for maintenance with the water/brushpen. As long as you don’t let the ink dry out on your brushes, you should get nice clean black lines, and they’re also really great for filling large areas while on the go, or on deadline. Pentel has begun to sell the same exact item but loaded with ink for pur- chase, but I don’t really see a point when it’s easier—and cost-effective, as a pre-filled brushpen costs upwards of seven dollars, while the water brushes are a few dollars cheaper—to just use the water brush. A Critic’s Top Pick!

So that’s it for this time! I hope you enjoyed some of my cartooning tricks. If you have any of your own, I’d love to hear them. You can always stay con- nected by following me on Twitter @jamarnicholas. Let’s swap drafting table war stories or tool talk. If you’re in the Philadelphia area, and you want to solicit a great art store with great service, stop by one of the Allegheny Art Company’s brick-and- mortar establishments at:

318 Leedom Street Jenkintown, PA

215-884-9242

22 South State Street Newtown, PA

215-579-1060

Or find them online at http://www.alleghenyart.com.

Until next time, stay Crusty!

http://www.alleghenyart.com. Until next time, stay Crusty! This April: it's COMIC BOOK CREATOR, the new voice of
http://www.alleghenyart.com. Until next time, stay Crusty! This April: it's COMIC BOOK CREATOR, the new voice of
http://www.alleghenyart.com. Until next time, stay Crusty! This April: it's COMIC BOOK CREATOR, the new voice of

This April: it's COMIC BOOK CREATOR, the new voice of the comics medium!

TwoMorrows is proud to debut our newest magazine, Comic Book Creator, devoted to the work and careers of the men and women who draw, write, edit, and publish comics, focusing always on the artists and not the artifacts, the creators and not the characters. Behind an ALEX ROSS cover painting, our frantic FIRST ISSUE features an investigation of the oft despicable treatment JACK KIRBY endured from the very business he helped establish. From being cheated out of royalties in the ’40s and bul- lied in the ’80s by the publisher he made great, to his estate’s current fight for equitable recognition against an entertainment monolith where his characters have generated billions of dollars, we present Kirby’s cautionary tale in the eternal struggle for creator’s rights. Plus, CBC #1 interviews art- ist ALEX ROSS and writer KURT BUSIEK, spotlights the last years of writer/ artist FRANK ROBBINS, remembers comics historian LES DANIELS, sports a color gallery of WILL EISNER’s Valentines to his beloved, showcases a joint talk between NEAL ADAMS and DENNIS O’NEIL on their unforget