Tag Archives: Marvel Comics

Phoenix Pin-Up Color Flats

Most of my usual work is either hand-drawn and colored or vector drawing in Illustrator. When I draw (or finish) digitally, the coloring usually happens in Illustrator as well. But, that’s not how most of the comic world works. Some people hand-draw, some people digitally render, but in either case… the digital coloring process typically happens in an application like Photoshop. It doesn’t have to be Photoshop, but a lot of colorists use it, and that’s what I use, so that’s the perspective from which I’ll usually talk.

At a very high level, the digital coloring process goes something like this:

  1. Scan or import your black and white line art (usually 600dpi resolution)
  2. Perform any digital cleanup or level adjustments to your line art to make it solid black and as clean as possible.
  3. Lay down flats (flatting) for all the bits on the page that you are going to be coloring.
  4. Render lighting, shadows, and other effects to characters, objects, and backgrounds.

That’s a bit of oversimplification, of course, but that’s it in a nutshell. Earlier this year I realized that in order to work in mainstream comics, and especially if I wanted to collaborate with others outside of my own creations, I needed to learn and develop skills working in the manner in which most professionals work. To that end, I began learning how to flat pages. There are lots of different ways to flat, and this isn’t going to be a tutorial on flatting anyway… but some ways produce better flats than others. The main point in the flats is to provide easily select-able areas upon which to define final color and apply effects to finish the illustration later. Flatting can be a time-consuming process, and it is something that many professional colorists will sub-contract out to have done for them so that they can focus on the effects work.

Here is an example of a pin-up illustration that I flatted recently. It’s an illustration of Marvel’s Phoenix character and was penciled by Renae de Liz and inked by Rob Norton. I grabbed the original line art from Digital Webbing where they had posted this as part of a collaboration project going on there. The first picture is the flats composited with the line art, and the second picture is just the flat colors alone (i.e. the part that I did).


What you mainly go for is unique colors for all the individual elements that might be colored or shaded differently later, and no instances of different objects that touch having the same color. This makes the work of the colorist later tremendously easier to be able to go and highlight each selection quickly and apply reference colors and effects. Note that while this illustration uses mostly appropriate colors for different parts of the character, flatting doesn’t require it. Often the person doing the flatting will not know what the final colors will be and semi-random color choices will be made at this stage. It’s not important to get bogged down trying to guess the color scheme during the flatting stage. It’s most important to block out every individual thing that needs to be colored.

There are some bits of this piece that could be broken down further, depending on the colorist intentions for the piece. Easy examples are… the fire in the background could be broken into different pieces… and the cloth wrap around her waist could be broken down to the different layers and even the different twists that show alternate sides of the cloth as it flows. You should always check with the colorist before you begin work to find out how far they want you to break down layers and costumes. Some will want everything broken down, while others will only want you to hit the large bits and they will make those smaller decisions as they apply their style to things.

FYI, this is the sample page I supplied to get the gig working on the Tellos Project. I will be posting another blog post about another recent pin-up coloring flat I produced that is a bit more detailed and, I think, more impressive than this one. Stay tuned!

If you are interested in requesting my services as a Flatter, please use the Contact page and provide me with as much information as you can about your request.

Raleigh Comic Book Show, Sunday 04/23/2017

Just found out early last week that I’m going to be a guest at the upcoming Raleigh Comic Book Show, next Sunday! As always, I am looking forward to seeing show runner Lyn Anderson and all the great dealers and convention regulars who attend these shows. Other planned guests at this show are Buddy Prince, who is a solid artist, good guy, and another Raleigh show regular… and Dan Johnson, whom I have not yet met but am looking forward to seeing for the first time!

I will again have original art and sketch cards for sale, including a bunch of new sketch cards from last Inktober that I drew after my last convention appearance. I’ll also have lots of glossy prints of a bunch of illustrations that I’ve drawn over the last few years. Time permitting, I might even be able to do some commission sketch cards or head/bust sketches during the show too. I’m getting ready for the show this week, so I could even surprise myself with new things I don’t yet know I’ll be bringing!

I hope to see lots of Facebook and blog followers at the show… and I promise to try and warp your brain with my nonsense while you’re there. 🙂 If you’re anywhere near Raleigh, NC next week you really ought to stop by the show… you will not be disappointed! For those who can’t attend, I will be blogging about the experience sometime next Sunday night as I normally do after these shows.

Inktober 2016 Part 4

The fourth week of Inktober brought more daily drawings to collect for the blog. See my previous posts this month for Week One, Week Two, and Week Three contributions. Also, don’t forget to checkout the Inktober Web site to learn more about the concept.

For Week Four, I continued with the 2.5 x 3.5 inch personal sketch card sized illustrations.

Inktober 2016 Week Four:

sk41-daredevilDaredevil

sk42-jack-o-lanternJack O’Lantern

sk43-doctor-strangeDoctor Strange

sk44-jack-skellingtonJack Skellington

sk45-ghostfaceGhostface

sk46-scarecrowScarecrow

sk47-michael-myersMichael Myers

This week is harder for me to pick a favorite, because I like how many of these turned out. I guess if I have to pick, I’d go with Jack Skellington. I quite like my Ghostface and Scarecrow, though… and Michael Myers to end the week turned out pretty good also.

Please let me know what you think and remember, if you’d like an original commission by me or would like to hire me as an Illustrator, please use the Contact page and let me know as much as you can about your request.

Inktober 2016 Part 2

And so we came to the second week of Inktober. You can take a look at what I did for Week One, or visit the Inktober Web site to learn more about the concept. I’m continuing to play catch-up as I didn’t get to post this during its intended weekend due to my recent Internet outage.

For Week Two, I continued with the 2.5 x 3.5 inch personal sketch card sized illustrations.

Inktober 2016 Week Two:

sk27-masked-dudeMasked Dude

sk28-human-torchHuman Torch

sk29-the-thingThe Thing

sk30-invisible-womanInvisible Woman

sk31-mr-fantasticMister Fantastic

sk32-flaming-skullFlaming Skull

sk33-man-thingMan-Thing

My easy favorite from this week was the Man-Thing! It was everything I wanted it to be. I probably like the Flaming Skull second best. FYI, the Masked Dude was going to be Green Lantern but I didn’t quite get where I wanted with it… similarly, the Flaming Skull was going to be Ghost Rider until I realized I didn’t leave enough room to draw any of his costume so there’s no way you’d know it was him. I also did a Fantastic Four subset this week. I mostly wanted to draw the Human Torch and the Thing, but felt like I ought to include the other two just to have a complete set! 🙂

Please let me know what you think and remember, if you’d like an original commission by me or would like to hire me as an Illustrator, please use the Contact page and let me know as much as you can about your request.

Inktober 2016 Part 1

Inktober is a thing, in October, started by Jake Parker back in 2009. It has grown over the years but the core concept is to complete and share one ink drawing per day for the entire month. I’ll skip the detailed history and origins and leave it to you to visit the Inktober Web site for yourself as he covers it pretty well there on his site.

So, I decided to participate this year… and I have been dutifully completing at least one new drawing per day since the beginning of the month. With the exception of that week where I was without Internet access, I have been sharing my creations every day, as I complete them, on Facebook so please check me out there to see what I’m drawing new each day!

My original plan was to make a weekly post here on the blog, and collect the previous week’s worth of dailies so that I didn’t interrupt my comic strip during the week. My Internet outage killed that plan as it spanned more than a week’s duration and killed what would have been my first two weekly update segments… but finally, I’m going to start catching up today.

I decided to go small, and every drawing for Week One is a 2.5 x 3.5 inch personal sketch card sized illustration.

Inktober 2016 Week One:

sk20-general-leeGeneral Lee

sk21-woman-faceWoman Face

sk22-black-catBlack Cat

sk23-spongebob-squarepantsSpongebob Squarepants

sk24-flashFlash

sk25-green-arrowGreen Arrow

sk26-spider-manSpider-Man

It’s easy to pick my personal favorite from the first week… Spongebob Squarepants! After that I probably like my Spider-Man card second best. Oh, and if you think that black cat looks super creepy, it might be because I gave it intentionally incorrect human-looking eyes just to be weird. 🙂

Please let me know what you think and remember, if you’d like an original commission by me or would like to hire me as an Illustrator, please use the Contact page and let me know as much as you can about your request.

Local Comic Book Storefront Work-in-Progress

I have an idea for a thing… that I will not get into right now… but something I wanted to do was use some inspired-by-real-life local locations with this. Given what I know and what you do not know, the place to start was with an old comic book store. Capitol Comics of Raleigh, NC, opened back in 1986 on Hillsborough St in downtown Raleigh, NC. Many years later they opened another location out past Crabtree Valley Mall, but a few years back they closed the original location and consolidated to just the newer one. Sadly even the building where the original location opened no longer exists! I worked at the original store location many years ago, and the owner Ken Pleasant has always been a class guy. I’ve also met and worked with lots of good people that I met through the years working and shopping at Capitol Comics.

Capitol Comics FrontI believe I’m mostly done here with the front of the store, complete with trademark easily-recognizable Spider-Man sign. There was originally an awning across the front of the store but I can’t find any pictures of that at the moment, so that is in the TBD later pile for now. I’d also like to draw the right-hand side of the store and I have plans to also pull back a little and create a semi-perspective look because that will allow me to also show the building next door that has a classic bulldozer sign on its roof. For those interested, below is a closer look at the Spider-Man sign, which I also have attempted to recreate as close to the original as my available source photographs would allow:

Capitol Comics Spidey SignI don’t want to say too much about my eventual plans for all this… but it could involve some further decorating of the insides of the store (as seen through the windows) and some looks at the interior as well. Stay tuned! I’m hoping to keep a sliver of the past alive through the creation of a whole ‘nother thing as I get the time to work on it. Please let me know what you think (especially if you’re local to Raleigh, NC and are familiar with this store) and remember, if you’d like an original commission by me or would like to hire me as an Illustrator, please use the Contact page and let me know as much as you can about your request.

Martian Manhunter Dark Secret Finally Exposed?

Still reeling from last week’s Captain America and Hydra conspiracy, the Internet can’t catch a break! Even as I just explained the truth behind Captain America’s revelation, we find ourselves smacked in the face with a conspiracy so deep, I was only able to uncover it late last night at great personal risk. Be warned, the following image is not for the feint of heart…

Hail Hydrox

As you can see, we’ve all been fooled! Martian Manhunter, or J’onn J’onnz as he is sometimes known, has only been feigning love for Oreos all these years. Secretly, he has been a double-agent in support of the insidiously delicious Hydrox corporation! Can you believe it? Oh, the Martianity! Did he even think of the children?

How much more can comics readers take of their favorite characters dirty secrets coming to light? How much more can my blog followers take of my strange and often horrible sense of humor? Only time will tell…

Don’t forget to let me know what you think of this and remember, if you’d like an original commission by me or would like to hire me as an Illustrator, please use the Contact page and let me know as much as you can about your request.

Captain America Hydra Conspiracy Explained!

So… I wanted to let this simmer for a bit, so as not to spoil things for anyone but if you have been living under a rock since before last Wednesday, I can no longer help you out!

Last week Marvel Comics released a new title, Captain America: Steve Rogers #1, and there was a huge reveal in it… There is a panel where Captain America utters words you never thought you would hear him say, “Hail Hydra!” and the Internet exploded. The most patriotic superhero ever created, revealed to retroactively always have been a deep cover Hydra agent? Say it ain’t so!

I’ll leave it to you to actually read the comic and follow the series to see what happens… but I’m going to blow the lid off the conspiracy right now with the secret that was right under comic readers’ very noses the whole time! You see, all you had to do was blow up that panel a bit and zoom in on what Captain America is really saying to see the true story.

Captain America Hydra Explained

So, there you have it… Captain America hasn’t gone rogue after all… he’s just a bit parched and extremely pro hydration! Please tell all your friends so that they can sleep better tonight… and, remember, if you’d like an original commission by me or would like to hire me as an Illustrator, please use the Contact page and let me know as much as you can about your request.

‘Sects Sunday 05/22/2016

SECTS 390S

‘Sects Monday 03/28/2016

SECTS 351

PNEUMYTHOLOGY

ROBERT LAMBERT JONES III

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