Turok #5 Cover: How I did it!

My short run of Turok covers for Dynamite is over with issue #5.  I did enjoy working on these even though they are not “classic” Turok.  Let’s face it:  “anyone” Dinosaur Hunter is cool.

So here is the breakdown for my final Turok cover.

I actually had more than one idea for this cover so in a rare dislpay of goodwill, I did two cover roughs for this issue.

Turok#5sketches

I kind of liked “A” best, so of course, they chose “B”.  Better shots of the dinosaur men shooting flaming arrows was requested and I obliged.

Turok#5cvrpencil

For some reason I inked Turok before I actually finished the detailed pencil work on the dinosaur men, which is why they seem unfinished in the pencil scan.

I did more detail, some of which I added in the inking.

Turok5CoverInk

I was pleased with the strong central image of Turok.  (which is really all that matters, I suppose)  The mid-ground area might be a little too open upon further review but I like to leave space around smaller characters so they don’t get lost in the background.  I am also overly cautious about making sure that smaller background characters’ actions are clear (in this case shooting bow and arrows).

I scanned the black and white image at 1200 dpi (bitmap or “line”) and then converted it to CMYK and colored it in photoshop.

Turok#5final

On many of these covers, I am never quite sure what I am going to do with the backgrounds.  I originally saw this as a day shot but after I messed around and tried a night time or evening sky effect, I really liked the color and feel of it.  So I used one of the photoshop brushes to created the stars and called it a success.

Next time we’ll take a look at my Wonder Woman/Conan #3 cover which presented some new challenges for me.  Until then….

 

Wonder Woman/Conan Black and White

Most people don’t get a chance to see the Black and White artwork associated with a comic unless they are art buyers.  Although Wonder Woman/Conan was wonderfully colored by Wendy Broome, I think the pages from this first issue are really cool in black and white as well.

Here are the two double page spreads from the issue along with a couple of other pages.  Spoiler alert if you haven’t bought and read the comic!  And if you haven’t, shame on you!

WWC_1-2+3

I’ve worked with a lot of good inkers over the years but Matt Ryan seems to get my sensibilities better than anyone.  It’s always tough doing a splash page or double page splash when two characters or sides are facing off.  You need to show both with some depth, even though they are facing one another.  Here is my solution for Conan’s big entrance into the story.

WWC_1-10+11

The story called for Wonder Woman’s face to not be clearly visible to the crowd so I had to draw her in a way that her hair covered her face.  Same challenge here that there was for the previous spread, show Wonder Woman and her opponents even though they are facing each other.  Problem solved but not after some trial and error.  Again, terrific inks by Matt Ryan, especially on all of the tiny people in the crowd.

WWC_1-19fix

I really like the figure work on this page (panel 3) and the final brooding close up of Wonder Woman.  I usually sell most of my pages but some of these are going to be hard to part with.

WWC_1-20

I like this page better after Matt’s inking then I did after I penciled it.  I’ve sold this one already and I am already missing it!

That’s it for now.  I just wanted you to experience a little bit of the thrill I get when the Matt Ryan sends me back the inked originals and I get to see them full sized for the first time!

 

Turok #3 Cover Process

Look out, two posts in one week!

I recently just completed a run of 5 alternate Turok covers for Dynamite.  As each one gets released on the internet I will post a blog.  I recently saw that my cover to Turok #3 was online so here I am.

This issue’s cover happens to be my favorite of the run.  That’s not to say I think it’s the best necessarily, I just like it the best.  Probably because of the T-Rex.  Now strangely with these covers I had a pretty clear vision with each one about what I wanted to do.  So I just did one cover sketch. My editor liked it, so I went with it.  Like they say, your first instincts are usually right.  (I have no idea who “they” are)

So here is the 8.5X11 cover sketch drawn on 20lb copy paper.  I went ahead and inked this with a micron (or something similar) because I was only doing one so I had a little more time to solidify my concept.

Turok3CvrSketch

Shortly after doing the sketch, there was a slight story change.  Turok’s daughter was no longer to be featured on the cover.  It didn’t change the composition at all.  I just removed the daughter and kept everything else the same when I took it to pencil.

turok#3fix

At this point I wasn’t exactly sure what the background was going to be, other than it would all be handled in the coloring stage.  So I inked it.

Turok3ink

I made a slight alteration to make sure the tomahawk was not touching the hood of the car.  The background was supposed to represent some weird energy zone where things out of time would randomly appear (thus the old car).  So I knew I had to go do something funky but not distracting in the background.  This is where working in photoshop is a real advantage.  You can try a bunch of different things and keep deleting failures until you find something that works.

Turok3CvrFinal

What I did here is drop in a flat yellow-ish background and then use the lasso tool to create some random looking shapes.  I took some of the green from Turok’s outfit and did a color fade (from green to yellow) in the lasso shape.  I also lightly dropped in some of the red from the T-Rex in the background and some lighter yellow streaks.  With a brush I spotted those glowing embers.  Finally I dropped a layer of the background yellow (about 15% opacity) over the car to harmonize it a little more and keep it from sticking out too much.  Our focus should be the dino and Turok, not the car.

And that’s how I did it!

 

 

Wonder Woman/Conan #2 Cover and Print

It’s been too long.  It’s time for a post, so let’s take a look at how I put together the Alternate cover for issue #2 of the new 6 issue minis series, Wonder Woman/Conan.   The first issue just came out and readers seem to really like it.  I am quite grateful for the positive response and I am hopeful that it will continue to be that way through the next 5-issues.

You may be asking why I’m doing the alternate covers instead of the regular covers?   You also may be asking why not any cover to issue #1?  Both are excellent questions and the simple answer is the covers were assigned before I was ever offered the job.  Nutty yes, but that’s what happened.  I, however, continued to complain about this arrangement to DC until they decided to do alternate covers for each issue so I would have covers to draw.  I am very thankful that they thought enough of me to make this happen.  The alternative cover for the first issue had already been assigned by the time I started drawing so I didn’t get my first cover until the second issue.  And that ladies and gentlemen is the story.

As I was working on the cover to the second issue, Dark Horse (Conan license holders) decided they wanted an image to use as a promotional print for SDCC.  I got my cover finished just in time and it became the SDCC Dark Horse print.  So even though the image has not been released as the alternate cover to issue #2 yet, it has been released as the print so therefore I can share it with you.

Okay, I’m exhausted so let’s get to the art!

I did several roughs for this cover because I was trying to find something really cool to fit this very cool project.  Also there is a lot going on in the second issue that would lend itself to a great cover.  My favorites were A and E.  A was chosen and I was off.

WW:Conan#2cvrSketchA WW:Conan#2cvrSketchB WW:Conan#2cvrSketchC WW:Conan#2cvrSketchD WW:Conan#2cvrSketchE

Dark Horse requested that Conan be a little more aggressive looking on the cover image so I accommodated them in the pencils.

WW:ConanCvr2Pencil

You will also see that I added a second crow head since there are two in the story.  Everyone was okay with the pencils so I did what naturally comes second, I inked it.  Again mostly with brush and a little pen on the straight edges and chain.

WW:ConanCvr2inks

Once this was done I had to jump right in on the colors because I had very little turn around time to meet the deadline for the SDCC print.  My 15 year old daughter flatted the colors on this for me and she is surprisingly fast and good.  Especially for her age.

I wanted the background to be red so this would really jump off the stands.  I incorporated some of that into the characters skin tones so it would have some color harmony.  Conan has a darker more bronzed skin tone than Wonder Woman by REH’s description.

The background had a little experimentation to it.  I used a flat red and then used the lasso tool (photoshop) to create random looking shapes and then did a color fade inside the lasso.  This helped create the splotchy look to the background.  I did multiple fades over some of those so that they blended more organically and then added some soft brush spotting over the top creating a faux water color effect.

WW-Conan#2CvrFinal

Then things got interesting.   About a month after the print was released Dark Horse let me know that Conan was holding his sword wrong!  What?  I was wondering where this information was in the penciling stages.  However, such is the life of a commercial artist.  I had to figure out a way to patch in some new black and white art into the color file without re-coloring the whole thing.

I penciled and inked the sword correction.  The flat side of the sword should be lined up with the back of Conan’s hand. The outline of the hand is just there as a guide.  I was only going to use the sword and it’s hilt.

CoverSwordPatch

I scanned it and then pasted it in the black copy layer (I’m coloring in CMYK channels).  Then erased the parts of the old sword that were still showing.  This in turn created areas on Conan’s chest and arm that were now uncolored.  so I went in and did some touch up and saved the day.  It felt like the old days when I was working in a commercial art studio in Portland.  Creating patches to correct art was one of my specialties.  Of course, I had no computer help back then.

WW:Conan2Cvrfinalredux

So there it is, the final final art.  You’ll notice I got a wild hair and added some light flares to the swords.  I’m also particularly fond of the chain.  I took a brush with very random edges (again in photoshop) and applied splotches of color at about 30% opacity to create a rusty metal look.

This blog is admittedly a bit long-winded but it does offer up some insights into the problems we sometimes run into with comics and commercial art in general.

The Cover to Turok #2

A few months back my old friend Matt Idelson, formerly of Marvel Comics, formerly of DC Comics and currently of Dynamite Comics contacted me about doing alternate covers for their new Turok series.  I said…..”YES!”

The first cover I had to pencil and ink in a day.  So I was unable to color it.  Therefore, I am not going to feature it here.  Instead I am going to start with #2 since I did pencil, ink and color it myself!

As crazy as it sounds coming from me, I only did one cover rough.  I had a pretty good idea for the cover and just went with it.  Matt liked it so I got away with just one cover sketch.

Turok#2sketch

My initial thought was Turok was “hijacking” a pteranodon, thus the gun to the head.  Matt wanted something more dynamic like him firing the gun right at us….more or less.  I figured he was still hijacking the dino but now he was firing at another one.  Sounds good to me.

So I altered the cover slightly and came up with this pencil.

TurokCvr#2Pencil

All looked good to everyone involved so it seemed the next logical step would be to ink it.  So I did.  Once again using mostly a brush.

Turok#2CvrLine

That turned out about as well as could be expected so I scanned it as a bit map at 1200 dpi.  I then changed it to a CMYK file and reduced the size to about 800dpi and reduced the height to about 13 inches and then colored it in photoshop.

TurokCvr2final

This is more or less a orange/blue complimentary color scheme.  I did push the greens into the yellow a little for the background trees as well as making the sun a very pale yellow.  I did a color hold on the sun and had it fade into the background at the bottom.  I wasn’t sure initially how it would look but upon trying it, I liked it and kept it.  I also added the stripes to the pteranodon because I felt like there was too much open space on his wings.  I thought the camoflauge would work well to hive the beast a  little more character.

In retrospect, I probably should have done a color hold on the blast flares from the gun…..

Next time.

There you have it folks, another cover bites the dust!

Commission Requests for SDCC 2017

I am officially taking show commission request and pre-show commission requests for Comic Con International in San Diego.  The show runs from July 19-23 and I will be in booth 4706.

Here’s the deal.  I am taking 3 pre-show 11X17 single character color commissions to be picked up and paid for at the show.  These will be $350 a piece and below are a few examples of what you can expect.

AndromedasmallSupergirlPhoto2017ShrinkingViolet

I will also be taking 5 11X14 single character color commissions to be done at the show.  I have never offered these before at a show, so it is a rare opportunity indeed!  These will be $250 a piece.  These will be marker and colored pencil.   Here are some of examples of what you can expect.

littlemermaid2015BlackCanaryBaroness

 

The color commissions will be a priority but I will take on as many 11X14 gray marker single character commission requests as I can squeeze in.  These will be $200 and you can expect something like this:

IMG_0887IMG_0890

 

To get on the list for any of these contact me at aaron@aaronlopresti.com.  The large color pieces will require a deposit of $100 and the balance to be paid upon pick up at San Diego.  All other pieces will be put on a list to be completed at the show with no down payment required.

This will all be first come first basis.  This is the first year I have done it like this, so we will see how it goes.

Art I Kept For Myself Part 2

Sometimes I will work on a one-shot or short story and I will think to myself, “self- you should just keep all of the art to the story”, so I do.  It’s not necessarily because I love every page but maybe that I just like the whole story as a unit.  Or sometimes it is because I penciled and inked the story myself (rare, but it does happen) or I want to sell the whole story together but then later change my mind.

Unfortunately, I have a few of those stories that I sold a couple of pages from before deciding I should keep the whole thing.  I’m not going to show every page from every whole (or near whole) story that I have but one or two of my favorite pages from each.  (let’s face it, I’m too lazy to scan every single one and not every single one is worth featuring).

Years ago in the late 90’s (I think) I got the rare opportunity to write and draw a two-page MASK story for Dark Horse.  It was part of a my bigger jam book called, “Mask: Virtual Surreality” – I think.    Here are the two pages with word balloons on the page!

Maskpg1

I have to point out on the last panel of the first page, I should have made the Mask’s tongue much much longer.   Laying on the rocks in the foreground.  These are the things that still bug me.

Maskpg2

One of the heartbreaks of early in my career (and there are far too many) was the story I did for the once infamous Elseworld’s 80 page giant.  I did a story that featured Bruce Wayne and Harvey Dent as Detectives in the 1930’s investigating some cultish murders.  I penciled and inked the story and it was the lead story in the book, a real showcase for me at a time that I desperately needed one.  However, do to the now classic “Superman’s Baby-Sitter” story by Kyle Baker the book got recalled shortly after a few hundred copies got shipped to the UK.  As a result, the book never got released in the US and became an instant collector’s item.  But because of the inevitable moral decline of the United States, the book was finally reprinted and released a few years ago by DC.

It is a 10 page story and here are pages 1 and 9 my two favorites from the story.  The title page (I like the design) and the page where Harvey Dent becomes Two-Face and the villainous cult leader is revealed to be (spoiler alert) Metamorpho!

You’ll notice the inks are a bit heavy handed.  I was still developing and learning my inking style at this point.

Elseworldspg1

Elseworldspg10001

I think not long after the Elseworld’s story I got the opportunity to do another 10-page story, this time in the Plastic Man Special.  For some inexplicable reason I sold two of the pages from this story.  I have the other eight but I wish I had those two back!

You can see the improvement in the penciling and inking from the Elseworld’s story.  I was on a fast learning curve during the 90’s where my work greatly improved in a short period of time.  You might be able to see some Kevin Nowlan influence in the first page inks.

PlasticManpg1

PlasticManpg2

 

To wrap up this blog I am going to revisit my 2-part Gen 13 Bootleg I did for Wildstorm. This again was a late 90’s effort, during a time where regular work was fleeting and I needed as many considerations from my friends in power as I could get.  It was Scott Dunbier, who was EIC at Wildstorm, who let me do this project.  Originally it was going to be written by Karl Kesel but he dropped out and I took the story idea we had discussed and fleshed it out to a finished plot.  The Simonson’s were brought in to dialogue in the hopes of boosting sales.  So I penciled and inked the pages and sent them to Walter to dialogue.  He was unable to do the second issue and Weezie stepped in and dialoged the second issue using my notes as a guide.  I’ll also say that Hilary Barta came in to ink a couple of pages when I got behind.

The pages featured here are all inked by me.   If you haven’t read this story (Gen13 Bootleg #’s 11 and 12) you should pick it up.  It’s a Scooby-Doo/Island of Dr. Moreau mash-up that features appearances by Shaggy and Marlon Brando as Dr. Monstreau (get it?)  The story features some really good art and some of my best layouts and story-telling devices I have ever done.

Gen13Bootlegpg1

Gen13Bootlegpg9

Gen13Bootlegpg12

Gen13Bootlegpg20

I could have easily picked 15 pages to feature from this book but settled on these four for no other reason than expediency.   Once again, I unfortunately sold 5 or 6 pages from this story that I wish I had back.

That’s it for this time.  Next blog will focus on my Garbage Man story.  Technically it fits into this blog’s category but because the volume of pages from the project is so great, I think it deserves a blog of its own!  Until then….

Art I Kept For Myself

A long time ago another artist (can’t remember who) told me that he always kept at least one page from every issue he drew.  That was a hard discipline back when I started because I needed to make money anyway I could.  Having every original for sale was an excellent way to hopefully make some extra cash.  As a result, I have several projects that I drew early on that I now have no pages left from.

It didn’t take too many years in, however, before I started implementing the sagely advice that someone (still can’t remember who) gave me.  I started pulling my favorite page from every issue (even if it were sale worthy) to hang on to and keep forever (or at least until I die and my kids sell it).

In some cases with short stories, I have kept the entire thing.  I do have a couple of minor regrets though.  I sold a couple of pages from a short Plastic Man story I penciled and inked many years ago that I wish I hadn’t.  I also let go of a few pages from my Gen 13 Bootleg story that I wish I still had.  Oh well, bill paying sometimes makes us do crazy things.

What I want to do with this particular blog is showcase some of the pages I have kept for myself over the years.  I know many are curious as to which pages an artist would keep of his/her own work and why.  Well, now it’s time to answer that question for me.

Let’s start not at the beginning but with possibly my most recognized work, at least it will be after the next Thor movie comes out….Planet Hulk!  I’m probably going to wish I’d kept all of the pages from this series as prices will inevitably rise due to the movie.

I drew a 10 page story for Giant-Size Hulk #1 that had something of a prequel Planet Hulk story in it.  From that story that had a lot of good Hulk pages in it, I kept two.  The first was the title page.  I did the title lettering myself on the board and for that reason, I held on to it.

PlanetHulk1

 

I would like to note that I was able to talk the great Danny Miki into inking this story and part of my run on the regular series as well.

The other page I kept from this story was this rather striking splash page.  It should be obvious why I kept it.  I almost sold it once but my son talked me into keeping it.  Ah, the wisdom of children.

PlanetHulk2

I few pages from my first issue of the regular series (issue #96) found their way into my private collection.  The first is this page featuring my first drawing of the Hulk’s love interest, Caiera.  That second panel really grabbed me.

PlanetHulk3

These next two pages are part of a sequence from issue #96.  The amount of detail and the Barry Smith foliage vibe, especially in panels 4 and 5 made we want to hang on to this.

PlanetHulk4

 

The bottom two panels here again with the foliage and detail and amount of characters made me want to keep this.

 

PlanetHulk5

 

This page took me forever to draw because of the amount of characters on it.  I love the first panel and the last panel.  It’s a great shot of the Hulk leading the charge and I love the Hulk’s body language in the last panel as he is turning back to see the rock slide descending on him.  I also love the face of the evil general in panel 2.

 

PlanetHulk6

 

Those are the last of the Danny Miki pages that I kept.  Sandu Florea took over for Danny, mid-way through the series.  Issue #102 is where Sandu really got rolling.  As a result, I kept several pages from that issue.  The first is this one.  The body language/pose of the semi-transparent alien in panel 2 along with the shot angle and the presence of all the major characters on this page made it a compelling piece of art for me.

 

PlanetHulk7

 

This page may seem like an odd choice but that shot of Miek before he goes into flashback in panel 1 is the reason.  It is a highly unusual angle and extremely difficult to pull off.  I loved how it turned out, so I had to keep it.

PlanetHulk8

 

I love every panel on this page.  The Hulk face and figure in panel 1, the Hulk in panel 2 with the creepy shadowed Meik in the background and that shot of the Hulk with his big hand reaching toward us in panel 3.

 

PlanetHulk9

 

This is the only splash page I kept from the regular series.  I think it has a Kirby sense of power to it and I love the Hulk’s expression as he pounds the Emperor.  For me, it is clearly the most Hulk-like splash page I drew.  The Hulk is smashing and that’s what he should be doing. There is a lot of detail and Sandu really pulled it together with his inks.

PlanetHulk10

 

This might be my favorite  page from the entire series (or at least my favorite panel). The page after this has a half page splash of Caiera huddling with the Hulk as the space vampires drain his blood that I sold but this I couldn’t let this go.  The blacks and three dimensional volume in panel one is reminiscent of Berni Wrightson (my childhood idol) and the posturing of the vampires just really works.

 

PlanetHulk11

 

The last of my keepers is this page.  Panel 2 says it all.  Of all the pages I have kept this is the one that was most frequently asked about.  I loved getting crazy with the distortion and detail on the Hulk’s face as he is infected with the vampire spores.  That panel would have been a great splash page.

PlanetHulk12

 

So those are the pages from Planet Hulk that I purposefully kept.  I have to say before I sign off that none of this would have been possible without the great script and input from Greg Pak.  This story is truly a classic and I was blessed to be a part of it.

Next entry will be Wonder Woman keepers!

 

More Color Commissions

Well it’s that time again……me waiting on a script.  When you have nothing to do, what do you do?  You take on a few more commissions, that’s what.  Only 4 this time as I am desperately hoping to have a script in hand on Monday.

The one good thing lately about doing all of these color commissions is I have been getting great requests from people.  It’s great to be able to draw a commission for someone when the subject matter is something you really like.

All of these are 11X17 and a combination of copic marker and colored pencil.  With this batch I was able to get through the left over requests from my previous run of commissions.

The first one I did was Poison Ivy.

PoisonIvy

 

Second was Deathstroke the Terminator.  This is a character that I have never drawn before.  It’s always fun to tackle new subject matter.

Deathstroke

Next up is one of my favorite DC characters.  The always popular but never translates into sales, The Creeper.  I tried to channel a little bit of Steve Ditko’s original wackiness into this piece.

Creeper

And finally one of my favorite odd ball characters from the 70’s, Iron Fist.  Bruce Lee’s popularity first brought about Shang-Chi Master of Kung Fu and was soon followed by Daniel Rand, Iron Fist!

IronFist

Three of the four commissions are headed for Australia.  I haven’t visited there since 1994, so I definitely need to get back there!

That’s all I have for now.  As always, thanks for looking.

Is there life on Mars?

I just recently received perhaps the most unique and interesting comic assignment of my career.  A Marvin Martian/Martian Manhunter Team-up book!  What the?!

Fortunately I am a HUGE Chuck Jones and Warner Bros. Cartoon fan, so I practically leapt at the opportunity to work on such a project.  The number one challenge was to redesign Marvin Martian so he fit a little better into the DCU but not lose his classic feel.   We had to be able to look at him and know that it was Marvin Martian and yet he had to be less Looney Tune and a little more Bat-Mite.

I did a couple of drawings starting with the classic take on the character to give us all a starting point to compare the progressions too.  The first redesign took the character a little too far.

MarvinMartianDesign

This next design hit the mark.  Clearly Marvin Martian but with just enough modernization to make him work in the DCU.

MarvinMartianDesignB

Now since I am right in the middle of drawing this book, I can only breakdown the cover art beyond this point, which is what I generally do in these blogs anyway.  So let’s take a look at the several cover sketches I did for this soon to be monumental book.

MartianA&B MartianC&DMartianE

Here’s how I viewed these.  I thought for sure that “A” would be picked, although “C” is clearly the best design but my favorite was and is “E” because it is an homage to one of Frazetta’s Buck Rogers Famous Funnies covers.  (if you don’t know what I am talking about it, google it)

So sure enough, “B” was chosen and after I finished penciling it, someone named Dan Didio discovered its eerie similarities to the cover of  Death of Hawkman #5 which I had recently completed.  I had indeed inadvertently pulled a “John Byrne” and ripped off myself.  So we decided to go with “C” which was probably the right call all along.

So I penciled the cover and actually remembered to scan it.

MarvinCvrPencil

I was actually able to work in a nice Frazetta planet in the background.  Like I always say, “If you can’t rip-off yourself, rip-off someone else.”

I then inked the pencil almost entirely with a brush.  The ray-gun and the design stuff on the helmet and armbands was done with a pen.

MarvinCoverInk

You can see that I added the floating asteroid field during the inking stage.  I just really felt like I needed something else in there besides space.  I created the stars the old fashioned way…by dipping a toothbrush into white-out and splattering it on the black.

Coloring was a challenge.  In Marvin’s first cartoon appearance he wore a green top.  But in his most famous appearance, Duck Dodgers, he wore a red top.  Probably because they put Daffy in Green and they both couldn’t wear the same color!  So Marvin has been in red ever since.  So I went with red.  I didn’t go with the white gloves because I thought it might be too Looney Tune-ish.  But the powers that be saw it differently…

MartianCvrFinal

So I changed the gloves to white.

MartianCvrFinalRevised

Then it was requested that I make his helmet and armor more shiney.  So I did that also.

MartianCvrAbsoluteFinal

 

So this was and is the final version of the cover art.  (Notice the groovy color hold on the orange moon behind Marvin).   This has quickly become one of my all-time favorite covers. That fact that Marvin Martian is on it might have a little something to do with it.

This book will be out in June and is a must read for Looney Tune nuts like me!

Thanks for looking!