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!

 

Home Commission Extravaganza

What does an artist do when he is waiting on his next assignment or perhaps a late script? In my case, take commissions!  When I am at shows or conventions I will take commissions and draw them there.  Some times that drawing gets done in the hotel room but mostly at the table at the show.  I don’t do color work at shows (too time consuming) and I only work on 11X14 paper (anything bigger is too hard to handle while drawing on your lap).

So when I take on home commission they are almost exclusively color pieces on 11X17 art board.  Bigger pieces, in a controlled environment and no time limit to get it done and do a good job.

I have recently done a big round of home commissions because I was for 2 weeks waiting on the script to my next assignment at DC.  Still can’t say what that is but I can say I have received the script and am working on it now.  Which means the commissions are coming to end or a least a significant slow down.

So let’s take a look at some of what I have accomplished over the past two weeks.  All of these are some combination of marker and colored pencils.  In some cases a little paint to shake things up.

Captain Marvel, the first one I did.

 

 

CaptainMarvel2017

 

 

 

Huntress was second.

Huntress

Shrinking Violet was next.

ShrinkingViolet

 

Metamorpho was a request I couldn’t turn down.

Metamorpho2017

 

Although I have never been a big fan of Death (who is really?)(I think I’ve used that joke before) I always seem to produce pretty good looking commissions when I draw her.  I have to admit, I stole the tattered umbrella idea from Adam Hughes.

Death2017

It never hurts to work in a classic Marvel character now and again.

JGPhoenix2017

Plastic Man is one of my all time favorite characters and it was requested by the same guy who wanted the Metamorpho.  Clearly a patron with excellent taste.  Unfortunately my scanner broke before I could finish this one so this is a digital photograph doctored up in photoshop to try and approximate the correct color scheme.  It ain’t perfect but it is close enough.  This is probably my favorite piece so far.

PlasticManPhoto

Last one I will be sharing in this post is my most recent completion, Supergirl.  Again, digital photo doctored up in photoshop.

SupergirlPhoto2017

 

There are more but I think that’s enough for one post.  In the near future I will have to do a technique breakdown on how I do these.  Until then, thanks for looking.

Archie and Cheryl Blossom Cover

In the fall of 2016 I was approached by Archie Comics to do some covers for them.  I have to admit that I was so impressed with what Adam Hughes did with his work for Archie, it sort of inspired me to take on the challenge of doing something a little different subject matter-wise.  In other words, I happily agreed to do some work for them.

My first cover assignment from them was to do a variant cover for Archie #17.  This was the final issue of the intro of the Cheryl Blossom story line.  I was given the gist of the  the story and came up with a couple of ideas that I think captured the theme pretty well.

Archie:CBlossomCvrSketches

Quite frankly, I was excited to do either concept because I thought they were both pretty strong compositions that accurately conveyed the story.  “B” was chosen, so that’s what I drew.

ArchieCvrPencil

 

I was able to grasp the more modern slant on the characters quicker than I thought I would.  Once I was happy with the expressions and the figure work, I started inking.

ArchieCover

I did all of the inking with a brush except for the background circle.  There I used a compass equipped with an ink pen.  I scanned the piece and began coloring in photoshop.

ArchieAltCvrFinal

As is the case almost every time I color, I spent twice as much time coloring the piece as I did penciling and inking it. I went back and forth on the back ground color as I also usually do before settling on the orange fade.  I knew that Cheryl Blossom and the guys were going to be warm and I also knew that Veronica would be a monochromatic cool color to push her back a bit.  So the logical choice was to go warm again for the background. This is basically a orange-blue complimentary color scheme.

I have to thank Adam Hughes for taking the time to share with me how he does his color holds, which I used on the Veronica figure in the background. It’s a simple trick of deleting the black line work and refilling it with color.

Anyway, that’s the finished cover and that’s all for now!

Death of Hawkman #6 Cover Quest

I desperately (exaggeration) wanted to get my blogging caught up (whatever that means), at least in regard to my Death of Hawkman Covers, so here I am with a another blog on that very topic.

This was a hard one.  It was the last cover to a somewhat important and definitely eventful mini-series (Death of Hawkman, duh!) so it had to be good.  What to do?  Talk about pressure!  I came up with several ideas in an attempt to capture the magnitude of the moment and here is what ended up on paper.

HawkmanAStrange#6cvrpencil1 HawkmanAStrange#6cvrpencil2

It’s not often that I draw four cover roughs and still not get it right but that is what happened here.  My editor suggested something simple, stark and dramatic.  What about Hawkman’s skull?  Great idea.  Especially great when you are in a deadline crunch and don’t have much turn around time.  So I took the concept, ran to my drafting table and did a quick marker sketch to make sure we were on the same page.

HawkmanAStrange#6cvrrough5

 

Once I got the okay, I pencilled the cover art.  And in typical Lopresti fashion, I didn’t get a scan of the pencils.  It might have seemed unnecessary to me considering the simplicity of the design.  You’ll have to trust me that I did, in fact, pencil the cover before I inked it.

Here is a scan of the inks after it was completed.  Interestingly, I added the heavy blacks around his teeth and chin after I originally thought I was finished with it.   I was getting ready to scan it and I just felt like there wasn’t enough volume to the illustration so I went in and added some black areas to create that depth that was lacking.

DOH#6cvrfinal

After completing this stage, I did indeed scan it and sent it over to Brad Anderson for the color job.  Brad once again took the black and white work and made it sing with a great color job.  The added blood splatter was a nice touch.

Hwkmn_AStrng_6_Cvr_fnl1

I think the simplistic yet dramatic design ended up being the perfect cover for the last issue of the Death of Hawkman.  See you soon when I perhaps will delve into my work at Archie Comics.  Ta ta for now!

 

Death of Hawkman Cover #5

Let’s take a look at my cover art for Death of Hawkman #5.

This is a cover where there was some indecision on my part as to what I wanted to do.  I got some direction from the writer and my editor and then I tried to make sense of it all and come up with a strong image.  It took me a few prelims to get there, though, and even then there were changes.

HawkmanAStrange#5cvrsketchA&B HawkmanAStrange#5cvrsketchC

 

 

Personally I would have gone with “A” or “B” but “C” was chosen with some adjustments. The powers that be wanted Hawkman and Hawkgirl moved to the front, which made perfect sense in retrospect.

So I made the flip and produced a pencil drawing…sort of.  This is really more of a full sized rough to get approval after I made the change.  This way I’m not investing a ton of time in something before I get a solid approval.

HawkmanAStrange#5cvrrough

 

After the new positioning of the characters was approved I went ahead and put in the other elements of the cover and the character details.

HawkmanAStrange#5newcvrrough

 

I did put more detail into the pencil before I went to ink it but once again I didn’t get another scan of the fully detailed pencil.  I did scan the finished inks though (phew).  I inked this almost entirely with a brush.  (the debris was inked with a micron)

HawkmanAStrange#5Cvr

 

Once again Brad Anderson jumped in and colored this with a very short turn around and did another great job.

Hwkmn_AStrng_5_Cvr_fnl

 

I’ll be back soon with the gripping saga of how the cover to Death of Hawkman #6 came to be!

Death of Hawkman #4 Cover Musings

When I started this new Hawkman series for DC Comics, I was bound and determined to finally settle on a consistent look for my finished work. Those are things you can’t always control on the interiors because of the availability of inkers and what they bring stylistically to the finished work.  However, I can control that on my covers, illustrations and on some interiors depending on deadlines allowing me to ink myself.  I am through experimenting with different tools and returning to my first love, the brush.

Style has always been important in comics and being called “old fashioned” is never a welcome compliment ( I prefer “neo-classic”).  But I’ve realized that any style can be great and attractive to new and old readers as long as it’s well done.  That’s the key.  The composition, story-telling and draftsmanship are all part of the equation.  In other words, it’s not about what you do but how well you do it.

So instead of wasting time trying to constantly figure out what the reading audience might want to see or might react more positively to, I am moving forward doing what I do as best I can do it.   Striving for what I always have, consistent growth.  So with all of this firmly planted in our minds, let’s move forward with the cover to Death of Hawkman #4.

HawkmanAScoversketchesC&D HawkmanAScoversketchesA&B

I really wasn’t 100% sure of what I wanted to do with this cover so the result of my indecision was 4 cover sketches.  “D” got the green light so I moved to the penciling stage.  Unfortunately for some strange reason I don’t have a scan of the pencil for this cover.   One of the hazards of inking yourself is forgetting to scan the pencils; something I have made a habit of doing.

So let’s quickly move to the inks to save myself further embarrassment.  I inked the final pencils with a brush.  The lighting effect along with the use of more solid blacks gives this cover a nice sense of drama and three-dimensional weight.

DOHawkman#4cover

 

As with all of the Hawkman covers, Brad Anderson is doing the colors.  Brad is one of my favorite colorists in the business so it was no surprise that he did another great job with this one.

HawkmnAdStrg_4_CVR_fnl

There you have it.  Another finished cover.  Since I am running way behind on my blogs and I have already finished covers #5 and #6, I will get those posted up here in short order.  Until then….

Hawkman/Adam Strange Cover #3

Here we are again with another cover process breakdown.  Since I did my first two Hawkman/Adam Strange covers the name of the mini-series has been officially changed to the ominous, “Death of Hawkman featuring Adam Strange.”  No matter what you call it, it’s the same series and here is how the cover to the 3rd issue came about.

As I look through my files it appears that I only came up with 2 sketches for this cover.  I knew I wanted to feature Hawkman on this cover since the previous cover featured Adam Strange.  Although, Adam Strange is a serious player in this series, Hawkman is a much more popular character and the title is “The Death of Hawkman”, so it makes sense he should be featured as much as possible.

HawkmanAStrange#3coversketches

 

The first one and the best one was chosen so I took it to pencils.  You’ll notice I changed the positioning of Adam Strange on the cover.  I really wanted this to be a Hawkman cover so I used Adam Strange’s left arm as his gun arm so it would come up and cover part of his face.  He’s still there but very much a secondary player.

You’ll also notice the pencils are very tight and clean.  This is because as I drew the piece I made enough alterations through the drawing process that I felt the paper was too soiled. So I light tabled the original drawing onto this board and then added whatever details were necessary to complete the piece.

HawkmanAStrange#3coverpencil

 

After finishing this clean pencil drawing I inked it with a brush.  Through recent years I have been experimenting with a combination of brush and pen, constantly searching for a look I like.  A few months ago I decided to stick with a brush and really refine my approach.  I’m really pleased with the direction I’m going as I am finally finding that balance between achieving slick control and a lively organic feel.

HawkmanAStrange#3cvrfinal

Since I have the most awesome Brad Anderson available for coloring these covers I have gladly stepped aside and allowed him to do some nice work.  So what you see below is Brad’s coloring for the final cover.

HwkmnAStrng_3_CVR_fnl

I’m feeling really good about these covers and I have just finished the fourth one.  I will post about it as soon as I can.   So until then….

Hawkman/Adam Strange #2 Cover

Let’s take a quick look at my process for illustrating the cover to issue #2 of my current mini-series project for DC Comics, “Hawkman/Adam Strange: Out of Time”.  I would love to surprise you and say I did something different here, but no, it’s the same old process just with new art.

I did three cover sketches for my editor to choose from on this cover.  I was a little torn on this one.  I liked both A and B and I would have been happy to do either.  B was chosen with a few modifications suggested by the editor and writer.

HawkAS#2cvrsketchA HawkAS#2cvrsketchB HawkAS#2cvrsketchC

 

Here in the pencils, you can see one of the modifications.  The Thangarian hawkment swarming from the planet added a nice balancing element to the composition.  The planet breaking apart was added after this pencil scan.   Both were excellent suggestions that made the cover stronger.

HawkmanAScvr#2pencil

After I got the okay on the pencils I took the art to the ink stage.  I used almost exclusively brush on this.  Some of the hard lines were inked with a pen but that’s pretty much it.  The fade from the black to the white at the bottom was accomplished by using a couple of different pen sizes and just dabbing dots until I got the effect.  A bit tedious but I wasn’t about to mask off the art and spray it with black splatter.  In my book, that has disaster written all over it.

HawkmanAStrange#2Cvr

This is one of the occasions where I chose not to color the cover myself.  The biggest reason was I had a turn around time of only three days to get it designed, penciled, inked and colored.  I am not an efficient enough colorist to do a good job that fast.  So I passed it over to Brad Anderson who was more than up for the task.  To think he did this color job in 24 hours is remarkable to me.

HawkmanAStrange_2_CVR_fnl

I really like how this turned out and it just made my new favorite list!  See you soon.

 

My Top 20 Favorite Covers Part 4

Well, here we are…the top 5 and the reveal of my #1 favorite cover.  You’ll notice as you go through this final list that I have once again cheated.  I have actually listed six covers because I have a tie.  Really it’s a “cop out” but as I mentioned before, it’s my blog so I can cheat if I want to.  (sounds like the name of a song….)

But before we jump in to the final 5 let’s (meaning me) discuss what makes a good cover.  When you are creating a cover for a comic or book, there is only one thing that really matters, visual impact.  Does it jump off the rack?  Does it make you look twice and most importantly does it make you buy the book?  These are obvious qualities but the question really is, how do you achieve them.

First and foremost is design.  Strong composition is vital.  Having a strong focal point in the image is essential to the composition or it just becomes noise.  I referenced this lightly when I blogged about the Top 10 covers of the Golden Age.  Specifically I am referring to Alex Schomburg’s work.  Most of his Timely work was stuffed compositions that looked exactly the same.  Energetic for sure but lacking in identity.  Then he put out All-Select #1 and USA Comics #7 generally thought to be his two greatest covers.  Why?  Both are more focused on a central image or idea within the context of a well executed composition.  Strong figure work and large dominating figures almost always proves a winner.   Gil Kane was masterful at this as well.

Quality of draftsmanship is also important but not as important as composition and design.  I’ve seen many a good cover that was not particularly well drawn but the design was great.  Plus “quality” is subjective.  But when the quality is transcendent as with such artists like  Frazetta and Adam Hughes or classic Neal Adams.  The quality of the draftsmanship is strong enough to overcome weak design.  That’s not to say that these artist’s are weak in the design sense (because they certainly are not) but I’m simply saying they draw so well they could get away with a weak design and still have a successful cover.

To me the final element is story-telling.  You always want to give your audience more than just a static piece of art, no matter how well it’s executed.  On second glance, what information can the reader discern from the cover?  Does it accurately convey some emotional content that will draw the consumer into opening the book and actually buying it and reading it?  This aspect has become less important as covers are being created sometimes without even knowing what the content of the books are.  This is especially true of variant covers.  But the cover itself can tell a story even if it’s not a reflection of the content of the book. (Specifically see my Weird Worlds #6 cover from the previous blogs)

It’s funny how obvious these points are and how often we as artist’s miss the mark.  Sometimes deadlines or just having a uncreative day can lead to uninspired cover work.  Sometimes editorial disagreements can sap the energy out of an idea.  Some days you just aren’t as motivated or drawing well.  I guess the moral of the story is, knowing what to do is only half the battle.  Actually executing it is another challenge.

So there are my thoughts on that.  Now let’s finish off this list!

#5:  Mystic #33. My favorite of all my Mystic covers mainly because of the inclusion of the Abominable Snowman.  Marc Alessi wanted to make a diorama sculpture of it (back when CrossGen was planning such things) so it has to have something going for it.  In fact, Alessi bought the cover from me or I would still have it.  Inks by Matt Ryan and colors by Wil Quintana.

Couv_157937

 

#4a:  Deadpool -1.  Okay, let the cheating begin.  The truth is I have 6 covers that I wanted in the top 5, so here we are.  This is the first image I ever had turned into a T-shirt or reproduced in any way beyond the actual use as a comic cover.  This is my tribute to Steranko and it is not a swipe of one of his covers but a design inspired by several of his covers, most notably Captain America #111.

734983

 

#4b: DK3 #1 Variant.  Let the cheating continue.  This is a recent cover but one that I just really like.  I penciled, inked and colored it.  It is a simple but strong design and color scheme is simple but effective.  I love the horse.

DK3cover

 

#3: Hulk: Destruction #4.  Who would have thought that a comic based on a video game would inspire one of my best covers?  When I got the assignment I knew I may never get the chance to draw the Hulk fighting the Abomination again, so I really tried to do something cool.  Although this cover looks eerily similar to a Mike Zeck Hulk Annual cover (purely coincidental) the layout is actual inspired by some Michael Golden covers.

Hulk_Destruction_Vol_1_4_Textless

 

#2: Harley Quinn #1 Store Exclusive Variant.  I just completed this cover a month ago and it has risen to the top of my favorite list.  I love how the Joker turned out on the poster, I love the Harley figure and I love the pink background.  Honestly, I can’t stand the new “trashy” Harley (I much prefer the original “cute” version) but somehow this cover transcends all of that for me.

HarleyQuinnPinkCvrFinal

 

#1: Excalibur #9.  This is it!  Number 1!  This cover featuring the Dark Beast turned out so good, I can’t believe I actually drew it.  Once again, Tim Townsend did some absolutely stellar inking on this and he actually wanted the original art as well but I wouldn’t give it up.  I still have it and plan on keeping it.

Excalibur_Vol_3_9

As a bonus I want to show all three stages of this cover.  Here are the inks by Tim Townsend.

excalibur9

Here are my pencils.  I think this is a xerox copy which explains the lack of nuanced detail in the image.  I don’t think I owned a scanner at the time or a very good one anyway.

exdarkbeastcvr

So there you have it.  My top 20 (21) favorite covers list.  I’m sure if I did another one a year from now there might be some additions but as of right now, this is my list and I’m sticking to it.  (unless I realize I forgot one….like Green Lantern Corps #59…oops!)