Kit Carter…Finally! No really!

Awhile back (even maybe longer than that) I posted on this very blog that I was finally working on a Kit Carter Story.   I even showed a rough penciled page.  At that time I was about halfway through the script to what would have been the first Kit Carter comic.  But the farther I progressed in writing the more I disliked it.  I started over.  Same result.  I tried to combine Kit Carter with the next Power Cubed story arc.  Failure.

Why was I having trouble figuring out Kit Carter? I finally realized my mistake; I was trying to make a comic series out of a 1950’s Newspaper strip (or movie serial) parody.   It’s like trying to turn a Saturday Night Live skit into a movie and we all know how those turn out.

I reasoned I should turn it into what it was originally based on, a series of newspaper strips!  Okay, so those don’t really exist anymore but the format can still work.  Once I settled on this approach, the scripts just started streaming out of me.  As Terry Dodson joked, “It practically writes itself.”

So to launch this long awaited project, I created (at least I think I did) something I call a Story Print.  This is a limited edition (250), signed and numbered, high quality 11X17 print of the very first Kit Carter Episode.  I call it…Episode 1!  You can hang it on your wall like a great piece of art or just read it or both!

By purchasing the Episode 1 Print you get FREE access to the first 5 color episodes of the strip which will be posted online.  You will receive a link to the page and a pass code that will allow you exclusive access.  My plan is to post a new episode at least once a month.  Episode 2 is already up and available and I plan on posting Episode 3 in August.  The eventual goal is to get enough steam behind the project to do a book of new material plus the online strips.

But the only way you can get and read Episode 1 is to order this print.  Now these will be available at SDCC, Rose City Comic Con and NYCC (or until I run out) but I am also offering them for sale ahead of these con appearances for $15 and I will cover the shipping. (sweet deal!)

I have had a lot of people over the years asking when this character was going to be in some sort of series. Well, the time is at hand.  I have the Story Prints back from the printer and ready to ship but they are going fast.

I can only show you a detail of the opening panel here because I don’t want the entire thing all over the internet.  If you can read it there, why buy it here?


However, I am posting a low res of the entire strip here so you can see the whole image and get a feel for the overall piece without giving everything away.


If you want to see more Kit Carter and keep the series moving forward, order one of these Story Prints.  You can do so by contacting me at  $15 post paid will put one in your hands.

Thanks for coming by!

Rosie the Riveter Print…The Process

At heart, I am very nostalgic and fairly patriotic.  Those sentiments don’t often get shared in my work but on occasion, I will take the time to develop a piece that touches on them.   I am much too young ( I don’t get to say that very often) to have experienced WWII except in history books, dramatic films and documentaries but like most people I tend to romanticize the period.

However, if I am going to create a piece of artwork with that theme, I still have to think about my audience and what would most likely appeal to the most people in this post modern era.  I could sit around and draw Uncle Sam all day long but I doubt there is much of an audience for that character these days.  Rosie the Riveter, though, is a character with possibilities.  If done correctly, she could have appeal to both men and women and seem relevant to the current culture.

Here is the first image I came across that exposed me to Rosie.


This is classic Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post cover from 1943.  This particular depiction is a bit to burly for my tastes but it did get me thinking.

Next, I found this image.


Not wild about the art but love the slogan.  After a little bit of thought, I went to my sketchbook and produced a loose combination of both pieces.  I made Rosie thick and strong but nowhere as big and as imposing as Rockwell’s version.  I threw in some form fitting overalls and BANG!  instant magic.


I really liked a lot about this one but I wasn’t sure her expression conveyed enough attitude and I thought maybe her figure was a bit too relaxed.  So I did another pencil sketch with the changes.


I liked the attitude better in this one as well as the body language but I wasn’t sure it was as appealing as the first one.  I couldn’t decide.  So, like any smart artist would do, I called upon another artist to give me some input.  I sent both pieces to Terry Dodson.  Terry has had a pretty good track record with making smart decisions, while I on the other hand….

Anyway, Terry liked the first version best so I went with that one, trusting his judgement over mine.  I think a wise decision.

I took the piece to a finished pencil with a little adjustment to Rosie’s face.


I then dipped my brush and inked the piece adding the stars on the flag with a pen.


I knew I had to achieve a top notch color job for this piece to work.  I used photoshop and kept it simple for the most part but worked really hard on the shoes and the rivet gun to make them look more realistic.  I colored both elements using a combination of brushes and color gradients.  I found if you put enough layers of color down, eventually it will look like something!

I created the bronze metal effect by using a splatter brush and layering different colors over the top of one another in the same way you would lay down watercolors.  I then brushed in some highlights and I ended up with a fairly decent looking metal effect.

The leather shoes were trial and error as well.  I think if you look closely at the finished product, you can easily deconstruct what I did to get the effect.


You’ll notice I once again went with my standard orange/blue complimentary color scheme.  I went several rounds before finally deciding to color the background design circle like bronze to match the rivet gun.  I soon found out that a solid background color was not going to work nor would a fade.  I wanted sort of an old or aged look to it, so I took a large splatter brush and splotched in the background yellowish tan color.  Finally, I had the look I wanted.

I added the slogan, the copyright info and the signature line and off to the printer it went.


Although not my best selling print, it is one of my most successful as a piece of art.  It is my personal favorite because I learned a lot about coloring while working on it and I just love the final face and figure.  Even the wrinkles in the clothing turned out good.  Sometimes you get lucky and the image on the paper exceeds what you originally had in your mind.  This does that for me.

If you are interested in ordering this print just scroll back up to the top of the page and click on the store button and then the print icon on the store page.




My Second Herculoids Cover

I just got my comps today for Future Quest Presents #9, the first part of my 3-part Herculoids story.  This made me realize that I was way behind on posting my cover process for the second issue of the story (that would be FQP #10).

So even though I am so ready to go to bed, I am going to rally right here and right now to do this blog.  (applause of appreciation here)

Because there is probably nothing cooler than drawing the Herculoids, I wanted to make sure that I came up with some cool cover designs.  My enthusiasm led me to ink the roughs as well.

Herculoids2coversketchA&B Herculoids2coversketchC

A and C were my favorites, so I was more than happy when DC chose “C”.

Penciling always comes before inking so it made sense to me to go ahead and pencil the cover first.  The first thing I did was blow up my small rough sketch and light table (trace) the sea monster onto the cover board.  I really liked the pose in the rough and didn’t want to redraw it completely and risk losing what I felt was the perfect pose.


I didn’t do too tight of a pencil on the rest of it, although I can’t really remember why.  I usually draw everything exactly the way I want it before inking but maybe I was feeling overly confident.  So got about halfway through the inking process….


…and realized Igoo was too small!  Ugh.  So I scanned the image, resized Igoo, printed it out and then light tabled it again onto a new board.  Satisfied it was finally right, I inked it again.  Mostly with a brush, as usual.  I decided just prior to this to add some land behind the scene but really fleshed it out here in the inks.  If there was ever any doubt about the Wrightson influence in my work, take a close look at the sea monster’s hand and forearm.


It was inked, I was happy with it, so I moved on to color it in photoshop.

The background was like so many of my covers, was a process of experimentation.  I wanted an alien and turbulent sky, so I used a dark blue fade from the top into a red/orange at the bottom.  I then went in with a brush tool and added splashes of color in the sky.  I probably used about 35% opacity on the brush so the color would integrate better into the background sky color.  I then took the pencil tool and drew in the hot orange lightning.  I went over that with the airbrush tool to give it a slight glow.  I then used a color hold (or fill) to eliminate the line work of the water splashes and drips.


Another cover completed.  Someday I may actually learn to do it right the first time and eliminate some of the extraneous work I seem to regularly create for myself.  But I will say I am happy with the final product and this is one I will be keeping.

Until I get motivated again to post, see ya!




The Art of the Unpublished Cover

About a year ago, someone reading my “Top 20 Covers” blog suggested I do a blog on the unpublished covers I have done.  I thought at the time that was a pretty good idea and then I forgot to do it.  Well, after revisiting my blog archives and re-discovering the suggestion, I decided to go ahead and do it!

The interesting thing is, I don’t really have that many but at the same time it seems like I have too many.  Let’s face it, drawing a cover and then never having it published is something you don’t want to ever have happen, not even once.  But it seems it has happened to me several times.  Let’s take a look at why.

If memory serves, the most recent unpublished cover I drew was for Metamorpho #2.  Why was it drawn and then unpublished?  Those of you who read my Metamorpho series can probably decipher the reason.  There was no Metamorpho series!  Wait, what?  Let me explain.

Originally Metamorpho was going to be a six-issue mini-series.  I drew the cover to issue #1 (which eventually became the cover to the Trade Paperback) and then I drew the cover to issue #2.  At that point DC decided not to run Metamorpho as a stand alone series and instead dropped it into a anthology book entitled, “Legends of Tomorrow” along with three other features.  I ended up drawing the cover to Legends of Tomorrow #1 but the Metamorpho covers did not see print until the trade paperback came out.  As I stated earlier, the cover to Metamorpho #1 ended up as the TPB cover but the cover to the second issue was only used as filler in the TPB.  Here it is in all of its black and white glory.


The next one I remember (memory fading…mustn’t black…out) is from Amethyst #2.  (There seems to be a pattern developing here with 2nd issues)  The cover design got approved so I penciled and inked it and then someone much higher up the ladder decided that one of the other sketches I turned in was better, so they wanted that version of the cover.  So this cover was “killed”.


Now here is something interesting.  I was hired by a small company that had obtained the rights to How To Train Your Dragon to do covers for the first two issues.  I wasn’t given any real direction, so I drew pretty much what I thought might be cool.  I had no idea if the series took place after Hiccup lost his foot or before.  So I drew him with his foot and came up with a pretty nice cover if I do say so myself.  And I do.  Well, then Dreamworks stepped in and said Hiccup had to have the mechanical foot, so I put it in.  Still pretty good cover.


Well, then Dreamworks decided Hiccup was too heroic in the pose so they wanted it changed.  Too heroic?  Doesn’t he become heroic at the end of the movie just before he loses his foot?  Whatever.  I changed it to this listless and boring version of the cover.


After this pain in the…..( ) I went ahead and did the next cover.  Dreamworks stepped in again and in an attempt to justify his job, some Dreamworks art director asked that I move the dragon’s right leg an 1/8 of an inch.  Not exaggerating.  So I did it.


It made no difference in the final piece but apparently everyone was happy (except me).  And the publisher who shortly there after ended his relationship with Dreamworks because they were such a royal pain in the…( ) to work with.  Neither cover ever saw print.

A few years back I did a run of Red Sonja covers which allowed me to experiment with coloring my own covers.  I colored two in photoshop  and two others I painted.  Then came the 5th one.  I turned in the finished piece and it never got used, at least as a cover.  I do believe it ended up as an image in a card set.  I have no idea to this day why Dynamite didn’t use it as a cover.  (I am having trouble locating some of my older scans so I had to steal this from the internet.  Sorry)


Before I ended up at CrossGen, I drew a Rogue mini-series for Marvel.  I remember it clearly because Rogue never appeared in costume once the entire series!  Anyway, I did a couple of covers for the series but they never got inked or used because it was decided to use Julie Bell to paint the covers instead.  I may have done these to prove I could do the job before they hired Bell or I might have done them afterward to show Marvel what I would have done if they had let me.  I can’t remember which.  Oh, well.  Here is what I came up with.  (I did these before I owned a scanner so I had to grab these off the internet as well)

48zJulCS_1202181339171gpadd-1 H71hfZ6j_1202181338131gpadd-1

Journey back with me now to 1996 when my comic art studio Studiosaurus (name created by Terry Dodson) was at its height of functionality.   The collective decided to do a anthology book that would feature stories by some of the studio artists.  It was to be called “Studiosaurus Thunder” (catchy) and published through Image.  It would feature a CHIX story (those of you who are aware of that book might smile), Ron Randall’s Trekker, a feature by Matt Haley (can’t remember the title) and Primal Zone by me.  We did the cover, all of us contributed to it and then it never got off the ground.

Studiosaurus Thunder

As I turn back the clock even farther to 1994, I remember a cover from my run on SLUDGE that never saw print.  I’m pretty sure this was for issue #9 originally but the Samauri Warrior guy was removed from the story so I redrew it without him.  The final cover art is better than this, so I am glad.  Inks were by Gary Martin on this and the final cover art as well.  The mediocre penciling was by me.


As we continue time traveling we have to move ahead to 1998ish when we at Studiosaurus were going to start our own line of comics through Image called the Odyssey Line.  It would launch with my newly created high concept series called Atomic Toybox, followed by Ron Randall’s Trekker and then by either Terry Dodson’s Bombshells or Matt Haley’s Event Horizon.  Atomic Toybox launched pretty decently and I actually made money.  Then the numbers on issues 2 and 3 came in.  Disaster.  I had to cancel the series and the Odyssey line with it.  I did, however, produce the covers for issues 2 and 3 that did see the light of day in the Previews catalogue and in the TPB of Power Cubed.


The sad thing about the above cover to #2 is that it was actually a wrap around cover featuring art by Terry Dodson on the back cover.  I have a file someplace of the finished color version of the entire piece but I will be darned if I can find it!  If it does turn up, I will post it here.

Here is the colored cover with logo to issue #3.


I do have one more unpublished cover but I can’t currently find the scan and the story behind it might be detrimental to my career, so we will have to save that art and story for another time:)  Thanks for taking a trip down unpublished cover lane with me.


Plastic Man #1 Cover….How I did it!

I love Metamorpho, I love the Creeper, I love Neal Adams’ Deadman, I love the Spectre, I love Shazam and I love Plastic Man!  I wrote and drew Metamorpho and now I recently got to draw the cover for the first issue of a new DC Plastic Man series.   (All the other characters will have to come at a later date, I suppose)

So lets take an in-depth look at how the Plastic Man Cover came to be from concepts to colors.

I was thrilled to get this assignment but since it was/is to be an alternative cover, I was not entirely sure what overall vibe to go for .  Old style fun or what appears to be the new direction,  criminal noir.  So I did four cover sketches each representing a different contextual angle.

plasticmanCvrSketchesA:B plasticmanCvrSketchesC:D

The first is an obvious homage to Amazing Fantasy #15 but it does represent a similar scene in the first issue.  The second was based on a commission I did last year and absolutely loved.  I thought the third one here is interesting in that it depicts the “new” Plastic Man bursting through a black and white photograph of the “old” Plastic Man and Woozie Winks.  They chose the more noir-ish Eisner-esque option.  Which I was perfectly happy to do since I am a big fan of that type of stuff, as well.

Penciling this proved a greater challenge than I originally thought.  It’s really supposed to be Plastic Man over-viewing himself as Eel O’Brien after a beating he takes from his former partners that leads to his becoming Plastic Man.  So Plastic Man had to be part of the scene without really being part of the scene.

My original thought was to have Plastic Man stretching in from behind the background city scape but in order to have enough room at the top of the page, I would have had to shrink the foreground scene substantially which I thought would greatly lessen its impact.  Dilemma.

I thought of first making the foreground alleyway building actually be the name, “Plastic Man”.  This would reinforce the “representational” concept of the cover and up the Eisner factor.


However, the femme fatale was too big and covered up too much of the name as to make it almost unreadable.  I wasn’t going to shrink the girl so I dropped the idea of using Plastic Man lettering on the cover.

I also wasn’t convinced the layout perspective was the best choice.  So I thought changing the perspective to clearly show both sides of the alleyway might be better.  The vanishing point would be right in the center of the cover drawing the eye right where it should be.  This would also make it easier to have Plas coming from behind the background cityscape.


And again, no.  In order to have the side alley walls at a reasonable angle, I would have had to raise the horizon line which would have then made the foreground body of Eel O’Brien less dramatic.  It would have gone from a low angle shot to essentially a straight on shot, killing the drama of the scene.  (this scan only shows the dramatic and much too sharp angles of the walls if I had kept the low angle horizon line)

I finally came to the compromise of lowering the alley wall and having Plastic Man coming over the top of that building rather than from behind the background cityscape.  In doing this I was able to keep the size and angle of the foreground scene intact.  I did have to raise the horizon line just a bit but I was still able to keep most of the drama from the original low angle shot concept.


I liked how it turned out so I inked it.  Mostly brush on the figures and pen on the backgrounds.


The coloring on this was pretty straight forward.  I used the violet/blue background sky color as my base.  I added a variation of that violet to drop over the thugs in the background to help them recede and to maintain the feel of a night time scene.  The bleeding body of Eel O’Brien and the Femme Fatale are better lit because they are the focus of the scene, along with Plastic Man coming in over the top.  I used some of the background violet on Plastic Man as a”kicker” light as well as a white highlight coming from the right side to give him a more dimensional feel. I also made sure his red costume was not too red as to be distracting.  It looks red but it is not nearly as pure red as it was when I initially dropped the color in.   I ended up laying a 15% violet/blue over all the inanimate objects to help maintain color harmony.  Even the browns and grays in the alley have a violet/blue tint.

There is a an artificial highlight on the wall behind Plastic Man to help draw the eye to where it is supposed to be looking.


I’m quite happy with how this turned out and I think it is one of my more successful covers in recent memory.

Thanks for checking it out!



Show and Pre-Convention Commissions 2018

If you are interested in having me do a commission before a convention you will be attending for pick up at that show or if you would just like to get on the list for a commission done at the show, here’s how it works.

Show commissions are 11X14 single character gray tone marker drawings.  They are $200.  I also will do nice 11X14 head/bust shots for $100.  I do sketch covers for $150.  Again these are single character pieces.  You can sign up at the show but there is no guarantee I will get to it depending on when you sign up.  If you contact me prior to the show I will put you on the list to secure your spot but you still have to check in with me at the show before I will start it.

IMG_0898 IMG_0890 IMG_0887cover#2

There is also the option of getting a pre-show commission to be picked up at the show.  I only do these as 11X17 single character with limited background and in color.  These are colored with a combination of markers and colored pencils.  I usually need a week’s notice but sometimes 3 days is sufficient. (Depending on my workload)  These are $350.


If you would like either of these options for an upcoming show that you will be attending (of course, it has to be one I am attending too) please email me at:

Wonder Woman/Conan #6 Cover

I just finished a Herculoid’s page and I need to jump on a cover but I am going to take the time to blog first.  Let’s take a look at my final variant cover to one of my favorite projects in a long time, the Wonder Woman/Conan mini-series.

This was my final shot at drawing these two together so I wanted to really have a nice illustration to grace the cover.  So I came up with several sketches that in some way represented the content of the issue.  If not literally, at least figuratively.


“B” is my least favorite of the four but even if that one had been chosen, I would have put Wonder Woman and Conan into more dynamic poses and it would have worked much better.  I kind of liked “C” because of the big shot of Wonder Woman but “D” is the best design and sure enough, it was picked.

Interestingly, after I drew this cover rough, a Barry Smith Conan cover came to my mind.  I wondered if I had sub-consciously lifted the design.   I immediately went and checked my Conan collection and found that it was a strange combination of two Smith covers.  Not exactly the same but certainly in the same ball park.

conan-09-c c-016

Feeling I was safe from swiping, I went and penciled the cover adding a rather detailed background that wasn’t evident in the sketch.  I originally thought of putting them over the gladiatorial arena from the series but an empty coliseum seemed less appealing than the city.  So I went with the city.

Unfortunately, like a dummy (again), I forgot to scan the pencil drawing (again), so I can only show you the inked version.


I would like to point out the circular design of the main characters.  It is something that I seem to use quite a bit either consciously or sub-consciously because it works.  The characters are all facing each other and the central figure of the bird.  It keeps your focus right where it should be, on the action!  The girl being carried by the bird, it could be argued, should have her right arm pointing up rather than extending to the corner of the cover.  I probably could counter by saying “the girl’s face and eyes are leading the viewer back up and that’s what you are looking at anyway”.  But bending her arm up at the elbow probably would have still been a better choice.  I also could have dropped Conan’s sword so it was pointing at the girl but it would have been too passive of gesture from him.  Besides I think the bird’s beak carries you down to the girl anyway.

Enough of Art Theory 101.

I inked the bird and the characters with a brush and the city below with pens.   I threw in some tiny town folk and tiny monsters in there to make it look inhabited but not so much that it drove me crazy.  Drawing the buildings and structures drove me crazy enough.  Rulers have never been my friend.

As usual, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with background.  I colored the bird and the figures first (which is exactly backwards to what you would do if you were traditionally painting) but since I knew I could change the background color at will, I took advantage of technology.

I looked at some stills from the movie Prince of Persia and decided the city would really be mostly sandstone or sandstone looking so I went with sort of a yellow ochre….sort of.


I originally thought of using a mauve for the shadow areas on the buildings (yellow purple complimentary) but I found it too distracting.  The focus should be on the characters fighting the giant bird, not the background.  So I went with a slightly darker sand color.  It gave me some depth without drawing attention to itself.  I also had to be careful with the trees at the top.  I used a very bland olive green (yellow/orange leaning) so they would separate themselves from the city without calling much attention to themselves.

Overall, you’ll notice that once again I have used essentially and orange blue complimentary.  The bird is blue with the other elements (people, background) containing red/orange leanings.  You see a little bit of the background color incorporated into the flesh tones of the characters as well.  All in the name of color harmony.  They need to be connected without blending in together.

Anyway, all in all, probably my favorite cover of them all.  Thanks for stopping by!

More Wonder Woman/Conan in Black and White

I’m not one to do rapid fire blogging but I seem to have a bit of flexibility in my schedule right now, which is affording me a few extra minutes to do this.  I also just received pages back from my inker, Matt Ryan, and I was blown away by his work over my pencils.  So I am super motivated to post them.

Let’s take a look at a few really nice pages from my current project, Wonder Woman/Conan.  Back in September I did post some of my favorite pages from issue #1, so it makes sense to me to start this blog with pages from issue #2!


This is page 5 and is the first shot of shirtless Conan.  It also offers a more casual moment with our heroes.  There is a lot of very nicely done cross-hatching on this page.


This is page 13 and one of my favorites from the issue (and not because Conan rocks Wonder Woman).  I love the way the figures and faces came out on this page.


I feel pretty confident you can figure out why I like this page!

Let’s take a look a some of my favorites from issue #3.


These are pages 5 and 6 and one of my favorite sequences from the series.  The story telling, the figures, the faces, the sharks and some tremendous brush work from Matt Ryan all work great together on these two pages.


Pg. 12.   When this is the second best splash page in the issue you know you have some good stuff to draw.  Matt’s handling of the background sky along with the rain is just terrific work.


This is page 13 and features a really creepy transformation panel of the sometimes lovely  and sometimes very disgusting Corvidae.


Page 15 is another favorite page of mine.  I really like the top panel.  Conan’s posture as he sits on the horse works nicely for me as well.


Page 17 has about everything you would want on a barbarian comic book page.  It also has more nice rain effects by Matt.

There’s nothing quite like the black and white art to get a real sense of the inking craftsmanship that is often lost in the printing process.  That’s all I have for now.  I will show more when issue #6 comes out in less than a month.  Cheers!

Future Quest Cover: The Herculoids!

I have been waiting over a month to post about this cover.  If you are my age or older you probably remember The Herucloids (if you don’t, YouTube it).  They were part of the Jonny Quest Universe that Hanna-Barbara introduced in the mid-sixties.  I didn’t actually first see them until they were re-running them in the early 70’s on Saturday morning.  Well, in case you are unaware, DC comics has re-introduced many of the characters from these cartoon shows into the DCU…..sort of.   They started with a limited series called Future Quest (featuring Jonny Quest, Space Ghost, The Herucloids, Frankenstein Jr., Birdman, Mightor, etc.)  and then followed that with the current Future Quest Presents series. The former was one big story that contained all of the characters, the latter is a series featuring self-contained solo adventures. If you haven’t checked this out, you should.

Enough of the sales pitch.  Here is the cover to Future Quest Presents #9.  This book comes out in April and is the first of a 3-issue story arc featuring The Herculoids.  I am penciling the interiors with inks by Matt Ryan.   The covers, for better or for worse are all me.

I received an story outline breaking down the happenings in each of the three-issues.  Using this as a guide, I came up with my cover concepts for the first issue.  Here are the sketches I came up with.

HerculoidsCvr#1sketchA HerculoidsCvr#1sketchB HerculoidsCvr#1sketchC HerculoidsCvr#1sketchD

I produced 4 sketches for editorial to choose from.  They liked “A”, so that’s what we went with.  Now this story arc introduces a new villain so I had to do some character designs.  Since everything about this series is retro, I wanted the villain to have a retro feel as well.  I decided to pull out some Kirby influence and I came up with this design.

HerculoidsVillainFace HerculoidsVillainFull

It seemed to fit with the vibe of the comic, so it was an easy approval. With a definite look in my mind for the character, I started the cover.  I wanted the villain to have a more interesting and dynamic pose than I produced with the sketch and came up with this alteration in the pencil stage.


I went with more delicate cross-hatching than normal for me in order to get a different look.  I left the background blank because I knew it was going to be black with a star field on it.  No need to color all that area in with a pencil when you are going to do it in black ink anyway.


Staying true to my throwback training, I used a toothbrush dipped in Pro-White to splatter the star field onto the black background.

Unlike a lot of my covers, I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do with that nebula streak in the background.  Vibrant color!  However, I had no idea how I was going to handle the planet or the villain’s color scheme.  I was pretty sure I wanted to go with an orange or red face but wasn’t sure what that would mean for his costume color.


I tried to use a lot of the same colors in the background nebula that we would be seeing in the foreground characters to create a little harmony despite the wide array of colors.  I think it works pretty well.

After trying a variety of face and costume color combinations, I ultimately stayed with the orange-ish face for the villain.  Blue being the complimentary color to orange, made perfect sense as the costume color.  The trim color was hit and miss but I finally decided on the pale yellow as it worked well with the overall color scheme was not offensively bright or garish.

The other problem I had to solve was coloring the planet.  I found some shots of earth from space on line and tried to mimic the coloring of the continents that I saw.  A warm tan for desert and green for jungle or forested areas.  I used a brush with a splatter texture to blend the colored areas on the continents.  I did a color hold or fill on the holding lines on the continents and then added clouds using that same brush.

When I was done, the planet was too bright and was drawing the eye to it and past Dorno (the kid) in the forefront.  Although the planet looked really bright and had great volume to it, Dorno and the Herculoids should be the focus, not a background planet.  So I dropped a 15-20% grayish blue over the planet to knock it back a bit.  It worked and now the focus of the piece is where it should be.  Here are the two cover versions side by side so you can see the difference knocking the back the planet makes.

FQP#9CvrBrightPlanet HerculoidsFQPCvr

It is really the brightness of the clouds that causes the issue. I really do like the whiter clouds better and if I did a cover where the focus was the planet itself, I would go with the brighter version. But as previously stated, I felt it was too distracting and needed to be knocked back.

And that folks, is that.  Thanks for continuing to tune in.  Next up will be the cover to Wonder Woman/Conan #6.  I cover with another set of unique problems that I got to solve.  See you soon!


Wonder Woman/Conan #5 Cover Thoughts

Like I always say, “A new year deserves a new post” (actually this is the first time I’ve ever said that but now I will make it a tradition).  Today (or this evening as it were), let’s take a closer look at how I put together the cover for Wonder Woman/Conan #5.   Due to a deadline problem, I actually got to do the regular cover for this issue as opposed to the alternate cover which I have normally been doing.  I’m not sure that really makes any difference in the big scheme of things but it could be the answer to a trivia question some day.

I got a late start of this cover because I was informed just a few days before it was due that I would need to step in and do the regular cover for this issue.  I still managed to do a few cover sketches, however.

WW:Conan#5cvrsketchA WW:Conan#5cvrsketchB WW:Conan#5cvrsketchC

I could have easily gone with any of the three but “A” was chosen.  It’s interesting in that I had just finished the cover art to #3 when I had to jump on to this.  I didn’t really know what was happening in the issue other than a brief description.  As it turns out, this cover ended up being a not very accurate depiction of the contents of the issue.

Interestingly enough, my alternate covers are much more accurate to the content of their given issues because they are not due 3 months prior to their release date like the regular covers (because of the solicitations catalogue).  So I always have had the script in hand before drawing the alternate covers.

Side bar complete, let’s move on…

Here is the finished pencil art for the cover.

WW:Conan#5cvrrough copy

I knew the bird creatures would be covered in feathers, so I didn’t waste my time drawing them in.  I just put them in during the inking process.


I felt (after the fact) that Conan’s nose was little to thick (or big) so I went in with a little white out to the right of the bridge to thin it.  I also moved his right eye over just slightly in photoshop.  It’s always interesting the things you “suddenly” see after you have scanned a piece and are looking at it close up on screen.

As usual, I had no clue what I was going to do with the background.  It seems faster or easier sometimes to leave out the background but then that becomes a problem that has to be solved in the coloring stage.

I create masks in photoshop channels for almost every shape.  That way if I want to change the color of Conan’s skin, I just go to the mask channel with the “magic wand”, activate the shape, go back into the CMYK channels and change the color.  It is much easier than going in and re-lassoing a shape you want to color change.

For the background, I have discovered it is much easier to lay a color over the entire piece of artwork and then go in and lasso the foreground characters or elements (separately, of course) to establish their individual colors.  Once all of the foreground (and mid-ground) elements have been colored, what is left is basically a background color mask.  This background template has been created by process of elimination.  Now, the background color can be easily changed and/or adjusted by “magic wanding” that remaining “template”.  If I skip this step, I have to go in a “re-lasso” areas I have already lassoed (parts of the foreground elements) to create a background mask.  Which is not very efficient.

Talk about a massive sidebar…

Back to this cover-  I wanted to make the background seem like maybe a portal had opened up or a dimensional rift to allow the bird creatures in.

So I used a circular fade going from a very pale yellow to an aqua blue.  I then used one of the brushes (at a very large size) to created the wavy cloud effect coming in with the bird creatures.  I used the same color from the bird creature’s feathers in the cloud effects to establish some color harmony between the two.  The pale yellow from the circular fade also shows up in the creatures’ flesh tones as well as the highlights on Wonder Woman and Conan’s skin.


For a cover that had to be turned around relatively quickly, I am pretty please with the results.

As always, thanks for checking out my blog.  See you soon.