Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wednesday- The Wonders of Photoshop

To be honest, my writing career is in an odd kind of holding pattern right now. Things going on, but not too actively at the moment. So, I'll skip the promotional blather today, except to say that El Diablo is still coming out, and it's a really good book. Jai Nitz writes, Phil Hester pencils, and I provide the inks. Please look for it.

Now, speaking of El Diablo, today's art post is a scan from issue five of that very book. In looking for something to talk about today, I happened across this page in my studio, and thought it might have something to offer.

My art partner, Phil Hester, and I have been playing with negative effects in our work for several years now. We both like to fill the page with blacks, so I guess this was the natural end result. It became part of our style on on Marvel book, Ant-Man. Phil would indicate where he wanted this effect, and leave the method to me.

I quickly decided the the simplest way to accomplish what Phil was after was the Invert command in Photoshop. Yeah, making the selections is a hassle, and you have to occasionally add some lines to make things clear, but it beats doing it any other way... by a long shot.

Today's scan was a particularly labor-intensive example of this technique. As I mentioned above, making the selection to be inverted took a lot of time, and there was a little tweaking to do afterwards, to be sure the forms weren't getting lost. It took about an hour to do in PS, but it was time well-spent, I think. We got the effect we were after, and I didn't have to go to a copy shop or hold a brush loaded with white-out for hours.

The computer has changed my life in a number of ways in the last several years. I used to have to rush to the Fedex box to ship my pages off to the publishers. No more. Now, I simply scan the page myself and send them off electronically. This process also gives me more control over the finished product. I can tweak and clean up the pages, to be sure the scans are exactly what my penciller and I had in mind. And, of course, when I need a big, old negative effect...

That's enough outta me. Enjoy the genius, and come back for more tomorrow!


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Saturday... Exhaustion and Sinatra

Sorry I blew the art post Thursday. I've been fighting two inking deadlines. I will try to bring something beautiful to the table next Tuesday.

For now, I just wanted to check in and mention that Frank Sinatra's Only the Lonely album is freaking perfection. After a long day's work, I'm trying to get sleepy with a bourbon (Knob Creek) and Coke (okay... I admit, it's a Coke Zero), some iphone blackjack, and some Frank. Christ, what an album.

The best track is One For My Baby. In fact, I think it's one of the best vocals ever recorded. There;s nothing too flashy about it. Frank sounds relaxed, enjoying the perfect arrangement and the lovely tenor of his own voice. This song, though, perfectly captures how Sinatra himself said he wanted to be remembered- as a good saloon singer, sitting next to a piano in the wee hours.

If you don't own the album- if you've never heard it- please get it soon. And, if you want to really savor the genius as intended, do what I'm doing right now. Listen to Only the Lonely by yourself, in your basement in the middle of the night, with a stiff drink at hand.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It has been a long time indeed since an art post. What can I say... I've been busy! But, I am going to aim at getting back on the twice-a-week schedule. We'll see.

Today I'm offering a nice panel from a Superman job by Dusty Abell and Terry Austin. Abell is a solid artist- kind of a cut-rate Michael Golden. Believe it or not, that is not intended as an insult. No one else is Golden, after all. The guy I really want to talk about though, is the great Terry Austin.

Terry's work has meant a lot to me. At his peak, even though I would never try to ink anything like him, I drew a lot of inspiration from Austin. His '80s work over John Byrne and Marshall Rogers is simply amazing. Terry has not done a lot of superhero work lately, and what little he has done lacks some of the delicacy he possessed at his peak. Still, there is something to learn in every Terry Austin job.

I mention Terry's work a lot when I'm reviewing inking portfolios at conventions. I tell a lot of guys to go look at Terry to get a grasp on one thing that is crucial to good inking- confidence. When you make a mark on a page, it has to look like you meant it. You have to sell that line, even if it's the wrong line. In fact, you have to sell it a hell of a lot more if it is the wrong line. Young Kubert knew this. Caniff knew it, too. Ballsy inking can cover a multitude of sins.

That is not to say that Terry Austin routinely makes the wrong line. Quite the contrary. Terry is a good cartoonist. Still, what really makes his work shine is the boldness. When he makes a mark, he makes it boldly and with purpose. Look at today's example. Every line is strong. You can argue that the work could be finer in places, but it's all readable. There is also a certain sheen to everything Terry inks, but I think it works for him.

Oh, and before I go- a cool bit of trivia. Terry inked, with Dick Giordano, one of the most stunning pieces of superhero comic art ever produced, Muhammed Ali vs. Superman. Neal Adams wanted the best for that book, so he got Terry for the backgrounds, and Giordano for the figures (I think Neal pitched in there himself, too).

That's enough outta me. Enjoy the genius, and come back for more Thursday!