Friday, August 28, 2009

The Game

This week's painting is a conceptual painting around a story idea I am still in the infant stage on, called "The Game." It was quite the challenge to push myself on. Hope you all enjoy it. Click the image above to view the larger file.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Taking The Time Out For Me

Lately I've spent a lot of time drawing and painting for myself. This past two weeks I've drawn five illustrations and painted two. The first one was the Bounty Hunter (see below) and the second was a fun pin up I had drawn of the Amulet series awhile back that I had never painted. What was so rewarding about this is that I have never really allowed myself to just do this stuff for the sake of doing it in years. Since I graduated college I have spent most of my time drawing and painting as a career thing, to one degree or another. While I'm still doing a lot of work for projects that are coming up, this has been a really refreshing time for me. I've always wanted to spend more time working on building up better single image style drawing. Over the coming weeks expect to see a lot of one off drawings here on the board. I'll post my Amulet piece once the book comes out. I don't want any spoiler type things at this point, but I was really happy with it. So a word to all of you hard workers out there. Take some time to splurge on yourself creatively. Mentally you need it sometimes.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Bounty Hunter

I drew for pure fun today for the first time in a long while. I decided to spend some time drawing a character I had been developing a few months back. I'm pretty happy with how it came out.
I decided it would be cool to show you all my process. So here's how it all starts...

This is the original rough drawing. I make a lot of mistakes in my drawing process, so doing my initial drawing this way really lets me be messy and get what I always intended from the drawing.

I then scan that drawing into the computer and convert the pencil line work to red lines like so...

Then I print that off on a sheet of bristol and draw it all again using a 2B pencil which helps the coloring process have a more painterly feel.

And well, you've already seen the finished product. From here I flat the whole thing in with simple colors and go to town coloring.

I meant to save an image of the flats, but I had forgot.

Project Round Up!

Things are kind of in a lull at the moment, so I thought it would be a good time to recap the status of my projects.

The biggest news is Kazu Kibuishi's "Amulet: The Stonekeepers Curse" is coming out in just a couple of weeks! I was able to be a part of the production on this outstanding book by being a part of the color flatting process. I'm pretty stinkin excited that my first published credit for comics work is going to be on this great series. So be sure to pick up a copy on September 1st! Kazu has also agreed to do an interview sometime soon, so I look forward to sharing that here whenever we can get that done.
I decided pretty recently to take my "Kevin and the Golden Temple" story out of the workings for the anthology project it was originally slated for. No offense to the anthology really, I'm still going to try and put something together for them. I just didn't feel I was doing the story much justice in the way I had to kind pace it and all. I'm still developing this world and I really think the story is something that will be fun and exciting for kids!
From Death Til Now is still continuing on at a steady pace. I've started focusing more on the computer and toning end of things which has been nice. My brain was a bit in overload on the drawing/thumbnailing side of things. I plan to resume regular updates on this book online in the month of September. Hopefully speeding up to a completion of book 1 in the early part of 2010. Looking at Josh Ulrich's color sample makes think volume 2 may almost certainly be in color!

Other than that, I'm busy working on a new portrait commission which looks to be really special. Also, because I can barely contain myself any longer, I started writing the treatment for "The Unknowns" book 2.I still need the series to sell , but I had to get my ideas for how the story would continue down on paper before they slipped away into oblivion!

The next couple of weeks look to be a bit slow, which is alright because my birthday is around the corner and then From Death Til Now will be back to spreading the mystery. For now, its time to do some doodling.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

100 Cupboards and The Role of a "Christian Writer"

A couple of weeks ago I picked up a book I had never heard of before called "100 Cupboards." I'm not quite sure why I bought it. I had never heard of it before. No one had given my a recommendation to pick it up, but I did nonetheless. Mostly I think because I had a nagging desire that I had to read it. I get that way sometimes. Most of you probably have the same experience. You go to a store, or you're driving and for some reason you know you should go somewhere, read something, meet someone... Some would call this coincidence or generalize this and call it fate. Being a Christian, I call it God leading me. When I feel that urge, barring no direct understanding of why something could be evil (discernment would be the word) I will without much hesitation, go and do that thing. Usually to much good in my life. I can give numerous examples. Well, not to digress too far, but I say all of that because I was wondering why was I so drawn to this book! The answer was encouraging.

First off let me say a word about the actual content of the book. It was awesome! If you haven't read it, please do. I think you will find a modern children's classic in it and its sequel "Dandelion Fire" has been awesome so far. It gives off so much of the vibe I have been longing for recently with the void I have been feeling every time I crack open a new book from my bookshelf. It's creepy, funny, inspiring and smart stuff in this series that feels like a cross between "Chronicles of Narnia" and "A Wrinkle In Time." My wife hasn't picked up a book in years for pleasure reading and she read it after me, finishing it in two days.

But what really encouraged me about this book was the author of the series. N D Wilson has all of the markings of one of the more imaginative and bold writers in the current children's book industry. Especially in "Dandelion Fire" Wilson shows a bravado not many would attempt to take. Beyond his talents as a writer, it's who he is as a writer that has been encouraging. N D Wilson is a no bones about it Christian. Why this is so encouraging to me is because I find it completely disheartening at the lack of Christians, or at least those who show no shame in the fact of what they believe in as if it's a crime (present company sometimes included), that are writing books for all audiences and not tailored for a Christian only audience. I used to work in a Christian book store years back and it would make my stomach turn everytime I would walk through the fiction section there. It all just felt forced, devoid of genuine heart and, honestly, any real substance we could all chew on... Christian or not.

As a Christian, my world-view dominates the writings I do. I don't try to force an issue on people though, nor do I spend time skirting it I hope. I believe what I believe, and that will inform me and the directions I will take with my stories. The danger so many of us (Christian authors I mean here) is that we feel we must force God into a story, instead of understanding that he already is there, regardless of what your characters believe in, or the subject matter. It's a given. your job is to tell a good story. Period. And along the way it would be appropriate to not debase yourself to writing garbage. Hopefully you know what I mean by that. If not, think on it.

Some of the most beloved books in our history were written by Christians, but the content of the story can seem devoid of any real biblical overtones. When Tolkien was asked about the Christian content of his writings, whether it was deliberate, he said no, but that he couldn't help what he believed in coming through. The stuff that matters, the ones that find a place with people, are the books that are genuine in telling a good clean story. I believe no matter what, we are to be good storytellers and that all people should be able to enjoy whatever it is we're writing. If in the end it sparks discussion amongst its readers, then great! What I found in N D Wilson (so far) is someone who exemplifies an attitude and approach to being both a writer and a Christian that I think is right. He writes good stories first and foremost. Anything else you either glean from it through personal introspection, or find by examining his life. And for this reason I think this book will have a long impact on people, myself included.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

FDTN is Coming Back!

I'm closing in now on the final ten pages of pencils and inks for book 1. I've been thinking the last few weeks as to when to resume online updates and I think I will start things back up in September. I will probably go back to one page a week updates for the time being until I one hundred percent have locked the book down just so I can start building a web presence again. It's been really exhilarating to be putting the final pages to bed on my first graphic novel. It feels like a true accomplishment. Even more gratifying is that I did this book with really no financial reward in sight. What that confirms to me is that I am really working in a field that I truly enjoy and want to continue doing. So, soon I'll start posting some other tidbits. But things are getting closer.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

"The Unknowns" Is On The Clock

About a week and a half ago my agent let me know that The Unknowns had been sent out to publishers for consideration for publication. I thought once the book finally got out there and was being looked at by publishers that I would feel a bit more sane about the process. You know, just knowing that the final clock was ticking. Instead, I've found the whole experience to be much more exhilarating and nerve racking than I thought. The thought that this idea I came up with three and a half years ago while sitting in a laundry-mat is out there being seriously considered by some of the biggest publishers in the world, has me altogether humbled.

Comics have been a childhood dream I've clung to far longer than good sense would usually keep people going. I've pressed on despite the ridicule of some of my art teachers, friends and even family. It is a passion to which I know of no real sedative. If anything I know I've gotten farther than many ever have. Merely because I kept going.

I don't know how I will feel once all of the tallies have come in from across the publishing world. I suspect now is a time for dreaming and hoping rather than preparing. But I think most of all I think I will keep going. Just like I always have. Regardless. Why? Because I don't know any better. And because I feel at home when I make my silly picture books. So, cheers to the jitters. You remind me I still care.

I also sat back down recently (as in finished it today) and reread my fifth draft of The Unknowns book 1. During my time away from it I had started to come up with all of these little scenes I thought should be added. As I read it again, I started to think otherwise. This book is the tightly spun story I think it should be. It's no Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in length, but it doesn't need to be either. It sets up the world and the conflict very quickly and establishes the boundaries of our characters. A lot of the character building stuff I had in mind I felt could perfectly wait until a later volume and quite honestly it would be better served there. This book needs to be a hook and as such it needs to causes us all to wonder what's going on in the house of our next door neighbor. And to that end I think it is successful.

I have a ton of corrections and ommitences to take from the text still, but I think that will wait. I want to give myself some time to read some more of the book "100 Cupboards" by N D Wilson before I get ready to pass out. This book is awesome guys. I may have found a new favorite author!

At any rate. I won't be saying much else on the progress of The Unknowns until I know exactly what is happening with it. But in the meantime, I will be busy praying, biting my nails and trying to stay busy with the other ideas coming from my brain. And finishing From Death Til Now.