Friday, June 25, 2010

From The Vault - Winnie the Pooh 1996

Well, as you may have guessed, from my lack of posts this last week it's been kind of busy here around the studio. But, that doesn't mean I'd ever forget our "From the Vault" Fridays!

I promise to get back on track with the blog this week and explain all that's been happening around here tomorrow but, for now, into the vault!

This Winnie the Pooh piece was done back in early 1996, sometime right before I loaded up my jeep, left New Jersey, and headed west to Colorado. It was done for the girlfriend of a friend at the time and I'm not sure if it was for her birthday, some other special occasion, or just for something to do at the time.

But, it was obviously done for a girl named Erica and painted in the technique I was using at the time incorporating Dr. Martin's dyes, acrylics, airbrush, brush, and colored pencil on illustration board.

I'm really enjoying finding these old paintings and they're really making me nostalgic for the old airbrush again. Maybe someday, if I ever find the free time, I'll have to break the airbrush out of the vault and see if I can still paint with it.

But, until then, have a great day and a wonderful weekend!

Friday, June 18, 2010

From The Vault - Humberto 2005

It wasn't too long after I started doing freelance art as a career again that I got a phone call from Josh Thorne who, at the time, was a freshman at a nearby local high school. It seems Josh's school had a program where, every Wednesday, they had a choice to go out into the community and help someone out as an apprentice.

And, after seeing an article about me in the local paper, Josh decided that he wanted me to be his mentor. He called once, himself, and left a message. When I didn't get back to him right away (I meant to, I swear) he called again. I was impressed that he called himself and didn't have his parents do it for him. I'm not sure if I, during my freshman year of high school, would have had the guts to call someone up out of the blue and asked if I could spend an afternoon once a week hanging out and helping them. Especially someone in the art field. So, that impressed me and I had him come over so we could meet each other.

We hit it off right away and he started coming over every Wednesday afternoon to help me.

On the days where I wasn't busy and didn't need him helping me on some client project we would both work on comic books together. I figured if someone wanted to learn how to draw and draw things they never thought of or wanted to draw before then doing comic book page after comic book page would really hone some of their skills.

I worked on a version of OilCan Drive while Josh worked on his own creation, "Humberto and the Mac Daddy Burger Shack."

It was the story of a lowly fry cook who has to stay late at work one night cleaning up. Because he is there he becomes wrapped up in an adventure that includes sexy female spies, secret burger sauces, and hungry zombies. It was a ton of fun.

One of the things I promised Josh was that if he got the interiors for his book done that I would do the cover for him. So, here is what I came up with. For some reason we did both a cover and a poster version of the cover. All in the name of fun, I guess.

Sadly, Humberto never saw a second issue. Well, there was half of an issue done but never finished. Unfortunately, I might have passed on some of my bad habits with OilCan Drive to Josh and the world of Humberto. I've never done a second issue of OilCan Drive (but I have done a LOT of issue ones) and he's never done a second issue of Humberto.

But, Josh, who is now graduated and almost 21 (yikes!) is still drawing away, playing his music, and making his way through life. I talk to him from time to time and we still hang out. I hope I've helped him in some way and his life is a little bit better for having me in it.

For me, the situation was great and I miss those Wednesday afternoons when I would pick him up from school and we would spend the day drawing comic books, playing music, watching movies, and talking about life.

Good times, good times.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The List

I've been juggling so many different client jobs recently that I've started writing lists down on napkins to keep everything straight in my head.

Once every few days I revise the list and add whatever new jobs have turned up (the list shown here now needs at least three things added to it.) But, there is a very nice sense of satisfaction when you can pull out a big fat black Sharpie marker and draw a line through something you've completed.

Today I plan to cross off at least three things on this list. So, I better get back to it!

Have a great day!

Monday, June 14, 2010


Apparently the "Speedway" racing car books I did last year sold so well that all four stories are being collected into one volume.

So, for this new tome I've been asked to do a new cover. Luckily I still had the 3D models I created in the computer last year for reference. I pulled the cars back up and took a few screen shots to give me a few ideas of what the cover might look like.

Once one of these ideas is chosen it's just a matter of penciling, inking, coloring, and putting it into a cover design.

Once again, it looks like I have my work cut out for me. But, I'm hoping the finished cover looks just as good as the ones I did a year ago.

To see the old covers you can go HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

OK, back to work!

Sunday, June 13, 2010


After a few hours, a few brush strokes, and Walter Hill's "Streets of Fire" starring Michael Pare on the DVD player, the gang in the raft is inked!

Now, it's a simple matter of erasing the pencils, filling in a few blacks, touching some spots up with white out, and scanning this piece into the computer and it's time for some color.

But first, a little dinner!

From The Desk

Here's a penciled piece that is sitting on my desk at this moment waiting for some ink. It's the newest cover for a kids book I've been working on this past week and I figure, on a cold and wet a Sunday afternoon as it is, I might as well get the jump on this piece and start working on it.

Open the ink bottle and let the carnage begin!

Friday, June 11, 2010

From The Vault - The Shift 1995

Back while I was working mainly for Marvel Comics I was painting not only my own work but a bunch of other artists. So, I figured, if I was already painting over other artists I didn't know why not paint over an artist who was my best friend?

In 1995 both my friend, Craig Patrick, and I were planning on self publishing comic books together. We both had ideas for books for years and figured, with the new wave of self publishing flourishing, it was time to put our ideas out into the world. My story, EXIT 6, finally saw print in 1998. Craig's idea, The Shift, a book that dealt with werewolves, is a book the world is (or at least I am) still waiting for.

But, back in 1995, we still had the world at our feet and both seemed gung-ho to get these stories out there.

At the time I was trying to paint my own work using a variety of techniques such as airbrushing, colored pencils, Dr. Martins dyes, and acrylic paint. I'd done a few successful attempts on my own and thought the look I had developed might look cool over Craig's work. So, I took his pencils, traced them over to a piece of illustration board, and went to work.

Here's the results as well as Craig's original penciled piece.

Well, EXIT 6 didn't sell well and I had to stop doing it. I think my "failure" might have been enough to make Craig gun shy and not attempt to put his own book out there. But, while I am still always working on my own projects (like OilCan Drive) I'm sad to see not much new illustration work from Craig. I've always loved his work and looked up to him as an inspiration.

Maybe someday, someday, we'll see a Shift comic book out of him.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


So, the cover for the latest book is done and gone. A few little changes were made here and there since we last saw it. Most notably the toothy grin on the main character's face has been replaced by a determined smirk.

As for the finished cover, we have two variations. One, a tropical sunset on a golden rolling ocean and the other, a beautiful blue day with pristine aqua waters.

I'm not sure which one will be used for the final printed version but I like the idea of having a special limited edition variant cover. It brings me back to my comic book days in the early nineties. Now, if I could just figure out how to put silver foil and 3D holograms on these covers and I'd be all set!

Any votes on which cover you'd like to see make it to the final print?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Meat Loaf

Meat Loaf continues to be one of my guilty musical pleasures and his newest album, "Hang Cool Teddy Bear" has been on constant rotation here in the studio the past few weeks.

I dare say, I think I am enjoying this album more than any of his earlier work and I think it even blows the last two "Bat Out of Hell" albums out of the water (I'm still not sure about the first "Bat Out of Hell"'s hard to beat a classic.)

But, "Hang Cool Teddy Bear" is really great. The name alone is, I think, one of my favorite album titles ever. It's produced by Rob Cavallo of Green Day fame and features guest musicians and vocalists such as Steve Vai, Brian May, Justin Hawkins, Jack Black, and even has one song with Hugh Laurie (House) playing piano on it.

I love it. And, as Meat Loaf himself has said, if this album had been done by U2, it would have been hailed as the second coming of Christ.

So, there ya go. Here is the first single off of the album, Los Angeloser.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Boulder Creek

For most of the covers I do for the kids books I'll use photo backgrounds merged with the artwork I produce. One of the new books I'll be working on this week involves a story about a family rafting down a raging river.

"Perfect," I figured. "The Boulder Creek is swelling right now and there should be some good places along the bike path to get some good raging river type of shots."

So, I set out this afternoon to try my luck.

I knew the creek was getting high enough that the city had put a ban on kayaking and tubing down the creek but I figured that would mean I'd just get that much of a better picture.

Little did I know that the creek has swelled so much that the local police had shut down all access to any part of the creek. The first spot I picked had yellow tape all around the entry ways and a lot of police presence. So, I headed up the canyon, out of the Boulder City limits hoping to find another spot to get some shots. No luck. The one spot I picked had a Sheriff's car parked out.

Not wanting to try and explain myself to an officer of the law or try and talk my way out of a ticket (I doubt any client would pay my fine as a "cost of doing business") I headed back east to Scott Carpenter park off of 30th street. I parked and took a little walk towards the creek. Seeing the yellow caution tape up but no police presence I ducked the tape and took a stroll down the bike path to a spot I thought would be perfect.

Crossing a small bridge I stepped off the path and found a spot below the bridge where I could get a few shots of the water. All in all, I think I picked the perfect spot and got some great shots.

I was safe, didn't get wet, and luckily, didn't have to talk my way out of a ticket.

Not a bad way to spend an afternoon away from the drawing board but still all in the name of art.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Sports Illustrated Kids - May

Since it's already June (and it feels like August...where did Spring go???) I figure it's safe to show off these images from the Sports Illustrated Kids "What's The Call" May article.

The month of May featured footballs bouncing off referee's heads, baseballs bouncing off batter's legs, and a girl skiing down the hill on "just one ski!" (insert your best voice from John Cusack's "Better Off Dead" here.)

All in all it was a month of bumps and bruises. Luckily, from where I sat, it looked like no one got hurt.

But, just wait until June's article!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Onto the Color

Here's a few quick screen shots of the cover for the "Windsurfing" story I am working on today.

The inked cover is done, scanned in, cleaned up, and now it's on to the color.

I don't know why but it seemed like a good idea to take a screen shot before I added the whites to his eyes and teeth and after.

OK, back to it. This cover is due tomorrow morning so I don't have any time to waste!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Laying Down the Ink

So, as I said on Thursday, I had to flop this piece so the character was looking off to his right instead of his left. I simply laid the piece onto a light box and traced the image onto the back of the paper and started inking.

So far, so good. Now, it's just a matter of finishing him up, scanning him into the computer, and laying down some color to make this the best cover I've done yet!

Friday, June 4, 2010

From The Vault - Comic Images Trading Cards 1992

In 1991, in the summer between my second and third year at the Joe Kubert School, I got my first creative job as an artist's assistant for Mark McNabb at the McNabb Art Studio.

Most of what we did at the studio involved the production work for Comic Images' line of comic book merchandise. From t-shirts to prints to little card board stand-ups if there was some sort of comic related merchandise out in the early nineties there was a good chance Comic Images was doing it.

So, yes, we did a ton of comic book inspired trading cards.

The cards we did rarely had any kind of new art done for the card series exclusively. No, it was mostly us taking various comic book panels, cutting out the word balloons, drawing in the backgrounds or arms or feet that the balloons covered up, and making them into cards. I learned a lot about art that first summer. Once you have to try and figure out how Jim Lee would have drawn this rock on the ground your mind opens up a lot about different techniques and style.

Once the production work on the black and white artwork was done we'd have a photostat shot of the art and then paint right onto that...the same size as a finished trading card...2.5"x3.5"...with Dr. Martin's dyes, brushes, and airbrush.

It was were I first cut my teeth on painting the way I would up until I moved into coloring with the computer. Photostats, Dr. Martins Dyes, friskit, x-acto blades, small tiny brush work, all done at that very small size. It really makes you learn your trade quickly when there is no room for mistakes.

And, once I could paint that small, when I went on to work for Marvel Comics themselves, and they gave me these giant boards that were sometimes four times the size of the printed work, well...geez...painting that big just seemed too easy.

So, here are a sampling of some of the cards I painted all those years ago. From Spider-Man and Wolverine to the Punisher and The Savage Dragon, these are just a few of probably the hundreds of cards I painted in that studio over the years.

It was a great first place to work right out of school and kept me from digging ditches or moving back home to Mom and Dad. It was the start of a long road which got me where I am today. And, even though there were times it drove me crazy I really wouldn't have traded it for anything in the world.

So, thank you Mark, thank you Comic Images, and thank you McNabb Studios.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Surfing from the Desk

Here's another piece that's been on my desk this past week. It's the pencil sketch for a kids story about windsurfing.

I originally had both of his hands on the boom to control the sail (safety first, of course) but was asked to take one of his hands off to make the piece look a bit more action oriented and daring. Of course, that made his body twist a bit but a few quick erases and a tweak here and there and I was back in business.

The only other thing that will change about this piece is that, when my art director plopped this sketch into the cover template, she flopped the piece so the character is now looking right instead of left. For any of you out there who do any kind of art and have put your drawings in front of a mirror you'll know that every little mistake you've made will magnify itself when you look at its reflection. When I saw her design it didn't look too bad but I think I'd rather play it safe then sorry when doing the inks for the finished piece.

Chances are I'll simply flip the piece over and trace on the back of the paper and then ink from that. That way any little mistakes I've made will still be hard to see. Sneaky sneaky!

OK, back to it. Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

From The Desk

Just a few bits and pieces that have been seen on my art table the last few days.

Personally, I like the guy with the mohawk the best. He's kind of like a Travis Barker character (the drummer from Blink 182) from some odd TV cartoon featuring the adventures of Blink 182.

I'd call it "The Young Blinky Tots Fun Hour!" and make a fortune.

Now if I can just find a place to fit the cartoon versions of Mark and Tom into the next job I'll be all set!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Happy June!

Happy June! And with a new month comes a brand new blog header!

Since it FINALLY feels like nice weather outside (up until a week ago I was convinced it was going to snow here at least one more time) I decided to let my art enjoy the warm weather and take some of her clothes off. Oh sure, she still has a scarf on (maybe she's worried it might snow again too) but she's not wearing much more than that.

Morgan was a friend of a friend who graciously agreed to pose for me when I was visiting Nashville. I keep meaning to do a few more pieces of her but haven't had the time to get back around to it. But it is on my list of things to do.

Since I don't post too much of the sexy stuff on my own site I did put this piece and a few other pin-up style pieces on a website called So, if you want to see more of Morgan and where I've hidden the sexier side of the Sean Tiffany art you can go HERE.

Enjoy the ladies, enjoy the art, and enjoy the nice weather.

And cross your fingers that it doesn't snow again.