Thursday, March 31, 2011


I had the idea for this piece while out riding my bike around town late one night. The idea in my head as I rode around had Ryan leaning into the viewer, perturbed, asking, in an ironic tone, "can I help you???"

So, as soon as I got home I sat down at the drawing board and sketched this out.

Now, if I can find some time I want to ink and color it. Maybe I can finish it in time for tomorrow, when I'll need a new image for the blog header.

Back to the drawing board, break out the ink!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Driving Test

On Thursday I found myself with some free time so I decided to jump back into the OilCan Drive pool and draw a picture of the band I've been wanting to do for a long time.

The idea was to have the whole gang on one motorcycle having the time of their life. I had sketched the idea out in my notebook a while ago and even went so far as to get some reference of a motorcycle that I liked.

So, I sat down late Thursday afternoon and started sketching the piece out.

The problem was is that it just didn't feel like it was working. Right from the initial blue line pencil sketch I wasn't sure I was moving in the right direction. So, I decided to quit.

And sometimes, when you quit, that's when you can really let loose and just keep going, not caring how the piece comes out. So, I decided to chuck out the idea of doing a good piece and test myself to see how fast I could do it.

I started with a blank piece of paper around 4:30 in the afternoon and was done with the penciling in time for dinner at 6:00. Monika and I went out, got some dinner, and I watched a bit of the hockey game. I kept staring at the pencils as I paced back and forth during commercials.

Then I decided, to hell with it, I'm going to ink it and see how much I can get done before I go out for my bike ride at 10:30. So, I sat down at 8:00 and started inking. By 10:30 this is how far I got.

So, while there are still things here and there that still bug me about this piece I can look at it now and really admire how much I can do in a little less than four hours.

Not bad. I may still have a comic book inside of me yet if I can keep a pace like that.

I hope you enjoy and have a great week!

Friday, March 25, 2011

From The Vault - Gen 2005

When I was messing around with the timing of a test video a few weeks ago I put a bunch of art into it to make sure the changes of the pictures worked with the drum beat. I sent it off to a few people and one of them, Rob Kelly, mentioned he hadn't seen this piece before.

So, I figured if Rob hadn't seen it that meant I hadn't shown it off on From the Vault Friday yet.

So, here ya go, a pretty girl with great eyes. I tried to do something artsy with the panel borders but I'm not sure how entirely successful I was.

Ah well, she seemed to like it. Another satisfied customer!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Adding The Color

And once all the images are inked and scanned into the computer I can start coloring them.

For some reason I always use a neutral light green background when I paint. I find it easier to see when I am going outside the lines and making a mistake than if I am looking at a pure white background. And, I think, the green background is also a bit less harsh on the eyes than bright white when you're looking at the computer screen for hours on end.

OK, off to finish these up and get on to the next project. Have a good one!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Inking it Up!

The inks have been laid down on this newest piece and the one thing I had to change was to make the character Asian. So, a few little changes of the brush strokes on his face and I think I accomplished the change. Once the color is laid down it will be even more evident.

I also decided to leave the front tire of his bicycle sketched in so I could easily create it digitally in the computer.

Now it's off to scan this piece into the computer and add some color.

Off to the computer. Have a great day!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Running for the Finish Line

Here's a piece of art that's sitting on my drawing board today just waiting for some ink to be splattered all over it.

I think it's my favorite running piece I've done in a while and I can't wait to see how it all turns out.

OK, off to shake up my ink, get my brush dirty, and see what happens.

Have a great day!

Monday, March 21, 2011

OilCan Drive

After a weekend of thinking it over and weighing my options I've decided to give OilCan Drive a bit more of my attention. The band in the back of my head is really bugging me to record some music. After all, I already prepaid to distribute their debut EP so it would be a shame if that didn't happen.

Thank you all for the words of advice. I think my brother said it best. I already made one thing I love, art, into a working business and music was supposed to be a new hobby away from all of that. And slowly, it seems like I am being asked to work at music as well.

So, OilCan Drive wins out and will begin recording soon.

It's time to quit or at least take a break from Lou's Angels.

It's time to break up with Lou.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Join The Band!

For the last few months, every Friday, Lou has come over to my house to play some music. It started with him playing bass and me playing drums and slowly shifted to him playing bass and me playing guitar while the drum machine on his amp kept the beat.

It started out as just goofy fun as you can see from some of the old LouTube videos I posted.

But once I moved over to playing guitar it seemed like I was now "in a band." Or, more appropriately, I was in Lou's band. Which meant I played Lou's songs and Lou's songs only.

As far as learning someone else's songs I always look at it as a challenge. It makes me realize how far I've come since I started playing guitar that I can play along with someone's original song. But, that being said, it would be nice to have the chords, notes, or maybe an arrangement to the song, even.

But, with Lou, it's, "watch my hands, listen to the music, and just figure it out."

So that I've even been able to play along with the songs as well as I have amazes me. That they sound halfway decent is incredible. He tells me to do what I feel but if I add an extra note or chord into the mix I am immediately, "doing it wrong." So, sometimes I continue to do it wrong just to bug him. And it sounds good to me.

So, I am in Lou's band now, figuring out his songs on my own with not much help from him, very little leeway in how I play, and, when I brought up the idea last week to sit down with a drum machine and actually get the arrangement of each song down so we would know on each beat where the song was going I was shot down. He simply told me, with how he plays, he will never play the same song the same way twice. Not even his own songs. Yet, I'm still expected to figure out where he is going and when he is making changes. I can now understand why none of his songs I have ever heard him play live with anyone never had a decent ending. It's because no one knew when the song was ending except Lou. And, if he likes the way a song sounds, he'll just keep playing.

The plans I heard last week for the band were some sort of idea about us dressing as fighter pilots and mimicking the Blue Angels, with the name of the band Lou's Angels. Well, it is a better name than the one he came up with the week before, The Courteous Assholes.

Because Lou has a friend who he used to play drums with a few years ago who has since moved to New York, Lou's plan is for us to go to New York for a weekend, hook up with this guy, and play open mike's in the Big Apple. Because, you know, that's so much easier than playing somewhere locally.

And the newest quirk Lou has taken to is taping over the logos on his guitar pedals and amplifiers. He says he isn't being paid to endorse anyone and until someone pays him to do so he won't advertise their gear.

With most creative friends I spend time with I go away from the experience feeling charged up and ready to do work. With Lou I just feel like taking a nap. It's utterly exhausting. Maybe he's a psychic vampire feeding off of my creativity. Who knows?

Even today, when I told him I didn't have time to "practice" for four hours, he asked if he could come over and pick up his recorder he had lent me that had a few files on it of us playing. I told him sure and, of course, he showed up with his amp ready to play. How could I not find even an hour to play some songs, he wondered? To him playing music and guitar is a break. Well, it's not so much a break when it feels like work and you're trying to follow a man who isn't sure where he's going. I finally had to kick him out so I could get some work done.

I feel bad because he is a friend and all but Lou is definitely a person who, if you give him an inch, he'll take your life. I've told him I didn't want to play live with him and have actually quit the band at least three times but he keeps showing up and because I am nice and like playing guitar, I keep playing in the spare bedroom with him.

And the worst part is, to me, the songs sounds good and have potential. But, after last week where the idea of moving ahead, arranging the songs to a drum beat, and really making them tight, fell on deaf ears I'm wondering if I'm just wasting my time.

I wonder if the time I spend each week with Lou might be better served working on the music for OilCan Drive. At least I'd be having fun and I'd have some forward motion. And I might not feel so exhausted and beaten up afterward.

But, here is a clip of Lou and I playing from last week. Him on bass and singing, me on guitar, and the amplifier keeping the drum beat.

So, OilCan Drive or Lou's Angels. Let me know what you think.

If you can't see the file above the original file can be found HERE.

Friday, March 18, 2011

From The Vault - Exit 6 Working Pages

Here are a few more pages that I will be including in the Exit 6: The (in)Complete Series book I've been working on here and there for the last six weeks.

I knew I had a few false starts when I first started Exit 6 back in 1996 and I was glad I still had at least one page that showed that time in my life. The crucial scene where Ketith Howard enters Courtney McKay's life by crashing through a pizza shop window wasn't the easiest one to figure out. In fact, if I remember right, I might have done this three times, not just two. But, this is the only page I could find that I brought to Colorado with me.

The first try isn't that bad but it doesn't have the same impact of the final piece. I'm much happier with the way Keith's body fills the page as well as everyone's reaction inside the restaurant.

I'm also amazed to see, in both penciled pages, just how much detail I was putting into my pencils at the time. I think a lot of that is insecurity about how the final page might turn out and not trusting yourself with the ink. It is definitely a lot of busy work that I don't have time to do anymore. Even as the Exit 6 series went along (the last two books in the series are still in pencil form) you can see how much looser the penciling got. I think it was a matter of going faster and trying to get the next book out on time so I was leaving a lot more, at that point, for the inking stage.

Still, it's fun to see the work in progress on these pages.

As for the final black and white pages, everything scanned well and the only problems I had was some of the clean up work needed. Because the lettering was all pasted right on the original art boards I had to clean up a few paste up and cut lines on every page. But, most of the old zip-a-tone that is laid down on the pages scanned really great and held up when I printed out my sample copy. The old white zip-a-tone dots, however, didn't work at all. I had to go back in and mimic those digitally but, as you can see in the "crash" lettering behind Keith, it all worked out in the end.

The main things left to do on the book is the actual writing of the text and getting down the behind the scenes stories that went into making the book and doing a new cover for the collected edition.

But, more on that later...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Just a Test

To make sure the computer was working well again yesterday I popped open Photoshop and decided to color a piece. I wanted to work one something long enough to make sure I wasn't getting any errors, nothing was freezing up, and nothing was crashing.

Because I didn't have anything that needed to be painted I opened up this old EXIT 6 black and white cover from 1998 and started painting away. And everything worked out just great.

This piece was originally going to be the cover for Exit 6 #5. But, because the book was canceled, this black and white artwork was never painted. It was weird going back and painting on stuff I had drawn almost thirteen years ago. I found it hard to make some decisions with the color as the facial structures were a bit different than the way I draw now. It has a very comic book mid-nineties feel to it in my eyes. But, since I did draw it in the nineties I guess that all make sense.

And, to address a few of the comments yesterday:

Jeff Lafferty, I did buy a laptop last year but my working computer is the same tower I've been using for four years. It isn't connected to the internet at all and I do all of my art, music, and financial stuff on it. The way the screen works on the laptop I can't color on it because when you move your head the image's color shifts so I never have a clear idea of the choices I am making. So, I stick to working on the the home set up and use the laptop for basic day-to-day computer stuff and for surfing the internet. So far it seems to work well.

And, Jeff Hooper, I grew up with Macs and owned Macs until I bought my first PC in 2001. I owend and used Macs before they were cool. But, once going to the PC everything made sense and I started using them for art. Backwards from most creative people, I know, but it seems to work for me. Personally, I like a machine I can dig into and rip parts out of and know how to fix. Every time I look at a Mac's interface I feel like it's spoon feeding me only what it thinks I want. And really, I look at the computers as simple (well, maybe not simple) tools to get the jobs I need done. And, if I did go back to Mac not only would I need to buy a new, way more expensive machine, but think of all the programs and gear I would need to buy to get back to where I am right now.

Or maybe I just have a hard time changing once I find something I like. You're talking to a guy who still drives a 1992 jeep and has the same art table he's had since he was fifteen years old. Heck, I think the little plastic cup I use to rinse out my brushes is over legal drinking age.

So, as much as some people keep telling me the Mac is the answer to all of my problems I think, for now, I'm doing just fine.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The New/Old Set Up

Since my old monitor started getting blurry and I decided to replace it I've been trying to make a few other new upgrades to my computer system over the last two weeks.

After finally getting the monitor to work after finally uninstalling the software it came with (it would have been neat to grab the screen and turn it to a portrait view but, really, do I need something like that to work?) I've also tried adding some memory and RAM to my old (four year old) system. What I'm finding funny is that four years in terms of computers these days might as well be ancient and I'm looked at like a guy beating two rocks together in the woods to make fire when I tell people what I'm using.

So, I bought myself a 2 terabyte back up drive so I'll probably never need to worry about space for music, art, or videos ever again. I still have a 200 gigabyte back up drive that I haven't even half filled since I bought it but it does feel nice to have all that space behind me while I'm doing my work and not watching the space on my hard drive dangerously fill up.

I've also learned a lot more about RAM than I ever wanted to know in the last few weeks. I started out by simply buying some 8gb RAM chips to pop into my computer. I had no idea if they would work or not and, as usual in situations where you leap before you look, they didn't work. So, I did some research, found the right kind of chips I needed to buy and bought 4gb of RAM. I plugged those into my computer and, even though I had 4gb of RAM installed my computer only read 2gb of RAM. Still, not bad. I knew something like that might happen but I still took the chance that 4gb might work. And, 2gb was better than the 1gb I've been running for the last few years.

Things sped up a little bit but nothing that really blew my mind. Still, I figured if everything was working and I was getting 2gb of speed out of my RAM than all was well.

Well, it didn't stay that way. Not long after replacing the RAM programs like Photoshop would juts lock up in the middle of working or not open at all. I tried pulling one of the two 2gb RAM chips so it would still run 2gb of RAM and left it that way for a few days. Things seemed OK for a bit but, just when I needed Photoshop to make some client revisions the computer started freaking out again. Photoshop would close, not open files, or simply stop working right in the middle of me painting a file.

So, I tried a few fixes this morning and finally pulled out the 2gb of RAM and put back in my old twin 512mb chips to get my system back to 1gb of RAM. It's a little slower but it's working like a champ. No weird program glitches or stops.

And, in the end, I can wait a few extra seconds to make sure everything is working right.

I'm sure I've gained a few new gray hairs dealing with this stuff over the last few weeks but, as long as my work gets done and looks good, that's all that matters.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Um....I'm Still Here.

The last few weeks have been such an up and down rollercoaster of a ride that the blog here seems to have suffered.

But, I am alive, things are rolling along, and both the client work and personal stuff are going well.

I just wish I had two of me. Or maybe ten more hours in the day.

For now, enjoy this piece I just finished up last week. I scanned the images into the computer and colored them up and was really happy with the results. Of course, now the client wantes to make changes on the finished pieces which just makes me tired.

But, what can you do?

OK, off to make changes.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Happy March!

Yeah, I'm a day or two late with the newest blog header but what can ya do?

I can't believe I never used the illustration I did of Tonya Kay last year as a part of the blog but, right now, I'm glad I didn't because I can finally feature her here for the month of March. Hmmm...Miss March, anyone?

The last few days really got away from me as I got a crash course in using Adobe After Effects yesterday and I spent the majority of today trying to set up my new monitor. My old monitor (a behemoth of a 19" old CRT monitor) was finally dying on me after six years. The screen started to get fuzzy and staring at it for too long would really knock me for a loop. After scanning all the pages into the computer for Exit 6 it got so bad that my left eye started twitching. At first I thought I was just getting older and that it may be time for some glasses. But I tested myself by reading the credits on movie posters from across the room and finally had Monika look at the CRT screen to make sure it wasn't just me. It turns out it wasn't so I ordered a new monitor.

It's a beauty of a monitor. It's a 23" wide screen that looks amazing when it's set up right. The problem was setting it up. You think it'd be easy to plug a new monitor into a computer. Just plug it in, select your resolution, and it should work fine. But, no. Like most things that have all sorts of software and add ons to make it all "easier and better" it just made the whole thing a pain in the ass. I got it set up really nice once and then the whole thing fritzed out on me and the screen resolution got all screwy. The monitor kept telling me to set it up a certain way. And when I did it looked like someone took a 16:9 widescreen movie and scrunched it down to fit a 4:3 TVscreen. So everything was tall and thin and pixelated and looked awful.

After trying to deinstall and reinstall the software five times I finally actually got on the phone for some tech support. But this guy was no help at all and didn't seemed too concerned about not being able to help me in any way.

Finally I took all the software off my computer, plugged the monitor in, ignored what resolution the screen told me to do, and set it up in a way that fit the screen, kept everything in proportion, and looked good. I adjusted the contrast and brightness a bit by eye until it looked good to me and left it at that.

It looks great but I have had one instance where I turned the computer back on and the monitor reset itself to an old 800x600 format. I just changed it back to what looked good and went from there. So, who knows what will happen the next time I turn it on.

You gotta love technology, folks. I did finally tell myself that it's just a tool but I sometimes get way too wrapped up in such things that the next thing I know the whole day has been blown. But it seems to be OK now and all is well. An hour long bike ride tonight helped me put life back in perspective and things are great once again.

Happy March!