Sunday, September 29, 2013

Remember My Name (Goodbye Walter White)



Over the past year (14 months to be exact), I've received a fair amount of attention for my artwork thru both word of mouth, and social media. What's the one question I get asked the most? "Do you still have any of the Walter White artwork left?" Seriously. I would say 99% of the time, that's the first question I'm asked when someone is turned on to my artwork either by a friend, or the shameless self promotion machine that is known as twitter/facebook.

Since August 2012, I've been referred to as the "Walter White guy" more times than I can count. It's not something I take offense to. Actually, I think it's a pretty cool compliment.

I was a latecomer to "Breaking Bad." I missed the first season during it's initial run, and didn't begin viewing until it was well into it's second season. After giving it a shot on Netflix to see what all of the hype was about, I was INSTANTLY hooked. I managed to watch the entire first season, and catch up on the second in less than a week. I don't care what you say - that's impressive.

The story of Walter White is unlike anything I've ever seen. It's an EXTREMELY rare occurrence in TV that you find a show that doesn't feel like a show - it feels like real life. With "Breaking Bad" I honestly don't feel like I'm being told a story. I feel as if I'm watching real events unfold right in front of me. I feel as if I've grown to know these characters, and care about them over the past few years. It's almost unprecedented that a TV series runs it's entire course without a single bad episode. I truly feel as if "Breaking Bad" has done that. I don't know if that's ever happened before, and I HIGHLY doubt it'll ever happen again.

As far as the infamous Walter White artwork goes....here's the truth. This artwork was created on August 8th, 2012 at 4am in the morning. For years I had struggled with my ability to illustrate likenesses. It was just something I could never seem to do. I mean, I could draw a "cartoony" version of someone that resembled the character, but as far as a dead on "I know who that is!" likeness? Couldn't do it. Was definitely lacking in the self confidence department.

I had watched a few episodes of "Breaking Bad" the previous night, and couldn't sleep for some reason. The show was still fresh in my head when I finally decided to get up, so I decided to try my hand at illustrating the infamous Walter White. I scoured google for pictures that caught my attention, and then I found a very simple, very straight forward image of Walt's face. Nothing fancy, just a close up of his face. Bingo.

The thing that really caught my attention about the image is that the character of Walter White (and I don't know if the same goes for actor Bryan Cranston) has so much expression on his face. Even when he's being stoic - there's a lot of mileage on that face and in those eyes. That dude has been through a lot.

What I originally set out to do was just try my hand at illustrating a likeness with someone who's got a lot going on with his face. My reasoning? Because even if I did eventually mess up, I could just chalk it up to part of the detail. No joke. That's what was going thru my head at the time.

I never intended to sit down and create a piece of artwork that I would ever intentionally sell, or even frame and hang in my house (as I'm VERY particular about that). This was solely an exercise in skill and in confidence. I didn't even put in a lot of time. In fact, the entire illustration (color too) was done in just about 30min total. That's it. I would LOVE to say that it was some super long process that I went back and fine tuned to get just right, but that would be a lie. The truth? It was quick. Messy. Sporadic. And I was seriously half awake. When I was done, I sat back, took one look and my immediate reaction was...

"whoa..."

Now, that's not meant to sound conceited or self absorbed. Remember, I was dealing with some SERIOUS confidence issues artistically, and that was probably the first time I was genuinely proud of something that I had created in well over a year. My next immediate reaction was to try my hand at Jesse Pinkman. I mean, I figured I was on to something...might as well strike while the iron's still hot, right? So I did.

The rest, as they say is history. I would assume that most of you reading this are familiar with both illustrations, so I will leave it to you to decide whether or not both (or either) is good. I mean, art is subjective right?

Seriously though. With the series finale of "Breaking Bad" just about 45min away, I can't help but feel an overwhelming sense of...sadness. Yes, I realize that these are fictional characters and none of this actually happened. Also keep in mind that this is being written by a guy who makes his living off of fictional characters, so you'll have to forgive me for being slightly more attached to them than the "average joe" (no pun intended).

The story of Walter White (to me) is the story of a man who decided to take his fate into his own hands. He was dealt a devastating blow with the diagnoses of cancer, but rather than shrivel up and succumb to it over time, he set out to make sure that his family was taken care of well after his untimely demise.

So he created the purest form of meth anyone has ever seen. 

And became a murdering, power hungry, drug kingpin somewhere along the way. 

But at his core, it was ALWAYS about providing for his family. I can respect that.

Walter White did what we all would like to think we'd do in any situation where we're suddenly powerless (no, not cook meth and kill people) - he took control. He didn't sit idly by and cry "poor is me." He did what he had to do to reach his endgame. I don't care who you are - we ALL like stories of people taking control of situations. Because that's what we wish we could do all the time. But we don't. Not always at least.

From a fan's perspective, the character of Walter White represents change. The concept and execution of "Breaking Bad" has (likely) changed how TV shows are handled in the future. The portrayal of Walter White has changed what's deemed "good" and "bad" and blurred the line so much that most of us are rooting for a drug dealing murderer to get away.

For me personally, Walt represents change in myself. I never thought I was able to do what I did with Walt (artistically). It just never seemed possible for me. I've always said that art is probably the easiest thing to excel at because of the fact that it is so subjective. You just have to be confident in the art that you're producing. Whether you're spending hours doing intricate illustrations, or blowing your nose on a canvas and calling it "modern" - do it with confidence and people will follow.

And that is what I do with everything I've produced since August 8th, 2012. Because of Walter White.

Truth be told, I've made a lot of money off of this piece of art. No, it's not set me for life or anything like that (let's not be ridiculous here), but I have been able to afford many things because of one simple 30min drawing. And I'm not even talking in the direct "I've sold X amount of Walter White pieces" either. I'm talking about what it's opened me up to do artistically and give me the confidence to do things that I previously didn't think I was capable of. Over the past year, I've been asked to give many people the "Walter White treatment" when I do likenesses of them or their friends/family. It always makes me smile.

It's weird. I have absolutely nothing to do with this show, the actors, or the people behind the scenes. I watched every single episode as a fan just like the rest of you. But...in a way, I feel appreciative to the people behind the show for bringing such an incredible story to life. I'm sure it will be debated for years to come, but in my opinion, Walter White will go down as the single greatest character in TV history.

So as the world says "goodbye" to the show and it's characters, I sincerely want to thank everyone who purchased a poster, t-shirt, pillow, keychain or any other product I could come up with that featured my Walter White artwork. It means a lot to me that you spent your hard earned money simply to own something I created, and that has such personal meaning to me. When people ask me what piece of artwork I'm the most proud of, I always give them the same answer - Walter White. It didn't take me very long. It's technically not very good. But it has forever changed my technique, and the way I approach my artwork.

Now, I need to wrap this up so I can glue myself to my couch and see how the tale of Walter White is brought to and end...

"Yeah Mr. White! Yeah Science!"

....bitch.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Reunited



BIG fan of the products Kotobukiya produces, and when I saw the promo images for this Venom statue they were releasing, I couldn't help but try my hand at drawing it out. Now, keep in mind that his is 100% based on an actual statue/photo, and the only thing that I added were the eyeballs (because that's how I like my Venom to look). I just really loved how everything in the photo looked - lighting, angle, etc. I had to give it a shot.

Believe it or not, this is the very first time I've actually tried to sit down and draw Venom. I mean, I've sketched him out in books over the years for fun, but this is the very first "hardcore" rendering of the character I've ever attempted. It absolutely helped to have reference, but the dude is still tough to draw nonetheless. There's a lot going on with his musculature and intricate details of the suit, plus...when you're trying to draw this as a black/white image, it makes things a little trickier.

All-in-all I spent about 5hrs on this from start to finish. Even though I'm not pulling this image from my head, it still takes time to do. In fact, I kind of think it's harder to match a photo because you have specific guidelines and "rules" to follow.

I had a lot of fun doing this, and when people recognize it as the actual Venom from the statue, I feel like mission accomplished...it's supposed to be. That's the WHOLE point. I'm not reinventing the wheel here, I'm just trying to see if I can take a stab at it. There are some things I'm not happy with (like his right foot. I couldn't get it to look right, so I chopped it off), but overall I think it came out nicely.


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Friday, August 9, 2013

Crimson and Clover



You HAD to know that after doing two different versions of Batman, The Joker wasn't far behind. Now, before you say "where's the Nicholson Joker" hang on a sec. As much as Nicholson's Joker scared the hell out of me as a kid, it's Ledger's version that takes a character that's been around for 60+ years, introduces something new, and ultimately improves upon the character's already legendary foundation. Seriously. How many portrayals of comic book characters in movies can you say did that? (Iron Man, and Loki being the only other examples I can think of).

So....before getting to Nicholson's Joker (yes, it will happen), I wanted to tackle my personal favorite incarnation of the character. Now, the funny thing about this version of the Joker is that for as ugly and smeared as his makeup/appearance is, there was actually quite a bit of precision that went into rendering his face.

First off, it has to look like Heath Ledger...well, Heath Ledger in Joker makeup. That's always a challenge, especially when you're using a toy/pics on google as reference. So once you get the likeness down, then you've got to deal with that effin hair of his. Then...you've got to render the makeup in such a way that it appears like he smeared it on - with some of his natural skin tone showing through. Yikes!

When I do most of my illustrations, I sort of approach them as if I were doing a painting. I work in layers. If I'm working with an area that needs to be black with white sections poking through, I don't draw outlines for those white areas - I fill the whole thing with black, and then add white on top of it. Anytime I've ever drawn a "cut out" like that, it just looks fake. Not organic. I find that by layering colors on top of each other like a painter would, it's MUCH easier, and WAY less time consuming.

Anyway, for this one, there was A LOT of layering. I'd color in a section, then go back over it with a different color, then go back over that with a darker color for shading, etc. It sounds like a lot of work, but I find that it actually speeds things along quite nicely.

Overall, this one took me about 9hrs to complete over the course of two different sittings. I'm really happy with the way it turned out, and so far the response has been pretty positive. It's a shame that Ledger passed a few years ago. Would've loved to see him take that character even further than his already legendary performance in "The Dark Knight." Ah well. I guess the next natural challenge would be to render this version of the character in a way we haven't seen. Sort of a "what if?" type of deal.


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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Ever Dance with the Devil In the Pale of the Moonlight?



Come on. You know I had to use that tagline as the header. It was either that, or "Bat-dance" which I might save for another (clever) blog entry.

So, hot on the heels of my "Dark Knight" illustration, I decided to get the jump on some people who were surely going to ask me to do a Batman '89/Michael Keaton illustration as an alternative to those who don't care for the "Bale-Man" incarnation.

This one is pretty straight forward. MUCH easier to do than the Bale/armored look from the more recent movies. The thing I always liked about Keaton's portrayal of the character is the intensity he brought to the role. He said very few words, and when he did speak, he didn't sound like he was trying to put on his "big boy voice" for his friends. It was almost like a deep whisper. And the eyes! Can't forget about how intense Keaton's eyes looked underneath the cowl and caked in makeup.

I remember having an original movie poster from 1989, and I remember how simple it was. Batman, against a black background with the movie's logo at the bottom. That's it. I wanted to keep my illustration as basic (if not more so), and let the artwork speak for itself. To be honest with you, I kind of like the all white-with-yellow version a little more.

While I was never a fan of his Bruce Wayne, Keaton definitely made an intimidating/menacing looking Batman. Just wish he would've continued the role so we never had to suffer through the atrocities that were "Batman Forever" and "Batman & Robin."


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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I heard you guys the first time...



For over a year I've had people ask me when I was going to do some (movie) Batman artwork. It's like every single time I do an illustration or commission, someone responds with "where's Batman!?" Well, here he is. In all of his armored glory.

This is BY FAR the most intricate superhero drawing I've done to date - and yes, that includes the Iron Man illustrations I've worked on. The level of intricate detail on Batman's armor is unlike anything I've seen before on any other character I've illustrated to date. At one point, I almost said "forget this" and scrapped the whole idea, but thankfully I hung in there AND managed to keep my sanity at the same time.

Much like a lot of my pinup work, this particular illustration/pose is based on a highly detailed collectible figure from the company "Hot Toys." That company puts so much detail into each of their products, it kind of makes my grip about the detail I put into an illustration seem a bit silly. Still, I bet at least one of their sculptors kept grinding their teeth at the thought of rendering every crease, screw, fold, rivet and groove. Comes with the territory.

At the very top, I've posted an image of a sort of "time line" on how the full illustration came to be from sketch to completed colors. From time to time I hear comments like "you just photoshopped a picture," so posting images like that helps maintain some of my street cred....ok, not really, but they're fun to do.

With the colors, I sort of just did my own thing (like I normally do), while keeping things relatively close to their overall color scheme from the actual source material. I'm not a fan of how dark everything on his suit is, and I figured that if I'm going to take this much time to render all of these details, at least someone other than me is going to notice them. I also toned down the color of his belt. I've always thought it should be a muted yellow/grey color.

From start to finish, Batman took around 7hrs to do over the course of about 3 sittings. The one thing that throws me off about this particular look from Batman is the cowl. I was happy to see Batman be able to move his head in the later movies, but something about the shape of the cowl gave him a really "smashed" look. Personally, I would widen the opening around his mouth, and maybe use some sharper angles to convey the overall shape of the cowl. I think Batman should look as menacing as possible - this particular cowl just made him look....smooth.

Oh well.


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*This is the same Batman artwork I took and merged with one of the "Man of Steel" illustrations to create the "World's Finest" artwork a few posts down.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Robocop saves the day! (again)...



 Take a peek at a brand new logo I worked on last week, for a new Facebook friend, Chad Doyon. Chad messaged me about a month ago about helping him design a new logo for his photography business, and after we kicked around ideas, I got to work.

The original idea was to take the letters and come up with some kind of circular shaped design. I played around with that concept for awhile, but just couldn't make it work with the three letters (making it work with two was easy, just not three). I sent the roughs over to chad, and we both agreed that it probably wasn't the way to go.

After I had sent them over, I watched the movie "Robocop" and noticed now they did a lot of the lettering for the corporations/networks in the movie. It made me think. When I mentioned the idea to Chad, he gave me the green light to work something up.

Now, it went thru several revisions, but this is what we ended up with. The lettering is all me, and the idea to make the logo look "sunk in" (similar to how apple does their logos) was all Chad. Once it was all said and done, we were both pretty pleased with the end result. It's simple, it's clean, and it gets the point across without having to over think it. To me, that's the recipe for a successful logo - well that and the fact that the person who it's intended for really liked it.

Gotta hand it to him. Guy knew EXACTLY what he was looking for and provided some pretty awesome direction. I'd call that a slam dunk on both ends.


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It's FINALLY going to happen!...



I did this little mash up a few weeks ago after I finished my "Man of Steel" and "Dark Knight" (which I'll post after this) illustrations. I mean, we've seen the Avengers together in a movie. We've seen the X-Men. We've even seen the Fantastic 4 (I still cringe at those movies). The one team up we have been denied for so many years is the Superman/Batman team up. Honestly, I'd argue that those two together in a movie would be bigger than anything we've seen before.

Well, for those who attended the WB panel today at SDCC (that's San Diego Comic Con for you non-nerds), they dropped a MAJOR bomb today and announced that the long awaited pairing would FINALLY be happening in 2015, and YES ladies, Henry Cavill WILL return as Superman. HC returning as Superman is awesome news, but that's only half the equation - the big question is, who is going to be our (yes, I said OUR) new Batman?

It's still unclear whether or not the movie is going to serve as the sequel to "Man of Steel," or be it's own standalone movie, but the news has nerds buzzing. After years of talk, and false starts, the "World's Finest" are FINALLY coming to the big screen in 2015. I can't wait...

Oh yeah...the art. So this isn't something I spent hours, and hours on. Well, it sort of is, just not on this particular poster. I actually illustrated each character separately on their own individual posters, and then my inner-nerd (which is subsequently my outer-nerd too) kicked in and got me thinking about bringing the two illustrations together.

So I did.

I also decided to keep the backgrounds simple, because I feel like a lot of posters these days have too many elements crammed into a single image and often it detracts from what the focal point is supposed to be. I'm not trying to trash anyone's work, I just like my stuff to be simple and straightforward - that's all.

Overall, I'm happy with the way this turned out. Kind of bummed that Christian Bale has stated that he's not going to be returning to the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman for future movies, but I guess that sort of makes this a collector's item them, doesn't it? So far, the response from people has been pretty good and that makes me happy. After all, this was done entirely for fun, so fan a great reception from fellow fans is pretty much all you can ask for.


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Monday, July 15, 2013

Words of Wisdom



Now that "Man of Steel" has been out in theaters for about a month now (and the fact that I've seen it 4x now) I thought it was the perfect time to post some new Superman related artwork. Now, the top image might look familiar....that's because it is. It's actually a re-working of the very first Man of Steel illustration I ever did back in April/May.

The second illustration is something I did after seeing the movie. The images of a young Clark Kent running around with a red cape were really powerful to me. No joke, I got choked up during those scenes. I had seen a few other artists on the web posting their own versions of movie posters, etc, so I thought I'd take a stab at doing one my own. I just wanted to take the simple approach and not get too carried away with background elements.

Using one of my favorite Cavill/Superman images from the movie, I got to work doing what I do. From the beginning, I knew I wanted to include a nod to the young Clark Kent from the movie with the quote from Jor-El that kind of sets the overall tone of the movie.

Another thing I wanted to experiment with was color. I originally colored the suit as it appears in the movie, but it just looked a little boring to me. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the way Superman's costume looks in the movie - I just wanted to try something different. I started experimenting with shades of blue/red/yellow and couldn't find the right fit for the life of me....so I decided to take a "retro" approach to the colors and mute everything. Bingo.

From the start to finish the (bottom) illustration took about 10hrs to go. That includes coloring it with the original colors, and then going back and tweaking everything. The top image only took about an hour to match colors and move a few things together.

Since I posted them a few weeks ago, the response has been REALLY positive. See...everyone loves Superman.


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Monday, July 1, 2013

Go Ninja! Go Ninja! Go!






Don't tell me that blog title didn't make you smile. If you were a kid in the 80's/90's, then you should know EXACTLY what that's from. And if you don't....shame on you.

I don't care how old you are, EVERYONE has some connection to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Whether you are/were a fan yourself, knew someone that loved them, or maybe your kids ran around the house yelling "Turtle Power!" - everyone is at least aware of them.

Well, not only am I aware of the Turtles - I absolutely love them. I've been a fan of these guys since the early 80's (yes, I'm that old) and I've never grown out of it. I even have the set of figures of the four turtles "guarding" my desk right now.

When the new animated series made it's debut last fall on Nickelodeon, I wasn't sure what to expect. I've seen some great versions of the Turtles, and then I've seen some really bad ones ("Next Mutation" specifically talking about you). After the first two episodes (which strung together to make an 1hr long movie), I was immediately hooked. Everything from the animation, voice acting, visual style, and depiction of the characters was spot on. In fact, the new theme song is my current fav song - I mean overall. Including actual music on the radio. A fun fact that I just found out is that the group that performs the new theme song, is the same group that performed the original "T-U-R-T-L-E Power" song from the first movie. Mind = blown.

So since I love the Turtles so much, I've been wanting to do some TMNT inspired artwork for awhile now. I really wasn't sure what to do, because I feel like everything has been done. Then, a few months ago I saw a t-shirt at Walmart depicting the TMNT as they appear in the new show. Each character had a very cool "retro" looking background with their individual color scheme behind them. Bingo.

I decided to mute the colors and keep them black/white to tie in with their comic roots. I just wanted the focal point to be the individual colors they wear, and I felt like adding in the colors for their shell, skin, etc would kind of kill that.

Overall, each one took me about 3-4hrs from start to finish. I started off with Raphael (you know, because he's my dude), went to Donatello (my second dude), and then went on from there. And if you're wondering, YES, there will be a Shredder and a Splinter poster added to the lineup. Possibly even Casey Jones now that he's been announced to join the show next season.

Pretty pleased with how these guys turned out. Always loved them, and I hope in some small way, I was able to do them justice.


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*On a side note, I tried to draw Donatello as a portrait size to tie in with the other Turtles, but I kept having to make him smaller, or chop off part of his bo staff. After going over it, I decided to just go with the landscape sizing because I wanted to fit everything in. Kind of kills it when you want to put them next to each other, but oh well.



Sunday, June 16, 2013

Paging Doctor...Who?


Before I continue with this blog post, I have a confession to make.

I'm not a Doctor Who fan. At all. I've tried to watch the show on several occasions, and I just can't do it. I'm not saying it's a terrible show, I just can't get past the campy production value. I'm not sure if it's a budget thing, or it's supposed to look like that, but I just can't do it.

Now, having said that (if you're still reading this), I do realize that there's a MASSIVE following for this show/character, and I've been asked several times to do some Doctor Who themed artwork. Since I'm not a fan of the show, I wasn't aware that the Doctor changes every couple of years. I mean, I know that there's been different actors playing the role, but I always thought it was sort of a James Bond thing where it's new actors, but they always kept the same personality traits for the character.

Anyway, of all of the actors who have played the character, I've been told by several people that David Tennant is one of the more popular ones.

Again, since I know NOTHING about the character, I had to do some research on google for images of what he looked like (I also learned that each version of the doctor has their own style). I found some great pics of David Tennant, and whittled them down to which one I thought would look best for what I wanted to do. Once that was done, I set out the illustration process using the image I selected as my reference material.

The illustration of DW took around 90 min for just the drawing, then another 45 min to add the black fills, and then another 90 min to add in the coloring/shading. Total time was somewhere in the ballpark of 5hrs just on him. The Tardis itself was fairly easy, but I did make sure to read what the sign on the booth says so I could match it. The booth only took around 45 min from start to finish.

The part that I'm most proud of is the background. I've seen some crazy backgrounds to Doctor Who images, so I kind of blended some of my favorites together and came up with what you see. The best part? Since he's a "time lord" he kind of floats around time/space - so I didn't have to draw any kind of ground/floor!

Overall the artwork took around 7hrs from start to finish. The response I've gotten from DW fans has been pretty good so far, and I did learn that when he's moving forward thru time - he wears a blue suit. When he's moving backwards thru time - he wears a brown one.

See, you learn something(s) new every day.



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