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GLEN

ORBIK
DEMOS HIS
NOIR PAINTING
TECHNIQUE
#24
WINTER 2013
$
7.95 In The US
THE PROFESSIONAL
HOW-TO MAGAZINE
ON COMICS
AND CARTOONING
BOB McLEOD
CRITIQUES A
NEWCOMERS WORK
INTERVIEW
WITH THE
ANIMATOR OF
TRON: UPRISING
& THE BEATLES:
ROCK BAND
PLUS: MIKE MANLEY
AND BRET BLEVINS
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8
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Contains
nudity for
figure
drawing
instruction

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Interview/demo by DAN BRERETON,
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STEVE RUDE on comics & drawing,
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KYLE BAKER on merging traditional
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Interview and tutorial with Scott
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Interview & demo by R.M. GUERA,
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Demo of painting methods by ALEX
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In-depth interviews and demos with
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Covers major schools offering comic
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RON GARNEY interview & demo,
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DOUG BRAITHWAITE demo and
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In-depth interview with HOWARD
CHAYKIN, behind the drawing
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STEPHENS, COMIC ART
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REFERENCE and WORKING FROM
PHOTOS (by BRET BLEVINS and
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WALTER SIMONSON interview
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McLEOD gives a Rough Critique
of a newcomers work, Write
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lights writer/artist AL JAFFEE,
JAMAR NICHOLAS reviews the
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Interview with inker SCOTT
WILLIAMS from his days at Marvel
and Image to his work with JIM
LEE, FRANK MILLER interview, plus
MILLER and KLAUS JANSON show
their working processes. Also, MIKE
MANLEY and BRET BLEVINS
Comic Art Bootcamp, a Rough
Critique of a newcomers work by
BOB McLEOD, art supply reviews
by Crusty Critic JAMAR
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DRAW! (edited by MIKE MANLEY) is the professional
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NOTE: Some issues contain nudity for
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INTENDED FOR MATURE READERS.
DRAW! #21
Urban Barbarian DAN PANOSIAN
talks shop about his gritty, design-
inspired work with editor MIKE
MANLEY, DANNY FINGEROTH
interviews Billy Dogma
writer/artist DEAN HASPIEL, plus
more of MIKE MANLEY and BRET
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work by BOB McLEOD, product
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IG
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AVA
ILA
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R O
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MIKE WIERINGO interview, BENDIS
and OEMING on how they create
Powers, BRET BLEVINS shows
How to draw great hands, The
illusion of depth in design by PAUL
RIVOCHE, art books reviewed by
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Interview & demo with BILL WRAY,
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DRAW! WINTER 2013 1
THE PROFESSIONAL
HOW-TO MAGAZINE ON
COMICS & CARTOONING
WWW.DRAW-MAGAZINE.BLOGSPOT.COM
WINTER 2013
VOL. 1, NO. 24
Editor-in-Chief Michael Manley
Designer Eric Nolen-Weathington
Publisher John Morrow
Logo Design John Costanza
Copy-Editing Eric Nolen-Weathington
Front Cover Glen Orbik
DRAW! Winter 2013, Vol. 1, No. 24 was
produced by Action Planet, Inc. and published
by TwoMorrows Publishing.
Michael Manley, Editor. John Morrow, Publisher.
Editorial address: DRAW! Magazine, c/o Michael
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Subscription Address: TwoMorrows Publishing,
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
3
GLEN ORBIK
Mike Manley interviews the painter/teacher
about the dying art of book illustration.
40
THE ORBIK WORKSHOP
Glen Orbik details his step-by-step process
for creating a painted book cover.
45
ROBERT VALLEY
The animator/designer/comic artist
gets his Swerve on.
56
ROUGH CRITIQUE
Bob McLeod gives practical advice and
tips on how to improve your work.
62
COMIC ART BOOTCAMP
This months installment:
The Eyes Have It
78
THE CRUSTY CRITIC
Jamar Nicholas reviews the tools of the trade.
This month: Crusty tricks!
2 DRAW! WINTER 2013
LEE
WEEKS
INTERVIEW
& DEMO
DCs Rising Star
yildiray
inar
inking legend
JOE
RUBINSTEIN
PLUS MIKE MANLEY
AND BRET BLEVINS
ROUGH STUFFS
BOB MCLEOD
CRITIQUES A
NEWCOMERS WORK
I
t seems another year has come and gone, and that means
another year full of Drawing! As I write this I am already
drawing the Judge Parker strips well into 2013, and it seems
like I just got used to writing 2012 on them instead of 2011. Yet,
I still have only half my Christmas shopping done! Luckily, as
an artist, giving the gift of art makes time spent at the mall a lot
less.
Time runs a lot slower in comics than in real life. The con-
cept of time itself seems to even be suspended for most comic
strips and books in general. Some characters seem to never age
despite there being strips or stories by the dozen dealing with
the Christmas holiday, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Valentines
Day, and especially New Years, when you actually address the
passing of one year into the next.
But as we ring out the old year, I ring the bell once again.
My hats off and a cup of holiday cheer to my regular con-
tributors, Bret, Jamar, and Bob, as well as publisher John, and
Eric, my Main Man who really helps get this mag out. These
guys really help make DRAW! the best how-to magazine on comics and cartooning being published today.
Id also like to thank Glen Orbik for taking time out from his busy schedule and giving such a great interview and pro-
cess coverage on how he works. It was also a blast to talk to Robert Valley, and cover his career and the amazing and excit-
ing work hes doing now on Tron, and on his past work on projects like Rock Band and the Gorillaz! My goal is to keep the
pages of DRAW! as packed as possible with real info on how to work, as well as with a diversity of styles and approaches.
Next issue, DRAW! goes full-color throughout, which requires #25 to ship in July, giving us extra time to gear up to our
new quarterly full-color schedule. As always, your feedback and kittens are welcome at: mike@actionplanet.com.
Till next timego draw something!
-ING AHEAD
DRAW! #25 (80 pages, now in its new FULL-COLOR format, $8.95 print/$3.95 digital),
the professional how-to magazine on comics and animation, features the ber-talented
LEE WEEKS! You know his outstanding work from DAREDEVIL, INCREDIBLE HULK,
et al. His insight into the artform is must-read material. Also, DRAW! gets to know DCs
Turkish sensation, YILDIRAY INAR! From his work on NOBLE CAUSES to the recent
New 52 FURY OF THE FIRESTORMS, Yildiray is making quite a name for himself. We
also welcome comic book veteran inker JOE RUBINSTEIN for a chat about his storied
career, plus theres the usual assortment of columns you know and love: Comic Art
Bootcamp with MIKE MANLEY and BRET BLEVINS, Rough Critique with BOB
MCLEOD, and The Crusty Critic with JAMAR NICHOLAS! Edited by MIKE MANLEY.
SUBSCRIPTION RATE: Four issues US: $30 Standard, $40 First Class, $11.80 Digital Only
OUTSIDE THE US: Canada: $43, Elsewhere: $54 Surface, $78 Airmail
NEXT ISSUE in JULY, FULL-COLOR!
TwoMorrows. A New Day For Comics Fans!
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E-mail: store@twomorrowspubs.com See free previews and order at www.twomorrows.com
DRAW! WINTER 2013 3
GLEN ORBIK
UNDER the COVERS
Interview conducted
October 2012 by Mike Manley
Transcribed by Steven Tice
4 DRAW! WINTER 2013
DRAW!: Youre from what I seen via Facebook, youre mostly
a night owl?
GLEN ORBIK: Yeah, yeah, if I had my choice, such as it is.
DRAW!: And youre also teaching now, right?
GO: Yeah, usually I teach the later-in-the-day classes. One of
them is in the afternoon, but most of them are evening classes.
DRAW!: Where are you teaching now?
GO: Right now its basically the current version of the school
that our teacher Fred Fixler started, the California Art Insti-
tute in Calabasas, which is
about 20 miles west of us,
and then on the weekends
we go to Pasadena, which
is, like, 20 miles in the oth-
er direction. Right now its
just the two schools within
that range. Last year I was
fying up to San Francisco
every week to try that for
a while, but the traveling
was too much of a pain in
the ass.
DRAW!: Have you ever
taught at the Los Angeles
Figurative Academy?
GO: No.
DRAW!: Okay, so youre
working at the place in
Calabasas.
GO: Yeah, Calabasas
Thousand Oaks, actu-
allyis the California Art
Institute. Its the one that
Fred started when he sepa-
rated from the school he
was teaching at in the 80s.
DRAW!: I seem to re-
member Steve Rude took
some classes there.
GO: Yes. Steve likes to
go anywhere in the world, though, that has Andrew Loomis
name mentioned frequently.
DRAW!: [laughs] How long have you been doing this?
GO: I started taking classes in 84 and started teaching in 86.
DRAW!: I think I became aware of your work when you
started doing the covers for American Century, which was
done by Howard Chaykin.
GO: Yeah, American Century. That was 99, 2000some-
where in there. That was after we [Glen and his partner,
Laurel Blechman] got to do a bunch of Batman covers, and
DC did a line of pulp superhero annuals for the summer, and
thats kind of when we started with that.
DRAW!: Was that for the Warner Brothers store?
GO: No, no, no. The one at the store was later. That was actu-
ally supposed to be a cool deal where we were going to get in
with them and do a bunch of artwork, and they were going to
fy us to Chicago to the WB store and do a big opening. And
then the Time Warner/AOL merger happened and everything
kind of stopped. Our big fight and big to-do turned into a
half-hour drive south to
Torrence to the last re-
maining WB store at the
time.
DRAW!: Were you into
comics as a kid?
GO: Oh yeah. Would any-
body else choose to go
into comics? I mean, if
there was not some sort
of childhood fantasy in
there to. No, actually, I
started collecting comics
in the mid-70s, and Lau-
rel was collecting from
the mid-60s, so our two
collections kind of butt
up against each other. We
went on purpose to do the
comics stuff.
DRAW!: Have you ever
done any interiors?
GO: No, Im just too slow.
DRAW!: Would that be
something youd like to
do, maybe as a long-term
project?
GO: Yeah, I wouldnt
mind; it would be fun. Its
just the reality of trying to
pay some bills and things.
When we were doing the painted covers about 15 years ago,
we had several different people from DC and Marvel ask us
if we would do painted books, and I said, Well, we would,
but were really slow. And theyre like, Oh, its okay, take
four years. I cant really afford to take four years. It doesnt
really work that way. You cant get 400 bucks for something
you spent six months on.
DRAW!: What do you spend most of your time doing?
GO: Right now its mostly paperbacks, doing a lot more of
the detective sort of things. The Hard Case Crime covers are
Glen Orbik at work on a painting.
DRAW! WINTER 2013 5
supposed to be covers that look like they were done 50 years
ago and forgotten about. Basically, whenever its supposed to
look like it was done a long time ago, they call us.
DRAW!: And then you can hire models that look like Steve
Holland that everybody used to hire in the old days?
GO: Yeah, that would be great. We have a couple of people that
weve used, or when we get into a pinch, we use ourselves, but,
yeah, were usually trying to push them to look like Holland or
whoever would ft the bill. Actually, when we did the American
Century covers, we used the same two models. There were,
like, a dozen covers, and we used the same girl for all but two
of them, I think, just different wigs and things.
DRAW!: Back in the Golden Age, the agencies used to do
things like hire the models, or pay for the models, and do all
that to help the illustrator. You have to do all that yourself
now, right, wrangle all the models?
GO: Yeah, those days are done. We sort of got in during the
tail end of that when we started doing paperbacks in the early
90s, and some of the companies basically would reimburse
for a few of those things, but that didnt last long. Thats an-
cient history. Now its just part of the fee, I guess.
DRAW!: When youre going to do a cover, do you have mod-
els in mind? How do you go about getting them? I suppose its
easier in L.A. because its like central casting out there. You
can probably get a guy that looks like a pirate, or a guy that
looks like a judge, crook, etc.
GO: Well, yeah, thats the cool thing about teaching is that
youve got quite a few models and students who could make
good pirate models or cowboy models. So thats one good thing
about it. I stopped teaching for about four years, I dont know,
twelve years ago, and it was a lot easier if I kept my fngers in
the pie to keep aware of who was out there. When youve had
some models work for you in school, you get to see if theyre
good at doing action poses, or heroic poses, or whatever kind of
poses. Or, if theyre really stiff but they have a good face, you
kind of keep it in mind where you can get away with it.
DRAW!: I bought the book Rockwell behind the Camera,
which was great to really see the amazing depth that he went
to get his reference.
GO: Yeah.
DRAW!: Do you do sort of the same thing? You try to get
people to ham it up or push their poses?
GO: That book literally was the idea of what we were shoot-
ing for, no pun intended. But very abbreviated, not quite that
elaborate, just because there isnt that much time or money.
I mean, they dont pay you what they paid back in the glory
days, when illustration was a huge moneymaker.
DRAW!: What Ive heard is that basically the rates have
stayed the same for a long while, so if you got $1,500 for
doing a cover in 1985, you pretty much get $1,500 for doing
a cover in 2012.
Glens photo shoot and fnal cover to American Century #27.
American Century and Howard Chaykin, Inc. and DC Comics.
6 DRAW! WINTER 2013
GO: Yeah, but the problem is that the [Saturday Evening]
Post was paying $3,000 to $3,500 per cover in the 30s, and
my grandparents spent $3,200 on their frst house in the 30s.
So Rockwell was making enough to buy a house six times a
month. So, yeah, were getting similar to the $1,500, $2,000
that we were getting 20, 30 years ago, but its worth less than
it was then, and insanely less than it was when they were pay-
ing that in the 40s and 50s.
DRAW!: I guess by going into comics and things like that,
you have really branched out. It seems to be the way it goes,
because editorial has sort of died out. I just read the other day
that Newsweeks going to stop printing newsstand editions. I
guess theyre going online.
GO: Yeah, thats what they say. Well, most of the artwork done
for fnished illustrations seems to have less and less opportuni-
ties to be seen. It used to be that the artwork would be used to
sell everything, and now they can use a lot of different ways to
get an image on something, and they dont really care whether
its artwork or not, so the artwork has basically stuck around in
the places where they do care if its artwork, like comics or fan-
tasy or westerns, or a few genres where they actually view it as
part of the package. But for a lot of other covers, or anything in
general, now if they use a painted image, its more for the retro
effect than because they need a painted image, usually.
DRAW!: Ive been going, I guess the last four years, to the
Illuxx Con here in Pennsylvania, which is a great conven-
tion because you get to meet all the top-fight artists and talk
to them, and its a really small, very intimate convention. It
seems like a lot of people are really having to branch out, and
that the biggest haul for illustrators is the whole pre-visual
thing, pre-vis for movies, or games, or whatever.
GO: Yeah, its all on the concept end of it. There is a lot less of
the fnished illustration out there. I mean, it was in its heyday
at the turn of the last century, when magazine publishing got to
a point where it was king, and there was a large audience that
knew how to read, and had a day off a week, and had a little
bit of spending money, and there were no movies or TV or ra-
dio. Magazines were everything. Its always been evolving, but
were at the point where theres a lot less of the fnished stuff
just because theyve gone on to other things now.
DRAW!: The interesting thing is, as the market is shrinking,
you have these smaller vanity press operations, like the one
that youre doing, the retro private eye
GO: Yeah, thats the deal with Hard Case Crime. They realized
that the artwork was part of the packaging. They realized that
when people buy the detective books and the Carter Browns and
things, its because they like the whole package: the artwork,
and the story, and the small paperback, you know, I can carry it
around in my pocket, whole thing. They realized that the cover
is one of the selling points, so thats why that is part of the deal.
DRAW!: How much of your time is spent looking for work
as opposed to working? Do you have an agent, or do you not
have an agent? A lot of people used to have agents, and now I
dont know whether it pays to have an agent.
GO: It paid us in the beginning mostly because the agents, if
theyre decent, its their full-time jobs. They know how often
to bug the publishers, and how to bug them.
We went to New York in the late 80s and contacted a
bunch of publishers, and even the ones that really liked our
work and wanted us to bug them said, If we dont call back
in a couple weeks, then you call back in a couple weeks. And
theyd say, Oh, call back in a couple weeks. And it would
(far left) Glens rough sketch
for the box art for ComicBase
7, a program for organizing a
comic book collection.
(left) Glens value comp of the
proposed box art.
Artwork Human Computing.
DRAW! WINTER 2013 7
Glen takes multiple shots of
his models to get diferent
expressions and poses for
reference when it comes time
to paint.
8 DRAW! WINTER 2013
get to the point where you felt like you were bugging them.
Its like, Well, you told me to call.
The decent agents were there in town where the art directors
were, and they knew how often to bug them and what was ex-
pected. So, no, it was actually really helpful in the beginning. I
dont know if its as much of a thing now, with the Internet and
how easy it is to get your artwork in front of somebody, but it
probably is a similar situation as far as, How often do you bug
them? Some of its timing, being there in the Rolodex when
the job comes in that they think about you.
Its a little different now, and thats part of the thing with
the teaching is that the teaching keeps things consistent. That
way, when everybody calls all at once, we have to do a little
juggling, but when everybody stops calling at once, then we
can focus on the teaching 100%. Thats the exciting thing about
freelance is its not overly consistent. It kind of goes in waves.
DRAW!: The other thing I fnd about teaching is that it keeps
you actively engaged when youre having to help students.
You do two things: you re-teach yourself principles, and you
keep the mind sharp for having to solve problems, because
thats what the illustrator is doing is solving problems. I fnd
that youre constantly solving a problem, maybe the same
problem but from different angles, because everybody has
different issues with drawing.
GO: Yeah, I think that thats really the secret to the good il-
lustrators, the good artists; its not the ability to draw or paint,
its the problem-solving part of it. What worked on somebody
elses piece, and what am I trying to get across, and how do
I do that its a little bit more cause-and-effect than people
think that art is. They think of it as something youre born
with or not born with instead of a skill. You go to a cabinet
maker who makes cabinets because they have a craft for it,
and theyve worked at it.
DRAW!: People just think its like you were born with some
magical ability where you just, ding, touch your fnger and
magic comes out and the jobs all done.
GO: I know. Its insane. I mean, we all know how to read and
writewell, most of usand we assume we have to go to
school to learn how to do that, or at least get training some-
how, but somehow the artwork is considered as, You were
born with it, or you were not born with it, and I dont under-
stand where this came from.
DRAW!: We were talking about how things have really changed.
GO: When I think about things changing, the one thing that I
always remind myself is that Norman Rockwell used to talk
about the fact he felt that the Golden Age of Illustration was
done and over by 1923. [Mike laughs] So, yeah, thats always
(left) Glens underdrawing, which he will paint over.
(above) Glens 3" x 5" color comp.
ComicBase Human Computing.
DRAW! WINTER 2013 9
10 DRAW! WINTER 2013
my reaction. We think of him as being dead center of it. So
part of it is perspective. Part of it is, yeah, it was different,
but whats still going on? You mentioned the concept work.
I mean, theres some amazing stuff going on in the concept
feld thats not on the cover of a magazine, but.
DRAW!: You dont see it unless they do an Art of book or
something like that, but therere people out there just doing
really amazing work. I forget, there was a guy who had a site
called goodbrush.com, and he did this pre-vis stuff, and it was
just amazing. Because usually work thats done on the com-
puter, when you look at it, you go, Oh, computer. That was
done in Painter. This guy was really good. When you looked
at it closely, you could tell that it was done in Photoshop, but
at frst glance thats not what you thought.
Now, youre still doing, from what Ive seen, pretty much
straight, traditional stuff. Are you incorporating the digital as-
pect into your work?
GO: Nothing other than as a glorifed Xerox machine. I use
it for layouts and stuff, but mostly its for cutting and pasting
and trying things out thats easier than doing freehand, to save
me some time. But, for the most part, I want to get it out of
that machine as soon as possible so I can draw it or paint it.
Yeah, I like the actual brush in my hand.
DRAW!: Im right there. I think thats actually one of the big-
gest issues that we face as artists now, not only commercial
artists but even fne artists, is the fact that we are deluged
with imagery all the time. The demand of the industry sort of
drives the way the work has to be delivered. You dont send
(above) Glens initial sketch for his
Punisher cover.
(right) While shooting the photo
reference, Glen sees a better crop for
the cover.
(bottom right) An idealized sketch of
the photo reference.
Punisher and Marvel Characters, Inc.
DRAW! WINTER 2013 11
your paintings in to the publisher anymore, like Rockwell did.
You have to somehow get them digitally scanned in or what-
ever. Theres a lot more of that thats actually on you now, as
the artist, to be able to use FTP and all of these other things.
I can sort of see a generation gap just because of the digital
aspect. Like, a lot of the people that you or I would teach,
maybe they dont quite have the love for the original. I love
having the brush. I can do digital and I do, but I always default
to having what I call the meat world item. I like the piece of
paper or the canvas.
GO: Its like the argument of comics going online. We who
grew up with comics are always saying, Well, it doesnt feel
the same. Its not the same as having it in your hand, and the
smell of the paper, and its your thing. But, on the other hand,
if they never knew that sensation, then they may not miss it.
DRAW!: Do you fnd that to be an issue with your students
at all?
GO: No, Im fnding it to be the other way, actually, that
Im getting some people that really only have an interest
in digital or computer work, but they come to take classes
with real drawing and painting so that they have a better con-
cept about manipulating the shapes and values so that when
theyre working in the computer, they understand what it is
(left) Glens new cover sketch and his color comp for the painting.
(above) Glens underdrawing that will guide his painting.
Punisher and Marvel Characters, Inc.
12 DRAW! WINTER 2013
that theyre actually moving around. Theyre not waiting for
the computer to have a special program to draw it for them.
So, the ones that are actually, I think, doing some really in-
teresting stuff, recognize the component of the real world that
should be in there too.
DRAW!: Two points. One, when I can look at an illustrator
or painter, I can always tell if it was an artist who developed
before Technicolor. You can also tell if people only learned to
do coloring on the computer because youre seeing light being
projected at you, not light hit-
ting the surface and then com-
ing back to you and hitting
your eye. If you look at the
artists who developed before
Technicolor, their understand-
ing of color was not infuenced
by cinema, so it is different. It
is different. And then you look
at people who have developed
post-technicolor, and they are
very infuenced by the colors
that you see in movies or TV. I
think it is really important for
the young artist to learn about
color, but not learn about color
on the computer. You know,
use the computer, but learn
about color before youre us-
ing the computer.
GO: Yeah, its all the stuff
around you. I remember lis-
tening to an artist at the So-
ciety of Illustrators out here.
Hed lived in New York, then
moved out here, and when
he came across one of his
old palettes from 20 years
earlier when he had been in
New York, he was stunned
at the difference in the color.
He was a landscape painter,
but he was stunned at the dif-
ference of the atmosphere
around him and how it changed the way he viewed color.
So Im sure if thats the situation, then its the same sort of
thing. If you grew up looking at the computer screen versus
whatever your color infuence is, your view is going to be
tinted by your surrounding.
DRAW!: Speaking of that, do you think of how you use color
in your illustrations for the covers of a comic book as opposed
to a romance or a western? With a comic book cover, are you
thinking to punch the colors up ?
GO: Well, yeah, it has to be. I mean, with the Rockwell thing,
I dont believe he was referring specifcally to coloring; he
was talking about storytelling, but he always referred to it as
like throwing a ball against the wall and it only comes back
half as strong as you threw it. You have to say it a little loud,
because you know when they reproduce it, its going to lose
something. So youre trying to fgure out what the message is,
and then you have to be a little noisy about it so it still reads.
Part of it is, fgure out what the story is. In a way part of the
reason that we had more fun with the detective stuff than some
of the superhero things, theres the component of storytelling
on the westerns, the detectives. You have kind of free rein to
do whatever you want with the
color schemes, whereas with
the superheroes, you also have
to throw in that most of them
come to the game with their
own color scheme attached al-
ready, so if youve got Super-
man standing next to the Hulk,
youve got to pay attention to
whether or not these colors
look like crap together.
DRAW!: [laughs] Right,
right. When you look at back
to when Neal Adams started
coming on the scene, and he
started using those K-tones or
grayer tones when he would
color covers, the color had
a big effect on me. So I was
wondering if you did indeed
think about the differences.
When youre working for
DC, do you submit a layout
to Chiarello or the editor?
Whats your process like?
GO: You know, it is different
for everybody. It just depends
on what their working meth-
od is. Usually not so much
submitting the color. It was
always different working for
Mark, because he is an art-
ist, he was speaking my lan-
guage, so. I would get very odd comments from people that
were not artistsMake sure the baby is cute and creepy
things that didnt always work together. [Mike laughs] With
Mark, he would tell you something that was actually English,
and its like, Oh, this is going to make sense.
Occasionally, art directors like to see the color roughs and
things, but generally its more just, Make sure its scary, or
night, or whatever, more than instructing us to be 50% gray
and 6% purple.
DRAW!: Because of the way everything is all wired up, be-
cause you can do a comp and send it quickly, they can say,
The fnished painting for the Punisher cover.
Punisher and Marvel Characters, Inc.
DRAW! WINTER 2013 13
Oh, change it. They can ask for a lot of tweaks because they
can just keep asking you to send them the images. Do you
fnd that to be more often the case, depending upon the client?
GO: Thats the one saving grace about having clients for a
number of years is you kind of know which ones are going
to be a pain in the neck and which ones are going to be a
pleasure to work with. Usually when they want to see every
little nuance and every little detail, theyre more hassle than
theyre worth, so hopefully theyre going to pay enough for it.
DRAW!: Do you have a limit? Do you have a contract that
says, You get three changes, and after that I have to start
charging you by the hour, or?
GO: I should, but no. No, when it gets nuts, we just try to
avoid those people in the future. [Mike laughs] I mean, when
it gets stupid, usually its not to that degree. Usually what
well do is well get the script or the synopsis, and well send
them several stick fgures or basic drawings saying, How
about this? and, How about that? We can narrow it down
so that if we need models or whatever, we can go get the right
references and costumes as necessary. If they need to see a
tighter sketch, if its going to be a big deal where they need
to make sure that everything works before they get to the fn-
ish, then. But were not usually working for those sorts of
clients. We are usually a little looser and send them some stick
fgures, and especially if theyve seen our work, they start to
trust us after a while that were going to give them something
that looks decent.
DRAW!: Do you have a standard way of working? Do you
do a couple of thumbnails at the start? How many choices do
you give them?
GO: Well, it depends on the deadline. Usually I like to at least
try a couple. The last couple of Stephen King jobs we did, we
sent in six or seven ideas, but its usually two or three. But I
havent done a comic cover in a couple years actually. Weve
been so deluged with the retro sexy girl thing that Ive been
happy to focus on those.
DRAW!: When you do your comp, do you hire a model, or
do you just draw it straight out and then hire a model later on?
GO: It just depends on whats going on. Whatever it takes to get
the idea across. Usually its either basic enough that I can make
it up, or I can shoot a couple of quick snapshots of Laurel or me
in the basic pose. I also keep a scrap fle of ideas that I think are
really cool so that when a job comes in I can fip through it and
have a jumping off place. You know, I might have a great pirate
image that I could also use as a great cowboy image. That way
youre not working with a blank picture all the time.
DRAW!: Do you always work in a certain way? Do you like
to work with pencil? Do you do the thumbnails in color or in
black-and-white?
GO: Usually the rough sketch is just a pencil sketch. It will
occasionally include tone if we think its going to help sell the
concept or sell the mood a little bit more. Its more a matter
of value, because we dont want to deal with the color again.
(above) For the
cover of 1997s
Resurrection Man
#1 from DC, Glen
painted these
heads of the main
character, which
were then used as
a lenticular
imagean image
that changes
depending on the
angle at which it
is viewedwithin
the eye of a full-
page skull.
(left) Glens photo
reference for the
project.
Resurrection Man
and DC Comics.
14 DRAW! WINTER 2013
Ive had clients that have said, Well, this part could be more Im-
pressionistic, and this part would be more realistic, and at this
point were just trying to fgure out if its a guy on a horse or a girl
on a Buick before we worry about style and that kind of stuff. So
its a matter of trying to narrow it down.
But mostly we read through the script, or, if we can come up
with a simple scribble right away to give us a general idea of where
were going, and if its possible to tighten it up from there, we will,
and if not, well say, Okay, this idea I think works, but I could
make a more convincing sketch if I shot a quick Polaroid of one of
us in the pose.
DRAW!: How do you and Laurel Belchman, your partner, actually
work together? How do you divide up the labor of the process?
GO: Most of the time, if its Laurels job or my job, were mostly
playing backup for the other person, so its not so much dividing
up the work. The ones that we did togetherboth of us physically
working on the actual fnal paintinghad a lot of times more to
do with needing to get it done because we were running behind.
We both trained with the same teachers, so we can work similarly
enough so that it works. But usually, if its a general job, its one of
our projects. Its not so much that were always the studio. So if its
my job, she helps me out, and if its her job, I try to help her out.
And then, usually, we just kind of work together on every part of it.
Whichever one is painting it, if we run into trouble, the other one is
there for input, to see if something seems to stand out funny, or if an
area looks like it needs a little bit more attention. We dont pick up
the brush and work on the other persons piece that often.
DRAW!: Your hands arent crossing over each other as youre
painting on the same painting at the same time? [laughs]
GO: Well, we have done that. We did a couple of Batman covers
that way, where literally she did the left half, and I did the right half,
and we met in the middle. I mean, thats more do-able when youve
gone through all the preliminary stages together, and youve worked
out the color reference together, and youve got your reference and
your idealized drawings worked out.
DRAW!: I guess the Hildebrandt brothers worked that way; they
would work on the same things together.
GO: Thats what I understand. I dont really know much of the de-
tails of it. I got the impression that it was basically they would take
shiftsone would work while the other one sleptbut I wasnt
there, so.
DRAW!: So you do your comp, get that approved, and then you
go out and spend time hiring the models. How long do you take? I
mean, do you have an average time, or is it just how much time the
client gives you? Like, youve got two weeks, or a month?
GO: It depends on the project. Usually we try to get it where
theres enough lead time in there. Right now Ive got half a dozen
things that go through the beginning of next year, so its easier
to juggle things. But generally if its less than two weeks, or the
amount of research and stuff that weve put inits mostly those
that are going to be a pain in the neck, especially if Im teaching
half the time.
The thumbnail sketch and photo reference for Hard Case
Crimes #11, Branded Woman, by Wade Miller.
DRAW! WINTER 2013 15
We get the sketch to work out so that we have a clear idea
of where were going, and then, yeah, well get the models
in from that point. If its going to be something where its fo-
cused on a really ideal model, or a superhero model, or some-
thing that is really primo for the perfect statuesque type or
something, well focus on getting a good model for that, and
then, for all the background characters, well use friends and
people that are good at hamming things up. But we can usu-
ally pay them in doughnuts and pizza.
DRAW!: Do you redraw the image on canvas? Do you proj-
ect it onto a canvas?
GO: It depends on the piece, but all of the above. If its going
to be minor changes, then Ill work things up, cut and paste in
Photoshop, and project it up. If its going to be changing my 5' 8"
model to a 6' 5" Superman, then Ill do up a freehand drawing,
then Ill project my drawing up to the size its going to work.
DRAW!: I dont know if your teacher worked in the Frank
Reilly method at all. Is that part of your process?
(left) Using the photo reference, Glen idealizes the fgure of the woman, then superim-
poses it over the fgure in the photo.
(above) Glens underdrawing is slightly modifed from his mock-up.
16 DRAW! WINTER 2013
DRAW! WINTER 2013 17
GO: Well, not per se. I mean, not to the degree of mixing up
ten values of red fesh and yellow fesh
DRAW!: Yeah, where you have those strings of all your fesh
colors.
GO: No, it was more a matter of understanding the concept
and then just paying attention to whether or not you were
sculpting with a light pattern or with a dark pattern. It was
more a matter of recognizing that half of your battle was a
three-dimensional, sculptural issue, and half your battle was
a two-dimensional value and shape issue. So that was more
where the Reilly stuff came in. It wasnt taken that far.
DRAW!: That was something that I would hear about, and
now you hear about it a lot. And some of his older students
have put out books on the Reilly method, but until the last
couple of years, I never took classes at the League or any-
thing, so I didnt really know what they were talking about.
GO: Reilly was really all about trying to make some sort of
system that you could teach to people. He felt that instructing
music for instance had certain rules about scales and things
that you could teach, and he wanted to make some hard and
fast rules about value, and edges, and shapes. There were al-
ready some in existence, but he was just trying to put it into a
nice, neat package so that it was workable.
When our teacher went to school there right after World
War II, most of the guys there were on the G.I. Bill, and they
had two years to learn it or pick another career, so they were
trying to fgure out how to get to a point where they could
make a living in a short amount of time. So Reilly was really
all about trying to fgure out how to make it logical and a little
bit more cause-and-effect and step-by-step than so much into
the theory of the artistic end of it.
DRAW!: I guess he was very practical.
GO: Usually the complaint I hear about Reillys color is that
its not good color. Well, that wasnt his deal. His deal was to
control the value, and then you could go play with color if you
wanted. But it was more about the, Did it work in black-and-
white contrast?
DRAW!: Which comes out of Howard Pyle.
GO: Yeah. And thats the one thing with Howard Pyle: within
ten seconds you know the story, and youre looking at the
right parts of it, so that youre not getting lost by some extra-
neous detail thats distracted you.
DRAW!: Do you always do a color comp, or do you sometimes
just wing it?
GO: We usually do a color comp. We do kind of the abbrevi-
(previous page) Sketches for the
cover of Batman: Legends of the
Dark Knight #121. The center
image was the chosen idea.
(left) A value study drawn on
tracing paper.
(above) Photo reference for the
Batman fgure.
(right) Glen used this Batman
action fgure frozen in a block of
ice to get a feel for the way Batman
should look in the painting.
Batman, Mr. Freeze and DC Comics.
18 DRAW! WINTER 2013
ated thing that Rockwell did. If time is the
issueand it usually takes me longer to
get to the painting than to do a painting
if I know what my color scheme is going
to be and what the effect is going to be,
and Ive obviously already got my layout
and my values worked out, I can spend
my painting time focused on designing the shapes the way I
want them to be solved so that I can make a cool drawing out
of it, so I can make nice design areas so the brushwork looks
the way I want it to look. Ive already worked out all the rest
of that stuff. Im not juggling 47 things. Ive already solved
those problems, which is part of what Rockwell was doing
with those photos. He was already illustrating when he called
the model in there.
DRAW!: Oh, yeah, very much so.
GO: He was thinking about the lighting, and the pose, and
the angle, and it wasnt so much about getting something he
could trace. He was illustrating before he turned the camera
on, and that way he had a lot of the problems worked out so
that, by the time he got to the painting, it was all about just
crafting a beautiful cabinet. You know, he didnt have to in-
vent things without having a plan worked out.
DRAW!: Right, and especially with the way he was working.
I mean, he wasnt a broad artist, say, like Harvey Dunn; even
Cornwell was much broader. He could be tight, but Rock-
wells stuff had a very fne focus all over, so if he didnt, hed
have weird holes in his paintings.
GO: Yeah, but he also did know where to direct your eye.
Ten years ago they hadI dont know how many paintings it
wasthe Rockwell show that was traveling around the coun-
try, and I was surprised at how many of the pieces had really
loose areas that Id never noticed before.
DRAW!: Yeah, I saw the Rockwell show at the National Por-
trait Galleryit was of the collections of the paintings that
(left and above) Photo
reference and the ideal-
ized fgure sketch for
Mr. Freeze.
(next page) Color comp
and underdrawing for
the LODK #121 cover.
Batman, Mr. Freeze and
DC Comics.
Spielberg and Lucas ownand the guy was just an incredible
painter. Theres a lot that is actually lost on those covers as far
as paint handling, surface, color.
GO: Oh, yeah.
DRAW!: On the covers you cant see the paint-handling, and
they were using the best printing they could. Theyre so much
richer in person. The colors are so much more dynamic and
richer in person.
GO: Oh, yeah. Well, thats always the case. I always fnd it
interesting that people like Dean Cornwell and Rockwell and
all the really top illustrators were illustrating to impress their
fellow illustrators, but their client was the guy on the street
who was looking at the story and really didnt necessarily see
the craft involved.
DRAW!: Vincent Desiderio calls it the technical narrative.
Rockwells technical narrative was so good that you were
under his spell without even noticing it. You were just sort of
swept right in.
GO: Right. And that was kind of the point. If you noticed that
you were being told a story, then the magic was gone. Youre
not supposed to notice.
DRAW!: You were saying that, out of, say, a two-week dead-
line, it sounds like at least a week is just getting all the stuff
ready so you can actually paint it.
GO: Yeah. Getting the ideas worked out is usually the hardest
part for megoing from nothing to somethingand thats where
its really good working with Laurel. We can sit and bandy ideas
back and forth, and then when you sketch them out, you can tell
DRAW! WINTER 2013 19
whether or not it feels like its telling the right kind of story. And then you
try to fgure out how youre going to make that work. Do you need to shoot
a certain kind of reference? Do you know of some reference you have stuck
away somewhere? So its better to spend a little extra time getting the photo
reference to work. In fact, when I was doing the frst couple of Spider-Man/
Batman pieces that I had, you basically had a choice of going from a guy in
a Speedo and making up some fabric, or a guy in a costume and making up
some muscles. Which way do you want to approach it?
With a couple of the really, really black costumes, like the Punisher,
with the early ones I would take the guy and paint him without his shirt,
and it was a nightmare to try to go from white fesh to rendering some-
thing that had a really small range, that only went up to a mid-grade. So
we found some models that were willing to let us do a little body paint
here and there, and sometimes an extra half-hour of discomfort for the
model saves me hours of bullsh*t when Im painting.
DRAW!: I guess thats one of the biggest differences between doing
superhero stuff and doing regular illustrations. I was just at the Andrew
Wyeth studio the other day. He had actual costumes, and he had stuff
from his dad in there too. N.C. Wyeth actually had somebody sew up a
Robin Hood costume.
That also brings up an interesting point. Painting a detective novel
or a western paperback cover, you kind of have your Zane Grey idea or
whatever, but when youre painting Spider-Man or youre painting Bat-
man, are you thinking like Neal Adams or John Romita? Its a different
thing because there is already this world that really has been incredibly
illustrated for, like, 60 years now.
GO: Right, but its also generally only been illustrated in pen and ink, and
its kind of like the frst time you hear your favorite Sunday strip cartoon
character on TV and the voice is never what you think its supposed to
be in your head. I mean, thereve been more people painting these days
painting more realistically than there used to be, but when I would look
at trying to fesh something out more realistically, but Im starting with
a John Buscema or a Neal Adams, theres a bit of a gap between the line
drawing and the fnish that youre trying to achieve. Youre having to
change things drastically to fesh it out. Basically, if its a superhero char-
acter that has a history, Im mostly pulling out the images of what I think
the guy is supposed to look like, and I stick those all over the place so that
Im inundated with the image, but when I sit the model in front of me, I
try to A) fnd a model thats sort of in the direction I want it to go, and B)
push them farther in the direction I want them to go.
DRAW!: Today, with the cosplay thing, every time Im on the Internet
there are all these people who have better and better and better cos-
tumes. It used to just be fat guys and nerds wearing costumes, and now
its hot chicks wearing them who look like Wonder Woman. You go,
Wow, I can hire that model.
GO: Even soyouve done the illustration bit. Even if you get the
model perfect, you still have to improve on it. Nobodys as perfect as
they are in the book.
DRAW!: Everybodys neck is always too short. [laughs]
GO: Yeah. I saw one guy at the airport that I think was about an eight-
heads-tall character, he was 6' 2", 6' 3" or whatever, but he looked like
a pinhead. I mean, what we expect as the ideal fgure on paper is kind
of scary in real life.
20 DRAW! WINTER 2013
DRAW!: Yeah, thats true. Thats why when you see a fash-
ion model photographed, its like, Yeah, it looks great. And
then when you actually see a real fashion model, they look
like birds. They look very strange in real life.
GO: Well, thats mostly because the cameras seeing with one
eye, and we see everything with mostly two eyes, hopefully.
Were seeing a little to the left and a little to the right of each
thing, so were slimming things down when we see them in
real life that a one-eyed camera doesnt. So the models have
to compensate by being ultra-thin.
DRAW!: With costumes,
do you not put the folds
in? I mean, we never draw
the folds other than on Bat-
mans cape and a few little
things on Supermans trunk,
but in reality, if the persons
jumping around or mov-
ing, youre going to see that
amount of
GO: Thats when you fall
back on Rockwells idea
about anything that doesnt
help the story hurts it. Youre
trying to fgure out when
you squint at the reality in
front of you, which parts
of it do I want to keep, and
which parts of it do I want to
play down so that it doesnt
get in the way?
Part of the Rockwell
puzzle that people seem to
completely gloss over is that
you never look at a piece
and think, What the hells
going on here? Within ten
seconds you know the story.
Youre immediately look-
ing at the kid, or the dog,
or the grandpa, or whatever.
He bends over backwards
to make sure that he doesnt
confuse you.
DRAW!: Would you say
that its harder to do the su-
perhero stuff because of that, or that its easier?
GO: Its just different. Thats been kind of the fun thing about
doing the superhero work, youre kind of pushing the Greek
god version of people. Youre trying to make them the most
perfect icon of whatever the image that you have in your mind
is supposed to be. But it kind of seeps in when youre doing
a detective novel, and you want it to be just a heroic guy.
Youre looking at the model in front of you, youre making it
look like the guy in front of you, but youre still throwing a
little of that Greek god thing in there and deciding how much
of it to include. Its just with the comics you can push that
stereotype pretty far, and then, when its supposed to be more
realistic, then you have to decide how far to go that way. But
its actually kind of cool. It makes you feel a little bit more
like youre the driver instead of the passenger when youre
looking at your reference. Youre deciding where to go in-
stead of just saying, Oh well, thats what was in front of me,
and I was just trying to copy it well. Every person doesnt
see your reference, they just
see the fnal result, and they
dont really care whether
the models costume ft
them well or not. They have
to see the fnal image come
to life for them.
DRAW!: If Superman had
really hairy knuckles or
something. [laughs]
GO: Yeah, I dont need to
know that. Thats not the
issue.
DRAW!: If you pick up an
issue of Eerie or Creepy
from 1970, every great
comic book artist was in
there. You had Adams,
and Toth, and Colan, and
Frazetta, and Williamson,
and Wood, and all the top
Silver Age guys would be
doing work on those maga-
zines. Im wondering if we
will ever get back to an era
like that in comics.
GO: Its going to be a com-
bination of things that lets
it happen. You know, at the
height of classical music in
Beethovens era there were
different stimuli and oppor-
tunities than exist now for
that kind of music. I mean,
part of it isnt just some-
body sitting down, saying,
Im going to do this and make it wonderful, and it will sell.
Thats a big chunk of it, but its also a matter of whether or not
the universe is laid out so that those things can survive.
DRAW!: I saw that you were teaching the gouache class, and
that looked really awesome. I would have loved to have come
and sat in on that class. Are you working in gouache and oil,
or mostly just gouache?
The fnal painting for the cover of LODK #121.
Batman, Mr. Freeze and DC Comics.
DRAW! WINTER 2013 21
GO: Most of the fnished covers these days are in oil just
because it is easier. The gouache is the medium we learned
in, because its what Fred [Fixler] did for his movie poster
career, and its part of what they were doing when they were
in school.
But the advantage to gouache is that, if you use it well,
it forces you to design everything you put down. You cant
be quite as sloppy without actually paying attention to what
youre designing. Its more direct if used more opaque in
terms of if you want to turn a form; its not just a light and
a shadow and then smearing it. Youre actually trying to fg-
ure out what the shape in between is, and if theres another
shape in between that, and how do you make them not look
cartoony?
DRAW!: When you look at people like Coby Whitmore, its
amazing to look at his originals, because theyre rougher than
you think. The reproduction smooths everything out. In the
original you see all this dry brush crosshatching, kind of like
Wyeth.
GO: Right. It made you pay attention to the shapes. You dont
get to a James Bama Doc Savage fnish without being able to
start with his gouache training, where it made him pay atten-
tion to the shapes before he went nuts with the detail.
DRAW!: My friend Ricardo Villagran is really good with the
gouache, or the tempera as he calls it. Hes an old-school guy,
and he really has that fnish. Hell paint something, and the
next thing he smacks a little edge on something with his fn-
ger, you know, to soften a transition or whatever.
But I really admire the way you do the gouache because,
like with Ricardos work, sometimes you look at it and it
looks like its oil. And when he was done, he would seal it or
coat it, and then it wouldnt look like oil.
GO: Which actually makes it easier to scan. Thats the one
issue with oils is the damn refection.
DRAW!: When you do oil, do you scan it, or do you shoot it?
GO: I have it shot. The place that Ive been going to for 25
years has shifted over to digital, but they still shoot the things
just because the scanner cant get the colors and values right.
So far I havent found anybody that can control it intelligently
so it looks nice.
DRAW!: I take it its oil on board, right?
GO: Yeah, yeah, just on illustration board.
DRAW!: In oil your dark colors will tend to sink in. So do
you work with a medium, or, like, a retouch varnish or some-
thing to bring them back up?
GO: Retouch, yeah. I just use turpentine and then spray re-
touch varnish or real varnish if its that long.
DRAW!: Do you work with that as a medium, similar to what
Rockwell did, where you do one part turpentine, one part
stand oil, and one part Damar varnish?
On the left is a two-minute demo drawing done in one of Glens classes, and on the right is a 15-minute demo.
Artwork Glen Orbik.
22 DRAW! WINTER 2013
GO: For the retouch its half-and-half, Damar and turp, but
Im kind of lazy. I didnt experiment a lot with it, it just works,
and I know it works, and I just leave it alone. The trick is to
make sure that you get the painting dry enough to be able to
deal with that phase of the work.
DRAW!: Do you do an ebauche, or do you do a warm gri-
saille underpainting and then work, or are you working pretty
direct over your drawing?
GO: I usually have my little color roughs, which has worked
out the values. When we get our drawing worked out, and our
photo reference, and weve idealized everything, Ill just slap
some tracing paper over it and make sure that the light and dark
patterns make sense in value. And then, when I do my color
rough, I make sure I pay attention to my value rough. But when I
blow it up on the actual painted board, I have a map in my comp
of where Im going to go with it. So, for the most part, Im wor-
ried about the sculpture of my drawing more than the values in
the beginning, and then Ill just wipe enough tone on there to get
rid of the white, and then Ill just take sections and paint them in
pieces. You know, Ill do the upper half, or the arm and the sec-
tion around it, or whatever it is, because I have the comp for the
big effect. I just make sure that I use it as a road map.
DRAW!: How do you prepare your surface? What kind of
surface do you like to work on?
GO: Its just an illustration board. Ill do two or three thin coats
of gessoenough to give it some texture and protect the board
from the oil. But thats mostly from the gouache background
where we just got used to working on the board. Its nice to
work on something that doesnt bounce around too much.
DRAW!: Do you use Crescent?
GO: Yeah, yeah.
DRAW!: Four-ply, or the illustration board?
GO: Three-ply, although it sounds like theyre starting to not
make it anymore, so Ill have to fnd out whats going with that.
DRAW!: Somebody else told me that. My friend Bret has a
bunch of old Whatman board, and that stuff was great. But
the Crescent is not as good as it used to be. Its like they dont
have the same amount of rag content in it or something.
GO: Right, right. Which is not as big of an issue for us if
were going to just do it anyway, but still. None of the prod-
ucts seem to be going in a better direction; they all seem to be
doing what they can to cut corners.
Two of Glens more fnished life drawings.
Artwork Glen Orbik.
DRAW! WINTER 2013 23
DRAW!: So you tend to work on sec-
tions? Do you do that the same way
whether youre doing the gouache or the
oil? Or, because gouache dries faster
GO: With the gouache, the cool thing is
that you can go into it 30 years later with
a wet brush and keep on working with
itonce you know that youre working
opaquely. You know, if youre going to do
something thats big and brushy and wet
into wet, you plan that ahead of time, but
everything else youre going to be paint-
ing directly, so it doesnt really matter.
Basically, I would just paint a section
of it. Actually, I would get the overall
effect so that you can see how some-
thing looks in its universe and can tell
whether its falling down or needs
more attention. So, generally, its the
same way, its just with the gouache,
you could decide to go and cover the
whole thing if you wanted, whereas
with the oil, if I want to work in
sections that are still wet enough to
work into each other, I make sure I
dont take on too big of a chunk that
I can deal with in a day.
DRAW!: I take it youre using a
digital camera now to shoot every-
thing yourself?
GO: Yeah, its too cost prohibitive
not to.
DRAW!: And then usually about
a week to paint the cover?
GO: It varies. At the most. Usually
its three to fve days. Once youve
worked out all the mechanical
things, its just a matter of sitting
down and designing the paint. So
occasionally itll take a week, but
usually its more in the four- or fve-
day range.
DRAW!: Depending on how many
fgures, and whether its the Battle of
the Bulge or just Batman on top of a
building?
GO: Exactly, yeah.
DRAW!: Is there a dream job that
youd like to illustrate?
GO: Back in the day, it probably
would have been the John Carter
thing, because that seemed.
DRAW!: I guess they kind of screwed that
up, huh?
GO: Yeah, well.
DRAW!: You could still do it. I mean, you
could still do it in comics, I guess.
GO: Yeah, but at this point its cool that
we get to do the retro thing. You know,
when I was going to school, most of the
guys that we really looked at a lot were
doing the different paperback covers, so
even though theres a lot less paperback
work out there than there was in the 60s,
a lot of it so far, knock on wood,
has funneled down to us.
DRAW!: Well, thats because all
the old guys went out to the West
and became Westerners.
GO: Again, its evolution. It just
keeps on going. Its like the F.R.
Grugers and the guys who became
the newspaper artists at the turn of
the century, they would go to a scene
and take some notes and go back to
the offce and draw the front page
of the newspaper from memory. The
guys that were in school at that point,
training for that job, by the time they
got out of school and got into the feld,
that feld was gone, so they went into
serial illustration or whatever. And by
the time the guys who were in school
studying for that got out, some of that
was going away, and they had to go into
another feld. So its kind of cool that
we get to actually do the thing that we
thought was cool in school.
DRAW!: And there has never been
a better time in our lifetimes to be a
fgurative artist than now, because
therere also a lot of galleries. I mean,
youve got the whole Southwest
cowboy art thing. You have all the
galleries. In fact, were going up Sat-
urday to the drawing show in Arca-
dia where they have Aron Wiesenfeld
and a lot of guys like that, so there
is still an emerging fne art market
for people who have the skill to do
narrative paintings.
(left) Glens rough thumbnail and two
sketched ideas for the ComicBase 16
box art.
ComicBase Human Computing.
24 DRAW! WINTER 2013
GO: Its funny, though, because a lot of the guys that I went
to class with, as well as some of my students, have gotten into
the gallery world, but they try to avoid using the term illus-
trator because it doesnt sell as well.
DRAW!: I think thats dying out.
GO: You think thats changing?
DRAW!: You always got the feeling people like John Buscema
were ashamed to say they were comic book artists or some-
thing, but now if I tell people I work for Marvel or Disney
or DC or whatever, people are like, Wow! And the gallery
Im in, the owner tells people. Thats one of his selling points.
It used to be, if you were still drawing a comic book, or you
were still painting a paperback, you werent a real artist. But
I think thats all blurred now, because the geek culture is
actually popular culture now.
GO: Yeah, weve taken over.
DRAW!: Well, Bill Gates and all those guys have taken over,
so geek culture now is popular culture. And the gallery world is
also changing. Have you thought about pursuing that yourself?
GO: From time to time. A lot of the guys that I personally
know that are in the feld, I know what it took for them to get
going in it. So there would be that lag time of getting rolling
in it. And I really like seeing the book covers and having an
image on them. Therere certain things that you get to do on
the covers that sometimes are a pain in the neck, but therere
things you get to do that you wouldnt necessarily get to do in
a gallery. I mean, I suppose you could, but its not too often
you get to do Martians attacking Earth.
DRAW!: You could be Glen Orbik, the Painter of Martians.
[laughs] The Painter of Light is gone, but now we have the
Painter of Martians.
GO: There you go. Yeah, its also a business. I know that gal-
lery artists kind of get into one area, and its best to stay there
and not move around too much just because people like to
know what theyre buying. There was a well known artist out
here that did a talk a while back showing some of his more
recent paintings, and they were gorgeous, but they were not
really the subject matter that he was most associated with,
and at the time he wasnt able to sell any of the new stuff be-
cause it wasnt what people thought of him as doing. I dont
There are actually only two models in this photo layout. Glen took several shots of his models in various poses and composited them
in Photoshop into the layout for the fnal painting. Glen then penciled his underpainting from the composite photo layout.
ComicBase Human Computing.
DRAW! WINTER 2013 25
remember what all the mechanics behind the scenes are, but
theres a certain amount of the gallery public thats looking
for something they can make a proft on more than whether or
not they like the piece.
DRAW!: Something you deal with all the time now, are
people who just dont know, Oh, yeah, this guy also did
westerns, and he did a sci-f paperback.
GO: Yeah. I was surprised when I went up to San Francisco.
You know, when I was in class, you werent allowed to like
both Boris and Frazetta, and now they dont know who either
one of them is.
DRAW!: That is something that shocks me, and it happens
every year. I have students who
come over from the illustration de-
partment to take my class, and they
all want to be fantasy artists. Oh,
like Frazetta? And they go, Who?
And I say, Thats like saying you
want to be president of the United
States and youve never heard of
George Washington.
GO: And whats even sadder is
that they usually have a style thats
sort of a fourth-generation copy of
Frazetta or whoever.
DRAW!: Right. Yet, at the same
time, its easy for anyone now to go
on the Internet, type in Frazetta,
and see everything the guy did.
Thats the funny thing.
GO: I have mixed feelings about that. Its great on the one
hand because you and I will acknowledge it, but, on the
other hand, if its that easy to get, maybe it doesnt quite
have the same value. I hit a button, and I downloaded his
entire lifes work.
DRAW!: I also liken it to when people come to visit you in
your town, and you go see things that you dont go to see
when you live in the town yourself, because you do take it for
granted. So people, say, under the age of 25, kind of take this
for granted, whereas for us its a miracle that you can go type
in any old illustrator and probably fnd somebody who has a
blog. When I was 17, that didnt exist.
GO: Yeah. Its another world.
Glen Orbik, Painter of Martians. Glens
color comp and fnished painting for
the ComicBase 16 box art.
Artwork Human Computing.
26 DRAW! WINTER 2013
Three of Glens 25-minute demo life drawings,
along with one 20-minute demo life
drawing the head shown at bottom left.
Artwork Glen Orbik.
DRAW! WINTER 2013 27
DRAW!: Are you thinking that you might have to learn how
to embrace doing some of the work digitally? Have you
messed around with that at all?
GO: Not much. Just a little bit. There seems to be a place for
retro, I guess, for lack of a better term, but I know when we
frst started trying to get into book covers, we liked painting
people, but a lot of people would tell us that its hard to get
into the book covers and blah, blah, blah. Mostly it had to
do with the fact that some of them werent so hot at drawing
and painting people, and thats what the publishers needed.
You know, you basically have to adjust your ability to ft the
market, or you have to fnd a market thatll pay you to do what
you want to do, or some sort of balance in the middle.
DRAW!: I take it thats probably something that you espouse
to your students?
GO: Yes. You push the idea of teaching cabinet makers how
to build a quality cabinet and then go from there. See what
the client needs, or see if you can produce something thatll
fnd a market. So, yeah, at this point its just more a matter
of trying to fgure out what Id like the drawings to look like,
and what Id like the paintings to look like, and then the more
of the sort of imagery that I like to do that I paint, the more
people think of me for that instead of trying to have me do
things that are all over the map.
DRAW!: You have a nice website. How important is that, do
you feel, for your presence, because, again, youre constantly
being hit with a frehouse of images all day. How do you go
about trying to keep your profle visible. Hey, heres my fag.
Im over here, over here.
GO: Well, I try to stay off the numerous posts you put up
every day [Mike laughs] so I dont get lost in the myriad of
names that are out there. The websites a great place to be
easily fndable. You dont need a detective to fnd a certain
artist anymore, so that part of its great. The balancing act is
not using too much time being on the computer and dealing
with. Its one thing to be talking to clients, its great when
people like your work, but you also have to balance that you
dont spend 24 hours a day on Facebook or whatever.
DRAW!: But theres always something interesting on Face-
book! Every second!
GO: And there always will be. Every time I write some-
thing clever, I think, Wow, that was a waste of time. [Mike
laughs] Im so glad I said that clever thing. Now I have to
go back to work.
DRAW!: You were posting those Andrew Loomis drawings,
like, from a sketchbook. Those things were gorgeous, and you
said that they used to have some in a store you used to go to?
GO: Yeah. One of the art stores here in North Hollywood had
about 15 or 20 originals. The story that I was told was that the
guy who was the boss when I was there married the daughter
of the man who started the store, if Ive got my stories right,
and that man used to go visit Loomis when he was a teenager.
More of Glens 25-minute demo life drawings.
Artwork Glen Orbik.
28 DRAW! WINTER 2013
And the story he told was that a couple of times when he left,
Loomis said, Look, youve got a pickup truck, and youre go-
ing by the dump on your way home. Would you take some of
these? [Mike laughs] Ive heard the story from several people.
But those drawings were on the wall forever. They were up
there at least since 1960, and when he retired and sold the busi-
ness about two or three years ago, he put the stuff up for auc-
tion, and it went off to the four winds. So now its just kind of
weird, because you go and look at the walls and theres some-
thing missing there. But it was just one of those things where
you could tell the serious artists were sitting there staring at
them trying to learn, and everyone else was unaware of what
was on the wall. And then when they were gone, youre kind of
like, Oh, sh*t. I should have paid more attention to that.
DRAW!: Its funny, I think it was one of the big galleries I
went to in Scottsdale. Im in there, and Im looking, and the
guy says, Youre an artist.
Another of Glens 25-minute demo life drawings.
Artwork Glen Orbik.
DRAW! WINTER 2013 29
GO: Mm-hm. Mm-hm.
DRAW!: What? He says, I can tell by how youre leaning
in and looking at the picture. Because other people come,
and they dont lean in, I guess; they dont look at the paintings
that closely.
GO: We had that experience up in Carmel. Laurel and I went
into a gallery, and within two seconds this lady came and said,
You guys are artists, right? Like, what, is it sticking on our
foreheads? Yeah, I know, its the same thing. When we went
to see the Rockwell show when it was traveling around, you
had the group of people who were two inches from the pic-
tures, trying to fgure out what he did, and then you had ev-
erybody else that was laughing at the jokes, Its a different
mentality. All the artists that are leaning in, theyre squinting
as theyre getting close, and theyve got to focus.
DRAW!: When you look at a book by any successful artist,
its like, home run, home run, home run, home run, home run.
So it just looks like they started out as a kid, they were really
talented, they went to school, got even better, and then every
illustration they did, every painting they did was great right to
the end, but we know that thats not the process.
GO: Yeah, yeah. We have friends who are writers, and it
drives them nuts when they meet aspiring writers who have
a story theyre going to tell someday. Its like, No, no. You
write all the time.
DRAW!: Yeah, you dont save it up and just write War and
Peace someday.
GO: Thats kind of the way it has to be, an ongoing excite-
ment. Im hoping to get those Loomis books out sometime.
Its that balancing act between what will sell and looking for
the skill, the craft thats necessary. Im sure youre looking at
it more the way I do, where you look at Dean Cornwell and
you go, Wow, that is so cool! I want to do something like
that! But I think a lot of the impetus for getting into things
is a little bit more monetary infuenced, as least at the outset.
DRAW!: Well, even in the fne art world now, its really come
180 degrees around.
GO: Yeah, I know, because Ive got several students that are
making big noise in the galleries, and its exciting that theyre
actually looking at real art again.
DRAW!: Do you know Jeremy Lipking?
GO: Yeah, hes one of my students.
DRAW!: Thats what I thought.
GO: I mean, he had other teachers too.
DRAW!: You taught him everything he knows!
GO: Thats right. If I get to take credit for all the famous
guys, than I also have to take credit for all the guys that went
nowhere.
The beginnings of an-
other cover for the Hard
Case Crime imprint, this
one entitled, Fifty-to-
One. An interesting slant
in this cover is that other
books in the Hard Case
Crime series are being
used as photo reference,
and each chapter of the
book is named after one
of the frst 50 novels in
the series.
Hard Case Crime
Winterfall LLC.
30 DRAW! WINTER 2013
DRAW!: Actually, his stuff will be at that show that Im go-
ing to see. But, really, I tell that to so many of my fellow stu-
dents at the academy, and the people that I teach: this is like
the Golden Age, in a way. I wish it was like this when I was
18, graduating from high school, because there would have
been places to go and do that. Really, nobody was teaching
that stuff in Michigan where Im from. Nobody was really
teaching that stuff.
GO: Well, when I frst came back to teach, our teacher got
that a lot from people who were just like, Whats this deal
with drawing the head over and over again? What is this weird
quirk? No, its where you develop the craft. Now theres a lot
more of it out there, but just 23 years ago, people were like,
Oh, yeah, were good head drawers. Thats wonderful.
DRAW!: My feeling is that the reason that happened is
that, if you remove craft, if you remove the hurdle of crafts-
manship, more people can get into the game. Getting more
people into the game means that you can manufacture more
wealth, because more people can get in, become famous, be
discovered, and be heralded by certain critics, and certain
rich people, and certain institutions. If, however, you raise
the bar craftsmanship-wise, like it was in the end of the nine-
teenth century, if you raise it to that level, it knocks 95% of
the people out of the game because they just wont have that
skill set.
GO: Yeah, thats what I mean. Its always about that end of
it. If their goal is to make a lot of money, then their priorities
are not the same as mastering a skill and then going with that
skill. Not that one is really more important than the other, I
suppose. I mean, it is to me, but if Thomas Kincaids goal
was to make a lot of money, then hes a huge success. If his
goal was to be reach a certain level of skill, then he wasnt a
success. It just depends on what target theyre shooting at.
But remember in the 50s when Steve Allen used to say that
rock and roll was invented so people without talent could be
famous too? [Mike laughs] Its all in your perspective, I guess.
DRAW!: Yeah, I guess. One of my teachers, one of my favor-
ite artists, Vince Desiderio, spent ten years on this one paint-
ing. I mean, its a great painting. I dont know. Maybe its
because I come from comics. I dont know if I could spend ten
years on something. I think I would go crazy.
GO: Thats funny. I agree, but I remember we had Alex Ross
and Steve Rude over here for dinner a couple of years back. I
had done a piece, and for me it was smoking fast because I did
it, like, in fve days. And Alex was like, God, if I ever spent fve
days on a painting, I wouldnt know what to do with myself. So
were not even talking ten years, were talking fve whole days!
DRAW!: Rockwell would probably spend at least, what, a
month on some of those things, right?
Glen idealizes the fgures, with photos of the faces for reference, then assembles a photo mock-up with the idealized fgures.
Hard Case Crime Winterfall LLC.
DRAW! WINTER 2013 31
GO: Well, thats the trick is to spend the time on it, but make it
look as fresh as you want it to look. Whether you spent months
on it or days on it, it should look like the kind of storytelling you
wanted it to look like.
DRAW!: Thats the same thing with someone like Sargent or
Fechin. Their work looked like they did it in fve minutes, but they
crafted it to look like they did it that way. I was surprised to learn
that it would take Fechin a month to do some of his paintings,
because they look like he did them in two or three hours.
GO: Thats the exciting part is fguring that stuff out.
DRAW!: That was one of the things I remember reading in [An-
drew Loomis] Creative Illustration, which, after going back to
art school, I have come to realize how great that book is. I mean,
its actually written on a very high level. Its written on a level that
the amateur can appreciate, but it was also written on a level that
someone whos much more experienced can appreciate. There
was that section where he was talking about the paint handling
going across the form or with the form.
GO: We have the dummy for that, and theres three times as many
notes in there than in the published book, so he actually narrowed
it down for the book.
DRAW!: Really?
GO: The thing I fnd amazing about Loomis is that he was a full-
time illustrator and still managed to fnd the time to write the
damned books.
DRAW!: But that feeling of sharpness, or crispness, or speed.
Like, Eakins would go across the form and kind of pad at the
form, but Zorn and Sargent would go with the form, and it makes
everything have a snap to it, and be kind of cool.
GO: Right. It wakes you up
to the idea, because most
of us think of artists work-
ing the way they work be-
cause its their style, what-
ever that means, instead
of thinking, No, theyve
crafted it that way because
it tells the kind of story they
wanted it to tell.
DRAW!: It wasnt some-
thing that I had thought of in
that way, but then, rereading
the book, and reading that
passage. We have a mu-
seum at the school which
has a Sargent, and a bunch
of Cecilia Beaux, and a
bunch of Thomas Eakins, so
its really interesting to go
in and then actually look at
something like that in life.
(above) A value study of the photo mock-up of the cover.
(below) Glen tightens the idealized fgure drawing,
then overlays a sketch of the background elements.
Hard Case Crime Winterfall LLC.
32 DRAW! WINTER 2013
DRAW! WINTER 2013 33
Do you think about that, yourself, like the way you apply the
brushstroke in fact gives a certain?
GO: Not from the originals standpoint because Im painting
for reproduction. What I took away from the Rockwell show
was the idea that he was trying to pay attention to what the
effect would be in the reproduction. I defnitely think about
using more harsh brushstrokes on things that are supposed to
look crude and scary or whatever, and fnishing things off more
when I want things to be more quiet and turn the volume down.
DRAW!: I always noticed he was really good at shoes. He did
amazing, beat-up old shoes. When I saw that show in Wash-
ington, sometimes I would go back and just look at the way he
painted the shoes. They were just fantastic, you know? And
the hands. Beautiful, beautiful. I dont know if theres any-
body who painted hands any better than he painted hands. I
think he drew and painted hands as good as anybody in the
history of painting.
GO: I know. In the beginning, when we were taking classes,
we were just trying to think, God, that looks really cool. Let
me fgure out how to steal a little piece of that. And then later
on you start realizing its part of the storytelling. When you
get the skill far enough along, you can start thinking about
pushing it in the direction to get the correct idea across.
DRAW!: Are you across the form or with the form,
would you say?
GO: Fred used to use the terms design and decoration
a lot. Basically frst I try to fgure out how to make the form
look like the object I want it to look like, and then I look
and try to fgure out if its interesting enough. So its kind of
like the Loomis idea, understand nature and glorify it. The
(previous page) Glens pencil underdrawing
for the cover painting.
(above) Glens 3" x 5" color comp.
(right) Glens underpainting, done
over the pencil underdrawing.
Hard Case Crime Winterfall LLC.
34 DRAW! WINTER 2013
Detail shots of Glens progress on the painting. He starts with the fgures and uses photo reference for detail and lighting issues.
Hard Case Crime Winterfall LLC.
DRAW! WINTER 2013 35
idea of, understand the rules
of why things work, either in
structure or in edges and val-
ues, and then make it as cool
as you can. So its not so much
with or across. Literally,
if Ive been doing nothing but
across for a while, Ill look
for an excuse to go with it,
or vice versa, so that its got a
variety to it. Its more a mat-
ter of straight versus curved
instead of having everything
all the same.
DRAW!: And I guess you
kind of fex that also, depend-
ing upon the subject matter?
GO: Yeah, yeah. Its all about
trying to fgure out how you
want to design it. There are
certain muscles that should be
straight, and certain muscles
that should be round, and then
a whole bunch in the middle
that just kind of depend on the
viewpoint you have and how
you want to push it.
DRAW!: Do you have any
sort of edge philosophies? Be-
cause thats the other thing:
value, edges.
GO: Well, when we were do-
ing a lot of what Fred had us
do in gouache class, he would
have us avoid softening
things too much. He wanted
us to fgure out if there was
a way to design the shapes
so that everything looked de-
signed like tiles in a mosaic,
then you could select which
edges to go with frst. So its
mostly just trying to get the design across so it looks like
what the object is supposed to look like, and then I stand
back, and if the paint still looks like paintit sounds weird,
but if I notice the paint before I notice the object, then I
need to refne the edge until Im happy with it sticking out in
there or not. Unless I actually want one that stands out and
is visible.
DRAW!: And I guess thats different because youre trying
to create this very illusionistic feeling where youre not try-
ing to do a painting where youre saying, Look at how I use
the paint.
Detail shot of the mostly fnished fgures. All that remains to be done is the mans arm on the desk.
Hard Case Crime Winterfall LLC.
GO: Right. I want that to be in there for the person thats look-
ing for it, but the kid on the streets not going to notice that.
A friend of mine was doing a landscape painting from pho-
tographs, and he was having a hell of a time with it. It was a
beach scene. This ten-year-old kid walked in front of his studio,
and he grabbed the kid, pulled him in, and said, Whats wrong
with this painting? And the kid said, It looks really windy.
Meaning: Too many brushy strokes! So I always keep that in
the back of my mind. Whats the viewer going to see? Theyre
not going to see my lovely brushstrokes. Theyre going to see
the story that comes across, whether I intend it or not, so Id
better make sure that they see what I want them to see.
36 DRAW! WINTER 2013
DRAW!: Thats the priority; everything in service of the story.
I guess thats the thrust of Loomis whole approach.
GO: Basically everything that doesnt help the story, hurts
it. That goes for the stuff you put in the background, the way
youve applied the paint, and whether youve made the main
character wearing a red shirt or not. You dont have to get
stupid about the Freudian reasons behind things, but if some-
thing takes you away from what your intent is, then fnd a
way to manipulate it so it doesnt. Buscema did it with super-
heroesplay down anything that doesnt make them heroic,
and play up anything that does.
DRAW!: Right. And I guess those are the kinds of things you
can never tire of on the job. I mean, thats the heart of the
whole thing right there.
GO: Thats the fun part. Thats what gets you away from just,
Oh, Im rendering again. You look at it, and you say, How
do I get this across, and do I want this to be subtle or bold?
DRAW!: Right. Well, I will let you go be subtle and bold.
(above) Detail shot of the desk in progress.
(left) The published cover of Fifty-to-One.
(next page) The fnished painting.
Hard Case Crime Winterfall LLC.
DRAW! WINTER 2013 37
38 DRAW! WINTER 2013
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DRAW! WINTER 2013 39
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40 DRAW! WINTER 2013
F
or this clientthe Hard Case Crime book series
looking for the pretty girl in the story to feature
goes without saying. Our heroine is a fairy princess
for FAO Schwartz in the morning, a college student by
day, and a sensual masseuse by night. We were aiming for
an image that gave the feel of the book but didnt actu-
ally need to be a scene from the story itself. Ironically, the
author liked our idea well enough that he added a scene into
the story which matched the one from our cover.
GLEN ORBIK
Workshop
the
Glen Orbik has produced several
covers for the Hard Case Crime line of
novelshardboiled detective stories
that harken back to pulp traditions of
the 1940s and 50s when illustration
still reigned supreme. Glen was kind
enough to take us step by step through
the creation process of one such cov-
erSongs of Innocenceand provide
us with further insight into his work.
DRAW! WINTER 2013 41
We drew up three ideas for this assignment, little more than stick fgures. My partner, Laurel, and I
will sometimes shoot a few Polaroids to try out some pose possibilities. Of these three, they went with
the third one, but they liked the frst one well enough to consider using it for another book.
STEP 1
We shot photos of our model in the pose we had plans for. Then, since we had the model, camera,
props, costumes, and lighting worked out, we asked the model to try some variations: head up, head
down, arm over, etc. A good model often suggests better ideas than we do. You never know what is
going to look the best, so an extra fve minutes and 30 pictures is a good investment.
STEP 2
42 DRAW! WINTER 2013
STEP 4
I then idealize the fgure: shrink the
head, lengthen the limbs, push the action
or fow, play up the things I like, play down
the things I dont. Only I see this stage, so
my goal is to make the fgure work for
me and give me enough info to project
larger onto the board Ill be painting on.
This time I pasted a Xeroxed photo of the
head on my drawing to save a little draw-
ing time. If we were dealing with a more
elaborate background, wed mock all the
elements together at this stage so as much
as possible is fgured out before we get to
the fnal projection stage.
STEP 3
After Ive chosen my favorite photo or
composite, I get to the drawing. Again, each
project has different solutions depending on
the problems involved. For this one, I wanted
to do some anatomy construction studies so
I would have a better idea of how I might
idealize the fgure. These drawings are only
for me to see, to clarify the design so I can
understand it better.
DRAW! WINTER 2013 43
STEP 5
I Xerox my mock-up so that its small enough to project,
and I make another Xerox about 2" x 3" big. I cover the small
one with acrylic gel medium to protect the paper, and then
paint my color rough over it. I did this in oil for this project, but
I usually do it in whatever medium I plan to paint the fnished
version in. Usually one color rough will do, but sometimes
well try several variations to see what the effect will be. (A
warm version, a cool versionwhatever might best tell the
story.) I get my best results when I remind myself that the
fnished image will only work if the big impact comes across
even when the image is small. Plus, its easier to experiment
on a small scale than on fnished art.
STEP 6
When Ive projected my drawing onto the larger
board, the fgure usually needs some adjustments, so
I place tracing paper over the projected image and
work on idealizing any area I want designed better.
Then Ill refer to my tracing to alter the image on
the board. It often takes longer to get to the painting
than it does to actually execute the painting itself. But
working this way insures that I have a clear idea of
how to solve and design the fnish before I get to the
actual painting. In the long run, it saves me time.
44 DRAW! WINTER 2013
STEP 7
I tape off the edges of my heavy-weight illustration board, which has been thinly gessoed frst. I
spray-fx the 6H pencil drawing and go to work. I do a very basic underpainting in about an hour, mostly
to get rid of the white board. Then I refer to my color comp and tackle the painting by sections: the head
and hair, the background, the upper half of the fgure, and the rest of the fgure and hand. Then I mail in
the art, get paid, go buy art supplies for the next project, and repeat.
DRAW! WINTER 2013 45
Interview conducted on October 2012 by Mike Manley
Transcribed by Steven Tice
DRAW!: How did you come about working on the Tron project?
ROBERT VALLEY: I kind of wonder, myself. I think that
a couple of different things came to-
gether. One was Alberto Mielgo and
myself worked on that Beatles: Rock
Band cinematic in London, and Char-
lie Bean, whos directing Tron, was in
London at the same time, so theres an
obvious connection between the three
of us knowing each other. And the
other connection I think comes
through Titmouse because those guys
asked me to do some designs for
Motorcity a couple of years ago, and
that kind of put me on the Disney
radar. And so, when Charlie started
to staff up on Tron, I guess my name
came up again, and it just seemed to
be a bunch of happy coincidences.
DRAW!: And you were the main
character designer, right?
RV: I was, yeah.
DRAW!: I know that theyre doing it in a 3-D program. It
looks like theyre taking your designs and then basically
building 3-D characters and then doing some form of cel
shading on them. Were there any issues with that from your
side as a designer?
RV: You know, we came up with some pretty specifc designs,
and I wanted to introduce some gradients on the characters to
specifcally soften some of the shad-
ows around the eyes, or add wrinkles
on some of the male characters, or
create something that looked like mas-
cara or kind of like a smoky eyes look
on some of the girls. So some of that
stuff is actually painted right into the
3-D model. And then the incidental
shadows that youre talking about,
with the Toon Shader, thats more on
the Polygon side of things.
DRAW!: So its a real combination of
the surface texture versus the lighting?
RV: Yeah, the way we sort of referred
to it was that there were shadows
that were baked in, and then there
were shadows that were specifc to
the lighting of whatever scene. Those
were just incidental shadows. Charlie,
Alberto, Polygon, and I, we looked at some different Toon
Shaders, and some of them looked too liquidy, and some of
them werent quite right, so there was a bit of back and forth
on that kind of stuff.
Get
Your
On
with Swerve
ROBERT VALLEY
46 DRAW! WINTER 2013
DRAW!: Are these plug-ins or different programs? Whats
the program that you guys are rendering everything on?
RV: You mean the 3-D stuff?
DRAW!: Yeah, the 3-D stuff.
RV: Oh, I dont know any of that.
DRAW!: So you dont know if theyre using Maya, or Light-
wave, or whatever?
RV: No, I dont know any of that. It shows up and its like
magic.
DRAW!: [laughs] How was that differentor was it differ-
entthan designing the Rock Band stuff, or working on the
Gorillaz videos? Is there a different set of overall design cri-
teria or problems that make things easier or more diffcult for
you when you are going between projects like this?
RV: I think, going back to the Gorillaz stuff, the dynamic
there was Jamie [Hewlett] would show up with a storyboard
and the character models, the design pack, which is basical-
ly the way he wanted to draw the characters. And what they
were wearing. You know, he was really specifc about the kind
of groovy details that the characters were wearing. And from
there we would go on to a paper-
drawn methodology or pipeline,
and that was kind of a similar thing
with the Beatles: Rock Band ex-
cept, instead of getting designs and
storyboards from Jamie, I was do-
ing the designs and the storyboards.
And then, again, we would go on to
a traditional 2-D pipeline.
The difference with the Tron
stuff was because it was set in the
digital world, and Charlie said,
Lets do it all on the Cintiq. Lets
keep it all digital. This goes back
about two years, I guess. I got a
Cintiq, and started drawing every-
thing in Photoshop.
DRAW!: So this was all digital,
just like the movie? There was no
paper process on the Tron work?
RV: There might have been really
early on, when I was waiting for my
Cintiq to arrive. There was about a
six-week wait for them to get more
in stock, so in the meantime I was
doing what I usually do: drawing
on paper, scanning it, putting it into
Photoshop, cleaning it up, and then sending it to Charlie. Then
I got my Cintiq, and everything went digital; I was drawing
right in Photoshop, and that really lends itself to more of a
I dont know, a slicker look, less chalky-looking than with the
linework, and that was starting to integrate better with Alber-
tos stuff. You know, its just the way it went. Now Ive totally
fallen in love with my Cintiq.
DRAW!: I always like to talk to artists about that because
I see people who work digitally because the demand of the
job says, We need it digitally, but who prefer to work
traditionally. There are people who like working back and
forth between boththe virtual world and the meat world,
as I call them.
Going into your graphic novel, are you doing that tradi-
tionally, or is it a combination, or are you also doing that all
digitally?
(above) Traditional 2-D pencil design work for The Beatles: Rock Band video game.
(below) A page from Robert Valleys Junk.
The Beatles Apple Corps Ltd. Rock Band Harmonix Music Systems, Inc.
Junk Robert Valley.
DRAW! WINTER 2013 47
RV: Well, I was just all in as far as the digital stuff on Tron,
so I put my paper and pencils away for, like, a year-and-a-
half, and then I sort of transitioned from that kind of mindset
right into my frst Pear Cider book, and kept all that digital.
I launched the book with an art show in France, and I didnt
have any original artwork. It was all digital, so I made prints.
Afterwards, once the book was released and I started to
promote it, I realized that what people really wanted was
the tangible, 2-D, paper artwork. And I thought, Wow, that
makes sense. Now I get it. So with the second book, the one
that I just fnished, I did all of the planning, the thumbnails,
and the rough drawings on paper, and then I scanned that in
and used that as the frst step. Once it was all digital, then it
was all Photoshop after that, but at least theres some aspect
of the pipeline thats analog.
DRAW!: So you were doing that for the people coming to the
show. Do you fnd that doing it that way also adds something
to your process as an artist?
RV: It does. I fnd, while Im doing some storyboards this
morningIm just starting a new projectthat the very initial
ideas, where youre just kind of conjuring up ideas in your
head, and you want to get them out real fast? For me theres
no better way to do that than with thumbnails, pens, and paper,
and I just record those frst nuggets of ideas as quickly as pos-
sible. It seems like trying to do that on the Cintiq, theres a bit
more of a delay time, it takes a bit longer, and its not quite as
immediate, especially with what Im doing right now, because
those focks of ideas are so feeting. They just come and go so
quickly that its a really delicate time. [laughs]
DRAW!: In a way its sort of like when you have a dream, and
when you wake up from your dream, if you dont write it down,
you start to forget it really quickly as the rest of the day creeps
into your memory banks. Then, later on, youre like, Wow,
was that in my dream, or was that part of another dream?
It sort of reinforces what I was saying to some of my students
the other day; I was saying that, like you were talking about,
Scenes from Roberts graphic novel, Pear Cider
and Cigarettes.
Pear Cider and Cigarettes and Robert Valley.
48 DRAW! WINTER 2013
DRAW! WINTER 2013 49
the spark, the frst impression that you get, you want to get it
down as soon as possible. When you add all those little steps of
mediation between you and your ability to express your idea,
there is always some delay, and the energy gets lost sometimes.
I think its different in the case of someone like you, who has
worked traditionally, and now youre choosing to work digi-
tally, and you mediate your digital experience based upon the
things that you liked from your traditional experience, and you
have a lot of drawing experience. One of the things I notice
about a lot of young people who jump to working digitally is
that that command-Z kind of mentality erases all their history.
Sometimes when youre doing a bunch of rough sketches, or a
bunch of rough doodles, you do something and you dont like
it, and then you move on, but that mistake or the part you dont
like is actually part of the process that you can go back and ac-
cess or look at, sort of like building your idea. You have really
good drawing chops, so you enhance that or add spice to it in
a digital way, whereas if you just learn to draw on a tablet, I
think you hurt your drawing strength, your drawing curve, you
know? I dont know if you agree or not.
RV: Yeah. Going back to the point that you started with, thats
a really good way of putting it, but I was just going to add that
the ideas that you have in your head, for me, theyre not as
feeting as a dream. You know, theyre there, and I can walk
around with those ideas for a while, sometimes months or
even over a year. But when it gets translated, when it gets re-
corded, thats the really delicate part, I fnd, because if one of
the expressions of those ideas, if it isnt right, then I can never
go back again. Its almost like if it comes out and its recorded
incorrectly, its totally contaminated. [laughter] So thats how
I feel about it. If I record it, and I get it mixed up or Im in-
terrupted or something, then its never going to be the same
because now it doesnt exist in my imagination anymore. Its
materialized in a bad way. Its recorded. And its hard for me
to go back from there.
DRAW!: You can take a piece of paper or a sketchbook and
a pencil, and you can go sit down anywhere and draw. You
dont have to worry about the battery running out, or the wire
getting pulled out, or something crashing, or whatever. Its
also a very intimate experience. I think personal computers
are intimate too, but theres just something thats very human
about making a mark on a piece of paper.
Im really interested in talking to artists like you who are at
the front edge of whats happening in the entertainment busi-
ness, because the need of the client is sort of driving the way
(previous page and above) A three-page sequence from Roberts graphic novel, Pear Cider and Cigarettes.
Pear Cider and Cigarettes and Robert Valley.
50 DRAW! WINTER 2013
work has to be created. In your case, youre doing your book,
its a choice to work that way. But sometimes you work on a
project or you work with a client where they want something
a certain way, and it might not be your chosen way of work-
ing. Do you choose projects based on those kinds of criteria?
RV: I think Im still trying to fgure that puzzle out. Ive al-
ways prided myself, when I work with clients, with getting
a brief pretty quickly. When people explain their idea to me,
I usually go out of my way to try to fgure out what theyre
thinking about, to try to fesh out what their ideas are. And
thats kind of what I tell myself. [laughs] Its funny, in the last
month or so, I took on a little freelance job, and, man, that was
so far off the brief it was amazing. But its always a different
puzzle, right? I dont know what to say. Sometimes it looks
good, and sometimes it doesnt.
DRAW!: Right. It seems like its very important for you to
not only work on these great commercial and
fun things like Tron or Gorillaz, but it also
seems like its very important to you to con-
tinue to keep your own projects going at the
same time. Was that the idea behind the Kick-
starter thing, to just keep your own projects
going as well?
RV: Actually, I was just thinking about that
the other day, that I had sort of started off
my career doing advertising in my early 20s
in San Francisco, and I thought things were
going pretty good. The money was certainly
good, and I was getting some pretty good jobs.
After a few months, I would return back to
my peerspeople that I used to go to school
with in Vancouverand Id say, Hey, do you
want to see what Im doing? And theyd say,
Yeah! Robert, hes an artist; hes going to do
stuff, and theyre always kind of interested.
So I showed them some commercial work,
and they just glazed over.
All the work that goes into appeasing the clients needs,
and polishing that turd up, it doesnt go beyond, Im just go-
ing to sell a product, basically. So I learned pretty early on
that if I was going to get any satisfaction out of my career, that
that wasnt going to be it. And then I went back to what the
unsaid goal was between me and some other people that I had
worked with in San Francisco, which was, Lets do our own
comic! We just shut the doors and pulled down the window
shades and got to work on our own stuff, and that started back
in 2002 when I did my frst book.
In spite of any Gorillaz stuff, where you could hang Jamie
Hewletts name on it, or Aeon Flux stuff, where you associ-
ate it with Peter Chungthis Tron stuff is Charlies stuff
it seems like the books are the main way I can project my
own thinking, my own storytelling, my own stylistic take on
things. If you have one of those books on your bookshelf,
you can go and you can see, Oh, thats what this guy does.
And its got my name on it. At the end of the day, it pays
a fraction of what any other job pays, but especially at this
point in my lifeIm 43. I really want to make a go of it,
and the only way its going to happen is if I stop spending
my time working for other people and trying to manage their
ideas. I just am fnishing my ffth book, so if I keep going,
Ill just explode, and then Ill have ten books. You know,
Milo Manaras got, like, 50 books, and Moebius has so many
books. You get a larger library.
DRAW!: Moebius had a whole life of books of his different
personalities, you know, the Blueberry personality and the
Moebius take. At a certain point they kind of merged a little
bit, where the Blueberry stuff began to look a little bit more
like the Moebius stuff.
I agree with that. I started self-publishing back in the
late 90s because of that. I found that its great to play with
I
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DRAW! WINTER 2013 51
other peoples toysplay with Superman or
Batman or whatever, or work for Disney
but in the end its always that other persons
name on the project, and youre only a cog in
the machine. Its just not wise for your artis-
tic self to not do your own thing. Even com-
mercially, people think of you differently if
they see your own work. I know that, com-
ing from comics and going into animation,
people tend to typecast you just like they do
in Hollywood. Oh, youre a character ac-
tor. You always play the evil boss, or, You
always play the heavy, or whatever. And
sometimes if you dont show people another
side of you, they wont even know that you
can do something else. I get that now with
people because Im spending a lot of time
painting and drawing things that dont have anything to do
with comics. I just had somebody say that the other day on
Facebook. Oh, I didnt know Mike Manley could paint.
They just thought of me as some guy who drew for Marvel
or DC.
Do you have a typical work routine? Are you a nine-to-fve
guy? Are you all over the place depending upon the job?
RV: Im early morning, usually 5:30 a.m. until 6:00 at night,
basically. If therere any sporting events going on, I want to
make sure I get my work done before they start. [laughs]
DRAW!: Al Williamson was like that. He would get up early
in the morning, come in, sit down, do his day, and then at
5:00, that was it. He wasnt working until 4:00 in the morning
on something. He didnt do that after a certain point.
RV: Nope. No way. This is a marathon, and it just doesnt
end. Youve got to be fresh to do it again the next day.
DRAW!: You said you have a Cintiq. Whats
your work set-up like, your studio? Do you
have a digital side and a traditional side, or is
it all mixed together?
RV: Like I just said, this morning I busted out
the paper again because I was doing thumb-
nails. I set that up right underneath the foot
of my Cintiq, so Ive always got the Internet
available, so if I need to draw, like, Desert Rat
style jeeps today, or Camaros, and dunes, and
beaches, and stuff, Ive always got Google
available. Ill drag the images off and make a
little library of images that pertain specifcally
to the project that Im working on.
DRAW!: Are you a Mac or a PC person?
RV: Mac.
DRAW!: Are you using a tower, or are you
using a laptop?
RV: [laughs] Im using my laptop, and some-
times it doesnt cut it.
DRAW!: Because of the power that the Cintiq demands?
RV: Well, no. For working on my book, its okay. I throw all
my stuff on external hard drives, and I try to keep my desktop
as clean as possible not to bog it down. But this project that
Im just starting right now, its going to be an animation proj-
ect; pretty soon the laptop wont be able to cut it.
DRAW!: Will you have to buy another laptop, or will you
have to buy a tower? What will you do?
RV: Ill probably get a tower, probably a PC, and just use that.
DRAW!: I guess thats another difference with a piece of pa-
per and a pencil, you never have to worry about, Oh, man,
this thing is lagging. [laughs] I imagine you have to con-
stantly be backing up, and then backing up your back-up.
52 DRAW! WINTER 2013
RV: Oh, defnitely. I think Ive got six or seven hard drives here.
DRAW!: It looks like the inside of the Hal 9000 computer
nothing but hard drives, right? [laughs]
RV: Well, I was just thinking, if one of those hard drives mal-
functioned or something, just how depressed I would be if
I lost all that work. And thats enough to just scare me into
backing that up as many times as possible.
DRAW!: Ive actually had that happen twice in the last cou-
ple of years. Therere hard drives I need to send out and see if
they can be recovered. You should probably have that stuff on
a cloud or offsite, because if something happens to your house
or your studio, that doesnt do you any good either.
So youre pretty much a nine-to-fve guy, fve days a week,
or do you work weekends too?
RV: Oh, yeah.
DRAW!: Oh, okay. So if you worked only eight hours a day,
you would feel like you werent really working, right? Hey,
that was pretty easy! [laughs]
RV: [laughs] Well, you know, the days go by so quick. Ive
just got to make the most of every day.
DRAW!: It sounds like youve lived all over too. I take it
youve lived in England, or is this all telecommuting for you?
RV: Oh no. Ive done work in various places. I spent a lot of
time in London.
DRAW!: And youre from Canada?
RV: Yeah, Im from Vancouver.
DRAW!: Is that where you went to school?
RV: Yup. I did a four-year animation course. I graduated in
92, and I moved to San Francisco shortly after.
DRAW!: Where did you go to school?
RV: It was a place called Emily Carr College, basically a
fne arts school, but they had a little animation department,
which was kind of geared towards independent flmmaking,
so a lot of the students would get on this National Film Board
track, or Canada Council Filmmaking track. I tried that, but
I couldnt get any of that free money. [Mike laughs] So I just
ended up taking the commercial route, and the rest is history.
DRAW!: So if you could have made your own version of
The Cat Came Back, then we never would have seen the
Robert Valley version of Tron?
RV: I dont think so. I think that once youre in with that kind
of government funding track, its a bit exclusive. And people
that get funding, they continue to get funding, and f*ck that. I
dont want any government money anyway.
DRAW!: I know the demands of commercial work, and then
youre doing your personal stuff also. What do you do to feed
your head? How do you keep yourself inspired? What are you
I
m
a
g
e
s


R
o
b
e
r
t

V
a
l
l
e
y
DRAW! WINTER 2013 53
looking at? What are you studying? What do you do to keep
the artistic inspiration fowing?
RV: I dont do much, really. I dont look at a lot of art books.
I dont know. It just seems like Ive got a whole lot of stories
Ive got to tell. Theres just not enough time to do it all.
DRAW!: Which is, I guess, why you like to have that regi-
mented schedule, where you can get in there and try to pro-
duce on a regular basis.
Youre using the Adobe Suite, and youre using the Cintiq.
When youre using the traditional materials, what do you like
to work with?
RV: Oh, just paper and pencil.
DRAW!: Bond paper and pencil, or a sketchpad and, like, a
2B pencil? Part of the DRAW! audience are tech junkies, so
they always are interested in what people like to work with.
RV: Well, I usually get a ream of Xerox paper. Because weve
been traveling a bit lately, I just have a ream of 8" x 11", but
the 11" x 17" is pretty good because you can get lots of draw-
ings on there. And I got these mechanical pencils. I got a whole
bunch of them because the lead keeps breaking. And thats it.
I try to make those thumbnails as tight as possible, because
they get you as far down that road as possible. That just saves
hours and hours of work later on.
DRAW!: Are you then scanning those in and inking them
digitally in Photoshop?
RV: Ill scan them in, and then Ill just clean up the linework
a bit. The nature of those drawings is theyre really small, so
once you scan them, even if its at a high resolution, and you
enlarge it, it has a bit of a chalky, crumbly look to it, so thats
going to need a little bit of cleaning up. But it doesnt get re-
drawn. If anything, Ill paint up some areas and sort of clean
up the lines a little bit. And then Ill add to it. Theres a lot of
taking away and then adding, basically. But theres a certain
part of the original drawing that stays in there right through to
the end, and that makes me really happy.
DRAW!: Im on your website and looking at the previews
and the prints. Im looking at the one, I guess its Preview 6.
There are these girls in the foreground, therere cool blues, and
therere speakers on these rock guys in the background with
cars. Is that something that you would have started as a little
thumbnail, and then blown that up and fnished it in Photo-
shop? How does your process happen on something like that?
RV: That would go back about to 2007. If its something like a
posterthat was an album coverthen I do thumbnails. I do
that for storyboarding, basically, but if its for poster artwork,
most drawings are quite large. Well, large for me. Theyll sit
on a piece of 8" x 11"ish paper. The drawings themselves
would be about six inches tall. Ill draw them separately, scan
them in, and then theres a lot of compositing, so if you look
at that image, and then look at the original artwork, it was
probably done on about 20 different pieces of paper.
54 DRAW! WINTER 2013
DRAW!: Im also looking at
the one you did of the cars driv-
ing down the highway past the
old gas station. Is that some-
thing that would be done the
same way, where you would do
different sketches and compos-
ite them together?
RV: Right. I was doing some
storyboarding for a cinematic,
and I had to do a layout of the
city and some cars. When that
job was over, I had all these
elements on various pieces of
storyboard paper, and I just sort
of cobbled them all together
into that one long pan. Ill do
a lot of that. Ill repurpose art-
work and put it together. Ill
reuse backgrounds that have
been drawn before. Lifes too
short to draw everything over
and over again, right?
DRAW!: [laughs] So thats the
way you work on something like the Massive Swerve. Im
looking at the Print #12, where therere all the beer bottles in
front of the guy, and the cigarette, and the guys way back in
the background. Is that a bunch of different drawings spliced
together too?
RV: No, I wish. You know, it seems like, as many times as
Ive drawn a beer bottle, I can never fnd one thats at the
exact angle that I want. So that was specifcally one of the im-
ages from my Pear Cider book, my frst book.
DRAW!: So you take that in as line art, and then what do you
do? Adjust the contrast to make it denser, and then color it in
Photoshop? Are you going back and forth like that?
(above and left) The cinematic of a Texaco gas station was re-
purposed as part of a super-wide pan shot (above), and also as a
background in a panel from Pear Cider and Cigarettes (left).
(below) A print entitled, Urban Camofage.
Pear Cider and Cigarettes and Robert Valley.
Urban Camofage Robert Valley
RV: That one with the beer bottles was done within the last
year. That would have started off all digital. I think I just drew
a column of beer bottles, and then I copied and pasted that a
couple times. I think theres a lot of copying and pasting of
beer bottles in there.
DRAW!: Its one thing if I were to paint or draw for 12, 14,
16 hours a day, but if I do it on the computer, sometimes I feel
more tired after looking at the screen that long than if I was
actually just working on a sheet of paper. I mean, youre still
tired. Do you fnd there to be any issue with working digitally
for really, really long periods of time as opposed to the other
way of working?
DRAW! WINTER 2013 55
RV: Oh, yeah.
DRAW!: Do you have the arm for the Cintiq so
you can move it around and twist it and every-
thing?
RV: No, I just have it on my table.
DRAW!: My friend Scott got the arm, and my
friend Bret Blevins does a lot of storyboards, so he
got the arm so he could, like, fip it around. Before
that I guess it was harder to do that.
RV: Right.
DRAW!: So youre done with with the frst season
of Tron? What I heard, and I dont know if this
is true because its off the Internet, is that theyre
waiting to see how the TV series goes before they
decide whether or not theyre going to do another
movie. Or the next movie was actually going to
look like the TV show, and not like the last flm.
RV: Is your question specifcally about developing
the Tron property further?
DRAW!: Yes. Are you working on developing that
further?
RV: I dont know, really. I saw Charlie the other
day over at Disney, and theyre going to be wrap-
ping up the season, and theres no talk about con-
tinuing on to another season yet.
56 DRAW! WINTER 2013
constructive
ANALYSIS&
CRITICISM
newcomers work of a
by
BOB MCLEOD
W
hat exactly makes a comic page
professional? What separates
the struggling amateur artists
from the pro artists working for the big
publishers? Other than their bank accounts
and their egos, I mean. Is it fgure draw-
ing? Composition? Storytelling? Perspec-
tive? Technique? Well, it can be all of those
things, or not really any of them in particu-
lar. Its usually a combination of things, and
they can often be relatively minor.
What I try to do in this column is puzzle
out what those main stumbling blocks are
for an artist trying to break into comics.
It almost always comes down to the fun-
damentals of art; those things I mentioned
above. But it can also be something more
elusive, such as style. Comics are fun to
draw, and learning the fundamentals is hard,
so many artists try to skip all that studying
and rely on raw talent and an excess of busy
line work to cover up their faults.
This issue, we have a very nice sample
page submitted for a critique by the talented
Antonio Rodriguez, and hes not one of
those guys. Its rare that I see a sample page
with this much going for it. Antonio has
obviously been doing his homework and is
working hard. His page is extremely well
composed, with good camera movement,
nice backgrounds that show some under-
standing of perspective, clear storytelling,
and even some fairly good fgure drawing!
Hes really choosing his shots well to tell
the story in the most interesting way, and
hes expertly leading the readers eye from
panel to panel by placing the center of atten-
tion in each panel to create a C formation on
the overall page. Artwork 2013 Antonio Rodriguez.
DRAW! WINTER 2013 57
His storytelling is fantastic. He opens with an establishing
shot, as well he should, showing us were indoors, observing
a couple watching the news on TV. I so often see beginners
draw shots like this from behind the sofa only to see the sofa
is up against the wall in the next panel, meaning we were
somehow looking out from inside the wall! Antonio wisely
avoids that trap by placing the sofa in the middle of the room
in panel three. Hes decorated the room with pictures, a plant,
a bookshelf, exposed brick, etc., not just a blank wall in an
empty room, like so many beginners try to get away with. He
then smartly goes from that long shot to an extreme close-
up with no cluttering background, introducing the characters.
Then he goes to another, even better establishing down-shot,
and right back to another extreme close-up for the kiss, before
ending with a medium shot to show her glowing.
The elaborate backgrounds in panels one and three allow
him to eliminate backgrounds in the other panels, where they
would be distracting clutter. So many beginners have either
too little backgrounds or too many. This is frst-rate stuff in
these respects, and I just dont see that in most sample pages.
Take a bow, Antonio. Well done!
So Antonios no doubt gotta be thinking, For cryin out
loud, what more do I need to do to get work drawing the X-Men
for Marvel? Maybe youre thinking that too. Well, as the old
expression goes, Close, but no cigar (I guess they used to
give you a cigar when you won at a carnival game or some-
thing). At any rate, sometimes its seemingly little things that
can hold you back. Little things here and there that maybe by
themselves seem trivial, but when theyre added together, the
work becomes just subpar enough to get that dreaded rejec-
tion slip (though frankly Ive inked many, many far worse
pages than this for Marvel and DC in my career). But lets see
what can we do to help Antonio get to that next level.
The big, primary problem I see here is simply the loose
sketchiness of the pencils. This is like a page from the 1980s,
during my heyday (yes, Im that old). I preferred inking loose
pencils like this because I could take over more and make a
bigger contribution. I was no mere tracer. But the days of loose
pencils are pretty much long gone. Today, most editors want
everything nailed down tightly in the pencils so that nothing
can go amiss in the inks. Most pencilers just want the inker to
lay down clean lines and not screw anything up. They dont
trust the inker to be able to add anything worthwhile, and may
even resent it if they do. And many current inkers prefer tight
pencils because theyre not pencilers themselves and dont
really have a fnished rendering style of their own. They dont
have a solid knowledge of anatomy. They mainly just know
how to do pretty, controlled line work. (Current inkers can
send hate mail to me care of DRAW! magazine.) Inking has
become such an extreme specialty that fgure-drawing ability
is no longer needed. Just follow the pencils, Bub.
It used to be a fairly standard practice (particularly on rush
jobs) to put an X wherever you wanted solid black, rather than
taking the time to color it in with the pencil, when the inker
just had to erase all that pencil after he inked it anyway. I
always preferred to add my own blacks and lighting, and eras-
ing pages by artists like Gene Colan (were there any?) was a
smudgy nightmare where half the ink came up with the erased
pencil lead. Today, I guess editors think Xs are being lazy,
and prefer that you color in those blacks in pencil. Especially
on a sample page, where youre trying to impress the editor,
why would you want to take shortcuts, anyway? Save that for
when youre getting steady work, and the editor is calling you
asking where the pages are. So as good as panel one is, its
bordering on breakdowns (typically pencils with no blacks
or rendering added), rather than fnished pencils.
Another thing that sticks out to the inker in me is the com-
peting patterns of the plant and bricks in panel one. Detail
can create gray patterns, and I dont like to put gray on gray.
I mention this only so youre aware it can be a problem. Its a
minor thing, but if I were inking this page, Id make the plant
a black silhouette.
Panel two starts revealing some weaknesses. As you can
see in Figure 1, the noses are consistently poorly drawn, for
FIGURE 1
FIGURE 2
58 DRAW! WINTER 2013
example. Her nostril is too low (for the standard ideal), and
his is too high. Her mouth is vaguely defned, and the lower
lip is too thick. Both of their right eyes are too close to their
noses, another consistent fault I noticed. A good way to gauge
eye placement is to draw the tear duct directly up from the
edge of the nostril (on a slight curve, since faces arent fat).
His glasses are way too small, and the nose cushions are mis-
placed (they belong behind the lenses). As I said, these are
seemingly small problems in the overall scheme of things, but
they begin to add up.
Its generally not good to show disembodied hands. It can
be confusing to know to whom they belong. Here, I think its
clear enough that its his hand, but when you take a closer
look in Figure 2, hes not quite holding that remote like a
person ever would. Its not really in his hand, but just lying
across his fngers. Hold a remote and youll see what I mean.
Can you see your forefnger? So often it really helps to act out
the pose youre trying to draw. He also didnt bother to draw
the remote in perspective. Many artists eyeball perspective,
and if you have a sound understanding of it, thats usually
okay, but to my mind you need to get it closer than this.
Linear perspective may be the most consistent weakness of
even published comic artists. As an inker, I corrected the per-
spective in almost every job I ever inked. I wasnt asked to,
I just found it easier to ink buildings if I found the vanishing
points. Ignorance of the rules of perspective wont stop you
from getting work unless its egregious (as I think it is in pan-
el three here) because editors, bless em, dont understand it
any better than you do. But it really stands out to anyone who
does understand it, and perspective errors can make people
feel theres something wrong, even if they cant quite put
their fnger on what it is.
Panel three looks great at frst glance, but when you take a
closer look (see Figure 3), it actually has a number of prob-
lems. Since were on the subject of perspective, Ill start with
that. Perspective can be fairly simple, but its easy to go wrong
if you dont really know what youre doing. A little knowl-
edge is a dangerous thing, as they say. The main problem here
is that theres more than one horizon. Once you decide where
you want your horizon (a critical frst step beginners often ig-
nore at their peril), which is high in this case, since we view-
ers are up high looking down on the scene (the horizon rises
or lowers with the viewer), things parallel to the foor like the
front side of the sofa should recede to a point on that horizon
off to the right, which they do. The lines on the front end of
the sofa should recede to a point on the left, which they also
do. Good man, Antonio! So far, so good.
However, everything else in the room except the sofa and
fgures recedes to a lower, closer horizon (see Figure 4), and
everything is too small in relation to the fgures. I sat a fgure
of the girl on the bed the size she would be if she were where
the bed is (see Figure 5), and you can see shes way too big
for the bed, and couldnt ft much into that minute night table
FIGURE 3
FIGURE 4
DRAW! WINTER 2013 59
(whose drawers are strangely off-center). A simple trick to fnd
how large a second fgure would be at any distance once a frst
fgure has been drawn is to extend lines from any two parts of
their bodies to a vanishing point on the horizon. Here, I used
the top of their heads and their right knees. Thank you, Andrew
Loomis. For this and many other drawing wonders, I highly
recommend his book Figure Drawing for All Its Worth, now
back in print at last from Titan books for a paltry $40.
You could correct this double horizon problem by hav-
ing the sofa and fgures also recede to the lower horizon, or
you could correct it by making everything in the background
larger, receding to the same horizon as the sofa, as I did in
Figure 3-A. This is the proper solution, because unless the
background is more important than the fgures, you should
always draw the fgures frst, then create the background to
ft them.
In Figure 3-B, I corrected and enlarged the chair. You
wouldnt want to sit in a chair with a straight back like that.
It would be very uncomfortable, and would fall over back-
wards easily. Chairs are designed with the back and rear legs
at an angle, which Im sure you know if you just stop to
think about it. This is a very common mistake most begin-
ners make. In Figure 3-C, I enlarged the guys head a bit.
We typically make heads smaller than normal in superhero
comics to make the bodies look bigger and more powerful.
But for normal people, you should draw the head normal
FIGURE 3 (REVISED)
FIGURE 5
A
B
C
D
size. The average fgure is about seven heads tall. The ideal
fgure is eight heads tall.
In Figure 3-D, I also enlarged her head and drew in her
left eye. I simplifed her neck because you dont want a lot of
extraneous lines on a womans neck area. They just make her
look old. On women, the fewer lines the better whatever part
of the body youre drawing, usually. I redrew her right arm at
an angle just because diagonals are almost always more inter-
esting than verticals. I shortened the fngers on her left hand
and raised it to the angle Antonio started to draw just because
I think its a better angle. I drew in her left upper arm to show
that hes not really gripping her arm; hes just holding it with
his fngertips.
60 DRAW! WINTER 2013
His thumb cant be at that angle because its physically
impossible (try it), and because his hand would have to be
enormous for us to see both the thumb knuckle and fnger
knuckles with the hand open enough to encircle her arm. Ev-
eryone has trouble drawing hands, but if possible, try to act
out the pose, and things like this will become more apparent.
The hand is also a problem in panel four. As I show in
Figure 6, her thumb is too short (as Antonios consistently
are) and its unclear where her fngers begin. The hand is not
as much of a problem as their noses here, however. His nose
is practically gouging out her right eye. I know from experi-
ence its diffcult to draw people kissing. You have to angle
the heads a bit more to give the noses some room. His glasses
are once again too small, and her eye is again too close to her
nose. Her nose tip can dip down like Antonio has it if youre
drawing the Wicked Witch of the West, but otherwise its bet-
ter to tilt the nose tip up slightly.
I also dont like to see a dark shadow on a face that isnt
also on other things in the panel, which is something so many
weaker comic artists do. If his face is so shadowed, why isnt
hers? Why isnt her hand shadowed? Where is the light com-
ing from to cause a shadow like that on his face and nothing
else? Its as if her face is a fashlight. Lighting needs to be
fairly consistent. It should make some kind of sense. Artistic
license allows for some leeway, but try not to get too illogical.
Panel fve is good, but as I show in Figure 7, his head is
pretty tall and thin. The ear needs to come back more. Remem-
ber that its behind the jaw. The glasses are also once again a
problem. So as I said, these are all relatively minor problems,
but they add up to keep Antonio out of the big leagues. Now
that Ive made him aware of them, I think he should be able
to correct them rather easily. There are several good books on
perspective at the bookstore. The biggest hurdle for Antonio,
and so many others, is going to be cleaning and tightening up
his fnish style. The easiest way to do that is to slavishly copy
your favorite artist. Thats what all the top artists did when
they started out. You can worry about being original after you
break in. A light box may help if your pencils are messy, or
some artists sketch in blue pencil and tighten up in graphite.
Good luck to you, Antonio, and thank you for submitting
your sample page. If anyone else would like to get a Rough
Critique from me, email me at mcleod.bob@gmail.com.
Bob McLeod is a veteran comic artist whos worked on all
the major titles for Marvel and DC, and is the author/illustra-
tor of Superhero ABC, published by HarperCollins. He also
teaches at the Pennsylvania College Art & Design.
FIGURE 6
FIGURE 7
DRAW! WINTER 2013 61
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62 DRAW! WINTER 2013
W
elcome to another installment of Comic Book
Bootcamp. This time around we are going to cover
the eye, which poets have called the window to
the soul. The human eye is the frst thing we look at when
looking at someones face, being it a drawing or in life. We
look people in the eye and are suspicious of people who
dont look at us back in the eye. Its the key for expressions,
and emotional attitude, and acting, especially for the artist.
As a result the eye is probably the feature that is drawn
more often than any other by artists from antiquity to the pres-
ent because it is our window to the world, our focus or portal,
the view both inward to the psyche and outward. The eye is
also a feature than many artists struggle to drawalong with
the human faceto get the expression and position in the
head just right. One of the most common mistakes in drawing
the eye stems from drawing the form of the head as an egg,
which it is not.
SEEING
TO
by
Bret Blevins and
Mike Manley
If we were to draw the head as an egg and then try and ft
the eyes on, we would end up with a very strange and alien
looking creature.
The only part of the head that is round is the cranium. The
rest of the head is comprised of a series of blocks and planes.
DRAW! WINTER 2013 63
One of the most common mistakes artists make in drawing
the eyes in the head is that they often draw the eye more as a
decal on the face, rather than as an eyeball in its socket within
the skull, so the eye lies fat on the surface. This affects the
perspective of the face. Most of the times you will be draw-
ing a face, you will be drawing it in perspective, and that will
have a crucial effect on the scale and placement of the eyes
set into the head.
The form of the eye itself is always the
same, with any differences being due to
variations in the sex, age, and racial char-
acteristics of the muscles, eye lids, etc.
Important details to remember are:
The upper lid is thicker than the lower
(see Figure 1).
The cornea is slightly raised from
the surface of the eyeball in a convex
spheroid shape (see Figure 1).
At the outside, the upper lid folds
over the lower; at the inside, the up-
per and lower lids are separated by a
small triangular pad of fesh (see Fig-
ure 2). The outer meeting point of the
lids is higher than the inner, except in
extreme old age, where gravity and a
loss of elasticity can cause a dropping
fold that is lower on the outside.
The lashes grow from the farthest
protruding edge of the lids; they do
not meet or touch the eyeball (see
Figure 2).
The eyes curve back around the
skull as they approach the side of the
head, retreating from the front plane
of the face. This allows us to see via
a sidelong glance, looking to the
side without turning the head (see
Figures 3 and 4).
1
(Figure A) A drawing of the
human skull to show the form
of the skull, the orbital fossa,
the mandible, etc.
(Figure B) In this simplifed
drawing of the skull, you can
more easily see the blocks,
curves, and planes of the form.
(Figure C) A drawing of the
human eyeball in its socket.
2
4 3
A
B
C
64 DRAW! WINTER 2013
5 6
The eyes work in tandem with the eyebrows
to create expression, and should always be
treated together as one drawing problem
(see Figures 5 and 6).
This gesture sketch on the left (Figure 7) communicates an attitude with
very simple symbolic caricatured shapes. In the sketches below (Figures 8, 9,
and 10), more anatomy has been added, but the expressions are conveyed by the
big, simple shapes of the eyelids and eyebrows. The rest of the features accent
the attitude, but if you cover the lower parts and just view the eyes, you can see
how much emotion is carried by them alone.
7
8 9 10
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Remember that the visible portion of the eye
revealed by the lids is not perfectly symmetrical.
The lids curve most at the upper-inner and lower-
outer edges, and are straighter at the lower-inner
and outer-upper edges. (Trying saying that sen-
tence correctly fve times very fast.)
DRAW! WINTER 2013 65
Including a highlight is very important.
The healthy, living eye is always wet, and the
highlight is a refection of the light source.
Multiple sources create multiple highlights,
but it is best to use artistic license and limit
yourself to one unless a specifc effect is re-
quired; too many highlights in the eye tend
to make the person look disoriented or ine-
briated. This single highlight can appear any-
where in the eye, but it is most effective if it is
within or overlaps the black pupil; the strong
contrast clearly conveys a spark of animation.
Eyelashes
radiate out
from center
Upper
lashes
thicker
Shadow of
upper lid
Iris lighter
opposite
highlight
Here Ive shown how much expression can be conveyed by the simplest indica-
tions of eye shape and glance direction. Here, again, you can cover the mouths and
see that the essential information is in the eyes. Once you understand the anatomy
of the eye, it is easy to start with this kind of gesture indication and construct a more
realistic drawing by keeping these big shapes in mind.
Remember that the direction of the eyelashes radiate out
from a center point within the eyeball.
66 DRAW! WINTER 2013
This illustration from the title sequence of the
second Garfeld movie shows how clearly simple
circles-within-circles can communicate emotion
in cartoon designs. In extreme stylizations like
this, the eyebrows arent crucial; cover Humpty
Dumptys and his expression isnt compromised.
I included this Ghost Rider page because of the
extreme distortion of the eyes in the transforming
character. The unequal sizes and different pupil
shapes make the expression more wild and hysterical.
Here both characters eyes
are half-closed, but the dif-
ferent angles of the upper
lids and eyebrows create two
completely different attitudes.
Garfeld and Paws, Inc.
Ghost Rider and Marvel Characters, Inc.
Joker and DC Comics.
DRAW! WINTER 2013 67
These shots of elderly Bruce Wayne from the Justice League episode Epilogue show how very slight
variations in the (very stylized) eye shape and tilt can underscore dialogue and convey thoughts and emotions
of the character. Animation design concentrates the anatomy of the eye into strong, simple shapes, but it is
amazing how much human emotion can be conveyed with these limited means.
Bruce Wayne and DC Comics.
68 DRAW! WINTER 2013
Ive included some life drawings,
done very quickly from the living
model, to show how the knowledge
weve discussed can be utilized in
very quick notations and still convey
an essence of life and consciousness.
The head portion of this fgure draw-
ing was literally committed to paper
in secondsit is just a sketchbut
my understanding of structure allowed
me to convincingly dab and jot a few
marks that place conscious eyes in her
head, and even suggest her thick but
light colored eyelashes.
Very simple indications surely placed will create convincing mass. A close look at the shut eye
reveals that I lightly felt the curve of the underlying eyeball mass with a light block-in stroke
before defning the details of visible form. Knowing structure helps decode what you are look-
ing at when drawing from life.
DRAW! WINTER 2013 69
Here accurate recording of the curves formed by the lowered lids add a subtle sense of person-
ality/attitude as well as informing the structural solidity of the entire skull.
Here the model was directly facing a single
strong light source, creating a large glisten-
ing highlight in her pale blue eyes. The high-
light is almost the only visible element of the
far eye.
70 DRAW! WINTER 2013
A very quick warm-up sketch,
done in less than a minutebut
see how much expression is con-
veyed in those few deft marks
that place her eyes in her skull
and reveal her attitude. It is dif-
fcult to work this freely unless
the eye structure is thoroughly
understood.
This drawing clearly shows how
the lids wrap around the eyes and
arc back toward the earsespe-
cially apparent in the far eye as it
tucks around into the underlying
cavity of the socket.
DRAW! WINTER 2013 71
Here the tendency of the eye, when seen from this angle, to appear to be opening wider in the
direction of the glance is clearly shown. This is why the animation principle of the iris/pupil pull-
ing the shape of the eyeball toward the viewed object works. This effect is not as apparent from
a straight frontal view.
72 DRAW! WINTER 2013
E
y
e
s

o
f

W
a
r


D
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C
o
m
i
c
s
.
DRAW! WINTER 2013 73
You can often break artists down into two categories:
body actors and face actors. This distinction is based
on the signature styles of certain cartoonists. For some
the expressive close-up is a hallmark or their work,
while for others its the body or the environment on
which they tend to focus. Joe Kubert (previous page)
and Steve Ditko (above and right) immediately jump
to my mind when thinking about artists who use the
face, as super-expresive faces are a hallmark of both
mens work.
The eye itself is one of the biggest design motifs or
symbols Ditko uses in his work.
74 DRAW! WINTER 2013
Frank Millers groundbreaking work on Sin
City (left) falls right in line with the work of
artists like Ditko and Kubert when going for a
graphic impact.
The hero is only as handsome
as the monster is ugly. If the hero
is not good-looking enough, then
he wont stand enough in con-
trast to the villain. In these great
examples by Neal Adams (below
and right), you can see some hall-
marks of his work: great drawing,
great facial expressions, dynamic
lighting, and tough angles drawn
well. Adams really pushed the
expressions and amped up the
excitement and tension through
his understanding of the structure
of the eye.
I
m
a
g
e
s


R
o
b
e
r
t

V
a
l
l
e
y


A
m
b
a
s
s
a
d
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R
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c
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d
s
.
S
i
n

C
i
t
y


a
n
d


F
r
a
n
k

M
i
l
l
e
r
.
DRAW! WINTER 2013 75
Its not always about realism either. There are a lot of art-
ists who push style and anatomy to great effect. This cover by
Michael Golden is a great example. What a great face on the
policewoman, and look at how big and expressive the eyes
are. There is always a line you can cross in the exaggeration
of a face or drawing where you go into ugly, or too extreme.
Golden pushes the limits and makes a great and powerful
cover image. Its no secret as to why hes been one of the most
infuential comic artists of the past 25 years.
The old axiom practice makes perfect always applies to
drawing. It can be amazing to see the results of what a few
short weeks or a month or two of diligent study can produce
in your work. The confdence you gain is invaluable. A big
part of a professional artists skill set is his or her confdence
to work well under pressure.
Adams was highly infuenced by Stan Drake and his trendsetting work
on The Heart of Juilet Jones comic strip. Drake was one of the best drafts-
men ever in the feld, and his ability to draw the pretty girl set the stan-
dard for other artists to follow. In Drakes work it is often not what he drew
but what he didnt draw that made the womens faces so glamourous. You
need real command of the form and anatomy to know what to leave out and
what to show on a womans face. A few extra lines in the wrong spot, and
she goes from pretty to harsh, 20-something to 50 really quickly. Though he
often worked with models and photos, it is still Drakes drawing knowledge
that directed him in what to take or leave from his source, and where to push
the anatomy to get the expression he wanted.
The Heart of Juliet Jones and King Features Syndicate, Inc.
C
o
p
s
:

T
h
e

J
o
b


a
n
d


M
a
r
v
e
l

C
h
a
r
a
c
t
e
r
s
,

I
n
c
.
76 DRAW! WINTER 2013
Sky Doll was originally
published in France by Soleil
Productions. The art by Ales-
sandro Barbucci has a simi-
larity to Golden, as well as
a Euro-manga feel. Though
pushed in style to have a very
manga look, its not as fat
and stylized as most manga
artwork is. You can see and
feel Barbuccis knowledge
of the anatomy of the eye
as shown here in these two
great examples.
Wally Wood was another great
Good Girl artist. You think you
see a lot here, but its really al-
most like a high contrast photo.
That great use of highlights in
the eyes was always a signature
of his work.
S
k
y

D
o
l
l


a
n
d


M
C

P
r
o
d
u
c
t
i
o
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s
/
C
a
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p
a
/
B
a
r
b
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c
c
i
.
C
a
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n
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a
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T
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a
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e

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W
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d
.
DRAW! WINTER 2013 77
These two panels by Frank Frazetta from Un-
tamed Love (below) and Empty Heart (right)
are icons of comic art. The series of romance
stories Frazetta did in the 50s set his fellow
comic artists ablaze, and were hugely infuential
on the next generation of comic artists like Dave
Stevens, as well as Bret and myself.
In the Judge Parker comic strip, I follow the lead of artists like Stan
Drake and Leonard Starr in how I strive to draw the expressive and pretty
girls face. One of the issues in producing a strip like Judge Parker is
the fact that I dont have the budget to hire models and work from photos.
Also, the strip is run at a much, much smaller size than strips in the
glory days of the 50s and 60s. As a result of the smaller size, the strip
is even more of a face acting strip than it might otherwise be. I do a lot
of close-ups on the faces to carry the emotions and expressions. Some-
times even a 16th of an inch change in an eyebrow can really make an
expression read! In the extreme close-ups, I try and think of the head as
almost like one of the sculptures on Mount Rushmore. I really work on
using perspective to push the space and angle on the eyes.
Dont hesitate to spend hours studying and drawing your own eyes
by using a mirroryou can practice all sorts of expressions and observe
what happens to the muscles and shapes. You will never fail to see a
mirror at the side of an animators desk. This is no coincidence!
See you next time,
Mike and Bret!
Judge Parker and North America Syndicate, Inc.
78 DRAW! WINTER 2013
UNDER REVIEW
CRUSTY TRICKS!
S
alutations to all and sundry! Tis I once again, your
valiant chronicler of creative crafting, your maven of
meticulous mark-making, your beacon of light in the
fog of art supplies, the Crusty Critic, back on the case to bring
you my best choices for your art dollar, the best buys for your
buck, and to help you navigate through the mine-laden felds
of the art supply store. It is my mission to make sure you get
out of the shop alive, and through those cartooning deadlines
in one piece!
What I present to you this time is a few of my favorite art
supply tricks. As we all know, its important to keep several
trick arrows in your art quiverwho knows when those sec-
onds youve shaved off a job by using the right technique or
tool can add up to hours saved down the road? When the deci-
sion between getting the job done tonight or a day later can
spell doom, you need all the help you can get!
Any good cartoonist (or hoarder) worth their salt has a hard
time throwing things away, as you can always fnd a use for
something. Dont throw away that old toothbrush! I need to
make some starburst effects or drippy splatter! Done with that
kitchen sponge? Cut it into small shapes and use it for cool
patterns after you dab it in some of your favorite ink.
There are no beret ratings this time around, just plain ol
fashioned sharing and caring.
Once again I have called upon the aid of my pals at Al-
legheny Art Company just outside of Philadelphia, who are
always well-stocked and in the know.
TRICK #1: THE RE-APPEARING
BRUSH PEN NIB!
You need:
Faber Castel PITT brand India ink brush pen
Tweezers or pinchy fngers
It is well documented that I am a fan of various brush pens.
Though nothing beats a brush, sometimes you can really get
what you need from a decent India ink brush pen. I reviewed
several from jetpens.com a few issues ago, but didnt discuss
the Faber Castel PITT brand B brush pen.
The B has a pretty sharp felt nib and isnt made out of
synthetic fbers, so it doesnt act like a brush, but has a nice
feel. These generally run three to fve dollars a piece in an art
shop, and can cost a bit more if you grabbed the B but it was
surrounded by several other PITT pens with different tips. But
I have seen the large B penswhich I love!which really
seem to keep going and dont die as fast as these little guys.
And therein lies my frst trick.
(above) The Faber Castell PITT B artist pen.
(right) The large PITT B pen has a fairly sharp felt nib.
DRAW! WINTER 2013 79
If youve ever used these pens, youve probably noticed
that they start to wear down or even bust apart after a while.
I threw out dozens of these when they got to a place of non-
use, until I found out that the nibs are double-sided. With a
pair of tweezers, gently pull out the felt nib, and you will see
that theres another tip ready to rock and roll on the other side!
Simply reverse, plug it back into your pen barrel, and youre
back in business.
If youre watching your pennies and want to squeeze every
ounce out of your supplies, this trick is a godsend. Also, I
have heard an eyedropper dollop of ink onto the felt nib will
revitalize a pen, but this Critic hasnt tried that out. Mayhaps
in the near future.
TRICK #2: ROLLING THUNDER!
You need:
ALVIN Rolling Ruler
A few years back I picked up an Alvin brand Rolling Ruler
something that has been around for some time now, but I
had never seen any of my cartoonist pals use one, and I really
am not a fan of using the old tag-team tandem of a T-square
and a triangle, or a ruler to lay down straight lines on my
comics pages. The Rolling Ruler does exactly what it says it
does: it allows you to roll the ruler across the surface of your
page and create straight lines. Whats the greatest about it, is
that it allows you to, with slight pressure, easily create paral-
lel lines across your page, as the ruler will easily stay put,
allow you to measure (using the compass inside the rolling
bar), and let you make quick work of laying out a page with-
out a lot of eyeballing and guessing as to the straightness of
your lines. You can pivot the ruler with the use of a pencil to
create ellipses as well.
The Rolling Ruler comes in twelve- and six-inch sizes, and
can be picked up for under ten dollars retail. One drawback is
that the beveled edge seems to nick up after time, and as you
can see in my Crusty Camera footage, I have labeled this one
Penciling, as the edges are pretty worn. I can still lay down
lines with it, though I dont trust it to ink with.
TRICK #3: THE WATER BRUSH
FILL-ER-UP!
You need:
Water Brush with a refllable reservoir
Your favorite, trusty India ink
Another way to really get down some quick painterly lines
is this slick trick I picked up a while back. A great, refllable
way to always have a brush and ink on your person without
the fuss of dealing with brushpen cartridges and other prob-
lems is this: Buy a water brush! The water brush was designed
for watercolorists to be able to have fresh water to saturate
their pages without having to carry around a messy jar of
water. Forsooth! What a great, inky repurposing tool for your
Crusty Critic!
The water brushes Ive found are the Pentel Aquabrush
(shown above), the Sakura brand Koi water brush, and also
the Niji water brush. I havent found much difference in them,
except the Koi (and I believe the Niji as wellthey werent
available for this review) come packaged in different syn-
thetic brush sizes, and reservoir-bulb lengths. If youre truly
looking for a pocket-sized brush, the Koi #2 small will get
the job done, with an added issue of making sure you dont
misplace it!
But I digress. With any type, easily unscrew the brush head
from the bulb and carefully load the barrel with your favorite
India ink and get it fowing. My very frst experience with this
was a pretty bloopy, sloppy mess. It couldve been the ink or
the fact that I would press too hard on the bulb, but needless
to say I had a great brushpen that bled all over the place. The
last three or four of these Ive made have been great and never
give me problems.
80 DRAW! WINTER 2013
No real need for maintenance with the water/brushpen. As long as you
dont let the ink dry out on your brushes, you should get nice clean black
lines, and theyre also really great for flling large areas while on the go, or
on deadline.
Pentel has begun to sell the same exact item but loaded with ink for pur-
chase, but I dont really see a point when its easierand cost-effective, as a
pre-flled brushpen costs upwards of seven dollars, while the water brushes
are a few dollars cheaperto just use the water brush. A Critics Top Pick!

So thats it for this time! I hope you enjoyed some of my cartooning tricks.
If you have any of your own, Id love to hear them. You can always stay con-
nected by following me on Twitter @jamarnicholas. Lets swap drafting table
war stories or tool talk.
If youre in the Philadelphia area, and you want to solicit a great art store
with great service, stop by one of the Allegheny Art Companys brick-and-
mortar establishments at:
318 Leedom Street 22 South State Street
Jenkintown, PA Newtown, PA
215-884-9242 215-579-1060
Or fnd them online at http://www.alleghenyart.com.
Until next time, stay Crusty!
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the Man of Tomorrow?, art & comments
by ADAMS, ANDERSON, CARDY,
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