EPIC Step by step

Epic Showdown is a regular feature I illustrate for Jack & Jill Magazine. It's a 2-page spread featuring surprising facts about historical and public figures who have something in common. Past showdowns have included Thomas Edison vs. Nikola Tesla and Amelia Earhart vs. Sally Ride. My job is to illustrate these folks.

Here's the step by step lowdown of the showdown between Elvis and Michael Jackson.


1. Layout

I always start by bugging the art director Brian Sanchez to send over a layout with the basic information in place.


2. Reference

After reading over the info I'll pull some reference off the web. Brian and I decided it best to focus on Elvis and MJ in their younger years.


3. Rough (part 1)

I'll print Brian's layout at 100 percent. After taping the pieces together I'll start sketching right on top of the print. At this point I'm looking for energetic poses that fill the space. I'm also referring to my reference materials making sure likenesses are starting to develop. Notice on Elvis I was toying with the idea of keeping his eyes open. I also realized after I got done drawing him his nose was too long. I wrote "squish" in the margin to reminded myself to adjust those proportions after scanning.


4. Rough (part 2)

Once I have both characters roughed in I'll scan my sketch and place it into the layout. Using Photoshop I'll squish, push, pull, and rotate the characters until they fill the space nicely without overlapping the fold. I take this extra step so that I don't have to be overly worried about the layout when doing the intial rough. When I'm doing that first sketch all I want to worry about is getting the gestures down as quick as possible. I don't want to overwork the pose and kill the drawing.


5. Final Pencil (part 1)

I'll print my revised rough sketches out, put them on the light table and do the final drawing of the characters. I use copy paper and 4H pencils for all my sketches (very exotic, I know!). Nowadays this is my most favorite part of the process. I can slow down and refine those original scribbles. I'm constantly referring to my reference materials to make sure details and likenesses are as accurate as I'd like them to be.


6. Final Pencil (part 2)

The final pencils are scanned and placed into the layout. At this point I usually add some grays in there to give an idea of light sources and overall tone. This layout gets sent over for approval. Once I get the OK this gets brought into Illustrator where I do the final drawing and coloring.


7. Line art

The sketch gets put on an overlay layer and I redraw the sketch with the pen tool. Paths are stroked in different weights to add some line variation.


8. Color (part 1)

Flat color is added on a separate layer below the line art. I color the line art then add highights, shadows and details. You can read more about my coloring process here.


9. Color (part 2)

Once everything is colored I'll export the Illustrator layers into Photoshop where I'll adjust the overall color and add textures. Textures are usually scanned brush strokes, splatters, etc.


10. Ta-daa!

Once the color is set I'll again bring in the original layout on a seperate layer making sure all text is legible against the final art. Then up on the FTP site it goes for Brian to download. He'll get rid of my layout layer and set the type himself.

I'm always excited to see who will take part in the next Epic Showdown!


Bumbles Bake!

Here's some process pics of my artwork for "The Enchanted World of Rankin/Bass" group art show.

The show celebrates the legendary duo Arthur Rankin & Jules Bass, creators of such timeless TV perennials as RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER, YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA, THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY and more.

My artwork is a personal piece done a few years ago featuring the Bumble Snow Monster from RUDOLPH and Topper the penguin from SANTA CLAUS IS COMIN' TO TOWN. Being up against the art deadline an old black 8x10 shadow box frame found in the studio served as a starting point. In between coating it in red paint I started getting the artwork ready.



Since the frame was a shadow box the artwork would benefit from a little added depth. To get that look I printed out the foreground elements (the table and Bumble) separately on heavy stock.



With my trusty x-acto knife I trimmed out the table and Bumble. For the background I cut the doorway out from one of the prints and mounted that print to the top of the other. That gave the arched doorway a little added depth.



Foam core was trimmed out as spacers. The Bumble had one spacer, the table and word bubble two.



The table and Bumble were mounted to the retro kitchen background and the artwork was gingerly placed into the freshly painted frame. The "Bumbles Bake" plaque was placed on the frame.



With box and "bumble wrap" in hand off to Fedex I went. After an overnight sliegh ride Bumble and Topper are in Burbank, California ready for a December 6th opening at Creature Features. Lots of amazing artwork featuring all those beloved Rankin/Bass characters will be on display. Show runs through January 4th.

Build A Book

Simple little illustrations (3.5" square) for a cute little "Build-A-Book" found in the latest issue of Humpty Dumpty Magazine.