I had the pleasure last summer of meeting local film maker S. Whitmore at Chicago ComicCon. He was a vendor and had his team publicising his first feature, LOGOS, which was just past the post production phase. This was the first time I’d had the opportunity to talk to a film maker about taking a feature length film through complete production so take a listen as he tells us about it.
Although Whitmore had originally projected the premier to be at IKON Theater, at this point, they actually wound up having a successful coming out party at the Portage Theater Chicago in December 2011. Keep track of events like future screenings of the film on the LOGOS Facebook Like Page or on the film’s Twitter Page and assorted clips on the LOGOS YouTube channel.Read More
Couldn’t bring yourself to to throw out that old plastic light saber? Neither could these guys. The Midwest Garrison is a branch of The 501st Legion (Vader’s Fist) a non profit costuming group of Star Wars re-enactors who raise funds and donate to causes for children. They also dress in costume to entertain youngsters and bring a little joy to their lives.
Darrell Hargrove made the hyperjump from the Midsouth Garrison in Kentucky to join his fellow Illinois stormtroopers of the Midwest Garrison at Chicago Comic Con 2011 and tells us more in this interview.
These guys and girls have as much fun as the cosplayers only more often. If you want to channel your inner child while doing good, consider joining a 501st Garrison near you.Read More
The Secrets of the Superstars panel hosted by Glass House Graphics artist agency CEO David Campiti featured two of Marvel Comics finest in a discussion on secrets of the comics business. His international talent company helped launch the careers of panelists Mike Deodato (Secret Avengers) and Will Conrad (X-Men) and all three shared thoughts and answered questions.
Some general tips from the trio included:
- Create a portfolio with the characters of the company you want to work for. They want to see if you can draw their universe.
- Tell the story with as few words as possible because you will be limited by word balloons.
- Omit common American phrases because you are writing for an international audience.
- Learn to draw poses with shadows and practice drawing the folds in clothes.
- Use reference images or personal photographs of things that interest you to practice drawing.
It’s great advice and simple to apply. These guys obviously enjoy what they do and get a lot of pleasure out of being comic artists as you can tell by this video from the Glass House Graphics web site.
As you might expect from top flight professionals both Deodato and Conrad are self taught artists (most comic artists seem to be) but they both continue to study in order to constantly improve at the craft.
Mike emphasized that knowing more can only help you by making you more versatile. One response to a particular question was that a tool is a tool and you should become as comfortable with as many traditional and digital drawing tools as possible.
Will Conrad shared his typical day with us. His day can start with taking the kids to school then getting home to work from 7:00AM to 12:00 noon. He’ll take a break for a little while and get back to it from 2:00PM to 6:00 or 7:00PM. Then he’ll allow a longer break for family time and life and he’ll hit it one more time from 11:00PM to 1:00AM. As a parent and a graduate student I can identify and his answer was very affirming too me.
David gave great tips on how to assemble a sample test plot before submitting a portfolio. His company has a wealth of information on the process so you guys should definitely read up on it if you’re serious about breaking into the industry.
Secrets of the Superstars was a great panel. I can apply much of what I learned and I hope that you can do the same.Read More
One of the best parts of Comic Con is the hourly information presentations you can attend on all sorts of comic related subjects. One particular subject I wanted to learn more about is inking and D.C. Comics inker Tom Nguyen is one of the best in the industry. I got a chance to sit in on his session “Tom Nguyen’s Style of Inking” Friday afternoon at Chicago Comic Con 2011. Don’t know what an inker is? That’s the second person in the creative process of making a comic book or graphic novel. The penciler draws all the panels and then they hand it off to the inker who makes the dark outlines, shadows and backgrounds. The letterer handles the lettering including thought and speech bubbles along with effects lettering and the colorist finishes it off to bring the page to life.
Tom shared a lot including the tools he uses and his daily routine. One of the cool process things he taught us is the fact that comic artists never create at comic size. Everything is done on an 11 X 17 Bristol pad. When each artist has done their part the Brystol is reduced to comic page size for publishing. The Brystol page has a cardstock type of texture. That’s probably because it’s going through so many artist’s hands before reaching the publishing stage.
Some inking tools include Micron pens which come in a few different sizes. He said Sharpies are good to use for concept art but not serious inking because you can encounter bleeding issues and the tips get blunted with use. He also noted that technical pens are good for drawing mechanical objects and borders.
Tom prefers to use brushes (size 1 or 2) with India ink though. Windsor and Newton is his favorite brand but he said it’s not necessary for a beginner to use a top of the line brush like that while learning the craft. He mentioned that some inkers like to use crow quill pens because they give you great control over line variation but they’re not for him as the tips wear out so quickly. He also uses brushes for black fill in. When working digitally he fills in the blacks with the Photoshop fill bucket. White-out pens or thinned white acrylic paint are commonly used to correct errors.
The final tool in the inking process is the prep work to pass it on. That requires a scanner and Tom uses a large format Epson scanner. After this point the pencilers and inkers usually work out personal agreements on how to split the original art. Sometimes they keep it for themselves and other times they sell it. Inks are actually some of the coolest for sale work in artist alley at the convention.
It was also good to learn about his daily routine and personal journey into the profession. He makes it his goal to complete one page a day and while he’s working he likes to listen to music or documentaries. Not watch documentaries, just listen to them (LOL).
Tom got into the field at the age of fifteen by working with D.C. artist Doug Mahnke in Minnesota. A few years of that was enough to get him started full time at the age of nineteen. His answer to the question “what if you don’t know anyone in the industry to get an internship” was to attend conventions and show your work there. You can ask for critiques from the pros on the spot or online. People asked lots of good questions and Tom made lots of other great points during the session.
He capped it off by giving us a demo of inking in Photoshop with a quick Batman sketch. Using his digital tablet and stylus he mentioned that he uses the default brush settings. He doesn’t bother with creating his own. The most interesting technique pointer was that changing line width when you encounter a change in direction on the shape or character makes it look more dynamic (he said to think “thick-thin, thick-thin” while working) . Techniques like that are what makes the inker more than just a tracer of the penciler’s original work.
Another cool part of his Photoshop demo was the way he used the lasso tool to make corrections. Most of us who use the software only think to use the lasso to delete a section of a layer or to move the lassoed section to a new layer. He used it to reposition a couple of sections of the Batman face and edited it back together using the eraser or clone tool (I don’t remember which) and then redrew where he needed to reconnect the shifted parts of the face.
It was a great choice of a first session for me and I walked away with some ideas that I can immediately apply in animation school this fall and going forward in my career.
Tom isn’t a one dimensional artist. Among other things he’s an accomplished photographer as well. Check out his photography site here. Also keep up with Tom’s projects on social media via his tweets at @tomnguyenart.Read More
Marcie Hill and I will be nerding out on the floor of the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center at Chicago Comic Con 2011 this weekend, August 11th through 14th in Rosemont. The doors officially open Thursday for a few hours but the big fun is actually Friday through Sunday. There will be some local comic artists, writers and even a character model there that I know and we’re hoping to see them along with many others.
Lots of stars like Louis Gossett Jr., Christopher Lloyd and Patrick Stewart will be there at different points during the weekend, along with panelists covering a variety of specialties. I’m going to hang out in the artsy meetings (comic book inkers, cartoon artists and the like) and Marcie is going to check some of the more literary and other cool sessions.
We’re looking to take pictures and video and share an interview or two with you. Marcie is going to be doing live blogging and tweeting so Follow her Marcie_Hill Twitter name. I’ll likely tweet from my MartyBLOGs name and I’ll have more full length posts in the days and weeks after this weekend. We’ll cross link and share those with you in the coming days.
Of course you can always come out to Rosemont and join in the fun yourselves as well. If not, we’ll keep you posted on what you missed.Read More