Tuesday, January 24, 2017

No Power in the 'Verse

-By Dan dos Santos

Here's a cover I did a while back that finally hit the shelves last week. This cover is for issue #3 of the new Serenity series 'No Power in the Verse', by Dark Horse comics.

Instead of always giving Captain Mal the limelight on ever cover, we try to mix it up and showcase different characters on each issue. For this particular issue, the Art Director asked that I highlight Simon, but it ended up that Inara sort of stole the show in the end.

In this issue, Simon wears his iconic red glasses (as seen in the first episode of the TV show), as he sneaks his way into an enemy compound through subterfuge. The combination of the red glasses, and the militaristic setting he sneaks into got me think about old communist propaganda posters for whatever reason.

But eventually, more narrative, and characters, got added, resulting in sketches that told a bit more of the story that unfolds in that issue. The artist who drew the interior art had included this really exotic headdress on Inara that much too fun not to include.

I actually painted this cover as a demo at this past year's IMC. Not only is it really fun to paint in such an active and inspiring environment, but it meant I had access to a lot of people who were willing to pose for me.

I shot a lot of my reference there at the workshop, but had also prepared some reference prior to leaving that I knew would be easier to do at home. Below you can see the painting nearing completion, and my reference right alongside it. The reference just is an amalgam of photos pasted directly on top of my preliminary sketch which I then had printed out at actual size.

Regretfully, I forgot to snap shots of picture in progress (there NEVER seems to be enough time at the IMC to get everything done that you want to get done!), but I started the piece with a fairly tight pencil drawing, followed by a sepia-colored underpainting done in acryla-gouache. I then finished the image in oils. Much of the 'splatter' pattern you see in the background is actually just a very thin wash of oils over the sepia underpainting.

The woman's face was still wet when the painting was due, and I didn't want to risk messing it up by painting the fine link chains into a wet surface, so the chains were added digitally for the cover. I later went back and painted the chains in oils once the face was adequately dry, allowing me to wipe out my mistakes as I went.

Lastly, here is what the final cover looks like in print..

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art

-By Arnie Fenner

After years of frustration, litigation, protests, lobbying and false starts in San Francisco and Chicago, it was announced a little over a week ago that the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art would be built—knock wood—in Los Angeles. Entirely funded by Star Wars creator George Lucas (to the tune of over a billion dollars for construction, maintenance, a $400million endowment, and a collection of over 10,000 pieces-and-growing) it's hard to understand why politicians and planners weren't stumbling all over each other with attempts to lure the project that somebody else was paying for to their cities or states. Go figure.

As happened in SF and Chicago, not everyone is a supporter of a museum devoted to—yech, feh, patooie—lowly "illustration" or "art" created as a component of films and television, but barring delays or community challenges, groundbreaking for the 275,000 square foot museum (designed by Ma Yansong) is scheduled for late 2017. A targeted opening is for 2021. They have ambitious plans that will trace the full history of narrative art while showcasing permanent exhibits devoted to:
  • Illustration
  • Children's Art
  • Comic Art
  • Photography
  • Digital Art
  • Cinematic Design
  • Set Design
  • Prop Design
  • Costume & Fashion Design
  • Makeup & Creature Design
  • Animation
  • Visual Effects
Don Bacigalupi, formerly head of Crystal Bridges, will serve as the founding president of the Lucas Museum. As stated in the organization's statement, "The Lucas Museum will be a barrier free museum where artificial divisions between 'high' art and 'popular' art are absent, allowing you to explore a wide array of compelling visual storytelling." This interview with Lucas' wife and business partner Melody Hobson provides a lot of insight into the museum's intentions and goals.

Above: Ed Summer, Frank Frazetta, and George Lucas
on Frazetta's property in East Stroudsburg, PA, circa 1978.

There are, of course, other wonderful museums around the country that are focused on narrative/illustration, but I think we can all be—should be—excited at the prospect of a showcase with this scope and passion. George Lucas has loved and collected illustration and comic art for decades and, rather than a "vanity project" as some critics unfairly sneer, I think this museum is a further expression of that love. I know that I can't wait to see it.

But until the last hurdles are overcome, until the museum is built and the doors opened, we can get a glimpse of some of the pieces in the collection below while we're waiting. (And much more can be viewed on the museum's official website.)

Above: Catullus Reading His Poems at Lesbia's House by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema.

Above left: Guinevere by William de Leftwich Dodge.
Above right: Brita med julljus by Carl Larson.

Above left: Rob Roy by Howard Chandler Christy.
Above right: The Prince by N.C. Wyeth.

Above: Brawn of These Lads Made the Pike a Match for a Pirate's Cutlass
by Frank Earle Schoonover.

Above left: The Canyon by Maxfield Parrish. Above right: The Checkup by Norman Rockwell.

Above: Prisoner Being Transported by Camel Caravan by James Elliott Bama.

Above: Men Out of Ship Star 2 by John C. Berkey.

Above left: Allegorie de la musique by Alphonse Mucha.
Above right: String of Pearls by Robert Peak.

Above left: Fantastic Adventure by Frank Frazetta.
Above right: Weird Heroes V5: Doc Phoenix "The Oz Encounters" by Jeffrey Jones.

Above left: Weird Fantasy #16 by Al Feldstein.
Above right: Mystery in Space #90 by Carmine Infantino.

Above: Anakin Riding an Eopie by Doug Chiang.

Above left: Queen Concept by Iain McCaig. Above right: Sith Concept by Iain McCaig.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

A Visual Guide to Attaining Bling

-By Paul Bonner

So - we'll start at the end this time, just to help see where we are hoping to get to - eventually. I think I have used up two or three post here at Muddy Colors, over the years, trying to concoct some concrete and informative words that will help convey the intricate, convoluted and rigorous process that is necessary to make a pleasing arrangement of marks and colours on a blank sheet of paper. Casting a critical eye back over these missives, what they actually appear to do - is meander around, rambling aimlessly on about my creative endeavours - whilst very skilfully evading the much desired concrete part of things, and insisting on wallowing around in the mud of half-formed theories and extremely vague assertions. So - enough of that.

I know that however much I try and tighten up my perceptions of what it is I actually do - I will inevitably end up wandering all over the place, trying in vain to search for patterns, clutch after visual signposts, and generally make sense of my efforts in the studio. All for your sake, of course. I don,t need to know for my own sake, don't particularly care how it happens. There is no set map. Just see where it takes me. See - I can feel some rambling definitely threaten to take over, what was intended to be, an almost script free, stripped down post. So - we,ll nip that in the bud, and stop right there. The idea was to let the pictures explain them selves - and save me the bother. I will only re-iterate what I seem to have come up with in previous posts - that it is indeed a rather hap- hazard process that is just what I have ended up with after all theses years.

'Course - there is strict drawing, planning, juggling, jiggling, violent devil-may-care about turns and rapid reversals. Otherwise it wouldn't be fun, and without taking the chances offered to inadvertently destroy hard earned progress, because a better idea suddenly makes itself known to you, how can you come out the other side howling with happiness when it worked. I can only apologise for the early pictures not being so sharp.

I invested (though I,m beginning to doubt if that's the word I'm looking for right now) in a good camera - only to find that it has more options on it than the cerebral pyrotechnics that I'm capable of can deal with. Also - as I,m sure many of you will attest - one simply forgets to put down brushes, turn off that lovely arty flow of energy and snap some amazing progress shots. Well - I do. It's a question of priorities - isn't it?

So - turn off your mobiles, stop rustling the bloody popcorn packets, go to the loo if you must - quickly, and on with the show……..there are no adverts - but bare in mind this is no Directors Cut. Vast swathes of scribbles have been done away with, and as said - painting took precedence over photography, so there are sudden gaping chasms between scratchy pencils where I,m grasping after ideas, and pretty, coloured areas, where I have packed up and moved on. As I'm sure the more discerning amongst you will no doubt notice.

There were quite a few more sheafs of paper, covered in seemingly random markings, that mark  the beginning of my endeavours - this is the only one to survive the rigorous cull that takes place after a painting is deemed finished.

It's a goblin, isn't it.

Humans always a lot more tricky. No big noses, beady eyes or  pointy teeth to cover up anatomical deficiencies.

The final drawing on stretched paper, tensely awaiting my arrival - with some big brushes.

The big brushes go to work. Very important to remember the masking film (frisket?).

Creating the "stage" for the players. Iv'e got better at not worrying if the dark shadowed outline on a character blends with a dark piece of background. That,s what happens in real life. If one over- designs a picture trying to tick all the visual boxes and push all the technical buttons, you risk ending with something very pretty, but totally unbelievable. Reality and nature is most often a kind of controlled chaos anyway…….welcome to my world.

I really was not looking forward to start painting this in-decipherable jumble of goblin anatomy…….

Beginning to see the stage come together for our players. It's always a relief to get them anchored somewhere.

The horse and rider are the focal point - so needs dictate that I get them placed first. A horse and human present a multitude of un- welcome challenges - compared to a bunch of rowdy goblins, so I had to know that he was capable of filling his role first.

Then…….I could block the goblins in. This is actually the "worst" part of painting where - for me - the most self-administered discipline is required. There are 13 or 14 goblins running around - so - not wanting to spend the rest of my days, going even more grey and wrinkly in front of the it, I have to be a bit methodical with my approach to this. 26 - 28 hands. 26 - 28 feet. ( and the noses that always seem to accompany them)  A deep breath . Switch on the  auto-pilot, and just get on with it. A real labour of love. This is just hard work - and hands never get easier, no matter how many times one has to draw and paint them. All this striving to be a little bit better each time is not all it's cracked up to be. But what choice do we have.

We are getting there… Soon the why's, wherefores and reasonings of my path in life, fall gently into place with a contented sigh, and I can begin enjoying myself. 



More bling!!!

Yet more bling!

The icing on the cake. Final blinging……..trick being, of course with blinding - knowing when to stop!

Finished. Off for a cup of tea, an ale if it,s the weekend, and a probably all too brief lie down in a darkened room with a cold rag draped over my fatigued brow.