Thursday, September 8, 2016


It has been a while since my last entry, but it seems that posting once a year is the new way. I’m not happy about it but there is a pattern and I can’t break it out! Why haven’t I been writing my blog more often? Good question! The answer can be summarized with one word, time, or lack thereof. It’s not that I’m complaining, but it seems that now I have to be very conscious on how to spend my hours. Did I tell you that I recently had another kid? I did! Now we are a family of four and I couldn’t be happier. Needless to say, most of my free time I rather spend it with my family than to do any other job related activities. I am very cautious not to cut back hours from making art, but the activities I do end up neglecting are: posting on social media, setting up a decent online store, and you guessed it, write my blog.

It doesn’t help that nowadays I need to focus more on making enough money to meet my expenses rather than making challenges to get better on my art, or making projects for the foreseeable future. To tell you the truth I spent a lot of my time making the infamous “DC Daily” (drawing a complete illustration of one DC character a day for 2014) and the most recent one “Marvel52” (drawing a fan art comic cover of one character or team every week for 2015) and although I’m truly happy with the results of those collections, I have not yet seen anything real productive come out of them in terms of profit. Yes, I do sell prints of my work at comic conventions but that is simply not enough. Not only travelling to the conventions is expensive, but also I would have to sell much more prints to justify a year's work. I learned a lot and I enjoyed the ride, but I can't keep working for free hoping that somebody will notice my work and offer me a job. What I’m currently focusing on are commissions, mainly portraits and illustrations. I’m thinking out loud but maybe I should draw or paint less and focus more on advertising my services and selling merchandise online. It is easier said than done though.

Ok, without further ado let me unveil to you my recent work. I had to be very picky since a year of art cannot be squeezed in one single entry, so it won’t come as a surprise when I upload just my favorite pieces, which are still a lot.

Let’s start off with some pieces from my “Marvel52” collection. To be completely honest I didn’t finish this challenge at the end of the year like I was supposed to. I had some personal issues to attend and even though I take my own imposed deadlines very seriously, I had to delay 4 pieces to February 2016. I had no editor and nobody was paying me for those so in the end it wasn’t a big deal. I preferred to make them awesome rather than rushing them. I enjoyed making them and I received a lot of praise for the work itself. I don’t think I won’t be doing this kind of project anytime soon unless there is money involved. I mean, they look awesome in my portfolio but this is the time to get a bit dispassionate about popular characters and start creating my own. I would love to be a cover artist though, I truly hope somebody out there notices the amount of effort and dedication I put into these pieces. Here are 14 examples of my fan art Marvel covers. Can any of you guess which one is my favorite?

Since I mentioned my 2014 challenge “DC Daily” above, let me show what I did for this year’s Florida Supercon. I drew 365 DC characters throughout the year, and although they were illustrated in Manga Studio (now Clip Studio Paint) individually, each one of them were drawn on their own individual layers. This is one of the perks of drawing digitally. So I decided to put all 365 characters together in a big poster. How long could it take me, a couple of days at the most? Wrong! I spent assembling them together for a couple of weeks if not three. The amount of work I had to put into organize them to create a good composition, not to mention drawing extra body parts for the ones that were either sitting or blocked by their own foregrounds, was exhausting. In the end I was really happy with the result, and the good news is that I sold every unit of them. This poster was a huge success and it depicts not only a year of hard work but almost two decades of DC iconic characters.

DC Daily poster

My beautiful and supportive wife at Florida Supercon

Now let’s move on to a very challenging month earlier this year. DC Comics announced they were going to open the doors to a few artists. They rarely offer this opportunity to newcomers. You just had to submit the maximum of 6 pages of sequential work, I mean, eh, comics of one of their characters. My good friend Marcelo Cury wrote this beautiful 6-page script and now I had the challenge to make the art as good as the story. I did my best and I am really satisfied with the end result. The devastating earthquake that my country Ecuador suffered around that time interrupted my work though. Luckily all my loved ones were fine, but hundreds of people lost their loved ones and their means of livelihood. It was a very sad time for my country as a whole and the feeling of sadness and powerlessness was overwhelming and took a toll on my work and me personally. But also the feeling of joy to see my country united to alleviate those who were suffering and overcome this catastrophe was reassuring. We as a country were not used to earthquakes or aftershocks and honest to God we were scared. I mean, I did my best to focus and by all means this is not an excuse because I really love the way the short comic turned out, but it took me a long time to finish those pages. So it is fair to say that the production of the pages were not as smooth as I would've liked them to be. A few months later I received a letter telling me that it was good work but I didn’t get in the program. It wasn’t very shocking since the competition was fierce; then again, it was a disappointment to be completely honest. It is still a great read if you like this kind of stuff. Please, go ahead and enjoy a short noir story of a well-known mercenary called Deathstroke. Thanks again to Marcelo for the great script and to my friend Eduardo Risso for trying his best to give me advise to better those pages.

Deathstroke: The Once and Future Part 1 of 1

Are you familiar with blank cover comic variants? These blank covers are meant for sketching directly into the cover of a regular monthly comic. They are very popular at conventions and you can bring one comic book to an artist and he/she can draw on it since the quality of the paper is intended for that. Of course they’re going to charge you, do not expect them for free, please. They are mostly done in pencils, inks, Copic markers, or a combination of those. I buy these comics mostly for gifts. I really enjoy surprising my friends with these unique comics. Here are three examples of those cover sketches. By the way, if you are interested you should google blank cover comic variants and choose the cover of the character you like for me to get it and draw on it. They are relatively easy to get and it is always a great gift.

I also want to show you 3 pieces I did throughout this year. One was a commission of Darth Vader, which is always fun to illustrate. I’m attaching a time-lapse video of the making of this illustration. It is around 5000% faster than what originally took me to make it. For instance, this video lasts around 12 minutes. I don’t remember how long it really took me but a good estimate would be 12 hours. Could be more, I’m an artist not a mathematician. Also, the music on the video is by my good friend Robert Serlinn and his band mUte. Not only I love the song, but is there any song more appropriate to put in a Vader video? (Maybe the Imperial March but Disney wouldn’t let me!) Another was a small illustration I did of Wally West because “Wally is BACK!” Yes, a character long lost in the DC Universe, Wally West, mostly known as The Flash during two decades, was missing. Heck, I even did a fan comic covering his absence from the mainstream universe. DC brought him back in a beautiful comic called “DC Universe Rebirth”, which I highly recommend to any DC Comics fan. I drew his new costume and was very pleased with the end result. The last drawing I was bullied into making it. Yes! I was indeed, but in a good way. A pal I made through my Instagram account posted a picture of a DC character that was not included in my collection everyday for a week in order for me to draw it. This usually won’t work, but he being such a cool guy and for being so supportive during that year I decided what the hell. He really liked it and I was very glad with how this one turned out.

Darth Vader Comic Cover Commission

The next commission falls into the category of portrait/comic illustration. I think this combines the best of two worlds. You see, what I really enjoy are illustrating covers and painting portraits. I think this is what I’m mostly good at. I love making comics but it is much harder, takes more time and commitment, and it brings a lot of frustration to the equation. With this commission I made a portrait of a client dressed as Wonder Woman. What sometimes people don’t understand is that drawing the face (likeness) it is still time consuming, especially if it will be inked as a comic book illustration, so I need to charge as if I were making a portrait, and then some for the whole composition. You cannot get a more unique gift than this, and also the sky is the limit. You want to be an enraged green monster filled with gamma radiation energy, done! You want to be classic TV Wonder Woman, you got it!

Next, I want to show you the portraits I’ve done. These paintings take around 8 to 12 hours depending on the complexity of it, or how I woke up that morning. It is unbelievable how a well-rested night can help you solve problems in your painting. Because of that, I never try to finish one painting in one sitting. It is much better to go to sleep and wake up refreshed in the morning to see mistakes (and solutions) you hadn’t even considered the night before. Most of the time, I make these paintings digitally and print them giclee (the best way to print art work) on canvas. Usually my standard size is 18”x22”, but it could be anything really. One of the advantages of doing them digitally (besides the fact that you can print it again if it gets damaged or stolen) is that you can manipulate the painting into other sizes and ratios (this is a bit harder though). Another benefit is that you can print them on different surfaces, like metal or bamboo. Painting digitally is just another tool. Some people think they are crutches, but I use the same artistic approach as I would in creating an oil painting. I repeat, it is just another tool. I will be making an oil painting soon and probably film it so you can see that the approach is almost the same. You still have to know how to paint, how to mix colors, color theory, proportions, light and shadows, contour, line, etc. Here are a few examples of my portraits. I’m also uploading a 5000% faster than real time video of the making of Juliana, her second year. I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but I’m planning on painting her and my son every year for the rest of my life. At least that’s the plan.





Ju 2nd year

Finally, I wanted to show you a caricature of myself I commissioned to a very talented artist named Jeff Stahl. He is not only a great guy but I truly admire his work. He is the quintessential artist and his work shows it. You can follow him on Instagram at @jeffstahl_art.

I wanted to make more art throughout this year. If you see my previous entries, you can notice plans that never actually materialized. Sometimes I just desisted on pursuing those projects, other times they were just postponed to an undefined state. Yes, life gets in the way, but in the most beautiful and marvelous ways. I have a great wife, two amazing children, and responsibilities that demand more of my time. I consider myself a very goal oriented person, and it is frustrating not to be on schedule of your own imposed plans, but you do have to enjoy the scenery as well. Life goes by pretty fast, and I feel blessed on how I’m able to live it. What would have I done different? Nothing at all, I wouldn’t change a thing!

This is just a taste of all the work I’ve done this year. If you want to see more feel free to check my webpage at Also, you can follow me on my Instagram at @journeystudios or my Twitter @jostudios

I am

Yours in anticipation, 

Jose Luis Molestina aka JO

(and Godspeed to you all)