Friday, January 3, 2014

WINTER IS COMING…



Yes, it is definitively coming, with already 2814 hours full of pure artistic and creative experience. The 10,000-hour goal seems far far away but in the meantime the numbers are still adding up. Is it a coincidence that the number of hours equals the number of the space sector assigned to earth by the guardians of OA to the Green Lantern Corps? I think NOT! Well, it WAS a coincidence, but with this we have established three facts: 1. - I’m working my ass off to reach my infamous goal of mastering art, mostly in comics (Yes! That is considered art. In fact, it is the ninth art. If you don’t believe it, Google it!); 2. - That I am indeed a geek, with a certain purity I might add, and not with commonly welcomed upcoming geek fad (Big Bang Theory, anyone?); and 3. - That I love comic books, consequently, why I draw them in the first place. I can’t help to think that at this stage someone reading this paragraph is shouting inside his head “NEEEERRRDDD” like Homer Simpson.

Anyway, It is now 2014 and winter is indeed coming. I remember when I was living in New York City and everybody was scared to death of the winter. Yes, it gets really cold up there. This is not the case for me anymore, I moved back to my home country, Ecuador, where I’m cementing the pillars, expanding the roots, and probably getting more used to it by the minute. Winter is coming but not like you imagine. I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before, or probably I’ve read it and it got stuck in my mind, but here in Guayaquil city everything is backwards, and the best example is the weather. This is surely because we are right in the center of the world (in the equator), but here winter is hot, very hot. It climbs up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, and it rains, a lot! The rainy season also brings out an infinite amount of crickets and they are disgusting and annoying. I’m not actually looking forward to it, but it IS coming! You know what else is coming? My big break! At least I hope so. This is the year that I will fully work towards getting a job in the comic book industry. Maybe it is too soon, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen, right? Only time will tell, and if it doesn’t happen, well, at least I will have more knowledge and experience to have better odds in 2015 right. I think perseverance is the key, I really do. I have many projects that I want to do this year and I will post each one of them here. I hope they are as entertaining for you as they are to me.

Ok, so let’s bring you up to date. I’m a freelance artist who graduated last year from the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York City, majoring in Cartooning and Illustration. I have divided my working hours in four categories:

COMICS

This is my dream job and it takes around 40% of my working hours. This is mainly my comic work. I try to do this every chance I get and remember that I have to write the plot and the script, draw the thumbnails, draw my pencils, ink them, color them, letter the words and finally edit it. It sounds like a lot of work and you know what, it IS. In order for you to get the amount of work I spend in a page think that it takes me around two days to finish just one, sometimes even more. There are approximately 22 pages in a standard comic book so it takes me around two months to finish one without any kind of interruption. That is why it is a collaborative field, because it is so time consuming. Currently in the industry there are pencillers, writers, cover artists, letterers (sometimes they are done with fonts in the computer, as I do), inkers, colorists, etc. My main idea is to create an ashcan comic. What is an ashcan comic you may wonder? Well, wonder no more because I have the answer for you. An ashcan comic is a standard comic book printed usually in black and white (just inks) printed in lower quality pages than mainstream comics, with its sole purpose to be shown to art directors, artists, and editors mostly in comic conventions. I think it’s a great way to show your storytelling abilities and drawing techniques to someone. I think this is a much better way to get someone’s attention rather than the typical portfolio. Of course, there is nothing wrong with showing a portfolio, especially if it is a strong one; I just tend to prefer the former rather than the latter.

My plan is to finish my very own issue of The Flash focusing on a character that was erased from continuity. His name is Wally West and he donned the Flash costume for a little bit more than twenty years. He was just erased from DC Comics continuity due to editorial and financial strategies. Now it is like he never existed in the first place. This issue gives some closure to fans and since it will not be used for commercial gain, I’m not breaking any law, am I? I should talk with my lawyer about that. Still, I’m lucky if that comic book gain as much followers as the hours I spent making those pages. The strategy is to print them in high quality paper and do the entire coloring myself, so it will actually look as a published comic book. I hope I get some raised eyebrows when I give those for free but I’m way too realistic for my own good. Still, it will be my best work and I hope that much would be appreciated. The good news is that I have already finished the pencils and now I just have to ink them and color them. I will upload one page per week as a webcomic, which will be up in the following weeks. I will be sure to let you know the proper link to it. I can’t show you much but I can show you a couple of pages done in digital pencils. They are not as tight as I would prefer but since I will be inking those pages myself there is no need to go tighter.

Page 11 of Flash Comic
Page 12 of Flash Comic

DC DAILY CHALLENGE

So to spice things up I decided I will be drawing and posting a DC Comics character everyday for 2014. It is a tough challenge but I do enjoy it very much. Of course there are days that I don’t feel like drawing a comic book character, and there are those days that I just can’t draw, so I decided to start in October by drawing at least 52 characters until New Year’s. (Oh my God that number again!) That way I get the pressure off my back and at least I know I can get my Sunday fundays back. It is amazing how much you can improve by drawing everyday. My poses are more dynamic now and I’m pretty satisfied with my recent illustrations. The only problem with this tactic is that at the time I get to post them I already have found tons of mistakes and thought about ways I could draw them better, but I had to let go and just post them the way I intended because if not it takes too much of my time. At first I though them as warm-ups, but later on I decided to do complete illustrations with backgrounds and everything. The only thing I decided not to do is heavy shading. That takes way too much of my time and for the purpose of the challenge it is fine leaving them as flats. Still, I think they look really good and my purpose is to increase my followers in Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr, and probably get DC Comics to notice me. Why DC? Because I love those characters and those were the ones I grew up with. WARNING: Do not expect a Superman right off the bat, I’m focusing on obscure characters first so I can experiment on them. After all, there are 365 characters I want to draw. Each drawing takes me around two and a half hours to finish and probably 30% of my working hours monthly. Maybe next year I will do Marvel but not this one. I’m sad to tell you that I can’t show them through this blog though. You will need to follow me:

·      Instagram - @journeystudios
·      Twitter - @bielero
·      Tumblr – Mastering Art

Here is a silhouette preview of one of my illustrations with the real background. Can you guess who it is?
Who is he?

DIGITAL PORTRAITS

This is my current venue to make money while I’m also aiming for my dream job. It takes around 20% of my production time. Although this is not my main goal artistically, it doesn’t mean that I’m not prepared for it. I can’t deny the fact that I see myself also as a portrait artist. Drawing portraits was my passion when I was in high school and I never stop drawing them. There were a lot of interruptions until I made the wise decision to study art, but nevertheless, I never actually stopped on trying to get the likeness of a person. I am grateful for the customers that have had faith in me in doing this since I don’t yet have a lot of work to show them. God bless them!

But I have to add that I have met some resistance in this field by some people, mainly because they do not understand what I actually do. You see, an alarming rate of people do not fully comprehend the term “digital painting”. I have had some situations where I had to explain my methods and still they do not get them. I don’t mean to be rude to those people, not at all, but it seems my country is not aware that this is the future. I don’t think traditional painting will cease to exist, but I firmly believe digital painters will increase in their numbers and hopefully they will be perceived as what they really are, artists. Yes, some people truly believe that I take photos and Photoshop them into portraits. I don’t know, maybe they think I do this with the click of a mouse and a good filter as they do in the Instagram app. To tell you the truth, those people could not be more wrong. Anything I do digitally I can do traditionally in any medium (oils, acrylic, gouache, etc). Why? You may ask. It is because I use the same principles of building up color. I start sketching with my digital pencils and then start painting on my digital canvas playing with opacity levels. It is like applying traditional paint. Of course there are some shortcuts or let’s say, techniques that makes your work not necessarily easier or better but faster. Three that I come across frequently is the command+Z (or most commonly known by Window users as Ctrl+Z) that lets you UNDO your mistakes. Yes, that is pretty convenient specially when you are experimenting in the painting. You could say that is cheating (which I find absurd since it is not a competition), but you have to take into consideration that traditional artists usually do this prior by composing in thumbnails sketches or color studies. Digital painters should do this, but we sometimes don’t, and that is why the undo features come in handy, because we CAN do it. Another advantage is the CUT & TRANSFORM feature. It helps you to reorganize the composition or fix proportions. This cuts some time off in the pencil stage because we know we can fix the proportions later by doing this. Finally, I always use the beloved tonal correction feature. This lets you modify the saturation, intensity, brightness, contrast, hues, luminosity, etc. It is like magic and it works great. It doesn’t change the values and the changes are minimal but they do make a difference. This is also because we, digital painters, have cut off some time in the preliminary color studies, as a traditional painter would do. Needless to say, I draw using a Cintiq (think of it as a huge iPad) and no, I don’t draw with my finger but with my partner in crime, the optical pen (You can see it on my self-portrait). In short, I use traditional techniques with some technological advantages and draw and paint the same way I would do with a traditional medium.

The great advantage with digital painting is that it can be printed in many ways and many sizes due to its resolution, but one thing is for certain, it has to be printed in Giclee and in an establishment that make prints specifically for fine art. I have full confidence in Prints Giclee Shop. Also, there is an article saying more or less what I’m saying in this section. It is a fascinating read for someone interested to learn more of digital painting. How to paint using traditional techniques. I will be showing three portrait paintings I made digitally, one is my self-portrait titled “The endless planning stage” and the others are two commissions of the daughters of a good friend of mine. I’m including the videos sped up to a ridiculous 6,000% so you can see the entire process. Thanks Carlita!

Self-Portrait "The Endless Planning Stage"

Ani 
Carlita




INSPIRATION

You can’t neglect your sudden urges to do, well, whatever the hell you want, so you just do it. This takes 10% of my working time, more or less, maybe more in the holiday season. Some of them may have ended up as commissions and some of them were made specifically as gifts. Without a doubt this is something I truly like. I don’t know, I can’t shake the feelings that when I give art as a gift I think the person would have enjoy more, I don’t know, a watch. Even though it takes time to make those pieces and I think that is what makes them valuable. I guess I’ll never know but I put my heart into my gifts. I made illustrations for my nephews, Oswaldo JosĂ© ended up as Flash running through the speed force vortex, and Alejandro flying through outer space as a member of the Green Lanterns Corps.

Oswaldo Jose as Flash
Ale as Green Lantern

Also, I worked on a black and white silhouette for my sister in law. What is even more special for this one is that I painted it with white gouache painting over a black board. When you go digital is hard to go back to traditional, mainly because of the messy factor. Also, my studio is not built up for traditional painting anymore. So, it would be much easier to fall back to digital but I thought for this type of illustration it would be much cooler to be done on board. I really liked her grace in this pose. She is a terrific dancer and I hope this does her justice.

GiGi

Another illustration I’m proud of is a Hulk I made for Big Rafa. By the way, Thanks Rafa! The approach was exactly as I would make a digital painting and I truly enjoyed it. I will be uploading the pencils version (since I did it traditionally on Bristol Board) and the digital final version as well. I changed his face from the pencils, I really don't know which one I like best.
Hulk Pencils

Hulk Digital Painting

There’s also this Batman I made for my nephew Leo for his birthday using the same approach I did with The Hulk. I do have a video for it so you can see the entire process in making a digital painting.

Batman The Dark Knight



You know that I used to run marathons? Well, you should if you have read my previous posts. I think I have used running marathons as metaphors all the time. In any case, in the family gift exchange I had to give my cousin Leonardo a gift. Since I used to run marathons with him what gift is better than the gift of art? Mmm… probably a watch, right? Anyhow, I hope you liked it Nao. This is a digital painting as well, but I used more painterly approach. I used specific brushes to give the impression of an oil painting.

Nao - Chicago Marathon 2009

Finally here’s a Joker bust I made just for the hell of it, and another one that I made inspired by my friend, the one and only, Eduardo Risso. Google him, his art is exquisite and nobody spots blacks as he does.

Joker Bust Painting
Joker Noir

CLASSES

Ok, so we have already categorized 100% of my working hours, but I also spend some valuable time watching tutorials or attending art classes online. I try to do them whenever I have free time, and my wife hates it. I know that in the bottom of her heart she understands how important this is for me and how much I love her for supporting me. Or perhaps she will eventually snap and kill me in my sleep. Let’s hope for the former. I must recommend the CG Master Academy (2d.cgmasteracademy.com), which focus mainly on 2d animation. Although animation is not the same as cartooning or sequential art for lack of a better word, they share the same drawing principles. Here they offer several classes such as: Perspective, Dynamic Sketching, Character Design, Creature Design, Digital Painting, Environment Design, etc. I took The Analytical Figure Drawing class that is taught by Michael Hampton, author of the book “Figure Drawing Design andInvention”. He is a great teacher and it’s an amazing class where you really learn the complex structures of the human figure. There is another online school that focuses mostly on comic books (www.comicsexperience.com) I haven’t yet taken any course here but they seem really good and I had the pleasure to meet the teacher for the coloring course, Chris Sotomayor. If you want to learn how to be a mainstream comic book professional in the industry, this is one of the best ways I must say. Here are some examples of the homework I made during my class at CGMA.











I have many projects and I will be writing about them in this blog, but let me tell you some privileged information. This year I will be writing my first novel. I’m not a writer per se but I’m familiar enough with the narrative process. It is a great story, and I hope it will be successful, but if it is not, at least I did it, and mark my words, this year it will be done.

To end this entry I leave you with some wisdom by Andrew Loomis regarding talent: “The term ‘talent’ needs clarifying. To any man who has slaved to acquire skill in his art, it is most irritating to have his ability referred to as a ‘gift’. Perhaps there is one genius in a hundred years or more who can achieve perfection by ‘divine inspiration’. I have never met such a man, and I do not know any successful artist who did not get there by the sweat of his brow”.

May you have a Happy 2014 full of goals and dreams! The road to happiness is to live your life the way you wish to.

Godspeed,

JO

Jose Molestina
Journey Studios