Friday, December 19, 2008

A Merry Christmas

Well, it's that time of year again. This year, for me, has seen quite a bit. I hope that everyone is holding on in this economy and uncertainty. I look forward to things getting better and the hope of joyous times. See you all in 2009. I hope it's a good one!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Spirit

I doodled this in my sketchbook a few months back. I always loved the character and I am blessed to have met Will Eisner shortly before his passing. I recently tinkered with this in ArtRage and PhotoShop but never really got it to where I am happy with it. Just kinda called it quits. Maybe it stemmed from the review I read this morning regarding the upcoming movie. The one review I read so far on Ain't it Cool News said it was the "worst movie ever made." Youch!! Will it make the TV movie made with Sam J. Jones back in the 80's look good?? That was AWFUL! I have a copy. I know! We will see soon. Anyway, here is my Spirit doodle.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Jack Staff!!

If you think that this guy is Union Jack, you are not alone. I thought so too when I first caught a glimpse of him. Turns out that Paul Grist (the author) had an idea for a Union Jack story that he never got to do. So he re-invented the character and what we got is nothing short of awesome! I just finished reading the first trade paperback and can't wait for the next one to arrive. I normally have not plugged stuff here on my blog but this is worth it. If you have not read it, read it!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Another Pig Sketch

I did this on the side, all in PhotoShop, and kept adding and adding to it. Kinda got carried away but fell short of "finishing" it. Maybe I should. I don't know that answer today but thought I would show it anyway.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Pigs Revisited

So, my grammar school class has been actively communicating lately. They even had a get-together recently and talks are underway for a full-blown reunion. A certain topic has been brought up several times in emails and in the current class forum. That topic is a comic that I drew for my class way back when. Power Pig. I, of course, remember doing it and getting writing help from Chris and Therese used to color it for me. I don't recall how many adventures he had and to be honest I had completely forgotten that he had a worm as a sidekick. Alas, so far, no art has been saved from that time. I don't even remember his costume besides a black mask and a cape of some color. So it was put to me, "How would you design him now?" and that is what I have to show you. It has been a lot of fun doodling him and such as you can see. I have several images to share too! I hope that some classmates from St. Mary's will see these.

Here are some doodles from my sketchbook. Just done with a ballpoint pen and wash and only about an inch, inch and a half tall.

Here is a final inked version that you might want to print out for your kids to color. (click on it for a larger image if you didn't already know that.)

Here is the same art done kinda funky that I thought would make a cool T-Shirt.

...and here is the image yet again in a full-on, blown out digitally painted version.Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Another Rocco

So I've been on a bit of a baseball tear lately, but can you really blame me?? For one, I really love the game. I'll watch just about any baseball I can. Minor League, Major League, Little League and we even have a local team in the summer as part of the FCSL. Nice. I got to fulfill a life long dream recently and actually attend a game of the World Series. My team may not have won, but the experience was well worth it. No matter what the TV ratings say. Right after the series ended I started playing around with a piece and decided to try my hand at what I learned after doing the Lone Ranger pic not too long ago. Turned out it was a lot of fun. I really like the final results of this but in the future I may want to tone down the influence of Drew Struzan some and let more of "me" show thru. I attached a larger than normal link to the image just so you can zoom in and check out the texture and drawing. That's the part I really am happy about. Once again the subject is none other than Rocco Baldelli. Look him up. Read his story. It'll be worth it, I promise you.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Turkey Ball!!

Just to stay on the baseball theme a bit longer, I got a rare assignment at work that totally got me jazzed. Disney hosts an event called The Triple Crown Thanksgiving Spectacular. They showed me an old shirt with a cartoon turkey on it and simply told me that they wanted something better. Out of respect of the unknown artist, I am not showing you what I was shown because it was really not that bad. I did start off using a "regular" cartoon turkey and got something I actually liked, but after my co-worker seeing it, he suggested that I make him "huge". Thanks for the tip Tim!! So here it is. Sketch and the final with and without the type.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rocco and the World Series

So here I am at work trying not to watch the clock. For years my dream has been to actually go to a World Series game. Tonight, that comes true. Not only is it the world series but it features my now beloved Tampa Bay Rays. I was raised a Yankees fan, and still very much am, but the past six years my allegiance has been swaying to the Rays. One player in particular. Rocco Baldelli. I became a fan of his in early 2002 when I began reading about him in the minor leagues. He became the starting center fielder in 2003 at the age of 21. I watched his first major league hit (a double of Pedro Martinez), personally saw him homer against the Giants and marveled when he threw out Melky Cabrera at the plate from center field. Now, you can easily go online and find stories about Rocco and what has happened to him. No need for me to go into detail here. In short, it was found this spring that Rocco suffers from a mitochondrial disorder that does not let his muscles get enough energy or recover from fatigue. Apparently this has what has been the root of his many ailments over the past six seasons. He has made huge strides in making it back to the field this season and deemed worthy enough to be put on the post-season roster. Tonight I get to see this brave young man take the field in his first world series appearance. It may be his last. Who knows. I have spoken in other postings about painting baseball pictures. Well Rocco is the subject of my next one. I prepared this piece when he was sidelined indefinitely this spring. Since making it back, I have re-thought the pose a bit and wanted it to be a bit more uplifting and am now working on that but in the meantime, here is the original comp of Rocco.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Drew and the Ranger

Vacation was great!!! I didn't draw the whole trip and came back re-charged. Sorry I have not posted sooner. Yesterday while driving in to work I heard about the event Disney held in California and spoke about future projects. Seems that Johnny Depp was on hand in Jack Sparrow attire and they formally announced a Pirates 4. Now I like the Pirates movies and look forward to another installment but it was the OTHER announcement that really made my ears prick up. Seems that Mr. Depp has also signed on to play Tonto in a Lone Ranger re-make!! Apparently it's being done by the same writers/producers as Pirates so my expectations are high!! I was giddy. That euphoria was tempered later in the day when I finally got around to checking web-sites I draw inspiration from. While it was not posted on his official site, several sources had it on hand that Drew Struzan has retired. Now I know that he would not be producing his art forever, it still came as a shock. Mr. Struzan has and will always be a major influence in my life and words cannot express my sincere admiration for a talent and individual such as he. I wish him the best. While on the subject, let me share you a quick story. Several years back I was working retail at Disney World while in art school. I was in the back putting away merchandise when my co-worker came in from the shop and sat down. He then looked up at me(I was on a ladder at the time, I am not that tall.), and said, "Jon, you go to art school, right?" "Yeah. Why?" I replied. "Because I was just talking art with some guy in the shop. He paints all the Star Wars posters." He says straight-faced. "Um. WHAT!?" I say. "Nicest guy. Maybe I should have gotten you, huh." "Are you telling me that Drew Struzan was on the other side of that door and you DIDN'T get me???" "Yeah. Sorry." At that moment I climbed down the ladder, whapped him on the back of the head and announced I was taking my break before I killed him. I never met the man, but I got close.

So here is my piece for today. My best (and not very good), digital Struzan homage of the Ranger.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Take me out to the ballgame.

I really love baseball. You would think that I would paint more baseball pictures since I love it so much but to date, I have only done three. There is a fourth in the works down the line, but more on that one later. The first one I did was for me. I have always admired the story of Lou Gehrig. Lived in the shadow of Ruth and struck down in his prime and he is mostly known for the disease that killed him since it now bears his name. I painted this not long after graduating college while living in Connecticut. I did it in a method that I could not while in school since you had to allow for lots of layers and lots of drying time. Yes. It's oil paint! This is also one of the few works of mine that actually hangs prominently in my home.

The next one followed about a year later. This was done for two reasons. Firstly, I wanted to explore options of using some airbrushing with my work. I had recently switched to water soluble oil paints and knew that I could thin them enough to push through the airbrush and wanted to work on board instead of canvas to incorporate more drawing into it as well. I was good with it but I have yet to really explore more of this technique. The second reason for it was for it to be a gift. My uncle in Connecticut had showed me much generosity in my life and recently showed me how brave he is while dealing with a kidney transplant. Joe DiMaggio was his all time favorite so that is the subject of this piece.

Well according to my Aunt, the DiMaggio painting went over really well. The problem was that while my Uncle was a Yankees fan, she was not. She roots for the Red Sox. So to make things fair, she wanted a painting of Ted Williams. I procrastinated for about 8 years with this. I am NOT a fan of the Sox. I was raised a Yankee fan and now root for the Rays. But oddly, it was my love of the Rays that finally made me want to actually paint this one. You see, a few years back the Ted Williams Museum was relocated to Tropicana Field. Home of the Rays and admission is free. In said museum are many photos and memorabilia from Ted Williams and other great players. There are also many works of art and there was a painting there of Ted that really inspired me to do my own. That and the fact that my family and I are about to embark on a vacation that will take me back to Connecticut for the first time since I moved out. And we will be stopping off at my Aunt and Uncle in Hartford. The planets must have aligned and the painting went very fast. I was pretty pleased with the result for only working about ten hours on it.

And there you have it. Oddly, it occurred to me as I typed this that I have never seen a single one of my subjects actually play the game. That will change with my next baseball piece. A great player with a great story too. I hope the painting is worthy. I look forward to it.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Some Captain A sketches

A few more pics from my little sketchbook. Always loved this guy. Heard there is a movie in the works and I hope they do it right. I figure it must be really tough to write this character since I find really good stories far and few between with him. My favorite appearance of him is actually in the pages of Daredevil several years ago when Frank Miller was writing it still. Daredevil Reborn?? I am drawing a blank on the exact title.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Incredible Hulk Sketch

Maybe I should use a different title. I don't really think the quality of the sketch is "incredible", but I can see how someone without previous "Hulk Knowledge" could mistake that for. I did this late at night before sleeping. I actually only drew half of the figure. When I scanned it in I copied and flipped the drawing making the whole torso. Then I went for a marker comp look. Most likely since I was at work and I was supposed to be painting a car for Talladega and I hate designing Nascar stuff. I kinda like the pic but I am not in love with it. I think I stopped because I became aware how muscular I drew him. I think at this juncture I prefer Kirby's original look for him where he is big, but not incredibly defined. Just bigger shapes rather than every muscle detailed. I am going thru a bit of a Kirby phase with all the books on him I have recently read. I don't think I will be doing my own "homage" to Jack. There is enough bad Kirby style copy cats out there and I don't think I need to toss my cap into that arena.

Monday, August 11, 2008

"Would You Believe..." Part Two

Um,.....I don't really know what to add that I didn't include in my last post about this. I did the final totally in Illustrator. Thanks Chief!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

"Would you believe....?" Part One

Hey. I know my posts have been further and fewer between but me and my family all got sick recently, took on coaching softball again (for my church this time so now I have to watch my language.), and have been busy with life. I have been a bit burnt out lately and am looking for that spark to get me going again. I have been toying with this drawing since seeing the new Get Smart movie several weeks back. I loved the old show. Used to be one of those shows you looked forward to watching when you were home sick from school. Amazing. I had so much daytime TV to watch as a kid with no cable and only 7 channels and now when I am home sick with 832 channels, I can't find Get Smart anywhere!!

Friday, July 25, 2008


Well, I hurt my back last Sunday and I can't believe that it actually affected my painting process but it did and as a result I feel old. I am sure that will pass by this evening when I go see Dark Knight and become a 13 year old geek again. Ah yes!! Seems like yesterday I had a Batman party at my mom's house before the first Michael Keaton movie. Wait!! That was back in 1989!! I AM OLD!!! Until tonight!! I am so confused now. What kind of tangent am I on anyway. It might be this really strong coffee I am drinking while pretending to be busy at work. ANYWAY, here is my latest painting. Donald Duck of course. This one is 20x24, acrylic on canvas. Now I will take a little break from painting, straighten my studio and then begin my Peter Pan. Looking forward to that one.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Little Goofy

I feel a bit like I am cheating with this work. The Mickey Mouse painting done in the similar style was done spur of the moment and it wound up being well praised and sold VERY quickly. Converting that to dollars per hour was huge!! So with Disney wanting more, I now have Goofy ready to go and Donald on the easel. I should probably keep my mouth shut about them taking only about 3 hours each to render the final painting. I know I am inviting criticism and such my way for both pro and con sides of this argument. But then again, I never considered myself to be too bright. Don't get me wrong, I do find these paintings to be fun and a good departure from my usual approach and that is as much as I like to normally like to think about that but I have to write SOMETHING here for you all to read or I am cheating in that arena as well. When will it all end????? I don't like cheaters. My brother used to cheat all the time, especially at Monopoly. So much so I still refuse to play with him now. Maybe that's why he keeps buying me different versions of it for birthdays and Christmas. Who knows. I don't even know what I am writing about any more.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Some old gems

Been a while I know. Things have been hectic in life. My wife was away to help out her mom, I had my toe finally fixed and it is recovering nicely (don't ask!) and I am currently sore from cutting all my hedges in 95 degree heat in July in Florida. Anyway, I came across these pics that may or may not have been on my website back in the day. I still like them but I would probably render them differently now. Enjoy!

Friday, June 13, 2008


I don't know why. I have been re-establishing my childhood connection to Ant-Man. I am too young to remember the original one, but in the late '70's, when John Byrne was at his arguable peak, he and Bob Layton introduced a new Ant-Man in a two issue artistic extravaganza. I gotta admit, I changed the helmet a bit because,....well, because I don't draw it well enough. In my opinion only Byrne and Kirby got it right. And Kirby kept changing it!!

Most of my sketches were done in bed as my wife and I usually read before retiring for the night. As usual, I ask her for her opinion and she is usually blunt with it. I joked and asked her if thumbnails of Ant-Man are redundant. She thought that was funny but she does NOT understand the concept of a miniature super-hero. Which in turn made me think of a classic SNL skit with John Belushi as the Hulk and Dan Ackroyd as The Flash, relentlessly teasing a Garret Morris portrayed Ant-Man. Google that if you get a chance!! Anyway, here are some doodles of The Ant-Man!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Of Mice and.............Mice.

I have to admit, I really love drawing Disney characters and I still get a thrill when I see someone wearing a shirt I drew with Mickey on it or when they turn my art into a pin or mug or whatever. I always loved Mickey and I remember the first time I came to Florida with my family way back in '74 or '75. Was my first plane ride too. All the way from that far away land of New Jersey!! So what am I getting at?? Well, on that trip I specifically wore a Mighty Mouse t-shirt because I thought I had something figured out. You know how Clark Kent is secretly Superman?? Well, I thought that Mickey Mouse was secretly Mighty Mouse. Made perfect sense to me. I was in the know and I wore that shirt as a wink to Mickey to let him know that I knew and I would keep his secret!! Well, I was wrong and then I grew up but I still love these mice. Now I never got to actually make a shirt with Mighty Mouse on it (yet!), but I have designed several Mickey's. Have a look.

...and of course a Mighty Mouse.

...and a glimpse back.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Logan's Run

Now there was a movie that had meaning for me. No, it wasn't the running or hunting or the just pre-Star Wars special effects. This was the first time I saw a nude woman on screen. How do you forget something like that!! I remember really liking the movie as a child regardless of the nudity and I vaguely remember liking the TV version with Gregory Harrison too, but I am sure that if I saw that one again I would change my mind. When I was on the waning days of my 29th year I got the DVD version of the movie and watched it from a different perspective. If you recall, in the movie, you were only allowed to live until you were 30!! Takes on a different meaning when you get to that age. So here is my take on that classic movie. Did this one all in Illustrator. Nice change of pace after Flash Gordon.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Flash Gordon:Start to Finish. Part 6-The Final

So it all comes down to this. Last time I told you that I felt I was almost done. However, that was not the case. The project languished for several years. I used a segment of it for a printer's test once but then it sat again. Finally not too long ago, here in early 2008 I opened it up and decided that I was going to finish all my projects that I started. Now armed with a plethora of custom brushes and the latest edition of Photoshop (CS3) I gave myself a deadline and thought 10 years was enough. I went back and touched up what I had already done and dove in head-first to finally paint everything that was waiting. More changes were made but they are not as drastic. The color palette became less red and distressing was added. Ten years since I started. Hard to believe. It really does seem like just last week. I hope you all enjoyed the process and the journey. If not, at least it's over.

Thanks! I REALLY hope you all like it!!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Flash Gordon:Start to Finish. Part 5-More Changes

Well, alot of time has passed again. Somewhere around 2003 I decided to revisit the project and re-paint my characters since I was now much more comfortable with working in Photoshop. When version 7 came out with the much improved brush engine, it really made a difference in my work. Coupled with that, the file handling of layers became easier too. It's SO hard to go backwards with your work, thus a re-paint was necessary. I also had gained better reference for Flash himself once again so I did a quick test painting and then proceeded to make the change. You can also see that some elements are still just paste in's of reference but it's starting to look finished. I got alot of prodding to finish at this point. My friend Tim even bought me a reproduction of an original Flash Gordon serial poster as inspiration for me to finish it. I could almost taste it!!!


Friday, May 16, 2008

Flash Gordon:Start to Finish. Part 4-Mock up & Color Study

When I did my first mock up in Photoshop, I was still not actually thinking of doing the final in a digital application. This must have been done around 1999 or 2000. Notice that the laser rifle in Flash's hands is not even finished but I had already changed the head. Most elements are actually my reference pasted in as placeholders until I could complete my drawings. Still thinking that I would do full rendered drawings for every element by hand.

Sometime after that I must have made the decision to forge ahead and try to complete the job in Photoshop. The first color comp is relatively unchanged from the black and white mock and the coloring looks quite crude now, but at the time I actually thought that I was almost done!! Little did I realise what was ahead.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Flash Gordon:Start to Finish. Part 3-More Drawings

Everybody loves a good villain and I think Ming is just about tops. He really sets the standard for sci-fi villainy. Would Darth Vader exist if Ming did not?? I don't think so. Anyway, during my research I noticed quite late is that most posters for ANY incarnation of Flash Gordon really emphasized Ming in the composition. Even my thumbnails did that initially. Therefore I decided I would change that. This time the hero would be the true centerpiece. Ming can always steal the show, but why make it easier for him.

Finding good reference for Charles Middleton proved to be quite an undertaking in itself but I think he turned out well in the end. Some have already voiced their opinion and stated that he was their favorite part of the final painting. So here are my preliminary drawings of Charles Middleton as Ming the Merciless.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Flash Gordon:Start to Finish. Part 2-Drawings

Once I knew roughly what I wanted in my composition, I began doing research and gathering reference. I can't tell you how much this has changed since I started. When I first began I had to rely on old magazines in a library, pics that were photocopied so much that the image was all broken down and freeze framing and drawing from a VCR. As the years went on, the Internet became invaluable as did DVD and permanent screen grabs in better resolution. However, I could not find pristine prints of the old 1930's movie serials and they are all grainy and fuzzy even on DVD. Of course better reference sometimes necessitated a redrawing or repainting part of the picture. That happened alot actually and if I saved EVERY version, I think there would be about 12!! Also, as you will see when this is all over, that the final drawings are not always what wound up in the final painting. As I got more experienced with Photoshop, I was able to repaint right in the file without redrawing first. You can see two different heads on Flash himself already and I will tell you that neither of these are the final one. In fact, ALL the characters have had noticeable revisions in the final piece. The one Flash head that is colored, is in fact, the very first drawing that I colored in Photoshop and was done as a test to see if I could even think about doing this digitally. I actually thought when I first started that it would be done in oils!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Flash Gordon:Start to Finish. Part 1-Thumbanails

Ten years ago I did a small thumbnail on a scrap of paper in the Campus Store where I worked in college. Classes had ended and was just prior to graduation. I had done a few "poster style" pieces of art for my senior project and there was a few subjects I didn't have time for. Flash Gordon was one of the them. You might remember from earlier posts how much I have always liked the character (if you don't remember, go check it out on my archive. NOW!). I had also just discovered Photoshop and became curious how I could incorporate digital technology into my art. How naive I was! Well, alot more thumbnails followed. I had gotten comments from some faculty members during my senior project that my project should have been thumbnails!! I really like doing them I guess. I love the exploration of shapes. Or maybe I just suck and it takes me forever to find something that works!

It's not uncommon to put aside projects for personal use when faced with doing work that puts food on the table. That's what happened here. It kept getting put aside. Again and again. But I kept coming back to it. Two months ago, I came back to it again and decided that I really needed to finish the project before the ten year anniversary. I am elated to say that not only did I meet the deadline imposed by myself, but I have also exceeded my own expectations with the final product. So I thought I would share the whole process with you all. Hence the title "start to finish". Part one seen here is all the thumbnails I could find and scan in. It spanned about five sketchbooks and untold amounts of scrap paper. I even stumbled upon a few in books on my shelf crammed between pages of reference. I arranged them the best I could since time has washed away any true order and I also remind you that they were not all done prior to moving on to the next stage. I revisited thumbnailing many times during the process as changes were made. In fact, there is no thumbnail I could find that actually looks exactly like the final composition since last minute revisions were done digitally in the final file. So have a peek and stay tuned for Part Two: The Drawings.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Test. This is just a test.

I do ALOT of doodling on the computer. I love trying out new ways to do things, mixing and matching, importing textures and brushes, etc. I have always been like this. Even back in art school, before going digital, I was pretty much doing this with traditional media and I am glad that has not gone away in spite of it. Helps to remind me that the computer is a tool, not the end all be all solution. So anyway, this was an old sketch done with textured brushes and such. It was my first attempt at doing so. I guess I am showing this as a preview of what's to come and then you can see for yourself where it was applied and, hopefully, refined.