Friday, June 27, 2014

CCN: Superhero Cover 1

I thought this week we'd take a break from the space race and head back down to earth. Of course, I'm not going to stray too far astray from the fields of the fantastic.  I've been asked to do a cover for a fanzine that I was strongly associated with way back in the 1980s & 1990s: THE COLLECTORS CLUB NEWSLETTER.

I was actually the group's president and published 15 issues from #36 - #50 over the space of several years. I'm far too lazy too look up the dates right now, but I think it was from around 1983 - 1987 or so (I'll look it up later when I've got time). Anyway, the group was cool and featured several people who would go on to professional careers in comics and elsewhere, including movie producer, a screenwriter, an award-winning game designer (that last one's me).

Anyway, I left the group ages ago, but it continued on until 1999, publishing a total of 103 issues. Through the social media phenomenon that is Facebook, many of us old CC members reconnected and created an online group where we have caught up on what's happened in our live: marriages, divorces, current success... and our love for the comics of that time period. Former member Alan Sissom even decided to revive publication and created an honest-to-goodness revival of the title that is printed the same way it was back then: a small digest-sized magazine of 5.5 x 8.5 inches with a b&w interior (that's a sheet of typing paper folded in half and stapled on the spine). The fanzine includes letters, artwork, fiction, poetry and other stuff, including some highlighted conversations from the FB group (which is accepting new members, by the way, and it's free to join and free to receive a PDF version of the newsletter).

Anyway... all that preamble is just to set you up for this week's illustration. Alan asked me to do the cover for the next issue of the CCN. Being the swell guy that I am, I agreed.

I thought about doing something space based (like my Galaxy Prime work), or even adapting one of the new illustrations I've created for the GUTSHOT: NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEADWOOD project that I'm working on at Hawgleg Publishing. Both of those were viable ideas, but I decided to do something new and original for them, and something that tied in more closely with the group's focus on comic books. So, I'm going to create an original superhero cover in the style of a classic comic book. 

For the cover, I'm going to use the club's "mascot," who appears in its logo.

I did not create this logo -- I'm pretty sure it was drawn by Nick Alenikov (who used to draw under the name "Nasty"), but I did clean it up and color it a few years back for the group to use in this modern, color age (back when I was leading the group, color was too expensive, so covers were photocopied in b&w on color paper). The logo is also used over at the Website I'm setting up for the group:  The plan is to host scanned covers and scanned issues to create an online archive of the material we created way back when.

Meanwhile, back at my cover project...
But I digress. Using a 3D program called Daz Studio (it's similar to Poser), I created a 3D version of the character and started to work on getting the classic comic book look I want for the cover. I tried a few of my digital inking techniques, but I wasn't happy with the way they turned out. So, I cracked open an old software program I have called Manga Studio (I have version 4). This is a VERY cool program for creating comic book art. It actually has the ability to set up panels, word balloons, force lines, and so forth. But it's best known for having a very cool set of automatic brushes that simulate real-world brushes and pens without the need for a pressure-sensitive pen and tablet.

Like any software, there's a big learning curve. I've played with this program, but have not invested the hours it will take to master its power and flexibility. And it really has a lot to offer.

I spent a few hours manually inking this sample figure illustration. Much of the time was spent figuring out how to get good results from the brushes and pens. I tried different weights, techniques, and approaches until -- by the end of the evening -- I was getting some decent results. 

The example you're seeing here is my sample inking overlaid on the original, color render (enhanced a little in Photoshop to pump up the colors a bit and make them look more like classic comic book coloring). This is JUST A SAMPLE -- this will not be used in the cover I'm creating. No... that will be something a little more interesting than a simple character pose image.

Time Spent so far:
2 hours downloading superhero props & costume bits
4 hours creating the character
4 hours inking with Manga Studio

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