One More Month

2018 is about to end very soon. Time passes quickly. 

Art posts will return soon. But before that, there are many things that I need to attend to. Mostly to do with writing. 

In the meanwhile, the end is ending with a lot of “conventions” around Malaysia. Wish I could catch a few. Here’s hoping for the opportunity. 

Have a blessed week ahead. 

Work In Progress – Dr. Doom

Not done – Black and White. 

I enjoyed Jonathan Hickman’s run on the Fantastic Four, and one of the iconic scene (for me), is the battle against the Reeds (Council of Reeds). Doctor Doom really showed off his reputation when he faced off the Celestials (one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe). 

Will update this blog with the completed piece, once it is done. 

The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis

The Front Cover illustration by Stephen Lavis

I honestly struggled to read C. S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” back in the ’90s. His writing was very trying since it was verbose and not succinct. When my sister bought this book back (from England), I hesitated to pick it up. How exciting could this be? I guess I was really bored at that time because I eventually read the book. Mind you, this is the last book of the Narnia series; so I came into it with absolutely no background story, no build up of themes, and no knowledge of the Narnia world. 

Fortunately, the first chapter of the book was targeted for new readers to the series. This was a good move as it allowed me to enter into Narnia through the interaction between two characters – the ape and the donkey. I was intrigued by the pacing – it was faster than what I expected.  Pauline Baynes’ illustration for the inside of the book helped tremendously. Although unfamiliar with the backstory, I quickly turned page after page, as the theme of confusion and growing darkness built. It was not until I came to the turning point of the book, when the Lion finally appeared, that I realised the Christian connection. 

Back Painted Cover

I highly recommend reading this book. In fact, after reading the whole series (because of this stellar book) my favourite is still “The Last Battle”. The theme of the book matches the theme of the Bible – what we call the apocalyptic theme. Even if you are not a Christian, there is the striking parallel with today’s events – of rising conflict which are caused by differences in beliefs. I particularly liked the role of a particular group (I will not name them here) who chooses the “middle-ground”, only to become another player in the violent conflict! 

A note of caution though: there are certainly some Christian doctrines conveyed in the book, however, some are entirely Lewis’ own interpretation and belief – that is not orthodox or evangelical. Let that be the only caution I put on a book that is commonly categorised under “Christian Fiction – for Children”. The snippet that I truly remember, and often used to illustrate, to others:

“Aslan,” said Lucy through her tears, “could you – will you – do something for these poor Dwarfs?”

“Dearest,” said Aslan, “I will show you both what I can, and what I cannot, do.” He came close to the Dwarfs and gave a low growl: low, but it set all the air shaking. But the Dwarfs said to one another, “Hear that? That’s the gang at the other end of the stable. Trying to frighten us. They do it with a machine of some kind. Don’t take any notice. They won’t take us in again!”

Aslan raised his head and shook his mane. Instantly a glorious feast appeared on the Dwarfs’ knees: pies and tongues and pigeons and trifles and ices, and each Dwarf had a goblet of good wine in his right hand. But it wasn’t much use. They began eating and drinking greedily enough, but it was clear that they couldn’t taste it properly. They thought they were eating and drinking only the sort of things you might find in a stable. One said he was trying to eat hay and another said he had got a bit of an old turnip and a third said he’d found a raw cabbage leaf. And they raised golden goblets of rich red wine to their lips and said “Ugh! Fancy drinking dirty water out of a trough that a donkey’s been at! Never thought we’d come to this.” But very soon every Dwarf began suspecting that every other Dwarf had found something nicer than he had, and they started grabbing and snatching, and went on to quarreling, till in a few minutes there was a free fight and all the good food was smeared on their faces and clothes or trodden under foot. But when at last they sat down to nurse their black eyes and their bleeding noses, they all said:

“Well, at any rate there’s no Humbug here. We haven’t let anyone take us in. The Dwarfs are for the Dwarfs.”

“You see,” said Aslan. “They will not let us help them. They have chosen cunning instead of belief. Their prison is only in their own minds, yet they are in that prison; and so afraid of being taken in that they cannot be taken out.”

Chapter 13, pages 140-141, from the 8th Impression printed in 1983

The dwarfs portrayed here is frightfully similar to many today. 

You SHOULD buy this book if you have never tried the Narnia Series, or you need a book to help a teenager ‘grow up’ and think of ‘greater life issues’. On Bookdepository (where you get FREE shipping), it is listed for around RM30… this is much CHEAPER than many local bookshops in Malaysia. 

I prefer the 1983 cover, which I posted above. Lovely painted cover.

Hope you enjoy the book! I give it an 8.5/10.

Wolverine: Logan in Costume – Black & White Watercolour

Noir Blanc Wolverine…

Never give up. That is the motto for the month. With so many things on the plate, we just need to persevere with the little things. I did NOT intend to do any more sketches after posting this morning’s Batman watercolour (which I did a few days ago). But, something just snapped… and I whisked this up in an hour’s time at a local cafe.

This was all done with watercolour (black), and a few crumpled tissue paper to soak excess water and to smudge some areas for effect. I thought this was better than some others that I deemed “defective” and had to abort. By the way, my sketchbook is finishing soon! Yay… my first complete sketchbook, with less than stellar work. But it is the completion that is the reward, right? 

Wolverine in his old costume. I think it is about time I tackle John Byrne’s rendition of him in that famous Dark Phoenix arc… Hmmm… that seems to pique my interest. Hope you enjoy this. 

Oh, I used a 005 Pigma Micron just for some of the outline and for small details, like in the eye area… mouth, teeth. 

Dreary Dark Knight Watercolour

Trying out some watercolour technique. Seems fitting for my mood. I’ll try more. As my art teacher and friend once put it – “it is hard to fight with water, you need to collaborate with it.”

I really wonder how the greats use watercolour to great effect in comic books. I guess a solid grasp on anatomy and the basics of proportions is essential. Will have to start from there. Practice, practice, practice. 

Hellspawn versus Venom! Two Anti-Heroes facing off

Black & White Version

I have mentioned previously that I am a Todd McFarlane fan. I REGRETTED not buying the first issue of Spawn when I had the chance to do so. But I was merely in my early teens and asking mum for money (RM7 was a lot of money for an issue) was not easy. American comic book collection was not a hobby for the average joe from a middle-class family. I remember the exchange rate, an Image Comic cost around RM6.80, with a cover price of USD1.95. That was way back, when the exchange rate was low, around USD1 = RM3.20/3.30. Unfortunately, things just got worse as the years passed. Back to Spawn, I bought my first two issues 6 and 8. Many years would pass before I was able to buy a few more (not the first two issues though). 

Anyway, my other favourite comic book artist is Erik Larsen, of Spider-man fame. I remembered reading my friend’s comic where Venom trapped Peter on a remote island, fully intent on killing him. The pacing of the two-part story was good and exciting! In the end Venom believed that he/they had killed Peter in an explosion. The art was wonderful, and from there I began to research on Venom – curious over web-head’s nemesis. 

While doing some work today, I figured, why not draw both of them? And here is the result – all done with my trusty Pentel Brush Pen. The following is the coloured version, which I thought was complete… but something kept nagging at me. What could it be?  

Coloured (Incomplete)

I realised that the above version was incomplete… notice the chains dangling over Spawn’s chest? It was… just dangling there! Oh no… I can imagine the painstaking detail that every comic book artist has to go through just to finish the page. It is a WONDER that they are able to do ONE full-page of comic art a day (which is supposed to be the standard pace). I took up the brush and added the details again… and now, may I present to you the finished piece:

Coloured (Complete)

I realised also that I was missing the shadow of the chains. It just did not sit right with me. Yes, there are still some stuff that needs corrections, like the spikes on the hellspawn’s right arm… but… I will let that slide. Correction pen (the one I have) does not play well with me. I am still trying to find a pen that gives off white ink, that is better than what we get with the correction pen. 

Ollie, the Green Arrow Sketch

Black and white rendition.

You know, I did not actually wanted to draw Ollie (Oliver Queen). But I had “Arrow” playing in the background, and there was just this moment when I paused the episode that just looked nice. So I whipped out the sketchbook, and drew this. I honestly think that “less sometimes is more”, as in, the fewer lines I use, the better the overall piece looks. I have known of some very great comic book artists who use minimal strokes in rendering their characters. Some (of my mind at the moment) of them are: Sean Phillips and Tim Sale. Really good linework that just captures everything through the thickness of the line, the curve, the lack of it (negative space)… 

Unfortunately, I have yet to learn the patience and the skill to do so. Somehow, it just looks sloppy if not enough ‘blacks’ are on the page (actually what went through my mind)… 

Well, I decided to colour the piece. Please bear with my colour selection – I only read the labels, because I am actually colour-blind. Not the severe type, but enough that I do get the green/brown mixed up – along with brown/red and purple/blue. It is my weakness. By themselves, I can ‘guess’ the colour fairly accurately (nowadays), but when it is mixed or next to one another – there is where my confusion begins.

Which picture looks better? The black and white? Or the coloured version? Please let me know. By the way, Stephen Amell will always be the Green Arrow in my mind 🙂

Coloured version.

Logan/Wolverine in His Feral State – Weapon X

The hardest part with Logan is his facial features, IMHO

Here is my challenge of the day – drawing a feral Logan. I love Chris Claremont’s story on Wolverine: he was a mysterious man, who continually struggles to be a civilised man. Logan grew throughout Claremont’s run, from being a mindless berserk, to a thoughtful, self-controlled ninja. However, towards the early 2000’s, the unthinkable happened – they (Marvel head-honchos) decided to make a series to reveal Logan’s backstory and past. That is the worst thing that happened to the character, as the mystery is taken away. 

This particular art is based off Jim Lee’s rendition in X-men #4. I liked Jim Lee’s interpretation of Logan; he was short, bulky, and moody – as I always pictured him to be. You will be surprised how many artist would render Logan as a 5 foot 8 inches. In the original, he is 5 feet 3 inches!!! And no, this was WAY before Hugh Jackman took on the onscreen role. 

This was 95% done with a sepia coloured Pentel Brush Pen. I just ‘corrected’ some areas with Pigma Micron 0.1 pen and a correction pen (for the adamantium claws). 

The finished piece! Voila!

G-Man (Generic Man) Sketch – Crosshatching practice

Generic Man – an obvious clone of Superman!

Today was a slow day. With a house full of sick and recovering people, this was the best I could muster within half an hour. I have a Body-Kun, SFH Figuart doll, which is an obvious clone for the price I paid. I took a few shots on the camera and let my younger son decide which pose he preferred. He wanted to watch me draw, so I gave him the honour of choosing the pose. This was the pose he wanted. After drawing for a while, I thought… “What the heck… let me draw a cape on the guy… and… just make him a blatant copy of the now famous (and universal) Superman.” 

Throw in some watercolour and correction pen ink, and took a small pen knife to scrape lightly across the page, and this is the end result. I notice a lot of mistakes (particularly the chest), but I have to admit that I was not really focusing on the shadows… more on crosshatching itself. It is an AMAZING technique that DEMANDS patience and consistency. Something I need to practice more, and more. When it is mastered to a certain degree, you get wonderful art like the ones by Bernie Wrightson and Dave Sim… beautiful art that I can re-read without a hint of boredom (strictly on art… not story, that is). 

Daredevil Ready for Action!

The challenge is always to come out of the rut after seeing tonnes of wonderful artists out there. My mission is to come out of “amateur” hour and hopefully hone my skills a bit more.

This piece is inspired by the recent Netflix Daredevil series, season 3, which I am highly recommending to everyone. If you have not seen this, GO SEE IT now! Yes… Now.

Matt Murdock’s alter ego is fun to draw because his costume design is not complicated. In this, I think Quesada’s (Joe) style which he used to great effect in his run with Kevin Smith, on the Marvel Knight’s series, back in early 2000, fits the mood and soul of Daredevil perfectly. I remember he would incorporate some art nouveau into the splash pages… Brilliant!

I liked David Mack’s painting too… And of course, Alex Maleev’s phenomenal digital art. Having said that, what works with Daredevil does not translate well with Spider-man, though one would be tempted to think so. The mood and the vibe is just too different.

Hope you enjoy this piece. Done with Pentel Brush Pen (dry), and then with some light inks for outlines, and only then with some simple washes (watercolour). Finished with the correction pen and the Micron ink pen to tighten some of the form.