Hope you all enjoyed New Year’s Day.
For those of you who are not familiar with what a sketchcover is, they are a regular comic book with a blank “variant” cover made to draw on. The cover usually just has the masthead logo, issue number, and bar-code on it, the rest is a Bristol type of paper. Sometimes they are blank on just the front side, and sometimes they are blank on the front and back which allows artists to do a wrap-around design if they’d like. That’s what I did for this GOTG sketchcover.
First I started off drawing the layout in pencil. I normally just use a yellow #2 pencil and pencil sharpener. If I was going to do just render the whole image in pencil I would use some nicer hard, medium, and soft lead pencils (F, H, HB, B, etc.). Sometimes I will just draw everything freehand, but on this one I needed to fit the figures together, so I arranged them in Photoshop, printed them out, and then used my lightbox to help transfer them. Once I had their outlines and a few details drawn in place I then go ahead and finish the rest of the figures by freehand adding details and shading. Since the cover stock is pretty thick, it’s hard to make out any details so it’s usually easier for me to freehand them. There’s a way to make graphite “carbon paper”, but I’ve been too lazy to transfer the images that way. (A couple tutorials on how you can make your own are here, here, and here.)
For the color I start laying in some yellow with my Copic markers. Sometimes I may do all my shadow colors first, but for this I didn’t want the yellow markers to pick up any stray darker colors. I love Copics and have been using them for several years now. They come in a a couple different sizes, are available in a large variety of colors, and can be refilled. The best place I’ve found online for that is OtakuFuel.com. My wife Nicki gave me a bunch of Copic refills for Christmas- they’re great stocking stuffers!
Next I started adding some brown and red tones with my Copics. I also used some Prismacolor and Letraset markers here and there as well. I’ve got a good bit of Copics, but occasionally I’m missing a few colors needed. Working on getting those I need. They can be a bit pricey if you can’t get them on sale, but I try to pick up a couple here and there when I can.
Then I started filling in the background in blue. Used about three or four different shades of blue. Made sure to keep some paper between the cover and the inside comic. Even though the cover stock is pretty thick, I didn’t want to take a chance on that much marker bleeding through.
Once I got the background done, I started back on the figures of Groot- adding more browns, grays, yellows, greens, and blues until I had the color work pretty much done. Taking progress pics helps to see how everything is working with the drawing and the lighting/shading. When I paint I like to take a few steps back away from the canvas to see the whole picture, and not just the area I’ve been working on.
After the color work was good, I started outlining the figures in ink and then working on more details. I used a #3 Pigma Micron pen for inking.
Once the inking was done, I started on the white highlights. I used a white Gelly Roll pen and a white Prismacolor pencil. I added in a star field and went back over some of my colors until I was happy with the cover.
And there you have it- the finished Groot sketchcover.
I had a lot of fun working on it, but I will say that once I started drawing all the details on the four Groots I immediately regretted starting on this one…I didn’t think I’d ever get done!
This weekend I picked up some more sketchcovers at Comics and Collectibles in Memphis, TN. They had a lot of Marvel titles to choose from including a lot of Avengers, X-Men, and Star Wars books. They were having a New Year’s sale so I got 20% off each of them (except Captain America, which was a new issue). I spent part of this afternoon reorganizing my sketchcovers and putting them in my new Batman and Harley Quinn comic short boxes. The new decorated comic boxes look much better sitting in my Batcave than just the plain white ones did. Got the printed ones at Comics and Collectibles, Comic Cellar, and Rick’s Comic City. Oh, I saw sketchcover blanks on the shelves at Rick’s Comic City when I was in Nashville a few weeks ago.
I have special ordered a lot of blanks from Jason at Comic Cellar (which is now called “The Cellar“). I’ve got many of my finished sketchcovers on sale there, along with some sketchcards- including some of my artist returns from licensed projects. I’ll be doing a Have Geek Will Travel blog post on each of those comic shops I mentioned, plus some that I visited in New Orleans back before my heart surgery.
Speaking of my heart surgery, a couple weeks ago I was given the okay by my surgeon to go back to work and drive myself. I still keep a pillow handy when I’m in a car (to help protect my chest from the seat-belt and airbag) and attended some cardiac rehab sessions and have begun doing more exercise. My chest had been a bit numb since shortly after my bypass, and I honestly had more pain in my leg than I ever did in my chest (except for the occasional cough, sneeze, or evil hiccups). The good thing is now I’m starting to get a bit more feeling in my chest, but the bad thing is most of the time that feeling is some sort of discomfort or sharp pain. I am keeping my weight and blood pressure down, and my blood sugar numbers are doing better, too. Still have another month or so before I’m supposed to lift anything over 10lbs. It’s amazing how hard that has been, but a quick shooting pain will remind you not to.
Here’s hoping that 2018 is going to be less of a pain than 2017 was!
Happy New Year!