Demon Girl

A little Halloweenish something that I drew last year but forgot to post. I’ll try to post a more substantive Halloweenish something by the end of the week…

(Yes, it was drawn on the piece of cardboard that you tear off to open a box of tissues.)

Pinstripes and Booo-llets

I was having a conversation with Josh over IM which lead to me proposing a hi-larious image, which lead to me drawing said image because it was suitable for Halloween. Here it is:

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You see, they’ll never take him alive, because he’s already dead. GET IT?? I TOLD YOU I’M HI-LARIOUS! HAPPY HALLOWEEN, SUCKERS!

(I’m behind a post, but I have stuff incoming later this week… )

Mummy Knows Best

Here’s yet another ~10 year old piece, brought to life with new colors:

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Man, there is… a lot going on with this drawing (good, bad, and ugly). I don’t know if I can talk about this coherently, so let’s just take an inventory of some of the weirdness here:

  • Cartoony proportions on the heroine are executed poorly, making her look like a big boobed midget. Maybe that’s not so bad? I’m undecided.
  • Blunderbuss with skull-and-crossbones relief sculpted on the stock. The execution isn’t great, but come on, that’s a decent idea, right?
  • Crop-cricle-esque patterns on the mummy’s sarcophagus, implying an extra-terrestial aspect to the mummy. Just a little bit of extra intrigue thrown in at no extra cost.
  • The mummy’s bandages are way too skinny. What the heck!

At the time that I drew this, I was pretty much maxing out my skills, so even though I can draw much better now, I’m glad I that I could bring some competent colors to the piece. The me of 10 years ago would be pleased, I think. I learned a lot while coloring this, and I’m in one of those creative phases where I feel like I might actually possibly know what I’m doing. Don’t worry folks–such phases are short-lived for any self-respecting artist.

(This counts as post #2 for this week, so I’m keeping steady at a deficit of 4 missed posts. I’m posting early because Comic-Con is later this week, but I’ll be on-track to continue catching up on my missed posts when I get back. I know no one cares about this except for me, but what can I say–if I don’t keep me honest and working, who will? See you on the other side, folks! *dives head first into Comic-Con*)

Wolf Down All Your Candy

Take note, waiters and waitresses: If there are colored pencils left behind at my table because children were amongst the previous occupants of said table, I will draw a werewolf on my placemat:

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Basic line-work was all finished at the restaurant, a few months ago. Further color pencil rendering, computer clean-up/effects/type were done this morning. Because I care that much about you, Dear Reader.

Happy Halloween! I’m gonna watch Troll Hunter and have a Newcastle Werewolf ale tonight.


Help The Cheerleader Commissions, Round 13!

Here’s the thirteenth round of commissions that I’ve finished for Help the Cheerleader. To read more about my involvement with this fundraiser, please CLICK HERE.

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From left to right:

UPDATE: Commissions are still closed for now, and the donations on the Help the Cheerleader page are on hold–the Cheerleader won one of her appeals, so the courts are recalculating her fees. As soon as we know what’s going on, you’ll see an update here as well as on the Help the Cheerleader page. But I’m still at work on the commission requests, and I’ll continue posting–stay tuned!

Step by step and day by day (that’s two ABC TGIF references in a row–I promise this won’t become a trend!)

(EDIT, 01/20/2011: for those who are interested, I’ve compiled this step-by-step walkthrough into a single huge image file–you can get it on my DeviantArt account here)

I talk a decent amount about my artistic process on this blog, but I don’t think I’ve ever really given you, Dear Reader, an actual step-by-step glimpse at what my process looks like. So I thought today it would be nice to take a look at how a finished drawing by J.Ho comes together. Let’s get right into it…

* * *

STAGE ZERO: The assignment and the character.

The “assignment” in this case was not a blog post (although it has become, a blog post), but rather a cover illustration for a book. My old crony Charles produces an e-zine of speculative fiction called If-E-Zine (pronounced Iffy Zine). He was planning to compile some of his work into a book, and I offered my services for the cover.

The cover was to feature the e-zine’s mascot and sometimes ‘host,’ Iffy the Ifreet, a horn-mohawked, skull-faced demon, garbed in leather, chains and spikes (very metal). Charles has dressed as Iffy for Halloween a few times (link, link, link), but always with a slightly different appearance, so I was given free reign to come up with a unique character design, as long as I met the basic criteria.

STAGE ONE: Basic concept for character design, and rough thumbnail for pose.

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At this stage I’m just loosely sketching Iffy, figuring out what he’s going to look like. Combining my favorite aspects of Charles’ past Iffy Halloween appearances, I’m able to decide on the proportions of Iffy’s face, and the configuration of his horns. I sketch him with a powerful build, and very quickly I stumble upon what will become Iffy’s pose for the final illustration–Iffy will be a menacing figure, stalking towards us, with a dangerous warhammer hefted over one shoulder, and a hand aglow with mystic fire.

I start working on some of the details of his costume and his weapon’s design, but before I get any further, I send what I have to Charles, to make sure he likes where it’s headed. He gives me the go ahead and I move forward…

STAGE TWO: Working out costume details.

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A character like Iffy should have a costume that isn’t to symmetrical, but on the other hand, you want the elements to feel balanced so that no one area feels too busy or too bare. One of the changes I make here is to change the barbed wire to razor wire for a more streamlined visual read.

STAGE THREE: Rough cover layout.

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Not much to see here–I just take the rough pose that I’ve come up with, and put it in a template matching the dimensions for the cover, so that I can figure out how the type will match up with the illustration.

STAGE FOUR: Color study.

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Now I’m ready to start the actual drawing… but not really. I’m planning on a very particular backlit color scheme, and I feel the need to do a quick color study over the rough cover layout. This piece isn’t crazy-involved, but I want to make sure that what I’ve got in my head (in terms of layout, type placement, and color) will actually work out on paper. Once I’m satisfied with it, I clear it with Charles, and start drawing…

STAGE FIVE: Loose pencils.

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This probably seems like a complex step, but once the costume details and pose are set, fleshing out the drawing is relatively straightforward. If you look carefully, you can see that I’m contemplating a flame pattern emblazoned on Iffy’s coat, but I’m not crazy about how it’s looking. Charles decides the flames on the coat are too busy, so the final version won’t have them.

When I’m inking my own work, it’s usually unnecessary to tighten the pencils further than this, so I leave it as is and move on to the final inks…

STAGE SIX: Type treatment + final line-art in layout.

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When I finish the final inks, I scan them, clean them up in Photoshop, and place them in the rough cover layout. Charles wants a retro-horror-looking title font, so I research some, and hand-draw a treatment for the title. I place that in the rough cover layout as well, and now we’ve really got an idea of how the final piece is going to look.


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I might have mentioned never shut up about what a slow colorist I am, so for me, this step is particularly time consuming. Someday I’ll make a step-by-step post about my coloring process, which is a whole thing unto itself, but for now I’ll just give you the basics.

Usually I just start slopping some colors around to nail down my color choices. Once I’ve got that figured out, I clean everything up. To keep things flexible for revisions, I tend to keep like-colors in separate layers, and give lighting effects (like the green flame and green highlights) their own layer as well. Color-wise, the important thing with this piece is the dramatic lighting created by the backlight and the green flame, so that’s my focus as I bring this illustration to a close.

Charles is happy with what I’ve done, so that means the illustration is finished, and I just need to finalize the cover layout…

STAGE EIGHT (FINAL): The result.

Charles gives me a template for the cover, as well as all the pertinent copy for the front and back covers. I make a blown-up, faded, monochromatic version of Iffy to use as a design element for the back cover, and insert that, along with all the copy. Behold, the final result:

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You would like to buy a copy, yes?

Semi-Related Topics: Johnny Monster and the New York Comic Con

At the peak of my vile plague I was barely blogging and missed out on telling you all that Johnny Monster #2 was solicited. And now Johnny Monster #3 is available for order in the current issue of Previews.

Johnny Monster #3 (of 3)
Story by Joshua Williamson
Art and Cover by J.C. Grande
32 pages FC $3.50 April 15

The peaceful habitat Johnny Monster created for the monsters has been invaded by violent mercenaries causing utter chaos! As a result, the largest monster the world has ever seen has been unleashed on New York City on a quest for revenge! Only Johnny can stop him… but does he want to? Don’t miss the exciting conclusion to this monster-ous mini-series!

Check out the covers to both #2 and #3, drawn by the talented J.C. Grande and colored by yours truly:

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Be sure to ask your local comic shop to order Johnny Monster #3! It’s on page 170 of February’s Previews catalog, and the Diamond order number is FEB09 2437.

Annnnnd, if you happen to be attending the New York Comic Con, be sure to drop by and visit Josh Williamson (writer of Johnny Monster, Dear Dracula, and Necessary Evil) and Vinny Navarrete (Dear Dracula penciller, Necessary Evil inker, and Johnny Monster logo designer). Those young ruffians wil be sitting with Shadowline at the Image Comics booth.

Post Script: Make sure you check out the Shadowline website, which has a cool Johnny Monster animation at the top of the page.

BONUS POST: Johnny Monster Cometh!!!

Well, what have we here… the current issue of Previews… under Image Comics and Shadowline

Johnny Monster #1 (of 3)
Story by Joshua Williamson
Art and Cover by J.C. Grande
32 pages FC $3.50 February 18

Johnny Monster is the world’s foremost super-star monster hunter, but what the world doesn’t know is that he was raised by the same monsters he’s “hunting”! Now, in order to save his adoptive family…he must fight them! Johnny Monster mixes Tom Strong with Godzilla movies by way of Tarzan and the Phantom to create a compelling and different monster mash! From the acclaimed writer of Dear Dracula and Necessary Evil!

Another offering from my crony Josh, with art by a new collaborator, the talented J.C. Grande! Johnny Monster promises to be a really fun comic, but let’s face, what I’m interested in is ME ME ME. Josh asked me to color the covers for Johnny Monster, and it was really the first time I colored someone else’s art. It was an interesting experience, and I’m pretty happy with the results. Here are J.C.’s bare inks, alongside the finished cover, with my colors, and a very slick logo by Vinny:

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Be sure to ask your local comic shop to order Johnny Monster #1! It’s on page 168 of December’s Previews catalog, and the Diamond order number is DEC08 2275.

Mutant Zoo! Gorilla + Octopus!

For the Mutant Zoo jam, held by Dreamwolf and Super-Munkyboy at Deviantart–here’s a hybrid between a Gorilla and an Octopus:

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… despite their fearsome appearance and deafening displays, the Octorilla is a serene, family-oriented creature, inquisitive and gregarious…

This was the combination that originally attracted me to the Mutant Zoo jam, from a few weeks back. I wasn’t in time for the original deadline, but I actually designed this hybrid before I started on the Bat + Deer combination. I finally got a chance to color it up, so here it is.

Be sure to check out Dreamwolf’s Deviantart page for links to other participants!