Friday, January 1, 2016

Welcome, 2016!

Another year has come and gone.  2015 was definitely a year for big changes in my professional life.

Unfortunately, I had to close down The Comic Studio.  Students were dwindling and I just couldn't keep the doors open.  But I still keep in touch with a few students who've been with me since day 1.  I hope we can get together still for an afternoon of art and video games or anime.

But I had the opportunity to take on the role of graphic designer for the Memphis Redbirds.  I am really enjoying my new position along with all the challenges it's presenting me.  So far I've been able to design special event nights, among them were superhero and Star Wars related.

On the comic book side, Shinobi: Ninja Princess was picked up by Scholastic.  So now kids can get the trade book from the local comic book shop AND the school book fair!  Remember how exciting those were?  I'm looking forward to attending my son's book fair in February to do sketches and signings for the kids.

I am really excited to announce the launch of our MAW Productions Patreon

This will be a family affair, so you won't be getting special updates and art from just me.  My wife, Janet, along with our son, Anakin, will be creating as well.  We appreciate any support you're able to offer.  Here are some of the tiers and perks you'll be able to select from:

To be clear, the MAW Productions Patreon is NOT for commissions.  The perks and rewards you get will be art we choose to work on at the time.  So it will be a mixed bag of comic book/superhero stuff, whimsical sketches, fantasy, etc.

If you're still interested in commissioning us with a special request, you can email us at

ONWARD, 2016!!!

Monday, January 19, 2015

There have been a lot of people that have wanted to make our comic book illustration class but can't because of time of day or just living out of the area. I have been trying to think of a way to include and expand class to more people outside of my general area. So, here is your chance to be a part of the movement.
In MARCH, we will be launching our correspondence classes where students will get comic book illustration assignments and get one on one critique from me on their projects. The assignments range from anatomy, to perspective, to page design, to graphic design. This will help artists wanting to get into the industry understand deadlines, get professional critique in order to better sharpen skills, and understand direction in a client/editor/art director capacity. This will all be available for a low monthly fee of $30.00. However, it will only be open to 15 committed students. Making assignment deadlines is a MUST. If you are interested, fill out the registration form at the link below, email it back to me, and please feel free to contact me for more information!!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Tutorial #13: Digital Inking by Black Ant

As an indy comic book creator and friend of MAW Productions, Black Ant has been on our radar for a while. His art is energetic and vibrant with an animated quality not seen in a while. So, I asked him to give us a hand in explaining his digital inking techniques! This is an in depth look into digital inking and on the advanced level. So, you might want to have some knowledge of photoshop while tackling this one! Give it a read! You will be glad you did!

Digital Inking Tutorial
By: Black Ant

This technique I am about to explain is how I create more traditional style comic work using only Photoshop. You can apply the steps to scanned images also. From my experience, it is not a faster process than traditional inking, but I believe it to be more convenient for those who may not have experience using brush and nibs or also if you don't have access to your equipment. 

I created this tutorial for people who are somewhat knowledgeable about Photoshop basics. I am currently using Photoshop CS4 and a Wacom Intuos 4 Tablet, but this process should work regardless of your Photoshop version or tablet. I don't go into great depth about tools and their usage, but I do explain how to access each setting I discuss in my process. 

Also note, I do use the pen tool for certain parts of this illustration. It is not necessary, but it is convenient for longer and smoother lines. I don't go into detail about how to use it, but you can find tutorials online and YouTube on how to master it. 

So lets begin. 

1. I start off with a loose digital sketch of the character. This is a commission of the character Ochi, who is created and owned by David Riley of All Knightz Comics in the UK. I am only paying attention to the general line work at this stage and making sure proportions are correct. For this particular illustration, the client wanted the camera to be placed underneath the character, so the proportions can be a little tricky for this angle.

I work on a separate layer from the white background. This will later be merged down, but for now, I keep the layers separated so if I need to erase, I do not have to worry about the background layer.

2. Once I get a good enough sketch, I then go and clean up the line work. I am still not paying any attention to the shadows at this stage. I just want to make sure my line art is as clean as possible for the inking process. I also do not worry about any small intricacies either (such as the belt or the headset) at this point because I will be using the pen tool later for those items. 

You can accomplish this process 1 of 2 ways:

Process A
-Duplicate the layer. Cmd + J  (Mac)  or  Ctrl + J (Win)
-Change the opacity of the layer with the loose sketch to around 20-30%
-Create a new layer. Cmd + Shift + N (Mac) or Ctrl + Shift + N (Win)
-Draw over the sketch

or Process B
-Switch back and forth between the brush and eraser tool to clean up your lines on the initial loose sketch layer (my preferred method).  

3. Once you have a tighter sketch, its time to go in and add your shadows. I do this by using a larger brush size with Shape Dynamics turned on to 'Pen Pressure'. This gives a more fluid stroke to the shadows. I also use the eraser tool to get any small details I may not be able to create fully with the large brush such as the fabric folds or the outline around his chest. 

Again, you do not have to be 100% precise at this stage. You just want to give yourself a general layout of what areas you will be tracing over. 

4. This step is important if you are working on a tablet such as the Intuos or the Bamboo. You will need to scale up the image, at least +50%. I usually double the image size. You do this by going to Image > Image Size. Go to the drop down menu under the Pixel Dimension section and change it to 'Percent'. Make sure Constrain Proportions is checked. Enter anywhere between 150-200%. 

You will be downscaling the image back to its original dimensions once you're done, but be cautious with your memory, because upscaling an image this large does allocate a good portion of your RAM. If you don't have over 4GB, you may experience some lag. You can compensate for this by making sure you only having one Photoshop document open and lowering your layer count as much as possible. 

Now the reason I do this is to compensate for the jitteriness of my line stroke when working on an tablet. Its inevitable to have some sort of jittery line, but once the image is downscaled, you will barely be able to see it. The larger you can work, the less jitteriness in the stroke you will see once downscaled.  

5. After you have upscaled your image, next you will be changing the hue of the sketch so you trace over it. You do this by Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation. 

Click Colorize. Change your Lightness Settings first to 40%. This allows the black pixels to show the color change. Next you will adjust the Hue and Saturation settings. I prefer to use blue lines for sketch, which are the settings I have shown, but you can use any color you like. The whole purpose of this stage is to allow the line art to be seen when inking over it. 

6. Your line art should look similar to this. 

7. Now you're going to start getting your brush settings ready for inking. Use a regular hard round brush with the settings I have in the screenshot. 

8. This step is optional depending on your preference, but I turn 'Noise' on. Reason being is because it gives a sort of grainy feel to the ink lines, similar to how your lines would look if you scanned in an inked illustration. Its a very slight difference, but I like the final look. 

9. Next I use a new layer and begin to ink over the outline of the blue sketch. I purposely did not ink the boots in this stage because for long straight lines, long curves, and techno-organic shapes, I prefer to use the pen tool. 

10. As you can see, a lot of the lines in the boots are very smooth and elongated. I use the pen tool so I don't have to worry about jittery lines. You can also set the settings of the pen to give you a tapered line, like I used in the indented parts of the boots. I won't go into detail on how to use the pen tool in this tutorial since it takes awhile to grasp the understanding of how to use it, but if you are already experienced in its usage, its definitely a valuable asset in the inking process. Use it sparingly though as the whole purpose of my process is to try to emulate as close to a traditionally inked illustration as possible, so you don't want every line to look perfect. 

11. Next step you are going to set up a new layer and start inking in your shadows. Once you are happy with them, merge down down the shadow ink layer with your inked line work by holding Cmd (Mac) or Ctrl (Win) while clicking on both layers. Right click and select 'Merge Layers'. 

12. At this point you may be satisfied with the results, but I want the edges to be little softer as if I were using a real brush. To do this, I use a set of brushes created by another PS user which you can download at this link ( Once you download the file, you should place the .abr file in your preset folder by dragging the file to your PS folder: Adobe Photoshop/Presets/Brushes. 

13. Next you will load the brushes by going to the Brush menu and clicking Load Brushes. Find the .abr file in directory listed in the previous step. 

14. Select the brush labeled 'Pinceau Poil Long' and open up the your brush settings by going to the brush panel icon (if you're using Panels) or go to Window>Brushes. You are going to go to Shape Dynamics and set the Angle Jitter Control to 'Direction', which basically sets the brush hairs to follow the direction of the pen. 

15. Trace along the outside of the hard edge areas. For any areas where you may go over into the pure white (such as in the area on the armband), just erase over it. 

16. For the last stage, I then merge down all the inked layers with the white background. I then go back to my 'Regular Hard Round' brush, change my foreground color to white, and go into adding small details to areas where I want to create more contrast such as the fold in the fabric folds, the outlines of the uniform and the bricks. I also will go in and use the pen tool for utilities and weapons like his belt and headset.

Once you're happy with the result, you can downscale the images to its original dimensions and begin your coloring process. 

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me through Facebook.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tutorial # 12 - Copic Marker Commissions

This Tutorial has been a long time coming. I’ve been so busy getting the Comic Studio classes off the ground that I haven’t had time to compose a tutorial for the blog. Sorry about that! But I have made it up to you by giving everyone my process for using Copic markers. I so love Copics. And, I guarantee that once you try them, you will to. So, here we go.

Most of my commissions are Copic illustrations now. Since I discovered the joy of the markers, I haven’t been able to let a commission go by without splashing a little here and there. Now, I have to warn you, Copic markers are EXPENSIVE! So, if you are using them for commissions, you have to price your work accordingly. That’s why my free commissions will probably never have Copics added.

I first start out by lightly getting my pencils figured out. For this one, I wanted to draw Shianndrea Toshigawa from my upcoming series Kunoichi Hime. I knew I wanted her in a semi action pose with her ninjato. I just didn’t really know what that pose would be. After tinkering around a bit, I came up with this basic idea. 
(Side note: I was drawing outside in the elements on this one. It was pretty cold and I don’t recommend doing that unless you have to. I think my fingers are still frozen.)

After I got the general idea down, I changed her far hand from holding the scabbard to a high block. (Side note: This is one of the few times that I wished I listened to my first mind. I like her hand holding the scabbard better.) I then went in an planed my lights and darks. This is VERY IMPORTANT if you are going to be using Copic Markers. PLAN AHEAD, PEOPLE!

Inking this, I got a chance to break out the Japanese brush set that I hardly get to use. Using these brushes forces me to stay light, which, is good in the frozen situation I was in. I didn’t have the control to tighten up my inks in this situation. Inking with brush is a completely different technique than inking with a pen. (Check out Tutorial number 2 - Inking for techniques on inking with a pen.) I started out by working on my background blacks and let them creep into Shianndrea here and there. By use of the brush, being dipped directly into black India Ink, I managed to pull some very interesting lines and shapes off.

After I got my inking how I liked it, I started in with the Copic Markers. Now, with any markers, you have to work a little more quickly than normal. I try to keep the marker as wet as I can to avoid streaking (Unless you want the streaks.). I also try to move from medium tones to darker tones and leave white as the main highlight. Sometimes I may touch up the highlights after the fact with white acrylic paint and a fine tipped brush. With Shianndrea, I used warm, cool and neutral gray. (Side note: I mostly do my commission pieces in gray tones. If I add color, it’s usually a spot color with gray.) How I structure my gray usage is in terms of warm and cool colors. Where there would be cooler colors in the piece (blues, greens etc.), I use an array of cool grays. For warm colors (reds, yellows, oranges etc.), I use warm grays. I always try to keep in mind light source and shadow because that is where the magic is with Copic Markers. The markers play nice with one another and tend to blend easily. If you plan correctly and vary your time putting down different grays, you can get some awesome effects. (Side note: What I mean by varying your time is, Copic Markers can go on very wet. As it dries, it becomes more “fixed” in the spot. If you let your base tone dry a little more, you can get more dramatic shading when you overlay a darker tone on top of the base. On the flip side, if you lay a darker tone on top of a wetter base, you get more of a gradual shading effect as the two dry together.) This is where I have the most fun and it can last for a few hours if you want!

And here is the finished piece complete with sunshine. (Side note: As soon as I finished, the sun came out and it got warmer. Just like my luck!)

Feel free to share your personal process on line with us in the comments bellow. As well, join the talks on our Facebook page and learn other ways to illustrate a pin up. Let us know what you think!! See you guys next week!

Until next blog, keep the pencils moving.
Illustrator, Designer, Father, Husband

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Comic Studio - Supply List

Here is a list of supplies that each student (and comic book artist) will need for the Comic Studio Classes starting in December. This is not the be all end all list of comic book supplies. However, this is what we will be using in the classes. New supplies can be added as we advance further in classes. For those that are interested in classes, feel free to contact me here or by email at!

8.5X11 Sketch BookPencils H, HB, 2B(These can be bought in a pack)

Non Repro Blue Pencil

Mechanical Pencils .05 or .07(These can be bought in a pack)

Pink Pearl Eraser

Micron Pens .005 .01 .03 .05 .08 1.0(These can be bought in a pack)

Black brush pen

Large Sharpie

Black India Ink

Paint Brush 02 and 14

Bristol Pad 14x17 or 11x17

Bristol Pad 9x12


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Comic Studio -- Class Is in Session

Saturday, Dec. 8th, marked The Comic Studio's very first day of class.  We had a good turn out, a good mix of students of all ages.  After introductions, Mr. Wade went right into teaching some of the basics of drawing: sketching!
Shapes to make the face easy.
Eager to learn.


Sketching two big guys: the Thing and the Hulk.
Art is not about perfection.  It's about the learning and creative process.  The Comic Studio hopes to be a place where young, aspiring artists can get together and learn from each other, to feed off each others' creative synergy, to inspire and support each others' efforts.

It starts with an idea, then with a line, then a shape, then a sketch.

Draw every day. Draw something

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Comic Studio

With the Comic Studio first class this week, I wanted to make sure everyone attending is on the same page. Class will be at 10:30 am until 12 noon this Saturday (December 8th) at 2547 Broad Avenue! I will be passing out the supply list and schedule of classes Saturday. So, all you or your child need to bring is a sketch book (8.5x11), a pencil (mechanical or number 2) and eraser. We will be working on our sketching and seeing where each student is skill wise. If you have not downloaded the registration form, please do so. You can bring the registration form and class fee with you. Other than that, have fun is the only other requirement!

Want to see what you are in store for? Check out my interview on News Channel 3's Live at 9!

See you guys at the Studio!