#NoLookingBack #018 – On being Overwhelmed

I have a lot I want to accomplish in life, as a writer and creator. I have always wanted to achieve so much and I struggle daily with feeling like I am never doing enough. Even when I am meeting my self-assigned deadlines, producing routine content, and growing my presence on social media – all integral elements of my strategy towards success – I feel I am letting myself down on a cosmic level. It is the ever present hound, nipping at my heels, driving me forward in frustration and confusion.

The funny thing is, that that sensation, of never having accomplished enough… sometimes it freezes me and I get flustered. I wonder if my ideas are worth it, if the effort is worth it. Clearly, the darkness inside me speaks aloud, if what I was doing was any good I’d have become successful by now, after all, I am 32. It comes at me and I see how far I have to go, and feel so overburdened that I consider giving up entirely. My confidence executed by the dark side of my own drive to succeed. Am I worth it? Can I do this? Questions assail me, I lose track of my progress and my organization goes even more to shit than it already is.

I already find it remarkably difficult to balance my day job, my wrestling articles, drawing, working on scripts, and building a social media presence. New projects fall into my lap, stack up daily. I have skills I need to practice, software I pay for that I hardly use and feel discouraged when I practice and get bad results in. The last thing I need to do is beat myself up about the fact that I have too much going on for my mind to handle. But I do it anyways. Somehow I always come out the other side and get back on track.

I’m writing this because sometimes I say things in a way, online or otherwise, that might make me seem like I have so much figured out. But i don’t. I have determination and drive and a willingness to push through down times. I’m stubborn. I have failed a lot and so far none of it has been hard enough to keep me down. Memes and anecdotes tell me that this is the path towards success. One hundred failures before you get it right. Ten thousand hours. I feel like my time is limited, so I better clock them fast. Just gotta keep getting up, it is the only thing that has worked for me so far. I hope one day I can look back at this post, with a wall full of my works and properties behind me, and be proud of the path I took.

#NoLookingBack #016 – Confidence is a hell of a Drug!

In the recent past I’ve developed confidence in myself in a way I have never before experienced as a visual artist. I now know that with dedication, patience, research, and tools I can draw pretty much anything. How well I do it, technically and aesthetically speaking, is just a matter of time.

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Looks like we have an old friend visiting again.

These pictures aren’t new to this article, but they are the most recent completed art that I have. Well, that isn’t associated with my secret project at least. I don’t have all that much to say about them other than that they are a whole set of leaps and bounds from where i used to be.

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I told you that El Aguila Ardiente would be back!

I’m looking forward to seeing where this takes me as i try to incorporate more of the elements and techniques I will need to draw comics into my art. I suffer from a lack of practice with perspective and drawing non-organic shapes in depth. I know that this doesn’t really say much. But it is a statement of my confidence in myself that grows, day by day, as i experiment and reignite my love of drawing. I know that, with time, I will succeed. Here’s hoping that it’s in time for me to make a career out of it.

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So, I know you don’t know me very well, but I fucking LOVE Sabaton!

Do you have any advice or questions? Please leave a comment here.

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#NoLookingBack #015 – More #SketchbookAdventures than you can shake a stick at!

I’m having fun with the names of these articles. I gotta admit, I’ve been feeling pretty worn out. I’ve added so many new things to my day-to-day life that after being derailed by the faulty DVD I was in the midst of reviewing for last week’s aborted #DiscoveringWrestling I found it hard to get back on track. My momentum taken out of me by no fault of my own. But I let it get to me like it was my fault. But I’m not gonna stay down for too long. It isn’t productive. So I shifted focus. I knew I had to get something done that I could put here. This is fresh off the presses!

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It needs a bit more work! Always notice the errors, but recognize the distance you have travelled. This may not be great, but it’s leaps and bounds from where I was two years ago.

Other than this I have been working quite steadily on trying to get through the art for the first page of my comic. I had to choose a heavily detailed scene to start with. It is, however, proving to be a learning experience. the plot is almost fully structured. Starting with the art for the first page before the script is written is usually the direct opposite of how this goes, but it just sort of happened. It’ll be the only page drawn before the script is written. Hell, it may take as long for me to finish my script as it takes for me to finish this page.

I’m thinking of doing daily warm up sketches to try and get myself into drawing more often to speed my process along. I’m pretty excited about this project, and I know it will be fascinating and educational as an experience to complete it. I hope that it will be well received. It’s been a strange process getting to this point, with many ideas that have had to be aborted, stopped, relinquished or set-aside in the interim. I hope some day to find some redemption for these lost, miscreant ideas. It wasn’t their fault. But this project, this project is designed from the ground up to teach me, challenge me, and be completable.

I’m nervous. Wish me luck.

Do you have any feedback or questions? Please leave a comment here.

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#NoLookingBack #013 – Wrestling Rumble in the #SketchbookAdventures Daddy-O!

Okay, okay, I’m cheating here a bit. These are also from an old sketchbook, the same one my mecha drawings are from. It’s all years old content, but I needed to have an article ready for today and figured that I haven’t shown off much in the way of my fictional Pro-Wrestling universe. So, here’s a smattering of some interesting stuff I did. Most of them sort of have an overarching visual theme, so we’re gonna start with the odd one out.

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That beard though…

Around this time I was trying to figure out how to convey more personality in my art for the first successful time. Power Lord here could easily have looked better if drawn with more style, but the idea behind this pose was the big guy gesturing with one finger pose. It should have been more in front of him and more pointed towards the “camera” to really get the job done. I really love how wacky his makeup looks.

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He’s  stylin’ motherfucker.

Believe it or not, this was a tremendous leap forward for me. Just trying to draw the head tilted and a body that was taking a distinctly non rigid position, trying to give him that suave and cool attitude of a P.I., seemed impossible at one time. Looking back at this I of course recognize that I failed in many ways to build proper anatomy and true foreshortening, but this was a step in the right direction. A step that would take many years to mature. I should probably draw more often.

Jorge here, unlike the Power Lord above, and most of the characters you’ll see below, is a big player in the mythology I am building.

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She’s dynamite with a laser beam.

GoldenGrrrl is me having fun with adapting Pro-Wrestling characters and archetypes from the real world through a different lens in my reality. She’s inspired by Golddust and is supposed to ooze with sexual danger and make people feel uncomfortable. I crafted her at the beginning of my desire to increase the number of female wrestlers in my story, and it has only grown to a level where I want to include even more, so I am certain that with the growing importance of that storyline I can find room for her to have a major role at some point. I chose her pose to try and make her seem weird and like Voldo from Soul Calibur.

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Somebody listens to too much King Diamond.

Cemetery is a major player in at least one storyline that dominates the cards of Jersey-State Pro Wrestling’s shows. While the time the major cast spend in JSPW is limited, the turmoil this Undertaker-meets-Raven-meets-Vampiro character and his Perverse Church faction create sends ripples through the fiction. I drew this around the time the E came up with their new belt design, and I liked it enough to model the JSPW belt after it. Heavy shading could have made this image seem more in character.

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Doing his best Bas Rotten impersonation.

The Yin-Yang Kid here is sorta my world’s version of the 1-2-3 Kid if he were a bit more modern. Not much to say here with him except that the soles of boots look very bad if the boot doesn’t really resemble a foot shaped object. Also he looks like he broke his ankles somehow, that is not a natural bend.

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Damn, I love this mask design.

ZomBiosis here is, by far, my favourite drawing in the group and one of the cooler designs I’ve done for this world over the years. one of the 2nd Generation cast of characters, that will come into play as the story progresses a la JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. His pose is probably the closest I came to understanding foreshortening for a long while. Like a brief glimpse of something I could get better at but still couldn’t grasp. that might be part of why I have such a fondness for the character. That and I wanna wear his mask,

Okay, so, there’s a glimpse into a large and complex cast of characters that I can never fully get away from and that keeps getting larger and more intricate as I plan it out. After all, I want it to be the best Pro-Wrestling comic ever. These characters should all, even if for just one panel or crowd scene, show up again. And I have some interesting plans for the TEW booking simulators.

Do you have any feedback or questions? Please leave a comment here.

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#NoLookingBack #011 – The ever continuing #SketchbookAdventures roll on!

So, with that fun three week dive into my mecha designs now behind me, it’s time to move on in the #SketchbookAdventures and get a little more caught up. We’re still not “current”, and hopefully by the time we are, you’ll see just how much I have improved over even this stuff, which was the best stuff of its time for me. A lot of my efforts lately have been in working out the characters and ideas for an off-the-wall comic I can do without worrying about it being perfect from the first page, a comic to improve my art while doing it. I don’t know if I should be sharing those before the comic starts or if I should keep them well hidden until it launches…

Either way, that’s not what you’re going to see this week. You’re going to see stuff I designed for a comic I wanted to do but I let the idea and plot explode beyond a manageable point and, well, it needs some time on the backburner to work out its kinks. In the long-term, I would love to work on this comic idea… it the short term, it is just too unwiedly and grand in scope. Gotta start smaller.

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Olufemi Ndikumana is Team 16’s translator.

At the time I was doing these designs I was really trying to push my understanding and application of foreshortening and anatomy to new heights, while simultaneously trying to develop expressive faces for my characters (when their faces would be visible) as well as pushing the boundaries of my design and conceptualization skills. So, essentially, I was trying to get better across the board, in all categories I could think to work on, at once. Too bad the cast of characters hinged around a protagonist I could never figure out how to really care about or make interesting from a writing perspective…

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Chins are not the easiest thing to draw…

Hilariously enough, the story was going to be centered around Team 16 of the G.O.O.N. mercenary company, but Olufemi here is the only member of that team who ever got beyond written conceptualization. He was fun to draw, and I had a very clear idea of who he was and how he would look. whereas most of the other members of Team 16 were just sort of amorphous and without enough visual definition in my mind.

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Damn, look at that foreshortening… please ignore the barrel.

As you can see, compared to what you have seen before in my #SketchbookAdventures, the foreshortening and body posture here is all aggressive and, more or less, in the right place.

In the end, hilariously, I spent far more time designing and drawing the members of Team 1, who were supposed to be the All-Stars to Team 16’s burnouts. The story was supposed to focus on the burnouts somehow ricing to the occasion and getting better and better even when given shit, suicide mission contracts, but the story spun out of control with two many power players in the shadows and not enough understanding of how it was going to pan out and actually have a narrative . Too bad… cuz Team 1 are the shit!

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Ippon0Datara, Japanese Cyborg Mercenary Extraordinaire

Ippon-Datara here is, well, my favourite. I’ve continued to draw him, time and time again, since I came up with the initial design and will inevitably have to work him into something, even if G.O.O.N. doesn’t get to take flight one of these days. I think this piece was the one that really told me that I was getting better. I looked at it when all the lines were down and liked it so much I had to sign it. I see all the flaws, i know in the long-term I will, and must, do better. Nevertheless, this was part of a turning point that told me that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to.

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First appearances can but cuter than their final versions.

While I failed at doing a good Chibi/SD aesthetic when I was initially concocting Ippon-Datara, based on a really old idea where his name was spelled wrong, I have managed to nail several great drawings of the character afterwards, as well as several great drawings of the rest of the cast that show me trying to do better as an artist.

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American Boom-Boom looking good!

Duke F. Jetter here may not be doing anything crazy with his pose, but shows a solid construction to his body. I was aiming to make him look solid and stout and I feel I succeeded in that regard. Just being able to build a body that looks like it has mass and structure to it instead of being lines on a 2D plane that are supposed to be representative of that idea was once, to me, a foreign idea. I know, I know, it is all about practice. But truly, for the longest time, it didn’t make sense to me. I have piles of books that told me how to do it and showed me what it looked like, but everytime I would try it… well, it just wouldn’t work. 2016 was a turning point for me artistically. I have been drawing for my whole life, maybe never dedicating enough time to it, and always getting frustrated and demoralized by my lack of advancement. 2016 changed that and now, in 2017, every time I draw is an opportunity for me to grow and develop and maybe, finally, achieve my dreams. Too bad I only clued in in my thirties.

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Kuroryu Fuuma, something akin to G.I.Joe’s Snake-Eyes.

I’ll be honest, I still have no idea how I managed to make one of his legs look so broken and yet, nonetheless, this picture holds up just enough for me.The angle of his foot may be off, on one leg, but the way I drew the feet themselves looks pretty good. Surprisingly, I draw feet rather well. Some professional artists in the 90s didnt draw feet, they just drew thick clouds of fog everywhere their characters stood. At least I’ve got feet to stand on.

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I don’t have a name for her yet, but she’s basically Lady Cable…

Considering I have a rough time drawing the female body, I’m not too sad about how this came out. It was easier as this character is meant to be a big gal, demolitions and ordinance expert with cybernetics. The near hand, pointing the pistol towards the viewer, was the first tim I have ever succeeded at trying out that particular visual. She’s a milestone for me in putting together a body at varying depths of perspective and not having it all fall apart on me. The nostalgia of characters I have designed makes me want to jump back in with these guys and figure out how to make the story work… I am simply working on too many ideas at once…

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Mr. Mister, who do you think you are?

Here we have Mr. Mister, an adversary of the G.O.O.N. folks, but most certainly not a villain. The story had so many layers of clandestine organizations working against each other in multiple different layers. Everything was part of a grand mysetery to unravel about who was manipulating events and to what end. Mr. Horsefeet here was just a player in that game. His feet were never supposed to look so weird. He’s supposed to be on his toes, but it just takes all the weight of his body and makes it look off putting and like he has hooves. Still, since his power does involve smoke, I guess any time I draw his feet poorly I can just pull a Liefeld and cover them up.

I hope you can see how I have improved over the last year and a bit as I take you though these sketchbooks. A lot of the foreshortening and anatomy work here which may appear to the reader of comic books as standard, low-class fare… well, for me they are revolutionary skills I am developing. It is a challenge that I enjoy and, well, hopefully by the time I am forty I’ll have a comic I am proud to have people read. It is pretty much all I have ever wanted to do with my life, but my skills haven’t always developed as fast as I’d like. But, hey, here they are now so let’s try and make good use of them!

Do you have any feedback or questions? Please leave a comment here.

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#NoLookingBack #010 – #SketchbookAdventures – Mecha Mania! Part Three, Launch!

Welcome back, boys and girls! I hope you’re as excited as I am for another week of old mecha drawings! Maybe my mania isn’t as engrossing for you as it is for me. But I just love designing robots and other cool stuff… but, y’know, particularly robots.

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Limitless Logic Leap Mechaworks’ One-of-a-Kind Brave Armour – Dai Polarion

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Jackie Otsuyama would look much better if I could draw in a more anime style.

Dai Polarion is another super robot from the Giant Robot Universe. Manufactured by the Mechaworks division of Alliance-based think tank Limitless Logic Leap (L3 for short) and piloted by a specially chosen candidate in hot-blooded Jackie Otsuyama, the Dai Polarion is a platform for truly advanced Alliance technology. Like all Brave Armours, the Dai Polarion is a large machine that benefits from thick armour and the steely will of its pilot to see it through attacks. Its armament is focused around the Zwitterion Pylons which allow it to generate and manipulate vast quantities of energy in astonishing ways.

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Next Generation Giant – TEX-800

 

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Minimal but adaptable armaments.

The TEX-800 here is a bit of the odd man out of these designs. I had been working on a comic book proposal for a Post-Apocalyptic Giant Robot Western and was reveling in the idea that I might be able to include parts of it into my wider Giant Robot Universe. The TEX-800 was to be a successor of the TEX-666 from my comic, however at the moment that comic has been indefinitely sidelined as the artist whom I was paying and I have reached an impasse in our working relationship. It seems likely that it may, in fact, never see the light of day. Working with other people is hard, particularly when they don’t share your passion to do things and are not willing to be in it for the long haul.

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Dynamic Lady Defender – DLD-10001 Hathor

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Love Whip, baby!

Herein I was inspired by two specific elements of preexisting Super Robot meta-fiction. First, as one can obviously tell, from the name and design, the DLD-10001 is based on the idea of mecha with female body types, akin to those one would see in 70s anime like Mazinger Z. The second inspiration is in that DLD, that Dynamic Lady Defender, riffing off of the Super Robot Wars Dynamic General Guardian, or DGG, line of mecha but (of course) these ones will all be feminine.

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Limitless Logic Leap Mechaworks’ Limited Production Carry Armour – LLLM-72VHX Voodoo Hummingbird

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It is always fun naming crazy weapons.

The Voodoo Hummingbird is one of my favourite designs from this sketchbook, where I pushed myself to do things I would otherwise not have chosen to do in my mecha design process, such as have the feet attached firmly to the lower leg to convey that this machine in meant more for space combat than ground based fights. As a limited production machine it is intended to be highly effective and powerful, and the reason i chose to have one remaining in LLLM (L3M?) hangars is because, as this was intended to be for a grand scale RPG, I wanted the player to be able to obtain one. I can’t remember if the 3 that are together, and have been given special names, were stolen by pirates or part of a black ops crew. I’m leaning towards pirates.

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XLR Evolver w/ Infantry Package

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Oh man… look at that, I never even finished naming all its stuff!

The XLR Evolver is my most Gundam design yet, and is intended to evoke those Gundam designs that had the multiple different parts you could swap on and off of them. I tried to evoke Gundam without ripping off any specific design and I feel I have mostly accomplished that here. This name and mecha design have stuck with me for a while. The original drawing I did of this idea was old. Way old. It sadly had to be thrown out because a cat got between the ceiling and the floor and pissed in there, and it rained down upon my drawing. No jokes. Terrible moment to all of a sudden have urine falling on you from on high. Not much I can say about this other than that anecdote, I think. It is pretty self evident that it is inspired by the original RX-78 and that I did my best to give it a unique head design and body part styling. Oh well…

And last and probably least we have this…

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Ah, he has no legs! Or is it the Zeong effect?

This was the inteded Samurai-Package for the XLR Evolver that I never finished. I really liked some of the ideas here but I was going at it without a pan form the beginning and I totally butchered the proportions I had established on the original XLR drawing. I’m not entirely certain how much of this is salvageable, but I really liked the collection of additional beam sabers on his shoulder.

Well, that’s it for this first set of Mecha Mania weeks! I had some weird little doodles I did somewhere of some other mecha from the Giant Robot Universe but presently cannot find them. If I do, I’m certain you’ll get to see them too. And I have some other mecha designs that are intended for the GRU which weren’t done in the same sketchbook or format at all, so they’ll have to be for another time.

Do you have any feedback or questions? Please leave a comment here.

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#NoLookingBack #008 – #SketchbookAdventures – Mecha Mania! Part One, Launch!

In case I hadn’t made it clear in my coverage of Code: HARDCORE’s campaign, I absolutely love giant robots. Like, maybe i don’t spend as much money on merchandise as some people do, and maybe I don’t watch every single series like some people do, but I dream of Giant Robots, I see Giant Robots out of the corner of my eye when its late at night, I design them, I have them tattooed on my flesh,  and the I dream of leaving an indellible mark on the international envisioning of mecha.  The art in this #SketchbookAdventures special feature series is from an older sketchbook. The art isn’t as refined, and my techniques are on the weaker side, but these designs form the basis for conceptualizing my own Giant Robot Universe!

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T-Series High Performance “Super Junior”-type Carry Armour – Thermopylae

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That Zweihander-configuration screams Obari Sword Pose!

The Thermopylae is a  “Super Junior” class Carry Armour, a specific designation of giant robot weapon used by the Allied Military Forces. Carry Armour are essential the real robots of the Alliance,  but the “Super Junior” classification is for mecha designed to push the boundaries between real robots and super robots. They are equipped with specialized weapons and systems that push the limits of technology or human capabilities. This is in much the same way that the Gundam moniker has functioned in many incarnations as a super weapon stronger than mass produced units with remarkable specialization or adaptability.

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T-Series Limited Production Multi-Purpose Brave Armour – Shenlong

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That little doodle is like the Obari Sword Pose of navel energy beams!

The Shenlong is a Brave Armour, which  designates that it is what would generally be called a super robot. Brave Armour are designed to take advantage of  different aptitudes for pilots than the real robots, such as Carry Armour and Personal Units,  do. Hot Bloodedness and spirit, while valuable in pilots of all kinds, are the bread and butter of a Brave Armour, allowing them to dish out immense attacks that are amplified by their pilots emotional and spiritual traits. Their giant scale tends to lead to them having to soak up damage rather than dodging attacks, which is its own kind of mental strain.

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Xalbangan Imperial Military Frontline Personal Unit – Granzeal

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The Xalamites were supposed to look like 80s anime aliens…

The  Xalbangan Empire are one of main antagonistic forces to the Alliance in the Giant Robot Universe.  They are a strict militaristic regime whose people have naturally no aptitude for Hot Blooded super robot combat, but excel with real robots because of their keen senses and naturally quick reflexes. Their military training pays particular attention to precision aiming, tactical prowess, and quick maneuvering.  The Quintagrams painted on their Personal Units, the Xalbangan equivalent to Carry Armour, denote rank and mission records and are meticulously updated by their pilots, who take a pivotal and involved role in performing maintenance on their machines. To a Xalbangan soldier, their Personal Unit is an extension of their pride and prowess in personal combat.

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High-Mobility Close-Quarters-Combat Quadrupedal Carry Armour – Sturmlowe

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The Storm Lion has two options for its long-range armaments, giving it anti-armour (Plasma Blaster) and suppresing fire (Quad-Barrel Railguns) options, best used in a mixed hunting pack.

As i am a fan of a myriad variety of mecha, I wanted to represent all sorts of possibilities using Giant Robots. While Zoids has long been the king of animal-themed mecha, they have shown up in other long-standing franchises such as Gundam SEED, and of course the Tokusatsu Super Sentai series. I wanted to be sure to include these kinds of options in my all inclusive mecha magnum opus.

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Heavy Artillery Quadrupedal carry Armour – Trizerkanone

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The perfect mix of long range devastation and close range defense.

Absolutely anything based on a dinosaur has to have serious destructive potential, or they’re just not doing it right.  In the fight to shift balance of power in the galaxy blah blah blah but the Alliance and Xalbangan Empire are only two of the powers at play in this Giant Robot Universe…

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Multi-Purpose Frontline Warframe – Gyargao

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The Point Singularity Projector fires miniature unstable black holes.

There are far more than two forces in the Giant Robot Universe.  Warframes are the standard combat unit of the Ancient Ones, one of the contingents of the Vagabond Tribes. They interstellar wanderers who have formed a cross-species bond to find new homes after their original worlds were lost. They are sentient endangered species. limited populations For them every ship is a colony, every soldier deployed a needed breeder to keep the genetics of the population, every Warframe a precious resource.  It is a matter of necessity that all of the Vagabond Tribes practice some form of eugenics to prevent inbreeding and ensure a strong, adaptable and viable population once a new home is found…

As they are the oldest collection of species in the Universe they field the most unique and devastating technology at every level, only limited by numbers they can deploy. The reptilian Ancient Ones were the first of the Vagabond Tribes, the calamity that took their home so archaic that they have lost even the traditional name of their people.  To keep their technological advantage they will work to sabotage, destroy or self destruct any downed unit that cannot be salvaged.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this first introduction to the Giant Robot Universe. These designs being rather old, I see places to improve upon them and my technical skills being better than what they are now, I want to refine and redraw them, including many action shots. I feel there’s a strong base to most of these designs that can definitely form the basis for my own Universe’ diverse aesthetic. I’ll be sharing many more designs over the next little while, and will also be adding some redesigns and sketches of these mecha into my new sketchbook to continue the #SketchbookAdventures 😀

Do you have any advice or questions? Please leave a comment here.

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#NoLookingBack #007 – #SketchbookAdventures Again!

As I further developed my foreshortening and anatomy skills, I started pushing myself to try new things with my art that I had felt were beyond me previously. I arrived at this idea of blocking out a specific space on the page and trying to use photo references to assist me in understanding how to draw things I couldn’t simply envision in my head. I know that photo references are one of the most utilitarian and ubiquitous tools in an artists employ, but I had struggled so much with making things look even remotely like photos I had referenced in the past that I had long abandoned them in favour of just designing cool costumes on static figures. Thankfully those days are over.

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Those are some creepy lips in that profile up top…

This drawing of Spider Slim was definitely not the first one I did, I may have even put them in here in reverse order. I wanted to start with it because it isn’t terribly impressive to me. Furthermore, it betrays one of the difficulties I have with photo reference which is that sometimes I try to rigidly to capture a pose and then wind up with proportions not looking right. Recently I have been improving in seeing many different pictures in a place where I may have once only seen one.

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I’m still having trouble with “expressive masks”…

I told you in the first #SketchbookAdventures that it wouldn’t be the last time you would see El Águila Ardiente! As you can see, this was based on a photo of legendary luchador Dr. Wagner Jr. that I found online, as I have grown to see Ardiente’s body type as modeled on Wagner over the years. Again, even using reference, I wound up with two arms that look like they are remarkably different lengths…

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Would you believe cars are a lot harder to draw than you’d think?

Oh man! Mega Rider has been kicking around for years in my creative inventory and is my tribute to Tokusatsu and Kamen Rider, and the classic David Hasselhoff masterpiece Knight Rider. He’s simply just one of those characters I can’t let go of. He draws his power from the mysterious Mega Driver he wears on his belt and he must keep it out of the hands of the secret organization Leviathan.

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I’m not certain I’ve reached a final design for Mega Rider yet, but I think if you look at the progression of the design, the core components are all very well defined. This latest version is more armored, and as such more in line with modern Kamen Rider stylings, without dropping the leather biker aesthetic brought in by the Hoff and another Rider, the Ghost Rider.

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Mantis Rider is the  Proto Man to Mega Rider’s Mega Man. A brother and a rival, someone who works for the enemy, but whose motives don’t seem to align directly with theirs. I chose a mantis because, to me, they are the most iconic insectoid predators and I was already pushing the long-horned beetle motif with the design evolution of Mega Rider. Who is he and why is he hunting Mega Rider?.

This picture was my absolute favourite one from the several I did in this style. as I feel I challenged myself to draw many things I don’t have a lot of experience with. Not only did it challenge me, while not perfect, I certainly feel i rose to the challenge and learned a valuable lesson in pushing through things I have difficulty drawing.

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Looking at some of these, I might go back in and colour these up. I don’t know exactly what I was channeling when I did the design for Mantis Rider. Sometimes I just get an image in my head, fully formed and out of the blue. Like a glimpse of the true form of the design, and in true Platonic fashion, my hands have to try the best they can to approximate that perfection.

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Probably one of my favourite designs ever.

This is Mega Guitar Law,  who exists in a far-flung future of the world of Mega Rider and Mantis Rider. His name may seem nonsensical, but that’s always been part of the charm of the idea for me. Mega Guitar Law started off as a story I made up while I played with my toys when I was much younger.I had taken a G.I.Joe, given him a jet-pack backpack and a Ninja Turtle’s Electric Guitar accessory, which in his hands was GIANT. So he had a Mega Guitar and he was dishing out Justice in a fight against a conglomerate that owned his city and their ban on arts and music. His Guitar is his weapon, attacking enemies with sound and the manifestations of the energy in the Driver built into his guitar, the same Driver once held by the legendary Mega Rider! Where did he get it? Who built it into a guitar? So many questions left unanswered!

Initially, as a youngster, I hadn’t come up with Mega Rider yet, and he did fight using his crazy guitar that let him use sound attacks and do other crazy things, but he also had a bazooka and laser rifle, which you can see have been dropped. Somewhere along the way I thought it would be cool to take the wacky concept I had with Mega Guitar Law and situate it firmly in a set of media that would relish in its wackiness while also letting it tell a dark and violent story, Tokusatsu!. Granted, mine will be a comic, but I’m talking about tropes and genres here.

In reinventing Mega Guitar Law I wanted to add in a female henshin hero, but never got past a very loose sketch for one. She was a vocalist with an Idol-meets-Metal vibe, a la Babymetal, added to her armoured insect suit.

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Whenever I go through older sketches that have so much story potential already invested in them, I want to work on their stories and play with their worlds. Staying on target and focused on one idea can be difficult when I keep working on ideas, old and new, in the back of my mind at all times. I’ve been thinking of doing a series of multiple “Issue No. 1s” to introduce a catalogue of worlds to my readers once I have completed the first major story arc of the project I am presently developing, a new series specifically designed to free me from much of the burden of an idea I have already invested too much into to just play around with, as a kind of “between-seasons” line-up.

Do you have any advice or questions? Please leave a comment here.

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#NoLookingBack #006 – #SketchbookAdventures Three!

Partway through 2016, after I had started this sketchbook and had begun to explore artistically with diligence again, I got my hands on the Mass Effect trilogy for PS3. I had heard much about it and it was on so many Top 10 lists in gaming circles, and though I was late to the party, I took to the franchise like an addict, mainlining all three games in succession and buying DLC like it was going out of fashion (I only stopped when I ran out of harddrive space). Inspired by the game, one day I sat down to experiment with designing my own alien species in a way I had never done before, from the bones up!

When I started this image, I drew a skull. It was a light sketch, and not purfecly three dimensional, but it served its purpose.  I built loose cartilage and fleshy structures onto it and slowly worked out the shape of the face, working thematically from the inside out. I say thematically because I can assure you I did not draw proper musculatureor calculate how deep the flesh should be.

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Isn’t he cute?

I’ve always loved designing aliens. It is so much fun because, without something in the real world that its has to look like I have a much easier time making it look good. In truth, concept work and design is generally way more exciting to me than practicing techniques or getting used to drawing one character very well. I generally avoided that sort of practice and would move from one design to another. I now have an undeniable plethora of characters, but this is probably one of the reasons it took so long for me to grasp foreshortening.

Around this time I came up with Spider Slim, a former pool shark hell bent on revenge after being framed for a murder he didn’t commit and thrown into a hellish prison that forced him to become a hardened killer in order to survive. After being set free by a mysterious benefactor he would ravage Hong Kong’s underworld, seeking the answer to the mysteries of his incarceration.

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Don’t mess around with Spider Slim…

In envisioning this character’s story I pushed myself further with my foreshortening attempts and planned images out more thoroughly before I attempted them.

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Page roughs and ring posts!

I went through multiple revisions and sketches of the same ideas.

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It’s almost a comic page, guys! ALMOST!

I even roughed out some pages, though I wasn’t working off of a script.

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I wonder why he’s called “Python”?

And came up with some additional cast.

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So much better than just a few years ago!

Leading to one of the most complete and complex images I have drawn to date, where i decided I wouldn’t let my self-doubt prevent me from trying things. While the story was incomplete, even from a basic plot structure perspective, the flaws in story did nothing to hamper my love of this character I created. While Spider Slim is not presently on the slate for a full comic, I wouldn’t be surprised if I come back to him in some capacity. I have a hard time letting go of characters and ideas, and an even harder time deciding on what I should dedicate my energies to working on in the immediate present.

Occasionally Slim pops up while I’m trying out new things and trying to improve artistically, which certainly cements him as a recurring character in my mind.

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Not perfect, but we’re getting there…

#NoLookingBack #005 – #SketchbookAdventures Continues!

So, after a long delay and sitting on a stack of scanned files, we are back for Round 2 of the #SketchbookAdventures! We last left off with me having finally had something click that was missing for me in my ability to comprehend and execute the all-important task of foreshortening in my art.

So I spent a lot of time working on that. Sometimes my results were very shoddy, as you can see here:

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Tried to do a Superkick… ended up a lamerkick.

But I quickly started to improve, and experimented with a lot of different poses to try to challenge myself. This has often been the point where I crumble against an attempt that doesn’t work out, demoralized y my lack of ability to get it 100% right on my first go. Illogical, i know.

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Contemplative: How I feel when writing these.

But no matter how flummoxed I got, and still do get, by perspective and foreshortening, I had adopted the #NoLookingBack philosophy. I pushed forward and experimented with more complex  and energetic poses.

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He trained in the Naruto school of running.

Action poses tended to be my favourite, because I knew that what I wanted to eventually draw were fight scenes. Energetic, frenetic, hectic. Combat in comics and animation tends to be what excites me the most. Surprisingly, I often found these easier to get closer-to-right than scenes of respite or repose.

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The one time I perfectly nail this head position.

A rigid looking posture can look powerful or it can look awkward, and getting the right kind of natural comfort in the human body when it is relaxed is super challenging.

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The anatomy may not be perfect, but the energy here is 110%

Sometimes, when everything clicked, I would go into a lot more detail to see where the finished product would end up, and some of them ended up really, really, really good. Like my fictional Irish Kickboxer and MMA enthusiast Mac Hornbuckle, who has very expressive body language as he throws that groin-splittingly high kick.

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As relaxed and sensual as I’ve gotten.

Or like “Lady Crematorium” here, who genuinely feels relaxed in posture and expression. Working my way down to the explicit details in the way her dreadlocks move over the different layers underneath them was a fun experiment with my skill levels and made me love this design so much that I have been trying to find somewhere to slot her into my story ideas.

Looking back” at your own art, to recognize that you have improved, is important. But one cannot get stuck on them, trying to constantly redo and improve and hit that 100% mark before doing something with them. We are all on a journey that moves us forward, and we will all improve as we keep moving. We will never hit a moment in our lives where we are perfect, and neither will our art. I’ve let my own self-doubt prevent me from trying things too often, that’s why I am sharing this and writing about my #NoLookingBack philosophy. In the hope that I might improve through recognizing flaws and moving forward and producing content while engaging with an audience.

I’m still waiting on that audience, by the way 🙂

Do you have any advice or questions? Please leave a comment here.

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