Friday, May 18, 2012

Derby Dazzler vs. The Hellfire Club goons

Just finished up this wicked beast of a private commission for a fellow who loved my derby version of Dazzler so much he wanted to see more. (See her and the rest of my X-Men redesigns here!) This was definitely an instance of having a commission piece that if you give me an open timeframe and let me just do what I want you will get something awesome. It took me a little over a month and a half of off-and-on working with very little guidance from the guy who ordered it- he just wanted an action shot with Dazzler and I kinda took that ball and ran with it, adding in the Hellfire Club goons and various background elements. I'm trying to get away from portraits a bit as customers tend to get overly involved in the process which hinders the creativity of the piece and get more into character pieces where I can just cut loose without worrying about likenesses and waiting to hear back during the process. Once I got the idea for this piece in my head I was all "I'm really gonna hate myself in a month..." but I HAD to do it. There were just way too many things I love coming together. Plus me doing a piece with an actual background? Craziness! That was actually what took me the longest. Check out my progress shots below!

I tend to sketch out the elements separate and then lay them on top of each other digitally in Photoshop to make sure they line up and adjust any wonky anatomy issues. I'll then print it out on a low opacity setting to use as guidelines when I re-draw it and tighten up the linework. 
Tight Pencils!
Drawing over top of my lightened roughs, I start cleaning up all those stray lines and start refining the figures. 

I recently revisited the old technique I learned at Kuberts of inking over vellum and forgot how much I prefer it to lightboxing my tight pencils onto a piece of bristol, as when I lightbox the original I tend to lose the organic feel of the piece and subtle linework tends to get lost in the reproduction.

More inking!!
I love drawing men's leg hair. It's a weird drawing fetish.

I tend to work in with about 20 layers when I color, treating each major element like a big Dagwood-style sandwich- I start with my linework, then add the flat color underneath, then start working up from the flat color with each 'level' of shadows and highlights. I tend to color in flat chunks, almost like an animation cel.
You can also see that I changed the colors on Dazzler's pads halfway through to make her stand out more from the Hellfire Club.

Adding the background and special effects!
When I'm 90% done is my least favorite part of working on something. It just gets so grinding and you spend most of the time looking for all the little details you missed. XP

This was super fun to do, and I got to expand a little on my own make-believe rendition of the X-Men universe. What's funny is in my version of the X-Men, Dazzler is probably one of the tougher, more in-shape characters on the team, which in regular continuity is quite the opposite.

1 comment:

  1. I am tracking on how you create your projects. Its very traditional. I am currently completely digital now (but I do some of my comic page layouts in a sketch). I am interested in how long does this take from roughs to finished piece? Thanks.
    check me out at


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