Black Adam vs Namor the Submariner

 ART – Black Adam vs Namor the Submariner

Black Adam vs Namor Black and white



In 2009 I drew this picture of Black Adam vs. Namor.  This week I inked it so that I could color it.

Here’s the final inks.  I did some adjusting to the drawing.  They are slight but they’re there.

The biggest adjustment was to the guy on the end.  I changed his face so it looks more like who it’s suppose to be.  Can you guess who it is?

The original was really off.

Here’s what the original pencil drawing looked like in case you’ve never seen it:



Hopefully by next week, I’ll have the whole thing colored.

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Two Take Aways From a Coloring Experiment

ART – Two Take Aways From a Coloring Experiment

Batman vs Ironman

Above is the final version of my Ironman vs. Batman drawing.

I started it three weeks ago and as I wrote at the time,  I decided to color the characters using a preliminary mid tone base color.

I also used a Tetrad color Scheme.Which is  a fancy way of saying, I limited myself to only using four colors.

Specifically these four colors:

Quadratic Color Scheme

Thoughts On Using a Tetrad Color Scheme

The color limiting was challenging.  I would have definitely made different decisions had I had more colors to work with with.

That said, I’m not certain I colored this “right.”  If you notice how the colors in my final piece are divided compared to the color palette I was working off of. Blue is meant to be THE dominant color and all other color should be secondary.

In my picture though, it almost seems like green and blue are almost divided equally…or that just me being critical?

Thoughts On Using a Preliminary Mid Tone Base Color

I also used a different method to color this drawing.  I started out with mid tone base color or each area and then I darkened and lightened each area as necessary.

It turned out to be an okay way to work.  I also left all the reflective light til last, which made it easier to add odd colors to the shadow areas.

Over all I learned a lot and I’ll probably use this method again just to see what it’s like on another drawing.

What do you think?


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Coloring: It Doesn’t Hurt to Use Reference.

ART – Coloring: It Doesn’t Hurt to Use Reference.

Batman vs Ironman Work in progress Second pass

Shinny is hard.

As I wrote last time, I’m trying to stick to only four colors.

As of the time of this writing, this is where I left off the coloring for my latest piece.

I didn’t get a lot done, mostly because Ironman is shinny.  This slowed me down a lot.  Coloring him wasn’t at all straight forward.

There’s all that reflection do deal with.  I didn’t really know how to do it so I found some reference on the internet to help me get through it.

Here’s what I used:



The photos helped me visualize what shine on my drawing might look like.  I’m not exactly sure if I succeeded but it was worth trying.

This brings me to a different related topic…

It’s Okay To Use Reference

I teach drawing over that  I only bring this up because I’ve noticed something.  There are some beginning artists who refuse to use any kind of reference.

I don’t know why this is. It’s as if they somehow think that doing so makes them a lesser artist.

If you’re goal is to get something that looks natural, you ought to look at what it looks like in reality.  There isn’t any shame in it.

They want to draw or paint something only out of their imagination, and make it look naturalistic, but they’ve never bothered to truly study nature.  It makes no sense.

If you’re not sure about what something looks like, don’t make it up.  Look it up.  The more you look up stuff the more you’ll educate yourself.

The more you educate yourself the bigger the library of experience you will have to draw upon when doing art.  This helps you draw more accurate naturalistic stuff from your imagination.

It’s okay to use reference.

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Taking Risks and Experimenting With Color

ART – Taking Risks and Experimenting With Color

Quadratic Color SchemeYou simply can’t get good at color without experimenting and doing some crazy things you don’t feel comfortable doing.

Case in point…

I still don’t feel comfortable with color.  It seems to me like my last coloring job turned out okay by accident.

It felt as if I was stumbling into all kinds of happy accidents all the way through. That said, I learned a few things I wanted to do different this time.

To this end, in my next coloring job, I’m experimenting.  On of the things I thought wasn’t quite working in the last process was how dark the shadows where. Especially since I wanted the drawing to be lit by daylight.

If you see the final colors, they don’t seem that dark, but as I was coloring them, they were much darker and I had to lighten them up.

The process this time will be different.  I will start with a slighter lighter base than I did previously. That way I can both darken and lighten it where I think it needs it.

Which is the way most artists paint anyway.

Also any ambient light or reflective light will be put in a little later.

And the last thing that I’ll be doing different is the color choices.  I’m doing a Tetrad color Scheme approach.

In order to pick the colors I wanted to use, I went to the website Color Scheme Designer.  I believe it’s a website for web design colors but I think it will work fine for my purposes.

You can see the color scheme it came up with at the top of this post.

So I started using the colors.  This is all I got done this week:

Batman vs Ironman first color pass

I’ve barely started.  The idea behind coloring every character one color, was just to see what the most dominant colors of each character would look like over all. I also wanted to see what the dominant color (blue) looked like next to the secondary ones.

To be honest, I don’t really think it’s helping. Still, I’ll move forward and hope to get more done (if not all of it done) by next week.

I’m uncomfortable again.  This feels risky to me.  I don’t really know what I’m doing, but I know can’t learn if I don’t risk and experiment.

Hopefully, it will turn out okay.  The one good thing about coloring this drawing is the minimal amount of skin I have to color.

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Drawing: Getting Over the Hump

ART – Drawing: Getting Over the Hump

Betty and Veronica vs Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane Watson

This week I managed to finish coloring my drawing.  I think it turned out okay.

It was a huge struggle and more than once I wanted to quit.

I’ve found that, the creative process often throws curve balls at you.  I’ve found myself struggling with drawings more often than not.

There are times I quit and there are times I don’t.

The times I quit are usually, strategic.  It usually means that I discover I’m truly over my head. My skills are just not ready for the work and I need to practice more before I try again. In cases like those it’s better to count my loses, learn from my mistakes and let the work go.

The times I DON’T quit are different though.  Those are the times that I KNOW I can finish, but the work is frustrating me. It’s tough work and it feels like it might be out of the reach of my skill set, but really, it’s just my frustration telling me that.

How can you tell the difference?

The more work you do. The more you push your skill sets, the easier it will be for you to tell the difference.

Once you get over the hump, you’ll be glad you pushed through to the end.

If You Like This Post, You Might Also Like:

Learning Color: Theory vs. Practice



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Learning Color: Theory vs. Practice

ART – Learning Color: Theory vs. Practice

This is a work in progress coloring job:

Betty and Veronica vs Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane Watson WIP color


I have no idea what I’m doing.

Well…I kinda do.  But all I know is theory. As this coloring job is showing me, there’s a difference between theory and practice.

Let me quickly explain what I’m talking about.

If you notice, some of the colors in the above drawing look finished while the others are all weird and dark.

This is because those dark areas are meant to be the shadow colors I’m going to be using.  Then I’m going to put in brighter colors on top of them.

Betty and Veronica, for example are mostly done.  But if you notice, some of their shadow sides are a tad odd.  Veronica’s pants are a bit red in the shadow.  Betty’s shadow is purple, her shirt is green, and her pants are yellowish.

The reason for all these odd colors is because I was using the complimentary colors for the shadows.  The opposite of the main color for each thing.

The problem is, I don’t know if I actually go the true complimentary color.  It both looks right and wrong to me.

On the one hand, I don’t want the shadow side to be too dark. And  I think that’s exactly what’s going on with Veronica.  Her shadows are too dark.  I wanted this to be more of a day light scene.

Betty looks better but I’m not sure if the shadow side is working.  I tried darkening the shadows on her but it looked too dark:

Betty and Veronica vs Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane Watson WIP color too dark

I just don’t like it. It’s not what I want.

What I’m Learning

Turns out, that knowing color theory is one thing, but there’s more too it.  Color does stuff…weird stuff.

If you read anything about color theory, you’ll know that colors look different depending on the colors that surround them.

Thing is, you have to actually color and see what happens through trial and error.  Someone could show you what color does in certain circumstances but still, you have to do it yourself for it to sink in.

This means you have to experiment a lot.  You have to color, paint, use colors and mess with them.  You have to study.  Copy master paintings and simply paint.

All these things have to be done before you begin to start figuring some stuff out.  And even then, you will probably be surprised by what color does.

I don’t know any of this stuff at all so, I have no idea what I’m doing and if it’s going to work.

Moving Forward

I’m midway through coloring this drawing.  I have no idea what it’s going to look like once it’s done.  I don’t know if it’s going to look good or not.

Right now the drawing is a mess of colors.  Colors that I’m not even sure are really harmonizing. Perhaps I should have done a quick thumbnail color study to get everything working before I actually started coloring.

Still, it’s a work in progress, and I’m learning new things as I go.

Hopefully, I’ll be done next week and you’ll see how it turned out.

To See The Finished Version See:

Drawing: Getting Over the Hump


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Selling Your Art: Diversifying What You Sell

ART – Selling Your Art: Diversifying What You Sell

Batman vs. Spider-Man color

 Why Diversify?

As much as I still have to learn about painting, I’ve got to put that aside for the moment and turn to other projects.

The Month of May is going to be a busy month for me.  I’m going to have a table selling my books and art in two different venues that month.

Thing is, from past experience and from experiences my friends have had, I realized I need to diversify what I sell.

I have my books, but there are many people who would like to buy something from me but are unwilling to spend the money on those items or they’re simply not interested in them.

How I’m Doing It

For people like them, I needed something that is of greater interest and/or at a lower price point.

Turns out there’s a lot of people who really like my “versus” drawings.  So I thought, why not sell those?  I could make prints, magnets and postcards and those items could be at different price points.

Some would be less expensive and some more.  That way, anyone who wanted to get a little something, could.

Also, from the experiences my friends have had, putting prints up on their booths draws attention and makes it easier to see what you’ve got that they might like without anyone needing to approach your table.

Getting to Work

The only thing is, I never intended to make the versus drawings available for sale.  They were only meant for fun.

Some of them were never inked and all but one, didn’t have color.

This means that I now have to go back and ink the ones I need to ink, and color the rest.

That’s what I’m now doing.  Beginning with the drawing above of Batman vs. Spider-Man.

For the next few weeks, I’ll be posting the more “final” versions of my “versus” drawings.

Hopefully, I can learn a thing or two about color in the process.



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Painting Learning Moment: Knowing When to Walk Away From an Unfinished Work.

Art – Painting Learning Moment: Knowing When to Walk Away From an Unfinished Work.

In my last post, I set up the line work of the painting I was going to work on.

I also wrote that, if I messed up the painting, I would simply stop working on it and move on.  Well, turns out I’m going to be moving on.

Not because I think I messed up but because something else came up, that needs my time more.  I’ll write about it next week.

That said, it didn’t help that I’m also in the process of writing another drawing book which takes up a lot of my painting time.  I really didn’t get to put in the time on the painting that I wanted to.

In any case, let me share with you what happened, and a few tips about what you should take away when you walk away from an unfinished work.

Applying What I Learned

Since I was done with the line work and since I had already spent a lot of time with a painting that didn’t work, which looked like this:

Supergirl Painting failed second pass

I thought I’d combine the two.

Taking the line work I had done, which looked like this:

Supergirl shadow guide

I put it on top of a copy of the painting that didn’t work.  I used a copy in case I needed the original for whatever reason.

I then sampled the colors of the copy and proceed to apply the colors within my line work.  It was a lot like coloring in a coloring book.  I stuck mostly to the darkest areas of the painting.  I rarely touched the light side.

Although it doesn’t like like it.  Mostly because I had done so much work on the light already.

Here’s what it looked like:

Supergirl Heroic Second Attempt First pass

It looked much better even at this stage than the other one.

I didn’t put any details in the shadow areas and just kept them as one mass shape.

So I can now pat myself on the back for successfully applying step two…or is it three? Since the drawing should also be a step…

Anyway, I thought I’d start doing the next step.  Thing is, I didn’t quite know what that step was.  So I made it up. I thought I’d finish the eyes and nose.

After I began working on that, my painting took a turn for the worse.  I ended up with a bug eyed monster. Take a look:

Supergirl bug eyes

Yeah, the eyes are just wrong.  They stuck out and looked unnatural. I think the colors I used where too bright. Also, It thing I drew the eyes too big.

It didn’t help that the nose was giving me trouble as well and I couldn’t quite get it to look right.

This was frustrating.  This is as far as I had gotten before I had to stop and work on my drawing book, but I didn’t want to leave the painting there if I was going to write about it on this blog post so I thought I’d try a desperate thing.

A few days later, I took the eyes from my original failed painting and pasted them onto this painting.  Then I blended them in as best as I could.  Here’s how it came out:

Supergirl Heroic slightly better

I was surprised it actually improved the face.  Those eyes where nowhere near as colorful or as big.

After that, I touched up the face a little more and stopped.

With more time I suppose I could make the painting actually look good, but I just don’t have the time.

I learned a lot, but it looks like I have to abandon this work and move on. At least I’m leaving the painting feeling like it isn’t a disaster.

Perhaps once I get better, I can come back and finish this up.

I doubt it though.  It’s better to just keep moving forward.

What to Walk Away With

The best way to walk away from a drawing or painting that didn’t turn out the way you wanted, is to have learned what you need to work on next.

If you don’t see a plan of action for what you need to study or try next, you haven’t been paying any attention to what you were doing.  And it’s possible you don’t even have a process at all.

You need to sit down and honestly analize what problems you where having when working on your drawing or painting.

Then break down those observations into a plan of action.

For example, here are my take aways and my plans of action.

Take Aways:

  • Beautiful women have less landmarks on their face than men. Their faces are smoother.  It’s more difficult to find anchors to work on. Because of this, their faces are more complicated to paint. I need to start on a simpler subject. Possibly men’s heads.
  • I’m not exactly sure I know I can do a finished digital painting yet.  I have yet to finish one.  I should therefore start simpler by taking away elements to worry about. I this case,  color. I should practice black and white paintings before going full color.
  • I obviously don’t have a full grasp on how to approach painting, eyes, noses and mouths. I need to practice painting these feature before I do my next full head painting.

Action Plans:

  • Practice painting noses. In black and white and in color.
  • Practice Painting eyes.  In black and white and in color.
  • Practice painting mouths. In black and white and in color
  • Paint male heads in black and white. Then in color
  • Eventually, paint another female head.

I hope you find these tips helpful.




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What Yoda Taught Me About Painting

ART – What Yoda Taught Me About Painting

What does that video above have to do with painting?

In my last painting post I wrote that I was going to count my loses and move on.  I fully intended to until I spoke to my friend Paul about my failed attempt.

I asked him what he thought my problem was. You know what he told me?

My head construction fundamentals where off. The basic principles of my head construction were not working.


That was the last thing I expected to hear. Once again, getting cocky failed me.

The reason I wasn’t able to get a handle on the painting was because the structure of my drawing was too nebulous.

After a conversation with him about drawing and painting heads, I came to the conclusion that I needed to work out and plan how I was going to paint my piece by drawing it first before painting it.

It turns out that the same technique I was using to paint in gouache, I could apply to my digital painting.

What technique? Click the links below to read the relevant posts on the subject:

It’s ridiculous that I thought the process was different because I was painting in a different medium.

But as Yoda said to Luke:

No, no different, only different in your mind.

Photo courtesy of:

So I’m doing it all again. Starting with a line drawing. So here’s what I’ve got so far:

Supergirl face rhythm guide

In the drawing above, I first started by constructing the head and then mapping the rhythms of the face.

Supergirl drawing the shadow guide

I then added a layer and using the rhythms, looked at my reference and worked out the shadow patterns.  I drew ONLY the darkest shadows.  I left out any light midtones.

This was the one thing I realized I was not thinking about when painting this piece the first time.  Separating the darkest shadows from the slight midtones in the light is key.

It can often be, the hardest part of the process and requires a ton of squinting.

What I ended up with is the drawing below:

Supergirl shadow guide

I will tell you this, doing the drawing first has shown me all the things I was ignoring and wasn’t thinking about when doing the painting.  I’m amazed that I neglected so much.  No wonder I lost control.

Trust the process. If you do it well, it will make everything easier.

The further down the drawing I got, the sloppier I got. That’s okay, I don’t really need the hands to be perfect, I’ll mostly be concentrating on the face. I may crop that area out in the final version.

This will be my final attempt. If I mess it up I’ll move on.  I’m getting tired of repainting this one piece. I need something new to get me excited again.

I also need a “win.” Perhaps, I’ll try something a tad less ambitious next time.

In a way, I already “won,” the process has taught me so much already. Still, I’d like a make a pretty painting at some point.

I’ll see how far I get by next week.

So yeah, I should have listened to Yoda from the start. I thought it was different, but it was only different in my mind.

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The Making of a Time Travel Anthology Cover

ART – The Making of a Time Travel Anthology Cover

I put my painting practice on hold this week to create a cover for a time travel anthology, Creative Alchemy Inc. will be publishing in a few months.

The book is called Masters of Time: A Sci-Fi and Fantansy Time Travel Anthology.

I spoke about the cover with my wife, who’s editing the book and also contributed to the collection of stories.  We both agreed we wanted a retro Science Fiction feel to the cover.  Something graphic simple.

I’m not a fan of photo covers.  I much prefer drawn or painted ones.  Also, there’s so many photo covers out there that a cover with artwork tends to stand out more.

My wife showed me a photo she thought had the feel she wanted and I went off from there. She wanted all the characters in the anthology to be represented in the cover.

The first thing I did was to sketch out a rough, to show her the direction I wanted to go.  Here it is below:

Masters of Time rough cover mock up

The intent was to show things in the cover that would immediately evoke the theme of the anthology at a glance. I thought it would be good to use time travel cliches and tropes to get this across. I decided to go with the characters coming out of a “time vortex,” in silhouette and I added clocks so you’d know it wasn’t just a portal.

She liked the concept, so I moved on to make the final cover. Unfortunately,  I didn’t record the process. It took about a week.

I used a lot of reference photos to get a real world idea of what I was going to abstract.  Then I began the tedious work of constructing the assets for the cover.

It was less like drawing and more like cutting out lots of different shapes out of colored paper and gluing it together.

Even though I’m still not sure about the fonts, the final art for the cover turned out like this:

Masters of Time Kindle Cover

Personally I think it turned out okay.

What do you think? Did I accomplish what I set out to do?

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