A bit of Process. Part 2.

To continue on.  The pic below is where I am starting to block in my colors.  I tend to work in three modes.  Either multiply layer, when I want darker colors (like the dark red).  Overlay layer, where I want something very light.  And directly on the “home” layer when I want to kind of wipe out the textures of pencil and paper, but combine it with the value structure I’ve built so far.  Often, I will lay in a Multiply or Overlay layer and before flattening it to the home layer, I will take it down to 90% so some structure remains.

I’ve blasted some background in there, trying to keep it in the key of the painting so far.

This pic is somewhat of a rarity for me as the ground is really quite close to what I wanted for the flesh color anyhow…. so this went really, really quick.

Really starting to use the paint

And this is the final.  I continue to lay in colors and maybe I should have saved a step showing that…but really it is now just working into the shadow and lights of the various areas.  Like I work in a bit of green light into the red shawl that is emanating from the book. I then use the Marker brush with a bit of a light purple to work in the shadow areas.  The Marker brush is a Multiply brush in Manga Studio 5, so it acts like a Multiply layer.  Blending here and there when I want to.


I decide to blow up the main figure a bit and let her shadow side sorta blend into the background.  Then I rim lighted the back of her to pop her out a bit.  The client requested triskeles flowing from the book of magic.  Those and the light are done on about 3 layers of Normal and Soft Light and Hard Light layers, all of them down to about 10% to 30%

Punch up some of the highlights on that Hard Light layer (which can be really, really harsh, which is why I keep it around 20%).  I blended a bit in the face, to make smoother the pencil structure that was there… and viola…here is the final.

One of the things I struggle with at times is when to leave some pencil structure underneath the paint and when to wipe it out.  Sometimes, I love the energy from the original drawing to come through and sometimes it is something that I really fight against.  Here, if you look closely, you can see some pencil texture still in the darker shadows of clothing…and I like that.  The spell book is pretty much the pencil entirely, just with a layer of Overlay of that yucky, spooky yellow green.  But I pretty much blended pencil in the skin tones and on the jewelry away.

What do you think?  Does the pencil texture distract?  Does it lose too much energy from the original sketch and I should have kept more in?

Final look

A bit of Process. part 1

I got the chance to do some artwork for Storium, the very cool play by post engine that I actually kickstarted back in it’s beginnings.  I played in a very fun scifi space trader game for a bit before it ran out of steam.  Storium mechanics are all about sharing and determining narrative control as the story/game moves forth.  It is damn clever and anyone who is a gamer (and I know there are lot of you out there who read my various threads and posts!), you owe it to yourself to check it out.  It is a great way to have game with old friends who are scattered all across the world.


Anyhow, I got a chance to do 10 fantasy character illustrations for one their games because they met stretch goals via Kickstarter.  I thought I would share a step by step process of one of them.

I have been working on gray tone paper a lot lately.  I really like being able to get in lights, which is a combination of white pencil and a Pentel white ink pen.  LOVE the white ink pen.  Now, if they would only make a brush version!.  And then I tend to use 3 pencils.  One is a black color pencil (when I really know what I’m doing with shade or line, because it is not erasable).  A F pencil for light sketching and B 7mm mechanical pencil for tightening up the drawing.  I also will use the F for light shading, but mostly use the black color pencil for darker shadows.

And here is a scan of what that looks like:

Sorceress, scanned pencils.

Now, I tend to draw very light and so the scan is “punched up” a bit by playing with Contrast/Brightness and Levels in Photoshop… to get the darks a bit darker.

Next, I take the scan to Duotone in Photoshop.  Because one of the main brushes I use in Manga Studio 5 picks up a lot of the color of whatever is below the brush.  Doing it on gray tends to be a bit “dirty” and “cool”.  So, with Duotone, I take it to a warmer monotone.  Then I make the Duotone, RGB color, because Manga Studio 5 won’t recognize Duotone from Photoshop.  One gets this, see below….


See?  It is just a bit warmer.

The next step is to sketch a CONTINUOUS outline in Manga Studio 5 on a new layer (set to Multiply).  Because I am going to be working on the background separately and because I want to grab a copy of the main figure WITHOUT the background.  I like using the color pencil tool or the ink brush tool for outlines in Manga Studio 5.  Since my colors are fairly close, I threw a white layer behind the outline so y’all can see it clearly.  And it looks like this:


Now I can select the background, and any holes (like up in the hair near her face) and invert the selection.  I start another Multiply layer and fill it with a very light color, in this case it was the color I was using for the outline, that nice warm brown.  Keeping the selection, I drop down to the original layer and make a copy of ONLY that selection, bring it up to the filled color multiply section and merge those two layers.  Now, I have a layer that is normal and I can paint on with my favorite watercolor and oil brushes in Manga Studio.

If I have no background for a commission, which I often do, I might keep the Multiply line layer.  But with backgrounds, I tend to discard them or even blur and erase portions.  But that is something I decide about 3/4s through the entire illustration.

I’ve started to work on the hair and a bit of the face in the next pic, but you can see how the combo selection looks as I am putting paint down.  One these kinds of vignettes, I like to work on the focus first and the background second… the exact opposite I tend to with traditional oils or acrylics, where I like to build from the back and come forward to the foreground elements.  But with digital, I can really manipulate the background easily.. but that is to come down the line..

Some color done..

Some times during painting, I will throw up a layer of Multiply to get a nice rich dark.  I did that in a couple of places in the hair.  Then merge that with my painting layer.  I tend to like to have only 3 really active layers at at time, often flattening them, in order to allow the oil and waterbrush brushes to combine and blend with those colors.

Stay tuned for Part 2, coming soon!

Two for Death Tribble

Here are a couple of concepts I have done for Death Tribble.

We have Sea Slug and Ghost Train.  I will let you guess which one is which.

I am pretty happy with how both of these turned out, there is something really fun with dealing with color in a very non-comic book way, ie, no real inked lines, but still reading as a comic book concept.  The original of Sea Slug didn’t have any inked lines, I actually came in AFTER the color and did those digitally with Manga Studio 5.  About the only program I can even approach a decent ink job with.  I have a really hard time inking with Photoshop or Painter, but Manga Studio 5 does the trick for me.

Art in Public Spaces

So, I’ve been a bit more in the public with my art than usual.  The 2nd day of the Ithaca International Fantastic Film Festival Art Gallery events was a 2 live models posing for all of us artists.  It was funny watching other artists sketch and the “table” talk was a hoot, as was the jockying for a better position to do our sketches <g>

The 2 Liz’s from Whiskey Tango Sideshow were awesome!  They brought very cool costumes and props and a lot energy and fun to their posing.  And yes!  I wasn’t making up any costuming, that is what they were actually wearing.  And yes, balancing sword on her head was held for the entire 10 min pose without a wobble.  True pros!

Thought I would share some of my sketches done that day.  Every sketch except the sitting pose with the scimitar on the shoulder was 10-20 min poses.  The scimitar on the shoulder was a 40 min pose.

3 poses

Headmistress Liz

A few weeks ago, I talked about a doing some art at the Johnson Art Museum at Cornell University.  This was a sketch I did then based on the “future civilization” of this massive instillation from China.

Future father

Ithaca International Fantastic Film Fest (part 2)

Last night was the grand opening of the temporary art gallery down on the Ithaca Commons as part of the Ithaca International Fantastic Film Fest.  It was a hoot!!!  Steve Ellis, the coordinator of the whole dang thing, put up a 12′ canvas on the wall and a bunch of us threw some acrylic paint at it.  I got pics to prove it!

photo 1 photo 4

So.  Top pic, from left to right Steve Ellis, Steve Walker, Fred Harper, Cesar (who’s last name I don’t know but he is awesome!) and Jen Lightfoot.

2nd pic, John Haeffner, Cesar and Jen.

Note for next year, prime that dang canvas!!!!

So.  Today at the IIFFF gallery, there will be a whole gaggle of us artists doing life drawing from live models from 11 to 5 today.  IF you are in the Ithaca area, want to hang out with a whole bunch of cool, weird, creative types, COME ON DOWN!  Or.  If you like horror films, man, IIFFF has some really great, unknown gems as well as a couple classics.  Please check out the link:


Meanwhile, let me drop some my art on ya!  Both of these are private commissions and the tavern scene is available as part of my LPJ Design’s Portfolio Single series .

Tavern Cheatin’

Here is the link to stock art:  http://www.rpgnow.com/product/139870/Image-Portfolio-Singles-007-Storn-Cook?filters=0_0_0_0

The next one will be released soon as stock art, and I will let folks when that happens.  And is another of the fantasy Cap America with the serial numbers filed off.

Marshall of the City

Ithaca Fantastic Film Festival and Art Show!!!

So.  I am part of a gallery of illustrators and painters this upcoming weekend in Ithaca, NY.  If you are in the area, please come and check it out!!

The Gallery opening will be from 4-630 Friday the 14th. We will be at the Old Alphabet Soup location on the commons The Commons 133 East State Street Ithaca, NY 14850.

Next to Race Office Supply. We will be loading in and setting up the gallery earlier that day starting at 10 am. At the opening we’ll have a big canvas for a giant painting which we are all allowed to contribute to, like the Art fusions from Last Rites NYC. Which should be a lot of fun.

Not only will there be a film fest, but there will be a fantastic art show on the weekend of November 14th through 16th! The line up includes Fred Harper,Steve Walker, Storn A. Cook Alan PollackJen Lightfoot, Zachary Jean TaftJon Haeffner Jason Rosen Steve Ellis Jeff Szuc and maybe even a few other special artist surprises. We are going to have a Live Painting at the opening Friday November 14th at 5:30( in the former Alphabet Soup Building on the commons in Ithaca,) And on Saturday we will have models with live artists drawing! There will be comic art, fantasy art, sci fi, as well as 3d sculpture. It will be a great time and The Film Fest is a fantastic backdrop for the whole project! PLease let your friends know. It’s an amazing film lineup and there will also be live music at CSMA. The will be showing a special retrospective with The silent film Haxan. Haxan is an amazingly beautiful film about Witchcraft and will be shown in Sage Hall! Please tell everyone!!!! Learn more at Ithaca International Fantastic Film Festival


The Big Draw

I am probably a bit late in getting this posted, but I didn’t know I was going to do this until the last minute.  I’m doing the Big Draw event tomorrow (Sun, 10/26) with my friend Camilo at the Johnson Art Museum at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY!  Here is the link to the Big Draw event for locations all over the world:  http://www.thebigdraw.org/

So, if you are in the area, consider coming up the Johnson Art museum.  There are a couple of AMAZING exhibits going on at the moment.  A collection of Tawainese modern artworks, including a huge bas relief that evokes a new civilization… or maybe that is an old civilization.  Anyway, Camilo and I will be serving as psuedo art directors for a class of Ithaca College students who are to interact with this bas relief and then do a blog/’zine that is rooted in the civilization the bas relief alludes to.

Also, a very, very cool exhibit on “Magic and Surrealism”.  Some very nice juxtapositioning of magic texts, surreal art, even early movies of prestidigitation.

Going to be a total blast.

Meanwhile, here is a private commission, thought I would show the underpainting for funsies.  The underpainting is a combo of pencil, watercolor pencil, watercolor and acrylic.  The actual painting is digital on top of that.  And oh yeah, the mandate from the client was very much about a fantasy version of a certain shield wielding avenger.

Prevent the Summoning underpainting.

Prevent the Summoning!



Death Tribble’s 150th commission

Wow.  I have done 150 (and counting) commissions for uber patron Death Tribble.  He asked me to do a vehicle of his Avatar logo (for those who haven’t seen it, a ball of brown fur with cartoon eyes with an angry furrowed and flaming brow).  I’ve been planning this one for a long time, knowing I was going to go a bit beyond that…. so Presenting!  The Mighty Multi Morphin Death Tribble Mobile!!!!

Death Tribble Mighty Multi Morphin Moblie.

And oh yeah, I’ve got a couple of Fading Suns commissions to show too!




Long Hiatus

This summer has been very busy.  I’ve moved my parents from their farm of 37 years and a barn full of stuff, some of it mine.  I’ve worked a longer than expected contract for a local company.  I’ve moved my step daughter from DC back to upstate NY so she could go to school.

I’ve been doing artwork, but I’ve neglected to put anything up in awhile.  Or post.

So, here are some things that I can show.  First up is a follow up to my Wield cover.  Not sure of what the follow up is going to be called (I’ve been calling in Wield 2, how original!)


Next up is Endiku, a sumerian “monster” guy done up as more Hulk superhero-y mode.

Here is the Marshal.  I will have a follow up action scene with him to do a bit later this month.

And lastly, a star trek character called Talon.

Three ladies and a.. a.. what.

I got a really nice commission and a nice letter from a dad who was commissioning his daughter’s character, Ocean Princess, from their regular mutants and masterminds game.  She is 9 years old.  The dad said that they often use pics that i’ve posted over on the Green Ronin boards for their characters.

So, here is the pic:  

Next up, I did another Death Tribble commission, this time a victorian lady with what he called a “tricked up parisol”.  So, this is what i came up with, going for a femme fatale vibe.

Then I got a chance to do a Star Trek commission…not something I do all that often.

Lastly, this is a wee sketch, still trying out watercolor pencil, playing with digital watercolor on multiply layers.  This is something from a web comic idea that is slowly gestating in me head.  Hopefully, more to come…