Art Books Elevate Picassos of Pulp


Not that collections of comic book art are new. Once upon a time, however, such books were ramshackle affairs. They were often printed in black-and-white on stock maybe a cut above copier paper, and stapled together. If they were printed in hardcover color you could hear the spine glue crackle and complain the first time the books were cracked open. And the color was about as nuanced as that on a 1966 Philco floor-model color television.

But right now a quiet revolution is going on in comics art books. There are portfolio-size editions scanned directly from original artwork; artists successfully negotiating the worlds of fine, commercial and comics art; younger and less-well-known artists getting the full-color hardcover treatment; and the scholarship continues to deepen and the production values rise in books that study bedrock comic book artists like Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and Alex Toth.

These books are aimed at serious fans of the comic book as art form, but also at those who

Classic movies undergo illustrated makeover


These days, movie poster aren’t exactly enthralling (well, the Hollywood kind). Usually badly Photoshopped and unimaginative, it’s no wonder that a lot of designers reimagine them in their own way. Artist Joe Waldron has crafted these three illustrations for classic films that you’ll absolutely fall in love with.

“I always try and find a sense of fun and nostalgia through my illustrations,” he explains. “And with the movies that are currently being released tapping into my childhood favourites – Jurassic Park, James Bond and Batman (although it looks like Robin won’t be in Batman Vs Superman for very long!) – I’ve been inspired to create some of my own posters.  I always begin my process in my sketchbook roughing out ideas and characters until I’m happy with how they look, I’ll then scan them into photoshop where I’ll colour and add texture until I’m happy with the overall outcome. This usually takes between 3-6 hours sketch to final.”

new comics to look out for in 2016



Guns, moonshine, monsters—there’s a lot going on in the backwoods of Kentucky. Iris Gentry is a war veteran who returned from Iraq to find his options for supporting his family limited. Since they live in a “dry” county, Iris has turned to running moonshine for his former ranking officer—meaning the men now share crimes at home and abroad. You see, back in their combat days, Iris’s regiment got involved in something they shouldn’t have, and now a deadly, otherworldly consequence has come looking for vengeance.

THE DARK AND BLOODY is a haunting new horror series by writer Shawn Aldridge (Vic Boone) and artist Scott Godlewski (Copperhead), with covers by Tyler Crook (Harrow County).

Disturbingly funny viral comics to be animated

Joan Cornellà’s surreal comic strips took the internet by storm – now he wants to animate them.

If you haven’t already seen Joan Cornellà’s darkly humorous illustrations, you must have been living under a rock. Each comic strip presents an often grotesque social commentry – from selfie sticks to bizarre beasteality – they aren’t exactly to everybodies taste.

The fiercely independent artist, who appeared at this year’s Thought Bubble comic art convention, now wants to animate his sinister strips and is seeking help via Kickstarter.

He aims to create 30 clips of his most popular stories, some adapted from his last book, Zonzo, plus more created exclusively for the “wonderful project”.

 Despite his sarcastic, no-boundary artistic commentry on modern society having a particular focus on internet usage and social media,  Joan owes much (if not most) of his popularity to Facebook sharers.  Backers will recieve a whole host of incentives for supporting him, so check out the project here if you want to see more of his surreal characters brought to life.

Is this tool the ultimate painting package?

A long-time user of ArtRage, artist Nick Harris gives us his thoughts on the latest version.

Nick Harris is a fantasy artist who’s been using ArtRage for quite some time. As an avid user, he tells us his thoughts about the latest version – ArtRage 4.

“ArtRage can represent any or every stage of my process. I use it to sketch as well as to finish in. I also mix and match it with SketchBook Pro, the interface of which is similarly clean and nice to engage with. In simplistic terms, I view ArtRage as my more painterly tool and SketchBook Pro as more a drawing tool.

I find the reference image tool that was introduced in version 4 very handy. You can paste images (reference, sketches, whatever) onto the screen like post it notes. You can scale, rotate, zoom each image. You can also create custom paint palettes, mixer palettes and such from the same, floating tool palette. I also use custon toolboxes all the time.

You can group your favourite brushes along with a custom palette, all making them easy to get to. It’s a bunch of

How to draw a terrifying movie monster

Daren Horley reveals how he picked elements from real-world animals to create his Kirin forest creature design for the film 47 Ronin.

Universal Studios asked Framestore to do the VFX for the film 47 Ronin. It also wanted design for many of the film’s elements, including the two main creatures: a dragon and a forest-dwelling Kirin.

I was part of the Framestore art department team who brainstormed looks for the creatures. The brief for Kirin was to create a mythological horned beast in the style of Hayao Miyazaki, incorporating a chimera-like mixture of animals, a stag and a reptile being the main elements.

The design veered from a stocky, rhino-like, squat animal, to a more graceful, yet still muscular, stag. Along the way it adopted a lion’s face, (later abandoned) and crocodile skin.

The creature entered asset development after a design was agreed upon, but the head carried on being refined. I followed the Kirin from concept design to model development, painting the skin textures and redesigning the head, and in this workshop I’ll detail that creative process.

01. Experimentation

First I experiment with various animal body shapes, either

5 last-minute Xmas gifts digital artists will love

If you are struggling to find the perfect gift for the artist in your life, look no further.

Sometimes it can be difficult to find the perfect gift for the one you love, especially if you don’t share their passion. We have compiled some of the best software, hardware and inspiration released this year that is sure to please your artist loved ones, or treat yourself.

01. State of the art hardware

Jot Dash Stylus had a thumbs up from ImagineFX this year, a simple, convenient, long-lasting stylus that you can pick up and start writing and sketching with just like a traditional pen straight away. At £40 – it’s a steal, available here.

Another new stylus on the market is the Apple Pencil, and it’s received rave reviews from digital artists – but make sure your artist friend has a tablet pro or something compatible.

If they are new to digital art, they might be in need of a tablet – Wacom’s entry level Intuos Art has had a recent refresh and is a good starter tablet.

02. Essential tools

It’s likely they already have

How to use occlusion shadows and master them

Bram Sels explains what occlusion shadows are and how to master them to create a three dimensional effect.

When doing detailed lighting work I’ve gotten into the habit of simplifying each step of the painting process as much as possible. Focusing my attention on one aspect at a time helps to not become overwhelmed and almost always results in a much more thorough job.

One step in that process is concentrating on occlusion shadows, which occur where surfaces come together. A basic rule of thumb is that wherever areas are closed in by surfaces, shadows will occur. The inside of a mouth or an eye socket for instance will almost always be darker than the top of the nose or the forehead.

They’re a form of shadows best noticeable when there’s no directional light present. So you can paint them on a separate layer without having to worry about the direction of the overall lighting, and then set that layer to Multiply to have it distribute the shadows on the objects below. In my example however, I do have a lighting scheme in mind with directional lights and cast shadows, but these build upon

Posted in Art

Is this the ultimate tool for digital artists?

ArtRage, the premier painting and drawing app, is back with version 4.5 – and a host of useful new features.

Whether you’re a pro artist or just learning how to draw and paint, premier digital art app ArtRage is one to watch. Its reputation for realistic effects and easy-to-use creative tools looks set to continue with this latest version. Wet paints mix and watercolour strokes blend and bleed into each other with the all-natural zing we’ve come to expect, while the selected media still echo the bristle of the brush in use.

A range of stickers, cloners, stencils, sprays and pattern and gradient fills offers convincing new-media effects, but it’s a handful of new features that add a welcome extra layer of complexity to the established set.

With a tweak of your stylus’s sensitivity settings for example, the new Tilt function makes pencil work more responsive than ever, and the Paint Symmetry option adds mirrored strokes to ArtRage’s creative toolkit.

The resource drag and drop feature brings global benefits, making preparing your tools a cinch: to be able to organise preset brushes and pencils into custom toolboxes is a

Awe-inspiring illustrations celebrate Bowie’s legacy

Artists all over the globe celebrate the man that inspired so many

From the gender-queer image of Ziggy Stardust to the Goblin King in Labyrinth, David Bowie had a profound effect on many. Whether it was his music influencing art, or his flamboyant, androgynous looks – you’d be hard pressed to find an artist who didn’t have some sort of affinity to Bowie.

After the tragic news of his passing earlier this week, artists all over the globe transformed their tears of sadness into beauty – and the internet was full of stunning illustrative tributes to the late, great musician.

We’ve collected some of the most inspirational Bowie fan art – a mixture of those created while he still walked among us and others in his honor when he left to take to his place back amongst the stars…

Helen Green

Helen Green’s life-long love of David Bowie was translated into an art form when she began creating a different image of the influental artist every year for his birthday.

On news of his death, her “Time May Change” gif created for Bowie’s 68th birthday in 2015, shown above, was

How to illustrate a Star Wars-inspired environment

Bring a touch of the force to your sci-fi concept environments.

When working out how to draw a new piece, preparation is key. An important thing I always consider when starting a new illustration is the overall composition. It helps to make up your mind up front about where the big shapes in your image will go.

Adding building structures and an Imperial shuttle to a mountain ridge can significantly change your composition, so be aware of the traps you can get caught in, and keep a close eye to how the image changes when you start introducing new shapes to your artwork.

It can save you time if you work with a 3D program such as Blender or Modo, in which you can create a backdrop of your mountain ridge and then quickly block out the big shapes of your structures in front of it.

That way you have maximum control over the scale and placement of each individual part. Furthermore, it becomes quick and easy to duplicate and move parts around to build up your image. I see it like a big puzzle, and when everything falls into place

How to improve your character drawing

Legendary Artist Aaron Blaise explains how to paint dynamic creatures using traditional thinking in digital art.

It takes time, patience and countless hours of practise and Illustrator tutorials to master the art of character drawing. During my early days at Disney, while working on films such as The Lion King, Mulan and Brother Bear, we would go through hundreds of variations of character designs. Because these films were hand drawn it wasn’t too difficult to imagine how these rough designs would look in the finished film.

However, after the advent of films such as Toy Story and other computer animated works, it became more difficult for many artists working traditionally to present characters as they might appear in the final film.

One of my greatest discoveries when I first started working digitally was that I now had the ability to create an image that looked like a frame of finished film. I was able to convey texture, mood and lightning – all in one image. This has great value when trying to present ideas to film executives, art directors and the rest of the crew. Being able to quickly show my concepts that appeared

How to nail your next character art commission

Whether you’ve got your drawing techniques down to a fine art, being commissioned for a new piece can often be a daunting experience. This character illustration was commissioned for a book cover. The brief was specific, and went into a lot of detail about the character of the girl. To create it, I worked directly with the author of the book, and it was interesting to compare our thoughts on what we imagined the character would look like.

The girl is a rebel and heroic princess escaping on a powerful and muscular horse. The author was keen for the reader to feel the strength of character and freedom of the heroine, as well as the impressive and somewhat frightening-looking mount.

I found that the difficulty with this commission was achieving the right visual tone. Because the book’s readership is a young, female audience, the author wanted the cover to be engaging for that age group without it becoming too kitsch and a caricature of the heroine.

She was also keen to avoid an overly masculine illustration, one that’s often seen in the fantasy genre with the likes of Conan the Barbarian, for example. So I

European Comic festival backs down over ‘sexist shortlist’ boycott

Angoulême adds women creators to lifetime achievement award shortlist following protest.

Women have had an active history in the world of comics, being involved since the medium’s inception. Their input however, has rarely been recognised.

However, 2016 has so far been a step in the right direction for female comic creators, with an exhibition tracing women’s colourful history within the medium beginning next month.

Now, following a protest, women could finally be honoured with the recognition they deserve at Angoulême comics festival.

The second largest comics festival in Europe, Angoulême is notable for awarding several prestigious prizes in cartooning. The four-day festival has been going strong since the 1970s and attracts more than 200,000 vistors each year.

The most prestigious prize at the event, Grand Prix de la ville d’Angoulême, is awarded to a living creator honoring their lifetime achievement. This creator then becomes president of the next year’s festival.

The winner of Gran Prix de la ville d’Angoulême has only once been female (French cartoonist Florence Cestac) and this year the shortlist created quite an uproar as not one woman was included.

Ghost World creator, Daniel Clowes, who was

Learn how to draw with these tutorial sketchbooks

I Draw aims to help artists develop their drawing skills with these Moleskine sketchbooks.

Beginning as a handbook to aid in car and shoe design, the IDRAW series of sketchbook and reference guides has extended to include comics and, most recently, manga to its portfolio.  These innovative, pocket-sized moleskines are an indispensible tool for budding comic book and manga artists – inside their pages lies a unique mash up of creativity, education and utility.  We have combined the limitless possibilities of a sketchbook, the how-to of a text book and the what’s what of a reference guide into one game-changing tool,” says IDRAW creator Matt Marrocco.

In collaboration with Marvel artist, Ryan Stegman, Matt created I Draw Comics with the help of Kickstarter back in 2012, where they smashed their target and were met with great enthusiasm from fans.

This time Matt has joined forces with Sara Mayhew to create I Draw Manga. According to the now funded Kickstarter page, Matt and Sara have “created a new standard for aspiring Manga artists, anime devotees, and anyone looking to improve their drawing skills.”

These sketchbooks include valuable reference information such as publishers, schools and

New exhibit tracks colourful history of women in comics

Comics aren’t a new medium, but from humble beginning as sequential satires and newspaper strips they have evolved into a complex and powerful literary and aesthetic form.

It may come as a suprise to some, but women have been present throughout this evolution, creating some of the most defining and provocative works of the medium.

Comix Creatrix: 100 Women Making Comics explores these female comic creators working across genres and generations. The exhibition features original artwork by 100 women, from the 1800s to present day, spanning every genre from comedy to fantasy – many seen in public for the first time.

The exhibition, at London’s House of Illustration, is the UK’s largest ever exhibit of leading female comic artists and presents innovative creators, the Victorian cartoonist Marie Duval and Moomin’s creator, Tove Jansson; as well as more modern innovators Posy Simmonds, Audrey Niffenegger and Nina Bunjevac.  The show will debunk the myth that women have had a limited input into the world of comics, featuring 21st century work by British creators, and recognising ground-breaking works from the 19th and 20th centuries. The exhibit also will highlight the influence of international practitioners on the British scene.

Comic book firm IDW Publishing to expand into TV

Expect to see more vampires, werewolves and the undead come to life on television.

In the latest sign of Hollywood’s growing appetite for comic book properties, San Diego comic book company IDW Publishing is launching a television division managed by an executive producer of the hit zombie series “The Walking Dead.”

IDW, also known as Idea and Design Works, already publishes a wide range of comic books and graphic novels based on film and TV titles, including “Doctor Who,” “G.I. Joe,” “Star Trek” and “Transformers.” Some of IDW’s own comic book series also have been turned into movies, including Sony Pictures’ “30 Days of Night” in 2007.

Now, the company wants to develop and finance TV shows based on its catalog of tales that delve into dark, supernatural worlds. The move is part of an effort to capitalize on the popularity of comic-inspired TV shows such as AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” which was based on Robert Kirkman’s comic book series, and “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” created for ABC by Joss Whedon.

The new TV division, called IDW Entertainment, will be headed by former Starz Media executive David Ozer and will be housed in the Los Angeles office of production and management company Circle of

Comic Book’s Ink Includes Ashes of Editor

NEW YORK — The late Marvel Comics editor Mark Gruenwald got his wish: His ashes were blended with ink and made into a comic book.

“This is something that he really wanted because he really loved comics. He wanted to be part of his work in a very real sense,” said Mark Harras, Marvel’s editor in chief.

The ashes of Marvel’s senior executive editor were mixed at a printing plant in Canton, Ohio, for use in “Squadron Supreme,” a reprint of a limited edition 1985 comic he wrote, Harras said Thursday.

The book will be out this week in comic book stores and next month in other bookstores.

Though Gruenwald’s death last August in Pawling, N.Y., was unexpected, his desire that his ashes be made part of a comic book was known to many people, including his widow, Catherine.

Gruenwald was 42 when he died of a heart attack.

As a top editor at Marvel, Harras said, Gruenwald supervised some of the company’s biggest titles, including “Captain America” and “The Avengers.”

The Comic Book Grows Up : Graphic Novels–‘comics for adults’–are enjoying immense popularity . . . but why?

King Arthur, the model of chivalric virtue, leads the valiant knights of the Table Round into battle once more. But things have changed: The Once and Future King has been transformed into a 6-foot-3 Hercules who numbers a woman, a samurai and a mutant among his vassals. And their foes consist of a horde of green-skinned aliens.

Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Tintagel anymore.

And we’re not. “Camelot 3000” by Mike W. Barr and Brian Bolland takes place in the not-too-distant future. While fleeing the destruction of London, Tom Prentice inadvertently awakens the slumbering King in his tomb. Through more than 250 pages of flamboyant pictures and hokey dialogue, Arthur, Merlin and an assortment of reincarnated warriors of the Table Round use sorcery and high-tech weaponry to save the world. Once Earth is again safe for democracy (and everything else), “The Road Goes Ever On,” as a tentacled creature on some other planet draws Excalibur from a stone, presumably to continue the fight for virtue. “Camelot” belongs to a strange literary/artistic hybrid genre that has come to be called the graphic novel.

Acclaimed as a new art form, damned

Lackluster ‘Sparks’ puts the comic-book movie on a budget

Out to prove that the comic-book movie needn’t be mega-financed behemoths, the scrappy superhero-noir indie “Sparks” busks its 1940s saga of dark redemption with considerable visual energy, if not always coherence or competence.

Starting with wounded, wanted vigilante Ian Sparks (Chase Williamson) barging into a newspaper to report his own murder, the movie flashbacks — and flashbacks — to unravel a convoluted story stemming from a superpower-bestowing meteorite crash, Sparks’ teaming with masked crime fighter Heavenly Lady (Ashley Bell), their search for a serial killer and the tragic early deaths of his parents.

As in a lot of noir, the good do bad and no one is who they seem, but the torturing psychopath angle feels like pandering to crude modern tastes. As for the comic-book elements, shape-shifting and invincibility naturally have compromising downsides yet also make for convenient get-out-of-plot cards.