Tuesday, July 31, 2012

GI JOE cover sneak peek...

I've really been busy with covers lately. I've show the process from the Canadian Joe Con cover that I did recently. I have another cover for GI JOE that hasn't been shown yet, so I'll spotlight that when it comes out.

What's really kept me busy is what I'm currently finishing up. For the month of Oct. for issues 18 of GI JOE, Cobra and Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow there will be a 3 part connected cover. It's one ENORMOUS image that's broken up into three parts split between the three titles.

It was the kind of images I've wanted a good excuse to do for a couple of years now. I obviously can't show it off yet, but I can take a tiny section of it. I wanted it to encompass everything that is cool about GI JOE to me. I'll go into much more detail when the cover is shown and announced by IDW. Until then I wanted to at least show a bit of what's kept me up during my recent all-nighters.

GI JOE cover sneak peek - 387

Just to give you some perspective on the scope of this image, the final cover is a total of 33 inches wide by 17 inches tall.  This section I'm showing you a bit of is only 6 inches wide by 4 inches tall. Each figure here is only about 2 inches tall at the most. 

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Canadian Joe Con Cover part IV...

Alright, so the last step of the cover process.  Here are the colors by Simon Gough, my partner in crime and comics.

Canadian Joe Con Comic Cover Colors (alliteration much?) - 386

At the con, there will be 50 limited edition signed and numbered prints of the cover without the logo!

And here is the final cover with the Awesome Canadian Joe logo across the top!

You can also go check out the Joe Canuck website for more info and updates on the con and it's exclusives!!

Or go to their facebook page and "like" them here

For Questions and Comments email me at 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Canadian Joe Con Cover part III....

Here we go, this is the last step of the process for me. Like I mentioned in the last post, I do a lot of the fine detail work in the ink stage. I need to try and be even more loose in the pencil stage to save time, but it's something I'm working on. Here I work out these last details,  line weights, and textures all throughout.

While I suggested various shadows and light sources in the pencils, it gets nailed down here. I chose to use two different light sources on this piece. You can see the shadows on the main character JOE CANUCK there in front, has all the shadows being cast to the right, where as in the background the shadows are being cast to the left. Just a subtle touch to show they aren't in the same environment. These "move poster" style covers can be difficult that way. Trying to coordinate the figures and their various sizes, but not make someone just look like a giant is tough.

Canadian Joe Con Comic Cover - Inks - 385

This was inked with Copic Mulitliner tech pens for all the weapons, the vehicle and small elements like faces. The rest was inked with a brush and Speedball Black India Ink. 
Tomorrow I'll post Simon Gough's colors for this cover!

You can also go check out the Joe Canuck website for more info and updates on the con and it's exclusives!!

Or go to their facebook page and "like" them here

For Questions and Comments email me at 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Canadian Joe Con Cover part II....

After I had the layout done and Mike approved it I was set to pencil this thing full size. My layouts are done on pre ruled paper and the little hash marks on it help me re draw it full size and keep things fairly accurate for the composition. I almost always make a few changes as I look at it more just to tweek the figures, or composition a bit.

Here was the pencils that I turned in for approval.

Canadian Joe Con - Comic Cover (pencils) - 384

You can see when compared to the layouts, the biggest change was repositioning Retrofit in the upper left. 

I felt he was a little too "flat" for the composition and it created a dead space above his head. By twisting his body and raising him up it also helped separate him from the foreground. Pushing him behind Black Ice also gave prominence to the main bad guy.

In this stage, most of my details are gestural. It might look "tightly" penciled, but you can see in areas like Retrofit's knife, The Hate Scout tank details and the mountains, I didn't need to make it exact yet. I leave that for the inking stage to save time. 

The pencils are mostly to make sure lighting is established, and the figures are proportional and the uniforms are at least indicated correctly.

The next post I'll show the inking stage and talk more about the process there.

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Friday, July 27, 2012

Canadian Joe Con!!!

I will be attending this year's Canadian Joe Con Aug. 11th up in Toronto for the first time! Mike Heddle (the show runner/owner) has been gracious enough to have me as a guest and I've been getting really excited as we're leading up to it. For all you old school Joe fans, this isn't anything new, but I've really started getting into the exclusive GI Joe figures that are made specific to the shows. These toys are called "Con Exclusives" for those who aren't familiar. They can either be pre-existing characters, variants of those character, or sometimes even completely new characters designed using pre-existing molds.

I've been really impressed with the previous sets and for the upcoming Joe Con. I was also asked to do the comic cover for the Canadian Joe Con that would spotlight their new figures that appear in the story and will be available at the show.

For this process I always start with reference of the figures. Mike sent me along some pictures and was great in giving me reference on the spot when I needed something specific. He seemed to be available at all hours of the day and night. I'd send him an email, and within minutes I'd have a snap shot from his phone emailed back. This guy is on the ball, and I think he sleeps about as much as I do...

Here are this year's figures.

Joe Canuck: our only good guy this year

H.A.G.A.R.: Android with death for arms.

Retrofit: I believe he built HAGAR, he's a weapons specialist
Traction, Hate Scout driver, Explosives specialist

Tractions pimped out Hate Scout tank: 

Black Ice: He's one bad dude

So going from there I work up a layout for the comic cover

Canadian Joe Con Cover Layouts - 383

I'll post the finished cover shortly!

For Comments and Questions email me at 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sypha...Castlevania colors...

This was a very fun sketch to do. I talk about it a lot in my original post of the line art how I focused on the "line" and didn't add any shadows or "spot blacks" as it's called in the comic industry. This was purposeful to make sure it had an ethereal quality and lightness to it.

Here's my original post of the line art where I talk about he sketch more.

Simon Gough has been doing the colors on all of these Castlevania pieces, and he carried that ethereal quality perfectly over into the colors. I especially love the hair and face, that it has such a softness to it.  high-five Simon!

Castlevania Colors - Sypha - 382

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Death...More Castlevania colors...

This was a very interesting sketch to do. I didn't do any preliminary designs, I didn't have anything in my head before I started. I simply drew his head in first, the worked out the skeleton so I knew how long his arms would be, then very organically worked out his cloak. To make it look inky and wet on the bottom came out of an accident where I dropped my pen and it left a mark that I thought looked cool. Now that is one of my favorite parts of this sketch. 

The skull scythe I think I did take from some kind of reference or influence. I forget now where, but I did add the neck to transform into the handle which I thought was fun. The idea of the floating skulls came from a reference sheet I have of about a dozen skulls from different angles that I use periodically as reference. As I was looking at that sheet I wanted to practice more skulls and thought to add them to the mist. I really liked distorting them which made them look more in agony or something. 

I don't typically draw anything this dark, I don't find it particularly fun. But this sketch was a cool exercise in instinctual sketching. Just putting pen to paper and seeing what happens.

Here is my initial sketch post during my first Castlevania week.

Of course, once again amazing colors by my partner in crime, Simon Gough.

Castlevania Colors - Death - 381

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Trevor the Barbarian....

Here's the Trevor Belmont sketch colored up. He is the main character in Quinn's Castlevania pitch, and I really enjoyed his take on the character and seeing him go through the "hero's quest" throughout the story. Colors once again done by Simon Gough

Below is the link to my original post with the black and white sketch with more info about the character.

Castlevania Colors - Trevor Belmont - 380

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Castlevania in Color....

I realized I already posted a couple of these colors from Simon. The Alucard character and Cornell both. So I've added them again here so they're all in one place. 

I've only drawn a werewolf kind of character a few times before. There are quite a few different interpretations out there to pull from. I had a lot of fun with this one, I don't get to draw monsters very often. Once again with Simon's colors this really comes to life!

Here's the original post where I talk about the Comic pitch, the character and this sketch.

Castlevania Colors - Cornell the Werewolf - 378

Alucard was fun to do. Almost a very classic Dracula image, though younger looking. Which makes since considering he's Dracula's son in the game. This is a very specific depiction of Alucard during the time right before he rebels against his father and joins the force of good. I really dig these kind of characters that have an inner struggle of good vs evil. 

Here's the original sketch post where I talk more about the character and sketch!

Casltevania Colors - Alucard - 379

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Sunday, July 22, 2012


As I mentioned in the last post, this was part of the art for a Castlevania Comic pitch to Konami. Here are the colors by Simon Gough for the treatment.

Castlevania Colors - Dracula - 377

Also this is the original post I did for the line art where I talk more about the sketch and the character.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Castlevania goodness....

A while back I did a Castlevania theme on the blog. It was mostly as a favor for my friend Quinn Johnson to use as character art in a Castlevania Comic Book pitch to the video game company Konami.  As usual I teamed up with Simon Gough to really make these characters come to life. Quinn is a fantastic writer and a devote Castlevania fan. He came up with a treatment that explores the history of the game property and incorporates many aspects that make the game and story unique. It's a really well written script!

There's only so much I can say, but the pitch has been turned in, and we've gotten some fantastic feedback so far!! I wanted to share the colored art that went into the pitch this week on the blog.

I'll start of with Grant the Pirate. Here's the original post where I talk more about the character.

Castlevania Colors - Grant the Pirate - 376

Friday, July 20, 2012

Back with a little TMNT action!....

Hey all, so it's been a bit of a break from the blog. Mostly due to this MONSTER cover I've been doing for IDW.  It's a 3 page interconnected cover that will run on issue #18 of GI JOE, Snake Eyes and Cobra.  As soon as it's all solicited or comes out I will show my process and talk about who I chose to spotlight on the cover. It's an idea I've had and wanted to do for a couple of years now. It will showcase nearly 40 GI JOE and Cobra characters and over a dozen vehicles!

I also got to squeeze in the cover for the Canadian Joe Con comic! The show is coming up Aug 11th in Toronto, and I'm really looking forward to my first trip up to Canadian and meeting with the Joe fans up there.

I reposted this Leonardo sketch a little while back and it was snagged up pretty quickly, but the buyer requested that I ink it. So I got to spend a little more time on this and thought I'd share.

Leonardo - 375

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Wolverine vs Sentinel....

Okay, got this bad boy done. I had a lot of fun working on this, my son was with me drawing his own characters and he suggested I have Wolverine cutting out the Sentinel's eye. It was a cool idea so I went with that, and he's been pretty proud of his contribution since.

Fun to do, classic 90's costume Wolverine takin' it to a Sentinel. Ahhh good times. I've just got 3 of these blank sketch covers to do from that sketch opp a while back. Then that will be wrapped up. I have a few more to do for conventions recently past or coming up. So I'll be posting those as I get them done.

Wolverine vs Sentinel - 374

IF you're looking for a great self contained Wolverine story, Ultimate Wolverine vs. HULK is a cool 6  issue arc. It is more for an older audience since Hulk rips Wolverine in half....well, he got better. 
Written by Damon Lindelof (co-creator of LOST)  and art by Leinil Yu. 

You can get that here at INSTOCK TRADES for 40% off!

For Questions and Comments email me at 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Here's another blank comic cover sketch. I think it's the first I've done on a Wolverine book. Actually this is just the front, I'm having ole' Wolvie battle a giant Sentinel that will cover the back of the book as well. Here's the first part done, I'll be adding the Sentinel and posting that tomorrow.

Wolverine vs the Sentinel - 373

My favorite run on Wolverine was when Leinil Yu was drawing the title early on in his career. You can see his influence with the way I drew his mask. It was just solid art and a rotating cast of side characters that kept it fun. I go back and read that every once in a while, and I don't do that with many of my single issues packed away in the closet. They've only put some of those issues in trade so far. I'm hoping they'll collect the rest at some point.

There are some fantastic Wolverine Trades and Graphic novels that you can find here at

For Questions or Comments email me at

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Firefly Vs. The Arashikage...

This was a commission I did back when I was visiting the UK for the Roll Out Roll Call convention. I've had the chance to draw Firefly quite a bit this year. Which has been great especially since I've not been able to draw him in the books.

I always enjoy the commissions where I can tell a story with what's going on, and this was a cool premise. Basically that Firefly would be getting the drop on the Arashikage ninja clan.

Here's the commission and the recent colors by Simon Gough

Firefly inks and colors - 372

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Geek's Elixir...

Many of you might be familiar with my amazing sister Elaine. She's come with me to various conventions and has established her self some pretty decent geek cred. If you've seen her facebook site, then you know what I'm talking about!

Over the years she has made quite a few friends and contacts within the industry as well as established her own "voice" of commentary on the industry. We brainstormed this last week while she was here visiting and decided she needed a more official site to use as an information hub than just her facebook. 

She'll be starting up a blog very soon where she'll spotlight various News, Reviews and Interviews focusing on the comic book industry. First we needed a name and came up with "Geek's Elixir: Comic Book Essentials". Next we needed a logo, which is where I come in. 

I did up a quick drawing of the bottle and spilled liquid. Simon Gough did me a solid by coloring it up super quick and I worked up the lettering with a little direction from my brother Brian Atkins. At this point we just need to adopt Simon and make it officially a family affair.

I'll post more as soon as the site is up, but be on the look out for some great articles and creator interviews with some of the industries TOP Talent!

For Questions or Comments email me at 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Dark Legacy Ninja finished...

Here's the final commission with a "techy" background. I've always liked how Travis Charest would throw in these completely non-descript technical backgrounds. It looks cool....I don't know what that is, but it looks cool and all "techy"

Dark Legacy Ninja with background  - 371

Character and Weapons design by Bryan Tillman. You can check out his 
Dark Legacy Kickstarter Campaign
It has a great video that gives you a look into the project!

You can also check out the Kaiser Studio blog here

or click on the link to the right under art blogs.

For Questions and Comments email me at 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Dark Legacy Ninja...

This sketch is the first part of a commission for Bryan Tillman and his company Kaiser Studios. Bryan's been a long time friend, we went to the Savannah College of Art and Design (S.C.A.D.) together and have kept in touch since. This character is from a table top rpg, card game that Kaiser Studio has produced and successfully funded through Kickstarter!

The game is called Dark Legacy and captures all the best elements from both Magic the Gathering and a traditional D&D rpg game. This ninja character is one of the lead roles in the game, so I've been honored that Bryan would ask me to do this. Like most of my commissions....this has taken me awhile to fit this into my schedule, but like ALL of my commissions, they get done eventually.

So, here is the character inked up, I'll be adding the "techy" backgrounds tomorrow and post up the final piece.

Dark Legacy Ninja - 370

Character and Weapons design by Bryan Tillman. You can check out his 
Dark Legacy Kickstarter Campaign
It has a great video that gives you a look into the project!

You can also check out the Kaiser Studio blog here

or click on the link to the right under art blogs.

For Questions and Comments email me at 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Darkhawk colors...

Very cool colors done by Simon Gough, I also have an amazing version done by Mark Roberts. I thought I'd spotlight them both.

DarkHawk Colors and Sketch 

Colors by Simon Gough

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Dynamic Duo...

well...not THAT dynamic duo, I mean these two guys. My first introduction to these guys was actually in the Death of Superman story line when Doomsday lays waste to the Justice League. Booster and Blue Beetle were a big part of that team.

I did these sketches back in January during my JLA month. I combined them into one image, and Simon Gough threw some awesome colors down on it!  This REALLY came to life with his colors.

Check out Simon's Gallery Here!

Here were the original line art sketches.

For Questions and Comments email me at

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Venom 20....Out today!

While I was working on Snake Eyes I also did some fill in work on Venom #20 for Marvel. It was a cool project to work on and fun to do superhero stuff. At the same time the current venom is very "commando combat" right now. It seemed like a nice fit. After seeing the issue I think Tom Brennan (my editor) did a good job matching up the styles of my work and the other artist.

I wanted to show some of my pages in the penciled stages for the book that's out.

Venom 20 Pencils pages - 367

The one thing about this title, and maybe in this issue in particular, is the fighting is pretty violent. Even most superhero books there's a decent fight throughout, but it consists of power blasts and punching. I would say that this issue isn't for little kids, so please keep that in mind. The second scene that I drew is even a little more disturbing. It's nothing horrific, but it pushes the boundaries of stuff that I like to work on. Another interesting point, is that the work I do in black and white always seems less graphic when I'm drawing it. However, as soon as someone gets cut with a ninja sword or shot and you see any blood, the colors immediately make a scene more graphic. It still surprises me even though I've been doing this for 6 years.

Because I strive to keep this blog a family friendly place, please keep that in mind if you suggest this issue to anyone. It's still considered an all ages Marvel book, and it really isn't anything too outrageous. I just tend to keep to pretty tame projects and this was more intense than that. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

GI JOE Cover Run...

I started drawing GI Joe for IDW in 2008. I had worked on it previously with another publisher, and only a couple covers for them. However, I started a run on the book that I hardly expected to be so continually involved with at the time. 4 years later I've done over 50 covers for the property. I have a few completed that I can't show quite yet.

While I look back on the body of work, I can see it as a timeline of my growth as an artist. I'm always doing my best to challenge my work and draftsmanship. I know I have quite a bit to still learn and that opportunity excites me still. I've just wrapped up my latest arc on a GI JOE book with Snake Eyes #16 and it's made me want to look back on my work with the property.


52 IDW GI JOE covers, 1 Joe Con cover, 1 Roll Out Roll Call Con Cover
I have 4 covers currently done or in production that have not been shown yet. 
With plans for another 2, making that 60 covers in total by Aug. 2012.

GI Joe has really been a dream project for me. It has always been fun because of the nostalgic aspect to the property. I grew up on the cartoon, toys, and then later reading the comics. To have been able to be associated with it professionally has really been a treat and something I've never taken for granted.

I've also been blessed to work with Chuck Dixon every step of the way. Chuck and my fantastic editors, Andy Schmidt, John Barber and Carlos Guzman, were the reasons I've stayed on for so long. I have done comic work for Marvel, NBC, Dark Horse and DC comics while I've been working on GI JOE. However, every time I came back on to GI JOE, it was a breath of fresh air to get such exciting scripts so clearly written and have an editorial staff that was always encouraging and supportive.

With this last run on Snake Eyes, I can't say enough about how great it's been to work with Juan Castro (Inker) and Simon Gough (Colorist). Both are fairly new to the industry, and in fact this book was Simon's first published work in the comics industry! I've never worked with such a tight creative group. We were copied on every single email that was turned in related to the project and that helped us keep everyone on track and limit any possible mistakes throughout the run. It's truly been a pleasure to work with both artists in such a fun collaboration.

I'm not done with the property, I'll still be on covers for the foreseeable future and there are still projects I'd love to be a part of related to GI JOE. This is simply a retrospective of the work I've done and a chance to look back and appreciate the amazing people I've had a chance to work with.

Friday, July 6, 2012

What's next...

So today's post wont be a character sketch. I'll have plenty more of those this month since I will be catching up on all my commissions and con sketches.

Instead I wanted to give just a quick preview of the two projects I will be working on after Snake Eyes. I've just wrapped up my interior work on the GI Joe books. I have a larger graphic novel for a property created by Ryan Schifrin, that I'm drawing and Larry Hama is writing. That should be done this fall and I'll post updates on where to find that as soon as it's published. I've posted some character design art on the blog before, but here are a few pages as well.

Current Projects - 365
The symbols on their arms burn and it's a call sign to meet with the "Collector"

A mysterious alien employer called the Collector gives Basil and Moebius their new assignment

With supernatural powers to decay or reanimate a person, the Collector enforces our main character's indentured servitude.

Quick meeting with their tech designer before the mission. 

Shadow Gambit is a great mix of an Indiana Jones archeological adventure with the modern flare of James Bond missions. This has been a very cool project to work on and I'm excited to wrap it up soon so everyone can get a look at the finished product.  For more info you can check out the site

The other project I'm currently working on is the co-created book Elders of the RuneStone. Written adn created by Quinn Johnson, I've been working on this book on and off for years with him. We are hard at work wrapping up the first issue for an August digital release for all of our Kickstarter supporters! We were  able to successfully fun a Kickstarter campaign this last spring thanks to all the fantastic support and generosity of those that pledged.  In August the first 36 Page issue will be emailed as a pdf. Then in January we will have the remaining 4 issue story arc done. The book will be released first in a digital format while we work out our publishing for the collected graphic novel. 

Here are a few pages and a first glimpse at the major enemy for our main characters. 

You can check out more about Elders of the Runestone here

Also at the site, and with the links to the left of my blog you can listen to the podcast that Quinn and I record each month promoting RuneStone and reviewing various Comics, Movies, Video Games and other Entertainment. It's also a healthy resource for Chuck Norris proverbs.

So for the remaining summer months and into the fall I'll be working on these two projects. Currently you can find my work on the Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow comics 13-16 from IDW Publishing and Venom #20 coming out later this summer for Marvel Comics. I will continue doing covers for GI JOE and Snake Eyes for the foreseeable future.