Saturday, January 23, 2010

Texas Voodoo Process

Another bonkers jam for Red 7 is Austin, TX. Blacklisted from Philly, The Roller from Austin, and The Burden from Houston, Texas. Side note: The Burden's Catholic Guilt EP has art by Give Up, one of the crustiest and brutal of my favorite artists.

It's a full on Metal show, and after I finished this poster it occurred to me that it was way too colorful and vibrant. I thought maybe I should have gone with a dirtier more muted earthier palette, but I shot it passed the involved parties and they were all full on into it... there ya go.

Speaking of colors, I've been wanting to post a long involved process piece about the length of how I go about making these things look the way they do. This one is pretty straight forward so I think it would be a good starting point.

As with everything, it all starts with a really rough sketch brainstormer. Sometimes it takes a lot, drawing multiple different versions of the same idea until I figure out exactly what I want to do. This time, the only thing I had for sure when I started was the alligator headpiece, which I didn't even know would have the lower jaw neckpiece thing until I was well into it. I've drawn enough bombed out city backgrounds and done enough lettering at this point that I leave that stuff out almost entirely (unless there's a LOT of text).

I don't think I even penciled this background fully before I started with the inks. I love drawing this stuff. I probably have at least a hundred different drawings just like this, but unique unto themselves. Over a year ago, I made a huge print of one of my favorites. I thought I had posted on this blog somewhere, but couldn't find it. This print hung at Front Room for the CMD6 show last spring. It was one of the only pieces that sold, too.:

That's Michael and Sunia, holding it up in front of Sunia's colorful paintings at Vision Gallery. This picture was taken probably in August of 2008.

Since I'm going with the full nasty behind the scenes, here's the pencils of the characters. I get pretty tight, but still know by now how much texture I'm going to add when I ink. I feel like these characters are probably going to be re-appearing soon, many times. I like to use recurring characters, start to figure out the stories in between the posters. In my middle age, post-rock art years, I'll have thousands of pages of comics to draw. I can't wait!

Inking is fun. I listened to Enter The Magic Mystery Chambers, The Beat Bee Sessions, and SLEEP Live at ATP while drawing this. I may have jammed REFUSED's The Shape of Punk To Come too, but can't remember.

The splatter, to add to the sky. At this point I'm thinking I have no idea what the actual sky looks like anymore. I like how this splatter looks though.

Here's the crooked ass text. There may or may not be a actual Voodoo Blood Drive, but I like that idea. I've been paying peripheral attention to what's been happening in Haiti, and it breaks my goddamn heart. I think that's why my mind was on Voodoo and blood drives when I wrote that.

When I started doing color posters, I was actually pretty intimidated and had been living life in a stark contrast black and white punk world for so long it wasn't even something I ever imagined I would get so into. Limited palettes, or monochromatics, or like I said before... maybe just muted to hell earth tones. I never imagined a world where I could promote a metal show with magenta and bright blues. I guess I used to equate bright colors with bogus music. I dunno... disco or some shit. Anyway, here's how I do:

This one was to look at the layout and make sure everything is where it's supposed to be. You wouldn't want to start the coloring process only to have to scrap all the work midway because you had to change the size or orientation of the parts of the whole. It's not a big deal, but when there's a deadline to meet and money on the line, it's best not to goof around. The magenta fill over the background is it's own layer set to "multiply".

I hid the characters level, and dropped in the splatter, changing it's color and setting it's mode to "multiply" so that it blended in with the background rather than sitting on top of it, opaque. I also changed the color of the city scape, separating them so I could start to make moves.

Moves being to go bananacakes with the brush tool, usually set to a lower opacity, around 20%, varying the brush size adding the oranges and yellows, going back in with magenta and reds for the sky. I also selected the splatter in the sky of the background drawing, copied it, pasted it right on top of the background, and changed it's color to reds and maroons. The city stuff I just brushed up to give it variations, but nothing too drastic. I didn't spend any time separating the buildings out or anything. The majority of that, I knew were going to be covered by the characters anyway.

Speaking of the characters, I made another "multiply" layer over them, where I blocked out each one. I kind of knew where I was going with this when I started. I knew I wanted the skull headed guy in greens, and the voodoo alligator priestess in earthier tones. Sometimes it takes a while to figure that out. This time I saw it already.

This one, I had done all the separating of the various elements in each character, and then added that white stroke on a new layer, just in case I wanted to get rid of it later. This, again, I knew going in how I wanted it to look. I knew where all the different parts of the voodoo priestess were.

The last step, once I had everything so I could just go in with the brush tool and add the shadows and highlights, was to do just that. It's a simple thing, but it can be time consuming. I generally don't like to spend more than a couple hours coloring any one project, but sometimes doing it right, doing it better, means spending the time. I'm not entirely sure how long this took, time has been expanding and constricting around me lately. I feel like I'm constantly trying to beat the clock or waiting for something.

I took myself out of the timeline last nigh and went to the Cinematheque to see the film noir "In a Lonely Place". I had never seen it before, and felt like taking that break. It's a great movie, and honestly way funnier than I expected. Bogart is so dead on in this, and his delivery of some really great dialogue just keeps a beyond compelling. There's a line, "There's no sacrifice too great for a chance at immortality.", that's just this amazing throw away line his character says to a waiter right towards the beginning of the film. It was a perfect break from the grind. I even won the raffle before the movie for the coffee shop gift certificate. I'm going to have to start hitting the Cinematheque more often.

The last step before dropping the text in and coloring that was to copy the line work layer and add a little subtle color to some of the areas in the characters that merit doing something like that. There's the red to the girl's lips, green to the gator and the dude's gear, changing the scar on her leg. I forgot to mention that at some point I changed the smoke coming off that ...thing in her right hand.

I'll probably print some 16 x 24 posters of this on glossy indoor vinyl. If you're interested in buying one, they'll be $20 plus shipping (if you're not in Cleveland). Almost all my posters and drawings are available that way, too. If you're interested, email me at and we'll work something out. I can always print them bigger or smaller too.

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