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THE PROFESSIONAL “HOW-TO” MAGAZINE ON COMICS & CARTOONING WWW.DRAW-MAGAZINE.BLOGSPOT.COM WINTER 2014 VOL. 1, No. 27 Editor-in-Chief • Michael Manley Managing Editor and Designer • Eric Nolen-Weathington Publisher • John Morrow Logo Design • John Costanza Front Cover • Dave Johnson DRAW! Winter 2014, Vol. 1, No. 27 was produced by Action Planet, Inc. and published by TwoMorrows Publishing. Michael Manley, Editor. John Morrow, Publisher. Editorial address: DRAW! Magazine, c/o Michael Manley, 430 Spruce Ave., Upper Darby, PA 19082. Subscription Address: TwoMorrows Publishing, 10407 Bedfordtown Dr., Raleigh, NC 27614. DRAW! and its logo are trademarks of Action Planet, Inc. All contributions herein are copyright 2014 by their respective contributors. Views expressed here by contributors and interviewees are not necessarily those of Action Planet, Inc., TwoMorrows Publishing, or its editors. Action Planet, Inc. and TwoMorrows Publishing accept no responsibility for unsolicited submissions. All artwork herein is copyright the year of production, its creator (if work-for-hire, the entity which contracted said artwork); the characters featured in said artwork are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners; and said artwork or other trademarked material is printed in these pages with the consent of the copyright holder and/or for journalistic, educational, or historical purposes with no infringement intended or implied. This entire issue is ©2014 Action Planet, Inc. and TwoMorrows Publishing and may not be reprinted or retransmitted without written permission of the copyright holders. ISSN 1932-6882. Printed in China. FIRST PRINTING.




Mike Manley interviews the Eisner Award-winning cover artist about Drinking and Drawing




Stephen Silver


Silver linings sketchbook


Comic Art Bootcamp


The crusty Critic

Da Ordster delves into designing dynamic figures

The acclaimed character designer discusses his many artistic endeavors

A Stephen Silver gallery

In this installment: Foreshortening: The Stacking Principle

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Jamar Nicholas reviews the tools of the trade. This month: The artist’s travel kit






interview conducted by

Mike Manley

and transcribed by

Eric Nolen-Weathington DRAW! WINTER 2014



DRAW!: You’re about to fly out for the New York Comic Con. I guess this is an opportunity to go by the offices or see people you don’t normally see. Do you do business at the cons? DAVE JOHNSON: I do mainly what everybody does: sit down and draw a lot, sign a lot of autographs, shake hands, and then party. If you’re in this business a certain amount, people find you. You don’t have to press flesh as much as you used to. That’s the good thing about being in comics as opposed to regular illustration. When I first got out of art school, I was planning on being an editorial and advertising illustrator, but then I looked at how much you have to self-promote for the rest of your career. DRAW!: Unless you have an agent. DJ: I guess that’s true, but all I saw were the people I knew, and they were constantly having to make new flyers and mail them out. I was like, “Oh God.” Honestly, I never really thought it was possible to become a comic book artist. I don’t know why. I just thought you had to be blessed in some shape or form. [laughter] DRAW!: You had to be born a Romita or something? [laughter]



100 Bullets © Brian Azz

arello and DC Comics

ave Johnson is one of the premiere cover artists in the comic book industry—his run on 100 Bullets earned him an Eisner. He’s also had a formidable career in animation. Ben 10, anyone? Now settle into your pew and take in the Reverend’s sermon. DJ: I don’t know. It just didn’t seem like it would ever be a possibility. DRAW!: Did you originally want to be a comic book artist, and then you settled on illustration? DJ: Once I got into art school, it just seemed to be more of an option. I could see that you did this work and you got money. I didn’t know anything about how comics were run. It wasn’t until after I dropped out of art school that I was lucky enough to hear about this studio that was starting up, which ended up being Gaijin. I wasn’t working anywhere. I had done some sample pages, but nothing that great. I did everything in my power to worm my way in there. DRAW!: Where did you go to school? DJ: I went to Art Institute of Atlanta not long after high school. I was too young. I’ve been a slow developer. I didn’t even get really serious about art until I was about 25. I learned a little bit, but honestly, some of those art schools aren’t really art schools. They say you’ve got to submit a portfolio, but all they really want to know is if you can pay the tuition.

DRAW!: So it was one of those for-profit art schools? DJ: Oh, yeah. It was just a terrible school. Most of the teachers were not capable of getting a job themselves, or they were so old they were now retired and were teaching antiquated techniques. Even as a dumb young artist, I could see the writing on the wall. I was like, “Why are we learning this? They have computers for this now.” I remember one guy was teaching us Rubylith cutting for two-color printing. [laughter] DRAW!: Nobody does that anymore! DJ: Low-rent people were still doing it, but the computer was coming really fast. DRAW!: What year was this? DJ: Probably ’87, ’88. I graduated in ’84, but I kind of goofed around. I might have been younger—maybe ’85, ’86. DRAW!: That was the end of the stat camera era. DJ: Yeah, stat cameras. They were still doing Letratype and all that kind of stuff. The other problem with the Art Institute was instead of figuring out a career goal for each individual artist and giving them classes that would take them down that road—I stayed there for a year, and I looked at the second-year and it was filled with Copy Writing and things like that. “I want to be an artist. I don’t want to learn how to write copy for soap.” It just seemed like a waste of my money and time. And since I was paying for it myself, I just dropped out for a while, got a job in a bar, and worked in a bar for two-and-a-half years. I didn’t even pick up a pencil. DRAW!: When you went into college thinking, “I want to do editorial illustration,” did you have a path of self-instruction? DJ: I was gearing towards the cartoony editorial stuff. I wasn’t very good at it. I was approaching it like a lot of people do, where instead of learning how to draw and then becoming a cartoonist, I said, “Well, I’ll just become a cartoonist,” [Mike laughs] without understanding how difficult that is to do it right. I’ve seen quite a few comic book artists who try to do cartoony stuff, and I’m like, “Oh, you just don’t get it. You’re just drawing big feet and big hands.” There’s a whole language you have to study. DRAW!: Who were some of the artists you were looking at? DJ: One of my favorites back then, and I still think he’s an amazing artist today, was a guy named Bill Mayer. He was fantastic. He did stuff with scratchboard that just blew me away, but that was just one aspect. He could paint. He could draw. I was looking at a bunch of different advertising illustrators. DRAW!: Were you reading books? How were you getting your information? DJ: The illustrator annuals were my main source. This was before the Internet, so unless you were like Howard Chaykin where you voraciously bought magazines and created files— and you had to have the money to buy that stuff. It was tough.

Deadpool cover sketches. Deadpool © Marvel Characters, Inc.



DRAW!: You had to be a hunter/gatherer. DJ: Exactly. And it was hard to justify spending five bucks on a magazine just to get two illustrations out of it. So I would save up for those illustration catalogs. I wish maybe I’d studied more instead of partying more, but at the same time, I had a great time. [laughter] DRAW!: Did you change from thinking about illustration to thinking about comics when you found out about the Gaijin guys, or were you thinking about that before? DJ: Well, I was always buying comics, and I would goof around with them from time to time. But, yeah, when I saw those guys and how young they were, and they were doing it, I thought, “Maybe it is possible. Maybe I can make this happen.” I was still working in the nightclub. You have to understand, I grew up as the shyest kid in the world in middle school and high school. I got out and I wasn’t much better.

A recent Batman commission drawing. Batman © DC Comics



It wasn’t until I got a job at the nightclub that it forced me to learn how to talk to people and be sociable. It taught me some real life skills that have paid off well in my career. I know a lot of artists who are talented but don’t know how to communicate. They don’t know how to make the kind of friends who will keep them in work. They kind of sit back and hope the editors will find them. I feel like as much as I’ve gotten work because of what I’m capable of, I’ve also gotten work based on the fact that I’ve made friends and real connections. DRAW!: That’s one of the things that came up several times at the 24-Hour Comic Book Day at the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design. I was out there with Mike Hawthorne and Bob McLeod, and they were talking with Mike Oeming over Skype during the process, and that’s something that came up over and over again, how important it is to network. Once you’re in, that’s usually how you get jobs. You have a friend at one company, then they leave and go to another company, so it’s really important to network with people. DJ: Yeah, and just make friends with people. Some of my friends have benefitted from being my friend. If a job comes down that either I don’t want to do or I feel I’m not right for, I’ll say, “You should call this guy up.” I have no problem sending work to my friends. And sometimes they’re not even close friends, they’re just people I’ve hung out with at cons and I’ve enjoyed their company. “Yeah, you should give them work.” It’s good to do that. DRAW!: Did you think that you would do continuity, or was it your aim in the beginning to do covers? DJ: Once I got into it, I figured that covers were hard to get, so I concentrated on trying to get interior work. But at the same time, covers kept falling into my lap. Honestly, I’ve had a really lucky career. I didn’t have to sweat it out in the trenches of horrible publishers that were only there to rip you off and string you along. I sort of went from obscurity to DC, and that is directly because I was in Gaijin Studios. Joe Phillips helped me get one of my first jobs at DC, which was on The Web—part of the Impact line that tanked fairly quickly. They offered him a gig on this comic, and he was like, “Ugh, that’s such a horrible comic.” But he told them, “Hey, how about I do half and Dave does half, and if you like what he does, he can do the next issue?”— because they wanted two issues. Before I got to the studio, I was not hirable by DC or Marvel, but once I got in there for a couple of months, I soaked up

as much knowledge as I could from Brian Stelfreeze and Adam Hughes and Joe Phillips and all those guys. Whatever I could learn, I tried to learn, and it paid off. It wasn’t long before I did a Wonder Woman Annual, where I did half the work and Joe did the other half, and then they offered me a series. Bing, bang, boom, I was on my own series. DRAW!: You mostly do covers now. When you started doing more covers, were you being inspired by the approach of other people who did covers? DJ: No. Honestly, how I got into doing more covers than anything was that Superman: Red Son destroyed me. It was one of those cases where the more you learn, the slower you get. What used to be good enough stops being good enough. It got to the point where it was taking me so long to finish a page, just because of my own self-doubt and constant agonizing over every aspect of it, I realized I could make more money working at McDonald’s than doing comics. [Mike laughs] I went through a dark time. I got out of Georgia, moved to North Carolina, and messed around there for a year. I was heavily in debt. Mark Chiarello gave me some Detective Comics covers to do, then I got the 100 Bullets gig, and that was keeping A recent Red Son Superman and Wonder Woman commission drawing. me afloat definitely. But then Bruce Superman, Wonder Woman © DC Comics Timm and Glen Murakami—they had been egging me on to come out and work for them on Bat- DJ: No. I had to learn some of the –isms that they were doman Beyond. I was just at the end of my rope in North Carolina, ing. It’s not quite the same thing, but once I started learning, I and I didn’t want to move back to Georgia. I needed a real job. picked it up fairly quickly. And Bruce and Glen would come to I needed to get myself out of debt. I never thought I would me to do vehicles. I think they liked my sense of design, so ocever love living in California, and that’s what had kept me from casionally Bruce would say, “Hey, why don’t you take a crack taking them up on their offer, but I was in between a rock and at this character?” I slowly learned what they were looking for a hard place. I was like, “You know, I can go out and be in ani- and the whole Bruce Timm style of character design. mation.” It was a pretty easy transition from comics to doing backgrounds for a boys’ action show. DRAW!: Were you doing 100 Bullets at the same time? DJ: Yeah, I would do comic book covers at night and on the DRAW!: It’s funny, because we both ended up doing back- weekends, and sometimes at work. [chuckles] Having two jobs, grounds on that. I started with them on Superman, and then I got out of debt fairly quickly and started saving money. And I I jumped over to backgrounds and stayed there for a while started developing my style as a cover artist during that time, and before moving off and doing other stuff. But comics is such people started responding to it and wanting me to do more covers. a great training ground, because you have to do so many dif- I worked in animation for over ten years on and off. For alferent things well. For a guy like you, it’s not like drawing most ten years, I went from one gig to another pretty quickly. backgrounds is an impossible task. There was not a whole lot of downtime.



Dave’s pitch art for a Spider-Man animated series. All characters © Marvel Characters, Inc.

DRAW!: After Batman Beyond, what did you work on? DJ: It’s funny, I was only out there for six months and the show was cancelled. I was like, “Oh, crap. I just moved out here.” But it turned out Stan Lee Media was going at the time, and my buddy Dana Moreshead, who used to work at Marvel in creative services, was working over there, and he snapped me up literally the next day. I was laid off on Friday and had a job on Monday. I got to the company, and it took about a day to look around to see, “There’s no way this company is going to survive.” [laughter] Little did I know that it wasn’t supposed to survive. It was all a scam to keep the stock inflated so Peter Paul and Steve Mitchell could get rich and screw a bunch of people. But going into it, I was like, “Hey, their checks are cashing, and I’m having a good time,” so I didn’t really care.

DRAW!: Except for Striperella. That was really hot. [laughter] DJ: Yeah, right. Sure. But most investors didn’t know that. They thought he was going to create another billion-dollar franchise. I was like, “Well, that isn’t going to happen, but I’m glad to take your money.”

DRAW!: It’s better than unemployment. DJ: Yeah, and it was fun. The stuff we were doing was kind of stupid. I was looking at it like, “How is this relevant?” They were doing some of the most insanely stupid stuff. They were trying to get theme parks made for characters that nobody had even heard of yet. Just because Stan Lee’s name was on it didn’t mean anything. The whole thing was about smoke and mirrors. People who don’t know anything about comics, but see— at the time Spider-Man was going gangbusters and was making all this money. All they could see was, “Stan Lee created that, so we need to be in the Stan Lee business,” not realizing that everything Stan Lee created after he left Marvel, no one has ever heard of again.

DRAW!: —and they won’t listen to what people tell them about comics. They end up blowing all their money. DJ: Well, again, I think Peter Paul, the guy who started Stan Lee Media, knew deep down that it was bull, and his plan was to keep the balloon inflated long enough to where he was legally allowed to sell his stock, which, of course, he got for nothing because he created the company. He was buying stock under dummy corporations and all this stuff. He’s now in federal prison. Stan’s lucky he’s not in prison. He got lucky. If he had been tied more to Peter Paul and Steve Mitchell, and the wrong judge was looking at it, they could easily have gone after Stan too, because he benefitted. He profited from the company. It was crazy.



DRAW!: I did one job for them. It was a character and some type of comic strip thing. But what happened at that company has happened at so many companies, where someone thinks because they have money, they can be the next Marvel Comics. I’ve been involved with a couple of things like that where they basically blew up on the launch pad, because the person doesn’t really understand comics— DJ: Or fans.

Cover roughs for B.P.R.D.— Hell on Earth: Russia #3, and the finished cover, which combines elements from multiple sketches. B.P.R.D. Š Mike Mignola



The Right Way, The Wrong Way, and The

OrdWay ! Drawing Dynamic Figures with Power (Girl) by Jerry Ordway


ell, here I am, back again, with another short demo. but I have always scribbled. After 30-plus years of working In my previous “how-to” I tried to show what goes professionally in comics, I still work this way with the freedom into a complicated scene with dozens of characters. of knowing I can put a mass of grey lines down that no one In the example I have for you this issue, I will go over will see except me (and now you). On this one, I erased and some basics for a much simpler scene featuring two charac- scribbled some more until I saw something there in all the lines. ters. Many of you with some experience at drawing may think The next step is to use a fine tip marker (Pilot Fineliner) to ink/ there isn’t enough to say on such a simple composition, and refine the drawing, pulling the form out of the tangle of pencil well, maybe you’re right. This is my space after all, so I will lines. Small changes happen at this stage, such as extending proceed to show you the “Ord-way” to do it. both arms on Power Girl, to make the pose more dynamic. Once again, this is a custom piece, or commission. The client wanted two characters which I had drawn in the 1980s, Power Girl and the Huntress, who appeared in a comic I co-created with Roy Thomas and Mike Machlan, called Infinity Inc., for DC Comics. He didn’t specify any setting or action, but I didn’t want to draw them just standing back to back, posing. I wanted them in some action. I knew this would eventually fill an 11" x 17" sheet of Strathmore kid (rough) finish drawing paper, but I wanted to start on a scrap piece of copy paper by scribbling in pencil to get the composition I liked. Some people roughJerry’s reference for the commission. sketch in blocks, or forms, Infinity Inc. © DC Comics



Jerry using his Pilot Fineliner fine-tip marker to pick out the figures from amidst all his scribbling, and the resulting figure of Power Girl. Huntress, Power Girl © DC Comics

A side note: In reading an article like this, it can leave the whole thing over. It happens. Try to get the layout where you impression that this is all rote, that you just start at point A and want it before proceeding to the next stage! If you collect photo reference, pull that out, even if the proceed without a hitch until you get to Z, but in most cases this is a false impression. Much of drawing can be a technical skill, pose doesn’t match what you want. Small details in real life but the process is creative, and fraught with perils and anxiet- can better inform your drawing. If you don’t have an attracies. When I was growing up, I can remember showing my art to tive model handy, (and who does?) using collected pictures someone, an adult, who told me that a true artist could draw a torn from magazines, organized in file folders, can always perfect circle freehand! Then a few years later I heard that Jack help! I have clipped and saved diving shots, swimming shots, Kirby would start drawing in a corner of the blank paper and fill etc., from sports magazines in a file called “Flying Poses.” I the entire page without any sketching or underdrawing. Holy save more clippings than I will ever use, but they are good to cow, how do you measure up to that? The answer, of course, is look through and get ideas from. You could do this with Interthat with practice you will be able to draw a circle, or a straight net images saved to your hard drive as well. line, freehand. It won’t be perfect. And Jack Kirby may have gotten to a stage, after many years of drawing, where he knew so clearly what he wanted, that he could map it all out in pencil without a layout. The trick to any of this is to forge ahead, and not let things you hear intimidate you. Nothing is easy, and anything you draw will require effort. Pencils have erasers, and you’ll use your share of them! I think an artist sees an version of what he or she wants to draw, clearly, in their head. The hard part is in transmitting it from brain to paper. Very rarely do I capture the drawing as well as it looks in my mind’s eye. At any stage of the construction, I might be compelled to erase and start over. In some cases where the layout “fought” me, and I forged ahead anyway, I would get to the Images from Jerry’s photo reference files inform his take on the figure poses. finished inked stage and have to start the Infinity, Inc. © DC Comics



The Many Faces of

steven silver Artwork © Stephen Silver


ou’ve seen his work even if you don’t now his name. (Though if you don’t know his name by now, you really need to get out more!) Stephen Silver is one of the most in-demand character designers in Hollywood today. He’s worked for such shows as Kim Possible, Danny Phantom, and Kevin Smith’s Clerks: The Animated Series. But he’s so much more than just a character designer. He’s a caricaturist, a storyboard artist, an author, a book publisher… he even has his own app! These days he’s also a teacher and lecturer, and just wait ’til you read what he has to say. 36


Interview conducted by Mike Manley and transcribed by Eric Nolen-Weathington DRAW!: One of the reasons why I wanted to talk to you is because you wear so many hats. You do a lot of different things, and you’re very entrepreneurial in that regard. A lot of times people who do character design just wear one hat. STEPHEN SILVER: Definitely. I think a lot of it came from when I was young. I was on my own from when I was 18, and I feel like I had no choice. DRAW!: You had no choice in terms of being very adaptable as a freelancer? SS: Yep. I had no schooling or anything. I had no college, so for me it was like, “If I don’t do this, where else am I going to go?” I knew of animation studios, but I didn’t know it was really a profession, having no one to tell me that. So I was having to really adapt, and that’s why I had to keep doing different things.

DRAW!: You emigrated from Britain? SS: Yeah, I came out when I was about ten years old. We all moved to San Diego. That’s why San Diego Comic-Con always feels like home. [laughs] DRAW!: You started out basically as a caricaturist working at the theme parks. SS: I went through high school and was going to go to college, because that’s what my parents wanted. That’s what you do if you want to be anything, but I just didn’t have it in me. I ended up meeting someone who said, “Hey, they’re looking for caricature artists at Sea World.” “Oh, I’ll go apply for that.” So I went in and applied for the job. I had never really done caricatures except in high school, but they needed to staff up artists, so they said, “Hey, we’ll train you. Come on in.” So that’s really where it started. DRAW!: How old were you then? SS: At that time I was 18, almost 19 years old. DRAW!: How did they go about training you? You must have had some kind of portfolio for them to hire you, right? SS: I didn’t. I was so green, I didn’t even know what a portfolio was. I had no guidance before that point. There was no one to tell me, “Hey, you need to put together a portfolio, and this is the structure. You need a résumé.” I was just going by the seat of my pants, so I just had a plastic bag and I threw some drawings in of caricatures I had done and some life drawings—anything I had. I showed up with this plastic bag with my 8½" x 11" drawings in it, and that was it. [laughter] It was an outside company. Sea World had hired a contractor who did caricatures, and they were the guys who hired me. They were artists, and they looked at my stuff and said, “Yeah, we think you can do it.” Again, my stuff wasn’t too polished at all, but they said, “We’ll show you some techniques, and we’ll show you

Artwork © Stephen Silver

what you need to do.” I just sat and really watched the guy who’d hired me draw caricatures all the time. I was soaking in all the information. Really, it was the best sort of schooling I could ever have had—one, just observing this guy, and two, being thrown out there to the wolves and doing it for eight to ten hours a day. I was learning on the spot, trying to figure it out. You had people get up and walk away who hated their caricature, people who wouldn’t pay, people who would rip it up—everything. [Mike laughs] But what it did was give me a thick skin. A lot of artists can be sensitive. If someone critiques their work, they don’t want to hear it and try to defend it. But I built up a thick skin to where I could take rejection very easily, so I had no fear. DRAW!: On the job watching the other artists, did they say, “Here’s the theory of how you can play with shapes,” or—. SS: Yes, they did. They had a little class they had put together, and said, “Draw from the eyes, then draw the nose, and start to think about these philosophies,” which came from this guy named Steve Fassen, who really started the whole theme park caricature thing many, many years ago. He had many artists work through him, and they all figured out techniques, and a lot of these guys ended up starting their own caricature concession stands, and then they trained artists. And that’s what I thought I wanted to do. I was going into that business myself where I was going to start opening up theme park operations and hiring artists, because I got to that point where I knew how to manage it, I knew how to draw, I knew how to train people. It was pretty fun. DRAW!: It’s an interesting discussion also, because I’m sure you’ve seen that art school is so expensive now. You have a lot people actually advising people that you need the skill, but you don’t need to go to art school. You

don’t need to go through the traditional path of incurring hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of debt. You didn’t do that. Your student debt is pretty minimal. [laughs] SS: Yeah, absolutely nothing. I’ve never had a student loan in my life. And I really agree with that. A lot of these schools are big businesses. They draw in kids, take their money, and spit them out. And I’m of the firm belief that your portfolio is your diploma. It doesn’t matter what school you go to—I don’t care if you went to Cal Arts or anywhere—it all comes down to how well you can draw. And it’s always been that way, even with the old illustrators of the past. All they had was the black resource books the art directors had on their desks. Each artist—some of them were represented by agents, some not—had one page with their artwork, their name, and their phone number, and that was it. This was before email. And the art director would make the decision based on the level of quality of their work and say, “This is good stuff. I’m going to hire this guy.” It still holds true today. Even though the system is outdated, it’s still the same thing. You go apply at an animation studio or any job anywhere, all anyone cares about is how well you can draw. I’ve seen a lot of portfolios from art students, and I can pull some stuff out and say, “Oh boy, you didn’t go there, did

Artwork © Stephen Silver

you?” and I can tell they did. They’re four years graduated, and their work is just horrific. “What did you learn while you were there?” It’s horrible, and it frustrates me a lot. It’s part of the reason I’ve decided to open up my own brick-and-mortar school here in L.A., because I can teach you in eight weeks what you can learn in four years, and give you the tools. It’s all about self-improvement. The artist really has to be the one to put in the effort, because their effort is going to determine their outcome. It’s not the art school. DRAW!: I agree. That’s something I say all the time. I just had our beginning of the semester, and I tell them every year, “The person who has the most to do with whether you succeed or fail as an artist is you. It isn’t anybody else.” So, like I said, I was very interested in talking to you, because you’re doing the school. The other character designers I know—or you think back in the day of Alex Toth—fall somewhere within the gearworks of the studio, and don’t tend to be as entrepreneurial. If you worked at Hanna-Barbera, they had the same three or four guys design everything. They had Ed Benedict, Alex Toth, and the guy who designed Scooby Doo, Iwao Takamoto. The business has changed quite a bit in the last ten years, even in the last five years, as far as the structures of the studios and farming things out overseas. That’s why I was interested in the fact that you self-publish books, you have an iPhone app… most guys don’t do that. They’re like, “I’ll get in at Disney and swing the axe until they can’t use me anymore.” SS: Yeah, and to me that’s a stressful sort of path. I don’t think it’s personally as rewarding. I just wanted to do so many different things, and quite honestly I would get bored very easily. I can’t just do the same thing all the time. To keep my excitement, I need to come up with new ideas and be creative, and that’s part of the whole creative process for me. I can’t do the routine thing. I get so much more enjoyment and fulfillment from creating my own things, owning my own things, and just teaching. And you’re right, the model is changing in many ways, and I don’t want to keep doing work-for-hire, piecemeal stuff where you get your little bit of money to design, and then someone else owns the franchise, and you’re creating everything for them, and you’re just waiting for that next job, and hopefully that next job will come. It’s always chasing other people’s ideas, and for me that’s why it was important to keep trying other things. I realized we live in the greatest time ever, where if I want to create an app, I can do it. If I want to publish my own book, I can do it. That’s what’s exciting to me, and that’s why I do it. DRAW!: So you’ve never had the desire to immerse yourself deep somewhere like Pixar? SS: No, no. I would go insane after a while, because I know the reality of the whole production process. I know a lot of people who are embedded in that, from Dreamworks to Pixar, and they’re not that happy. They’ve got the title, and if that fulfills



Silver Linings sketchbook A Stephen Silver gallery








Mike Manley and

Bret Blevins


Captain 3-D © The Joe Simon Estate and the Jack Kirby Estate.



oreshortening is an element or condition of perspective that creates a distortion of an object as it comes forward towards your eye. As the object or part of the figure (arm, leg, etc.) comes forward, it appears to be “shortened.” The depth of the object that is coming toward your eye appears shorter than the distance across the object, or its width. It’s something that happens in almost every view of the figure, especially dynamic views of the figure that move away from or forward toward our POV in perspective. In superhero comics, it’s a condition of the dramatic and dynamic figure poses that push or play with the perspective and camera angle to create dynamic figure poses. In life drawing and figure drawing there is almost always some arm, or leg, or even torso, that is in an angle that creates foreshortening for the artist. This often creates an drawing problem for the artist that trips them up unless careful observation is applied. One of the key problems lies in the artist drawing not what they “see,” but what they “know.” This creates a battle in the mind of the artist and can cause drawing issues and mistakes. By this I mean the artist makes an error by drawing the foreshortened part of the body at the length it would be in the non-foreshortened view (the length or proportion they know the body part to be in a non-foreshortened view). This is more common in life drawing than in figures drawn from imagination or invention, like in comics or animation, but the ability to draw the arm, leg, etc., of a drawn figure in a convincingly foreshortened view will help make the figure both convincing and dynamic. There is usually some part of the figure that is foreshortened in every view of the figure. This can be an arm, or leg, but we deal with this in dynamic views of the head as well. In the figure that jumps away or toward the camera, there is always some foreshortening, and many, many artists use this as a tool and play it up to make the figures and angles dramatic and dynamic. With some artists, like Jack Kirby, Gil Kane, and Gene Colan, this dynamic play of perspective and foreshortening is a hallmark of their work.

Once grasped and understood, concepts like foreshortening can be great assets in an artist’s stable of skills to use in making their work more dynamic and interesting. In action scenes or superhero figures, foreshortening is one of the principle ways to make the figure pop, jump, or leap off the twodimensional plane of the comic page. There are a few approaches an artist can take to help break down and deal with the issue of foreshortening that can help solve this tricky problem:

Breaking the figure down into separate forms

The best way to start is to break the figure down into its simplest and biggest basic forms: the head, chest, and torso. By keeping the forms simple and geometric at this stage, it’s easier to see them in perspective and deal with the foreshortening of any part of the body.

(above and bottom left) In these sketches Mike demonstrates the stacking principle when drawing an arm. (below) Bret puts the principle into action in this Batman: Shadow of the Bat page. Batman Š DC Comics


Next, you can stack the parts of the figure that are foreshortened. Build the figure by stacking the forms on top of each other toward you or forward in perspective. It is important here to not get caught up in the details of anatomy yet, but to stay with the concepts of the bigger masses or forms. In the process of stacking, often some parts may be partially hidden, obscured, or blocked behind the closest part of the figure as it comes forward toward the eye. In this page (at right), penciled by Bret and inked by me, you can see how in almost every panel Bret is pushing the perspective and creating a great foreshortening on some of the figures due to the way he places the camera. The first panel is a great example of stacking the forms first, and drawing specific anatomy second.



This is a chart of the “stacking” conception of simplifying what you see into flat patterns of receding depth, numbered here from 1 to 9. Squinting one eye closed helps a great deal with this technique. Temporarily losing 3-D perception helps you to accurately measure the shape and dimensions of each “flattened piece” and arrange them correctly to create a convincing sense of overlapping forms. Then return to using both eyes to render subtleties of edges, textures, details of forms, etc.

I did this drawing of a model’s steeply foreshortened feet as a demonstration of foreshortening in an art class. In the chart you can see how I “reimagined” the forms as a “stack” of approximate planes that were either facing my eye, or receding away (indicated in gray). After this overall simplification of shapes felt accurate, I could concentrate on carefully drawing each form of this complicated view.



Supergirl © DC Comics

Hawkgirl © DC Comics



Supergirl © DC Comics

Wonder Woman © DC Comics





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Draw #27  

In DRAW! #27 (80 FULL-COLOR pages, $8.95), the professional “how-to” magazine on comics and animation, we cover the "Cover Guy", Dave Johnso...

Draw #27  

In DRAW! #27 (80 FULL-COLOR pages, $8.95), the professional “how-to” magazine on comics and animation, we cover the "Cover Guy", Dave Johnso...