Four Talking Boxes 2032

I’m rebuilding some logos this week. What the heck is that you may ask? It’s something that I do when I make an old comic book cover recreation or when I make a blank sketch cover (which is a comic book with a white cover that a person can draw on. They make them for that purpose). I know what you’re going to ask, “Can’t you just buy a blank sketch cover?” The answer to that is yes. If I wanted a blank sketch cover to draw on I could find some random ones at my local comic shop. But they are at least four dollars per comic and that makes it an expensive piece of drawing paper. Plus I’ve got tons of comics about the place that are cheap and unsalable. So I’ve recently decided to make my own sketch covers. Some I’ll draw on myself and a few I even put up for sale on eBay. If someone wants a sketch cover on an old school comic they can get one from me there.

Anyone can make a blank sketch cover of their own if they want to put in the time. All it takes is a piece of drawing paper (I use two-ply Bristol) cut to the right size, some needle nose pliers to bend the staples straight, and a steady hand to put the staples back in their original holes with the drawing paper wrapped around the comic. Of course that will be a true blank cover. Most of the ones that the comic book companies make have the logo printed in place so it looks like a real comic book cover. I like to print the logos on my blanks but that means I have to remake them. I don’t have access to the companies’ logo files and some of the old comics I put blanks on are from before the age of digital so there might not even be digital versions of them. I build my own digital versions.

One way to go about getting a logo that you can use for a sketch cover is to scan in a printed cover and then clean the scan up in Photoshop. But that’s more work then it looks like. Unless you have a good clean scan of the logo with no art overlapping it the digital clean up part can take a while. I’ve seen people scan in logos from blank covers and they work best with this method but not every comic has a blank version. I prefer to rebuild the logo from the ground up.

Instead of pixel based Photoshop I like to rebuild the logos in vector based Illustrator. I scan in a comic book cover with the logo I want to rebuild on it, place that image onto a layer in Illustrator, and then remake the logo on another layer on top of the scan. The way a vector based program works is that you make a point, then make a second point, and a straight line is made between them. Drawing in Photoshop mimics drawing with a pencil or pen but Illustrator feels more like building something.

Of course you can make more than straight lines in a vector program. Every dot that makes up the lines comes with two “handles.” Pull those handles one way or another and the straight line curves. So I make a dot at the corner of a letter, make a second dot at the next corner, and pull on the handles to get the correct curve of the line I’m trying to recreate. It’s easy but tedious. I call it rebuilding a logo because it has more in common with building a bookcase than drawing. Each individual logo can have it’s own challenges too.

One of the logos I rebuilt recently is “The Official Handbook the the Marvel Universe.” That one was a four step process. First is the straight up type. That’s the “The Official Handbook of” part. I just have to find the right font and type the words out. On these old comics the plain, basic, type is almost always a Helvetica. I don’t even sweat it if I can’t find the exact version of the font. Close enough is good enough otherwise I can fall down the rabbit hole of searching endless variations of fonts for the perfect one. That can suck up more time than building the rest of the logo. Avoid that time-suck.

Step two was to build the main outline of the logo. I built each individual letter on its own and in place. That’s easy enough to do. The program keeps the line the same weight all around so all I have to do is build the logo point by point and curve the lines where they need to be curved. None of this is hard but once again it’s tedious. There is no creativity to be found in doing this. It’s a task. The next two steps are even more of a task.

Step three is making the black space background. It’s the black part that’s inside the letters. It’s made up of straight lines, curved corners, and little half circles cut out of the lines. It takes a while to rebuild all that. I had to pay attention to spacing and that’s not always easy. Having some good podcasts or some such helps because you won’t be using a lot of your brain doing this. Also part of this was making the white stars. They are just little ovals but it takes a while to make that many of them.

The final part is the corner box. This one didn’t have corner box art, which can be a problem, and was just type so it was easy to recreate. The only thing that could have been a problem was the little “CC” Curtis Code world logo but I had that done already. That’s another tip if you want to recreate logos for blank covers. Keep all the various pieces you’ll use again in one folder so that you can find them. As a matter of fact the main thing to keep in mind when rebuilding a logo is organization. It’s as much an exercise in organization as in art.

I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got five new comics.

  • The Divided States of Hysteria – 5
  • Eternal Empire – 5
  • Retcon – 2
  • Birthright – 27
  • The Wicked + the Divine – 32
  • Check them all out here:

    I’ve got an easel in my art studio here in the house. I’ve made many a painting and drawing on it over the years but recently I haven’t been doing many large works so I haven’t had to use it for that purpose though I still use it though to display and look at things on. When I’m finished with a drawing that I make on my drawing table I’ll step over the the easel and lean the drawing up against the large white drawing board that sits on my easel. That allows me to see the drawing, print, sketch cover, or whatever I’ve made in a different light. That light is both literal and figurative.

    Things build up on the easel these days. There is never just one drawing on the easel. First off, I always have one of my large 22×36 inch drawings in the background of the others. Since the drawing board is so large and a stark white I like to keep a large drawing on it at all times. Otherwise I catch a distracting glare off the board. I have a bunch of those large black and white ink drawings to choose from so I switch them out every now and again. It keeps me from being blinded by the white and reminds me the large drawings exist. That’s a good habit to get into. Remind yourself that your past work exists. I find it too easy to get caught up in what I’m doing now. The now is all fine and dandy on most days but sometimes I have no sense of accomplishment if I’m focused on the now. Seeing older stuff reminds me that I’ve done things.

    I’ve generally been working in three sizes these days. Eleven by seventeen inches, eight and a half by eleven inches, and comic book sketch cover size which is around six and a half by ten inches. The bottom bar on my easel (my homemade easel I might add) where the drawings sit is about an inch and a quarter wide. It fits two eleven by seventeen and three eight and a half by eleven inch drawings side by side. That means I can stack quite a few drawings together but only the front ones can be seen. I tend to keep my most recent drawings on the easel with the ones I most recently completed in the front. I also rotate the ones I get tired of to the back or find a place to put them away once they’ve hung around a while.

    I also take photos of my work on the easel. For stuff I am posting on eBay I take three photos. One from the front, one from the left, and one from the right. I even like to leave other pieces around the one I’m photographing. Since all the works are on paper I make a nice, clean, isolated scan of them anyway so I like the photos to have more personality. I like to show the works in an environment and in the context of some of my other stuff. I find that makes the photos more alive. It’s always good not to kill the work in a photograph (which is easy to do).

    Often I either have eleven by seventeen inch drawings or eight and a half by eleven inch drawing on the easel. I do things in bunches so my most recent drawings can sometimes be all the same size. At other times I put the bigger drawings on the left and the smaller ones on the right. Putting the bigger drawings behind the smaller drawing usually doesn’t serve a purpose because it just blocks the bigger drawings.

    The one purpose stacking small in front of big does serve is a photographic purpose. Stacking art makes for good photographs. I first learned that seeing photos of paintings stacked in Picasso’s studio. It was just so cool to see works of art stacked together even if everything wasn’t clear. It gave a sense of casualness to the art yet tinged with importance because I wanted to see what was in the stacks beyond the glimpses shown.

    There is also something called “Impressionist Stacking.” Since Impressionist paintings could be small the people putting Impressionist shows together would “Stack” them on the wall. They would hang them in grids. Maybe six across and three or four high. You could take in a whole bunch of paintings at a glance. This also helped them compete visually with the much larger academic paintings of the time. I’ve always been a fan of Impressionist Stacking.

    That leads me to my “Accidental still life.” That’s a term I use when I photograph a still life that I didn’t even arrange consciously. Sometimes a bunch of interesting stuff ends up organized in such a way that it looks artistic. Pens on my drawing table, brushes in my brush rack, random bottles of paint, and even nested cardboard boxes can turn into a still life. So I take a photo when that happens. Sometimes I go looking for ASLs and sometimes I stumble upon them. This one I stumbled on.

    It started out with me making a still life. Since I had a bunch of my drawings on the easel I wanted to stack them a little and take a photo as I’ve done before. Big ones in back and small ones in front. Two by three. It made for an decent photo. The big drawing I had in the way back worked well because it was one big head. One, two, three was the stack. Nice.

    Then a funny thing happened. I started to work on some five by seven inch drawings. I don’t usually stack them since they are so small but since I already had the other drawings lined up in size order I put one or two in front. I barely noticed the stack at this point but after a few days I had five of the five by seven inch drawings done. Then I had my stack, my accidental still life, complete. I put them all in the front of the easel. Five, three, two, one. A nice pyramid stack. And the front ones even had word balloons on them so they were talking to the viewer. It’s clever enough that I wish I planned it. But I’ll take a happy accident.

    I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got seven new comics.

  • Hillbilly – 8
  • Manifest Destiny – 31
  • Motor Girl – 9
  • Paper Girls – 16
  • Stray Bullets: Sunshine and Roses – 28
  • Usagi Yojimbo – 162
  • The Walking Dead – 172
  • Check them all out here:

    This week I’m taking a look at a faux comic book cover that I did back in August. The date on it is August 10, 2017. That’s the day I finished it. The date on my stuff is always the day I finish something but that doesn’t tell you when I started or how long it took. Sometimes a drawing like this can sit around for weeks before I finish it and sometimes I can go from start to finish in a day.

    I keep a calendar of when I do stuff so I can look up when I started this one. Looks like I inked it on July 12. I’m not sure when I pencilled it though. I randomly name my drawings and paintings and often I will make a drawing without knowing what I will be using it for. When that happens the drawing can have a different name from the finished piece. I think that happened in this case. I made the drawing long before and used it to create this faux cover from.

    This one was also part of a burst of covers. I like to do things in bursts. It doesn’t always work out but it’s cool when it does. A burst is when I set up a bunch of things to be done. I’ll make a half dozen drawings, scan them all in, and set each drawing up as a faux cover, and then print them all out to be inked. That way I’ve got lots of stuff to chose from depending on what I want to do. But I also can have a lot of stuff sitting around in various stages of finish. That’s why it took me almost a month to get around to coloring this one after I inked it.

    The first thing I notice when looking at this cover is the color. I really like the way the color come out. I find it bright, vibrant, and attractive. I’ve used all these colors before but they are at their best here. I like the pink. I’ve used this pink marker before (Copic RV04 Shock Pink) but usually in small spots. I find that it can let me down in large amounts as it looks artificial. But it works fine here as every color looks artificial. The woman looks as much like a piece of candy as she does a person. Hot pink works well for candy.

    The second color is a purple (Copic BV 13 Hydrangea Blue). I’d say the pink and purple are the two main colors with maybe the pink being slightly more dominant. Or maybe they’re in balance. It’s hard to tell because of the way they work well together. I often find purple a difficult color to work with since it usually skews too much towards either red or blue and that can mess up the whole balance of color in a piece but here the purple finds a nice home next to the pink without being too dark or too anything.

    Though it’s only an accent color, the yellow (Copic Y18 Lightning Yellow) might be the strongest color in the piece. It has a lot of presence. It may not have the most real estate but since those two swoops of yellow that go from her hips to her legs are the longest bits of color in the piece they stand out. Plus they create an “X marks the spot” over her crotch so how is that not going to stand out? The bits of yellow in her upper body bring some brightness up to her neck and face.

    The two other colors on her body red (Copic R29 Lipstick Red) and blue (B04 Tahitian Blue) pair very nicely together. The red is denser than the blue which isn’t the usual case. In many cases blue is denser than red but I wanted to avoid that. This lets the red be the darkest color on her body which is not normal. The blue floats slightly above the red and hits the eye first. The blue and red also sit harmoniously with the pink and purple. That’s what I was looking for. A little harmony.

    The green hair sets itself apart by not playing nice with all the other colors. It stands out. All the other colors blend together well but not the green (it’s three greens really). I consider the green the icing on the cake. Its the fancy part. It’s the part you can take off the cake and the cake will still be cake but it won’t be as complete as if it had its icing. The icing is the part that makes everyone oh and ah.

    I remember having trouble when it came to making the background. I saved it for last and I liked the body color so much that I was afraid I was going to mess up the color balance when I came to the background. At first I was tempted to make the whole background neutral color but I didn’t think that would work. So I decided to emphasize texture and keep the background to more expected colors like blue and green. I didn’t exactly draw the sky and trees but I used their colors.

    I used repetition too. I wanted to break the literal part of the sky and trees but still keep them there somewhat. So I broke the background down into three sections. I started with a blue sky, went to an orange sky, drew in some green ground, and then some brown dirt. This was all in the top section. The second section has blue sky and blue green water. I mixed it up. The third section has blue sky and green grass. The fourth section has orange sky and a brown fence. I turned the background into four backgrounds.

    I also used fairly light and not so dense background colors. This made the body colors stand out. It helped the body colors keep their already established relationships. If, for example, I made the background orange too bright it would fight with the pink for dominance. But instead it quietly sits behind the pink.

    I’ve enjoyed making most of my faux comic book covers. I’ve done fifty of them in my “Dreams of Things” series. I think most of them came out well but I might like the color in this one the best of them all.