Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Years Eve!

Here she is, raising a glass of champagne in order to say goodbye to 2008. And to say "Happy Birthday Royce!" Sorry she isn't a redhead. :)

This image was created a little differently than normal. After the sketch was done, I scanned it into Photoshop and used it to create the "cover". I set the type around her in black, then removed the sketch and printed out the "cover" on an 11" x 17" Strathmore 400 series 3-ply Bristol Board. All the text was printed in black. Then taking that board, I used my light table to draw and ink the illustration. So the final art is black and white with all the copy in place. I then scanned in the line art and erased everything that wasn't the illustration so that the art was in the same file as the editable text. I changed the color of some of the text, following the red and black scheme of most Saturday Evening Posts, and colored the art. I did the background with varying brush strokes in order to get a similar effect that J.C. Leyendecker would do on his covers. I like the texture of the background to contrast the slickness of the foreground.

So that's it, the final image of 2008 for this blog. 378 posts. When I set out with this goal of posting art everyday, I wasn't sure I would be able to do it. But I wanted to set the bar high for myself. It was as early as the first month that I realized this wasn't so hard. I create everyday, I just have to take the time to share it. The tricky thing was I actually create more than I can use, and sometimes what I work on can't be shared until a later date. So while the art wasn't always created that particular day, it was still new art to share.

I spent this morning looking back at each and every post and the comments (more on that later), and I am amazed at how much work I have done this year. And there are a lot of pieces that were never finished too. That was surprising. It seems the year flew by, I would see some art from 10 months ago and it seems like it was only a few weeks ago that I did it. The Conventionless Convention Sketches were a big hit and provided a lot of material for the blog. Some of the work I do isn't terribly exciting so it was nice to have the sketches to keep some interest in the blog going.

The main reason I looked back at all the posts was to look at the comments. Or rather who commented. It's been said a few times that I have been really committed to this blog and how much it is appreciated. But the real commitment has been from you. The blog gets thousands and thousands of hits a month but there has been a very dedicated group of people that post comments. Some drop in from time to time, while others have been here almost as much as I have. Not counting multiple posts on a single day, Royce has posted 302 days, Gary comes in at 289, Brian at 95 and Craig chimed in 69 days. These numbers are amazing! You guys have really made this blog. It seems like you are always here, day in and day out. I believe that without you four there would probably be less people posting. I think that having such a great core group of conversation has made others jump in. I enjoy when the conversations take off without me. A big "thank you" to everyone.

We have had surprise posts from people like Andy Ihnatko, of the Chicago Sun Times, one of my favorite tech writers and if you ever hear him on a podcast, he is also a very funny guy. Most recently Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer posted a comment. While Andy is a comic book fan, I have no idea how Steve Ballmer found his way here.

So the blog is a success in my book. Not for the continuous posts, but for the people I have gotten to know better and the ones I have met here. I wish everyone a safe and Happy New Years Eve and a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2010.

Oh, and I'll be here tomorrow with new art. :)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Last Sketchbook Tuesday 2008

Today I have been extremely busy...working on tomorrows image. But I managed to take some time to sketch in my sketchbook and then play with the image in Photoshop. No story behind this one, sorry. Just felt like drawing a woman from the back and then the gun was suddenly in her hand. Smoking gun, it turns out. Maybe someone here knows what just happened. :) This was done in violet Col-Erase pencil in my sketchbook with some digital colors tossed in.

Well, tomorrow is it. Don't worry, if something happens to me I have made sure that the final image for 2008 gets posted. In the mean time, here is where we were on January 1, 2008. And look who was the first to post a comment! :)

Monday, December 29, 2008


This is pretty cool! I couldn't share any of this until now...

Back in July of 2008, I was approached via email by Chris Cihon about doing some commercial artwork for his company. I'm not exactly sure how Chris found me, but needless to say when he wanted to commission an island girl and a tiki, I was on board. I gave him a couple of sketches to look at and the one below was selected for the final image. And here is the really cool thing...the image is engraved on a vintage-inspired 1000m-rated diver's watch known as the "BaliHa'i"!!!

Below is a shot of the engraving. And it came out great! I'm really proud to have been part of this. Chris has been great to work with and fun. He just commissioned me to provide a background and color to the entire image because they have been getting requests for T-Shirts and other items feature the island girl and her friend.

To see more pictures of the watch, learn more about purchasing one for yourself and see the great bio page about me that they added, go to The BaliHa'i Project. Tell Chris you learned about it here. :)

One last thing...Hey Chris, I know you visit this blog from time to time and even though you are probably waaaaaay too busy since yesterday to see this, I just want to say congratulations to you and your lovely wife on the birth of your daughter. Great times are ahead for all of you. :)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Year End - Update

Okay, voting was fast and passionate. There was some harsh things said and some feelings may have been hurt. Somebody from Florida voted twice because that's how we roll down here. I'm not mentioning names but her initials are D.E.E.N.A. And so we are down to these two. We had a three way tie before I voted. Funny how that worked out. I like both for different reasons, but a decision will have to be made and I have to get to work on the final image tomorrow. Decisions, decisions. In case no one noticed before, the top of the piece will say "Gene Gonzales Illustration" in the same font used by Saturday Evening Post. I did tighten up both of these and made a couple of changes to "A" with the addition of the laptop and the champagne bottle and ice bucket.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Year End Roughs

So I am going with a Saturday Evening Post concept. Not terribly original but I was looking at some New Years Baby covers for the magazine done by J.C. Leyendecker and thought, why not a News Years Babe cover. :) So here are my five roughs for the image.

A: (above) Dark haired beauty, with champagne flute. 1950s style chair. Sexy/quiet celebration. 
B: Cartoony. Sexy cutie riding a champagne cork. Bubbles and champagne exploding around her.
C: 1950s bedtime shot but with laptop. Elvgren inspired. Nighty much like the ones in his paintings. Kitty sleeping. The laptop probably ties in better to the blog.
D: Cutie sitting on bed with sleeping cat. Laptop in front of her, laughing about something Royce posted in the comments.
E: Cutie looking up from cushion on floor where she is using her laptop to visit the blog. Again, night time idea. Mostly because I would tend to post in the evening. This one has pj shorts and pj tank top on.

So those are my final five ideas. I have to decide on which one goes to final art by tomorrow. There will probably be changes in the one I decide on but for the most part the concept is there. All of this ideas were done with blue Col-Erase pencil in my sketchbook.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Sketchbook Friday and The Award goes to...

I bought a new sketchbook. That may not mean much to anyone other than a person who has ever filled one. It's kind of exciting to open to the first page and start drawing. And so I am working on an idea for a New Year/full year of posting celebratory image. The sketches above reflect some of the ideas I am playing with. I have one particular idea for the background but haven't decided on the foreground. I've got 5 days to get it together. Clock is ticking.

Tooting My Own Horn Section!

I received an email at 4:08am est from Michael Rankins. In addition to posting a comment or dozen here on my blog, more importantly Michael has his own blog. Michael covers a wide range of topics as well as showcasing artwork he has collected and/or commissioned. The email I received from him this morning was to inform me that I have been selected as Comic Art Friday Artist Of The Year For 2008! An amazing honor for me. Especially when you look at all the incredible art Michael has posted this year from some great artists. This was an incredibly cool surprise. Check out Michael's blog, Swanshadow Thinks Out Loud, for the whole announcement. Me? I just going to sit here and enjoy the moment. :) Thanks Michael!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Whatever holiday you celebrate during this season, I hope that you have a day full of magic, food, family, gifts and peace!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Last Minute Shopping

Yup, last minute shopping is what we did today. I love Christmas shopping in 79° weather. Sun is shining, warm breeze, wearing shorts and a shirt. It's Christmas time in the city, baby! This quick sketch was done with Prismacolor Verithin pencils on 9" x 12" Canson Cà grain drawing paper. My local art store gave me a pad as a gift today. He said I would really like the texture of the paper. It's a French made medium tooth paper. And he was right! 

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


This was done for fun. I really don't know anything about this character. I just like the look. This was done in ink on 11" x 17" Strathmore 500 Series Bristol Board.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Poison Ivy - Rough

Just a little Poison Ivy today. Probably should have used a green pencil. :) This was done with a blue Col-Erase pencil on 11" x 17" copy paper.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Big Stretch!

Yikes! We haven't had a pin-up since Wednesday! What's up with that? This is watercolor on 10" x 15" 140# Canson Watercolor paper. I hope everyone had a good weekend!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Slap Shot! Final Art

I did this design a while back. You can see the roughs here. This was done for a local hockey team. What I didn't know is that they made me a jersey as well. Actually one for me and one for Deena. Pretty great, isn't it? It was a very cool surprise. I took these two pictures with my iMac using Photobooth in order to share.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Phantom Stranger

Just a little Phantom Stranger sketch today. A DC Comics character that has been around for quite a while. My first exposure to him was when Jim Aparo drew him in the 1970s. While not a big fan of the character, I thought his look was pretty cool. This was done with ink on 11" x 17" Canson Bristol Board. Enjoy the weekend everyone!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Roadmap for success

I thought I would share this comp I did for the Labs. This was actually done for them, not for one of their clients. The goal on this was to present a vision of the future for the Labs. I did this as a rough a couple of times and tweaked it with their input. The final art was done on a white board and photographed for the presentation off site. I wish I could have done this as a full illustration but I believe they wanted it on a white board as part of their brand. Which is understandable. Still, I think this would have been cool in full color. The background people on the horizon ended up being dropped. They represented the four key players at the Labs.

I spent the entire day at the Labs today. Not working though. No artist was needed today. And it was just the space that was used. The company I did one of those big 3' x 5' maps for had one of the last pilots for their client. Since I did the art for it and because they invited me, I got to be a participant in the pilot program. The client had a couple of people representing them too. They came in from Pittsburgh. It was my first time going through one of these simulations that I have worked on and it was great. The topic is Applied Behavior Science. Not my area of expertise, but I was surprised how much I knew without knowing the terminology. Anyway, it was very enjoyable and I learned some interesting information. Glad I was invited to take part.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sketchbook Wednesday

Been a bit busy today so it's just a couple of quick sketches for today. I think I am still recovering from all the Valentine Vixens. They wore me out. ;)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Metamorpho the Element Man!

And now for something different. While sitting here waiting to hear back from someone, I picked up a sheet of 11" x 17" Canson Bristol Board and just started drawing. At first with a Blue Col-Erase pencil, but then I picked up some pens and a pen brush and started inking. I added the grays in Photoshop. I've always like Metamorpho. I thought the cool thing was how his rich heiress girlfriend didn't care what he looked like. She was with him before his transformation and stayed with him after. Ramona Frandon penciled his earliest adventures. Her style was a great fit. I also loved her work on Aquaman. 

I have no idea what they have done with Metamorpho in recent years. I have seen some art and I think the redesign is pretty cool. But I don't know if any of the Silver Age history has stuck or not. Doesn't matter I suppose, I have a copy of Showcase Presents: Metamorpho and everything is as it always was in there. :)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Valentine Vixen #6 - Final

The last of the Valentine Vixens. Whew! Now I just have to send them to CILM and they should be available sometime around January 8th, 2009. I think I am going to go collapse now. :)

Valentine Vixen #5 - Final

For those that are counting, one more to go. :) I think I am filling my quota for posts for the rest of the week during the last two days. 

Valentine Vixen #1 - Final

Here is the first one for the day. Two more to go. :)

Valentine Vixen #1 - Inks

I worked out of order with this series but finally here is the digital inks for Vixen #1. I have to color three of them today. Back to work.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Valentine Vixen #6 - Inks

Cooking along today. Er...tonight. I changed the hair style on this one after I inked it. That is the nice thing about doing the inks digitally. I just put the hair I did on another layer, turn it off so I don't see it and do a new hairstyle on another layer. That way if I decide to keep the original hair, it's still there. Had I inked her in a traditional way, I could still alter her digitally but it would have been a bit more work.

Valentine Vixen #5 - Inks

Thought I would post the digital inks for Vixen #5 for comparisons with the rough and the upcoming finished piece. 

Valentine Vixen #6 - Rough

Last of the roughs. This one is kind of a 1960s style vixen. This was done with pencils on 11" x 14" Strathmore Bristol Board. Gotta get back to work. A long way to go still.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Valentine Vixen #5 - Rough

Here's the latest Vixen in pencil form. I decided to use regular graphite pencils for this one. I still have at least one more to do. All of them have to be done by Monday evening. Whew!

Yesterday I received my Christmas cards from I chose the elf with the polar bear and I am REALLY happy with the cards. Great quality.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Valentine Vixen #3 - Final

I knew I wouldn't leave her alone. A few changes: I added the hearts on her stockings and shoes. I also changed the background as well as saturated her colors and darken them a bit. Just a little pop. And the faux plaid pattern on her skirt was added. Not too much really but I like it better now. :)

Valentine Vixen #4 - Finished

Here is the second of the Valentine Vixens. Four more to go by Monday. This is another one that was "inked" in Adobe Illustrator and colored in Adobe Photoshop. Actually went faster than the first one, pretty short learning curve I guess. I just found I was doing more intuitively. I'm enjoying the process. They will make nice clean prints. And I still have the original color pencil art that can be sold.

Also, this is a variation of this one that is topless. The other finished one is done that way as well. One layer in Photoshop is just the tops. Turn off the layer, save it, and I have a PG-13 rated version. Nifty! 

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Valentine Vixen #3 - Process

I like to shake up my work from time to time. To keep from getting bored with how I work. I don't know if this will be the final art, but I thought I would share what I did and how I did it. The eight screenshots above were shot from the two programs I used, then edited, sized, and placed together.  You might need to open a other browser window with the above picture in it in order to follow along. And I hope I don't bore anyone with this. If you get bored, just scroll down to the finished piece. :)

1) Adobe Illustrator (AI): I copied my scan from Photoshop (PS) and pasted it into AI. With the scan on it's own level, I lowered the opacity so it was very light in color. This makes it easier for the next step.

2) (AI): On a new layer, I am using the pen tool, the brush tool and the pencil tool to begin to outline the vixen. I'm not worrying about closing areas in to fill with color, I am just outlining, working on thick and thin line weight. Because I don't work like this much, there is a lot of trial and error. The brush tool seems more like a calligraphy tool, in that it has a set angle. You can change it, but I'm not sure if I could on the fly. So I use in sparingly. Most of the time I am outlining a line (Like the curve of her leg) and filling it will black with no outline. Confusing? Sorry. Trying to be as clear as I can. :) With AI, for example, I can create a shape. Fill with a color and outline (stroke) with a color. Or in this case, no outline.

3 & 4) (AI) Here I have finished the outlining (inking) and have filled in areas with flat color. There are plenty of ways to add depth to the coloring, modeling it with shapes and fills and gradients, but I am going to do that in PS.

5) (AI)I decided not to go with the black line art. So here I am changing the color of the line art. I sample the color of the fill and use a slightly darker color for the outline that butts up against it. Much like in animation.

6, 7, & 8) (PS) After everything has a base color in AI, I then export it to PS. Here the process is familiar. I am selecting areas and adding darks and lights to give the figure some depth. These shots show different areas of the art and how it comes together. I then add a background, my signature and copyright. Below is the finished piece.
Like I said, I'm not sure this will be the final version, but it was fun to create and fun to share. I hope everyone enjoyed this process.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Valentine Vixen #4 - Pencils

Cupid has given up the arrows and is now using a whip. :)

In some ways this piece is a little tighter than the others at this stage. I had sketch this figure out before I knew what I was going to do with her. So when I put her on the light table to tighen up the pose and add the costume, most of it was already there. This is red Col-Erase pencil on 11" x 14" Strathmore Bristol Board. The wings were done in light blue Prismacolor pencil.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Who's Baby Are You? BATGIRL!

This piece has been posted in it's inked version. Brian really wanted to have it in color, and who am I to deny that request. :) Watercolor, and acrylic were used to bring you Batgirl, in living color.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Valentine Vixen #3 - Pencils

What a busy day! I did finish up what I believe will be the last revisions to a 5' x 3' piece of art I have been working on. Plus misc. graphic elements I designed and produced. AND I finished adding color to Brian's Batgirl. (Scanning it tomorrow). AND I did a couple of pieces of art for another job. AND I did the Valentine Vixen above. I penciled her with a red Col-Erase pencil on 11" x 14" Bristol Board. This one and the others I have produced are just the prelims for the final art I submit to CILM. I do need to do three more and then dive in to finishes. The final pieces will probably be simpler in style as I work on them. I find it's easier to put more down and subtract as I work towards the finish. Time to get some rest!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Valentine Vixen #2 - Pencils

Here is the second Vixen for my Valentines Day package from CILM. She is still in the early stages but you get the idea. She was done with red Col-Erase pencil on 11" x 17" copy paper. (A little digital touches too) I really shouldn't have been doing this piece right now because I have got a big deadline that is fast approaching. As in, it has to be to the printer on Thursday! And since the part I am doing is needed by others in order to do their parts...I need to get back to work. Sigh.

I made a joke in the comment section the other day about doing a sketch list in March. And I got several emails asking if I would start taking requests now to do in March. Whew! Thanks  to everyone who expressed interest but March would be the earliest that I will do another round of Conventionless Convention Sketches. And I will post here when the list starts. But seriously, thanks for the interest!

Okay, back to work!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Late Fees

This came together after a long day of work. Just finished it a few minutes ago. I have no idea where the concept came from but once I was there, only one name came to mind. All in good fun. : ) Took about 20 minutes or so in my sketch book. Have a good weekend everyone!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Flight Jacket - Digital Sketch

I was about to post the final image but then thought everyone might like to see the process of doing this sketch. Because I do each step in different layers it was easy to put this together. I had the pose in mind already. I roughed out the pose on the first layer, trying to get the gesture down.

As I moved to the second layer, I realized her breast were too large. So a bit of reduction and refining and I have her body pretty close to how I want her. I have also roughed in the clothes.
When I moved to the next layer to refine even further (middle image) I realized her head was too big. Using pencil on paper, this would have been a pain. But this is an easy fix since I am working digitally. I use the lasso tool to select her head and neck and reduce them by 8%. That looks about right, so I then have to add a few lines and erase a few lines to get the head to match up with the body. Pretty quick fix.

The fourth image requires a few more color adjustments. For the final image, I turn off the first three layers (the sketchy lines) so they cannot be seen, clean up any over painted areas and add a background color and texture. 40 minutes total. This piece would require quite a bit more work to make it a finished piece.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Black Queen

I've been working in Photoshop so much the last few days, I had to get back to paper and ink this morning. Can't show what I did as it is a commissioned Christmas present. But it would be a good piece to post on Dec. 25th! After doing that piece and getting done with a boat load of work, I went back to Photoshop to play around. And here is the finished piece. "Finished" as in I am not taking it any farther. Sometimes it's good to just jump in and scribble until something appears and not worry about how polished it is. From start to finish, this piece is all digital.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

14,000 Winters Ago...Pages 2 & 3 final

Big post today. I finished up the last two pages of Browser & Sequoia and thought I would present the digital ink pages next to the final color pages. I was just looking at some old pages from the first time I drew these characters and realized that was over 10 years ago.