Friday, April 27, 2012

MAW Productions Drink and Draw!!

We wanted to take a break from the tutorials this go around and let everyone know about the places we will be turning up and conventions we will be going to! Hopefully we will see some of you out there!

It’s that time again to Drink-N-Draw!! And we have a big reason to celebrate the art of putting pencil to paper!
MAW Productions Studio invites you to join us at The Spaghetti Warehouse on May 18th for a night of pencil pushing, copic slinging, and beer drinking!! This is in celebration of the digital release of our first omnibus titled Jetta: Tales of the Toshigawa – Beginnings published by Action Lab Entertainment!! To kick this release off right, every 5th person to come to the Drink -N- Draw will get an offer for a free download of the new book! So, sign up at the link below and come hang out and draw (or write) with our art community. See you there!!
Sign Up for the FUN here!!

Free Comic Book Day and Conventions!


Free Comic Book Day is May 5th 2012 and we will be celebrating it in two different locations at the same time. (Crazy I know.)
First off Janet Stone Wade and myself along with Shawn Pryor of Action Lab Entertainment will be signing books, sketching, and meeting readers at Collectibles Etc in Lexington Ky! Janet and I will have copies of our new book, Jetta vs Turra that we will be giving away to everyone that stops by our table. If you will be in the area, make sure you stop by, grab a book and sketch and enjoy the festivities.
Back in Memphis, TN Kevin L. Williams, Muley and Turra will be signing copies of Muley the Mule and Friends, Jetta: Tales of the Toshigawa and Turra: Gun Angel at The Comics Cellar along side members of the Mid South Cartoonists Association! If you are in the Memphis area, take a trip to The Cellar and find out more information on the MSCA, grab a book from the editor of MAW Productions and have Turra sign your books!!
June is going to be just as busy for us!



On June 7th-10th Kevin, Janet, Muley, Turra and myself will be at Superman Celebration with other special guest artists! Muley will be hosting SuperMule and the Cookie Caper, a show that will star all of the cast of Muley the Mule and Friends. I will also be teaching comic book illustration classes on Saturday and Sunday. If you want to know more and see who all will be there, check out the site at



The very next week, we will be at Anime Blues Con June 15th-17th!
The entire MAW Productions Crew will be there in full force as we will be hosting a slew of panel discussion about the creation of comic books and manga, as well as a Jetta: Tales of the Toshigawa panel filled with music and fun!! Also, look for our exclusive comic book for the convention called, “The Blues” that will only be available at ABC 2012! To see all of the panels we will be hosting as well as guests to this awesome con take a look at!
See you somewhere out there on the road!!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tutorial 5: Process of the Comic Strip

(You can click the comic strip to see it larger.)
What is a tutorial?  It’s an educational tool that helps with the performance of your work.  Tutorials are EVERYWHERE, and I like to tease and say, “Tutorials tell you how to do things, I’m going to show you how NOT to do them!”  But, it’s a joke.  The information I have to impart can be helpful; but, what I want you to do is take the ideas and use them in your style, and create your own way of doing things.  That is how you’ll excel in what you want to do!

So, this tutorial will be the process of a comic strip.  What’ll we be doing? We’re going step-by-step through the process of me creating a comic strip.  Will it be helpful?  You bet your bippy!

Well, a while back, we covered the first step to creating a comic strip; or, any creative work, really.  That first step is creating the idea.

In short, ideas that I have come from a play on words, conversations with others, conversations I overhear, doodles of the characters, playing with my action figure collectibles, improving with the puppets, inspiration from reading books or other works that lead my ideas in a new direction.  Or, sometimes it happens to be a play on an idea.  So, let’s look at the idea of “one foot in the grave.”  In this case, I wanted to do something similar to the old adage; but, realized it didn’t work using the character of me or one of the critters like Muley or Buford.  Instead, I decided to doodle an old man character in my sketchbook. 

It’s pretty funny to me.  Yet, I didn’t want to just go with any ol’ old man, so I decided to use the character of Papa Roy, which I think he would approve.  Now, we’re getting somewhere.  But where?  I have a single panel page in front of me, but no layout yet.  The sketchbook drawing lends itself to a layout; but, it isn’t complete.  I need to do some planning.
The plan of any comic strip is that you want to leave the reader with something to think about or a joke to laugh at.  I have to consider the illustration in the sketchbook and figure where do I put the headstone, the grave, the subject speaking and the word bubble to gain the best effect for the reader to gain a laugh?  So, out come the thumbnails:

From these thumbnail drawings, I get a better sense of what I think will be the funnier layout and give the bigger bang for the reader’s non-dollar.  The toughest part of the thumbnails process is you have to decide what will be the best layout for the enjoyment of your audience and what you think will work best for your joke.  And next is the pencil work.  Now, I think I’ll leave out the process of using pencils because I think that would make a great future tutorial.  In the meantime, I have taken my preferred thumbnail and transferred that to a single panel strip. 
Your next part of the project will be inking.  We’ve covered that in a prior tutorial.  If you haven’t read it yet, you should.  Lots of great suggestions for lots of different ways to ink.
Well, what do you do now?  The next part of the process is scanning.  Because I’m cheap and have an 8.5x11” scanner, I have to scan the strip at one end, then at the other end and then piece the two together.  You have to be careful to be sure that you overlap properly and get rid of any blurry lines in the connection (when you do this, you’ll understand what I mean).  I scan my images in at 300 DPI (dots per inch) and save the art as a high resolution .jpg file, then I “Save Image As” and there I have it.
I also won’t get into the next process part of coloring in CMYK, and saving as an RGB file at 72 dpi for publishing on the ‘net because, again, those will need to be future tutorials.  In the meantime, you’ve got a pretty good grasp on the process of creating a comic strip and the work that goes into it, and I’ve now also saved you a few minutes of reading about the next few hours’ worth of work colorizing the thing.
Hopefully now you’ll be inspired to get out there and create your own comic strip!  So, what are you waiting for? Get t’creatin’!
You can see MORE Muley the Mule and Friends' Comix and Stories at his website by clicking here.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Tutorial 4: Saltygirl's Vector Pinup

Hey there!  saltygirl here with an exciting tutorial on my way of doing vector art.

I love animation of all forms. 2D, stop motion, rotoscope, cgi.  I've always been fascinated by how an inanimate picture or object becomes animated.  Traditional 2D cel animation is my favorite.  My vector style art is heavily influenced by the look of a cel, with the defined outlines and wide washes of solid colors.

I spent my early childhood growing up on an air force base in Okinawa, Japan.  There was one English speaking channel run by the base which ran from 7am - midnight.  After that, you got to stare at a boring test pattern.  The rest of the stations were straight Japanese gold.  It was here that I became aquainted with what is now known as anime.  After dinner, my little sister and I would take our baths and wind down for the evening.  One of the shows we watched before bed was "Urusei Yatsura," but we didn't speak a lick of Japanese, so we just called it the cartoon with the green-haired girl.  It wasn't until I was in my 20s that I found out the actual name of the show and the green-haired girl.  Her name was Lum.

What was it about Lum that I loved?  She was pretty, and what girl doesn't idolize a pretty character?  I mean, Disney makes a killing on little girls looking up to pretty princesses, right?  Lum had so much confidence, she'd walk around in a friggin tiger-stripped bikini and go-go boots.  Oh yeah, and she could fly and shoot lightning from her fingers.  Hell yeah.

So you can see why I chose lum as the subject of this tutorial. anime = animation = cel art = vectors. And Lum = tiger-stripped bikini = pinups.  See the connections?  Great!  Well ok, here we go!

Step 1...I do a quick sketch of what it is I want to render.  I even add swipes of tones and shading.  Scan it  and take the sketch into Adobe Illustrator and keep it locked on the bottom most layer.
Lum sketchy sketch.

Step 2...I start breaking up the image into shapes and use the pen tool to create the shapes' outlines.  Everything is a shape.  The hair, the body, even the little horns and the pupils of her eyes.  I arrange the shapes in separate layers, stacked one on top of the next, according to what shape appears at the forefront. fFr instance, Lum's body is one whole shape, and her boots are shapes themselves that go on top of her body.  You gotta think of it kind of like a paper doll with different outfits or hairstyles you can place on top of a template body.  It's kind of tricky to do, but once you start thinking of things as shapes and layers, you begin to get the hang of it. **I was lazy so I used brush strokes for the tiger stripes.

Now you don't want too many layers because that can the file too big to work on, so it might be easier to tackle one thing at a time. Like rendering her eyes on separate layers (the blue eyeshadow, the whites of the eye, the green iris, the black pupil, the black eyeliner and eyelashes). Once you've got that done you can group these objects together and keep them on a single layer
Outlines, outlines, and oh yeah, outlines.

sSep 3...Add in the shading. remember, even the shading can be seen as shapes.  You can either fill the shade with black and lower the opacity or pick a darker shade of the base tone.
Shading outlines done.

Step 4...Pick your palette to fill your shapes and color your outlines.
Yay, colorz!
I know this was a VERY simplified tutorial.  And I know you probably still have TONS of questions on how to do a vector piece.  I wanted to give an overview of how I render.  I'll be going into more detail with the different Adobe Illustrator tools I use, how to use them, complete with screenshots and all.  Stay tuned...

~~Janet 'saltygirl' Stone Wade

Friday, April 6, 2012


By Martheus Wade
There are a lot of different ways to compose a pin-up. I'm going to take you step by step through my process to give you a little insight on how I do it. As always, these steps are for you to take what works and use it on your quest for artistic greatness.

The first thing I want to tell you right off the bat is that, I think way too much about creating a pin-up that is a little smarter than you would expect. Most of the time, I'm asked to illustrate one of the many beautiful women of comics as commissioned work. To make the illustration smart strengthens the composition and appeal of the piece. It also helps to contain some of the risque innuendo that a more sexual piece may have. In the case of the illustration that I am about to show you, there is a tongue-n-cheek subject that was fun to play around with. So, here we go.

We all know the Copper Tone Girl.

The commissioner wanted to depict this scene but with Power Girl and Krypto in place of the Copper Tone Girl and her puppy. I really liked the idea and it helped me get an instant visual in my head of what I wanted to draw. This is a really good thing. Most of the time, I have to start an illustration with a series of thumb nails that depict the subject in a variety of poses. From there, I select one pose that I like and begin to sketch a little tighter on the full 11x17 Bristol Board. Since the initial idea was so strong, it allowed me to skip the thumbnails all together and go straight to the Bristol.

Most of the time, I like to sketch in blue line pencil first. Then sketch on top of that.  Working with Blue like pencil allows me to sketch very messy with minimal clean up. This also allows my pencils in the end to be crisper. Sketching is used to work your illustration and composition without worrying about detail. I will go on record of saying that sketching is the most important part of pin-up illustration. It keeps you from making mistakes on the front end and helps you to consolidate your ideas into one strong idea. If you could see into my head, you would find out how cluttered with unorganized ideas my mind is. Sketching helps me to organize.

After the composition is correct and the pencils are laid in, I begin the inking process. Great pencils can be destroyed by horrible inks. Be very careful to consider line weights and character placement in your inking. Please refer to Tutorial 2: Inking for different tips and tricks. After the inking is completed, I erase all stray pencil lines and lay in the deep shade. This comes in handy when I am about to copic or color an illustration as it shows where my light source is. This is also where the drawing comes to life and begins to be solidified. This Power Girl and Krypto illustration is a very cute and playful. But because of the idea of Power Girl being an attractive and voluptuous woman, it is easy to stray into a sexual nature. That is a fine line that is hard to walk. What I like to keep in mind is to make sure the illustration depicts a strong confidence in the female character whatever the subject is. Here, even though Power Girl is taken by surprise, she's still not helpless. Just a little embarrassed. Those are the ideas that will move the illustration from being a pin-up to an illustration that speaks.

After I have made sure of my composition and fleshed it out, it's time for some copic markers. I love copics. If you have not tried them in your work, I highly recommend them. However, they are pricey. I got into marker illustration in college where we had marker comping classes. The class forced me to work quickly in order to get fine blends of color. Copic markers are a little more forgiving. But the idea is the same. My choice of Copic are the warm, cool, and neutral grey sets. I use these greys as if I'm laying in color. A warmer "color" constitutes the use of a warm grey. A cooler "color" constitutes the use of a cool grey. The result is a piece with the tonality of color. Sometimes, you can even fool the eye into thinking you just laid in a color. Here I used warm greys 0 - 3 for Power Girls face, lips and hair. I used warm grey 5 for her cape and cool grey 3 - 5 for her eyes. I'll be doing a copic tutorial soon. So, be on the lookout for that for much more detail in this technique.

I continued the juggling of the greys throughout the piece. Power Girls white jump suit and Krypto's fur where fun to work on. I used cool greys in multitude on those areas in order to really render the twisting and turning of the bodies in the space given. At this point, I thought I was finished. But, I soon remembered a critical piece of information that I left out of the illustration.

The commissioner wanted Power Girls clothes to be coming off much like the original Copper Tone Girl illustration. So, I had to figure out how to do it. I showed this first version to the commissioner and, while he liked it, he really wanted to go more in his original direction. So, for me, it was kind of back to square one. I pitched to him that Power Girls clothes had to be torn off because of the way her suit is made. He agreed and I went back and drew in the rips into the costume. This also allowed me to fix some of the things that bugged me in the original illustration. Now Power Girls arm didn't get cut off. As well, I went with lighter greys on her boots and  gloves which brought out her eyes more. Because of the rips revealing more skin, I changed her expression slightly. Now she is a bit angry as well as embarrassed. No matter what, Power Girl is still in control of this illustration. This version was excepted with flying colors. So now... On To Colors!

Here is the final colorized piece. Most of the time, I skip the copic illustration part and go from inks straight to colors. This time, I included the copic tones into my colors. This allowed me to keep the same tonality that I had before as well as give a painterly quality to the finished piece. I used photoshop to color this and place my soft beach background in. I made selections of like tones and changed the color in photoshop with Hue and Saturation in order to keep the marker strokes of the copic illustration. Then, I painted over the new color selections. We will be doing an entire section on using photoshop and illustrator to color so look for those tutorials in the near future. Again, I stepped back and found I wanted to continue to push the fact that Power Girl was still in control. So, I added the text "Bad Dog!" to the finished piece.

And there you have it! A finished piece from beginning to end. Hope you enjoyed the tutorial and the illustration. What are your ways to illustrate a Pin-up? What do you like to include and take out? We want to hear from you. You can reach us here or on our MAW Productions Facebook Page! So, let's talk!