Sunday, December 16, 2007

Youtube Vids: Viral, or Just Sick?

In doing my artwork and posting videos on Youtube and other video sites, I've been trying to find out a little bit about getting seen, and from what I've seen, it's a pretty methodical process to actually make a video go "viral."

I haven't actually experimented with most of the practices because they aren't all ethical, but some of the websites that I've come across actually presented some very good information. I decided to list a few of the more helpful hints on getting more views on Youtube. So, here they are:

1. Blogs - *ahem* I don't know what you're talking about. No, not just this kind of blogging. I like to find other blogs with similar content as mine, and post a relevant reply to the post. This creates an instant link to your blog (or website, Youtube channel, etc.) One website suggested that you pay others to post blogs linking to your video. I find this practice a little...questionable, at best.

2. Forums - Why not? I have accounts at several forums, and I've used them as well as I know how. Some other users can be very critical of what you're posting, but if your content is strong enough, other users will defend you outright. Plus, controversy around your ideas are not a bad thing, you know.

One example of controversy I have in mind was a person who posted my video in their blog, and explained that I spent 9 hours on the Dumbledore painting that I did. For one, this sparked a lot of interest around the fact that I liked Harry Potter enough to spend 9 hours on a painting of one of the characters. BUT, the first comment on the post was completely negative, saying my version looked more like Gandalf than Dumbledore. Other readers then came to my defense. Also, they spent several posts debating what scene I was trying to represent in the painting. The fact is that I was actually only loosely depicting the escape scene in Dumbledore's office. The point is the fact that the more you can generate discussion around your work, the better. Some people will like your work, and some will not. If you have something that's worth discussing, that makes your work stand out to the readers (0r viewers), and it just might generate some interest in what you're doing. :)

3. Social Networking (Myspace, Facebook, etc.) - This one works, but it requires a lot of "legwork." Since I have been trying to promote my videos, I have been trying to beef up my friends lists, and posting bulletins with links to my vids in them. So far, it seems to be somewhat effective, I haven't been able to track links from my bulletins, so not too sure. But, theoretically, this should work well.

You also have the ability to directly post videos to others' comments, though you may want to use caution in doing this, because some people don't like the fact that videos or large graphics can mess with the layout of Myspace pages. So, use your own judgment here.

4. Email Lists - Hmmm, yeah. This one I can see working out okay, only if you have permission to email your recipients. I personally use #5.

5. Youtube Friends and Subscribers - I'm finding out that subscribers are important, but there are other strategies to working the Youtube system. One thing that works sometimes and sometimes not is adding other people as friends, like on Myspace. I have to say that it is much harder to get a Youtube user to befriend you than it is to add people on Myspace. Youtube sends your new friend an email that says that you want to be able to share private videos with them. To a lot of people, this sounds like an indecent proposal, but we're only using it for the forces of good! :)

I've found that one thing you want to do before you ask someone to be your friend is drop them a line. You don't always have to be on their friends list to post a comment to their channel, like on Myspace, so I always leave a short message to say "Hi," or to comment on one of their videos. This sort of lets them know you're not trying to send them 30 porn links without even a kiss.


The Secret Strategies Behind Many “Viral” Videos
TUTORIAL - How To Get MORE VIEWS on YouTube videos.. REALLY!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

It Is My Lifelong Ambition...

It is my lifelong ambition to put Richard Simmons in a headlock and ram his head into a wall repeatedly. It is my lifelong ambition to be able to draw and paint whilst I sleep. It is my lifelong ambition to quit my job and bum off of everyone else's tax dollars to buy beer and crack. (Okay, that one's not true.) It is my lifelong ambition to visit Scotland, Wales, England, and maybe Germany, and take a tour of all of the castles there. It is my lifelong ambition to don a unitard, grow my hair long and curly, and sing (or play drums) in a hair metal band. It is my lifelong ambition to be able to support my family from doing my artwork.

I just thought I would post some of my lifelong ambitions. Now, I want to hear yours. Post a comment with your lifelong ambitions, no matter how small or astronomical. C'mon, it's just for fun!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

"Ghostly Choir"

Last night, I had the chance to do a little painting, and I decided to do what the name actually says: a speed painting. The term has come to mean a video of a digital painting in progress but at a higher speed, but I wanted to try my hand at an actual digital painting done within an hour. I had some trouble with my computer lagging behind massively, even in 300dpi, but I actually did complete it in about an hour.

View this video on YouTube, Metacafe, Revver, DailyMotion,, Veoh and Stupid Videos


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Dumbledore Speed Painting

View this video on YouTube, Metacafe, Google, DailyMotion,, Veoh and Stupid Videos

This is my newest digital painting, entitled "Flames of Redemption." For those who are not Harry Potter inclined, it is based on the headmaster at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Professor Dumbledore. The original was done in about 9 and 1/2 hours in Adobe Photoshop. Now watch it and like it, filthy muggles!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Adobe Photoshop Tutorial - Working With Selections and Quick Mask Mode

By J.T. Blevins

One great feature of Adobe Photoshop is "quick mask" mode. Usually, to avoid painting over different elements of my work, I think of using the lasso tool to make selections of the areas I want to keep my color inside. BUT, there is an alternative, and one with much more flexibility.

In Fig. 1, the picture shows two buttons, located at the bottom of the tool window, just underneath the color selector boxes. These buttons are "Edit in Standard Mode (Q)" and "Edit in Quick Mask Mode (Q)."



We'll begin with a quick sketch, and enter Quick Mask mode. This mode enables the artist to use any brush to create selections in a new creative way. By drawing in this mode, you are creating a selection area to work with in Standard Mode. The translucent red area of your selection is the area that will NOT be included in the selection.
Experiment with different brushes. Try varying opacity, brush size, shape and behavior. You'll be surprised at the effects you can create by changing brush styles!

After we have our selection, it's time to go back to Standard Mode. Click the button on the left at the bottom of the Tools window.

This takes the quick mask and turns it into a selection. Pretty cool, huh?

Now, we can paint our background around the main subject without intruding on it (while you still have your selection, that is.)


Now that you've spent all that time creating your selection, it is time to save it for later use. Click on Select>Save Selection...

...And choose a name for the selection layer you want to save.


The new selection layer will now show up under the Channels tab. Now you can [Ctrl]+click to reload the layer as a selection.

The nice thing about the quick mask feature is that you can switch back and forth at any time during your painting. You can go back and re-adjust the part of the picture you now want to edit.


There is also a lot to gain from using selection layers. As you can see, the composition of your painting begins to become clear. We can now see the negative space much more easily! :)

Monday, November 26, 2007

What Makes a Good Digital Painting?

So, how does an artist choose subject matter for his next digital painting, and what style do you use? This has been a topic I have been mulling over lately. Basically, I use my gut instinct when painting. When painting Hellboy, I wanted to use a bold style with good lighting. With the Turtles painting, I wanted to paint something a little more "gritty," but with pretty much the same bold style. Aragorn and Arwen deserved a little more realism, so I pretty much went with the painted look.

I'm now working on a Harry Potter painting that includes Prof. Dumbledore and Fawkes the phoenix. I'm really going experimental on this one, making it look more like a watercolor painting than anything. And, that's fine. But for the TMNT? I don't think watercolor would have worked.

I have seen many other styles work very well in digital paintings, but most other digital painters have one style and stick with it. I like to experiment, to try and pull out of the painting the most aesthetic work that I can. If watercolor works, I use it. If the subject requires a more cartoony, smooth feel, then I go with it. If it needs a style that is more serene or surreal, I'm using watercolor. Don't be afraid to test your limits. As an artist, if you limit yourself, you're placing a mental block on your work. And that's not something you really want to do.

So, what makes a good painting? I guess I'd say to paint from the heart, paint what you know, and always experiment! :)


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Lord of the Rings Painting Video

Here is the video for my LOTR painting of Aragorn and Arwen. Enjoy!


Lord Knows I Love Lord of the Rings!

For it being Thanksgiving weekend, I had a little time to do some painting. And, what better to paint than a LOTR frame from the movie? I've always been a Lord of the Rings fan. The first novel I ever read was The Hobbit in about 7th grade, and from that point on, I was hooked. Before that, I couldn't conceive of reading something that wasn't a comic book. The fact that something that used only words to tell a story and was interesting to boot was hard to believe.

So, as I'm sure you can imagine, when the movies came out, I was absolutely ecstatic. So now, I have all the DVD's. I don't get the time to watch them or read the books anymore, but anyway... I still have the curious mind of a child when it comes to Tolkien's masterpiece.

I chose to paint a picture of Aragorn and Arwen because their love for one another was one of the most powerful parts of the trilogy. Even when Aragorn is off in distant lands fighting a battle from which he may never return and another love tempts him, he stays true to her. Their love seems like a pure kind of love, one that some of us will never experience. So, that's why I wanted to capture a moment that inspires this feeling of true love. Because, some of us may not be so fortunate...


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Turtle Power!

It's been a bit hectic this week because my work switched me from 2nd shift to day shift this week for Thanksgiving, among several other things I had to take care of... But, I had a chance to do a little painting over the weekend. I have always been a Turtles fan, and this was kind of an itch I've been wanting to scratch for a long time. I did a pin-up a couple years ago, fully inked and colored, but even since then, I've been wanting to do something that captures the turtles' essence, and I believe this is it. As a kid, I was never a Raphael fan, but as I grow older, I feel like I have more and more in common with him. Not that I go around wanting to kick the crap out of everyone, but things tend to make me angry that didn't before. I didn't want to do a solo painting, so I had to find a way to include the other 3, too! Yih, boyz! Now I have to do a Flav-a-flav painting. And, A Flock of Seagulls. And, and, Milli Vanilli! I can't stop! Vanilla Ice! MC Hammer! WTF? Somebody kick me in the junk!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

New Hellboy Digital Painting Video in Photoshop

View this video on YouTube, MySpace, Metacafe, Google, Revver, DailyMotion,, Veoh and Stupid Videos

Hellboy Speed Painting

Been sharpening my pixels lately to get a Hellboy digital painting finished. It took a while on this one, actually about 4 or 5 days in my off time, but it was a lot of fun. I'm still learning a lot about painting in Photoshop, but I'm getting addicted fast! I haven't done a page of comic book work since I've been learning how to paint digitally. I'm sure I'll get back into the swing of things here in a couple weeks, but for now, I'm having too much fun painting some of my favorite characters (which happen to be comic book characters).


Saturday, November 3, 2007

Photoshop is My Friend

Cool. That's all I have to say. I finished a digital painting in 4 hrs and 20 min. (!) If you've read my previous posts, you'd know why that's such a good thing. I started from scratch and painted Gruel from "3 Witches," and it actually turned out okay. I'm beginning to like this digital painting stuff. One great thing about it is being able to work with layers. I can paint one thing, and go over it on another layer without even touching the bottom layer. Also, I feel like I can get great colors using Photoshop, because you can change the colors of virtually anything in the painting by saving a couple of selections. Okay, I have to go find some toothpicks to prop my eyes open, because I'd say it's going to be a long night. :D


Thursday, November 1, 2007

Digital Painting-A Good Thing or a Bad Thing?

From the point of view of a comic book artist, I saw digital painting as a horrendous undertaking from the outset. Being used to drawing a page in about a day's time, something this detailed, and in color nonetheless, was going to be the most grueling job I had ever taken upon myself.

My first digital painting took 38 hours to complete. Yup, 38 hours. 38 long and drawn out hours, paying attention to nothing but pixels and more pixels. Looking at nothing but my computer monitor, dreaming about painting, planning my painting as I go through the laborious human process known as "eating." I only kept track of the time spent working by making a video for it whichwas 38 minutes long, and it was set to record 1 second of video per real-time minute.

But, I saw this as a learning experience. And, it was a huge one. I can say that because I painted the first figure in 11 and a half hours, and the rest were done in gradually decreasing amounts of time. In my defense, there were five figures to be painted, an RPG rocket, and the background. Each being as time consuming as the next. Even though it took me this long, I have to say I'm going to continue to practice at it, because as boring as it seems, I did have fun doing it, and next time, I will have learned techniques I didn't know before.

Next time, though, I'll try not to push family, work, and everything else to the side and become a Photoshop zombie... :)


Monday, October 29, 2007

It's been a long weekend of doing errands and digital painting. My eyes are burning in their sockets, and I've had enough caffeine to kill a moose. Eh. Oh. Urgh.

Now that I'm coming to my senses... I have been trying to find time to work on the play at home thread for Comic Book Idol round 3, but I haven't had any time slots open up. It's like I have to schedule time to take a crap any more. Oh, well. Back to work...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Some Digital Painting Comin' Ya Way!

I had no idea it took so long to do a digital painting. Pretty much the same amount of time (or more...!) than a canvas painting. I'm finding this out from experience. I started a new painting in Photoshop on Tuesday. I have put in roughly 12 hours since then on it, and I'd say I'm about 1/5th of the way there....

It really shouldn't take this long. I think, like anything else, once I figure out the process pretty well, I will have my own style and it will be much faster. It's grueling work at this point, though. I'll have to post the finished product when it's done. (And yes, kiddies, I am making a Youtube video of how I did it. Stay tuned to watch it in its insanely sped-up glory!)

Almost got the Project: Camelot submission packet ready to send to the printers. We just have a couple of things to do yet. Once it's together, though, it's going to rock men, women, children, and armored soldiers everywhere.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I got my 3 Witches sample books from the printer yesterday, and I've been working hard to get some of them out the publishers. I'm only sending out a few at first to some of the top companies who publish creator-owned properties.

Some have some VERY stringent submission guidelines, I'm finding out. For example, some want certain things included in your cover letter, or they throw out the whole submission. Dark Horse requires a signed form stating if there is legal involvement, it will be handled in the state of Oregon.

I figured it was time I got my stuff out there. I've been saving up material for a long time, and I guess there's not much of a point of keeping it to myself. Heck, I have 3 issues and almost a full 40-page special of Legends that haven't been published. Who knows? Maybe if I ever make a name for myself, I'll release Legends in TPB format. ;D


Monday, October 22, 2007

The Workend

I had the weekend off, but I had lots to do, so I pretty much sat in front of the computer (and played with the kids) most of this weekend, trying to get a sample book together for Project: Camelot. It seems like the more work I do, the more there is to be done.

I also finished my "play at home" page for Comic Book Idol 3. Click the image below to view it!

So anyway, I'm going to try and work on another page or so for "play at home" for round 2, if I have the time. I've never read C.B. Cebulski's "Wonderlost," but that is the next script posted. I'm running about a week behind the others, but I'm not competing, so it doesn't really matter, I suppose. I just luuuuv to do drawrings. :D


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Project: Camelot Coloring Video

Camelot, Here We Come

For the past few weeks, I have been working on a submission packet to send to publishers with Travis Legge, senior partner at Aegis Studios, the makers of the Contagion RPG. It is called "Project: Camelot." We decided that to allow publishers to see the finished product, we would go through a Print On Demand publisher and have some 8-page sample copies printed up. (Is POD the bomb or what?) We're also considering using a short comic book story idea I had for Project: Camelot and submitting it to some anthologies for inclusion so that it would already be a published property, and we would already have some publicity on our side.

The cover for the submission is finally finished for the most part. I may choose to tweak it at some point, but it's pretty much done as far as I'm concerned.

I thought that meant we were finished with our submission, but I actually have some pages that I have to put together to fill the rest of the interior pages. I will probably put together a couple of "sketchbook" pages with the character sketches that I did when designing the look of the armored suits in the beginning.

I have to say this has been one of the cooler projects I have ever worked on. I have always wanted to see if I could handle drawing armored heroes or big robots, and it gave me a chance to prove to myself that I can. Plus, I had an excellent writer backing me up and providing more than I could ask for. I have a feeling this project may pan out to be something good.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Jumping Through Hoops (or, Not)

Frig. I can't believe how much these Comic Book Idol contestants are expected to draw. I do realize that this is a contest for artists, but they do (I'm guessing...) have lives outside of comic book art. The assignment in round 1 and round 2 so far has been 3 consecutive comic book pages each round. That's not so bad for a week or so of work for most artists who are not considered pros. But for a weekEND, I think it's a bit much.

I guess the thinking is, "how devoted to winning this contest are these guys?" If I were a contestant, I'd feel a little more like they were saying, "how much lunch money can I beat out of this kid before I get kicked in the nads?" I'm still working on round 1 for the play at home thread. I have 1 panel finished. Sound pitiful? It's seriously not. Read my last blog entry.

I think Comic Book Idol is a really good springboard for unknown artists, and I am glad there is a place to post our artwork and get some honest criticism from other fans, artists, and even established writers and editors for the contestants. The contestants and those who choose to "play at home" come out with a lot more knowledge and experience than they had before.

For those who work a full-time job, or have families, or both, I would think the assignments are a pretty massive strain on them. But, if you think of the (massive) exposure you would get if you were one of the 10 finalists that go on to round 1 and so on, I suppose that's a pretty even trade for a few weekends.

Anyway, Warren Leonhardt, who I voted for, was eliminated at the end of round 1. I have a knack for picking out the underdogs with talent...but get knocked down by the mainstream. I couldn't believe Caio's art ranked first. Well, yeah I can. He isn't an Image clone, but there is a lot of Image influence, I believe. That's definitely not a bad thing, but in my humble opinion, that shouldn't outweigh whether or not he is a good artist. Is he a good artist? Without a doubt. Is he Michael Turner good? ...uh, No.

Dan McDaid apparently has a pretty strong following. He came in third in the vote, and on the boards, people are really voicing their opinions about his work. I think he's also one with a simplistic style without overly simplifying the page. I'm looking forward to seeing more from him. I'd almost guarantee he'll do better on round 2's "Wonderlost" script, seeing as how his art style is similar to C.B. Cebulski's other artists he has used in the past.

I'll be watching the entries over the weekend. There have been some really good entries, and some that have turned out to be duds. If you haven't registered at the CBR forums, you need to get registered now and vote during the next round. From what the CBI3 host J. Torres has said, a large percentage of the CBR forum-goers didn't vote during round 1. They only open the vote for 24 hrs (12pm Wed.-12pm Thur.), so next week get out there and vote!!


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Comic Book Idolatry

I found Comic Book Idol just a few weeks ago, and I decided to take a crack at it, since submissions ended at the end of September, and I still had a few days to show my work. Over 180 contestants posted their online portfolios and 10 were selected to go to round 1. I wasn't selected as a contestant, but it didn't hurt to put my name in the hat.

I decided to keep up with the contest, and post my opinion, which is apparently contrary to public opinion. The front runner right now is Caio Oliveira. A decent artist, but lacking a sense of depth and composition. I posted a similar statement on the public opinions forum, so we'll see how that goes.

I have to say Caio has a knack for detail, but as I said in the forum, this isn't the only thing it takes to be a comic book artist. I believe it takes an understanding of how to create depth, how to compose a panel, placement and grouping of subjects in a panel, panel layout, spotting blacks to create interest in a subject, varying line widths, etc.

I'm not saying my work is better or comparable to the CBI entries, but studying the art form for 15 years, I like to think I'm gaining some kind of grasp on the inner workings of what goes on in a comic book panel, and I hope the contestants gain something from what I post.

I'm slowly working up a couple of pages of my own to post on the "play at home thread," but it'll probably be a few days before I post anything. Not because I am being lazy about the whole thing (though I'm not a contestant at all, just playing at home), but because I have several other things on my plate at the moment. One, as I posted a little bit about a couple of days ago, is working up a submission packet for 3 Witches, as well as putting together some pages for a future 3 Witches story. On top of that, I'm finishing up a submission packet with Travis Legge, Senior Patner at Aegis Studios, makers of the Contagion RPG. Not to mention working 40-48 hours per week, and squeezing in time for my 5-month old (today!) baby, my 5-year old daughter (who I take to school some mornings), and my wife.

Now, where do I find time to draw this Comic Book Idol thing, again?

Here are some links to check out:
Comic Book Idol:
Public Comment Thread:
Play at Home Thread:


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Going Ink Crazy

I've gotta take a break. I've been working on a cover all weekend for a story submission to be sent to various comic book publishers. I finished the pencils, and (gasp!) even inks since yesterday. Inks by HAND, no less! Why? Cause I'm crazy like that, i guess.

Actually, I wanted to draw something that would make an impact with a publisher, and I hadn't inked anything by hand in many months. I broke out the old brushes and Rapidograph pens, and went to town. It was a lot of fun, but I had lost two of my old pens (which cost $20 to replace each one) and a couple of my old brushes.

I went out and bought some new brushes and a new pen, so I may actually start inking my work. It was a little slower than the process I was using before, which was doing dark pencils and cranking up the contrast in Photoshop, but the benefits may outweigh the slowness of it all. I'll probably just ink the covers and stick to pencils for the interiors. I don't really care, as long as I get to draw...


Saturday, October 13, 2007

How NOT to Market Comic Books

Not so smart. My first online comic was, at one time, located at I had T-shirts made up, and stickers made up to promote the site, and I actually still have a bunch of them. On everything I printed, I put the address I put it on the ebooks, on the downloadable calendar, in the links I provided to search engines...

But, now it has a different address. Why? That's the not so smart part. I had the domain name on auto renewal every July, charging to my credit card automatically, so that I wouldn't have to even worry about it. The problem is, I didn't realize I had it set up on the card that I closed down last year.... :O

SO, when July rolled around this year, being involved in working on a new short story to be published later in the year, finishing up the first 3 Witches story, and having the prospect of shopping an idea created by Travis Legge and myself around to publishers, I inadvertently allowed to expire. Yes, it was a pretty dumb thing to do, considering I have merchandise with the address printed on it. But, that's one of the mistakes one makes going into something like this. Yeah, that's it. A learning experience. That's what I'll call it! :D

So now, has been fertilized and cultivated into a beautiful, flourishing link farm, growing all the nutritious links you could ask for. Now, all the fruits of "Huge Comic Book Sale" are available when you visit, at no charge. Isn't capitalism...well, just capital? Makes people do some nice things.

By the way, if you ever want to drop by, Legends is now relocated at now, just down the road. We'll be there with a smile :D


Friday, October 12, 2007

Getting Published-the Small Press Way

I know a little about self-publishing, having bought "How to Self-Publish Your Own Comic Book" by Tony Caputo a few months ago, and following numerous articles online in the past. But, getting into direct market distribution and newsstand distribution, subscriptions, promotion, marketing, etc, etc, etc sounds like a LOT of work for one person, especially one who is writing, drawing, lettering, editing, and publishing the book in question.

Some of the scenarios in the book illustrate scenarios where the publisher makes phone calls to comic shop owners across the US to find out their thoughts on the quality and the sales at the store level. To boost sales, Caputo suggests holding a signing and offering free signed copies to the store to sell.

In this day and age, a self-publisher is up against time, the only unwavering force in the universe. It's like climbing a mountain covered in snow before your boots made of paper towels get wet. There's just so much to take care of, not including the work that goes into the actual making of the comic.

Anyway, that is why I am considering taking my comic to a publisher who is already established. Soon, I'll be pitching the idea and showing some sample pages to some publishers in hopes of getting the idea picked up. I have a backup plan, which involves a lot more promotion, sales, etc, but not to the extent of someone actually taking on the role of "self-publisher" in the traditional sense. More on that later.


Blog It!

I've been trying to think of a way to post regular updates on, but to edit the HTML, save it, upload it, and publish it takes so long that I just haven't gotten around to posting anything in a long time. SO, I went got me a brand spankin' new blog, so's I can communicate to the world when something interesting happens. That is, IF it ever happens! :D

But, anyway, hopefully this will get my procrastinating butt to post something. We'll see about that.