Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Wacky Reference Wednesday, No. 163

Digital composite detail with maquettes and perspective grid

Beginning with Daredevil #9 (and since I purchased my Cintiq) I've made the switch to all-digital layouts. The benefits are numerous, but it all boils down to freedom. While the comic book page has a fixed amount of real estate, the digital canvas is limitless, allowing each panel to be resized, rotated, and reconstituted in any manner. The layout stage has always been a process of trial and error for me — the digital approach simply streamlines it.

1. Digital Layout  2. Refined Composite (printed out in blue-line)

A side benefit is the easy inclusion of text. When I send layouts to my collaborators for approval, they get to see a convincing approximation of the final product. Dialogue and captions are now the first thing I add to every page, which saves me from continuously referring to the script. Once approved, I refine the drawing, often adding perspective grids to guide architectural backgrounds.

As our run on Daredevil has progressed, continuity requires a growing library of settings, props, and character designs. If this were a movie, the bulk of this would be done beforehand, but we're a lean operation, so most of this is done on the fly. Pictured above is the Omega Drive, drawn by Marcos Martin, that I use as a model every time I draw it (often just tracing (shhh)). I think I may have been the first to draw it (in issue #7), but he drew the first detailed rendering. A coaster serves as a decent stand-in for size reference, and a rolled-up piece of paper doubles as the billy club (or a bottle of camphor).

Daredevil #9, Page 1. 2011. Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on Marvel board, 11 × 17.25″.

Digital layouts also make it easy to include Sculptris maquettes — and even reference photos (taken with my iMac's Photobooth) — directly onto the page. If you'll look at the closely at the top image, those are my hands superimposed on Matt Murdock. I don't recommend this if you can't already draw hands, but if you can, it's another way to save time. The only drawback is the unrestrained ability to include more detail than the page warrants. I lost track of how small some of the figures would be on the printed page since Photoshop allows zooming to almost any magnification. This page gets a little too cozy towards the bottom.

As mentioned above, Scuptris maquettes are now an integral part of my workflow. Here's a quick turnaround of my Daredevil model with a dual light source. When pasting into a page (via screen grab), I use a lighting preset that is mostly white, receding to black at the edges. This rendering mimics a clear-line style that can easily be traced.


  1. All the tech in the world means nothing if you don't start with talent, and you have that in abundance. So very entertaining to me to see your process. Keep up all the great work, sir.

    1. True. Technology can only facilitate the basic skills.

  2. Thanks for sharing Paolo, awesome stuff as usual man. I have to try to sculptris out, looks cool, is the interface more difficult then zbrush?

    1. It has the same basic controls as ZBrush, but in a much more streamlined interface. I was able to pick up the basics in half an hour.

  3. So so so great. When I do my layouts and lay in a perspective grid I use Freddie H. Williams III path. Your perspective grids are way different than using that too it looks like. Do you do a new one every time or do you have a template? Man...putting in the text from the get go saves so much time. I dont even draw behind the text. Do you do that for contractual reasons for having finished art to share with creators? I understand if you dont have time to answer Paolo. But I do appreciate this Wednesday series and the time you take to do them. I missed it last week. I look forward to it. Thanks so much.


    1. Thanks, Charlie! I hadn't seen Williams' paths, but they look great. I have my own template which I plan to share eventually. Some aspects are very simple, but it can get complicated, which is why I haven't done a post on it yet. Someday.

      As for text, I always plan for it, since the main purpose is to read the comic. As for copy and pasting every line, that's just makes it easier to read.

  4. i've got some question Mr Rivera,
    First, Do your Father ink over the pencils?
    2nd, What kind of scanner do you use to sell the pages to Javier Rodriguez? I mean, i'm aspiring to be an artist i know it takes hard work, and a long way to go, but, when im try to color my own work, my scanner isn't my best friend to do it. Some tip Mr Rivera?. Thanks

    1. My dad inks over blue line boards, printed out with a Brother printer/scanner:
      I use a better scanner since I have to scan paintings:

      The first one is good enough for black and white art, but isn't that great for color or pencils. Hope that helps. Thanks!

  5. Awesome process!!
    I have some questions for you if you have the time...

    I've started messing with sculptris myself after seeing a bit of your workflow.
    Can you move those 3d models and place the faces as you want in photoshop or do you need to already position the head in the way you need to before importing to ps? I'm not very familiar with the 3d tools in photoshop.

    Sorry if this is too much, another question would be if you can mess with the light sources in photoshop?

    Thanks for sharing your process every week. Very inspiring.

    1. I just position in Sculptris, then copy a screen grab. Though for more in-depth reference (such as for a painting) I'll actually import the model into Photoshop. That's only when I need lighting reference as well. I've got a post planned to explain the whole process.

  6. Excellent work as always, mr Rivera.

    As you like using 3D models as reference, I suggest when you draw Doctor Doom you use the Capcom's Marvel vs Capcom 3 Doctor Doom model. It's perfect and highly detailed for a videogame model. Actually, all the Capcom's models are extremely well-done and are good for reference. They nailed pretty much everything, from faces to armors.

    Also, you're a friend of Jim Krueger, right? The Daredevil #18 cover was inspired by Earth X Venom, created by Krueger and Alex Ross? I also noted that your designs for Steve Rogers parents bear some resemblance to the designs Alex Ross created for Paradise X. Actually Paradise X, wrote by Krueger, was their first ever full visual depiction in comics.

    Well, I know my english isn't good, I'm Brazilian.

  7. Hi Pedro, thanks for the kind words. I actually built my own Doctor Doom mask out of sheet metal for just such a thing. I think I eventually gave it away, though. As for the DD cover, I hadn't thought of it, but Ross' Venom designs do look very similar.

    Roger's parents were based on 2 friends, but I may have seem them depicted in Paradise X. It's been a while.



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