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Entries in comic book (7)


Threadless + Gap: A Contest

I like T-Shirts. In fact, I am a big fan of Gap's push into graphic Tees. I happen to be one of those people that like to be able to feel the quality of the shirt before I buy it. Not all cotton or cotton blends are the same, and you have to get your mitts on it to know for sure. I myself am more of a soft Tee kind of guy. Not ashamed to admit.

Locally here in the southern mid-westish area, there are few good outlets for Tees, but not the same as the big coast towns. The hipster Highlands area here in Louisville is about the best source with a nice mix of local and national printed Tees, but not a lot of new design turnover. Lately, I have found that Gap has been putting out some quality designs at a nice refresh rate. I actually missed out on one of my biggest favs recently when they had the Japanese version of the Star Wars: A New Hope movie poster T. Couldn’t find it in my size, but the hell if I didn’t try to squeeze into that small. Not flattering.

Needless to say when I came across Threadless and Gap’s big T-Shirt contest I was intrigued. I have been toying with the idea of making the leap to T-Shirts and have one or two mockups made, but nothing really solid. So, I figured since I have so much to do this would be a good project to help in my procrastination, plus I believed in both brands.

Having a good understanding of what types of Tees are often found at the Gap and on Threadless, I went about concepting 3 ideas that would end up being my submissions since 3 Tee designs were the max. I wanted an eclectic range of offerings that I would want to wear and I thought others would find interesting.

My first choice was part of a project I had started a few months ago involving the design of a 50s style Batman. I ended up turning him into Honey Badger Guy. Of course, the pop cultural reference being the Honey Badger viral video sensation, which you can see here. It also ended up being Honey Badger “Guy” and not Honey Badger “Man” because it ended up looking a little too much like Honey Bad German when placed together. A little weird.

Anyway he is a true anti-hero. Literally because he just “don’t care.” I stayed true to the genre of 50s style comic book heroes and actually got a little carried away with the details. For instance, he has a King Cobra belt buckle and his symbol is a honeycomb with Honey Badger teeth. All references pulled from the viral video.

My vision for the final print is a faux-worn out look almost like it actually was a vintage Tee. Hence the false distressing in the final mockup.

Click on Image to Vote and Help Me Get This Printed!

Idea number two was a simple illustration of a hand that looks like it has seen some tough workdays. I was also keen on incorporating knuckle tattoos that would help tell the story. Initially the concept had two hands, but that ended up looking a little gropey, so I scratched hand two and went with the rings to spell out the “Self.” The idea being that to make it, you had to put in the work.

I blocked out some of the hand illustration using the erase tool in Photoshop with some paint splatter brushes to allow for the shirt colors to bleed through. Dirty hands. Simple, yet hopefully visually striking.

Click on Image to Vote and Help Me Get This Printed!

My tee design number three was inspirited by my recent photography of classic automobiles. The shapes and lines of the instrument panels of early cars are amazing. The chrome and small details of the dashes for those classic cars, especitally Corvettes, are really nice. That ended up being the dash I went with for this design. Specifically a 1963 Corvette Sting-Ray. An amazing machine. I was even able to find photos of parts to use as reference.

Once I had the basic illustration done, I went into Photoshop to add some halftone to give it some interesting texturing. I also played with the contrast by applying screened textures too. My final touch was a peace sign key chain. I figured why not, it’s the 60s.

Click on Image to Vote and Help Me Get This Printed!

Now that I have put the designs together, it’s up to you all to help me get them created. Please follow the links to my Threadless submission pages and score my designs. The more interest, the more likely they might be chosen. And no, I am not above begging. Pretty please? Seriously though these were a lot of fun to put together, so please enjoy.

Cheers, Ben.


New Work: The Dark Knight Rises

Despite having a few projects in the works, I managed to get a nice little personal piece knocked out recently. I am a big fan of Batman and especially Christopher Nolan’s take on the character. The end of his run on the character with The Dark Knight Rises is bittersweet in that I can’t wait to see how he concludes the series, but I have a feeling no one could replace him. Just look at Joel Schumacher and those damn Batsuit nipples as proof not everybody gets it.

Nolan managed to add a significant amount of legitimacy to the comic film genre with The Dark Knight in 2008. Hell, the Oscar Academy bumped up the number of accepted Best Pictures to 10 because it didn’t make the cut when they only allowed 5 flicks. Crazy.

While an avid fan of the movie series since Burton (I has 9 when it released and it was one of the 1st films I saw in a theater, so watch it haters), I also read the comic book. Recently, I became very fascinated with the original source material from the 40s and 50s. If you go back and look at the covers from this time period, they are really amazing. The use of such vivid colors and the simplicity of the character designs were really interesting to me. Plus, I contend that the original Batman comic logos are great examples of how to properly do a comic logo. They were bold, had great use of illustration and typography, and easily recognizable. You can find out more about the evolution of the Batman logo on Todd Klein’s blog. It’s a really interesting read.

A look at the early evolution of the Batman Comic logo

I spent a lot of time on www.coverbrowser.com looking at all the different covers over the years and this sparked an idea. Kind of a “What If” moment for those comic book fans out there who remember Marvel’s What If series from the late 90s where major storylines were re-imagined with different outcomes. In this case I thought “What If” Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises was a storyline from the 50s. So I went about recreating a cover of just such an issue as a kind of movie poster for the new film.

The original Batman Comic covers were wonderful in their simplicity and colorfulness

I needed to figure out exactly what elements were necessary to make the cover look authentic for that time period. I studied nearly every Batman cover on coverbrowser.com to find all the common graphic elements. I knew I would need to recreate the DC logo from that era as well as the Comics Code Authority stamp of approval. Each cover also had a featured box, which highlighted the issues main storyline. I decided to use this as a way to reveal the movie title.

My take on the DC Comics logo from the 50s and the famous Comics Code Authority stamp

Colors were also a major consideration. I looked at the different color combos that appeared on many of the covers and found that depending on the issues main background color the Batman logo colors complemented them in a way that would make the logo pop. My research into the covers inspired the illustration style of Batman and the main villain Bane. An interesting little tidbit of information is that Batman and Robin often found themselves shrunk by the villain. If you look through all the covers from the 40s and 50s a common visual element would be that the caped crusader and boy wonder would find their nemesis towering over them with a dramatic fear inducing phrase. Shrink rays must have been in abundance. Hence the inspiration for my cover’s final composition.

The final piece

To keep up the authentic look I added a little bit of texturing to give it a weathered feel as well as some halftones to mimic the printing resolution of the time. All in all, a nice sidetrack project to keep the creativity flowing. I actually liked creating the “old school” Batman illustrations so much that I am developing it into a style that I would like to use in future fan art.

A look at the retro Batman character that I am working on

So tune in – same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!


New Work: Green Lantern

Despite the fact that I have been diligently working to get my new store, movingthemerch.com, up and running, I have managed to continue with my little pet project of re-imagining all the movie posters for this summer's big blockbusters. I refuse to discriminate based on film quality because the one thing this summer has had besides a revolving door of weekend top spot films, is bad movie posters.

I'm a huge Green Lantern comic fan. Especially because of the writing of Geoff Johns, who also consulted on this summer's film adaptation. The movie had potential, and if there weren't so many other shiny comic book movies out this summer, it may have fared better. Either way, I wanted to make a movie poster that pulled from Green Lantern's roots. So, I went with the classic Green Lantern...Lantern and worked on adding a few more tricks to my bag.

I had not realized the full potential of Illustrator's Gradient Tool till now. You actually have the ability to shape the gradation, which helps to make some "real nice" 3-dimesional looking shapes. From Illustrator, I took my Lantern into Photoshop. I wanted to capture the color halftone feel of older comic books. I typically work with the halftone filter in Photoshop's Filter Gallery, but a search of "comic style" looks introduced me to Color Halftone, located under the Filter drop down at the top in the Pixelate function. Wow...that's a fun filter. A couple of other special sauce treats and I have one of my current, movie poster favs. 

A look at the original illustration before Photoshop and a close up of the Color Halftone FilterThe test prints have been really eye catching. It really seems to pop on paper. Now, I should have more to come...

But, I am taking the week to recoup from the late nights working to launch the store and running a crazy pace at the day job. Going to sit back, watch some movies, do a little drawing, get around to writing Part 2 of my blog post about DSLR Video production, and try to relax. Will be back shortly with more new work and also new offerings at the store. 

Cheers, Ben