Sunday, May 26, 2013

X-Men 4 Cover Step by Step

Ok, this is the look behind the making of August's X-Men #4 Cover from Marvel Comics, featuring Wolverine and Jubilee.
First step, cover roughs in my 11 x 14 Canson Sketchbook using Col Erase Light Blue Pencil, Pigma Micron and Copic Warm Grey Pens. I know in general what I'm doing compositionally so I really focus on the energy and the mood knowing...

I'm scanning these in and cleaning/formating in Photoshop. This stage is really to clarify for the editor, Jeanine Schaefer and everyone else at Marvel who is looking at these I won't be personally talking with so I try to make sure all the necessary info is here.

Sketch B was approved so I went right to pencils - drawn with Col Erase Light Blue and Staedtler HB Lead pencils on 12 x 18 Bristol Board. Knew exactly what I wanted to do with this piece so essentially drew this in one sitting. Once, I realized how simple the composition was I added in the "X-Men" in the background to help fill it out and add some angles and values - I had this in mind in the sketches but didn't put it in for clarity.

Rachel Dodson then inked the piece, she always starts by "masking off" the area she isn't inking so it doesn't get rubbed or dirty. She usually starts with the faces, for a similar reason - while the pencil line art is at it's highest point of clarity.

A closer look at Rachel's initial inks.

Rachel's inking this all with a Windsor Newton Series 7 #2 Kolinisky Sable Brush and Higgins Black Magic Ink.

Still all brush - working foreground to back.

More inks.

Rachel used mostly brush on this even the "X-Men" as her pen's weren't "behaving". She did use her croquille on the furthest back rubble.

Art is erased with a Staedtler Mars Plastic Eraser and ruled the border with a pen.

Scanned and cleaned by me in Photoshop.
I then send to my "flatter" and this what I got back - brilliant!
I do a few corrects on the flat as no one is a mind reader and lay in my initial colors knowing pretty well what I want (which is always nice). 

I start everything off in a medium value of the color. Then begin rendering by adding darker values first at 100% color.

Begin adding lights and refining and cleaning up the colors I laid. Used a custom brush to add texture to background areas.

Finished cleaning up coloring using the lasso tool and 100% color or gradients as necessary. Add clouds in background with custom brush. 

Finish up by coloring lineart as necessary - this is the icing on the cake of the piece!



  1. I'm always astounded by Mrs. Dodson's Brush control. Amazing.

    And, Mr. Dodson, you're not so bad yourself. ;)

  2. Seeing so many stages of Rachel's inking process was a real treat. Thanks for sharing that with us.

    1. I agree - I have to remind her to take the shots but when she does it is a treat!

  3. Have you every thought about producing a video of your process? Something like Adam Hughes' DVD or a downloadable video. I don't think it would cost much to produce and you could turn a nice little profit.

    (This is my selfish ploy to watch you two work.)