Wednesday, February 19, 2014

New Eastman and Laird art for IDW 30th Anniversary TMNT cover!



About a month ago, I got an intriguing request from Kevin Eastman. He was penciling a cover for another IDW TMNT-related comic book, this one a thirtieth anniversary special, and he wanted to know if I would like to ink it.

Having just had fun inking Steve Lavigne's penciled cover for another IDW book, a reprint of some old Archie TMNT stories, I agreed. I thought it would likely be a somewhat different experience…

… and when I saw the pencils, I knew I was right. Kevin had crafted a beautiful, very tightly-penciled, montage-style image featuring a complicated cityscape and a bold group shot of the Turtles leaping into action, all dominated by the looming image of the Shredder.




It was so tight, in tact, that I suggested to Kevin that it should just be used as is… but he wanted to see it inked, so I went ahead and got out my brush markers and set to work.

(Oh -- I should stop here and mention that Kevin also wanted me to have the original art for this cover. Sweet!)

So I was faced with a small dilemma -- should I ink directly over the pencil drawing, thus losing forever its greyscale coolness, or should I somehow transfer the image to another piece of paper and ink it on that, preserving the original pencils?

I opted for the latter, via a technique I'd used before. Employing the color laser copier at Mirage, I copied the image onto a sheet of 11" by 17"  card stock, using the copier's ability to print a greyscale image in the color of my choice. I tried to pick a hue as close to "photo-blue" as possible (that being a shade of blue which is difficult for cameras -- or scanners -- to pick up).

I made several copies in case I messed up and had to start over, and got to it.  And as I did so, I realized what an unusual piece Kevin had created here, with its impressionistic shadows and suggestions of forms. It was a little daunting at first, trying to figure out exactly how to lay down the ink lines so as to best capture the effect Kevin had achieved.

As is my wont, I jumped around from spot to spot on the image. Here are a few shots of the work in progress. I inked with basically two brush markers, and for the really large areas of black, I used a brush and bottled ink. (It's kind of funny to notice in this sequence of photographs that as more ink is applied to the page, the more the paper starts to curl up at the edges!)










One other thing I did -- with Kevin's blessing -- was to make a couple of small detail corrections, things that the casual reader would probably not notice, but which stuck out to my eye. First was the placement of the blades on the Shredder's forearm gauntlets. The way Kevin had drawn them here looked fine as far as this particular drawing went, but having worked on many an image of the Shredder in the comics we'd done together years ago, I could tell that this detail was not exactly the way we used to draw it. So I lightly penciled in the blades to look the way we had established in those old TMNT comics.




The other thing was a stylistic bit that I almost inked as is, because in this drawing the gesture looked just fine. But my practical side just wouldn't let me go there. The detail in question is Michelangelo's nunchaku. Kevin had drawn them with a very dramatic flourish, but also with cords connecting the nunchakus sticks which looked way too long to me. So I shortened them up, and made them chains instead of cords (again, going back to the early days). Fortunately, none of these changes required major alterations to what Kevin had penciled, to my relief.

It was a lot of work, a lot of fun, and took me about four days to finish (taking breaks along the way). Once I'd put the last bit of ink down, and the last little correction with a white-out pen, I brought it to Mirage to scan (the scanner there is better and faster than the one I have at home), and took the scanned file back home with me to clean it up, rotate it into proper orientation and get it ready to send to Kevin.




I was pleased to see that the "blue line" approach had worked quite well, and I was able to clean up any stray remaining areas of blue with no problem, leaving a nice clean black and white image to be colored for the cover. 




This was only the second time that Kevin and I had worked on a piece together in many years, the last time being a few years back for the Jake Black benefit print. I hope we do it again, and soon. It was a blast! And it was especially gratifying that Kevin got a kick out of what I had done with his gorgeous pencil drawing.

Thanks for the opportunity, Kev! -- PL

28 comments:

  1. That looks fantastic, Pete. Great story, and thanks for sharing the process.

    Sayonara.

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  2. Such a sweet cover! We are all very happy the two of you are at it again!!!

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  3. As a lifelong fan of the E&L "look", I am absolutely ecstatic about this. I saw Kevin mentioned a little while back this was taking place, and have been eagerly looking forward to seeing the finished product ever since, this definitely did not disappoint! You are both (obviously) very strong artists on your own, but there is a certain magic to your seeing your styles melded together, a great 30th treat for TMNT fans.

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  4. Amazing! Thank you for posting this process, as when I heard about this I was really hoping you would blog about it.

    Good catch on Mike's nunchucks. Kevin's been going a little crazy on the length of the chord, hahahahaha.

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  5. When Kevin inked over Frank Fosco's pencils for the Image wraparound piece he actually changed the nunchaku chains to the cords. I think he just likes the cords better.

    Great piece. I hope the coloring doesn't take anything away from it.

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  6. This is excellent work from both of you, and it's so nice seeing you and Kevin collaborating again. Fingers crossed it happens again before too long! Thanks for sharing your process!

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  7. Its great to just have you ink something. Its an honor to have you do the inking for the project and the important part is even when "turtled out" you had fun with it. Look forward to anything else you have interest in doing. Also,thanks for detailing the process because I did not know the time and effort an ink job took the greats from Dick Giodano to Terry Austin to Peter Laird.

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  8. Looks great Peter glad to see another piece by the two of you.

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  9. That old Eastman and Laird magic. Like Simon and Garfunkel. Great work!!

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    1. Simon and Garfunkel"?!!! High praise, indeed. Thanks! -- PL

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  10. Amazing piece of art. Eastman's drawing and your inking are fantastic.

    Also kudos to the people at IDW for making this happen, particularly Bobby Curnow who is the chief editor of the new series. Viacom really made the right decision when they decided to choose IDW to make a new TMNT comic series, the Turtles have had a fantastic run with them so far and I can't believe the main series hit issue #30 already!

    Not to mention all their Mirage and Archie collections they've been putting out collecting the old material, particularly the Ultimate Collections which are fantastic. Loved the City at War collections IDW released.

    Glad to see the TMNT landed a good home.

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  11. Thank you for sharing this! So good to see two of my heroes presenting four more of my heroes! If only the rest of the world worked that way... keep up the totally tubular work!!!!

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  12. That's radical!! Thanks for sharing. Can't wait to read the issue when it comes out. The TMNT Annual that Kevin wrote and did the art for a year ago was excellent and I'm sure this one will be too.

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  13. That is so awesome. Thank you for showing us Kevin's pencils. They are fantastic. I am glad that you decided to find a method of inking them without inking over Kevin's pencils. Your inks are nothing short of brilliant! Nothing can top Eastman and Laird doing a TMNT cover. You guys still rock! Thank you for sharing this with us. It made my day!

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  14. Great stuff. Haven't missed a beat in 30 years! Simon and Garfunkle? No way... these guys are the Beatles of Independent comics!

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  15. It is truelly an awesome piece and i have read a little about what this comic will contain and cant wait!

    I noticed you said you took the piece to Mirage to scan... Does Mirage still have a physical building? Does Mirage still create any comics? and are you still owner of Mirage?

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    1. Mike, glad to hear you liked the piece. And the answers to your questions are: yes, not at this time, and yes. -- PL

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  17. Cowabunga Mr Laird
    A pizza poignant thank you for sharing this TURTLE Powerful inking process.
    The 30th Anniversary is now truly a cause for shellebration!
    I can’t wait to make Turtle Tracks to my local Comic shop on May 28 to add this Special Issue to my collection.
    With the exception of the ‘Jake Black Benefit Print’ from SDCC 2009, would the last piece both you and Mr Eastman have worked on been the Volume 2, Issue 13 Cover?
    And, in regard to the ‘Jake Black Benefit Print’; if only 100 were ever produced, may you please confirm that they all sold out at SDCC 2009?
    Was it ever re-printed in any form, so that fans who missed out can still own a version of it?
    Thank in advance for your reply,
    Your fan Chet

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    1. "With the exception of the ‘Jake Black Benefit Print’ from SDCC 2009, would the last piece both you and Mr Eastman have worked on been the Volume 2, Issue 13 Cover?"

      I believe it was.
      
"And, in regard to the ‘Jake Black Benefit Print’; if only 100 were ever produced, may you please confirm that they all sold out at SDCC 2009?"

      I cannot confirm that.
      
"Was it ever re-printed in any form, so that fans who missed out can still own a version of it?"

      I don't know. I've never heard of it being reprinted. -- PL

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  18. Amazing work there Mr. Laird. Seeing something recent like this, created by the both of you really takes me back. It makes me feel like I am that 12 year old kid seeing your art for the first time again. Congratulations on 30 years! I'm 35 and the Turtles help to shape my generation.

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  19. Just saw the pre order for this in Previews and thought I'd come here to see if you had made any mention of your contribution to this wonderful cover. I'm glad I did. Thanks for your behind the scenes commentary on the process of inking this cover. Great job, wonderful piece of art, and congratulations on 30 years.

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    1. Thank you for the kind words! -- PL

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  20. Pete,

    Any chance you'll make it to SDCC14? It'd be great to have a 30th Anniversary feature with both you and Kevin.

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    1. It is highly unlikely that I will be at SDCC this year. -- PL

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    2. Thank you for taking the time to reply. Bummer, but either way, know that we TMNT fans appreciate all of your outstanding work through the years. I became a TMNT fan when I was 6; now I'm 31, and there probably hasn't been a day that goes by that I haven't seen, done, or thought about something TMNT related. Hope to catch you one of these years!

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  21. I have had a hearty fill for my lunch today thanks to your posts. I love seeing the process in both this and your subsequent March 23rd post.

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