Process: LSD-Induced Artistry (illustration for Plaid Zebra Magazine)

The Plaid Zebra approached me to do an illustration about the CIA's use of LSD in the 1960's as truth serum, code-named Project Midnight Climax. Below you'll see my process from the very beginning stages, to the final illustration.

1. Brainstorming and Conceptualizing: brainstorming, for me, is the most important part of the whole process. It's the part I hated the most in school, and still gives me anxiety to this day.. but it's absolutely vital that I trust my system. I follow the same process (the amazing illustrator) Roman Muradov uses, which is essentially controlled brain-dumping. I'll jot down all the main ideas from the article (nouns, verbs that pop out), branch off from those ideas to sub-ideas, and try to make interesting connections.

The concept I ended up using was basically an afterthought. After brainstorming for a good while and coming up with all the above concepts, I decided to take a walk to clear my head. On my trek back home, inspiration struck. Thank Allah I brought a mini sketchbook with me.

The concept I ended up using was basically an afterthought. After brainstorming for a good while and coming up with all the above concepts, I decided to take a walk to clear my head. On my trek back home, inspiration struck. Thank Allah I brought a mini sketchbook with me.

2. Fully forming ideas and putting your best foot forward

3. Concept Selection and Followthrough

This image shows both the pencil (foreground), and ink (mirror background) layers, overlayed over each other.

This image shows both the pencil (foreground), and ink (mirror background) layers, overlayed over each other.

4. The Final Piece

Process: FAILURE (the unused, the unpublished, the forgotten t-shirt designs)

Shit happens. Sometimes with some projects, stuff just doesn’t work out and they never see the light of day. In this blog entry I’m going to explain the process for these unused vector t-shirt designs.

Thethiliacraft’s (twitch.tv) second t-shirt design

1. Inspiration: During this time (mid 2015), I was on a “book cover design” book binge, and stumbled upon a book called The Art of American Book Covers by Rochard Minsky. While it’s not a very large book, it’s very dense in concepts and ideas. One of the covers that caught my attention was the cover for a book called “The Loom of Destiny”. I loved how classy the graphic elements played with each other on the page, and so I thought I could reproduce something similar for Thethiliacraft’s newest t-shirt.

2. The Sketches

1_Thethiliacraftshirt_GarciaRyan_2_Sketch1.jpg

 

3. The Renders: So unlike most of illustrations, this design needed to completely vectored. Once it got to this point, I was starting to feel like it wasn’t going to work. It was too much content and I was too ambitious. Thethiliacraft took some of these jpgs and ran them by her closest fans, and there was an overall lackluster reception. While I liked the rendered versions, I can definitely see why her fans weren’t too hot for it.


Bashurverse’ t-shirt design

After the success of Thethiliacraft’s first t-shirt campaign, the popular twitch.tv stream Bashurverse contacted me about doing a shirt design for him. I was very intimidated at first – the guy had over a million youtube subscribers at the time – and I felt a daunting weight on my shoulders to make this design perfect. He had only a few specifications, and so I had a lot of creative freedom. I had to mention his melon army, and he had requested that I use his girlfriend as the model for the design’s protagonist.

1. The concept: prior to even putting pencil to paper, I knew roughly what I wanted.  So it was easy to compose this digital sketch, using Photoshop.

2. The Inking

3. The Render: So unlike my other illustrations, I decided to fully render and make everything perfect strictly in Adobe Illustrator. In essence, I had to teach myself how to do the same rendering tricks (I’d been using forever in Photoshop) on a completely different platform.

The internet is a wonderful thing for learning software; I quickly learned how to properly texturize, how to image trace specific areas, and how to halftone screen.

The internet is a wonderful thing for learning software; I quickly learned how to properly texturize, how to image trace specific areas, and how to halftone screen.

Shortly after completely and submitting this design to Bashurverse, he unfortunately got himself involved in an internet scandal (that I won’t get into here, but you should definitely google it), and that pretty much killed any chance of it being printed.

 When designs don’t end up being used, you feel pretty shitty. If you have the same sort of sentiment as me towards art, you’ll understand the pain I feel whenever I sink a lot of time into something and it’s thrown out. Fortunately for me, I have a strong group of encouraging people who keep me positive in moments like this. Ultimately, I try to learn as much as I can and try not to waste any opportunity - no matter how small.

When life gives you lemons, squeeze out the acid into a rag, wash off your canvas, and fall in love again.

Process: That one time I made a comic (Toronto Comics Anthology vol. 2)

So in case you were wondering where I was from October 2014 to April 2015, I was sitting in my dinky student room, painting comic book panels. Painting them. You know, the good ol' fashion way, one panel at a time. While this took me f***ing forever to do, and it completely rocked my social life, I'm really proud with how it came out.

Painting used for the cover page of the comic.

Toronto Comics (FB) is a collection of talented writers and artists from the GTA; they get together every year or so and put out an awesome anthology of comics. I had the pleasure of working on a comic called We Were Here (<read the entire thing here if you'd like) for their second official volume. It was written by the very talented Aaron Feldman.

Alright so, here's how the f*** I did it.

1. Brainstorming and thumbnails: Because this was my first time doing a comic, I really had no idea what I was doing at this stage. I decided to approach it like every other illustration, and go super interpretive with my concepts. I wanted to leave a lot of room for happy accidents once it came time to paint the panels, so the brainstorming was very rough. More than anything, I wanted an unconventional look to the comic, so I didn't restrict myself to panel sizes or conventions.

As you can probably tell, I used 2 different types of papers for the brainstorming. These are what I would call the "final" roughs. I actually ended up doing roughs on many different types of papers to force myself to think outside of the box. I knew I'd be using toned paper for the final paintings, so I decided to try toned (tan) paper for the brainstorming as well. It shifted my thinking - from my usual line based illustrations - to working tonally.

As you can probably tell, I used 2 different types of papers for the brainstorming. These are what I would call the "final" roughs. I actually ended up doing roughs on many different types of papers to force myself to think outside of the box. I knew I'd be using toned paper for the final paintings, so I decided to try toned (tan) paper for the brainstorming as well. It shifted my thinking - from my usual line based illustrations - to working tonally.

2. Painting the panels: So at this point I had just come off of reading "Arkham Asylum", the Batman graphic novel illustrated by Dave McKean, and I was drooling over the style and direction. I was completely in love, and thought THIS is how comics should look. Although I knew painting an entire comic would be hard, I didn't know how hard. In any case, I decided to bust out my acrylic paints and (using only black and white) illustrate the entire thing this way. I painted everything on illustration board, which I gesso'd and toned down with grey paint.

It was so tempting to use markers and ink to darken areas (as is my nature). So I decided to make 3 rules for myself. 1. Only black and white acrylic paint. 2. Ok, fine, you can use white chalk pencils once the painting is done. 3. No crying, you baby.

It was so tempting to use markers and ink to darken areas (as is my nature). So I decided to make 3 rules for myself. 1. Only black and white acrylic paint. 2. Ok, fine, you can use white chalk pencils once the painting is done. 3. No crying, you baby.

For references, I took photos of downtown Toronto, as well as images from a photoshoot (for the figures and characters). The male character is my brother, and the female character was his girlfriend at the time. Big props to them for putting up with my photo direction.

What's not shown here is the extensive digital editing I did in Photoshop post-scanning. It was mainly just to balance the values, using the levels and curves tools in Photoshop. I fixed some wonky things too, such as faces, shadows, and some painting flubs.

3. Ink'd Graffiti: Once the layouts were fairly organized in MangaStudio (the program I used to do all of the speech bubbles), I transferred the files back into Photoshop for what I like to call flair. I wanted the pages to feel like someone took a white or black sharpie, and just went to town graffiti-style all over the artwork. Basically I just took some tracing paper, put it over my comps, and inked until it felt fairly natural (or unnatural).

I decided to use this same technique for the cover page as well. Below you can see how it turned out. Basically I just used the multiple or screen layer tools to place the ink work over the paintings. 

I decided to use this same technique for the cover page as well. Below you can see how it turned out. Basically I just used the multiple or screen layer tools to place the ink work over the paintings. 

4. Finalizing: the final touch-ups were all done once the ink was overlayed, and the typeset was done in Mangastudio (as mentioned above). Basic touch-ups were things like darkening lines, toning certain areas, and adjusting the pages for an appropriate bleed. Because my compositions were so assymetrical, I had some problems avoiding the gutting (for printing), as a lot of artwork bled into the middle of the book.

The title and the credits were done with ink and overlayed in photoshop. Same goes for the multiple skylines and floor textures.

The title and the credits were done with ink and overlayed in photoshop. Same goes for the multiple skylines and floor textures.

Thanks, more soon!

Process: Heavy Metal Magazine - Cover Contest [threadless.com]

Alrighty, SO!

I've never written a blog before or really guided anyone through my process, but I thought I'd take a shot at it. Below is the process I use for going from initial thumbnail sketch to final digital piece. 

This piece was for Threadless.com; they were hosting HEAVY METAL's cover contest, and I thought I'd give it a shot. 

1. The Thumbnail: At this stage I'm just looking to get the composition right. Nothing fancy. I have a general sense before I start of where the darks/lights will be, so its really just a matter of finding the area of focus, as well as identifying the shape of the figures.

These sketches are either done digitally or traditionally (graphite on bond paper). In this case, because I was given the template, this thumbnail was done digitally.

These sketches are either done digitally or traditionally (graphite on bond paper). In this case, because I was given the template, this thumbnail was done digitally.

2. The Sketch: in most cases when I'm doing a fully finished illustration, I'll do the line-work by hand. In 99/100 cases, it'll be with ink (either brush or markers); but in this case I decided to do it strictly in graphite on paper.

3. Flats: Once the image is sketched and scanned in, I'll go through and do flatting. Basically, putting a flat colour under all the prominent masses in the image. This is so that the rendering process is much easier later on; if I mask my flats properly, it's really just a matter of filling in the tones like a colouring book.

4. Colour comps: I'll try as many different versions of colour until I feel the mood matches the theme. This can either be really fucking fast or really fucking slow, depending on how quickly I can find the right feeling. It's all intuitive when it comes to colour.

I sent this around to many of my artist friends and family, just to see what the consensus was. I thought for SURE that everyone would dig "D", the Sin City feeling one; but nope. Most people liked A,B or F (with a heavy emphasis on A).

I sent this around to many of my artist friends and family, just to see what the consensus was. I thought for SURE that everyone would dig "D", the Sin City feeling one; but nope. Most people liked A,B or F (with a heavy emphasis on A).

5. The Final Render: At this point I'm pretty much content with the image. In other blog entries, I'll go into some tips and tricks to make it look as sexy as it does when its done. For now, this is pretty much the entire process :D