Spirit Halloween Illustrations

WitchHoleandHand_11x17So, I had to sit on these for an entire year, but now I can finally share them. Last year I did some illustrations for Spirit Halloween. They are now available in the Spirit Halloween stores. It’s a series of wall clings. I’m a huge fan of Halloween in general so doing these illustrations was an added bonus to my season. I’m currently working on some new ones for next season. Let’s hope doing this kind of illustration work is part of festivities every year.

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Inktober – Vincent Price

I have no delusions about participating in every day of Inktober, but I did feel moved to complete this one…at least I did one right?

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Deadpool & Harley Quinn – A Love Story

Deadpool & Harley Quinn sketch cover comic

Deadpool & Harley Quinn sketch cover comic

While I was behind an Artist Alley table last week at Baltimore Comic Con, my brother said, “You should get one of those blank sketch cover comics and draw something”. So, I did. I figured I would take the 2 most popular characters for cosplay at this convention (and almost all conventions really) and pair them up on one cover. Then I figured both characters are psycho and a little untrusting. That’s how my sketch cover idea was born. I sketched it in blue pencil first (as per my usual) and then used a combo of tech pens and brush pens to ink it. The finished piece didn’t sit on our table long before some adoring fan snatched it up and gave it a good home.
Deadpool & Harley Quinn sketch cover comic - Blue

Deadpool & Harley Quinn sketch cover comic – Blue

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Baltimore Comic Con


I’ll be attending this weekend’s Baltimore Comic Con, Friday – Saturday (Sept. 02 – 04). My brother and I will have table A274 in the Artist Alley. If you’re in the area stop by, say “hi”, and check out some of our illustrations.

There will be tons of artists at this show. Go to the link and scroll through. I’m sure you’ll find a couple you like.


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Hector the Inspector – A Dog Painting

Hector is our rescue Chihuahua-mixed-with-who-knows-what dog. He has a lot of the usual Chihuahua traits: he shivers when it’s a little chilly, barks at things way bigger than him, and burrows under blankets or pillows as much as possible. Hector also constantly wants to check things out and sniffs around everything. So, he earned the name Hector the Inspector. I decided to paint a portrait of Hector as an “Inspector”, as a gift for my wife.

I grabbed a sheet of cold press illustration board, cut it to fit an 8 in. x 10 in. frame, and prepped it with a thin layer of white gesso. While the board dried, I did some searches for classic portraits, Sherlock Holmes, and animal paintings. I used these images, along with photos of Hector to inspire the piece. As I mention in most posts, I use a non-repro blue pencil for my initial sketching because this phase for me is very loose and messy. Then I started to refine it with a standard #2 pencil.


The next phase was to start the painting. I use acrylic paint. The paint is mix of brands that I’ve acquired over the years (usually whatever was on sale when I ran out of a color). Still refining the shape and features of Hector, I used burnt sienna to begin. In this part of the process, I tried to start defining shadows and textures.


The background was next. I knew I wanted his hat and jacket to be yellow or green, so for contrast I chose dark reds to go behind him. I also wanted to keep this rough and nondescript to help the figure standout when the piece was finished.


Now the fun begins! Color started to be added and textures started to be defined further. I worked in some cool tones for shadows and some yellows for the lighted side.


The fur and the eyes were simultaneously the toughest part and the most rewarding part. Getting those things right were what would make the piece a success. I made sure to make the eyes the point of most detail and the point of most contrast. It breathes the life into the painting.


The last steps were finishing the jacket and blending some of those edges into the background.


I added a close-up to show a bit more detail here.


And an actual photo of Hector.


The finished piece is now framed in the most gold and fancy frame I could find (without spending a fortune) and hangs in our family room.

If you’ve got questions about the painting or my process please leave a comment or send me a message. Thanks for reading!



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Marc & Mimi – Custom Comic Book Cover


Friends approached me to create a custom piece for them. The idea was to feature the couple as two independent and original superhero characters that have joined forces. We decided on a custom comic book cover.

My first steps were to work out what the characters were going to look like. Marc wanted something along the lines of a film noir detective with nods to Alan Moore’s the Watchmen. Mimi wanted a badass, X-men style demon hunter. Once the character designs were approved by the couple, we were on to the next step.


I worked on thumbnail size sketches to figure out a composition that highlighted each character and their stories equally, also keeping in mind the look of some classic comic book covers. I did 5 – 10 of these at a level of scribble that I can understand and anyone else seeing them might think that I have no fingers and one eye.


When the composition was at a good place, I scanned it and printed onto two 8.5” x 11” sheets which I taped together (limits of my home printer at the time). I used non-repro blue pencils to draw the details. After a bunch of hours, it was ready to be scanned again. I did some cleaning up in Photoshop and placed it in Illustrator to work on the graphic elements. The title, “Marc & Mimi”, has a classic comic book arc and perspective. The issue number, date, and publisher icon represent their wedding anniversary. I did these parts in illustrator to make sure they were clean and properly proportioned. I know that the old school guys did this by hand, but I wanted the finished piece to be as polished as possible…and I didn’t trust my hand lettering. Then I converted these parts to a light cyan to match the blue pencil I used for the rest of the illustration and printed it directly onto a new cover sheet.


With the type set and sketch in place I printed it onto a proper comic book page board in very light cyan. I did some minor tweaks with blue pencil again and then it was time for ink. I always use a variety of tools to ink a piece. I like to work thinnest line to thickest. I like to use tech pens for backgrounds and inanimate items like buildings, cars, etc. I use brush pens for some of the finer detail in the characters and then a traditional brush and ink for the character outlines and major features.

That’s it! Marc and Mimi are happy with their final custom piece and that makes me happy. If you want to know more detail about my process or equipment I use, leave a message and stay tuned. I have plans to add more posts like this and expand on the details in the future.

Thanks for reading.


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A Birthday Commission – Avengers Assemble


Here is the most recent commission I did. It was a simple request: An original illustration of Captain America (and other Avengers) completed in time for a daughter’s birthday. The finished piece is 8″ x 10″. Non-repro blue pencils and a variety of pens, brushes and brush pens for the inks. A fun piece. Plus, how could I let down a young comic book fan?

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C.R.O.T.C.H. issue# 1 available on Comixology!


What is C.R.O.T.C.H.?

Celebrities Reacting Offensively To Criminal Happenings

In the heyday of Hollywood, organized crime ran show business. As it grew, the government had no choice but to step in and clean things up.

When they finished, they realized that they couldn’t leave Hollywood to govern itself, especially with such a wealth of untapped potential, so the government created the C.R.O.T.C.H. department.

C.R.O.T.C.H. had jobs that needed attention, and eager men and women looking to break into show business would do just about anything to have their names in lights. Quid pro quo.

Years later, C.R.O.T.C.H. changed its business model. Instead of making stars, they’re in the business of keeping stars in the spotlight. When their 15 minutes are up, or they get arrested one too many times and the public perception begins to turn, C.R.O.T.C.H. steps in to offer them an extension.

Some people are more desperate to keep the spotlight.

Written by: Jon Kos
Pencils, Inks, Lettered: Josh Will
Colors: Quico
Price: $2.99

Available now on Comixology
Get your copy of issue #1 today!

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Salem Apothecary sign – DarkBlack13 – Halloween


So, here’s a fun project I worked on recently. It’s a decorative sign the looks great for Halloween…or anytime if you ask me. The fun part of this for me was the word “Apothecary”. Not only is it fun to say, but I also created this part by hand. After a handful of thumbnail sketches, I created a tight pencil drawing. I took that drawing, scanned it in, and brought it into Adobe Illustrator. I then traced over my sketch using the pen tool (not the autotrace option for this one). I made some revisions to the type in this process. Smoothed out curves, tried to make the letters have some equal weight (not completely though, I like the movement of the word), and made sure the overall word was on an even arched path. Everything else in the sign was created in Adobe Illustrator. The whole idea was to do something dark and something a little whimsical.

The art is printed and sealed onto a black stained pine board and then a black chain is attached to finish the piece.

If you’d like one for yourself go over to the DarkBlack13 etsy shop here

You can also follow DarkBlack13 on facebook and tumblr.

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I did the pencils and inks for this digital comic book, C.R.O.T.C.H. #0 and it’s now on ComiXology.  I can’t promise that it will make your life better, but it just might.  Issue #0 of  C.R.O.T.C.H. is available now for only $0.99! Get yours today! HERE



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