My former Kubert School student, Giovanni Valletta, and my former Kubert School classmate, Jeremy Mohler are Kickstarting a new comic called Bleedback. Did this print as one of the rewards for backing the project. Go check out their Kickstarter campaign here. Decided to share a bit of a step-by-step process for making the piece.

Initial thumbnail ideas. Knew I wanted to play with a lot of effects and mirrored images, so the thumbnails for this were just a vague starting point.

Went straight to photoshop and just started playing around and exploring different ideas, directions and effects. This was really a night of just experimentation—which is not something you normally get to do. Most of the time you have a definitive idea of what you want to do and you just try and execute that. This was more of a case of wanting to try something different.

More photoshop experimentation. Tried every effect I could think of in the piece, just to see what would happen. Knew I wouldn’t use them all in the final, but doesn’t hurt to take them for a test drive.

First night of photoshop exploration I ended up with 31 different variations and directions. Tried all kinds of layer blending and color palettes in case it sparked a new idea.

Under-drawing of Birdie. Drawn in pencil, then scanned in photoshop where I tweaked elements and redrew his wings from scratch.

Print out the under-drawing and lightbox them to get tight, clean, finished pencils. French curve for all the wing lines.

Hi-rez paper texture found on the internet.

Inverted and adjusted color of the paper, plus added some subtle half-tone overlays to it. This is going to be the foundation of the piece, so I want some variation in color, value and texture to it. This texture will actually be the very top layer in the whole piece, set to screen mode. The very bottom layer of the piece will be black. That way the paper texture effects all the elements without changing the colors too much.

Wondered what some light trail and grid effects might look like, so I  grabbed a random image off the internet.

Cropped and mirrored light trail image.

More mirroring and experimentation. Also start playing with layer blending in photoshop.

I cut strips out of a paper texture I’d made for another piece—which I also used as the background to this website.

Overlaid those strips horizontally, vertically and diagonally to create a grid. Then adjusted color.

Combined the grid with the light trails for a weird, abstracted pattern. I blended this into final piece using layer blending (hard light at like 50%).

Basic photoshop coloring techniques for Birdie—along with a lot of patience (or OCD) to draw all the hexagon highlights on his wings by hand. All the effects are just different blending modes at different opacities. The final piece blurs the line between digital and analog—making the viewer wonder what was done by hand and what was done on the computer. And that’s my favorite kind of work to make.