Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Dave Chappelle - The Joker


KING Magazine commissioned me to illustrate Dave Chappelle's story - the huge success of his show, the reputed nervous breakdown, the disappearance into South Africa after securing a 50 million deal with Comedy Central - in comics form. I was too busy to illustrate the series of images they had wanted, so I agreed to do one 'cover' image.

The AD was pretty clear about what he wanted: Dave in the spotlight, beset by his characters, on a faux comic book cover entitled, "The Joker." So I submitted this sketch, which was rightly rejected. I usually have trouble with likelinesses, so the this sketch was a struggle, and the result was stiff. No fun.

Then the AD sent me this reference image, and the clouds parted.

> Despite my arty-farty pretensions, I love old comic book covers, so I attacked the illustration with new energy. The sketch is graphite on bond, 5.5 x 8.5," which I enlarge and transfer with a lightbox onto a larger sheet of bristol.

> graphite on bristol, cleaned up and adjusted in Photoshop, 8 x 10" @ 450 dpi


> photoshop colors, with flat colors underneath the linework to facilitate selection of areas for rendering. At this point, I've also finished the vector elements like the credit box and logo, which were started during the sketch phase.


> rendered photoshop color.


> a bit of post-production and photoshop wizardry results in a beat up, vintage look.

52 Comments:

Dominic Bugatto said...

Nicely done , a departure in some ways from your usual style though the end result looks great.

Thanks for sharing.

Cheers, Dom

1:22 PM  
ernest said...

that is a whole load of awesome!

2:05 PM  
d. yee said...

Yeah, I agree with Dom. The end result is great. Thanks for sharing with us the client-to-working-process. There's more appreciation behind that when seeing the product.

2:05 PM  
josh said...

WHAT! i love this one.....looks like you had fun

2:23 PM  
Andre Moore said...

man this is sweet! wow i love it!

2:28 PM  
Anonymous said...

this is awesome. the black and white looks kind of like paul pope, and that is definitely a good thing. i think this is one of my faves by you.

2:31 PM  
babadawud said...

Thanks for answering my question before I can even meet you to ask you which is . . . "how'd you make it look like that old comic?" Tight to def!

Dawud

2:45 PM  
E-Joy said...

Fabulous! waaaaaaaaaay too talented for my mind to even comprehend.

3:00 PM  
jed said...

As usual, a great drawing, (you know this actually reminds me a little of Neil Adams), but I don't think you've quite captured the retro comic book look. The typography doesn't quite work. The "what!" should really be hand lettered, and the block letter superman thing, though it tends to be the default signifier for "comics" in other media, oddly enough, doesn't really tend to look like comics. And the little heads in the left hand corner box are very illustrator iconic, which also spoils the illusion. But the drawing's great! And though you may struggle with likenesses, you nail them more often than not in your illustrations.

I remember those Secret Wars comics, though. God they were awful. It's amazing how bad most of the 80s Jim Shooter era marvel comics were. His argument for these things were, "well they made a lot of money for marvel, and the kids loved 'em", but when this kind of comic makes a lot of money, the impetus is to make more shitty comics LIKE it. Which is why we have this ongoing spate of seemingly endless crossover comics that guarantee the exclusion of new readership. The industry just keeps milking the same fanboy base without bringing in a new audience. The answer seems to be: get the existing audience to buy more stuff! And it aint work'in.

4:45 PM  
Lee-Roy said...

man, this is beautiful. i love it. i like how you took the potential problem of capturing likenesses more in the direction of characature. good solution. and the cartooniness of the "villains" vs. the more natural/realistic face of the fleeing chappelle works well. i could go on a long time talking about how fresh this is... but i won't. nice job.

4:59 PM  
Carlos V. said...

Thanks for sharing your amazing process!!

6:49 PM  
Floating Soul said...

I LOVE that you've shared your process here. Non-arty farty people (although I'm not a huge fan of that term) rarely realize how much sweat and blood go into these sorts of things. Thanks much. nice final product! (although, I'm more inclined toward the original sketch, just because I love that sketch-like quality, the line quality and depth it has...but that's of course a personal preference).

8:29 PM  
Pete said...

Hey James-
Another SVA alumni here, I believe you graduated a year or two before me. I had a question about seperating black lines from your scanned work. I know your spoke about it briefly in another post about using the channels in grayscale mode to grab them. ANy more advice on that.
Keep up the good work man!

9:18 PM  
drew n said...

Hey James,
Thanks a lot for all the process info on this one. I emailed you before, dunno if you remember, but I'm the one from Skidmore College studying studio art undergrad.
For my senior show I'm attempting to pull from my design classes, painting, and lithography to illustrate stories I have written for our senior show.
Anyway, I've been having trouble figuring out the best way to pull together my hand drawn images and computer color. Since we don't offer illustration here, I've been attempting to explore this on my own.
This post explains a lot.
Someone mentioned about the sketchy quality.. any suggestions on how to retain that like you do on your other work...?
Are you just putting the colors under the drawing on a different layer in photoshop and applying "Multiply" to the drawn layer?
Thanks-work looks great as always.

11:29 PM  
Anonymous said...

howdy james,

its every time once again a great pleasure for me to see you artworks!
i do appreciate all your work-in-process steps you are
giving us here. therefore, thank your very much and thumbs up!

nice greets from germany! … joe

12:29 AM  
Detlef said...

Great job as per usual.

12:41 AM  
Anonymous said...

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4:24 AM  
Alex said...

Really cool stuff :)

4:48 AM  
Anonymous said...

R2K
Bathrooms
Rockets
Bono is Brian Peppers!
Cant play Quake 3

4:48 AM  
Click here to read something deep said...

I rate it a 7.5. It had a nice beat but I couln't dance to it.

5:27 AM  
Sam said...

Dynamite stuff, James!

8:49 AM  
cgc182 said...

congratulations!
it's brilliant
...but i loved your first idea too.

11:18 AM  
Anonymous said...

uh... my name is lee jung hoon.
i'm korean. and i'm seventeen years old. so i can't writing english well...

i wish know what you use tool when you clean sketch. i think it is not pencil..



clean sketch <--graphite on bristol, cleaned up and adjusted in Photoshop, 8 x 10" @ 450 dpi

:( i'm sorry at my writing.

forgiveme. :(
plz tell me that.

11:34 AM  
Anonymous said...

Skeet skeet skeet!! Yeeeaahhhh! What!? I wish I had more hands, because I'd give this illustration 4 thumbs up!!

-Dakota

2:23 PM  
Anonymous said...

Skeet skeet skeet!! Yeeeaahhhh! What!? I wish I had more hands, because I'd give this illustration 4 thumbs up!!

-Dakota

2:24 PM  
Anonymous said...

Damn James — You're a true freak of nature. A+

2:24 PM  
Needful Jz. Lee said...

It's a good drawing!

2:25 PM  
Anonymous said...

I can not wait for FABLES #50. You're the best.

2:26 PM  
Eliane said...

Great drawing! Flat colors underneath the linework to facilitate selection, I even do that for black & white illustrations.

3:38 PM  
Chris Hope said...

Thanks for the breakdown James. i like the lil heads... they remind me of the Rusty Brown heads on the new Acme. cute.

5:38 PM  
Anonymous said...

your work is amazing.
and the cover is hilarious.

:D

7:14 PM  
Jeff said...

I really like the image man. Really fun stuff and I also appreciate you showing off your first sketch and process how you got to the final. So fun Thanks for posting that.

7:46 PM  
trish said...

gosh, your amazing. i really love how you put up your sketches.. i love looking at sketches and unfinished works

12:27 AM  
TheKcirbuk said...

Great drawing!!!
Great color!!!
Wow,Wow!!

Cherrs.
K.

4:05 AM  
Toyebot said...

Hahhaha
made my day! Love Dave and love this cover. Good likeness! thx 4 the process!
cheers

12:44 PM  
MisterZoobadoo said...

Love seeing your stuff! Truly an inspiration!

1:11 PM  
Amoos said...

That's hot.

2:18 AM  
ClickRich said...

It's amazing to see the talent and skill which has gone into this 'lesser' form of art- the cartoon.

A friend of mine bounces from 'fine art' to comic illustration. Often the fine art serves as a study prior to the illustration.

I'll be sure to steer him to your blog for inspiration.

6:48 AM  
pamQ said...

Thank you for sharing this! It is always fascinating to see the step-by-step processes behind artwork! Brilliant! I love this cover!

12:17 PM  
Marcos Perez said...

nice post james. Im a photo retoucher at King and I saw some of the early sketches for this on the AD's wall. Nice to see the final product.

1:43 PM  
Gary Coleman said...

These pics are "funk daddylicious"! Thanks for the post...

7:45 PM  
Process Recess said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone! I hope to break down the process further in future posts. But for now, yes the linework is set to "multiply" over the colors. I realize that the image is not 100% authentic, but you can argue that to an absurd degree. Better call it an 'homage' to comic cover art.

9:48 AM  
jed said...

Didn't mean to get so nit picky with the "authenticity" business, which, your right, could be argued to death, and isn't really all that specifically relevant. If anything, all I meant was the illustrator typography looks a little bit like an afterthought. And, when on the one hand, as someone else pointed out, you have those very contemporary Chris Ware-like (and nicely done by the way) heads in the corner, the whole business just seems too slick for the creases and age to 100% mesh. I'd just assume you stuck with the image you had before you vintaged it up.

It's not so much fidelity to the source that's important, as just overall consistency of design. Obviously you have an excellent design sense, but with this one I think you dropped the ball design-wise. You need to commit in one direction or another--either make it look like some kind of artifact, or make it a slick piece of modern design. Fair enough?

Incidentally, I can't believe your blog is being spammed. It's pretty obnoxious that this is actually possible.

10:25 AM  
Frank said...

Is Dave doing the "Keep On Truckin'" walk in that image? SWEEEEET. This is the first I've seen of your blog, my friend. It's totally kick-ass to see your process.

By the way, my favorite part is the six heads in the upper left corner. Bad-ass.

6:41 PM  
Process Recess said...

jed - good points, Jed . . . i believe this piece is an artifact of the future-retro movement

frank - good eye, Dave is indeed "truckin'" to the safe harbor of sanity.

11:05 AM  
ANIMIKE said...

Great work on every post so far. You have a great eye and your skills on pen and paper as well as photoshop are top notch. I'll check back often for inspiration. Keep up the great work. I think your first cover was great too. Any chance you'll finish up that one?

11:52 AM  
Anonymous said...

its amazing to me that you're so young and all ready at the top of your field, I hope your fables covers are collected someday, similar to glenn fabry's preacher covers. I think some people that post here will learn to draw better if they spend more time drawing and less time with critiques to your superior work. all i see is Jealousy Every Day

4:23 PM  
jed said...

No one's arguing against the fact that James is extremely accomplished and does beautiful work, but that doesn't mean this should necessarily be a critique-free zone (unless James wants it to be, after all, it's his blog).

As for jealousy, I'm personally extraordinarily jealous of everyone who does anything that I can't, or can't do as well. I try to do as much as I can to learn from other people, in this case, James, but that doesn't mean that I can't have an opinion, or that James can't benefit from that opinion. And though I'm a definate fan of James' work, I don't think sycophants do him or anyone any good. Sometimes I might be right, and sometimes I might be wrong, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. Sometime I learn a lot just from hearing his reasons for doing something that I happen question.

Criticism is healthy, and I hope, has a place here, and can be useful to everyone if it's thoughtful and constructive, which I try to be whenever I offer any kind of criticism.

But your right, hard work is always the best way to improve.

9:17 AM  
Tarek said...

nice drawing, keep it up

3:59 PM  
.Ben. said...

Yeah. What. Ok.

Um. Cool, I guess. Not my style, though.

10:00 PM  
Anonymous said...

would it be possible for me to buy this as a poster or as a large print conact me via e-mail
fryjedi@hotmail.com
or if I could buy a vector of it and print it myself.
-Dudefella

9:43 PM  
James said...

great work man
i really like how you explain some of the stages of creation. its nice to know how its done!
keep it up

2:01 AM  

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