Warmup Sketch: Razor from Maniac Mansion!

Posted by Jonathan on Thursday May 24, 2012 Under Art

Been doing a lot of concept art these days, and a good way to get ready in the morning is to do a warmup drawing of something low-pressure and fun.  Today’s is dedicated to my first crush, Razor from the class adventure game Maniac Mansion (Please don’t tell Cheetara).

Such great looking characters in this game, although I’d always screw up and pick a team with Razor and Sid because I thought they looked so good together.  Sid’s the New Wave guy on the left, this artwork is from the original box art.



Those Dangerous Days (Part 3)…Dr. Death Defying and the Zones

Posted by Jonathan on Thursday Oct 6, 2011 Under Art, Uncategorized

The “Sing” shoot ended a day before all of us had to go our separate ways. I had left New Jersey for California on extremely short notice to help out for a few days…those few days turned into a week…then two weeks…and by the time we were through, I had been gone for two months.

Somewhere in that hurricane of events, Claire Vogel and I managed to write and shoot two spots for the Better Living Industries website with Airi Isoda (our “BLI Woman”). The guys wanted it in Japanese, and it just so happened that Airi speaks the language fluently (she can also be heard yelling in Japanese during the song “Party Poison”). So, I quickly wrote the script, and handed it to Airi to translate.

Here is the opening video to the BL/Ind website:

Our second video, which is my favorite, can be seen on the official website here!

Before I left, the folks at Warner Bros. came up with the cool idea of premiering the album on YouTube with Dr. Death Defying as the DJ. I was scheduled to come back for the record release party with Steve Righ (Dr. Death Defying’s present day counterpart), so we figured on coming out a few days early to shoot.

At the time, we didn’t realize just how busy everyone would be leading up to the release. It soon became apparent that we would have to shoot the special as soon as possible! So, Steve and I hopped on a plane, and flew back out to LA for a 48-hour mission impossible. Luckily, we were working with our crew of Devin Sarno, Claire Vogel, Matt Reed (the Fact News anchor!), and Jason Fijal. All of us were well versed in the world of the Killjoys, and had developed that all important short-hand with each other.

I was set to write and direct the Dr. Death Defying segments, while Claire and a team of Cal Arts students created the visuals which would play during the songs. Jason and I didn’t have a lot of time to discuss what I wanted the set to look like, so I sent him a quick sketch. 24 hours later, I arrived in LA, and found this beautiful set waiting for me.

Unfortunately, the Dr. Death Defying Listening Party is no longer online. However, we also filmed this thank you to the MCRmy on the same day. Check it out:

Speaking of the MCRmy…

“Stories from the Zones” was a brilliant idea to get the bands talented fans to contribute to this world. The truth is, that no matter how much we filmed, it would never be enough. The band loved the idea of handing over the keys to their fans. Part of my job as content manager was to get involved with the early days of that project. The “Stories from the Zones” website was launched as a secret easter egg on the MCR site’s “Transmissions” page. All you had to do was hit the rotating number sequence in the right order to reveal the code “017602783136”

Or maybe I should type it like this… 1 760 278 3136

Anyway, we were totally thrilled at the submissions, and even made a little tribute to them during the “Vampire Money” segment of the Listening Party.

The “Transmissions” were a large part of our jobs in those days, they offered tiny little glimpses into the apocalyptic world of the Killjoys and Better Living Industries. Claire Vogel was responsible for most of them, working alongside a group of extremely talented Cal Arts students. Together, they shot lots of crazy commercials, and the ever-awesome “Fact News” segments. They even got a Mousekat cartoon made! My job consisted of going through these pieces and giving editorial advice, along with the occasional rewrite or joke. I loved seeing the ideas this crew would come up with.

Here are some of my favorites (Special thanks to YouTube user 1KillerCereal for hosting so many of these):

One of the transmission series consisted of “security cam footage” from out in the Zones. Claire and I got to shoot this one ourselves, showing the origin of the Mousekat head!

You can see more of the Transmissions on YouTube right here!

Fun times, but alas…all good things come to an end. My last official job was to help Jason Fijal create the “Zone 5 Fun Fair” at the House of Blues for the record release party. Jason got a full on carnival going, giving out tons of glowing prizes to MCR fans so they could light up the crowd during the show. We even had a tattoo artist ready to permanently brand anyone brave enough…to my knowledge, no one was brave enough. Lots of people who were involved in the project showed up and helped out, I don’t think any of us really wanted it to end. Why would you?

YouTube user MLH has some pretty good footage from the night right here:

In the end, this project became much more than just that. Many of us who first met on these sets are now good friends. To you readers who want to go out and make art, any kind of art, I will say this…it’s tough out there, but don’t give up. The things that made this project special had nothing to do with the money spent, or equipment used. It had everything to do with passion, dedication, and collaboration. You have so many tools at your disposal to create, so use them. Your cellphone has a better camera than the 10 pound-VHS camcorder I used to film my cable access show when I was a teenager. Have fun making it, and your audience will have fun watching it.

Here are some behind the scenes pictures from the Dr. D shoots, as well as some fun random stuff. Thanks for reading! Go make art!



Those Dangerous Days (Part 2)…Making “Sing”

Posted by Jonathan on Wednesday Oct 5, 2011 Under Art, Uncategorized

After the wonderful chaos that was the “Na Na Na” shoot, it was time to relax. Well, in theory it was time to relax, in reality we realized that the follow up video would have to be filmed rather quickly. The guys had an impending album release, and we had a strong desire to keep the entire cast together.

Luckily, Gerard came up with a nice and simple proposition this time…let’s make a heist film that feels like the lovechild of Blade Runner and The Empire Strikes Back. No sweat!

Now, this would be a demanding video if you had a week to film it…we had to film 98% of it in one day. Director P.R. Brown would be aiding us this time, and it was his zen mastery that guided us through the heavy shot list which included exteriors/interiors, speeding vans, and a massive gun battle.

The second day of filming was a night shoot, that’s where we filmed the Trans-Am speeding through the iconic Second Street Tunnel in downtown Los Angeles.

Let’s check out the video! Here is the “Director’s Cut” version which has a bit more story:

Here are some shots of my adventures behind the scenes, I’ll be posting the final part of this series very soon!

Next: Dr. Death Defying, Transmissions, and BLI!


Those Dangerous Days…Making “Na Na Na”

Posted by Jonathan on Wednesday Sep 28, 2011 Under Art, Uncategorized

It’s been a year since we filmed videos for the My Chemical Romance album “Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys”, and I’m feeling a bit nostalgic. Let’s look back!

The troops rally while Gerard checks a shot. On the left, Stunt Gerard is ready for action.

ART IS THE WEAPON: I was originally hired to help the band write a few short vignettes that would find the Killjoys in a series of adventures. Gerard and I came up with some cool ideas, but the realities of filming what were essentially half a dozen scripted short films forced us to consider another approach. So we decided to take all the best stuff from those vignettes, alongside some of Gerard’s original inspirational imagery, and make an extremely potent and fully-realized vision of this world.

Also, we REALLY wanted to see that Trans-Am tear ass through the desert.

After seeing the early footage from that day, it took about 5 seconds to make the decision that we should head back out to the desert to tell more of the story. So with more locations, car chases, explosions, and our fantastic crew we filmed the “Na Na Na” video.

Those few days we spent in the desert were some of the best of my life. I not only got to participate in the writing, but had the opportunity to help out the art department (headed by the wonderful Jason Fijal), and even got to contribute to some of the filming. The spirit of collaboration was alive and well on this project, I don’t think there was one person didn’t go above and beyond their “role”. If you ever have the chance to run around the desert with your friends, shooting laser guns, I suggest you take it.

Here are a few photos and notes from behind the scenes:


Yay Star Wars!

Posted by Jonathan on Friday Sep 16, 2011 Under Art, Uncategorized

I’ve been on an almost 3 year break from everything Star Wars (except those awesome Red Letter Media reviews)!  With all the good and bad hoopla surrounding the release of the movies on Blu-Ray…well, I just got caught up.


Chell from PORTAL

Posted by Jonathan on Thursday Apr 21, 2011 Under Art

Portal 2 came out this week, and I’m a bit obsessed.

I tend to get a bit obsessed every time Valve makes a new game.  They’ve become masters at balancing good design, gameplay, and storytelling in their games.  I am also not ashamed to say I have a crush on every heroine they’ve created so far, Chell from Portal is no exception.

You can click the picture to magically grow-ify it.  Enjoy!




I had posted the initial sketch on Facebook a few days ago, thought people might dig seeing the original sketch vs the finished drawing.





Brickston Christmas Card 2010

Posted by Jonathan on Saturday Dec 25, 2010 Under Art, The Brickston Scooter Club

Merry Christmas Everybody! Click the card to see the whole thing!



Posted by Jonathan on Monday Nov 1, 2010 Under Art

(UPDATE: Oops, forgot the baseball jersey stripes!  This is what happens when you sit on something for a year.  Picture corrected, and I also made it a little larger.)

Been a while since my last post, been working on some awesome stuff but unfortunately very little of it involves illustration.  That being said, this was a drawing I actually started last year which wasn’t finished in time for Halloween/Day of the Dead.  So I prettied it up, and got it DEAD-y  for y’all little ghouls today.

In case you’re wondering what’s going on…this is Zoey from the fantastic Left 4 Dead re-enacting my favorite shot from George A. Romero’s original Dawn of the Dead!

It’s a monster mash up!

Enjoy!  (click that link thumbnail to rise!)



Here’s the original shot for reference


Brickston Scooter Club vs. Yokai!

Posted by Jonathan on Sunday Feb 21, 2010 Under Art, The Brickston Scooter Club

Based off of a Yokai drawing by Shigeru Mizuki.  Playing around with new brushes for a rare bit of Sunday fun drawing.

Click the picture to enlarge!


How I Work…

Posted by Jonathan on Wednesday Jul 29, 2009 Under Art, Comics, News, The Brickston Scooter Club

It occurred to me today, that other than one or two friends of mine, not many people have ever actually seen how I work.  Or, more importantly, what goes in to drawing a fully colored comic book page/illustration.

Now, all artists have their own ways of going about this.  My method has been tailored around how my brain works, and thus, probably totally inefficient.  So either this will be an illuminating tutorial, or a dark journey into the mind of an art goblin.

First things first, I draw all of my comics on a computer using a Wacom tablet.  For artwork, I prefer to use Corel Painter with some Photoshop.  I know Photoshop is the standard, but I really feel that Painter is better at replicating natural media.

The drawing I’m making is a portrait of The Brickston Scooter Club.  It’s been a long time since I’d drawn these characters, and have recently redesigned Riley Doogan (the boy sitting and eating a sandwich). 

So my mission with this drawing is to

1.) Re-familiarize myself with the characters, using a common setting found in the book.

2.)  See how well Riley’s new look and color scheme “hangs” with the rest of the group.

Step 1:  Pencils

The most important step.  This is where I figure out things like composition, proportion, and the overall mood of the piece.  I was having a difficult time finding a heroic pose for Riley…so I gave him a sandwich instead.  Since this peace is about artistic exploration, I’m not so concerned about the “story” here…I just wanted to throw a bunch of interesting “Brickstony” stuff in there.


Step 2:  Ink

Here I lower the opacity of the pencil layer (most art programs use a system of “layers”, think of them as clear plastic sheets laid one over the other…and when combined form a single image.)

This ads form and depth to the drawings.  Normally this is also where I would figure out most of the shadows.  But as a stylistic choice, Brickston illustrations don’t really use too many heavy blacks.


Step 3:  “Flat” Colors

This is a process I use, which I refer to as “Flat Colors”.  I am a pretty indecisive colorist sometimes…so rather than choose the colors as I fill in the drawing…I fill in the drawing first.

The colors are ugly and have no meaning other than to help me visually separate the layers I will be working on (six colors here means i’m working on six layers) .  I also use very dark colors, because it helps me make sure I didn’t miss a spot.


Now I select “preserve transparency” (or “lock transparent layers” in Photoshop).  This allows me to paint over ONLY the parts of the layer I have previously painted over.  Here is an example of what I mean.

The first drawing has no “lock” on it…so the light blue scribble over Amelia goes all over the place.   The second drawing has the “lock”, and so you see that my scribble only effects the dark blue color…you can even see that Cedric got a bit of scribble on him as well.


This process saves me a lot of time and frustration if I need to go back and fix something, and also allows me more freedom in my paint strokes later on.

Step 3 (continued):  “Hero” Colors

So using my locks I begin to color in our characters using what is referred to as “Hero Colors”…not just because these are our heroes…but because these colors are always associated with the main characters. 

Also I begin to select some of the tones for the backround, which at this point only consists of the mud-colored dead Golem, and the sky (which I had predetermined would be some kind of sunset shade).


Step 4: Details

So now the Golem in the background is starting to take shape.  I’ve also added trees to the background and midground. 

Some new details include the always intended rocks behind the Golem.  Although at this point I’ve decided to put a rock in front of him as well.  Not so much to protect the Golem’s muddy-modesty…but to frame Darbus and make him “pop” a little more.  All of these additions also add a sense of depth to the composition.


So with everything seemingly in place it’s time to move on to the final step!

Step 5:  Finishing Up!  (Tones, Details, Shadows, Lighting, Effects, etc)

Final details are applied to the characters, as well as shadows and highlights.  The tree to the left of Riley has been shifted over because it was covering up an important part of the Golem’s pose, which would have flattened the composition a bit.

At the end I overlayed a very low opacity layer of purple, which helps to create some dynamic light, while tying all of the different elements together at the end.


It looks like the kids have their work cut out for them now, so it’s time to leave them alone to do their thing.  The most important thing, is that I really like the way that Riley fits in with his new design and color palette.

So now it’s off to draw some more Brickston Scooter Club!

Be seeing you,