Sunday, May 16, 2021

Artist References Figures

Figured I take the time and show some of the figures I use for reference. There is always the constant search for the perfect one but nothing is perfect or has everything that will help you when it comes to posing, lighting and anatomy. But maybe some of these will help you find what will work best for you. 

1/12, 6 inch Marvel Legends

 If you are on a budget, Hasbro Marvel Legends figures end up being great references because of poseability and price. There are at least 4 body types they use for figures that are perfect  for posing. The Bullseye body, the pizza Spiderman body, wolverine body ( though he might be a bit short) and the Retro Spiderman body.

 Unfortunately Hasbro Marvel Legends don't have female figures that pose as well as the male ones. Female figures all use the same body so if you find a female figure that has a uniform color on the whole body you are good. I wish they would update or make a new buck female body.

From left to right.

The Obsidian Silver Surfer 

This figure is great for posing and uses the Bullseye body and doesn't have any stray details and is a nice uniform color. Pretty much a naked male figure body and the gun metal color shows the muscle definition well. The only drawback is he only comes with two extra hands. Another drawback is that he is a bit hard to find because he is a Walgreens exclusive.

Classic Shang-Chi

Another figure that uses the  Bullseye body but he has larger shoulders,  bare feet and pants sculpting. What's great about this figure is the amount of hand accessories it comes with and the bare feet sculpt is very naturalistic and not flat at the bottom like most action figures. You can use the hands on other Marvel Legends figs but the skin color may not match. Shang is kind of difficult to find now cause it is an older figure.

X-Men Charles Xavier

This figure uses the pizza Spiderman body. While  a great body for a Hasbro Marvel Legends figure he is not as poseable as figures that use the Bullseye body. What's great about this one is he is super easy to find, has a nice uniform colored body and If you are not happy with the head you can stick on most  any other male Hasbro Marvel Legends head. The only drawback is not a lot of hand accessories.

Classic Namor The Sub-Mariner (fig mod)

While this figure does not use the Bullseye body or is as poseable it is easy to find on amazon for a very low price. It has great muscle definition and bare feet for ref. The Drawback is that it has sculpted in wrist bands, winged ankles, sculpted scaled underpants and the bottoms of the bare feet are flat.

While I don't suggest this I modded mine. I used one figure’s bare arms and another figure’s  shins so the body is a uniform colored figure. There is only a slight color difference between the parts. I also got a pair of 1/12 clothing to cover up Namor's scaled under pants and used an extra belt I had from another figure.

Classic Kraven (fig  mod)

This figure is built from the leftovers of parts I used to make the Namor figure mod but for the most part is Kraven from the symbiote Spiderman Kraven two pack with some soft goods clothing overlays. The Kraven figure has the same articulation as the Namor figure so the parts are interchangeable. 

Kraven usually has a "psycho screaming" head but I swapped it out for an additional Peter Parker head that came with a cosmic Spiderman figure. You can't  see it but he has the winged ankles from the Namor figure. 

I mostly use this fig for the clothing ref and wrinkles. You can buy all kinds of soft goods for 6 inch figures on Etsy, eBay and from creators on Instagram, But your options can be limited. Un like 12 inch figs there are not a lot of clothing for six inch figs. Though that is slowly changing as more companies make fully clothed 6 inch action figures and soft good figure mods are a lot easier to do than full on painting an sculpting figures.

1/12, 6 inch Figures

From left to right.

S.H.Figuarts- Body Cun DX

A great male figure for reference and  posing, nice uniform color and if you get the DX version you get a plethora of hand accessories, weapons and props. You can also get it in different colors. It even comes with a perspective grid for hard angles. This fig was made for artists. The only drawback is that it can be a little expensive and the body may not match certain builds. perhaps a bit thin and teen like?

1000toys 1/12 Synthetic Human male

The best poseable male figure you can buy.  It can do anything you can imagine and hold any pose, even one legged standing poses. I wish they took this body joint system and made it into a proper artist ref figure. I am looking forward to the female version. Good female posing ref figures can be hard to find. The only drawback is not enough hand options, robotic detailing and the price. It can be very expensive.

S.H.Figuarts- Body Chan DX

Like I said, good female posing figures can be hard to find. But Body Chan DX is the best I have found so far for reference and  posing, Like Body Cun  it has a nice uniform color and if you get the DX version you get a plethora of hand accessories, weapons and props. You can also get it in different colors. It even comes with a perspective grid. This fig was made for artists. Like the male the only drawback is that it can be a little expensive and the body may not match certain builds. Maybe a bit  too thin or  teen like?

1/6th , 12inch Figures

Larger and more expensive than 1/12, 6 inch  figures.  The positive side in 1/6th  is you can find more options and the other is you can easily find clothing to fit the figure bodies you buy unlike 6 inch where it can be a little hard to find clothing.  Since these bodies are meant to be modular you can easily find additional hands,  feet, heads and other weapons and accessories. They are also highly poseable.

From left to right.

1/6th Scale TB League  seamless Figure body “Mister big”  

A great anatomy and lighting ref. This figure is highly poseable and features a silicone seamless skin on metal endoskeleton " (like a Terminator lol ) funny that I say Terminator because this body is based on Arnold Schwarzenegger's when he was a bodybuilder. The TB League male figure body  comes in a lot of different body types from thin, Bruce Lee body, medium build, muscular to body builder.  It also comes in different skin tones. There is also a 6 inch version.

One thing to be aware of is this figure comes with um….. how should I say this? …. anatomical male parts lol if you want your figure to be that way lol

One drawback is  the 1/6 version does not come with a head sculpt so you will have to buy that separately.

Also There is a limit to posing. While being able to take almost any pose the skin also limits it and can rip if pushed to its limits. also you have to be wary of where the skeleton is in the skin so as to not stress the joints. 

This figure as far as 1/6th scale bodies go is not crazy expensive, comes with additional hands but it can get expensive trying to find clothing and accessories.  Also the “Mr Big '' figure  is  larger than common  male 1/6th bodies so it won't fit most clothing meant for more common male 1/6th figures. I use mine for anatomy and lighting ref. I slapped on a Henry Cavill head sculpt I had so it is not just a headless figure.

1000toys 1/6th Synthetic Human male

The 1/12 Synthetic Human’s older brother. Features all the same articulation and the  best poseable male figure you can buy. It can do anything you can imagine and hold any pose, even one legged standing poses. The drawbacks  are the figure is not compatible with common 1/6th scale accessories so you can’t buy new hands or a head sculpt. Also being a thin skeleton like body it doesn't wear clothing well. And the same draw backed as the little brother robotic detailing and the price. It can be very expensive.

1/6th Scale TB League plus size Female Figure body 

A great anatomy and lighting ref. This figure is highly poseable and features a silicone seamless skin on metal endoskeleton " The TBLeague female figure body  comes in a lot of different body types though they don’t have a muscular body.  It also comes in different skin tones. There is also a 6 inch version.

Be aware that this figure is anatomically correct so if you don’t want a naked lady hanging in all her glory on your art desk they do provide a bikini bathing suit. I forgot the male one comes with one as well.

The female figure body’s Deluxe version comes with a head sculpt though they can look a bit creepy doll-ish but you can buy a new head for the body if you are not happy with it.  While rooted hair is Interesting on a figure it can be easy to give your figure a bad hair day lol again you can replace the head. 

Like the male figure There is a limit to posing. While being able to take almost any pose the skin also limits it and can rip if pushed to its limits. also you have to be wary of where the skeleton is in the skin so as to not stress the joints. 

This figure as far as 1/6th scale bodies go is not crazy expensive and it is a nice added bonus the figure comes with additional hands, feet, a head sculpt and stand. Like the male figure it can get expensive trying to find clothing and accessories.  Also being my figure is plus size larger than most female figures, clothing meant for more common female figure bodies will not fit. I use mine for posing and  lighting but I didn’t want a naked figure hanging out on my art desk and I didn’t want to fuss with taking off her bathing suit if I needed  female body ref so I got her some overalls  easy peasy.

So yeah a bit long winded but I hope this all helps you if you are looking for posing figures for art ref. 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

"Finding Your Creative Way Through Difficult Times"

A real great talk by game developer Laralyn McWilliams about "Finding Your Creative Way Through Difficult Times" Lord knows those of us who do create for a living have all felt this. I have definitely seen my share of dark times. At least for me the way I get through these times is the actual work solving creative problems kind of helps me. I tend to dive full into what I am doing. In away it is a mental reprieve, I am not dwelling on the stress of my life outside of the job. Personally, the thing that stands in the way of my creativity is things I cannot control. the fact that my job depends on someone else doing their job. It can be incredibly frustrating and stressful but it is a necessary evil when working for or with someone else. It is a long video but it is a good listen no matter what job you have that involves you having to be creative in some fashion on a day to day basis

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Art Rejection

A good friend was asking about rejection as an artist when trying to get work in the industry. as a young artist it can be kind of devastating when the big guys call and things just don't  pan out.

Art is a very personal thing it is something we do alone in our little holes.The thing people do not understand  is that art is a piece of  the artist. All our time effort and thoughts made physical, our offspring.  When rejection happens it can hurt if you don't form a tough enough skin.

For all the experience I had It happened to me on (Batman) Detective Comics. For whatever reason DC felt I was not right after one issue and four covers of work. I will not lie I was pretty annoyed about the whole situation  and it affected work I did for another comic at the time.

But I feel we all need to go through that stuff to humble us and push ourselves to be even better. To toughen us up and to not give everything we have to the industry. Remember, The stage will always be there and if you get called up again you will have a better performance than the last. The great thing about this business is we get to do the same things over an over and do it better the next time.

A testament to that is the painting style I used for Detective Comics. I ended up using it for a special edition comic that came with the Batman: Arkham Knight video game and it eventually became the painting style of #AmoryWars the series I working on with  Rags Morales, Chondra Echert and Claudio Sanchez of Coheed and Cambria. Issue 10 just came out and we are  two  issues away from twelve. Not bad for a guy who wasn't right for Batman ;)

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Industry Standers

There is always that balance of just enough reality or believability in style when it comes to US comic books. For mainstream comics the interest in more stylized art comes in waves. It is usually guided by the general public. A lot of people think that just because something is realistic it is good and shun a lot of the more stylized “Quirky” artists.

Some folks have a misguided perception of what comics are "supposed" to look like based on what was established in the past.But when you look at comic work from other countries you notice a wide range of interesting styles and content beyond superheros.

There are definitely times where I have been told to make things less "Cartoony" and more "realistic" Though I think an artist should be able to adapt their art to get work. My thought about it all is you should be able to beef up an strip down you have depending on the needs of the industry. Look at what is out on the market and get a general feel for what they are looking for. If you look at a lot of the more wild artists when they started they weren't drawing that way. Look at Jack Kirby's stuff when he started. I bet if he went in with the style he had later in his life he wouldn't have gotten a job. So what you do is hold  back the wild style stuff and when you get established that is when you start to inject what you really have. You have to play the game before you can change the game. Playing the game can be a bitter pill but you do it to get in the door.

For comics I consider myself incredibly lucky that I got in on a project where the chains were off. I did everything I wanted to do which was the opposite of what it was like when I worked in animation.

My later career in comics has been kind of proving to the industry that I can do the established industry style with a little of my own flare and work my way back to that freedom I started with.
In a bigger sense that is what every professional artist is working towards. You pay your dues and grind the gears so that you can gain your freedom back like when you first started drawing and doing art.

Or......... you can just say "f@ck it" do s#it on your own and let the industry come to you. ha ha

Friday, December 22, 2017

Here comes the Sandman

I have seen a lot of anger over the canceling of some comic books as of late. I can understand the disappointment of hearing about people's favorite comics being canceled. Lord knows I have experienced that multiple times in the past with some of my favorite titles.

The thing about Comic books is that it is a business in the end and  that sort of stuff. happens. No matter how great the idea or how beautiful the art it is always a gamble of success or failure.

My comic Mosaic was canceled after 8 issues earlier this year. We  worked our asses off trying to make him the coolest character we could. But unfortunately our sales fell after issue one. I wasn't mad at the public or editorial, I'm glad we got the chance to show our stuff with the first totally new Marvel character in years.
Mosaic was not a new character wrapped in another character's clothing he wasn't a rif  or re name of another character who came before. He thrived and fell by his own name. That definitely counts for something.

I see my time on Mosaic as like being on the stage at the Apollo. We danced and sang our hearts out but the sandman still came and pulled us off. The thing is not many could say that they did what we did, stand on that stage and did their thing. Just being there means that at least someone will remember what we did and that for me makes me happy. I don’t mind failing i see it as a learning experience and the next time we step out there we will bring something even better.

I say to some of the creators out there annoyed that their books got let go it's ok. the thing about working in this industry is you get the chance to do the same thing over an over you learn from your past failings and you can make it even better the next time.

For fans of these canceled books I say continue to support them after the single issues are gone. It is not unheard of for a comic series to get resurrected after a book is cancelled. Remember sales are what drive industry. If you want something to stick around actually buy it.

If you find that the big comic studios are not representing your interests there are plenty of other great studios doing incredible diverse sets of comics. Some of which I had the pleasure of doing some work for.

Don’t wait for the Big guys to figure out what you want to read show them.They are always watching to see with the other guys are doing and when they see it is a success they will in turn try to do the same thing.

Remember,  big publishers are not big on risk and if they see something works well they will not hesitate to do the same. So go out there and buy some comic books discover something new you might like what you see and if you don’t why not make your own and fill that void? That's how some of the most famous characters in comics started out.

Hope you have a Great Holiday

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A Kojima Book

Today I Got my copy of  A Kojima Book. It was great getting the chance to work with Tarak Chami on this amazing fan project. The aim of the project was to create a physical "thank you" to give back to the creator of the Metal Gear Solid Video game series Hideo Kojima. And wish him luck on his future endeavors after leaving the series and Konami Digital Entertainment.

 I was the first artist to sign on to do this project, in away it was what I always wanted to do. Create something to give back. For me I lacked the funding or the time to do something of this magnitude. That is why I decided to lend my name, work and skills in trying to make this happen for Tarak . After I join the project grew to 75 artists and cosplayers in addition to Metal Gear community groups musicians , Film Directors, actors, friends and colleagues who left well wishes.

It is a testament of Tarak's fortitude to see this project through to the end and ultimately hand the book to Hideo Kojima himself . Tarak did what no one else has ever done. I hope Kojima enjoyed all of our hard work in creating this book and understands what it meant to all of us to give to him.

 I wish I was there to see Tarak preset the book to Kojima and see his reaction.

Check out a full view of the book here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Can I Be Superman ?

I'm going to share with you a very personal story. A story I have never told anyone from my childhood . a story I have not told anyone even my own parents. It is a story about the discovery of race from a child’s perspective.
Superman was my favorite Superhero as a child. I was introduced to him by the Richard Donner films and Christopher Reeve. He used to be a big part of my life. I had everything Superman related. clothing shoes undies everything. One of my earliest memories of going to my grandmother's house was seeing the Superman photo she kept over her desk and the Superman glasses she used to serve drinks in when I used to visit. We connected through our love of the character. When she passed away, I took the last remaining glasses to remember her by, to remind me of our connection.
One Halloween in the 80’s I really wanted a Superman costume. back in those days costumes were real cheap. They used to be made of plastic that would make you sweat and the masks didn't allow for ease of breathing. Obviously knowing this my Mother was hesitant about getting me one at the time. Eventually she got the costume for me.
In those days my Mom had large mirrored walls in the dining room that stretched all the way up to the ceiling. I remember being so excited to finally put the costume on in front of it . When you are a child you can't help but feel by putting on a costume you would in some way be empowered like your favorite hero. I had asthma as a child. I wanted to be Superman. A guy who went out and saved people from danger, who was impervious to most everything, A man who was strong, Someone who didn't have crippling asthma like me.
I remember putting on the costume and being critical of its construction. It did not have cool red boots, it was less a costume and more a plastic tarp with Superman's suit printed on it. I remember thinking, OK it doesn't have red boots but I have red sneakers. Finally, I put on the mask. I stood there for a long time looking at myself in the mirror. What I saw scared me. Superman with horrifying dark cave like eyes looking back at me. I remember running to my Mother frightened and scared at what I saw an not being able to explain what was the matter. all I could do was cry. What I saw was my skin color and eyes looking through Superman's eyes. The pale white skin color of the mask and the darkness of my skin made Superman look like a ghoulish creature. In that moment I realized I could never be Superman. Superman did not look like me and the mask made it worse. Can you imagine trying to explain something like race when you don't fully understand it ?
As a child the question of race never came up. I went to a school that had children of all colors. Being Hispanic it is normal to have family that looks black, white or any other color. That is our world. I didn't have many friends but my closest friends were white, black and Indian. I never thought of the world in terms of color I thought of the world as just people. People came in different colors just like crayons. Just because a crayon was a different color didn't make it any less a crayon than the others.
I took the costume off, packed it back in the box and had my mother put it away in a closet where it sits to this day. I still find it difficult to look at it.
It is important to see heroes that look like everyone especially for children. It's important seeing people that look like you doing amazing things. weather it be a superhero an athlete an artist, write or a musician. It all counts toward inspiring the new generation to strive for greater possibilities. We live in a world of color and what we create should reflect that.