circle composition


Small worlds.

Mistress of Flame Challenge

Here we go: IDW’s Mistress of Flame! @cavalierconvoy suggested the subject matter, I suggested the two week deadline, and @erikaskerzz suggested showing off our progress steps. There’s certainly a contrast of styles among the three of us!

I’ll start with with Cav first because she’s been live streaming this. She went with watercolors, and the end result is a very bold and vibrant masterpiece that’s getting framed very soon. The best part is the metallic gold accents she put on last. The hi-res scan actually doesn’t do it justice, but her photo of the finished piece caught the sheen very well. Below are the sketch, inks, ambient color, and final.

Up next is Erika’s work. I have no idea how she’s able to achieve such clean lines; I need to learn more about this myself! Her final coloring shows great depth, dynamics, and mood as she contrasts the cool glow of the moth to the warmth of the mistress, and the composition with the cape and the cropping is very powerful, too! Below are inks, base color, and final.

And finally my take on the Mistress. No, it’s not one of my Inktober doodles. I went with my Heavy Metal style for this. The triple circle composition with the swords, portal, and cape frame her in, and the crisscross of the hammer, cape, and far right sword draw you toward the flame. Trust me, holding a flame in her hand and circles in the background weren’t criteria for this piece; it just so happens that my wife and I think a lot alike. I used to do all my coloring in Photoshop with airbrushes, masks, and way too many layers, but now I do it by hand with colored pencils for one-step blending. Below are the rough, graphite, colored pencil overlay, and final.

I can honestly say this challenge worked for me. I’ve been in a rut and needed to get something done. I was a bit nervous about giving myself a tight deadline, but I actually finished with five days to spare. Never considered drawing Mistress of Flame, but I really like how we all did. Like Ironhide and Trailbreaker in an Indy 500, with a run-in by Skywarp, the winners are us!

THE DARK TOWER: KA-TET (2003) by Michael Whelan

Oil on Panel - 28" x 18"

Throughout the Dark Tower series, Stephen King portrayed Roland’s group of fighters known as the Ka-Tet as a circle. Taking this as a cue, Michael built many circles into his composition and this became one of the author’s most favorite illustrations.

I spent all day animating Bendy in Photoshop, and even though I only finished the keyframes, I loved every second of it~

I’ve recently found myself smitten with Bendy and the Ink Machine, especially as a growing animator and Disney fan. The lil’ devil was a joy to draw; he really is a great homage to the likes of Mickey Mouse and Felix the Cat, complete with the easy-to-animate circle composition.

Anyway, just some rough keyframes atm; hopefully I’ll finish it up soon.


Alex Ross on Meredith Monk

Although she has produced conventional-looking scores for orchestras and smaller ensembles, most of her large-scale pieces have emerged from extended working sessions with a trusted circle of collaborators. These compositions, which are generally nonverbal, extract every imaginable color and timbre of the human voice. Monk once described the end result as “folk music from another planet.”

Illustration by Conor Langton