Tag Archives: artwork

6th B-Day

BlackGuard Issue 2 Finally Comes to comiXology

18 Dec 15
Jerrod Smith
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Issue 1 of BlackGuard appeared on the digital comic site comiXology awhile ago, and to tell you the truth, all seven completed issues were supposed to be up by now, but Will and I got busy with other projects and had to delay that for some time.

But now we’re back on track and happy to announce that issue to of the comic has been accepted by comiXology Submit. We’ll let everyone know when it finally goes on sale.

In the meantime, checkout Will-s redraw of one of the first BlackGuard group pictures from six years ago! The original is on the left. That used to be the image on our old business cards.

6th B-Day

One of the original BlackGuard images redrawn 6 years later

New Website. New Villains!

19 Nov 15
Jerrod Smith
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I know it’s been a while since the last update, but I’ve been really focused on getting the new site design up. If you haven’t seen it yet, we’ve switched to more of a blog design. All news and updates from now on will be posted as new blogs.

Also, the newest page of the comic is no longer on the home page. We’re getting away from the webcomic style a little, and going more for an online comic book. Instead of grouping the pages by storylines, they’re now separated into issues. You can jump straight to any issue from the BlackGuard drop-down menu.

One more thing. The website is now finally (mostly) mobile-friendly. For those of you who’ve had trouble reading BlackGuard on a mobile device in the past, it should be a lot easier now.

Now that we got that out the way, on to the interesting stuff. With the start of a new BlackGuard chapter comes new threats in the form of new villains. What makes these guys different from other past BlackGuard adversaries though is they have history with the team.

Here, we have some concept art for the new characters, starting with Sashi, a long time rival of Afia Melanin.

Sashi 1

Sashi 2Sashi 3

Next is Shelly the Seamstress, an old flame of Jonnie Staples.

Seamstress 1

Seamstress 2

And last, Demetrius, a man with a serious grudge against Odan.

Demetrius 1

Demetrius 2

Next blog, we’ll be showing off some updated looks for the members of the BlackGuard.  Until then, peace.

Abbey Road

Even More Promo Art!

09 Sep 15
Jerrod Smith
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It’s been a few weeks since the last update but the artwork’s still coming.  Before we get into that though, I just wanted to let everyone know we will be making major changes to the website soon.  The home page of the blog will become the main home page, and the blog will become our main place for news and updates.  The BlackGuard comic will still be on the site, it just won’t be the first thing you see anymore.  We’re also going to separate the comic into issues instead of story arcs when the change happens.

Anyway, we have two more entries in the Famous Fours series, starting with one of the most commonly remade pictures, “Abbey Road”.

Abbey Road

The BlackGuard walk Abbey Road

Also, the front cover of Fantastic Four #1

Fantastic Four

The Blacktastic Four!

Other than that we got some more duo shots, featuring the semi-friendship of Darius Doome and Jonnie Staples…

Doome and Staples

The “buddies” of the BlackGuard

And the only two responsible people in this messed up team, Eli Mercer and Sequoia.

Sequoia and Mercer

The Logic and the Leadership

TMNT Promo

More Promo Art!

21 Aug 15
Jerrod Smith
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Will and I are still working on “Ghosts of Sins Past”, but until that’s ready, we’ll keep updating you all with new artwork and designs.

In continuation of the “Famous Fours” series, here’s the BlackGuard recreating the classic Ninja Turtles cover. As two guys that grew up on Ninja Turtles, we couldn’t NOT do this.

TMNT Promo

The BlackGuard do their best Turtles impression.

We also have the two cockiest members of the team, Melanin and Odan, posing together for once.


The biggest egos in the BlackGuard.

Last, here’s another Melanin pic. Unfortunately the colored version didn’t come out that great, but the inked version still looks good.

Mel Inked

Melanin Inked

BlackGuard Gorillaz Promo

Ghosts of Sins Past Promo Art!

07 Aug 15
Jerrod Smith
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I want to start this blog off by saying yes, Will and I are aware the last chapter of BlackGuard ended back in December of 2014, and we know this has been the longest amount of time that’s ever passed between updates since we started this comic, but there is good reason for the delay. We haven’t abandoned the project, and the long awaited return of the underdog super hero team of outcasts is in under development right now.

The picture at the top of this page is a promo piece Will did in the style of The Gorillaz’ Demon Days album cover for the BlackGuard’s return. This is the first in a series of pictures re-imagining classic groups of four with the members of the team.

Of course, as with every new chapter, we’re thinking of some new character designs. Below is a few new takes on Afia Melanin’s look.

Melanin Return

Melanin in Ghosts of Sins Past

We also have Doome and Odan with some new gear.

Doome Return

Doome in Ghosts of Sins Past

Odan Return

Odan in Ghosts of Sins Past

And just for the hell of it, here’s a topless Jonnie Staples.

Staples Return

Topless Staples

New BlackGuard Height Chart

21 Nov 14
Jerrod Smith
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In preparation for the upcoming Vendetta story arc, Will’s going to be doing some updated height charts for both old and new BlackGuard characters. Here’s the first. Expect more over the next few weeks.

BlackGuard height chart - Crucial, Odan, Staples, Melanin, Doome, Fro-bot

In other news, the next BlackGuard page will be posted on Monday. After that, we’re taking a short break for Thanksgiving. Hopefully, we’ll have enought time to wrap up “The Hero Plot Trial” before Christmas break.

See ya soon,


A Step-by-Step Tutorial by Will

17 May 12
Jerrod Smith
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I’ve had requests to show my process with prisma marker coloring, and though I can’t video record myself yet, I think I’ll use this sketch to show my progress step by step.

Step 1: Penciling
So far, you’re seeing the very messy pencil lines that I lay down first. This is normally where I think the pic looks like crap….
Step 1: Pencils

Step 2: Inking!!!
Inking is pretty much where I do all of my cleaning up. All the lines become definite.

A tip that I picked up from LeSean Thomas was using different pen sizes to pull off line weight and perspective. I kind of did that here. I gave each character a solid outline around them, and then there is one solid outline around the entire collection of bodies, or the silhouette of the picture in technical terms. Pretty much, the thickest lines are around the characters, while the thinner lines are in the folds of their clothes and and hair texture and facial lines and what not.

From here, I’ll erase the leftover pencil lines and proceed to the next step, which is laying down the first layer of colors, or what we call in the comic realm “flats”.
Step 2: Inking

Step 3: Flats – Common Colors
My process of laying down my flats happens in three steps. The first part is what I refer to as the “uniform phase”. Pretty much I lay down all the colors that the team shares, which are: cool grey 70% for the black highlights, and a Warm French grey at 60% for things like Mercer’s shirt and Sequoia’s jacket cuffs.

And also, the main part I do here is give all the characters an under layer of a very light brown (called cinnamon toast) for their skin tones. In color theory, I was always taught to put an under layer color for things like skin tones, cause if you look at your skin, it isn’t exactly just one color. Technically, you can do this with just about all colors, and lately I have experimented with doing it with other colors, but I ALWAYS lay down the cinnamon toast color as an under layer for my African skin color characters.
Step 3: Common flats

Step 4: Flats – Skin Tones
During this part, we begin to see the team as individuals. For the most part, they all have different skin tones. Mercer and Odan both have a sienna brown tone. Geronimo and Sequoia both have light tan skin tones. Darius has a walnut skin tone. With Staples being from England, his skin tone is the lightest, a sandy brown. And with Melanin being from Africa, and also because she absorbs the sun’s light for her super strength, she has the darkest skin tone, which is a light umber color.

During this phase, I also go ahead and knock out any other brown colors, such as Sequoia, Doome, and Geronimo’s hair, as well as Staple’s outfit and scars, and Geronimo’s jacket.

P.S. *ahem* I normally color Odan’s fro during this part as well……..but I forgot :/
Step 4: Skin tones

Step 5: Flats – Individual Uniform Colors
Now that all of the common colors such as the greys and browns have been laid down, I begin adding the separate colors to each member’s outfit: Odan’s purple, Melanin’s red, green and yellow, Doome’s blue and metallic colors, etc. This is the part where the characters really began to shine on their own while still looking like a crew. The Blacks and Greys keep them in uniform, but their individual colors give them each a look of their own.

For some people….this would be good enough……..but nah, son…..nah……………so far, all of this has been the foreplay. The next step: GETTIN’ IT IN aka LAYING DOWN THE TONES!!!!!
Step 5: Individual colors

Step 6: First Layer of Tones
“Tones” are pretty much the shaded areas of the colors. Tones help give a sense of where the light in the picture is coming from (the technical term is called the light source). Going off where all the tones/shadows are coming from, the light in this pic is coming from the left (their right in the picture).

Tones also give the characters a sense of a 3-D look. If you look at a ball, you’ll notice that the ball has a light area, and the area furthest away from the light becomes darker. That’s pretty much what you’re doing when you lay down the tones. You give all the shapes in the picture a sense of depth.

This almost looks done, but there’s one more step…..
Step 6: First layer of tones

Step 7: Final Tones and Shadows
During this part, I lay down some very dark greys and warm blacks to act as my solid blacks. They pretty much act as the solid blacks that are normally laid down by the inking artist in comics. Since the coloring is a strong point in my work, I try to only use the black for the black parts of their outfits. In my color theory classes, I was taught that black isn’t actually a color, so when it comes to shading, it’s best to use greys or darker versions of the color to provide a sense of darkness.

After doing all of that, I normally go over a few of the thinner lines in the character’s faces/facial hair/designs in attire and pretty much any line that may have lost some volume during the coloring process to make sure everything is defined.
Step 7: Final Tones and shadows

Step 8: Scanning
This is probably the easiest part. Scan in the work and crop it to the size that I want. You may be thinking this is the final part, but no. Though the image is scanned in, the scanner doesn’t immediately capture all the colors the way I want it to. So now I move on the final step, the part where the drawing goes from looking like a marker drawing on paper to looking like it came fresh out of a printed comic…..
Step 8: Scanning

Step 9: Brightness, Contrast and Saturation Editing
During this part, I make the colors POP. I raise the level of saturation to bring out the brightness of the colors while also increasing the contrast to solidify the blacks. After that, I simply apply a filter to the final piece and that’s it. DONE, SON!!!

I will say this. Just about everything you saw in this tutorial were things I learned through trial and error. Even though I couldn’t finish my time at the Savannah College of Art and Design, I never stopped teaching myself. I know this sounds corny to some, but don’t ever let anybody tell you you CAN’T. The art you see in BLACKGUARD is the result of me WANTING to get better with my art. With that being said, whatever it is you want, go get it…………. within reason and legally of course.
Step 9: Brightness/contrast/saturation editing

Read the BlackGuard comic here!

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