Tag Archives: blackguard

Observing The BlackGuard Entry 12: O.D.A.N. and Sequoia

27 Aug 12
Jerrod Smith
, , , ,
2 comments

Now here is a relationship that requires very little insight: Odan and Sequoia.

One does not have to be a genius to see that Odan and Sequoia come from opposite upbringings. Sequoia grew up surrounded by educated, well-mannered individuals. Odan grew up around hoodlums. Sequoia graduated from college with honors. Odan has not stepped foot in a school (unless you count a dojo) since early puberty. Sequoia speaks clearly and articulately. Sometimes, I feel I need an interpreter when conversing with Odan. Needless to say, Odan and Sequoia tend not to communicate with each other very well.

I guess I should at least attempt to add a little depth to this observation. Both Odan and Sequoia tend to have a steady stream of information coming into their heads. Both actively make an effort to keep up to date with whatever they consider to be their source of “the truth”. Sequoia’s truth comes from literature. She’s not foolish enough to believe that any one book is entirely honest or accurate, but she does believe the more she reads, the closer she comes to the truth. Odan’s truth comes from the streets, by way of music, television, and word of mouth. Odan will tell you himself that, if anything, the hood is honest, and sometimes brutally so.

I wouldn’t go so far as saying Odan and Sequoia do not like each other. I just don’t think they can currently relate to each other. I do think that both, since joining The BlackGuard, have discovered a world entirely different than the ones they come from and may yet find some common ground.

– Dr. Hugo Cranium

Next Entry: Mercer and Sequoia

Previous Entries


Read the BlackGuard comic here!

Now For Sale


Observing The BlackGuard Entry 11: Afia Melanin And Jonnie Staples

20 Aug 12
Jerrod Smith
, , , ,
3 comments

Today, I want to cover the many differences and similarities of Afia Melanin and Jonnie Staples.

In this discussion, I guess I should start with the biggest difference in Jonnie and Afia, and that is humor. Jonnie tends to find humor under just about any condition. If he notices even the slightest joke in a situation, he makes sure to point it out to the rest of the team, whether they appreciate it or not. Afia, on the other hand, finds very little to be funny about any situation (She obviously has not gotten any of MY witty remarks). If Afia does have a sense of humor, it probably revolves around the downfall of the “white man”.

That leads me to another difference between these two: their views on race. In Afia’s mind everything has some sort of racial connotation. Just about any action she witnesses is racially motivated in her eyes. I honestly believe that she is so driven to see her own race prosper that she projects her viewpoints onto everyone else. Since all of her actions are racially motivated, everyone’s actions must be racially motivated. In contrast, Jonnie could care less about the racial issues of the world. Even in the presence of blatant racism, Jonnie simply ignores it. I don’t know whether he is in denial of the presence of racism or just so self-absorbed that he does not concern himself with it. Either way, I think his refusal to acknowledge it bothers Afia intensely.

There are two traits that these two do share though. Both are impulsive, and both are violent. I guess you could say that all the members of The BlackGuard are violent, but Afia and Jonnie tend to get more satisfaction out of their violent actions than their other two teammates. Impulsiveness combined with a violent nature means these two are always the first to jump into battle. It’s funny how these two are so quick to jump into a fight, and neither is fighting for the same cause.

– Dr. Hugo Cranium

Next Entry: Odan and Sequoia

Previous Entries


Read the BlackGuard comic here!

Now For Sale


Observing The BlackGuard Entry 10: Eli Mercer And Darius Doome

04 Aug 12
Jerrod Smith
, , , ,
3 comments

Now, I move to one of the most counter-productive relationships of The BlackGuard: Eli Mercer and Darius Doome.

I call this relationship counter-productive because it seems to go against Eli’s intentions for the team. Eli started The BlackGuard as a means of rehabilitation. Each member of the team is there because they have ‘issues’ that make them liabilities if left unchecked. Since arriving at the base, I’ve witnessed Eli’s attempts to restrict the negative attributes of each member and endorse their positive attributes. But therein lies the problem with Darius.

For every other member of the BlackGuard, the negatives and the positives can be separated. Darius, not so much. His insanity and his genius appear to be one and the same. I honestly believe (and obviously, so does Eli) that if one were to somehow remove Darius’s insanity, he would then become just another average scientist. The same mind that may invent a radioactive toaster one day may very likely hold the key to defeating a dangerous adversary the next.

Of all the members of The BlackGuard, Darius has had the most ‘successful’ career as a super-villain. His methods, though strange at times, are unquestionably effective. Eli is more than aware of this. In a team that is three fourths direct offense, he realizes just how valuable a strategic mind is on the field. Without Darius, the BlackGuard initiative would most definitely fail, and then no one would benefit. This puts Eli in a very conflicted position. In order to ensure that his team is victorious, he must allow, and sometimes even encourage, Doome to be Doome.

What really makes this situation troubling is not only how it affects Darius, but also what it does to Eli. Of course, Darius will continue to be an unstable individual, but I can only imagine the turmoil Eli’s conscience is undergoing. Having to set aside one’s principles in order to achieve necessary results. In this case, I’m actually more concerned with the mental status of Eli.

– Dr. Hugo Cranium

Next Entry: Melanin and Staples

Previous Entries


Read the BlackGuard comic here!

Now For Sale


Observing The BlackGuard Entry 9: Odan And Darius Doome

09 Jul 12
Jerrod Smith
, , , , ,
4 comments

Slowly, but surely, I’m trudging through this series of entries. Let’s continue with Odan and Darius.

I would have expected there to be more animosity between these two than I’ve currently seen. Despite his small frame, Odan has the personality of the typical bully, and from my personal experience, bullies tend to pick on the “brainy” types. however, I’ve yet to see Odan make fun of Darius. This could, of course, be due to the fact that he has me here to ridicule instead, but, somehow, I feel it’s more than that

Though Darius may be a scientist, he is to a great extent a bully himself. Before joining The BlackGuard, he earned a reputation as a notorious super-villain. In this strange world of super-powered beings, this earns Darius some “hood credibility” with Odan. Of course, in typical bully fashion, Darius is always quick to endorse Odan’s derision of others (once again, most commonly me). Darius even goes as far as attempting to instigate a response from Odan’s victims. I’m uncertain as to whether he does this in order to accomplish something or just for his own personal enjoyment.

Of course there is one trait common to both Odan and Darius: boastfulness. Both men seem to be compelled to announce their own greatness to anyone within shouting distance, and both tend to be very long-winded about it. When it comes to these two, bragging about oneself is an art-form. It’s actually quite theatrical at times.

I still wouldn’t go as far as to say Odan and Darius are friends. In fact, I don’t even feel comfortable saying they get along. All I’m willing to say right now is that at the moment, Odan and Darius are not (excuse the following colorful expression) “on each others’ s#!t-lists”. Considering these two enormous ego’s, however, it’s only a matter of time before they bump heads.

– Dr. Hugo Cranium

Next Entry: Mercer and Doome

Previous Entries


Read the BlackGuard comic here!

Now For Sale


Observing The BlackGuard Entry 8: Afia Melanin And Sequoia

26 Jun 12
Jerrod Smith
, , , , ,
5 comments

Today, I continue my analysis of the social interaction amongst The BlackGuard by looking at Afia Melanin and Sequoia.

Afia and Sequoia have a relationship unlike any other in the team due to the fact that they are the only two females. I feel that a kinship has formed between these two ladies as both try to maintain their sanity while surrounded by outlandish males.

That’s not to say they always agree with one another. Sequoia is a thinker, and Afia is a “do-er”, as one might call it. Where Sequoia prefers to analyze a situation and gather all information before acting, Afia often jumps to conclusions (and then to action). Sequoia has no qualms about pointing out flaws in Afia’s logic, something most people, especially those without superhuman abilities, would be reluctant to do.

Afia, however, does not take her usual confrontational tone with Sequoia as she does with others. It appears Sequoia may actually be capable of talking sense into Afia from time to time. Though Afia tends to value brawn over brains, I believe she may actually respect Sequoia for her intelligence. This could be due to the fact that Sequoia has a vast knowledge of African history and culture.

One thing I find intriguing is the occasional admiration Sequoia has for Afia. She may not follow her logic at times, but Sequoia is still fascinated by Afia’s dominance on not only the battlefield, but in just about every argument she ever has. I believe there’s a repressed side of Sequoia that looks up to Afia. She’s the defintion of an empowered woman.

– Dr. Hugo Cranium

Next Entry: Odan and Doome

Previous Entries


Read the BlackGuard comic here!

Now For Sale


Observing The BlackGuard Entry 7: Mercer And Staples

09 Jun 12
Jerrod Smith
, , , , ,
6 comments

I’ve allowed myself to get distracted and have been remiss in my entries on the individual relationships of The BlackGuard. Today, I resume the process with an observation of Eli Mercer and Jonnie Staples.

I noticed quickly that any interaction between Eli and Jonnie can become an explosive situation, like introducing fire to gasoline. This has mainly to do with the fact that they have entirely different comfort zones. Whenever they are in the same room, there’s a clash for dominance, as both are trying to transform their surroundings into something which they are accustomed to. Allow me to elaborate.

Eli requires order in everything he does. In fact, amongst The BlackGuard, he is order. He mandates that every member of the team wear black (with the exception of Geronimo, whom it seems Eli does not have as much authority over) to create not only unity, but order. To keep a team as dangerous as The BlackGuard under control, he must maintain a certain amount of decorum, or else he risks turning something initially positive into a disaster, which he has already narrowly avoided a few times in the short time this team has been together.

Jonnie, on the other hand, finds comfort in chaos. In fact, he relishes in it. Not to say that Jonnie is only happy when he has either a gun or sword (or grenade) in his hand, but he does seem bored whenever there’s a lack of unpredictability in a situation. When he finds himself in these predicaments, he feels compelled to create chaos, often to the dismay of Eli.

As long as these two are unable to compromise in their battle of order vs. chaos, there will always be turmoil within the team. On a side note, despite their differences, I get the feeling Jonnie doesn’t see Eli as such a bad guy. And despite the fact Eli seems to care about the well-being of his team, sometimes I feel he just doesn’t like Jonnie.

– Dr. Hugo Cranium

Next Entry: Melanin and Sequoia

Previous Entries


Read the BlackGuard comic here!

Now For Sale


A Step-by-Step Tutorial by Will

17 May 12
Jerrod Smith
, ,
No Comments

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!

Now For Sale

Observing The BlackGuard Entry 6: Staples And Sequoia

30 Apr 12
Jerrod Smith
, , , ,
7 comments

Today, I want to discuss the peculiar “friendship?” of Sequoia and Jonnie.

Originally, I saw Sequoia as having the same relationship with Jonnie as she does with Darius. Like Darius, Jonnie often has an obscured view of reality, which greatly contrasts with Sequoia’s sensible nature. However, where Sequoia chooses to simply ignore Darius, she often competes with Jonnie in a game of wits. Both of these two seem to appreciate the art of a perfectly timed quip (often at the expense of Mercer), so any “conversation” they have is normally a sparring match of one-liners and jabbing insults, with each mocking blow causing the smirks on their faces to grow.

As a former student of mine, I am well aware that Sequoia enjoys laughing at others more so than just laughing with them. I find it quite intriguing that, of all the members of The BlackGuard, Jonnie seems to be the one that can make her laugh simply by berating another teammate. I would say that she’s simply amused at the target of the insult, but I notice that the jeers directed by Jonnie are often the ones that cause her to quietly giggle to herself.

It is their common love of sarcastic gibes that causes me to believe there is a mutual respect between Jonnie and Sequoia…… and possibly something more.

– Dr. Hugo Cranium

Next Entry: Mercer and Staples

Previous Entries


Read the BlackGuard comic here!

Now For Sale

Observing The BlackGuard Entry 5: Melanin and Doome

06 Apr 12
Jerrod Smith
, , , ,
5 comments

Let’s take a look at Darius Doome and Afia Melanin, two individuals who are the epitome of brains and brawn.

I’d like to start by saying there are two things Darius and Afia have in common: Both see themselves as superior, and both use each other in battle. When Mercer is not present, which is surprisingly often considering the BlackGuard consists of mostly super-villains, both of these two feel that they should naturally take control. With Mercer having no appointed field leader, again, surprisingly neglectful on his part, there seems to be a clash of who calls the shots. What makes this situation interesting is that both Afia and Darius are oblivious to each others’ perceived leadership position.

Afia associates a person’s strength in battle with their overall worth to the team. With Darius having very little physical prowess, he is the most worthless in Afia’s eyes. Still, even Afia realizes his scientific mind comes in handy when the occasional annoyance that can’t be solved by her fists comes along. She may occasionally call on him to use his brain to remove an obstacle in her path, but once he does, she returns to viewing him as useless.

Darius does not seem to be bothered by Afia’s perception of him. I’m not sure if he just doesn’t pay attention to it, or if he just values her opinion that little. Just like Afia uses him, Darius also uses Afia. Darius sees himself as the mastermind of The BlackGuard, and his three teammates are his minions, there to take damage in his stead. Afia fits this position best with her invulnerability. She can give and take punches all day, giving Darius ample time to perfect his schemes.

– Dr. Hugo Cranium

Next Entry: Staples and Sequoia

Previous Entries


Read the BlackGuard comic here!

Now For Sale

Observing The BlackGuard Entry 4: Mercer And Odan

27 Mar 12
Jerrod Smith
, , , ,
5 comments

This entry covers the mentor/student relationship that seems to have formed between Odan and Eli Mercer.

Whenever I see Odan and Mercer interact with one another, I think of a “black sitcom”. I could picture Mercer as the once famous professional athlete who returns to his former high school as a no-nonsense coach. Upon returning to the neighborhood that he worked so hard to escape as a youth, he sees that the current generation of students are disturbingly content with the less-than-desirable conditions of their education system. Among these students is the knuckle-headed Odan. Odan is that student who is far from “book smart”, but still has much talent and potential.

In most sitcoms, the relationship between these two would slowly develop from rebellious student and strict teacher to the young protege and his mentor. I don’t quite see things happening that way with these two. If Mercer really were Odan’s high school coach, I get the feeling his highest hopes would be just to get the boy to graduate school and earn a minimum wage job. I’m certain Mercer sees a ton of skill in Odan, but what he does not see is a hero deep down in him (This is the part where Odan would say “pause”). If he can just prevent Odan from becoming a menace to society, then he will consider his job done.

There’s probbly even less respect coming from Odan’s end, though. It’s apparent that the young ninja has issues with authority. I think this may be anger that stems from the absence of his father in his life. Many boys that grow up without a father gravitate towards father figures. Odan does the opposite. He has no interest in gaining Mercer’s approval. The only reason he puts any effort into executing Mercer’s commands is to show everyone he’s as good as he says he is.

You know, the more I discuss the relationship between these two, the more I’m convinced this would make a great TV show…

– Dr. Hugo Cranium

Next Entry: Melanin and Doome

Previous Entries

Now For Sale