An Interview With An Artist
Todd Jaeger is a production artist with DC Comics, who won second place in The ArtOrder Colour & Texture Contest with “The Perversion”.
Who are you? What do you want the internet to know about you?
ArtRage Editions: ArtRage 4 (free demo)
Platforms: Cintiq on a Mac Pro, OS 10.6.8
Background: Traditional Art
Professionally, I am a pre press production artist at DC Comics in NYC. I work on all aspects of pre-press, including art correction and replacement, lettering, layout and design, scanning, you name it. I am a graduate of the The Kubert School, in Dover, New Jersey.
Before DC, I spent a couple of years as a staff artist at Unicorn Publishing, a book publisher in New Jersey. Unicorn specialized in classically illustrated stories like Wizard of Oz, Dracula and Robin Hood. All of the paintings for those books were done on-premises by Greg Hildebrandt, one of my instructors at The Kubert School. Greg used traditional acrylic paint on gessoed masonite, so I was there to assist on whatever he needed, transferring pencils, preparing boards or modeling for character reference. My big part was as King Richard in Robin Hood.
What does your job as a production artist involve?
The Pre Press dept serves as a conduit between the editors, artists and the printer, who will eventually get the PDF files they use to generate the physical printing plates. So, for example, an inker in Argentina will upload a page to our server, I will download and place that image in an Indesign document, create a pdf for the editor upstairs who will then forward it to a colorist or letterer somewhere else on the planet.
Page by page, the book slowly comes together. All the while, editors, proof-readers, lawyers, and anyone else with a say will ask for corrections and revisions, which are then passed on to us in pre press. At which point, we become the fill-in pencillers, inkers, letterers or colorists.
Because DC reprints so much material, this process goes on continuously for the lifetime of a story. I’ve repaired inks on Shazam pages from the 1940’s in the morning and then revised an explosion effect for the latest Batman book in the afternoon.
Do you come from a digital or traditional art background?
Traditional, I started taking some lessons when I was 10. But I didn’t get a computer till I was in my 30s and I didn’t get the Cintiq till 2012.
Do you use other programs or traditional media?
I use Creative Suite, acrylics, water colors, and markers.
About ‘The Perversion’
‘The Perversion’ took second place in The ArtOrder Colour & Texture Challenge. This contest was run in partnership with The ArtOrder. The challenge was to explore ArtRage’s abilities with colour and texture themed work. You can view all the winners here.
This was the first time Ian Hinley has used ArtRage, so we asked him to share his thoughts on the software.
Is this a typical subject for you? Why did you choose it for the contest?
No, I usually focus on a character and their environment. The challenge to come up with just a texture on a new piece of software was something completely different.
What did you learn while creating it? What were you trying to do?
I’ve never used ArtRage before, so I started with the manual and just poked around for a couple days. The 3D texture of the paint is really convincing, so I tried to do my best impression of Russell Mills. Mills is a natural media artist that Nine Inch Nails uses for some of their covers, and that was the idea, to see if I could get that kind of look. I’m also in the middle of reading Vernor Vinge’s A Fire Upon the Deep. So while I’m building up this texture and adding this blood rust color I imagined The Perversion( you gotta read the book) is seeping through the wall. The coins were for visual contrast, and modeled after some actual prehistoric coins.
This is the first time you’ve used ArtRage, right? What were your impressions?
I like it. It’s very easy to get around, has a well written manual. It’s designed for an artist who paints/draws rather than a photographer who retouches/edits.
What are your favourite ArtRage features so far?
Paint tube, glitter and the eraser.
I didn’t use the sticker spray much.
Any ArtRage specific tips?
To create the coins, I used the eraser tool with positive and negative stencils to “etch” the details into the paint. Then I used tiny frost for the wear and tear.
Do you think you’ll continue using it in future? On its own, or along with other media and programs? If not, why not?
Yes, definitely, the ability to create impasto effects with a stencil and and an eraser is something I would have never considered. I need to try this on some armor.
Would you recommend ArtRage for professional work?
Absolutely, if it helps you get just one job, it’s worth it.
Any general tips for artists that you’d like to share?
I recommend reading ‘The Form Principle’ chapter from Andrew Loomis’ Creative Illustration. Understanding light and shadow is fundamental and this chapter explains it in detail.
What works or projects are you most proud of?
I worked on covers for the DC Universe books for about 10 years, incorporating logos, blurbs, etc. A lot more effort and attention to detail than you would suspect.
Lately, I’ve been doing the layout and design for the extras pages in the Sandman Overture Special Edition books. It was a challenge to piece some of that together, but I think they turned out decent enough.
Have you ever been to New Zealand?
Are you going to California to work at the new DC offices in Burbank?”
No. As of April 10, 2015, my twenty-one-year stint with DC as an employee is over, Johnny. and I will be available to consider assignments of any size or shape. Thanks to everyone who voted, I hope you’ll check out my site when I get things up and running.