Monday, September 27, 2010

Another New PHINEAS AND FERB Book Is Out (Or Soon Will Be)!

Just got a box from the publisher today with some more copies of the previous Phineas and Ferb book I posted a little while ago and also got a few copies of a NEW Phineas and Ferb book called "Game On" that used some art I did. It looks like another fun book! The last one I posted I think is my favorite but this is pretty cool too as it's all in glorious full color! Should keep the kids busy with several hours of P and F fun!

Here is the previous book I posted about!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My Interview From This Summer's DCM Magazine!

Since quite a few of you have asked about the interview I did for DCM a month ago on here and in it is! I forgot about it till I was reminded and then I had some problems tonight trying to copy and paste the Word Doc text into Blogger since you can't do it using Explorer apparently so I had to go back to use my old AOL browser to post this. Go figure. I hope the formatting works ok for this... and away we go!

Springfield’s Own & Professional Artist For Scooby-Doo & More Talks About Art, His Induction Into The SHS Arts Hall of Fame, And His New Drawing Videos.
By Jennifer Faith Stiefel

For years, I bet you have been enjoying Delaware County Magazine’s comic strip feature The Adventures of Alfie. The signature of artist S. Neely is neatly displayed on the artwork. Did you know that Scott, a Springfield High School graduate, is also a licensing artist for Scooby-Doo! Last November was the 10th anniversary of Scott drawing the curious canine. He has also worked on other licensed properties such as Johnny Bravo, Powerpuff Girls, Winnie the Pooh, Pokemon, Strawberry Shortcake, Shrek, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and many others. His client list includes Warner Bros, Cartoon Network, and Disney! He is currently doing art work for MegaMind, which is a new film from Dreamworks coming out this fall.

Since 2006 he has been the visual creator and production designer for the Hollywood Hal & Rhinestone Al live-action TV and stage show. It is a project that he co-created with Scott Innes (the voice of Shaggy, Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo) and musician Jim Hogg. To learn more about Hollywood Hal & Rhinestone Al, visit Check out Scott’s website at to see more of his work, listen to his podcasts, read his blog, and watch videos of Scott in action drawing! The site is jam packed with great info! His online store is up and running as well and he sells original art, comics and other things he’s worked on.

Scott has also been the editor, head designer and writer for NMA Magazines, Inc., which includes Delaware County Magazine!

DCM: Did you attend a formal art school?

Neely: I'm self-taught. I learned everything at Springfield High School from two years of mechanical drawing and two years of graphic design. That was all I needed really. Never got less than an A+ and I had a teacher, Mr. Robert Preston, who pushed me. I think watching movies and reading comics helped greatly in shaping my artistic eye towards design as well. I did go to a local community college in 2001 to learn the digital end of art by taking Photoshop, Illustrator and Quark classes.

DCM: What teacher at Springfield pushed you to succeed?

Neely: Mr. Preston was mostly it. He was my graphic arts teacher in 11th and 12th grade. He didn’t push as much that you would notice it or be bothered by it. I think my own desire made me push as much as he gave. I would walk in and he’d hand me the new assignment and it’d be like “Well, this is what they’re working on and this is what you’re working on.” Now, I’d look over and it’d be the same thing as everybody else, but the inference that I got was that Yoda wanted me to lift four rocks with the Force when everyone else only had to lift two. I never got less than an A+. It got to a point in my mind where I couldn’t get less so I had to make it good.
He also got me a job working in the graphics room during the summer before my senior year after I did great at “Celebration of the Arts”. I think winning several ribbons in competitions showed that I had the chops or work ethic so he asked me if I wanted to work there that summer. It sure beat washing dishes or some other lame job so I took it. I did all kinds of design work and printed stuff up for the local schools. There were like 3 or 4 students who worked there and we did stuff like letterheads, notepads, calendars, etc. Whatever forms or materials that the school needed to use during the year we made. They always get the students to produce that kind of work instead of sending it out to be done. It’s a true “in-house” department.

DCM: Was it Delaware Community College where you learned how to do the digital end of art?

Neely: I went to DCCC for one year back in late 2000 to about the end of 2001 to learn the digital end of art. Then in 2007 they gave me a ‘Rising Star’ award! Another kind of cool moment since I only went to college for a year and I got an award. I took Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and Quark. Back then it was all about Quark and now it’s Adobe InDesign. I worked with a designer in New York City at that time and her name was Monicka Clio Sakki. I worked with her a lot and she kept after me to learn the digital end. She always kept saying, “I’m telling you, once you learn it, you’ll never go back.” She was right, so I have to credit her with that. We worked so much together that people thought we were dating as well. I do pretty much all my stuff digitally nowadays, as that’s what the industry requires in most cases. She also gave me the best piece of advice I ever got… but that’s another story.

DCM: Do you remember what your very first art project was in high school and do you still have it?

Neely: Amazingly, you ask this question… I still have the binder with all my graphic design work from 1988-1989. Never threw it out, though the heat and where it was kept, has hurt some pieces in it. I still have all my first place ribbons in mint condition from “Celebration of the Arts” from that time too. They were the first real awards I was ever given, or rather, earned. I guess they were special to me in a kind of subconscious way and I kept them safe. Now this was graphic design and not art per se, but my mother has saved a bunch of my old art from when I was little. I don’t remember much about the work I did in art class in high school since I kind of screwed around and didn’t take it too seriously, but I think I did okay there. I never saved any of it and comic or cartoon work back then was kind of put down by teachers in general as not being ‘real’ art.

DCM: When you first found out you were being inducted into Springfield High School’s Arts Hall of Fame, how did you react?

Neely: When I got the envelope, which I kept as well, I got it on February 27th. It sat in front of me as I worked on the computer and I didn’t touch it for hours. It sat there with some other junk mail and I thought maybe it was a donation envelope or something since my mother is part of the Springfield Historical Society, and I thought the school was hitting me up to donate! Ha! When I finally did open and read it I thought it was nice. It was a pretty big deal once I found out more details about it and how out of 75 years of the school being there, I was one out of 14 former students who were chosen to be inducted. There were 7 people who were faculty or teachers that were also chosen. So you had 75 years and thousands of students and only 21 people who I guess made something of their careers and then gave something back that made the final cut. So that alone made it a bigger deal. It was kind of like an ‘American Idol’ type of ratio. There was a lot of scrutinizing that also went on with each inductee and they had to be defended as to why they should be there from the people who had put forth their names. There were only two people who were inducted from the graphics section and I was one of them. So it was cool.

DCM: Before the ceremony, had you been back to the school since you graduated?

Neely: Quite a few times actually. I was a judge for about two years at “Celebration of the Arts” and then I also spoke numerous times for the students in the graphics section over the years. About every two years or so, I’d go in and do a talk. If Preston called and asked me to come in, I did it for him. Plus, I spoke at other schools, libraries, etc.

DCM: Have you ever taught your craft?

I have taught many classes of all ages in cartooning, drawing, or animation of some sort over the years. It was extra filler for my resume and it looks good to have it. I enjoyed doing it, but then I do get burned out on it and need to take a break from it for a couple years and recharge. I do a lot of speaking engagements for schools and libraries and that has been nice for promotional reasons as well as soup for the soul.

DCM: What was your very first paid artist position? And do you remember how you found the position?

Neely: This is hard to remember. I think it was around 1991. It couldn’t have been very important to me so I guess that’s why I don’t recall it as well. I did some drawings for an air-conditioning unit turned into a cartoon character. I think that was the start of initially trying to get work. I can’t remember that stuff as well, since I was looking towards the future. When it really started to happen in 1993 for me, that’s the stuff I remember like it was yesterday.

DCM: What would you tell our current art students within the Delaware County School Districts if you could reach out and give them advice?

Neely: Stick with it and if you want to do it that badly, nothing that I say will change your mind. You have to be happy in life and if you don’t enjoy your job, what’s the point? You will find your niche eventually and what you do well. You either can make it happen or you don't. It's all on you whether or not you win or lose.

DCM: Out of all of the characters you have illustrated, which one do you wish could jump off the page and actually come to life?

Neely: Hmmm… a naked Daphne and Velma would be interesting. Most male artists I’m sure would like a sexy naked woman drawing to leap off the page at them. It’s a movie scenario for sure. I don’t know. I never really thought about it. If I did, it would definitely be something that I own and not something that someone else owns like Scooby or Yogi. It would probably be my cartoon character of Moochy Munk who’s a monkey character I created for a story I wrote and drew that was in a Hanna-Barbera style. I’d say my cartoon version of my dog but he is based on my real dog, and even Hollywood Hal & Rhinestone Al whom I designed became real in the end when the full costumes were made. So I’ve already had it happen!

DCM: Have you ever thought of getting into animation?

Neely: It’s amazing how many people think we still animate in this country. Pixar and Dreamworks still do it here. Everything else is shipped out to Korea or some other place overseas. We do pre- and post-production over here and that’s it. We get it up and running and they do all the real work over there, and then it gets shipped back and we tweak it, and fix the pacing and tighten it up, and then air the shows. It’s been that way since the mid-70s when they started sending it out since it used to be way cheaper than paying an American to do it. All the WB, Cartoon Network and Nick shows that are on right now are all shipped out. Some stuff is done in Flash and kept over here, but very few exceptions. I’ve thought of doing pre-production, pre-visual or conceptual design work but the economy has a lot of talented folks out of work right now, so I’ll bide my time and stay in licensing…unless another opportunity arises. You can’t predict where life will take you.

DCM: You’ve also posted videos of you drawing Scooby-Doo and Ed, Edd ‘n Eddy on your website. What were these done for?

Neely: I had just bought the new HD Slide Flip Camera and thought it was a simple way to get some other promotion for myself. So I built a rig that hangs over my light table and I can record myself drawing when I feel like it. It’s more pressure to do good drawings when there’s a film crew over you waiting, so this makes it easier to just hit play when I feel in the mood. I’ve recorded some stuff at 2am so it’s nice to do it on my schedule. There’s really no editing at all since I’m still learning the software for cutting the files. It’s all in real time and not sped up. A lot of drawing clips on YouTube are sped up and you don’t get a lot out of them other than seeing someone draw really fast and if I want to see someone create something, I want it in real time to see the way they do it. There’s not any audio lessons though on mine since it’s hard to talk and draw at the same time, but it’s always neat to see an artist create something on a blank piece of paper. I may record some audio and insert it overtop of the videos where I explain what I’m doing and how I’m doing it. It’s gotten a lot of hits on so I’ll be doing more. Some will be more educational as well.

DCM: How did you meet Alfie and how long have you had him?

Neely: Alfie 1 died in 2000. He was 17 years old and his body failed him. He was a great dog who had a long life. I waited for a few years since the work load was huge for me and then in 2002 my mother was the one who instigated getting another dog. I got a new Yorkie on April 13, 2002 from a breeder in Delaware. He came up to me and never left me alone when all the other Yorkies were doing their own thing so I knew he was the one. I was going to call him Scrappy since it fit him and his attitude, but I called him Alfie whenever he did something and it just kept slipping out, so I said the hell with it and he became Alfie 2. He will be 8 years old this year.

DCM: Finish this sentence: When you are busy illustrating, Alfie can be found…

Neely: …lying next to me or chewing on his bones and waiting till his next walk.

The Evolution Of A Scooby Comic Cover - Final Color Version!

Here's the final color art for the Scooby cover without the logos and UPC. It came out cool! Not sure what issue it's for yet. I thought it was for Issue #2 but it may have been pushed back. I'll update as I find out.

UPDATE - I just found out that this cover will be on Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? #5!

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Evolution Of A Scooby Comic Cover!

I was sent an email from my editor at Wildstorm and he asked me about doing some cover sketches based on a Scooby story I just drew. I love to do covers so I readily jumped on it! Since I've been asked on this blog (and other places) about the process and the steps of what I do and how it happens, I thought this cover would be good for doing a step-by-step of the creative process.

The first thing I do is ask the editor, or art director, if they have any specific thing in their mind that they want to have portrayed or the main focus of a cover. A lot of times they will leave it up to the artist but I've had some who wanted to convey a theme or idea. This cover is based on a story I just drew and not to give anything away but the story was based in a circus setting and a locked door was a big part of the mystery to be solved. The only real dynamic to doing a Scooby cover is to make it fun and a bit spooky, with possibly some humorous overtone to it.

So, in terms of drawing, the first thing I do is work up some thumbnails of ideas, which you see above. My editor said I could write down concept ideas in an email and see if those ideas would work in a verbal pitch and sometimes they do, but for this cover I thought a verbal description wasn't as "readable" as a visual thumbnail. There was a lot going on and a visual guide would be more helpful. For doing my thumbnails, I have a small layout page (8.5" x 11") I made based on the DC Comics grid and there are four of them on a page. The grid is 30% of the original art size but it's all proportional. It has all the bleed and live area marked out and as you can see from my thumbnails there is a mark on the outside of each of the grids (on each side) and this lets me know that the top 1/3 of the cover is where the logos and other company info will go and I can't have any important information go up higher on the cover since it may be covered up. I also plan where the UPC box code will go as well.

I came up with six ideas and drew them that night and the editor had them the next morning. He liked them and submitted them to Warner Bros for approval. They came back four days later and ALL the cover ideas were approved (WOW! That's cool to hear! It doesn't happen all the time!) but WB liked Cover "E" best. So my editor asked me which one I liked best and (as noted on the thumbnails) I liked Cover "C". My editor then said to do "C" but to add some creepy hands reaching out for Shaggy and Fred and to possibly add a spider dropping down on a web to add a spooky or comedic feel to it. I was happy with all of them really so any of them would have been fun to draw.

As an aside, I want to mention that I also wanted the door to be as part of the main focus as well as working with the character (or characters) as the initial focus or "read". A lot of covers are much more effective usually with just one or two characters on it as opposed to a lot of them all vying for the attention of your eye. Rule #1 of a comic cover (or any cover or poster) is that it has to "pop out" on the comic stand from all the others and work at a distance. If you can "read" it from about 5 feet away, and everything is well designed and it catches your eye, it stands out. This is what you strive for when designing a cover. I had that success with the Scooby "Earth Day" cover I did. Also, one of the thumbnails I did is more action-oriented and has the characters running from the circus wagon and the locked door. I try to have some kind of kinetic energy to my covers instead of them just being a static image. Some art directors and editors like a more action-based image to sell something. I do think action-based covers draw a viewer in a lot more than a static one, but it depends on the mood and feel that you are going for. It's hard to do that though when the main mystery is based around a locked door. If there was a monster at the heart of it, there is always a chase involved and you can do that scenario in an unlimited amount of ways visually.

As I said, WB liked "E" which I can see why since it was a focus on Scooby (our hero) and the shadow on the door (K.I.S.S. or Keep It Simple, Stupid). I liked "C" as it had focus on Scooby and the whole gang and encompassed the feel of the story best (in my mind).

Now once I got the final additions from my editor I then roughed out the cover and worked out the details worrying about design, positive/negative space, readability of the shadow on the door and other little details when it gets printed smaller. In an effort to please, and to see if the Cover "E" was also a viable option, I did two roughs. The roughs are done at full comic cover size, which is around 11 x 17 varying the DC art board. I do the roughs at full size just to be sure that the specs are correct and my bleed is accurate. And here are my two roughs:

As you can see on the rough of Cover "C", I left off the Spider on the web since I thought it may be overkill and too much detail to look at and digest. There was enough pulling for your attention as it was. I did have to cheat the angle of the door just a bit to be sure that the shadow cast on the door would work and be readable. This is something that the color will also add to it.

These sketches are inked as well. It's just how I work. I like things to be tight enough and I experiment with the ink to figure out how I will do it on the final version sometimes. It helped to ink these as I was working out how I wanted the wood work shadow lines to run and how thick I wanted the lines to be. I try to nail down as much as I can in the rough stage so that the inking stage is just some spit and polish.

I think Cover "E" works well too. It reads great and the shadow on the door is very readable! I liked the spider but wasn't sure how far to bring it into the picture since Scooby is reacting more to the doorknob twisting than the spider or the looming shadow. Plus you get a great view of the circus. In the 11th hour, lighting strikes me (pun intended) and I thought it would be cool to add a looming storm in the background as well since I added lighting bolts in the background of the story as it progressed. It's another aspect that color will enhance.

Once both these roughs were submitted the next day, it was agreed upon to use Cover "C". The only thing was that the UPC symbol would have covered up part of Scooby and that's kind of something that artists and editors hate. You never try to have anything cover up the main character, let alone the star of the project! The editor asked if he could get more bleed on it so we could move Scooby a bit so the UPC wouldn't hurt the art. So I immediately got the great idea of how to fix it in a minute and rescue the piece from any redrawing! This is why I love Photoshop! I grabbed a portion of the lower inside of the door and the doorknob itself and raised it up with a simple copy and paste. I moved it up and then placed a scanned version of the UPC symbol that I use for my layout grid and then emailed it back to the editor in about 2 minutes! He loved it and told me to then go and finish it! Problem solved! I didn't even have to tweak the eyeballs of the characters as they were all looking that way anyway. Talk about an easy fix!

So I lightboxed and inked the final art onto DC Comic art board and I do this as well instead of digitally inking since I can then sell the artwork after it's done. The main reason why I do all my comic work still by hand is for the sale of the original art. At this stage of the final art I make little tweaks and finalize the art and make sure my line quality is sharp and strong. Fans may not notice any difference between my roughs and final art sometimes but I try to make sure the quality of the final art is as high as I can do it. As you can see I also tweaked the shadow on the door's hand a bit to make it more readable, so that's a noticeable fix. Once this is done and inked, I scan the art at 600dpi and save a copy at full size for my own records and then load the art into a DC Layout Cover Grid and then save it to their settings and emailed it to the editor! If it's small enough I can usually email it instead of loading it up to my folder on their FTP.

Since it was somewhat of a rush, Wildstorm will be coloring it and I'll post it when I get a copy of it! I hope this post was informative to you all! Here's the final art!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

WONDER WOMAN Art For Charity Event!

I was sent an email from Andy Mangels to participate in the Wonder Woman Day V charity benefit for domestic violence programs and apparently this year is a hard sell to get artists to do some art for the event, mostly from any of the main DC Comics Universe (or DCU) artists. Since I felt bad about that I decided to do a piece for it today before I go back to Scooby work tomorrow.

Since I mainly do comic work for the Johnny DC line (what's left of it and now moved to Wildstorm) I decided to do a piece of Wonder Woman from the Justice League Unlimited cartoon series. I thought of doing my version of her but decided to keep it simple for a fan who may buy it. Drawn on 9 x 12 paper and inked with a Pitt Brush Marker and some Microns for the small details on the face and the stars.

You can find out more about the upcoming event at

Thursday, September 16, 2010

SCOOBY At The Beach Sketch! - Plus, A Work Update!

Here's a sketch of Scooby at the beach that I did way back in 2000-01 from my records. Probably should have posted it on Labor Day but I was deep into drawing my portrait of Kristy that weekend. Pretty tight pencil work here and all my pencils seem to be this tight on everything. New people I work with are usually shocked at how tight they are compared to other artists they may deal with but doing a lot of licensing has made me this way so it's hard for me to go real loose after 10+ years of etching the final work "in stone" as it were.
This past couple days I've been working on a new Scooby-Doo comic cover for Wildstorm. I believe it's for issue #2 where there is a story I drew as well. I will be posting the cover in steps so that you can see the process I go through in creating a cover from concept to finish. I will be doing the final clean up and inks tomorrow for it and then I shall post it as it is and then post a color version when that part is done. People have asked about the working process and I think this cover gives a great idea of how I go about it since there were some artistic choices that I made and some I was asked to draw from the editor. All in all, it's shaping up nicely!

Friday, September 10, 2010

KRISTY McNICHOL Portrait - Or How I Spent My Labor Day Weekend

This past week, when I was working on Scooby, I had a pet project that I was doing in bits and pieces. I worked on it mostly on Labor Day though and finished it the other day after tweaking it for the 15th final time. I've been drawing cartoons for so long that the realistic look that I've used before back when I worked at the Franklin Mint hasn't been used in many years now so I decided to try to get back to using those art muscles... and it was a fight!

I decided to do a portrait. Then I decided to pick a subject that had easier hair to draw as opposed to something more difficult. Always good to start with something easy. I was going to draw Amanda Bynes as she's cute and has the most perfect flowing hair I've seen in a long time, but then I thought if this thing was going to take a long time I'd better pick a subject where the interest won't be waning on it a couple hours in so I thought I better make it something even more personal to my liking if I was in for a long haul. As so, I decided to draw a portrait of Kristy McNichol somewhere around 1978-79 I guess when she was making Little Darlings. I've always liked her and she has the best eyes and smile and I also knew that it would be like drawing a caricature and if you don't get the eyes or mouth just right the likeness falls apart pretty quick.

I had plenty of photo reference for her face but then I picked out a picture of her in a sweater that I thought would work better for the mediums and contrasts that I was going to do the piece in, so in the end I "Frankenstein'ed" the piece in a way, which is what most artists do, and I used the sweater pattern which has dark and light tones to it. The piece overall was done on 11 x 14 paper and was done with pencils of varying hard and soft lead (most of the piece is in pencil), some charcoal on a sponge for the background, a white colored pencil, a black colored pencil, and a white conte crayon in spots. I used a kneaded eraser to help lighten the tones in spots to help with highlights such as the ones on her face. And a normal white art eraser for massive erasing when it got away from me. Also I used some rubbing sticks made of the rolled paper (I can't remember what they're called) to blend some of the gradients together. I added the background as an afterthought as I finished the piece and then thought a contrasting background would push the sweater forward. I wasn't sure how I would do the gradient or how high to take it and so I made a copy of the art and then practiced on how I wanted to the background to look. In real life, you don't have an "undo" button as you do working in the computer so I like working on copies of the art first and then when I'm happy I go and do it on the original art.

I worked on it in bits and pieces mostly and I do have to say that I don't recommend working that way since it's harder to pick when you'll be in the right mood to do the best work. I think it's better to work on it straight through if you can and not have to go back and forth between it and something else. All in all, it took me like 4-5 days of playing with it and working it, erasing, reworking it, and then erasing some more. It was a fight in some areas and I spend a loooooonnnnggggg time on her hair than anything else. Hmm, Her face took a long time too actually. The whole thing took a long time! Most of the work was done last Sunday and Monday on it. It looks great when you stand about 3-5 feet from it, since like a painting, you can see all the sketch lines and such when you're right on top of it. I kept stepping back every couple minutes as I was doing it to be sure it was working.

In the end, I think it came out great! Better than I thought it would and it's a pretty satisfying piece to me artistically. I'm sure I'll look at it tomorrow and find something I can tweak but at some point you have to let it go or you'll go crazy. I don't know if I could do it as a paying job on a regular basis as it takes sooooo long and I'd have to make it economical for a client so I'd have to get faster at it. So here is how I spend my Labor Day Weekend... Enjoy!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

"The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of" - Maltese Falcon Sketch

As I was waiting for an approval on some sketches today, I did a still life drawing of the Maltese Falcon. I have a replica prop of it that I bought back in the mid 90's and it's a great conversation piece in my studio. Always been a fan of the movie as well so I thought why not sketch it. It's always better to do a still life of something you like as opposed to organizing a bunch of fruit on a table. It was penciled on cheap 11 x 17 copy paper and then lightboxed and inked onto good 11 x 17 art paper with a Pitt Brush Marker. After I scanned the artwork I then used a Photoshop brush to create a light gray background behind it to give it some push. Possibly I'll color it later on but it looks kinda cool in black and white.

Did I Mention That I Have A PHINEAS AND FERB Book Out?

By the way, did I mention that I have a Phineas and Ferb book out in stores that I did work on? It's a way cool book and jammed with a lot of fun stuff! I got my copies of it a month ago and forgot to post about it here! Yikes! I hope to work with the boys again soon! I sold some original sketches of P and F in my online store the other day and then remembered the book was out! So better late than never.

Another Scooby Sketch and Update!

Here's another Scooby sketch I drew for a warm-up so I thought I'd post it for you to see. I've been working on the Scooby project I mentioned last post for two weeks and it's now done, though I'm now sketching some Scooby for another gig I got yesterday, which is cool. Also, there is some Scooby work coming somewhat soon based on the new cartoon "Mystery Incorporated" but I don't want to jinx it and talk about it yet.

Other than that, work has picked up after a slow summer and I should be doing some KungFu Panda 2 stuff as well in another month. In the other time, I've been trying to flex my art muscles by drawing realistically again as well since I've been stuck doing cartoons for a while now so I tried my hand at a portrait. My first one in many, many years! I'll post it later today or tomorrow!