Wednesday, August 5, 2015


I will start this entry by stating an undisputed fact: “time travels fast, especially when you are busy”. I cannot believe that my last entry was written at the beginning of the year. I would like to write more often but drawing and moving forward in my career is a priority. Since this is a blog about making it in the world of art (comics to be more precise), I think I have made the right choice on prioritizing my work.

Although I have been feeling anxious about my place in the industry so far, I have never been more focused on my goals. It has been harder than I thought but the good news is that my will to achieve my dream is still strong.  Somehow I’m living the dream everyday so no complaints there, I just need to keep at it until I get my big break.

I have seven months worth of art to show, and I couldn’t possibly show every piece here. I’ll be brief on this entry and show you a couple of examples of each segment. For those who can’t get enough of my art (Come on!, there must be some out there!) you can visit my new and improved website which has all my artwork arranged in an orderly fashion. I try to keep the site updated every other week.

Let me begin by saying that I already have 5,255 hours on my main challenge of achieving 10,000 hours to become a master in art. I'm halfway there, and although it seems that it has been a long time ago since I started counting my hours invested in the craft, I can’t help to think that everything is downhill from now. My first post stating the rules of the challenge was on September 1st, 2010. It has been almost 5 years for 5000 hours, so I can only estimate 5 years more down the road!

Now let’s get serious. If you follow me or read this blog, chances are you either enjoy art or make art. I’ll try to deliver on both accounts.

Let’s start off with what I’m doing now to grab the attention of publishers and art directors. I hope you remember my previous yearly challenge on drawing a DC Comic book character everyday for 2014 called DC Daily (I sure do!). I haven’t really tried to contact DC Comics to show off my work, mainly because it is so hard to reach them and also I haven’t the slightest idea on who to approach. I did print a book with all 365 illustrations and I think it looks great. This is for show of course since I haven’t  gotten permission by DC Comics to sell them. I guess I like more to make art rather than sell it. Some people tell me to sell it anyways as "fan art" since it falls under the category of 'Fair Use'. I'm not sure about that so I wouldn't risk it. By the way, what is Fair Use? It is a limitation and exception to the exclusive right granted by copyright law to the author of a creative work. In United States copyright law, fair use is a doctrine that permits limited use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission from the rights holders". The following book is NOT FOR SALE, just for showing to art directors and publishers at conventions. Also, the fact that it exists physically makes me less anxious on having spent a year of my life on that and haven't done anything with it yet. Although I do sell individual prints at con as fan art :) 


For 2015 I decided to do something lighter but also challenging. I’m drawing a Marvel Comics character (or team) cover every week for 2015 called Marvel 52. These are done in comic book cover format and the series will contain 52 pieces. Although this is not as gargantuan of a challenge as the DC Daily project, I'm still investing a lot of my time in these illustrations. I spend between two to three days on average to complete each cover. I draw everything by hand but all digitally as well by using a Cintiq (Wacom) with my favorite software Manga Studio. Some of them I had the opportunity to sell as commissions. In these cases I like to draw with traditional pencils so I can give them the original art as well as you can see in the Beast piece. Prices on commissions are listed on my webpage on My Store.

I hope I finish my Marvel 52 challenge on 2015, but if not, bear with me. Remember I’m not getting paid for these covers and when paid work comes across I have to do it. I’m halfway there so there may be a possibility of meeting the deadline. If not, I will probably finish on January 2016. Following some Marvel 52 examples and a time-lapse video process of making the Vision.

I’ve been really busy this year but I did find the time to go to C2E2 (Chicago’s best comic convention by ReedPop) and be at the artist alley. It is a big deal because you have to be accepted in order to participate as an artist. It was a really great experience but very tiring. I don’t know if I’m cut out to do that very often though. My beautiful wife was with me at the table helping me to sell some prints. She was a great help and business was good. We had a lot of fun. Of course my expenses tend to be much higher than Americans because I have to travel from Ecuador so it wasn’t as lucrative as I would have liked. Still, it was a great way for getting my work out there. I even met a lovely couple that was getting married on July (they must be married by now) and commissioned me an illustration cover based on the famous Amazing Spider-Man annual # 21. I had fun with this project and I even have a video showing the process. Last but not least, I had the opportunity to give Mark Waid (a famous comic and Flash writer) my Flash fan comic I made that I had dedicated to him, and he was very kind as always. He even asked for my signature, how cool is that?

My Artist Alley table at C2E2
Me and the Wife
Me with a fan :)
Me with Mark Waid

What about comics? I‘ve been doing some comic pages for a new series that we want to launch. It is called Heartthrob but we are still in the stage of finding a publisher that is interested in the project. This is Nikolai Barkats’ story, a young but great writer that has not only fun and solid ideas but also knows how to write amazing scripts. I will only show you the cover for this one since I don’t want to spoil anything out to you. The interior pages, which I cannot show, are colored by a friend of mine and great artist from Ecuador, David Méndez.

Cover for Heartthrob
I also met a fan, which now happens to be a friend and also a great writer. He is Marcelo Cury from Sao Paulo, Brazil. He was very supportive when I was drawing my DC Daily challenge and commented on almost every post. We happened to meet on New York and then he told me he had the good habit of writing scripts. I didn’t think much of it until he sent me a page or two. I was hooked with the way he writes and needless to say we are cooking something special. It is still top secret and hopefully we will launch it next year. Sorry, no peeking!

Me, Marcelo, and Dr. Hurt

Ok, now let’s get technical and talk about color. I have always considered myself more of a drawer rather than painter. From the beginning of time in art there has been the distinction, line versus color, or to be more precise line versus values. Some people think either one of them is an ability that you are born with, just like music talent. Although musicians have that special talent, they also have to learn techniques and how to play instruments. The same happens here and I’m confident you can learn both abilities. For me drawing comes easier and more natural than painting. I love lines and to flirt with the idea of the type of lines I can make to denote weight or texture is fulfilling. Values are just as important since it can show volume just by shading or highlighting the planes of the subject. They can be done in grayscale. To understand values you have to understand how light works. This Andrew Loomis’ drawing is self-explanatory but hard to grasp at first. Memorize it! It will get easier with practice, practice, and more practice. 

Color is another beast and it is challenging as hell. For this I recommend the book “Color and Light” by James Gurney. You can find it on Amazon here. It has everything you need to learn about color.

Finally, my beautiful daughter turned 1 year old this July 27th. I, of course, decided to give her a present from the heart (along with toys of course). I drew a portrait of her and also edited a time-lapse video of the process. I hope you enjoy it.

Portrait of my daughter Juliana for her birthday

Besides my current Marvel 52 challenge, and my upcoming comic work by Marcelo and me, I have two other announcements. In order to keep the blog more active, I will create an online course on essentials on drawing. I will try and get the lessons done for summer 2016. They will be video time-lapses, examples, and even homework. There will be free content but also exclusive content for paid memberships.

My other announcement is that I’m planning to live feed my 24-hour challenge comic, which consists on creating an entire comic of 24 pages in 24 hours. This is a demanding but also a rewarding task. I will hope to do this on October 3, 2015. Of course, I will make official announcements via Instagram (@journeystudios), Twitter (@Jostudios), and Facebook (Journey Studios). This is a project based on the famous Scott McCloud challenge that has inspired hundreds of artists to make this challenge. The rules are in the following link. What normally takes you one day to do (a penciled page) you now have to do it in one hour (inked and probably with some color too). If this is not a challenge I don’t know what is. I love challenges, haven’t you noticed?

Talk to you soon.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015


You may be wondering where I have been since I have not updated my blog in a year. Well, it is fair to say that I am still here and that I’ve been a bit tied up in completing a challenge I set up for myself. In my previous entry (as I said, a year ago) I explained more or less what the challenge was going to be about. If you don’t remember, I don’t blame you, so let me start off with a story first for the people who may have forgotten entirely about me and my goal; or for new fans who want to know my secret origins and probably want to spend a nice weekend reading my adventures as well as my misadventures from previous entries.

It all started with an idea. This inception was born out of frustration and a profound sadness in having a job I was not meant to have. Being miserable is the best fuel for someone to snap out of it and embark on a quest to find himself. It was a dark silent night… mmm… I better give you the cliff note version for this tale. If you want the longer version you can always read my previous entries. So, I made up my mind, at age 32, to pursue a career in art, specifically in comics. What that entailed was to take on a lot of journeys and self-imposed challenges to achieve that goal. I designed a plan to master that craft by drawing (or painting) for 10,000 hours (Outliers anyone?) Needless to say, I’m still taking that journey, but most important of all, I’m enjoying the scenery as I go. I moved to New York City to study a Bachelor in Fine Arts majoring in cartooning at the School of Visual Arts. I had my share of great teachers whom I still share contact with. I graduated from SVA at 35 in 2013 and returned back home to Guayaquil, Ecuador. What always follows after any graduation is that sense of ambiguity. What to do? How to spend my working hours? Where to focus my talents? I needed to sort this out and my first goal was to create my own fan comic of my favorite character ‘The Flash’. I wrote, pencilled, inked, and lettered (with purchased fonts by Comicraft) the entire comic. Due to time constraints I had to let colorist David Méndez embellished my pages with his beautiful palette choices. It was a good call since I considered myself more a penciller and inker rather than a colorist, although I do know how to color, as you will see in my next challenge. Here are some examples of some of the colored pages:

Fan comic of The Flash # 276 by Jo

The only problem with this project is that it cannot be sold since I don’t have any rights to the characters and so on. Still, the purpose of this comic was to use it as part of my portfolio and also to indulge myself in making one of my dreams come true. Granted, it is not officially part of the DC Comics canon but it was well received among true Flash fans who happened to come by the story. You can check the complete story for free at my webpage One of the highlights of this project was the tweet that fan favorite writer Mark Waid (whom I dedicated the comic to) made:

Mark Waid's Tweet after reading my comic

Mark Waid and I at SDCC 2009

To be acknowledged by my favorite writer and the best Flash writer of my era was more than I bargained for. It was a complete circle for me because the first comic I read (when I became a serious comic book fan) was Flash # 74 written by none other than Mark Waid and illustrated by Greg La Rocque, who I met later on at Florida Supercon when I had a table at the artist alley. He is such a nice guy and gave me wonderful advice. He was my first favorite artist at that time and the way I envision Flash (Wally West) is based on his amazing art.

Greg LaRocque and I at Supercon 2014

Ok, back to the reason I was absent for a year. I’ve been way too busy trying to accomplish the ambitious challenge of drawing one DC Comics character everyday for 2014. I wanted to be able to post everyday on all my social media accounts a completed piece without any kind of delay. The pieces started simpler and at first they took me around 4 to 5 hours each. As time progressed, so did my craft so basically I was getting more excited with the results. I started, in some cases, adding backgrounds or working more in composition design rather than just poses. Needless to say, my anatomy was getting more accurate and my dinking (digital inking using Manga Studio) more precise. At an early stage in the challenge, my DC character a day (#DCDAILY) became my full time job. Yeah, I wasn’t getting paid in money but I was gaining tons of followers and most important of all, I was seeing lots of improvement in my overall technique.

#DCDAILY CHALLENGE - Drawing a DC character everyday for 2014 

I decided to do all this digitally. In other words, I used my Wacom Cintiq (to draw on a pressure sensitive screen) and the software I used was Manga Studio (I still think this is the best software not only for creating comics but also for digital painting as a whole). My artistic process could be simplified with these steps:

0. - Research. - Needless to say I did some research on Batman and most important on Gotham. There have been so many interpretations of Batman that I had to go with the most iconic. This one particularly is based on the Batman design for the story No Man’s Land (If you look closely the belt is not the classic one) but the color scheme is more classic. At the end it is the artist’s take but I did not want to reinvent the characters for this challenge, rather draw the most iconic costume for each character. This was no easy task though. Kids, Gotham does NOT exist, and although most of you are aware of this, Gotham is a character by itself. Gotham is a mix of New York, London, and Paris. It has a lot of skyscrapers but it is very gothic with churches and gargoyles all over the place. So I had a pretty good idea what Gotham looks like by now. In any case, most of the time I use Google images but only for reference. It is very rare when I draw an identical picture. There is always room to enhance the picture and mold it according to your own composition. Research is fundamental, at least when you are trying to go for a realistic take of the city and, in this case, the caped crusader.

1. Layouts (Thumbnails). - As you can see in this picture, I try to work very loose here. I draw small and try to focus my attention on composition. Because of this challenge anatomy is not as hard as it was at the beginning but it is always challenging depending on the pose. This pose is not particularly hard and the camera view is just a standard medium shot. At this stage I designed the cape taking the background buildings into consideration.

Step 1 - Thumbs

2. Perspective. - In some cases, when the piece has a background that needs perspective I tend to work on that early on. I’m already at ease with the pose so I know by now that if I do not nail the perspective, the overall image won’t look cool, or realistic for that matter. Sometimes fans cannot pinpoint where the mistake is but they do know that something is wrong, and that is not good because it throws you out of the story. In this case, I use perspective rulers in Manga Studio, but hey, it is not as easy as you would imagine. You have to use the same principles as doing it traditionally. You have to figure out where you want your horizon line and where are your main vanishing points located at. This is a clear example of a 3-point perspective but I’m not going to dwell on this since this is not a perspective class.

Step 2 - Perspective

3. Pencils (Roughs). - Keep in mind that these are digital pencils and are more or less the same thing, in theory. Something I do miss is working with real pencils on good quality paper. This is the stage when you start having fun. You start drawing on top of the thumbs and perspective layers (both of them are hidden in this picture, but are basically the same as the ones before only I changed the colors to blue for the figure and red for the background in order to have a blueprint (or redprint if you will). I try to make this step more fun and start fixing mistakes or adding details to the overall image.

Step 3 - Rough Pencils

4. Pencils (Tights). - When I go overboard with my roughs I tend to skip this step in order to ink the piece. I normally did this because of the time constraints I had with this project but under normal circumstances I wouldn’t do it. The tighter they are, the easier it will be to ink the piece with better results.

Step 4 - Tight Pencils

5. Inks. - I cannot tell you how much I love digital inks, specially in Manga Studio. They look like the real deal. In my case, I like my lines very clean (as you can see) so using a software that lets you erase your inks is great. Granted, sometimes it lacks personality in the lines, and you can also do a lot of stuff with traditional techniques. For instance, using a dry brush is awesome for some styles. Although I do have a dry brush tool in Manga Studio, it is not the same.

Step 5 - Inks

6. Flatting. - This is the boring stage. Lots of professional colorists use professional flatters because it is so time consuming. Because I did this everyday I became very fast at it and learned a few tricks on the go, but it is still painful to do it. Basically you use the lasso tool to mask areas with different colors.

Step 6 - Flats

7. Logo. - I cannot tell you how much I hate doing logos, mainly because you have to do them in Illustrator. I don’t know, using vectors is completely different as the way you normally draw. That’s why not every penciller is a good graphic designer as most people would assume. I did 365 of them so… kudos to me.

Step 7 - Logo

8. Coloring and effects. - This is a very organic step. It is more like painting, or rendering. I gained a lot of experience in making certain types of effects, most of the time through trial and error. Sometimes they worked and sometimes they did not. At the end of the day I do not consider myself a colorist since I know there are a lot of colorists that can do a better job than I did with these pieces. Then again, paying a colorist to work on 365 pages would have proven… unwise. Still, I learned a lot by doing this.

Step 8 - Coloring & SFX

Here is a tutorial I made for Tomorrow Woman and a time-lapse video on how I made Red Hood so you can get the idea. Take into consideration that this one took me around 9 hours and because of the magic of technology I can show it to you in approximately 14 minutes.

So I had to go through this process everyday. Some days I even worked on two because I knew that the next day would be impossible to draw due to… well… life. Because this is an artistic process it wasn’t as rigid for every piece, but you get the idea.

So what did I gain by sacrificing an entire year of my life on doing something that I probably can’t sell? I do have specific plans for this project and I intend to approach them in a timely fashion. The worst-case scenario is that I gained more skills during the year in order to make me more competitive in the industry. Will I ever do something like this again? Probably yes, if I were paid to do it. Thanks to all my fans for liking and commenting on my posts, whether you believe it or not, that kind of support is what kept me going. The challenge is dedicated to my wife Morole and my daughter Juliana for putting up with me drawing all the time.

My daughter Ju and my wife Morole

Here are only 25 out of 365 of my drawings. They are not my top 25 (some of them are though) but they are the most recent, hence, better. You want to see more? No problem, just go to my website and click My Challenge. I will upload them on and soon so I can sell them as prints. I will make sure to inform the fans.

# 365 The Flash (Wally West)

So now that this is all over, what are my plans? That is an awfully good question. I do have some goals for 2015 but I won’t divulge all of them right away. What I can say is that this year I will be making my own graphic novel and hopefully some publisher will be interested in printing it. It will be written, drawn, and inked by me. Colors will be taken care by another fellow artist. Also I’m planning to do something like my DC Daily challenge but this time based on Marvel characters, and only limited to 52. In other words, it will be one character per week. This collection is named ‘Marvel 52’. They will be more elaborated than my previous challenge practically because I can spend more time on them. I will try to focus these pieces as comic cover quality. Also, I will try to make a quick warm-up sketch from Monday to Friday and the fun part is that I will be taking requests, although they will primarily be characters from the 80s. I will try to do them with traditional mediums such as pencils, inks, washes, and markers. I will draw these warmups until I finish the sketchbook I bought for it (it will not reach 365 sketches though), and then probably auction it. Last but not least, I will do the infamous 24-hour comic. This was an exercise created by Scott Mccloud, and now a days lots of cartoonists are doing it. It is very hard to make with no interruptions but to have your own 24-hour comic would be great. I will make sure to post the rules of this particular challenge, and perhaps I will even put a 24-hour video feed of me working.

I will try to go to conventions to show my art and sell some prints of my DC Daily Challenge. As master Yoda said: “You either do, or do not… There is no try”, so I may as well do it. I will be posting my future cons so you can plan accordingly.

I will be doing commissions and I will be posting them as well, if the client lets me do it of course. Pricing depends a lot on the medium I use and the style and complexity it is preferred by the client, so it is variable and I would gladly quote everyone that is interested.

As you can see, it has been a very busy year, one I think, that will take me closer to my finish line. On the personal level I can only add that it was the best year of my life because I had a baby daughter, named Juliana (as you saw in the pic above dressed as a beautiful lamb) and that was the best gift I have ever received. From the day she was born my life is dedicated to her.

I won’t neglect this blog anymore because as you can see I will be logging 5000 hours soon and that means I’m almost halfway through from my original goal of mastering art by drawing 10,000 hours.

I hope I didn’t bore you and it would be great if my 4 F’s (family, friends, fans, and followers) give me some feedback on how to improve this blog, or ideas on what to do next. I can see myself having a successful life doing what I love; now I need to convince not only my fans but the publishers as well. The world is my oyster.

See you next time!!!



Journey Studios
Instagram: @journeystudios
Twitter: @jostudios
Facebook: Journey Studios
Tumblr: Journey Studios
Deviant Art: bielero
Youtube: Jose Molestina