ByAnthony Baez, writer at Creators.co

I wish I had a super awesome story of why I made these illustrations. Much like everything else I draw, they started with the thought, Wouldn't it be cool if I...

By the way, you can check out my other artwork if you're curious.

...And then there was light! The first of the series was Aquaman. I got the idea while at work, I believe. Much like all of my other ideas I have at work. They bring on my shaky leg syndrome of creativity entrapment. Because I can't start my idea during the work day, it's hard to focus on the 9 to 5 without getting restless. But then once I get home all inspiration is lost anyway and a marathon of Netflix ensues! [End rant]

Anyway, I came up with the idea to do Aquaman in my style, which I can't really describe. "Realistic-cartoony," maybe? The idea was to take one of my least favorite superheroes and try to make them cool.

First came the sketch. Sometimes on paper, this time I drew right into Photoshop with my Wacom tablet. It starts really rough and then the details start piling up, along with the layers.

sketch phase
sketch phase

Here are some of the details. Using the soft brush with the pressure sensitivity on. I keep painting in more and more volume and shading in black and white.

detail phase (when it starts to look cool)
detail phase (when it starts to look cool)

Please do as I say, and not as I did and move all around the illustration while painting. Sometimes us artist get really excited that our image starts to look like something. Then we meticulously stay in that small area and don't take a step back to take a look at the whole image. Trust me, work on the entire image equally.

Notice that I added an image of a shark for reference as I worked. My focus was on the character, so for all of these, I used pictures and painted over them for the backgrounds.

finished black and white. (After hours and hours)
finished black and white. (After hours and hours)

After I get all the details worked out in black and white I then start to color. I do this by making a new layer on top of the black and white and set the layer mode to "color." This allows the colors you lay over the black and white to take on the forms of your shading without affecting them. I'm not a teacher, so I'm hoping this is making some sense...

finished piece
finished piece

You see! Not much difference between the colored and the black and white picture. The coloring actually took the least amount of time, too. After I finished this one, I thought about how cool it would be to have a portfolio of comic book covers, or that trying to do this for a living would be completely awesome! So, if you know anyone, show them and let them know I'm interested! (gun and a wink)

Since the rest of the images were done in the same exact way, I'm just going to post the processes:

detail phase
detail phase

Whoops! I flattened a lot of the layers on the Batman image so I mistakenly don't have a lot of different pictures, but here's the finished product:

Batman final
Batman final

I did a much cleaner sketch of Hellboy because I was previously going to render this one differently, but that never happened.

sketch
sketch
details
details
final black and white
final black and white

Notice that I gave Hulk a face lift between these two steps? He was looking a little weird to me.

And there they are! This was a complete learning experience for me. Before these guys, I had not rendered an illustration in this style yet. I followed up this series with some other portraits based on stereotypes. You can find those here.

I am currently working on my own graphic novel, written and illustrated by yours truly. I have been going at it for months now and still can't see the end of the tunnel, but I am going to see this through to the end because I think that It will be an awesome accomplishment!

If you would like to keep up with my updates on that please follow me on Twitter and Instagram @artbyantb!

Thank you so much for taking a look!

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