Captain America #1 Cover (Variant). 2012.
Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on Marvel board, 11 × 17.25″.
Since we do the pencils and inks separately, I tried to save him some time by doing technical elements — borders, lettering, stars, etc. — all in Photoshop. The image above is what he printed out and inked over. I added the title because it didn’t feel complete without it, but that’s something that Marvel always does in-house. I just swiped the logo from the reference they sent.
I got hung up on the anachronism of a modern Cap fighting WWII-era Germany and was at a loss for brief spell. Fortunately for me, my editor, Tom Brevoort, suggested the shells-as-metaphor solution which worked perfectly for the tone of the piece (and was a lot easier to draw). Pictured above is the digital composite that I penciled over, complete with perspective grid.
Finally, just a quick note on digital coloring: I have an assistant who “flats” the artwork, meaning all the major shapes are separated into different colors, making them easy to be selected. Once I receive this prepped file, I go through each shape, playing with the color until I strike some kind of harmony. Having established characters like Captain America make some of the choices pretty easy, but subtle shifts can make a world of difference. I find that much of my decision making takes place with the white objects in a composition. Once those are established, everything else seems to fall into place.
The finishing touch is a filter over the entire image that adds “color noise” to the flat hues. It’s one of the simplest filters (Filter Gallery: Texture: Grain) but I find that it activates the color in the same way that I would layer pigments with real paint.