Daniel Govar is an extremely talented illustrator with an impressive roster of clients, including DC Comics, Nike, Marriott and various U.S. sports teams. In addition to illustrating nearly 15 books, his work has been seen in worldwide publications such as Entertainment Weekly and TV Guide. Read on to learn more about Daniel, his work, and his love of Copics:
Tell us about yourself!
Originally I am from Arkansas, but I was an army brat and we moved all over – Hawaii, Canada, Oklahoma, and finally here in Maryland. I think at some point I’ve been to or lived in every state in the US save Alaska. I got my degree in Imaging and Digital Art from University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and was introduced to the wide world of digital art forms there, studying animation (both traditional and 3D), video development and editing, and interactivity and web programming. It was a pretty all-encompassing major and one they’ve since dissolved and broken into individual focuses. Personally I like the rounded approach and appreciate the education in knowing how all the pieces fit together. My personal interests were initially in interactivity and it’s possibilities, and I would always put my illustrations (of which I had very little formal training save figure studies and a few paintings classes here and there) into anything I created. I got a job out of school creating educational programs for children – an Astronomy program, a History program, and a program on Ancient Greece – all filled with illustrations and animations.
When did you first become interested in creating comics?
I loved comics since I was first given an allowance. I would ration it and go pick up my week’s comics and spread out the reading throughout the week – mostly X-men and Batman and a few independents which were very rare at the time. I think I drew Batman and Wolverine a lot back then though it amounted to little more than fanart at the time. I think I started getting into the mindset of storytelling soon after I left the job creating children’s software to work as a freelancer for SciFi (now SyFy), making animated shorts. My first real venture into comics was DC’s Zuda competition where I really learned what comic making really was.
What’s the most challenging project you’ve worked on so far? Why?
I think the most challenging project I’ve worked on would have to be a project I am currently developing. It is a challenge in that it’s something close to my comfort zone as far as genre (fantasy/historical), but is so very technical that I’ve had to make character and environment libraries – shots of every character from various angles and environment maps for the various scenes. It’s akin to game concept art, and so far I’ve had to scrap a couple of pages and start over due to inaccuracies. I love projects that push me. It’s the only way we grow as creators.
Do you prefer traditional or digital media?
I use both and find that when they work in harmony my work looks best. My DC comic series AZURE was done entirely digitally. From beginning to end I used Photoshop to create every page. It was only when I started going to conventions that I saw the folly in this as a comic creator – there is a huge market in original art that you lose when you work digital-only. I now do most of my color work in Photoshop, and do most of my black and white and grayscale work in traditional medias – Primarily using Copics for the traditional work with a few India ink washes for added textures.
How long have you been using Copic products? How did you first learn about them?
I first learned of Copics at a convention three years ago when I was watching a fellow creator work on a convention sketch for someone. He let me play with his for a bit and I fell in love and have been using them ever since.
What’s your favorite Copic product and why?
Easily the brush-tip (BS) Multiliner. I have bought them as presents for fellow artists, and own about six of them so that I don’t need to change tips when at a convention.
Could you show us an example of how you incorporate Copics into your work?
This is a piece I did for my sister who loves the Temeraire series of novels by Naomi Novik. As I tend to sell most of my originals I thought a good Christmas gift would be an original for each of my siblings. My process for most of what I do tends to be similar – I start off with a Pencil sketch – very loose and only with basic details. From there I use Copics for the remainder of the original. My favorite Copic pen is the brush tip (BS) Copic Multiliner. I tend to buy the refill cartridges and brush tips in bulk now as I’m a little abusive with my tips and use a lot of ink on each piece. Most of the detail work I put in at the inking phase as I find it keeps the piece more alive and keeps just a touch of that sketchy quality I think more refined work tends to lack – that it is static. In comic storytelling especially, it’s best to avoid things looking flat or posed. Once I have laid down all the sketch blacks – using almost exclusively the Multiliner brush tip and a .5 and .3 Multiliner for certain fine details, I lay in the grayscales – sticking to the warm and cool greys to convey values. Temeraire is said to be a black dragon in the book, so I went with the cool greys for his body here, specifically C5 for the mid-tones and going up to C7 and no lower than C3 for highlight areas. I tend to work from light to dark when putting in greys and using markers as it’s impossible to go lighter, but you can always go darker if needed. The warm greys I use for accents (W3-W7), such as horns, harness straps, and various details. Lastly I finish most pieces with a pass using India ink and water to add some watercolor-esque textures to the work. Here I added the treetops in the background and the shadows using India ink. Generally I will take the piece from here into the computer and will add color, by selecting areas and “colorizing” the grayscale regions using Photoshop.
What other mediums do you work in?
My weapons of choice have evolved over the years but it depends on what the project requires. I think I am most comfortable with pen and ink (Copics), markers, watercolor, and digital mediums. I have done large scale oil paintings, and sculpt from time to time as well, though these days the demands for my time are spread between paid art, friends and family, and my dog.
Which artists would you consider to be your chief influences?
Hrm…I would say I loved many of the masters – Da Vinci in particular, and a big influence would be Mucha, Du Lac, and Rackham. As far as living artists go – there are so many that inspire me it’s hard to point to one. I love the work of Paul Pope and am eternally inspired by the masterful creations of Charles Vess.
What is the toughest part of comic storytelling?
I would have to say each part of the process has it’s challenges. Comics is a hugely social industry and many people go into making most comics. Learning to work with others and to be able to articulate in words what you aim to convey in illustrations is one of the most useful aspects of making comics. Many people you must work with will not be artists, and you will need to be able to explain or understand what they are trying to explain with words and then translate that into imagery. The best way to learn is to sit down and make a comic. Start small and work your way up to something larger.
What are you working on right now? Any personal projects?
I am working on a number of projects right now – I have three comic projects I am developing, two are not ready to be announced yet and the third is a guest comic I am illustrating by a writer/artist named Mike Walton for his comic False Positive. (falsepositivecomic.com)
What advice would you give to artists interested in pursuing a career in the comic book industry?
Develop and hone YOUR own style. Often in the comics industry you see artists with similar styles and it’s those illustrators with fresh and different yet accessible styles who tend to be most successful. Also – learn to accept criticsm with grace – one of the hardest things to learn for any artist professional or otherwise. This will be something you will need to deal with from time to time throughout your career, and being able to learn something from each critique and to be able to honestly look at your own work and what your strengths and weaknesses honestly are will allow you to grow farther than anyone can imagine.
Any announcements to make – exhibitions or shows coming up?
I will be at a number of comic conventions this year selling my 3rd and 4th sketchbooks and prints of various pieces I’ve done. Upcoming I will be at Wizard World New Orleans January 28th-29th, and then at Heroes Con in North Carolina, Baltimore Comic Con, C2E2 in Chicago, Boston Comic Con, New York Comic Con, and the ever fun Dragon Con this summer.
Personal Site: http://www.danielgovar.com