All posts by stevebryant

Athena Voltaire: The Ongoing Series!


I’m thrilled to kick off the ongoing Athena Voltaire series—monthly from Action Lab! In order to hit our monthly schedule, I’m stepping back from the art duties, but I’ll still be providing covers and writing the series. Issue one kicks off with my standard cover, a retro variant cover, and a brilliant variant from Tom Fowler! Jason Millet colored Tom’s variant and my cover.

Back to School, Part 5

…three months later…

I really need to be more consistent with these updates. I’ll add some new posts backfilling the last few months. Until then, here’s my final piece for my digital painting course.

The university’s Arts Technology program started working with the Route 66 marketing team to create a series of interactive projects promoting the famous highway over the next nine years. With that in mind, the final digital painting was to be related to Route 66.

From the time it was established, Route 66 represented the American spirit of independence—and the nation’s love affair with the automobile. This love affair reached its peak with the 1960s television show Route 66, which featured a couple of young men in a Corvette, traveling the famous highway in search of themselves. For a 21st century update, I opted to draw an independent (slightly mischievous) young woman about to hit the road in her trusty Tesla Roadster.

The ink drawing, above, and the finished painting, seen at the top of this post, were done entirely in Clip Studio Paint using the Manga Studio 5 Super Brush Set by Ray Frenden.

Ever the advertising/marketing nerd, I added a variation on the famous tagline, “Get Your Kicks on Route 66.”

Back to school part 4: Digital Painting class

My second semester Arts Technology classes are Intro to Sound, Digital Painting, and Kinetic Sculpture. Here’s my first painting from class. The assignment involved combining elements of photo reference into a cohesive composition and deleting the reference layer upon completion.

I thought it might be fun to combine some of the ruins from Angkor Wat with an unearthly landscape to create a Chariots of the Gods meets Ancient Astronauts vibe.

I’ve never been good at replicating my reference 100%. There are always areas where I deviate from it, or expand upon it (adding in mountains, for instance), and this piece was no exception. Most importantly, it was both challenging and fun—the best kind of learning.

Here’s the reference I cobbled together for the piece:

Athena Voltaire and the Volcano Goddess Collection

The trade paperback for Athena Voltaire and the Volcano Goddess collects the 3-issue miniseries from Action Lab Entertainment. Written and drawn by me, colored by Jim Nelson. The collection cover is drawn by me and colored by Inksane Studio.

ISBN: 978-1632292414

MSRP: $9.99

And here are the covers to the individual issues, drawn by me and colored by Jim Nelson (issue 1) and Chad Fidler (issues 2 and 3).

Back to School part 3: Ready Player One


Here’s another assignment from my Intro to Digital Arts class from back in September. The assignment: “Take an artist or art piece that you are a fan of, and create your own original work of art inspired by it. If you are a fan of a TV show, draw a favorite or fictional scenario of it. If you are a fan of an artist, write a song similar to one of their songs, or do a remix or reinterpretation of one of their songs. Or, draw a picture inspired by a song or band, or create a song inspired by a drawing. Whatever you want!”

I loved Ernie Cline’s 2011 novel Ready Player One. The premise: in the mid-21st century, the multi-billionaire creator of the most successful virtual reality game/social network dies, leaving no heirs. His will announces that whoever finds an Easter Egg hidden somewhere in the sprawling game will inherit his entire estate. Cline uses the game creator’s backstory—growing up as a geek in the 1980s—to fill the book with tons of nerd trivia and 80s pop culture references. Buy the book here. 

It’s easy for me to fall into the pattern of drawing stuff for my own comics, but creating this piece was incredibly fun and liberating. In fact, drawing this was the reason I attempted the Inktober challenge this year.

Back to School part 2: Permission to Create Junk


One of our first projects for my class was to create “junk” art. This isn’t a conceptual thing, or anything thematic. The goal was to work in a medium that you’re not confident in for 30 minutes. I opted to try digital painting.

I took a painting class in college, and never finished a single piece. Working in opaque paint was like pushing mud around and I had a tendency to over-smooth everything. This resulted in mushy looking definition of different planes. Barf.

The image was created in Manga Studio 5. The image on the left is where my painting was 30 minutes in. The image on the right is the piece at 4 hours in. It’s still not finished, but it’s coming along.

It was a fun challenge.

Back to School


Last summer, I decided to go back to school and complete my bachelor’s degree in Arts Technology. ATK touches on the ways that technology can be applied to all aspects of the arts—visual, music, and performance—and all the parts in between. The best analogy I’ve come up with is that it’s the arts version of STEM studies.

As you’d expect, my life has become a cross between a Rodney Dangerfield movie and a Will Ferrell movie.

Or not.

My current class, Basic Skills in the Digital Arts, mixes web design, Photoshop work, and, most importantly, creative philosophy. By “creative philosophy,” I was delighted to see an approach focused on demystifying the creative process. The course was chock-full of practical lessons stressing motivation over inspiration. These are lessons I’ve learned (and re-learned) over the course of my career, so I’m glad to see a program that not only teaches it, but makes it a focal point of the introductory class.

The end result has been a reaffirmation of some of my core creative beliefs—best summed up by the Jack London quote, “You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to hunt it down with a club.” That quote isn’t part of the class, but the mentality behind it is.

I’ll share some of my work from the class in future entries, but for now, I’ll leave you with some recommended reading we’ve had in class: Steal Like and Artist, and Show Your Work, both by Austin Kleon. Any creative person, established or neophyte, can either learn or be galvanized by the ideas presented in both books.

Inktober Postmortem

We’re a few days away from the end of October and it’s a safe bet that I don’t have any more Inktober drawings coming.

Deadlines reared their heads—I’m starting production work on the second Ghoul Scouts series and finishing production stuff on the first new Athena Voltaire series from Action Lab. So yeah, no more Inktober for me.

But the experience was a blast. It was nice to break out of my deadlines and obligations for a couple of weeks and just draw characters that I usually wouldn’t, and to experiment with different media and techniques. I definitely plan to do it again next year.