Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 100 (!)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

It's the moment you've all been waiting for: Wacky Reference Wednesday, No. 100! If this doesn't break the internet in half (or at least thirds) then I don't know what will. It's an occasion so special, even my ex-girlfriend agreed to be included in the photos. It all started back in March of 2008 when I thought it would be funny to post the multitude of ridiculous photos that I take in the name of comics. It has grown to become my most popular feature (at least according to site traffic) and I plan to keep posting until I run out of pics (which won't happen anytime soon).

Mythos: Captain America, Page 18 Spread. 2008.
Acryla Gouache and gouache on bristol board, 22 x 17".
Original Art

This was one of my most involved pages from Mythos: Captain America, and so I saved it until the end of the project. That, of course, left me with less than a week to complete the entire painting, which led to a flurry of frantic days and nights with next to no sleep.

Paul Jenkins' script called for a battle scene with the Avengers, but left the specifics up to me. Knowing which characters I wanted to paint, but not which stories would have featured such a roster, I consulted my editor, Tom Brevoort, who suggested Avengers #100.

Barry Winsor Smith. Avengers #100. 1972.

In order to expedite the preliminary layout stage, I set up my camera and tripod and just did whatever popped into my head. I had a list of all the characters I wanted to include and would cross each off as I found a suitable pose. Normally, I come up with the pose first, then take reference to hone the anatomy and perspective, but I didn't have enough time. Furthermore, this was a one-shot image, so storytelling wasn't much of a concern—everyone just needed to look "cool."

Preliminary Layout. Pencil on paper, 14 x 11".

Digital Color Study. Photoshop.

Without further ado, here is the "wacky reference." I compiled all the photos into two large images, so be sure to click on them for maximum embarrassment. I'm pretty sure I had the house all to myself that day.

Don't forget to check back tomorrow to see just how far I'll go to get accurate reference. It's downright scary.


  1. I've yet to use myself as a reference photo, but you certainly inspired me to use a lot more reference in general in my work. Happy 100th Wacky Reference Wednesday, and here's to many more. with your references and your step-by-step painting examples, you show your creative process more than any other artist I can name, and it's always cool to see how you do what you do!

  2. haha I LOVE IT Paolo! great 2 page panel. Its a tough job using yourself as reference! I always end up breaking a sweat or straining a muscle haha

  3. "Here at The Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Wanna Learn Acting, Interpretive Dance and to Do Other Stuff Good Too, our highly qualified staff will work with you to bring out your inner 'Magnum'."

    I wonder if Adam Hughes does all this to get his poses.

  4. Hi, I just got here via CBR, and I just want to say that this is AWESOME - I was familiar with your work through the Marvel Mythos books, but didn't know your "Wacky Reference" blog series. What an amazing resource for aspiring artists!


  5. Thanks so much, guys! It's been fun sharing all these pics that would otherwise be safely hidden away in my personal computer.

    Neil, Adam Hughes is so good, he doesn't have to do things like this.

  6. We should hang out, take our shirts off, get a camera and just see what happens. Thoughts?

  7. I feel like we tried that circa 2004... and that it didn't end well.

  8. Thanks, I'm not emberrassed anymore.


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