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The making of Impaler - by: Matt Timson

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My name is Matt Timson (and not Tim Matthews- which is a common misconception) and I'm currently lucky enough to be the artist for Impaler, written by William (Bill) Harms and published by Top Cow.

Having previously worked on zombie stuff, I was quite keen to make the switch to vampires, as there's something inherently nasty and evil about a vampire that makes it even more frightening than a zombie to me. A zombie doesnít really know what it's doing- it's all about staggering from place to place, looking for the ever more elusive brains it seems to hanker after. You can outrun a zombie. You can outwit a zombie (and if you can't, frankly, you deserve to get eaten). You can even stand your ground against one or two, if you keep your wits about you and don't mind bashing their brains in. Vampires, on the other hand, are genuinely evil in my book. They're fast, deadly, intelligent and extremely difficult to kill if you're just some poor slob in the wrong place at the wrong time. The best you can hope for is that the Sun will rise before they find your hiding place, or that they'll kill you quick if not. They delight in what they do and I get the impression that feeding is secondary to the enjoyment of simply tearing people apart for fun. That's something I really wanted to get across- that these guys are having the time of their (un)lives as they peel your face off, crush your skull and lap up the resulting rivers of blood that gush out- which is why most of my vampires are grinning or laughing. They can get a bit angry too, of course, but the main thing I'm going for is a sense of enjoyment.

My first stumbling block was following the amazingly talented two Nicks (that's Marinkovich and Postic). I mean, seriously, how do you follow that? Long story short, I decided not to even bother trying and went for a slightly different look instead. As all of my work is digital, I tend to end up working over my roughs as I go, so thereís actually surprisingly little of the earlier stages of what I do knocking about. Fortunately, as luck would have it, Iíve still got most of the original layers for the cover of issue #1, so thatís what Iím going to talk you through today.

As you can see, I've decided to stick to the theme of the original covers (just using the band in the middle for the art) because I like the way it looks and I donít mind admitting that I couldnít think of anything more aesthetically pleasing.

I start with what really ought to be a doodle, but, as often happens, I tend to get a bit carried away with colours, textures and other totally unnecessary details that will just mean extra work for me if the cover gets rejected. In this case, I get lucky and both Bill and Rob (Rob Levin, my editor) like the concept and tell me to get on with it (Rob is like a cross between my nemesis and my conscience. I feel like punching him in the throat when he dares to suggest a change to my work, but after Iíve reluctantly made the change, he is invariably proved correct and I am extremely grateful for his input- at which point, I'm glad he doesnít live closer, as I would have punched him in the throat for nothing).

Before I go any further, I've got to tell you that I work in a totally arse backwards kind of way and I expect to have all manner of scorn poured all over me- but the way I work is the way I work, soÖ

I make a lovely neat line drawing of the scene in Photoshop. I say scene, but itís really just the vamp and his unfortunate victim.

I then take these lovely clean lines and open them up in Painter, where I proceed to smudge all over them with the grainy water tool, having first selected a paper texture (usually ribbed pastel) that will show up after the smudging.

Back to Photoshop and I paint all the white areas back in again on a separate layer, to redefine the lines. Yes, you read that correctly. I draw lines, then I obliterate them and then I draw them all back in again. The hard way. Hopefully, you can see the effect that I'm going for here. The lines are less harsh and distinct, but at the same time, theyíre still clearly visible. There are probably a lot of ways to do this far more effectively and with a lot less work but, for the time being, this is how I like to do it.

Next up is some block greys and shading. The greys are on a separate, multiply layer, created in Photoshop, which I then take into Painter and smudge with the grainy water tool, again with the same paper selected as before.

Back to Photoshop and another multiply layer, set at about 50% opacity. This is for the basic colours. Thereís also a shadow layer added at this point- black, probably about 30%

Another multiply layer, this time for basic blood. Thereís also a layer with some minute airbrush shading (black and red), as well as a highlight layer- which can be seen on the victimí shoes, belt buckle and face and on the vampís teeth and hands.

Next up is a colour burn layer of a texture/paint thingy that I already had lying around- probably around 10% opacity. This adds some texture to the pic and throws in some random colour, making me look far more artistic and clever with colour than I actually am.

Here, Iíve added two more colour burn layers for the blood. These are actually made from tea that Iíve splattered on paper, left to dry and scanned in. Lovely, arenít they?

Finally, I add in the black bands at the sides and some shadow at the top of the picture, again, on separate layers. I also add a little glow to the vampís eyes with the airbrush tool.

Basically, the interior pages are handled pretty much the same way. I lay them out, like in the initial sketch, but without colour (although I usually end up adding grey tones to them). After Iíve laid the page out, I tend to work on one panel at a time (unless theyíre really simple panels) because itís not unusual for me to have 20+ layers on the go at once, per panel. 6 panels of that on one page would probably make my brain bleed.

And thatís about it- apart from to say that, originally, I had the victimís feet hidden from view. Basically, his legs were apart, rather than together, which was fine for the right foot, which disappeared off the page, but it made the left foot look like it was growing out of the vampís ass. No problem, I thought- and just decided that the left leg would be bent at the knee, so that weíd end up seeing neither of his feet.

The nemesis picked up on this only after the final was submitted for approval and asked me to add the feet in. I briefly considered getting on a plane so that I could punch him in the throat, but eventually reasoned that itíd probably be quicker and easier for all concerned to just add the feet, moving the legs closer together to avoid the whole foot-and-ass thing. This is why the feet donít appear on the initial sketch and line drawings.

Needless to say, Rob was correct (as usual). In retrospect, it looked stupid without the feet and I donít know what I was thinking about! Robís quite good at his job really- I ought to listen to him more.

Anyway- that really is it. Iíd like to thank Rob Caprilozzi for inviting me to contribute and, also, you guys for reading- I hope that you enjoyed it.

Cheers-

Matt

Links: www.matttimson.com
http://matttimson.blogspot.com
http://www.topcow.com/impaler/

***The IMPALER VOL. 1 trade paperback comes out Nov. 5 and that the new IMPALER series (on which Matt is the artist) debuts in December.***

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