JrMcDeath - Mania.com

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By Blazej Szpakowicz     September 03, 2006

Welcome to thelatest edition of the DCG Artist Spotlight!

Our victim today isHeromorph's immensely talented photomanipper supreme, JrMcDeath.

Comics2Film (C2F):What got you started manipping?

JrMcDeath (Jr):Holy cow... you want me to remember that far back... I think I drank that memoryaway. Lets see... I went back to school after completing my undergrad to becomea video game designer. One of the classes was a Photoshop class. I got a copyof Photoshop and started editing photos. One night I was sitting around anddecided I wanted to make beer and did a search for Beer / Kegs and stumbledacross 4F's page. It was a weird coincidence that I found his page consideringI was looking for beer links. I looked at his stuff and decided to give it a go.The rest is history.

C2F: What is your professional background?

Jr: I was a graphic designer for about 8 years and then had a dot com come along andhire me away, from my designer job, to do web page design. That lasted forabout 5 years. Once I hit "Art Director" stardom and the Dot Coms all crashedI was left out in the rain and couldn't find another job that wasn't an entrylevel design job... so I gave up designing and became a home builder.

C2F: What software do you use?

Jr: Photoshop CS2. Nothing else. I am a purist, LOL.

C2F: What annoys you about photomanips?

Jr: I guess I kinda annoy myself because I will start a manip and then it will sitfor months on end unfinished. Like I said... I am lazy. But with a little timeI feel that I can accomplish any look I am going for so, the actual art ofmaniping doesn't annoy me.

C2F: Heromorph and C2F have seen an influx of Poser images lately. What doyou like/dislike about Poser images? Why?

Jr: Poser....what can I say... If you are good at it and nail your poses and get thelighting all right, some of the images are down right kick hiney. But as awhole it seems to me that most of the poses are stale and lack movement andreally are kinda hard on the eyes. But, like I said... there are a few artistsout there that are really good with Poser. They must have all grown up playingwith Barbies or something, LOL.

C2F: You have been an art professional for years, what has been your biggesthurdle as an artist?

Jr: Biggest Hurdle? There aren't any hurdles anymore now that I am out of thebusiness. When I was let go from the Dot Com the biggest hurdle was trying tofind a company that needed an Art Director. Art Directors just weren't indemand and nobody wanted me. I told a few companies that I would come in onthe ground level and work my way back to the top. But I was told that I was aflight risk and that they needed someone they knew would be around for a fewyears. And to tell a potential employer that you are too lazy to look for ajob really doesn't sound good. So, that was tough.

C2F: Has manipping helped your professional skills? If so, how?

Jr: Yeah, it taught me how to manip, while on the clock, and not get caught. Butno, Manipping is a completely different style. If anything it really made mefocus on the little details. Employers like Perfectionists. I am not sayingmy manips or job related art work is perfect...just saying that when I spenda little extra time on a project it shows.

C2F: Many C2F members may not know who you are and your contribution to themanipping cause. What do you feel is your biggest contribution to thephotomanipping world?

Jr: **Stares blankly at the computer screen**

What the frill kinda question is that? LOL

You know, I guess one thing that might have been a contribution, in a way, wasback when I was a Photoshop Certified Expert I was part of a group thatdiscussed how to make Photoshop better. So, some of the changes in V.5 camefrom that group. Hell, I don't even remember what all we talked about but itwas cool to be a part of the development of my favorite tool. (Insert "Tool"joke here)

C2F: Your work has always had a great touch of photorealism.(Bubbacita Fett,Harley Quinn,etc.) Do you have any secrets to getthis look? How do you approach getting a photo-realistic image?

Jr: No secrets. Just Blood, sweat, tears and lots of time. I will work on a manipuntil I think it looks right. I pay attention to the lighting of the image andmimic it the best I can when I start maniping. I will also reference the materialI am trying to mimic. So, for metal I might grab a spoon and look at it while Imanip metal. Same for leather, plastic, fur, etc. One manip may take me as longas 100 hours to complete. So, I just continue to work on the manip until I thinkit looks "real". You have to pay attention to the details in your manips... itis the little things that can really add to an image.

C2F: Who are your favorite comic book characters?

Jr: Silver Surfer, Wolverine and Harley Quinn. Silver Surfer because those werethe first comics I ever read. I found an entire box of them in the back of oneof my uncle's rental cars that he had repo-ed... What a find. Wolverinebecause he is a bad ass. And Harley because she was one of the first manipsI ever did. No other reason than that. But I would have to say that Wolverineis my favorite.

C2F: If Marvel and DC came to you and offered up some money to do aphotomanip of any character in their respective catalogs, who would itbe and why?

Jr: Harley Quinn... because I have already done two of her, and remember I am lazy,so I would just hand them one of those that I have already done. HA Take thatDC! Give me my money.

I was approached by some Jackstick that is producing Banzai Girl comics.(Grrrr... I just went to see if I could find the name of the comic company -Sirius - and they have my image on their main page... that really pisses meoff....) He wanted this really detailed image and was going to only pay me$50. I thought $50 was OK because I would have my image on the cover of anationally distributed comic book... but little did I know this guy was goingto be a pain in my Kiester After going round and round with him on the imageI finally told him "Sorry... but I am not going to finish this". The asshole(Oops sorry, I can't say that here can I?) [Sure you can. -ed.] stillused my image on the cover of the comic and I didn't get any credit. What ajackstick.

C2F: What, if anything, are you working on right now?

Jr: I am doing a commission for Biohaz Daddy. (He doesn't know that I am charginghim yet... so SHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. LOL) I was working on an image a while backand one day decided not to finish it. A little later Bio asked me to changeher costume up and create him ThunderChick. I have since renamed herThunderSlut. I started this image about 6 months ago, probably more, and itis just sitting on my computer waiting for me to get inspired to work on heragain. She will get done eventually. I need to finish it so Bio will quitbugging me. (He really isn't... I am just busting his chops) I also have aWhite Queen, a Ghost in the Shell, An adult Lady Death Image, and a MaryMarvel image all started and these will most likely not get finished. Onlytime will tell. Dang my Manipping A.D.D.

C2F: What's your favorite of your own work?

Jr: I like it all. ;-) Hmmmmm... Probably"OnYour Knees". I really like theoutfit, Jamie is a hottie and the optical illusion just messes with your mind.

C2F: Which other artists' work do you look forward to?

Jr: There are a lot of good artists out there... And you never can tell when someoneis really going to step up and impress me. But I always am happy to see imagesby Biohaz Daddy,Winterhawk,BikerBot(When are we going to see another "Walking the dog?")MatrixBlur,ThayneLuc,Daruma(When ever he actually posts something... and I thought I was slow!),B,Divine Monkey [Iand II],Chillyplasma [Iand II],Shade,and... uhm... well I am sure there are a few more, but that pretty much coversit.

C2F: Who is your inspiration, be it in comics, the fan art community,mainstream art, real life, etc?

Jr: No one really inspires me, or no one really comes to mind. I haven't bought acomic since '94 and I don't know who any of the artists are anymore. I willalways enjoy Adam Hughes' stuff. I really like his style. And I use tobuy Soyorama's books because I liked how kick hiney his stuff was. But thatwas in the old days. Today I get my ideas / feedback from the guys atHeroMorph. BikerBot is my Muse... Or so he says he is. LOL

C2F: Your "OnYour Knees" manip is one of my personal favourites. The opticalillusion that is used is perfect, and really is something that we don't oftensee in manips. What led you to choose this effect? Did you run into anyproblems implementing it in the image?

Jr: Well, speak of the devil... a question about my favorite manip... I had seenthat optical illusion a hand full of times and had always wanted to do somethingwith it. So, "On Your Knees" was really built around the illusion. Actuallyit was built around the illusion but I had always wanted to do a manip withthat particular image of Jamie Pressley... so, it was a match made in manipingheaven. I started that manip by rebuilding the Illusion in Illustrator. Allthe illusions I had seen on the net were low res and wouldn't work in thatmanip. So, once I got the illusion completed I grabbed Jamie and slapped someclothes on her and stuck her in the image. My only concern with putting a figurein front of the illusion was that maybe the illusion would not work... but itseems to work just fine. It still is hard to look at for a long period oftime.

C2F: What is your professional goal?

Jr: Well, Manipping is just a hobby. I wish I could make a living doing it, but Ijust don't see that happening. I would have to hire models and all that kindastuff and I just don't think I could manip everyday. But who knows... it mightbe kinda kewl. Recently I started a Sand-etching business and right now that isall that I am focusing on. I am trying to get the ball rolling to establish aclientele. I have already done a few pieces for the city of Austin and justgot a deal to do all the entrances and address stones for a new sub-division.So... It is coming along slowly... I plan on having some employees by thistime next year.

C2F:Any advice to younger artists out there reading this interview rightnow? Any particular classes or books you would recommend?

Jr: I have been a member of NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals)now for... oh... hell, 3 or 4 years. It is a little expensive to join butthe Magazine that they put out every month is full of great tips. I havelearned a lot out of that rag. But I really don't recall reading any bookson Photoshop. When I started I was using Photoshop on my old Macitosh SE.Black and white.... And it has been a learning process every since then.All I have to say is practice...practice...practice. That is how I got towhere I am today. I am sure there are a ton of good books out there forPhotoshop. I guess you need to decide what direction you want to take andthen go to Barnes and Noble. Bert Monroy is a GREAT Photoshop artist whowrites books on photorealism. I can guarantee you won't be disappointed withany of his books. I don't own any... but I have looked at them at Barnes andNoble and they look really good.

C2F: What direction do you see your art taking in the next 5 years?

Jr: 5 years? Well, at the pace I do my manips... 5 new manips. I really couldn'ttell you. I am sure that I will have figured out some new techniques but otherthan that... who knows. It is art and art seems, to me, to just mutate as Icontinue to do my manips. I might get better... I might not. Whoknows.

C2F: Not that we see you over at C2F too much, but what would you like to seeover at C2F to make you a more regular visitor?

Jr: Free Vodka and purty dancin' girls.

I would like to see larger file sizes. I put a lot of work into my images andwhen I go to post at C2F I remember that I have to knock the size down. I losea lot of the finer detail at 90K. But other than that I don't know... I honestlyhaven't really looked around there all that much. I also need to become a moreregular visitor just to get B to quit bothering me. [Yes, yes you do. -ed.]

For more of Jr's art,check out his Heromorph Gallery and visit his website.

Interviewers:Dan Perceful andBlazej Szpakowicz


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