Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Adobe Illustrator brush set- KIRBY KRACKLES

I created a new Adobe Illustrator brush set based on old Kirby Krackles from the comics.

They work really great and will save you a lot of time. It used to take hours lining the paper with dots to create energy patterns. But now with the Illustrator brush set you can do a whole page within seconds.

Here is the link to my devianArt page where you can download the brush set.

To use it in Illustrator go to WINDOW>OTHER BRUSH LIBRARIES and find the file on your computer.

To modify the brushes to your liking just open the file like a regular Illustrator file. They work in Illustrator 10 but may be able to be used for CS or CS2.

I hope you like it!

Go to www.illcraft.com for more Illustrator tutorials.


Saturday, October 14, 2006


Here are preview pages of my 6 issue mini-series from Marvel.
The book is titled Iron Man Hypervelocity and will be released January 2007.

It'll be offered in the November Diamond previews catalog
for items shipping in January.

Let your local comic shop know
you want to order it and they'll reserve you a copy.

Saturday, September 16, 2006


Once upon a time an artist saw a tree.

This was the most ordinary tree with nothing amazing about it at all. But the artist had a new digital camera and took a picture of the tree anyway. Now the picture was plain and not of any interest to anyone whatsoever, so it sat in a file on a computer for a year.

No one ever looked at it again.

Until one day when the artist had a new PLUG-In for his Illustrator program. The artist was curious and wondered what the tree would look like in vector form.

So he opened the little file of the plain tree and turned it into a magic Vector.

The artist was amazed at how beautiful the Vector Tree was. Its leaves look like an explosion, and it looked like bubbles and debris. why, it looked like a million Amazing things. So the artist grabbed the top of the tree and copied it and pasted it next to the Tree.

Why, now it looked like an Angel with evil wings.

What was this amazing Tree? It turned itself into many amazing things. Now the artist gazed into the eyes of the evil winged creature and it spoke to him in his mind.


The artist nodded stiff with fear.


And with a thunderous roar the creature went silent and released the artist.

The artist returned to his work with his digital pen and his tablet of Wacoming. And everyday for the rest of the artists life he opened the Vector Tree file and gazed into it's beauty and saw more and more things that could be used on each page of his art.

The Vector Tree laughed and waited until other people would see it's beauty on the printed page. And then it would claim more minds for it's Vectoring ways.

Be warned, something vector this way comes.


This will be a quick lesson with no pictures. Sorry. I know I can't read anything without pictures so I hope you'll bare with me.

I have been working with a better layer structure by using CLIPPING MASKS. It really helps to keep everything more organized.

SO---as I start work on my new pages I indicate where my panels will go. I block the gutters on the top layer by using black boxes all the same width. Just to be different than the average bear I put a 2pt. White Stroke in the middle of the black bars. I'm all for comics with black gutters, but when I am using a lot of black in the panels already, the panels and the gutters will run into each other and be too hard to see what's going on. I got that tip from Jim Shooter at Comic-Con a couple of years back. That's where I started putting the white line in to seperate the panels. Most of the ELSINORE work I did has the white line between the panels. Look at the work on www.briandenham.com to see the Elsinore stuff.

With my gutters indicated I now create my CLIPPING MASKS for each panel.

I start a new LAYER for each panel. I use the MARQUEE tool to draw a box in the shape of the panels. If the panels are odd shape I use the WHITE ARROW (direct selection tool) to grab the points and duplicate the shape of the panels. Then at the bottom of the LAYERS PALETTE I click the CREATE CLIPPING MASKS button and this makes my shape turn into a CLIPPING MASK.

---What the heck is a clipping mask? Well it's a hole in the universe that allows us to see all of the art in the hole but nothing outside the shape of the hole. So once the clipping mask is created on a SUB-LAYER I lock that Sub-layer so we won't mess with it again. Then I create a bunch of new Sub-Layers on this main PANEL LAYER and keep all of the art for this panel in those other Sub-Layers.

When I am ready to draw a new panel I got an do the same steps for that panel. Now I have a Layers just named P1 for PANEL 1 and keep all of the art for that layer there. P2 and so on for each panel.

I can't believe how much of a benefit this is to keep everything in it's place. I had to go back to do corrections on Iron Man 1 and I was amazed at how messed up I had all of my layers. It was so hard to find stuff when some of the layers were named 157. LOL

Pays to get organized.

So now all of my pages have the layers organized this way. If I have anything else I need in an exact shape I will create a new Layer and use a clipping mask for the shapes. Like I drew a jet with specific speedlines on the shadow areas of the jet. I drew all of my shadows out and created a clipping mask for them. I then drew the speed lines and placed them in the clipping mask and they only showed up where the clipping mask was. This was important for this specific effect because the area behind the jet had a different set of speedlines in the opposite direction. If I did it any other way the speedlines would overlap or I would have had to cut the ends of the speedlines off and that would take way too long.

I hope this was easy to understand and I hope I didn't write this lesson before. I think I started it once before or answered an email with this question but I don't think I posted it. Let me know and I'll delete this message.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


Illcraft.com started over a year ago after I did an interview about drawing comics in Adobe Illustrator.

Some people seemed pretty excited by the potential of drawing comics with this amazing program. I was just going to answer questions that popped up on a message board. But the threads turned into a discussion about the moderator and his dislike of me for being the "first" to draw comics in Illustrator and they were shut down.

Why the drama?

He went off the handle and attacked me for claiming to be first and a whole bunch of other things I never said. Then the people who wanted the info on drawing in Illustrator attacked him and pointed out where he was wrong. He shut down the message board threads before I had a chance to reply to the questions about Illustrator let alone his attacks against me. I won't name the moderator *coff*coff*coffman*, but he was a real ass on that thread.

But without his jealous tirade I would not have had the desire to talk to the people about art without a moderator's editorial censorship.

So that started the hamsters on the threadmill in my brain and I quickly came up with the idea of starting a website to discuss this stuff and let the conversations continue there if people wanted. and best of all the discussions would be unfiltered! Assholes need not apply.

Slowly I began putting up information on different aspects of what I was doing as I came up with them. Illcraft turned into a good size blog for the niche market of comic artists using Illustrator.

Not as huge a demand for this information as planting shrubbery or something, but at least some folks needed the info. And I love putting the info out there. I've spent a few years reading other peoples tutorials online about different aspects of web design, graphics, photoshop, and illustrator tuts that gave me a good working knowledge of this program. I thought I should "pay it forward" and do the same for others.

I've spent some time working for Antarctic Press doing the How To Draw Manga series and I love contributing to artists. I know how hard it was for me growing up trying to study art. teachers at our public schools had a religious bias agaisnt us studying anatomy. My teacher thought skulls were demonic and we were not allowed to draw them in class. That could have been because of all the Heavy Metal guys drawing Motley Crue flaming demon skulls but still! Anatomy is anatomy.

I could only afford one art book growing up and that was How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way .
I know how important it is to study art but it can be difficult at times to find good information. It was especially difficult growing up without the resources to learn what I needed. I spent time in the school library after school looking through black and white hard bound Batman comics by Neal Adams. That was a real benefit to me and it led me to study more of the masters of classic art.

So here I am in a position to give back and I feel I am limiting myself by just focusing on Illustrator. Now I want Illcraft to expand into more tutorials on drawing comics and good storytelling. There are a lot of books out there that do this just fine. hell if you go to the art section anymore there are hundreds of drawing comics books that will teach a lot of stuff. But looking through them the other day I noticed there was not near enough information about the things you really need to know about drawing comics.

I think I can help out there.

I've been working in comic studios for a decade and I've learned a lot. A lot of information and studio secrets that i think will really benefit the struggling artist.

So now I will focus the next few years working on a website that will give you a solid knowledge of comics and illustrating that you may not be able to get otherwise. By all means, if you are in a position to study at the kubert school or other graphic sequential classes then you owe it to yourself to take those courses.

But Illcraft.com will be a great chance to learn a lot of stuff without having to pay for courses or more books you don't need.

I'm working on a new website for illcraft.com in my spare time with plans to launch it early 2007.

When I started thinking about what I want this website to be a number of ideas came to mind that I think will help out the artist. I think Illcraft does a great job of presenting ideas and tips for the artist to use Abobe Illustrator to make comics. But I want this site to be more than that.

Really, in 10 years will you still be drawing with Illustrator 10?

Will that program be as effective a few years from now?

If I am going to put a lot of time into tutorials would you get more out of tutorials for comics art or drawing in Illustrator?

I think you can benefit by both. I won't stop doing Illustrator lessons. I can see myself still using this program in 5 years. But the drawing lessons can be used over a lifetime.

So Illcraft will be expanding and I am working towards that. It's unfortunate at the moment that I can not share all of the new things I have learned until my new comics work ships.

But it won't be much longer now. I hope you can stay with me until then. You won't regret it!

I appreciate your patience.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Hello again.

I have recorded a new 20 minute video of me drawing in illustrator. There is sound and you can hear me talk about what I am doing.

This video is very basic and just a test. I should have turned my monitor sideways to create a bigger video. The sound is at times hard to hear and my voice sounds like Bobby Brady singing about "Changes". LOL

Here is the link to the video download. It's a whopping 60 Meg and it's 20 minutes of your life you will never get back. All for a crappy head sketch of Spider-Man. LOL

But this is ONLY A TEST! You've been warned!

If you do download this sucker PLEASE comment here and tell me what you think. I'm going to get these more professional and the next time I post one it will be brilliant!

I'm also going to collect a bunch of them on a DVD and have them at conventions. But that is down the road a ways.

You know the Denham clan has a long history with the cinema. My great grandfather Carl Denham captured a giant 40 ft. gorilla back in the 1930's. From what my family has told me it escaped it's cage and climbed up a builing in New York. Crazy huh? I think his story has been made into a couple of films over the years.

For now...

Brian Denham
vector drawing
Spidey 60 Meg avi file

This is a link to the download. It does not automatically start downloading. There are 2 options through Rapidshare. You can join the premium account or just download the video for free. Hope you enjoy.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

CAMTASIA VIDEO--"Look at me, Ma! I'm drawin!"

Here is a Camtasia recording I made of me using Adobe Illustrator. Camtasia records just the image of my monitor so you don't have to look at my ugly mug while I'm drawing. Plus I don't have to get dressed. see! it's a win/win situation for us all.

If this sucker posts ok I'll go ahead and buy Camtasia and do more of these. Now If I can use my new mic to record my voice and Camtasia to record what I'm doing this site will be a lot better. It's so much easier to draw and tell you what I did than to write words. Stupid words! :)

Friday, June 09, 2006


I got this great new Plug-In for Illustrator 10. It's called ISOMETRIC LINE TOOL and it's available at the link below.

The programmer who designed it used it for building train track plans. I downloaded it along with everything on his site. I didn't think I would use it SO I made myself play around with it so I knew WHY I wouldn't.

Well, that did not work out because after the first 10 lines my brilliant strategic mind told me to design building facades with it and them use the FREE TRANSFORM tool to shape the buildings into perspective.

The top picture is black and white is how the Iso plug-in drew straight lines at right angles wherever I laid them down.

The light blue is on a layer below my buildings and it's used to block out the background. On the page I would color it white to blend with the page.

The darker blue color is on a layer below where I drew out the backsides of the buildings after I stretched them into perspective.

What a dream come true this is because I really love adding detailed realistic backgrounds but I hate making grids and then erasing them and all of that. Now I don't have to.

Why is anyone using PAPER?! This plug-in is fantastic as well as everything on this site... http://rj-graffix.com/software/plugins.html#IsoLineTool
I also spent last weekend (my Birthday) downloading a ton of Plug-INs for Illustrator. One dream Plug-In allows me to quickly make speedlines and more. That Plug-in alone is worth all the money I spent on every single plug-in I bought.

I can't wait to show you what I have been up to. I'm leaving notes on all my Iron Man pages so after the books come out I can show you waht I was doing...and so I can remember. LOL

I'll get to that promised COMPUTER TERMINAL tutorial as soon as I can.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006


here is a little gem. Kind of the proverbial Lemonade from lemons. There is this strange thing my Mouse and Stylus do when they both want to be in charge. My computer starts bouncing between the position of the mouse and the stylus.

So as I draw in the PENCIL tool the lines are "echoed" and the computer draws the lines in the exact spot 3 times.

It creates these really weird effects as all the lines are still connected from one block of lines to the next.

The lines in BLUE in the picture show the effect in real time. I took a snapshot of the Screen so you could check it out.

The black lines in the background are the previous batch I made. This usually last for about 5 minutes so I make as many different lines and shapes as I can in the meantime. I used some of these debris patterns in Elsinore in some backgrounds. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


WOW! I still can not get over the new feature I've been playing around with in the previous post. I don't think I have drawn a page yet since discovering this little gem without using it on each page.

One problem I have had working from Adam Warren's layouts for my Iron Man book is to create brush like speed lines and motion blurs like Adam does. Problem solved!

Here's what I do.

Create a CIRCLE. Any size will do. Hit the E button and hold the CTRL (on a PC) and stretch that circle to a real long shape. Now hit the E button again and shrink it down to a smaller size. Now repeat the stretching process again and shrink it down again. Now you have a really long ellipse. THAT LOOKS LIKE IT WAS MADE WITH A BRUSH!

Duplicate these but shrink some even smaller and place them right next to the large ones. This makes a really cool combination. Once you have a whole stack of them you can select "e" again and hold CTRL to stretch these brush looking speed lines into a perspective. I did it in the background behind a race car and it looks great.

I also duplicated these once they were in perspective and shrank them down even more. I colored them white on a black background and it created a "spacewarp" effect like in Star Wars or Star Trek.

I've also created one slightly bent line to match the perspective of a curved street. Then I duplicated that line into about 20 lines on top of each other. keeping them really close together, by the way. I used the "e" and CTRL to distort them. Once they started to distort they kept the curved shape but did it IN PERSPECTIVE. I just laid it down on top of my street scene and it looked like speed lines with a french curve. Something that would have taken a long time by hand was done in a few seconds with this feature!

When I drew the street scene I had my street and background buildings on one layer. Above that layer were my curved speed lines. Above that layer was a layer I call WHITEOUT, which I use for small white dots and street cracks to break up the speedlines. Above that layer was the shadow of my car, including the wheelwell Above that layer was the rims of the car's wheels. I did the rims with circles and then distort them, (Again using the "e" CTRL but holding down SHIFT as well to keep the distortions horizontal line straight with the other side.) The rims I am using on every page that the car appears on and just distort it to match the perspective of the car! The layer above that has the body of the car and the layer above that has the shines and white dots of streetlights on the glass.

Pretty cool feature! I can't believe how much I use it now and how much I wish I knew it a long time ago! :)

Friday, May 05, 2006


ta-Da! A new tutorial entry. yeah!

The picture to the left is a way to make bricks in perspective, but if you just need grid lines follow along...


1.-Draw one line. Make a copy on that line directly under it by Holding ALT (on a PC) and pulling it down.

2.-Keep it selected and hold CTRL+D and everytime you hit "D" it will duplicate the line as many times as you need.

3.-After you have as many lines as needed select all of them with the BLACK ARROW (Direct Selection Tool) , PRESS THE "E" KEY, and hold CTRL and pull them anyway you need perspective lines.

4.-Duplicate steps 1-3 and make new lines in perspective going the opposite direction. You will then have a criss-crossed, "x" shape pattern great for using for perspective guidelines in the background.

Pro artists don't always draw perspective lines all the way to the horizon line. You need only have some criss-cross for your panel.

Here is a shot of how to make a picture out of some bricks. This spacewalk shot took less than 10 minutes. The squares were WHITE FILL and BLACK STROKE. The background was a black square on a lower layer. The lines in the back were created with my new buddy; the DASHED LINE.

Next time, I will show you how to make some crazy computer terminals with that little gem!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A brief FAQ

Whoops! I'm getting behind on this blog! I'm going to answer a few questions from the New Year's post. (So it looks like I am posting again.)

What do you mean by "more often"?
More often now means "soon". LOL This IRON MAN Marvel gig is taking up some of my time here and I was not allowed to show the art yet. But now I can! So "soon" I will have more tutorials up with some of the crazy new things I came up with.

I came up with this AWESOME feature last night. I'm sure you guys already know it, but I've never seen it or used it. So I'll be posting that feature soon.

This should be called The Idiot's Way to Draw in Illustrator instead of one of those Idiot's Guide. LOL

It seems like every day recently I make a new discovery in Illustrator. I'm like Columbus. I discovered a new land...that some people were already living on. Oh well, enjoy my germs. Maybe you can catch something from me that helps you...

What is the difference between Pencilling and Inking?
(I assume you mean in the computer because on paper that's a whole other blog!) My pencilling stage is basically my sketching stage at this point. Using the PENCIL tool with NO FILL and a .01 Stroke. My INKING stage is me drawing very tight final art with the PENCIL tool and a BLACK FILL. I also draw with a WHITE FILL to add extra little details over the black art.

Do you print out to give to the editor? How do you print out?
I don't print out pages to send to an editor.

One of the advantages to drawing on the computer is saving a client's Fed Ex money. No longer do I have to send pages to Marvel for approval and then they send them to the inker and the inker sends it back to Marvel. That's a lot of last minute rushed Fed Ex packages! Now I can wait to the very last possible second and send my TIFF FILES to my editor via e-mail to get paid. :) Plus I don't have to race through traffic, put up with FedEx guys who close the door when I get there, or forgetting my address as I fill out the Fed Ex slips. That really brings a guy down!

Plus my little ol' heart can't take that stress!

I went to a convention in Dallas this past weekend and met a lot of great people. You would not believe how the mouth's drop when I tell people I am drawing in Illustrator. One guy was kind of funny because he was grilling me about drawing in Photoshop instead of Illustrator. "Why do it in Illustrator? Why not Photoshop?", He would ask. I told him over and over how I am doing this or that, and how this feature is better in Illustrator. But he would not have it. I've tried to do this in Photoshop and it drives me crazy. And I know Photoshop! It just works a lot better and faster for me to do this in Illustrator.

Of course what works for one guy may not work for another. We all have our tastes. I prefer it in Ilustrator because I tried the other programs and this works incredibly well for me. I hope you are finding this tutorial helpful.

If you have any more questions please send them! It may help to know what you need to know.

You know?
Brian Denham

Sunday, January 01, 2006


My Resolution for the new year is to post more often. I haven't been posting here as often as I wanted to and I'll work to correct that.

I started this year with work from Marvel Comics. YEAH! I'll let you know about that as soon as Marvel does.

Have a great 2006!