I have been extremely lucky to cross paths with some amazing comics talent over the past few years, and this year, even in quarantine, my luck continues! It turns out that professional comics inker Lebeau Underwood lives in my neighborhood, and while connecting with him to get him to chat with my art students, he agreed to do this interview with us! Get excited!
The first three questions were formulated by my students, and the last couple was all me!
Me: Mr. Underwood, thank you so much for your time! I know inking is very time intensive and you are currently in a few projects as we speak. The first thing that my collective of comic students would like to know is what types of equipment do you use for traditional and digital art?
LU: For traditional art, I generally use nibs of various sizes, brushes of different sizes, and inks. I generally prefer very opaque inks, such as PEBEO inks, and Dr. Martin’s Matte Black. For digital, I use a Yiynova tablet and Clip Studio Paint as well as Photoshop CS5.
Me: Can you give us a couple of tips for young artists looking to improve their art?
LU: Study basic human form and structure first. Build a solid foundation of learning traditional art, such as human anatomy, perspective, color theory, and basic architecture. These things will be a tremendous asset as you move into producing actual comic book pages because each and every aspect plays a solid part in professional comic book work. Don’t learn comic book art FROM comic book art because many artists use forced perspective to form their own individual look. However, it is not a proper basis for learning comic art. In other words: learn the rules before you break them.
Me: It’s definitely a complex career. Can you tell us about a time when something you did totally didn’t work? How did you deal and/or rebound from it?
LU: I recall working on an issue of Justice League Odyssey (DC Comics) and it was my first time working with a certain penciler, who uses layers of Photoshop to produce his work. At the time, I was not overly familiar with digital art production, so I struggled to join the layers together to form a cohesive panel. It was very taxing. I did the best I could, finished my work and just moved onto the next project. I did use the opportunity to learn how to use Clip Studio to enhance my workflow presently.
Me: This just in! Hollywood is making the Lebeau Underwood life story! You get to pick the music artist that creates the soundtrack. Who are you going with and why?
LU: Great question! A bit difficult to answer because I tend to view my life in stages based upon my age and experience at the time. So for my earlier, formative years, I would go with Prince or a mix of Top 80’s music. For my teenage years, I would select either 2Pac or MJG or 8Ball, and currently? Will Downing or Avant.
Me: Great choices! Finally, if you were an action figure, what three accessories would you come with?
LU: A multi-purpose brush with pen attachments, optional dark shades (incognito look), and a Kung Fu grip!
I want to thank the amazing Lebeau Underwood for his thoughts and insight. You can give Lebeau a follow on Twitter @LebeauUnderwood.