Man, Ben10 was one of my biggest early influences, so I was amped to do a Ben10 piece, seeing as my last full-fledged effort was seven years ago!
In fact, Ben's transformation into Ghostfreak was what inspired Deadboy's look, which surely helped inform Z's vibe. I definitely remember pausing the DVR frame by frame during the morph so I could get Deadboy's eyes to look just as rusted out.
To be more accurate I probably should have used Ghostfreak's wild form, not his post-capture look. And while I was at it, I should have gone for a different villain. My favorite is actually the Shaman dude. I remember hating Dr. Animo, though. He was so gross and his debut episode always seemed to give me a headache--I associate it with a hot, sapping summer day.
Anyway, since I've been in Japan, it seems there's been a million spin-offs, but that first series will always be special to me. The writing, the acting, the animation, the stories, it all just fired me up, particularly before they started getting to the universe-sprawling stuff. Just a kid on a summer adventure where weird, vaguely-interconnected stuff starts happening.
I do feel a little bummed cuz I copped out with this smokey, impressionistic background. I just wanted it to feel Sci-Fi-y and mysterious, with the focus on the characters and the moody atmosphere. I also tried to use more value control, as per KNKL's constant lauding of this.
Bonus round. I did try going for a fully-painted look, but scrapped it for more usual cel-shades. This is one of the better painted drafts in progress, but it just kept feeling more creepy/uncanny-valley than cool or anything, so I cut it.
Here's the initial, super-rough sketch. It was all about Ghostfreak stalking Ben, and only later in the coloring process did I realize it'd look a little cooler and creepier if Ghostfreak were bigger and almost cradling Ben's skull, while still pushed further into the background.