Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Mouse Guard Model Video: Quail Cart

For the cover of Legends of the Guard Volume 2 Hardcover collection, I built an architectural model of a Quail Cart. With the fan excitement over the video of Adam Savage talking to me about my models on Tested.com I wanted to do some videos where I talk about a specific model, how I built it, what the materials were, and why I built it in the first place.

Below you can watch as I explain why knowing where the quail hitches makes a better illustration:


For a Full Blogpost on the art process for the cover of Legends of the Guard Vol.2 Hardcover: 



2017 Appearances: 
Heroes Con: Jun. 16-18
San Diego Comic Con: July 19-23
Baltimore Comic Con: Sept. 22-24

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Hare 5x7 Print Process

For 2017 I'll be introducing a lot of new 5"x7" matted prints to my convention appearances and in my online store. Fans have been enjoying the Saxon, Gwendolyn, Sadie, and Kenzie prints in the same format, so in addition to adding more guardmouse characters for 2017, I'm also adding more animals/scenes.

In this post, I'll be sharing the process of creating the Hare & Piper-mouse artwork to the left from concept to finished colors.





I started by drawing the hare on a sheet of copy paper. Then to make sure I could easily adjust the layout and proportions, I drew the mouse separately. The mouse is Piper from the 2016 FCBD story "Piper the Listener". After I'd started assembling the two drawings in photoshop (tinting them both to help my eye see where one ended and the other began) and then I decided that the hare needed some kind of clothing. I only showed the hares in Winter 1152 with mouse-made saddles and harnesses for riding, no apparent clothing of their own. I dunno if I'll stick to this new fashion forward hare-look, but for the print, I thought it needed it.



I printed out the photoshop assembled layout and taped it to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol and inked on a lightpad. I use a Huion lightpad that allows me to see the printout through the surface of the bristol. This means that on the surface of the bristol will only be my inks, no pencil lines to erase (though sometimes, I do tighten up the pencils a bit as I work if the layout sketch is too loose). For pens I used Copic Multiliners, the 0.7 & 0.3 nibs. I fudged in the grassy silhouette while looking at photos of various grasses gone to seed.


Once the inks are scanned, I start the process of flatting the piece for color. This means laying in flat color (no concerns with shading or texture) to establish that areas like the hare's fur will be different from the collar, its eye, the rock,  etc.

Once the flat colors are in I start rendering each area using the dodge and burn tools (lighten and darken) with a textured brush. I also added some color holds on the hare's collar embroidery and the grassy background.



Here again is the finished colored artwork. This print and many more will be available at any of my convention appearances this year was well as in my online store.




For process posts on previous prints:



2017 Appearances: 
Heroes Con: Jun. 16-18
San Diego Comic Con: July 19-23
Baltimore Comic Con: Sept. 22-24

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Free Comic Book Day 2017

Free Comic Book Day is THIS SATURDAY!
In case you are unfamiliar with FCBD, on the first Saturday in May, you and everyone you know, can go to your local comic shop and they will have a selection of comics that are FREE (most stores limit how many each person gets). The comic shops buy these comics, specially printed (and in some cases with content created specifically for) FCBD at print cost and then use it to spread goodwill about the artform of telling stories with words AND pictures panel by panel.

I have a new Mouse Guard short story in the BOOM! Summer Blast issue.


This story is 8 pages long, and like my past 6 years of FCBD stories, features a folk-tale/parable that ties into a lesson a member of the Mouse Guard learned. This year's offering is titled "The Tale of the Wild Wolf" and you can see some teaser panels to the right.

I don't want to say much more about the story, because I don't want to spoil anything, but eagle-eyed fans may catch a few clues in these panels that tells them which Guardmouse is featured...



While stores nation-wide will have the BOOM! Summer Blast book with my new Mouse Guard story inside, I will specifically be at ISOTOPE: The Comic Book Lounge in San Francisco, CA signing books (anything a fan places in front of me that I've worked on) and in the afternoon delivering a talk about Mouse Guard. That evening ISOTOPE will host a Mouse Guard cocktail hour. So if you are in the SF area, please come out for what is sure to be a great event celebrating the artform of comics.

If you already know about FCBD and have people in your life that DON'T read comics, take them to your local store's event and help them find something they might like. I truly believe that there is a comic out there for every person regardless of age, gender, interests, etc. Also, please consider purchasing something from the store you visit in addition to picking up some free issues. Something for yourself you'd already planned to get, something for that non-comic reader that fits their tastes, or something you already enjoy but plan to donate to your local library.







2017 Appearances: 
Heroes Con: Jun. 16-18
San Diego Comic Con: July 19-23
Baltimore Comic Con: Sept. 22-24

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Rose Limited Edition Print Process

Since 2012 I've released a new 11" x 11" limited edition print every year. Past year's pieces have been titled "Peacock", "Raspberry","Moonflower", "Lavender", and "Juniper". Julia requested that these prints be pretty and not just a mouse doing battle, but more aesthetically feminine. To the left is the finished artwork for this year's "Rose" and below I'll show the full process.

The print is available in my online store and at my convention appearances until the print sells out



For this year's print, "Rose" I chose to focus on a character from Mark Smylie's Legends of the Guard story "Crown of Silver, Crown of Gold". In that story a mouse named Moria from Rosestone who avenged her beloved warrior mouse after he was slain due to treachery from the king. In the last panel (shown to the right) she takes up his armor and weapons and becomes a well-known guardmouse. In Black Axe, I went further than that and showed (via a stained glass tribute) that she became one of the most celebrated of Matriarchs of the Guard)

I started with the figure of Moria drawing her out on copy paper. I tried a few variations and ended up merging the two (the head from one and the body/pose of the other). Then I placed a printout of my merged drawing on my light pad and on a new sheet of paper over top, I drew out a series of wild roses making sure to have intersection points for her feet to touch. After scanning those two drawings in to photoshop, tinting them different colors to help me visualize, resizing them, and making some placement tweaks, I had a layout for this print ready.


I printed the composite layout onto two sheets of legal copy paper (being 11" square, the layout wouldn't fit across one sheet, so I had to print the top and bottom separately and then puzzle them back together). Using my light pad, I was able to see through a sheet of bristol to the printout of my layout below. I taped the layout to my bristol to make sure I didn't lose registration as I inked. To the right you can see the finished ink (this was inked all with Copic Multiliner SP pens (the 0.7 & 0.3 nibs).


Once the inking was done, I started coloring the piece. This process starts with a job called 'flatting' where you simply lay in flat colors to establish which parts are which colors. With Moria's copper armor and shield, red cloak, and the color of the roses, I knew this was going to be a warm-toned piece. So even my greens are falling into a yellow-brown zone. I looked at varieties of wild roses to get a sense of the color palates, but shifted everything a bit more red/magenta to create the color unity I wanted...though that would mean being careful to get all the various 'greens' to read as different shapes without being able to adjust their overall hue too far away from the base color.


The final step was to render the image. This means going in and adding depth and texture with shadow, and highlights. I do this using the Dodge and Burn tools in Photoshop (and a textured stock brush). Making sure to give the armor the right amount of rendering so it looks metallic while also dialing it back on the flowers so they don't look plastic took some self control and fiddling to get right.

Again, the print is available in my online store and at my convention appearances until all 300 are sold out.


2017 Appearances: 
Heroes Con: Jun. 16-18
San Diego Comic Con: July 19-23
Baltimore Comic Con: Sept. 22-24





Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Mouse Guard Model Video: Barrel Carrier

For the prologue of The Black Axe (a story originally published on Free Comic Book Day in 2010), I built a model of a a barrel carrier for the mice to re-por the scent border. With the fan excitement over the video of Adam Savage talking to me about my models on Tested.com I wanted to do some videos where I talk about a specific model, how I built it, what the materials were, and why I built it in the first place.

Below you can watch as I explain the thought process of how mice would pour the border:



2017 Appearances: 
C2E2: April 21-23
Heroes Con: Jun. 16-18
San Diego Comic Con: July 19-23
Baltimore Comic Con: Sept. 22-24

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Thundercats


Thunder...Thunder...THUNDERCATS, HO!

As a fun experiment at my weekly Art Night gathering with other local artist friends, I tried my hand at drawing a favorite of mine as a kid...the Tundercats! I didn't want to redesign them, or stick to copying a model sheet, I wanted to just draw them as I would, with respect to the original designs but enough David Petersen linework that you knew it was from my hand.


I want to reiterate, these were only for fun. I'm not working on any Thundercats Project, and I won't make prints of characetrs I don't own. With that said, enjoy!









Many of the original inked pieces are available in my online store:



2017 Appearances: 
C2E2: April 21-23
Heroes Con: Jun. 16-18
San Diego Comic Con: July 19-23
Baltimore Comic Con: Sept. 22-24

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

TMNT/Usagi Cover Process

Usagi Yojimbo and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are crossing over and teaming up!!! The stand-alone issue is written and drawn by Usagi creator Stan Sakai, and published by IDW.

I was lucky enough to be asked to do a variant cover for the occasion. This marks my 13th TMNT cover and my 4th time drawing Usagi for publication. And when Bobby Curnow (TMNT editor) asked if I could do a cover, I pushed a few days of Mouse Guard work to the side to be a part of this.

In this blogpost I'm going through the process for creating the cover art.


Roughs: 
I don't want to say much about the plot of the issue...but Usagi and the TMNT team up and there is a catfish in the tale too. For the cover, I wanted to show Usagi and the turtles piled in a classic team-up pose with the catfish ethereally looming behind & overhead. For the turtles...I'd done a TMNT rough for a possible licensed print from one of the well-known slikscreen print companies. For various reasons, it didn't come to fruition, but it meant I had a set of Leo, Raph, Mike, & Don unused...

So I set to drawing Usagi first. Then I traced over my old versions of the TMNT to make new tighter pencils of them in an arrangement that would flank Usagi. Doing this allowed me to also make anatomical and detail corrections as well as mirror Donatello & Leonardo.

And then the big old catfish on another sheet of copy paper.

With these sketches/pencils done, I could scan them into Photoshop for....


Layouts:
Now most artists wouldn't go so far as to color-flat the layout that they submit to their editor for approval (and in this case approvals went through Nickelodeon & IDW for TMNT and Stan & Dark Horse for Usagi), but I wanted to make sure the tone and palate as well as the subtle handling of the catfish would be handled.

I had a TMNT title-mastead & IDW logo from my TMNT covers to place as a reference point for what would most likely be covered up for the final publication.


Inks: 
Once the layout was approved by all (no changes, thankfully) I printed out the layout and taped it to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol board. On a light pad (I use a Huion brand large enough to fit most of a cover) I was able to see through the bristol to the layout print and then ink on the surface of the bristol without having to transfer the image or have any pencil lines to erase (and ultimately smear the not-quite-dry ink that I all-too-often do). I used Copic Multiliner pens to ink the cover. I tent to use the 0.7 & 0.3 nibs mainly.



Flats:
Once the inks are completed, I scanned them into Photoshop and started flatting in colors...unfortunately it was easier to just re-color this instead of trying to re-register & correct the flats from the layout.

I am a fan of the all-red bandannas from the original Eastman & Laird comics, but to fit in with current IDW continuity, I was told by my editor to give them the multi-color treatment. The other colors were stock from the existing character designs & my original layout. To push back the catfish I added a color hold to it's inkwork as well as all those little dots (meant to give that etherial particles in the air/water catching the light feel).


Here again are the final colors. All of the rendering was done in Photoshop using the Dodge & Burn tools with a textured brush.  This crossover issue will be available to pre-order soon with the book to be released in July.






2017 Appearances: 
C2E2: April 21-23
Heroes Con: Jun. 16-18
San Diego Comic Con: July 19-23
Baltimore Comic Con: Sept. 22-24

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Frog 5x7" Print Process

For 2017 I'll be introducing a lot of new 5"x7" matted prints to my convention appearances and in my online store. Fans have been enjoying the Saxon, Gwendolyn, Sadie, and Kenzie prints in the same format, so in addition to adding more guardmouse characters for 2017, I'm also adding more animals/scenes.

In this post, I'll be sharing the process of creating the frog and mouse artwork to the left from concept to finished colors.




Julia and I made a list of the type of animals that would work well in this format. On her list of suggestions was "something like the frog and mouse-harvester on the cover of my 2015 sketchbook". Looking directly to that piece of artwork, I set to doing a piece that would fit the taller orientation and have a less tropical-looking frog species while making the frog more the focal point than the mouse.


I drew a frog (using some online reference for a northern leopard frog) and the mouse on separate sheets of copy paper. I assembled them all in Photoshop tinting each character a different color to help me see where one character started and the other ended. The outer line is a pre-set template I've made for this size of print so that it will float in the mat nicely...though, I'm not working at actual size, I'm working larger, but the proportions are right so that when the final version is printed to scale, everything will fit inside the mat.



I printed out the photoshop assembled layout and taped it to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol and inked on a lightpad. I use a Huion lightpad that allows me to see the printout through the surface of the bristol. This means that on the surface of the bristol will only be my inks, no pencil lines to erase (though sometimes, I do tighten up the pencils a bit as I work if the layout sketch is too loose). For pens I used Copic Multiliners, the 0.7 & 0.3 nibs. All of the grass I did on the fly as I inked.


Once the inks are scanned, I start the process of flatting the piece for color. This means laying in flat color (no concerns with shading or texture) to establish that areas like the frog's skin will be a different color than the rock, grass, of the mouse, etc.

Once the flat colors are in I start rendering each area using the dodge and burn tools (lighten and darken) with a textured brush. I also added some color holds on those stars/will-o-whisps in the background.


Here again is the finished colored artwork. This print and many more will be available at any of my convention appearances this year was well as in my online store.




For process posts on previous prints:



2017 Appearances: 
C2E2: April 21-23
Heroes Con: Jun. 16-18
San Diego Comic Con: July 19-23
Baltimore Comic Con: Sept. 22-24

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Goose 5x7" Print Process

For 2017 I'll be introducing a lot of new 5"x7" matted prints to my convention appearances and in my online store. Fans have been enjoying the Saxon, Gwendolyn, Sadie, and Kenzie prints in the same format, so in addition to adding more guardmouse characters for 2017, I'm also adding more animals/scenes.

In this post, I'll be sharing the process of creating the goose and mouse artwork to the left from concept to finished colors.




I started with being inspired by the geese Mark Buckingham illustrated in his Legends of the Guard story ("The Gosling and the Ghost" in Vol. 3). I'd seen a goose piece Mark had done as part of a Fables promotion and asked him if he'd feature a goose in his Legends of the Guard story. The image of this gaggle from his page 1 of that story stuck with me, especially the hats. And in an effort to want to embrace and take advantage of all the great concepts contributors have added to the Mouse Guard world in the pages of Legends of the Guard, I set out to draw my own clothed goose.


I drew a goose wearing a hat with scarf and armor on a sheet of copy paper. On another sheet, I also drew a mouse in a basket. After scanning them both, adding a stock photo of some blueberries, and assembling them all in Photoshop, I had this composition for my print ready. Orange line is a pre-set template I've made for this size of print so that it will float in the mat nicely...though, I'm not working at actual size, I'm working larger, but the proportions are right so that when the final version is printed to scale, everything will fit inside the mat.



I printed out the photoshop assembled layout and taped it to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol and inked on a lightpad. I use a Huion lightpad that allows me to see the printout through the surface of the bristol. This means that on the surface of the bristol will only be my inks, no pencil lines to erase (though sometimes, I do tighten up the pencils a bit as I work if the layout sketch is too loose). For pens I used Copic Multiliners, the 0.7 & 0.3 nibs.


Once the inks are scanned, I start the process of flatting the piece for color. This means laying in flat color (no concerts with shading or texture) to establish that areas like the goose's feathers will be a different color than his hat or scarf, of the mouse, etc.

Once the flat colors are in I start rendering each area using the dodge and burn tools (lighten and darken) with a textured brush. I also added some color holds (areas where I want the inkwork to appear as a color rather than a black line) on the background lines, and the eye of the peacock feather.


Here again is the finished colored artwork. This print and many more will be available at any of my convention appearances this year was well as in my online store.





For process posts on previous prints:



2017 Appearances: 
C2E2: April 21-23
Heroes Con: Jun. 16-18
San Diego Comic Con: July 19-23
Baltimore Comic Con: Sept. 22-24

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Fox 5x7 Print Process

For 2017 I'll be introducing a lot of new 5"x7" matted prints to my convention appearances and in my online store. Fans have been enjoying the Saxon, Gwendolyn, Sadie, and Kenzie prints in the same format, so in addition to adding more guardmouse characters for 2017, I'm also adding more animals/scenes.

In this post, I'll be sharing the process of creating the Fox and mouse-dwelling artwork to the left from concept to finished colors.




I started with a fox drawing (from reference of a fox in the snow) on copy paper. With all the dead thicket branches I planned to have in this piece getting in the way of the snow lines, I made life easier by laying a new sheet of copy paper over the fox drawing and then on a light pad draw them in around the fox. On yet another sheet of paper, I drew a little mousey building...



I found a photo online of this building called "The Shoemaker's Tower" in Sighisoara, Transilvania, Romania. I loved the shape of the roof peak, the offset tower, and the canopied balcony staircase. So, when I drew the little mousey version, I didn't change much other than making the lantern bigger and adding an existing mouse flag (see Black Axe). I decided that for one of the as-yet-unseen mouse towns, I'd use this aesthetic. So on my sketch I jotted down notes about one of the fallen towns: Woodruff's Grove. This is a small step towards developing that location, but this is a small step on which I can build much more in the future...but back to this print...




After I assembled the three drawings in photoshop (tinting them all to help my eye see where one ended and the other began...this is where having the branches separate from the snow-lines made a big difference) having these elements all on different sheets/layers I was able to make lots of adjustments to resize parts without affecting the lines of the things around them.



I printed out the photoshop assembled layout and taped it to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol and inked on a lightpad. I use a Huion lightpad that allows me to see the printout through the surface of the bristol. This means that on the surface of the bristol will only be my inks, no pencil lines to erase (though sometimes, I do tighten up the pencils a bit as I work if the layout sketch is too loose...in this case the eyes). For pens I used Copic Multiliners, the 0.7 & 0.3 nibs.



Once the inks are scanned, I start the process of flatting the piece for color. This means laying in flat color (no concerns with shading or texture) to establish that areas like the Fox's two different fur tones and making sure they are different from the branches, snow, building, etc.

Once the flat colors are in I start rendering each area using the dodge and burn tools (lighten and darken) with a textured brush. I added minimal colorholds on the snow linework and the flag embroidery.



Here again is the finished colored artwork. This print and many more will be available at any of my convention appearances this year was well as in my online store.




For process posts on previous prints:



2017 Appearances: 
Heroes Con: Jun. 16-18
San Diego Comic Con: July 19-23
Baltimore Comic Con: Sept. 22-24

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