Together Gene and I go page by page of his story to get his thoughts and process. Enjoy!
Watch on YouTube:
Watch on YouTube:
This issue is currently up for pre-order through Diamond with the code NOV210415. Just ask your local comic shop to order it for you, or order it though an online retailer. The issue will be in shops Jan 26, 2022
To the left you can see the finished cover, but below I'll go through the steps in creating it.
Most of the color choices had been made in the layout stage, but I made changes to the value structure as I worked. In this step I also added color holds (areas where I want the lineart to be a color other than black) to the woman's dress pattern, here eyes, and Usagi's scar, as well as a slight fade to the inkwork of the background near the bottom.
Usagi Yojimbo: Lone Goat & Kid #1 is out in stores Jan 26, 2022
Jeremy Bastian and I were talking the other day about the fun and challenge of redoing old work. We both recognize that it's a slippery slope where it's all too easy to want to redo everything and remain stagnant instead of producing new pieces build of the lessons learned from the mistakes of old pieces. But, as this was just a single print image and for a specific purpose, I went forward.
To the left you can see the finished piece and below I'll break down my process to get there.
Here's the original piece I inked and colored for the German release of Fall. They wanted a piece of art they could use as a special print for advanced orders. They eventually also reused the artwork for a big poster for a signing tour I did way back when, and again more recently for a jigsaw puzzle.
So I started by sketching out a layout on copy paper and then adding in more figures on separate sheets of paper. I wanted to get a better sense of depth so the figures in the front are considerably larger and the scale recedes as the depth increases. I moved around the characters within the piece, removed a few mice, decided against all the lanterns, and to show more of the harvest foods. All of my various pieces of paper were then assembled in Photoshop and I did a quick blocking in of color to help me see the forms.
My original goal (and hopefully repeated here) was to show some kind of rustic & homey party akin to Bilbo's Birthday. There's a casual familiarity with the mice and the surroundings that their guard is down, they are relaxed and just enjoying the simple pleasures of ale, cider, fruits, veggies, and nuts.
I inked most of this piece on my Twitch stream while I chatted with the audience and answered their questions.
Some of my color choices were pre-determined by the quick color blocking I did in the layout stage. At this point I also added color holds (areas where I want the inkwork to be a color other than black) to the leaf veins, apple spots, lute strings, and pottery decoration. I also made a new brush to emulate my thumbprints for the pipe smoke, and painted in a nice little trail of puff.
I'm pleased with the results, and as we head into Thanksgiving, let me say that I hope all of you have as warm and comfortable a harvest with friends and family as these mice are. I'm thankful for you fans who allow me to make this work as my job.
The Harvest piece will be featured in a new Calendar that I'll be opening up for pre-order tomorrow in my online store: https://mouseguard.bigcartel.com/. It's a 10"x7" desk calendar where as each month is torn away, you can also use the perforated line so that the art on the left becomes a framable 5" x 7" art print
Here is my finished Red Bullrat. And below are my steps to create it as well as the community submissions.
We started with the prompts of my original 2000's era linocut print titled 'Extinct' as well as a Bull Terrier, a Muskrat, and a Red Panda.
I told the viewers that they could use any combination of the inspiration prompts––they could make their version as cute and cuddly as a pocket pet stray kitten, as monstrous and deadly as a giant kaiju destroying cities, or anything in between. I also wanted this to be an excuse to get their pencils moving. I invited all skill levels, because I'm a firm believer that you shouldn't have to be good at something or pursuing mastery of it to just simply enjoy the act of it...and art is no exception.
Below you can again see the final rendered colors with a border and type applied in this final version.
But, as this is a community event, I wanted to share all the other entries posted in the Discord. I awarded a prize and we voted together on a few more (prize winners marked with *) on Monday's Twitch stream and we all enjoyed seeing what each other had done. I hope we get even more participants next month
The Ghost with bat wings didn't make the cut...compositions with odd numbered groupings usually look better and as I was already struggling to assemble my three favorites without any bad coverups or awkward tangents, he had to haunt somewhere else. I blocked in some color to help me see the forms of each character (which was really helpful with all the overlapping characters & details.
I opted to not ink in the poem text as it was too small and felt like it would have too much imperfection in the letter forms from my untrained letterer's hand.
This piece will be part of the Baltimore Comic Con 2021 Yearbook, and I will offer prints of it soon after!
Detail photos of the 3 color treatment below: