Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Legends of the Guard Vol 3 #2 cover process

About a month ago I shared the process for the first Legends of the Guard Vol.3 cover...today I'll share the process for issue 2 of that series. I've been asked why in Mouse Guard I've never really shown other mouse-sized mammals with societies....why no chipmunks or squirrels. To be honest, I'd only left them out because of my wanting to focus on the mice...but decided that someday I'll need to fold them in and explain their absence in the books-so-far. 

While I'm not ready to explain all of that in a single cover, or even reveal what the story of this covers is, all you need to know is that I thought it would be fun to show 1 mouse who joined the fray of a battle between chipmunks and squirrels (who I've now decided had some long-standing feud). Referencing photos of those species, I did drawings of the players involved on various sheets of paper. Jeremy Bastian & Jay Fosgitt helped me with a suggestion squirrel 'armor'. I'd originally sketched it in as cloth, and they mentioned using found objects like leaves would be cool.

I scanned all of these characters and, in Photoshop, arranged them into a composition. This arrangement took some time. I'd drawn several of the character imagining which counterpart they square off against...in some cases I was able to do that, but in others I couldn't puzzle piece it together that way. Also the squirrel who I thought would be on the cover, ended up being the taller one on the back cover. But it was all to serve a greater layout and composition with room for the logo and keeping in mind where the crease marking the front and back cover lay.


The composition is then printed out (on two sheets of legal paper and taped at the seam) then taped to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol. I ink the piece on a lightbox where I can see the printout through the bristol. I use Copic Multiliners for the inks. I added in the tree branch as well as the leaves (loosely in pencil 1st, then with ink) as I worked on the cover. This cover has a lit of the same kind of lines for almost every detail, so thick and think outlines and densities of those marks help establish one form from another.

After inking, the piece is scanned to begin the coloring of the piece. In Photoshop I use flat colors (not the final color choices) to establish where one figure ends and the next begins, where the clothing  varies from fur and even from other adjacent clothing. Putting in these flat placeholder colors is called 'flatting' and it amounts to an exercise less bout artistic choice and more about the technical of coloring in the lines.

For the final rendering of the cover, I honed in on the final colors and started rendering. I'd not planned on making the squirrels grey squirrels...but since the chipmunks were all brown and much of the squirrel clothing was going to be earth-toned, I needed to give them some other hue to contrast. The rendering was achieved not through the paintbrush tool, but using the dodge (lighten) and burn (darken) tools. 


Legends of the Guard Vol.3 #2 will have the full "legend" of this cover on the inside front cover. And will feature stories by: Dustin NguyenNicole Gustafsson, & Kyla Vanderkulgt



2015 Appearances:
C2E2 April 24-26
Motor City May 15-17
Denver Comic Con May 22-25
Heroes Con June 19-21
Baltimore Comic Con Sept. 25-27
New York Comic Con Oct. 8-11

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Legends of the Guard Vol. 3 #1 in progress preview

For this week's blogpost, I'll be sharing some previews of in-process work for Legends of the Guard Volume 3 #1 (in Previews this month: Order Code JAN151140). To the left is my wraparound cover for the issue (process post on that cover here). The issue will also be a first for Mouse Guard with variant covers from Humberto Ramos, Ramon Perez, & Eric Muller...but I'll share more on those as we get closer to release. Below are process pages for the three contributors for this issue:

Mark Buckingham:
I chose Mark to be in Legends for obvious reasons. Besides his talent and a delightful person, the body of work he's most known for is Fables which features all manner of talking animals. Mark and I chatted about what he'd like to do for a Legends story sometime early last year, and then again at Baltimore Comic Con towards the end of 2014. I seemed to recall Mark saying something in our earlier talk about doing a story with a goose, at Baltimore, he didn't remember saying that, but liked the idea of drawing a goose. Mark added

"The reason David and I discussed using a goose in my story was due to my inclusion of a goose in medieval costume in the illustration I did for the Fabletown and Beyond Convention poster/T-shirt design, which I remember David telling me he was quite fond of during the show.

I took inspiration for the story title from the Anthony Phillips ( the original guitarist of Genesis) LP "The geese & the ghost" (1977) which has long been a favorite of mine, with beautiful artwork by Peter Cross (Anyone familiar with my work on Fables will immediately spot his influence on me)."Below are Mark's pencils, inks with inkwash, and final art colored by Lee Loughridge for his story The Gosling and the Ghost."







Hannah Christenson:
Hannah falls in to the category of artist/storytellers who are not "names" but do work worthy of much larger attention. I first saw her work online (Hannah's Blog) and kept her in mind as someone to tap as a Legends artist at the first opportunity. After drafting up 5 (!?!) different pitches for Legends, I asked her to pick the one she would be most excited about drawing (since they were all good). Hannah had been taking some blacksmithing classes with her husband and chose to do her pitch that involved a blacksmith for her contribution The Armor Maker. Below are her digital roughs, inks, & colors. Hannah Added:

"Ever since I was a little girl I loved armor, warriors, and knights, and I'd even told my mom I wanted to be a blacksmith when I grew up. I also love stories about "side characters" or the support people outside of the traditional hero who sort of rise up and help in a way they thought was beyond themselves (thus becoming one of the heroes, I suppose).

The process was really awesome on my side of things, from pitching all the stories to working on last edits. I loved all the stories I pitched but I had hoped to get to do this one. I really like armor. "



Skottie Young:
Skottie had originally been tapped for Volume 2 of Legends, but due to a communication error, we thought he was unable to contribute. But we are correcting that with this volume. Skottie loves folklore..so much that his first creator owned series is all about fairy tales (more info about it here)
I don't want to share too much of Skottie's story yet, but it draws from his real life experiences with fatherhood and the wonder of a child. Below are the inks to Skottie's 1st page as a well as a Mouse Guard Daily Doodle of his from back in 2011.







My pages:
I'll be linking the stories together through the storytelling competition at the tavern. So I've been working on designs for the storytellers/inn patrons as well as dusting off my model of the June Alley Inn so I can get my pages turned in on-time.







2015 Appearances:
C2E2 April 24-26
Motor City May 15-17
Denver Comic Con May 22-25
Heroes Con June 19-21
Baltimore Comic Con Sept. 25-27
New York Comic Con Oct. 8-11

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Mouse Guard color Video #5

For this week's blogpost (and 3 more to follow) I colored a inked Mouse Guard character portrait in my normal fashion in Photoshop. I recorded the process and speed up the result x8. Here is the video:

direct link to watch the video on Vimeo:
http://vimeo.com/112127143



Here is a better look at the original inks and the finished piece:





2015 Appearances:
C2E2 April 24-26
Motor City May 15-17
Denver Comic Con May 22-25
Heroes Con June 19-21
Baltimore Comic Con Sept. 25-27
New York Comic Con Oct. 8-11

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Mouse Guard color Video #4

For this week's blogpost (and 4 more to follow) I colored a inked Mouse Guard character portrait in my normal fashion in Photoshop. I recorded the process and speed up the result x8. Here is the video:


direct link to watch the video on Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/112126022



Here is a better look at the original inks and the finished piece:





2015 Appearances:
C2E2 April 24-26
Motor City May 15-17
Denver Comic Con May 22-25
Heroes Con June 19-21
Baltimore Comic Con Sept. 25-27
New York Comic Con Oct. 8-11

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Star Wars #1 Variant

Marvel asked me to do the Newbury Comics store variant for Star Wars # 1! I've done a few official Star Wars cards for Topps in the past (Galaxies 4 base card, Galaxies 5 base card) But this is the first cover I've done for Star Wars.

The editor requested a Cantina scene. Well, I dunno if the editor or someone at Newbury Comics requested it...but it was a good call, because I'm terrible at drawing people and especially likenesses.

To the left you can see the finished cover, but for this week's blogpost, I'm going to cover the process to get there...


Creatures! I like drawing creatures. So instead of coming up with a clever scene or interaction in the cantina, I decided just to cram as many alien species as I could in there. Using Google image search and a few Star Wars guide books I drew these sketches of Greedo, Ponda Baba, Muftak (a Talz), Kabe (a Chadra Fan), Momaw Nadon (a Ithorian), Ohwun De Maal (a Duros), a Gotal (who didn't make the final cut) & The Cantina bar itself (complete with a glimpse of the still-like pieces that became IG-88's head). These were all drawn on sheets of copy paper with a mechanical pencil.


I worked up a rough using my sketches. I assembled them all in photoshop, resizing characters, and moving them independently, making rotation adjustments, etc until I had them all fitting in the composition. To show both Marvel & Lucasfilm (both of whom must approve the cover) what I envisioned the colors to look like, I slapped down some quick blocky colors and dropped in the logo. The colors also help make sense of which character is which, something that can get hard to read in a hodge-podge collage of grey sketches. This also made me aware to stagger the characters with similar color schemes.



After I got the approval to start of the inks, I printed out the above composite/digital rough at 10" x 15" and taped it to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol. On a lightbox I'm able to ink on the bristol surface using the printout as a guide instead of doing tighter pencils. I use Copic Multiliner pens to ink with. In addition to adding greyscale values to the piece, I also want the inks to show texture, he helps me get a better range of greys, but also helps make surfaces feel different from one another so that even if they are the same value, they read as different materials.



The inks are scanned so I can start on the color process. Most of the colors were easy to pick since I have reference for everything and already roughed in colors for my mockup to send to Marvel/Lucasfilm. I had to make some minor adjustments so the colors all work together, warming up some of the greens and yellowing some of the reds.

I want to note here, that I didn't 'see' how off the perspective was on the bar-hood where those indents round the corner until I started flatting the colors. I hope the rendering helps a bit as well as covering a great deal of that with the comic's logo.


Here again is the final rendered cover. Issue #1 will be out in stores in January of 2015. My cover will ONLY be available at Newbury Comics









2015 Appearances:
C2E2 April 24-26
Motor City May 15-17
Denver Comic Con May 22-25
Heroes Con June 19-21
Baltimore Comic Con Sept. 25-27
New York Comic Con Oct. 8-11

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Mouse Guard color Video #3

For this week's blogpost (and 5 more to follow) I colored a inked Mouse Guard character portrait in my normal fashion in Photoshop. I recorded the process and speed up the result x8. Here is the video:








Here is a better look at the original inks and the finished piece:





2015 Appearances:
C2E2 April 24-26
Motor City May 15-17
Denver Comic Con May 22-25
Heroes Con June 19-21
Baltimore Comic Con Sept. 25-27
New York Comic Con Oct. 8-11

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Legends of the Guard Vol3 Cover #1 process

Legends of the Guard Volume 3 is going to be a return to the June Alley Inn where tavern mice sit and tell tales to try and clear their bar tabs. As with the previous two volumes, those tales will be written and drawn by creators I've handpicked. However I'll still be writing and drawing the tavern scenes as well as the covers for the series. For today's blogpost I'll share with you the process for the cover art of issue #1.

The concept for this piece started with the idea of a larger animal in Mouse Guard perhaps having a mouse city or even just a single dwelling on it's back. I wondered what animal would be able to carry that load and not risk shaking the whole dwelling apart in it's rapid footfalls or writhing route through the forest: Turtles. I drew each turtle separately on paper and then on a lightbox and a new sheet of paper, drew houses to match up to their shells. I also drew the inhabitants this way. Over the course of 8 scraps of paper I had the cover assets.

I scanned each of those paper scraps, tinted them and reassembled them in Photoshop. This allowed me to make easy alterations within the framework of the template of the cover. I could rotate turtles or shift their house-loads, or re-size mice, or move entire turtle-house-mouse combos around on the cover until I found a layout I liked.

The above digitally-assembled layout was printed out on several sheets of printer paper and then taped to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol. On my lightbox I was able to follow the layout image as a guide or instead of "pencils" as I inked. For inking, I use Copic SP Multiliners mostly a 0.3 & 0.7 nib. As always, I tried to get a varying amount of grey in the piece and used different textures to get there: stippled rocks, thatched roofs, and various turtle scale patterns.

After the inks are scanned, the next step is to start the coloring process. This is refereed to as "flatting". This is to establish major color areas as being different from one another (and in Photoshop I make these each new layers: Turtle skin, shells, rocks, walls, thatch, fur, clothes 1, clothes 2, etc.). These colors are rarely even close to the final image palette, but meant to serve as easy to read placeholders.

The final step of coloring the cover is to make the final color choices, all the rendering (shadows and highlights) as well as to add any color holds (areas where I wish the inkwork to appear as color rather than black). I do all the rendering with the Dodge and Burn tools in photoshop and using a stock brush that adds texture and mottling as I work.

Legends of the Guard Vol.3 #2 will have the full "legend" of this cover on the inside front cover. And will feature stories by: Skottie Young, Mark Buckingham, & Hannah Christenson


2015 Appearances:
C2E2 April 24-26
Motor City May 15-17
Denver Comic Con May 22-25
Heroes Con June 19-21
Baltimore Comic Con Sept. 25-27
New York Comic Con Oct. 8-11


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Mouse Guard coloring Video 2

For this week's blogpost (and 6 more to follow) I colored a inked Mouse Guard character portrait in my normal fashion in Photoshop. I recorded the process and speed up the result x8. Here is the video:


direct link to watch the video on Vimeo:
https://vimeo.com/111564584



Here is a better look at the original inks and the finished piece:




2015 Appearances:
C2E2 April 24-26
Motor City May 15-17
Denver Comic Con May 22-25
Heroes Con June 19-21
Baltimore Comic Con Sept. 25-27
New York Comic Con Oct. 8-11

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Table Titans Volume 1 pinup

I'm a big fan of Scott Kurz & Co.'s Table Titans web comic. Back in May, I did a piece of fan art purely because I enjoyed discovering the series. Well, the folks over at Table Titans are putting together their first printed collection and they wanted to use my past piece as a pin-up...but the versions of the cast I drew is from what will-be Volume 2. So I offered to not only let them use that piece when they were ready for Volume 2, but also to do a new piece for Volume 1.

Table Titans is a comic about playing Dungeons & Dragons...but it's more than that, it's about a group of friends co-authoring a fantasy adventure together through the mechanics of an RPG system. We get to see the players interact, talk about their choices for their characters as well as seeing the fantasy story cinematically come to life. For this week's blogpost I'll show the process of making this new piece.

The roughs started out like the last piece, portraits of the characters in-game. In volume 1, the players are assigned pre-made characters, and so the costumes and roles are different than the piece I already had done. Darby's character Draziw the mage was just starting out and didn't have his robes and beard. Val, normally a barbarian was crushed to learn she'd be playing a bard. For the sketches I also drew some elements from the story to try and fit in like the displacer beast, the Caraway "eyepatch" the guardsman, and their adopted pet blink dog pup. I sketched these out on a few sheets of legal sized copy paper.

I then scanned those sheets of sketches and started trying to arrange them into a composition I liked inside the format of the Volume 1 book page measurements. I tinted each character to help me distinguish them and make better sense of the layout. In this step I found that I had to lose Caraway, but my idea for the displacer beast to be a stylized looming set of eys, nose & jewel with the tentacles framing the composition was achived by playing with scale, rotation and mirroring of my sketches.




I printed this layout composite and then taped it to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol. In a quick time on the lightbox I was able to copy the linework lightly in pencil so I could begin watercoloring the final artwork. I used a travel tray of Sakura watercolors (the 18 cake set) and slowly built up the layers of color (starting with the lightest tones first and working the darker areas with each revisit as areas dried). Once I had the painting where I wanted it, I went back in with Copic multiliners to ink the linework and add a bit of texture and detail. The last touch was to use a white gel pen and white correction fluid to add some texture and lighting detail over top of the watercolor and pen.

BONUS! After finding out the page format of these volumes, I went back and added a few story element borders to my original Table Titans piece so that if Scott & crew would like to use it in their eventual physical release of Volume 2, my art would fit the page dimensions properly.

The borders were done the same way as the pieces: sketch, digital manipulation, printout, lightbox pencils, watercolor, and then ink.

Both high-res files are in the hards of the Table Titans crew and I look forward to seeing them release these great stories physically...but in the meantime you can read them all online for free at www.tabletitans.com 



2015 Appearances:
C2E2 April 24-26
Motor City May 15-17
Denver Comic Con May 22-25
Heroes Con June 19-21
Baltimore Comic Con Sept. 25-27
New York Comic Con Oct. 8-11

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Mouse Guard Coloring video #1

For this week's blogpost (and 7 more to follow) I colored a inked Mouse Guard character portrait in my normal fashion in Photoshop. I recorded the process and speed up the result x8. Here is the video:


direct link to watch the video on Vimeo:
https://vimeo.com/111557696


Here is a better look at the original inks and the finished piece:





2015 Appearances:
C2E2 April 24-26
Motor City May 15-17
Denver Comic Con May 22-25
Heroes Con June 19-21
Baltimore Comic Con Sept. 25-27
New York Comic Con Oct. 8-11

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Seyan Gatehouse Model

Last week I mentioned the model of the Seyan gatehouse I built for the story "Serive to Seyan" which appears in Baldwin the Brave and Other Tales. Most of the story takes place outside of the mythical mouse champion afterlife of Seyan...specifically at the gatehouse.

Seyan needed a royalty and majesty unlike what I'd shown of mouse architecture before in the pages of Mouse Guard. And while the gatehouse isn't going to be as grand as Seyan itself, it needed to look like it fit and belonged. In today's post I'll go through the pre-design of the model and then the model itself.


To the left is the drawing I did of the big establishing shot of Seyan (in fact, the only one I've ever drawn). I looked at a lot of royal castles and citadels..both real an imagined by other artists as well as the capitol city of Hell in Hellboy in Hell by Mike Mignola. I combined motifs I liked in all of these: turrets/towers with gallery arches or open columns,  domed and conical roofs, and a sense of impossible-yet-believeable stacking. I drew Seyan before I started on a design for the gatehouse, but having this drawing in hand, I was able to start...

Using the motifs I'd played with variations of all over the larger drawing of Seyan, I did a drawing of a tower perched over a bridge, its gates the only way across the bridge. Walls (which surely encase all of Seyan) also flank the tower (and seem to suggest an internal walkway of some sort). From the start I wanted there to be an arch in the bridge just before the gate. I drew all of this into my sketch and then started creating the model.



I built the model over the course of an evening. The main body of the tower is a large packing tube. The shingles and bridge are chip board..the stuff that backs a pad of bristol. I save all of mine when I go through a pack and set it to the side for projects like these. The arches, tiles, and gate details were printed and then glued on with rubber cement. Mostly the piece is glued together with rubber cement though.

Two other small details/materials are the columns for the tower gallery, which are made of ribbed wooden dowels for furniture making, and a ball bearing on the top of the spire


I tend to build models so they can be modularly assembled. This helps with getting the correct view of a model without blocked view of the model by itself. It's also very hand when it comes time to store the model and to make repairs if part of the model is damaged at some point (and I've had to make repairs on most every one of my models at some point)

Oh and this photo shows the bridge arch the best...I used a CD as a template to trace out the sides of the bridge as well as the support under the paper tile floor.


I 'skinned' the model with paper that I could draw out the slit windows on to. The arch supports under the gallery rim were achieved by glueing a paper printout to a built up rim made of more mailing tube with the back cut so its inner diameter could wrap around the outer diameter of the tower tube. I repeated this process several times for the lip the columns sit on. I cut in a section for the gate, so the gate didn't curve like the tower, but lay flat recessed inside the tower. On the side you can see a little nub sticking off. I added the details of the chipboard archway stones as a way to give this model a bit more of three dimensionality, but also as a color variance to help me see areas of the model better. That piece is what keys in the wall piece to keep it in correct alignment when the model is assembled. 

For the roof I first made a cone out of bristol board and glued it to the dowel columns. After cutting lots and lots and lots of chipboard scraps of slightly varying sized rectangles, I started gluing them on like shingles with the lowest row being glued first and each row going up slightly overlapping the prior row. The very top edge is a straight piece of chipboard I curled and wrapped around where the shingles meet the spire. I used the same shingle technique to top the roofs of the walls that abut the sides of the gatehouse tower.


Models like this come in handy. They helped me figure out the finer detail designs and placements of the tower in 3d. In my rough sketch, I didn't have those details locked down, and even if I did go to the effort of doing a really tight architectural drawing, I'd only have the place from one point of view and rotation. Building a model is a great way to figure out how different shapes connect in 3 dimensions, how proportions and scale really look (especially when rotated) and so that when, if a story comes along later, you can revisit this location at any angle and not have to rely on remembering what you were thinking or rely on drawings that may not have all the details from every angle.




2015 Appearances:
C2E2 April 24-26
Motor City May 15-17
Denver Comic Con May 22-25
Heroes Con June 19-21
Baltimore Comic Con Sept. 25-27
New York Comic Con Oct. 8-11

Blog Archive