Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Moonflower Mouse Print process:

Every year I release a new limited edition square Mouse Guard print. The past two years pieces (affectionately nicknamed "Peacock" & "Raspberry") were done with my wife's instructions to make the images "pretty". For this year's print, I continued the "pretty" edict and will be releasing this "Moonflower" print at C2E2, at shows for the rest of the year and in my online store in-between. Today I'll show the process of creating the print image.

The idea didn't come to me in a dream, but while I was very very tired and taking long blinks at my desk hours after I should have gone to bed. A mouse at night with nigh blooming flowers around her, framed by the moon, and clothed in beaded spider-web silk. I think I also figured there might be a moth in the image, but a few days later when I was starting the drawing, I decided to omit the animal companion. For inspiration I looked at Queen Amidalla's wedding dress and photos of Moonflowers. This series of pencil sketches (digitally composited together) features the same 3 closed blooms copied and mirrored for placement purposes.

The above digital composite sketch was printed out and taped to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 bristol. On my lightbox I was able to ink the piece using the printout as a guide (an image I tweeted of the piece in-progress). I modified each of the closed blooms as I inked them so thery were similar and took up the same space, but had variations of folds and wrinkles. The "beaded spider-web silk" was inked as a series of dotted lines (following a rough pencil web layout I taped to the back of the bristol). It looks a bit funny as an inked image because so many of the details are inked black, though I planned on altering them to all be lighter values in the color version.

I scanned the inked piece and started flatting in the colors. In this process, I'm less concerned about getting the right color values and more concerned with getting each area colored differently than the other parts around it: mouse fur, clothing, sky, flowers, moon, etc.). In-fact, in this earlier version of my color scheme (when I thought I was getting close to the right colors for each thing) the mouse had yellow toned attire. I was worried doing a cooler overall palate like I'd originally envisioned would feel too monochromatic and not give any sense of depth. But as I was working, Julia came down and convinced me to cool it all down again.

Here is another look at the final version of the print art. All of the rendering was done with a stock textured Photoshop brush and the Dodge and Burn tools. I used the inkwork to make a new layer of light stars, beading, and the moon's rim.

The edition of prints will be in the 300 range and debut at C2E2 this weekend. I'll have them up in the online store shortly after.





2014 Appearances:
Comicpalooza: May 23-25
Heroes Con: June 20-22
San Diego Comic Con: July 23-27
Boston Comic Con: August 8-10
NY Comic Con: Oct. 9-12

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Beyond the Western Deep Pinup process

Alex Kain, who wrote the Legends Vol 1 story "Potential" has been writing a talking-animal webcomic for a few years. The series is called Beyond the Western Deep and is drawn by Rachel Bennett. This year Alex and Rachel are going to be publishing their first collection of the series. The physical book will be first released at the Boston Comic Con in August and available online afterwards (To the left is Rachel's work-in-progress cover)
I contributed a pinup for the collection, and today's blogpost is the process of how I went about making the artwork.

My first step was to decide what to focus on for a pinup. There are several characters, and while I was tempted to do a piece featuring the less prominent ones, I did in the end decide to feature two of the main cast Quinlan & Dakkan. With the Legends of the Guard connection between Alex and I, I thought it would be nice to have this pair in a tavern setting. Each of the characters and the background were drawn on separate sheets of copy paper, then scanned into Photoshop, tinted, and placed into a template for the pinup's specs. This allows me to shuffle around the pieces individually, resize them if needed, and get my placement just the way I want it. The Celtic knot was a low-res pattern I found online, modified and repeated as top and bottom borders.

With the layout set, I printed the piece out (on two sheets of legal paper that I taped together) and taped it to the back of a sheet of 12" x 12" Strathmore 300 series bristol. On a lightbox I'm able to see through the bristol to the printout and use it as a guide while I ink. For pens I used Copic Multiliners (the 0.7 & 0.2 nibs). I can't take credit for the character, costume, or tavern design since I really just followed Rachel's work, but I did try to make sure I was drawing my piece with my own voice, my own line quality and texture sensibility.

The finished inks were then scanned and in Photoshop I started flatting the colors for the piece. Flatting colors is all about establishing color areas. Making one character's fur a different color than the others or than their clothes or than the walls. It's a grown-up version of coloring-within-the-lines. In some cases, I use really garish and wrong colors when I flat because I don't want to get bogged down with color choices when I just need to establish the different areas. In this case though, most of the palate was already there for me in Rachel's art in the series.

The last step was to render all the color. I added highlights, shadows and texture for the piece using the Dodge and Burn tools with a textured Photoshop brush. A few color holds and special effects layers were added to make the lanterns glow and Quinlan's sash look embroidered.

You can go now and read all of Beyond the Western Deep now for free on the website, but the physical copy (with pinup material etc) will be coming to print at Boston Con.

2014 Appearances:
Comicpalooza: May 23-25
Heroes Con: June 20-22
San Diego Comic Con: July 23-27
Boston Comic Con: August 8-10
NY Comic Con: Oct. 9-12

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

ECCC Commission process

A few weeks ago, I opened up 5 commissions spots for Emerald City Comic Con. My goal was to get all 5 done before we left for Seattle. I managed to get 3 done, and took my portable lightbox to finish the other 2 at the hotel. I sketched all 5 out and printed digital composites of my sketches for each piece then inked them on Bristol a lightbox (using the printout as a guide behind the Bristol). Below you can see process images for each.

Mouse riding a Northern Saw-whet Owl
printout of pencils scanned, sized, & tinted


Inking on the lightbox

Finished inks!

Groot & Rocket Raccoon:
Printout of tinted pencil sketches

Inking Groot on the lightbox

More Groot inks (hard to know where to stop with this guy)

Finished Inks!



TMNT: Donatello & Splinter sparring:
Printout composite of tinted sketches, a quick sewer model, & a perspective grid

Donatello getting inked on the lighbox at the hotel


Splinter getting inked on the lightbox at the hotel
Finished inks!



Frenzied Rocket Raccoon:
Printout of composite sketch with star-burst stock art background 


Inking Rocket on the lightbox

Finished inks!



Celanawe & Conrad on a ship of Shell & Timber Scrap:
Printout composite sketches of each mouse & model photograph

Celanawe getting inked on the lightbox at the hotel


Finished inks!


For those ready to ask, here's the way I handle commissions: I do not have an open list and no not take commission requests by e-mail. I do inked 7" x 7" commissions like these in conjunction with conventions only. In the week before a convention, I open up a list in my online store for pickup at the convention.



2014 Appearances:
Comicpalooza: May 23-25
Heroes Con: June 20-22
San Diego Comic Con: July 23-27
Boston Comic Con: August 8-10
NY Comic Con: Oct. 9-12

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Harry Potter Art collection

No April Fool's Trick...Instead of sharing process or my own artwork this week, I'm going to share part of my original art collection, my Harry Potter themed pieces! I'm a huge fan of the Harry Potter books, J.K. Rowling's writing and the deep world she created (especially considering how easy it is to mess up writing stories with 'magic'). I thought Potter would be a perfect theme for me to ask for when commissioning or art trading with my favorite artists. There are so many characters (generational) as well as locations, memorable scenes, & creatures that I can give the artist a great deal of freedom to play And I'm a big enough fan, that no matter how obscure they get, I'll still be very happy. Here is the collection thus far: (to the left: a print of the Hogwarts' Crest by Joe Dragunas)

Hagrid, Ron, Hermione, & Harry by Jon Morris

Snape & Harry by Skottie Young

Hagrid by Brandon Dayton

Harry playing Quidditch by Duncan Fegredo


Ron playing Keeper (Weasley is our King...) by Katie Cook 

The "Unabridged" 1st chapter of Order of the Phoenix by Katie Cook 

Harry playing Quidditch by Craig Rousseau

Harry years 1-7 sketchcards by Jeremy Treece

A Dementor by Nate Pride

The Gurg (King of the Giants) by Nate Pride

Voldemort by Dave Guertin

Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore by Cory Godbey

Dobby the House Elf by Cory Godbey


Kreacher (servant to the house of Black) by Justin Gerard

Rita Skeeter by Paolo Rivera

Young Sirius Black by Becky Cloonan

Hogwarts Adjunct Professor: George Harrison by Andrew Robinson

Luna Lovegood by Chrissie Zullo

Hagrid & Buckbeak silhouette art by Jennifer Menken

Bellatrix Lestrange by Eric Canete

A Thestral by Jeremy Bastian

Alastor "Mad Eye" Moody by Jeremy Bastian

The Sphinx from the 3rd Tri-Wizard task by Jeremy Bastian

Neville Longbottom kills Nagini by Jeremy Bastian


I've also made arrangements for later pieces from:

I hope you guys enjoyed the look at these pieces. Not only for perhaps an introduction to some artists work you may not be familiar with, but also to see how a variety of styles, mediums, and layouts can all serve one property or theme. You may have favorites among these, but every one does a great job at capturing some part of the Potter mythos. How amazing would it be to see a Harry Potter anthology graphic novel featuring artwork from the contributors above? WB? JK?

2014 Appearances:
C2E2: April 25-27
Comicpalooza: May 23-25
Heroes Con: June 20-22
San Diego Comic Con: July 23-27
Boston Comic Con: August 8-10
NY Comic Con: Oct. 9-12


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