If you haven't noticed, I'm trying to update the blog more often than I have in the past. I was posting at a 1 per month rate before, but decided to up it to 1 per week. I'm certainly no James Gurney, and can't imagine doing a daily blog, but the weekly schedule seems do-able.
FCBD '09 process:
I just sorted through a bunch of sketches I had in a drawer to find some examples of my process. I'm reluctant to share pencils usually, but I think I have a few weeks worth of stuff to share. This week I'm showing the progress on the Free Comic Book Day print from this year.
Having done a FCBD print the year before, I had established a format: 5.5" x 8.5" print with 2 panels, a scene and the letters FCBD and the year. Here is my rough sketch. It's only a few inches wide in my sketchbook. My idea was to show Saxon, Kenzie, and Rand fighting weasels (a nod of stories to come). I was concerned here with the shape of the mass of weasels and the mice as a final focus.
The next step was to scan and enlarge the thumbnail to working size (about 6" x 10" for the images). I printed out the rough at size and then using a lightbox, tightened up the pencils on a new sheet of paper. You can see the rough as yellow lines in the image here. Note that I also used a font for the layout of the text here.
Once I liked the tightened pencils, I threw a sheet of bristol on the lightbox with the pencils underneath. I inked directly on to the bristol. This way I never get any pencil on the final art. I'm finding I like using this method lately. It means being tied to my studio to ink over the lightbox, but allows me to have cleaner final artwork. As for the "FCBD" portion, using the printed font as a guide, I was able to distress the text and add stippled texture.
I then scanned the inked artwork and started coloring in Photoshop (I'm still using 7 cause I like it and "if it ain't broke..."). This stage is called 'flatting' Not only am I selecting an overall palette here (which sometimes can change again before the final colors) I'm designating which areas are broken by color. I tend to do this on multiple layers labeled things like 'mouse fur', 'clothing 1', clothing 2', 'weapons' etc.
This is also the stage where I select linework that will get a 'color hold' ie: linework that will be printed as a color as opposed to black.
The final colors get rendered and tweaked. With this composition it was important for me to make the weasels a mass, but also have each weasel 'readable'. You needed to be able to tell where one ended and the next began. I also wanted to really help the mice be the focus, so I added the lightness to the background and color hold behind them.
Next time I plan on showing more overlay/lighbox sketch/layout techniques.
Detroit Comics Book Club:
This Friday (Sept. 25th) I'll be a guest at Detroit Comics in Ferndale, MI as they discuss Mouse Guard Fall and Winter 1152 from 7PM to 9PM. The plan is to have a real conversation about the books and story and the creation of the artwork and not to wander off into various other topics. I'm excited to talk about character motivations, places I feel the book fell short, or how little story threads tie together. With that in mind, I won't be doing any drawings or sketches at this appearance, I want to focus on the book club conversation.
September Ypsi Ink & Stein:
It's that time again, the last Saturday of the month! For those unfamiliar, a group of artists and writers gather at the Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti the last Saturday of every month from 7pm 'till close. The idea is to come and work, make connections, bounce ideas off one another, and to inspire and be inspired. If you live in South-Eastern Michigan and want to join us, you are more than welcome!
This week comes from Sandra Becker. You can check out her work by clicking her name. Thanks Sandra!
Detroit Comics' Book Club: Sept. 25
Long Beach Comic Con: Oct. 2-4
Baltimore Comic Con: Oct. 10-11
Big Apple Con Oct. 16-18
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