I have been very fortunate to be asked by IDW to do the 4 one-shot micro series covers for the TMNT relaunch. A few months ago I shared the Raphael cover, and now I can share the Michelangelo cover. The final cover appears to the left. I wanted to draw something with more action than the Raph cover for Mike. With Raph, I went for the brooding vigilante look, for Mike I wanted him more outgoing without being silly or a "party-dude" (I want to avoid the caricature-ization the turtles got after the cartoon hit...and bring them back to subtle personality distinctions)
I drew the figure on one page in my sketchbook with the background on another. My original idea was to have Mike jumping down a sewer tube, but I couldn't get it to work how I had it in my head, so I switched to another New York staple: a tenement building (the Raph cover had the classic rooftop water tower). I found some photo reference to help me with the details of the building and did a quick sketch. I merged the two pages of my sketchbook into this image to send off to IDW for approval. I added the tinting to help me visualize some of the final palette, which would also help IDW understand where I was going with the image.
Once IDW approved the pencils, I printed them out (had to fit it on 2 sheets of paper and then trim & tape them together) and taped it to the back of my Strathmore Bristol 300 series paper to do the final inks. On my lightbox I'm able to see the pencils through the bristol and ink overtop of them without making a mess of pencils lines that I need to erase in the end. I tried eyeballing the details and perspective on the building using the photos I had and my sketch as a guide, but after I inked a few parts of the building, I realized it was getting wonky-er by the minute. I set up a tripod off to the side of my desk and tied a string to it and was able to locate a vanishing point that would be a good splitting of the difference in the lines I already had inked.
I scanned my inks and layed in the colors. This process is called 'flatting' and means that I'm establishing where the various colors start and stop...think of it like a kid learning to color in a coloring book within the lines and using colors that are correct for the image. To make Michelangelo more of a focus, I pushed the building back by choosing colors that were darker and more muted than I may have in other circumstances. And while I'm already thinking about the shading and lighting effects, I'm just trying to get an overall palette and make sure that details already can be differentiated from each other with color choices (like the carved stone being different from the brick being different from the limestone.)
Rendering & texture
Then I rendered the image (seen in full above) adding all the shading and texture. I wanted to give a bit of a street glow coming up on the underside of Mike and the lower part of the building. I also needed to make the nunchucks look like they were spinning. and I used a few smearing techniques along with a color-hold on the lines. Lastly I added a texture to the final image to emulate the feel of the original zip-a-tone shading the black &; white Eastman & Laird books had. (left image shows closeup of my colors next to a closeup of an image from Eastman & Laird's first issue)
I feel VERY lucky to be doing these covers. Still have Donatello & Leanardo to do for 2012!
Mouse Guard Costume photos:
I tweeted a request, but figured I should repeat it here. For Haloween this year, I'd love to do a post of all the Mouse Guard costumes you awesome fans have done. I have a folder of ones sent to me in the past, but if you have a new photo or one you have not sent, or you plan on having a Mouse Guard costume this year, please send me photos! Follow the contact info on mouseguard.net to send in photos, cut off is Oct. 29th.
(These ladies dressed up as Lieam, Saxon, & Kenzie at Dragon*Con a few years back)
This week's fan art was sent in by Emil Friis Ernst, a 17 year old from Denmark. He writes: "Coming from a house half consumed by a big forest, nature has been my playground since childhood and your detailed and feral-like environments bring back memories...I have made this little piece to celebrate Mouse Guard! It's my character Ferdin...He's an intrepid yet also slightly jumpy (jittery?) tunneler, exploring abandoned tunnel systems left by other animals." Thanks Emil! You have a great sense of mood going here!
New York Comic Con: Oct. 13-16
London Super Con: Feb 25-26
Emerald City: March 30-April 1
Boston Comic Con: April 21-22