For Halloween I wanted to do a spooky Mouse Guard-ish piece which also became a gift owed to one of my nieces (I used commissions as rewards this summer to get them to try new things like different foods and tall water slides). I started this piece with a sketch on some copy paper of skeleton mice sitting on a pumpkin.
Then I took that drawing and scanned it to re-size it and correct some mistakes. The proportions were off on some of the skeletons and I drew the one mouse floating in air, knowing I'd shift him around digitally until I found a good place for him to rest.Like on other pieces I have shown, I'll sometimes tint the mice different colors from the backgrounds or each other. This helps me when the drawing is still light & sketchy to be able to see what lines belong to what subject. This is then printed so I can ink it on the light box...but something wasn't right...
The skeletons, while cool, just didn't have enough life to them. I wanted them to be more otherworldly than just what could have been posed bones. I took my printout from above and a sheet of copy paper and on the lightbox I sketched ghostly mice. I used the bone drawings on the printout as a guide so the ghosts would match the pose and scale of the skeletons perfectly.
I inked my ghostly versions of this trio on the copy paper itself. The copy paper lets the ink bleed a little if the pen sits too long in one place. I used this as motivation to ink these guys more gesturally and less detailed than I normally would. They are spirits after all, I didn't want there to be too much detail to focus on. I added the idea of them evaporating or part of their apparitions to be pulling away from them
I scanned all the inked materials and assembled them as I flatted the piece for color. The flats weer overall quite easy: a sky, the ground, the pumpkin, the vine & leaf, and the skeletons & ghosts. I used a color hold on the ghost & skeleton linework. Trying to get the mice to appear less than solid where you can still see their outlines as well as their skeletons was an exercise in patience and subtle contrasts as I colored the piece.
Without going into too much detail about the ghost process, the ingredients to my solution were color holds, setting a few layers to 'screen' mode, making a few layers with a healthy Gaussian blur, and a subtle outter glow on the linework. The rest of the piece was rendered in my traditional way using the dodge & burn tools to render my flat color areas.The end result was a piece that I think is spooky and fun and will surely make it in to next year's sketchbook (as well as the original making it into my youngest niece's art collection)
London Super Con: Feb 25-26
Emerald City: March 30-April 1
Boston Comic Con: April 21-22