Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Art Nouveau Mice:
A few weeks ago I was inspired to do a decorative piece of Mouse Guard artwork, perhaps to be used as this year's Sketchbook cover. We have a print in our hallway by French artist Paul Berthon. I thought it would be fun to do a piece completely in homage of this print. Berthon was a printmaker. So this piece (c.1900), while a print (a lithograph) isn't like owning a print of a painting, it was always meant to be a print. The subject is also of two women examining wallpaper they have just printed on a press. As a printmaking major, I like the piece for these reasons in addition to the aethetics of it.

I started with some very rough sketches in my sketchbook, and then scanned it knowing I would have to adjust a great deal in photoshop to get the mice in scale with one another where their ears didn't obstruct each other's faces, the arms were in proportion and still interacting with the wallpaper they are examining. Unfortunately, as I was doing this as a "quick evening project", I didn't save the photoshop file with the adjusted sketch. But if you look back at previous posts, it looked a great deal like the others with a border pre-sized and the mouse figures tinted different colors to help me distinguish the lines between them

I printed the adjusted digital mock up and using a lightbox inked in the mice in a more stylized manner than I normally do. I  focused on the outer contour line, making it thicker than any interior contours, which I kept to a minimum (other that decorative patterning). It felt unusual to be inking a Mousey piece like this and not doing any hatching or stippling or texture. The patterns on the dresses and in the background were all drawn onto the bristol as I looked at the Berthon original for reference.

The piece didn't come alive until I scanned my inks and colored it. I inked in so many of the patterns dark and thick, that in ink it looks too heavy and clumsy. I color held all of the linework (meaning I used a color overtop of my inkwork to change the lines to a color instead of their original black). This way I was able to soften the dress and background patterns and get a closer sense of the original.

Papermodeling Large Scale:
I've done several posts about the models I build out of scrap cardboard and paper to make Mouse Guard locations and sets. Yesterday I decided that my Sister-In-Laws dog Olive, who is staying with us, needed a little indoor dog house. A past dog of ours, Augie, liked having a little place to hide, so I had made that dog a little box house. I wanted to make something nicer for Olive though (we also didn't want a taped up cardboard box in the livingroom as part of our decor).

The house is made of one box  with another box or two cut up for the gable roof, the shingles, and the siding. I pre-painted sheets of cardboard before cutting it into strips for the siding. The shingles on the otehr hand, I pre-cut and then painted each one. For the shingle paint I poured a few similar colors into a tray and as I painted changed the color mix on the brush as I went so the shingles would look more random. and patchwork, as real shingles can. The benifit of this house, it that it's incredibly light and easy to move if we decide to relocate the house or for cleaning.

It took a little convincing to get Olive into her new house, but Autumn, our big dog, was ready to move in for her. Autumn is very curious (where Olive tends to be nervous) and seemed rather jealous that I made such a thing for her little cousin. I suppose I'll have to make one for Autumn, though I shudder to think of how big it will be and how many slats of siding and individual shingles I'll need to cut and paint. But it will be a fun project that is a change of pace for my hands from penciling, inking, and coloring.

Fan Art:
Since this feels like a crafting post, I figured this piece of fan art by Kate Buike seemd fitting. Kate wrote telling me she had just read the Mouse Guard books in December and enjoyed them so much she wanted to make her own plush of Kenzie. The Mouse Pattern she says comes from Carol's Zoo. Thanks Kate!!

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Ryan Claytor said...

Love these process posts, David! I'm glad you keep makin' 'em. Always a pleasure to see your accomplished pieces emerge from such humble sketches. ...and that Paul Berthon artwork is really great.

Ryan Claytor
Elephant Eater Comics

George said...

I always love your process posts and even more this one just because I'm a printmaker. I'll never forget seeing Mouse Guard for the first time and thinking, this guy must have been in printmaking...
Great piece, thanks for sharing!

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