For the last three years the Emerald City Comic Con has been putting together a charity book called Monsters & Dames. Guests of the show are asked to contribute a piece of PG-13 artwork featuring the very open-ended theme "Monsters & Dames". I did a piece for it back in 2009, the last time I attended the show.
I'm headed back to Seattle this year so for my piece I decided to do a genre mash-up. I love good dragon design and after seeing some of Corey Godby's, and realizing it had been ages since I designed and drew a dragon, I made the Dragon my 'Monster'. Cory includes cool hair on his dragons, and I'd never done that. I also pulled inspiration from the feathers on the gryphon from the Storyteller episode The Luckchild. And the pose of the head was inspired by an upshot drawing Brian Froud did of the Chamberlain from the Dark Crystal
For the 'Dame' I wanted her to be riding on the Dragon's head. I made a rough body pose on my dragon drawing, but wanted to flesh her out on another page of my sketchbook. Like I said, I wanted to mash-up the genres so instead of a fnatasy-type barbarian queen or lady-knight, I went for a WWII inspired military lady. "Perhaps she is part of some fantasy anti-aircraft-dragon-blitzkrieg" I thought to myself. I gave her a curvey bombshell frame and pin-up girl hair to set the idea of the era, but without details to really say one way or the other where or when this is.
I assembled the two sketches in photoshop. Because of the scale (both of the figures in relation to one another AND how large I drew the 'Dame') the 'Dame' lost a great deal of detail. The two figures are tinted so it's easier for me to distinguish them from each other when inking. The yellow and orange borders are there as guides. The yellow edge represents where the page will be trimmed (roughly). The orange represents the area called 'bleed'. When the artwork goes off the edge of the page with no border, bleed is extra artwork that goes beyond where the page is cut, so that if the page isn't trimmed to meet the exact edge of the artwork, there is still some spare and you aren't left with a white sliver of non-artwork exposed.
The layout above was printed at full size and then taped to the back of my bristol board for me to do the inks over a lightbox. I had fun with the textures of the various parts of the dragon: hair, feathers, boney horns & snout, and soft under-belly. My pencils were pretty tight on the dragon, so the real work came in inking in all the undefined hair I had scribbled in on the rough. You will notice there is no background to this image...I debated with a skyline or even search lights & zeppelins...but ultimately decided a murky night sky would set the tone and draw the focus to the Monster & Dame better.
Cintiq & a Wacom Tablet (Thank you to Katie Cook for the use of both). I was able to do a lot of slow building and painterly effects with the tools that I can't get when I color with a mouse. I still found the process off-putting, and didn't prefer it for flatting the colors. At Katie's house I flatted the majority of the piece and then rendered the sky and a bit of the dragon's skin before it was getting late and time to leave. Katie sent me home with her Wacom tablet to finish the job. At home I completed the rest of the rendering and color adjustment using her loan.
After the convention ECCC usually offers the Monsters & Dames book for purchase online if any are left.
Emerald City: March 30-April 1
C2E2: April 13-15
Boston Comic Con: April 21-22
FCBD: Jetpack Comics: May 5th
Heroes: June 22-24
San Diego Comic Con: July 11-15
Baltimore Comic Con: Sept 8-9
New York Comic Con: Oct 11-14
Detroit Fanfare: Oct 26-28
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