Splinter Cover Process:
As I hinted in my Leonardo cover process post, I got a chance to do more covers for IDW's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Micro series. This time up, it's their mutated rat sensei Splinter. My goal was to show Splinter as a bit of a guru, a master in a zen calm in his dojo...except insstead of a nice dojo, it's a sewer chamber filled with found and trashed items, and instead of a martial arts master, it's a mutated rat in a robe.
This is a composite of a few drawings in my sketchbook that I assembled to be the rough I turned in to IDW and Nickelodeon. They had a few corrections they wanted me to address. The feet didn't read well and looked like bandage wrapped stumps and they wanted the head to be facing the viewer a bit more and more craggy and brooding: "less Stuart Little". At the time, I wasn't pleased about having to redraw the head. I really liked this drawing...but after looking at it a few more times and starting a new head sketch, I could see how this head wasn't engaging enough
Taking the notes from IDW and Nick, I swapped out the head for one that had more age and wisdom to it and face forward a bit more. I edited out the feet, deciding to let Splinter's robe conceal his folded legs. I also lowered the stool he is sitting on to try and tighten up the space the candle glow would have to fill-in the gaps for. The background remained unchanged at this stage, but I knew that I wanted to make edits and changes to it as I moved forward.
I printed out the rough with the adjustments at full size and layed a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol overtop of it on a lighbox. I can see my rough through the bristol as though the bristol was thick tracing paper. At this stage, I filled in some of the gaps of detail on the shelves including an old copy of a TMNT graphic novel, a boy scout handbook, the Black Axe, and an IDW turtles book. There is a broken Mouser head, and the broken ooze canister hanging out on the shelves too. To get the beaded curtain inked, I daubed dots of rubber cement on the blank bristol to form the beads. I inked over them and when the ink was dry, pulled up the rubber cement leaving perfect trails of dots. I used a brush and some white-out to form the strings that hold the beads together.
The next step was to scan the inks and add flattened colors. As I've said before in past process posts, the goal here is to establish the areas that need to be different colors. I'm not worried at this stage (or at least I have to keep telling myself not to worry at this stage...)about the overall lighting and color choices, while I came pretty close to most of the base colors at this point, all I really need to do is organize the photoshop file so that the different areas are separate and easy to isolate for rendering and final color adjustment. One color choice note here though, I opted for the 4 patches on Splinter's robe to match the colors of the bandannas the turtles had in the cartoons & movies (and were recently bestowed with in the IDW series).
To the right is an animated gif you can watch by clicking on it showing the various layers being built up in the flatting process. Step 2 has the layer that ultimately is the the furthest back, but from that point forward, I'm working from the top down (each successive layer is behind the previous one).
The last step is the final rendering. I've added special layers to color hold the linework, to add glows and smoke wisps, and to shade the background evenly as it goes to the top of the image. It was a real trick to get the candles to have the right amount of glow to get the background to desaturate and darken to the right amount (without losing the details I'd carefully added.
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