Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Usagi Pinup Process

Better Late Than Never: Usagi Yojimbo Pinup Process:
In 2006 I first met Stan Sakai, creator of the long running Usagi Yojimbo comic. Mouse Guard has just hit on a national level and Stan stopped by the Archaia booth at San Diego to offer very kind words and support of my work. His book is a perfect example of the kind of material I wanted Mouse Guard to be: talking animals, historic setting, a bit of humor, grounded in plots that have a weight and sincerity to them. Usagi also has a wide age readership and while it does show the consequences of death, it never glorifies it or shows the goriness it.

Stan asked to swap pinups for each other's books (Stan's appears in Winter Issue 2 and also in the Winter 1152 hardcover)

For my pinup of Usagi, I decided to go for a four seasons theme. It would allow me to draw the character a few times to show the range of storytelling Stan does...The spring kite flying shows some levity, the summer has a bit of action and focuses on Usagi's training, Fall is about how interesting a mundane task can be, and Winter is all about severity, focus, and mood. I sketched out the four poses on scraps of bristol board. At the time for Mouse Guard, I was trimming down 14" x 17" pieces into 12" x 12" pages, so I had scraps like these all over the studio as scratch pads.

I don't seem to have the file of the scanned sketches resized in a template for the pinup's final art size...but that's what I did..and then printed it out and inked the piece on bristol board using the printout as a guide behind the bristol on a lightbox.
I checked with a few folks to make sure the kanji for each season was correct before I committed them in ink to the piece. I also wanted each image to look like a Japanese woodcut, so there was a focus to add a decorative element and composition to each 'panel'...the kanji was part of that, but so were the choices for the cherry blossoms, the koi, the scallop pattern on the bowl, and the falling snow

The artwork was scanned in for digital coloring. Here I established the color areas, which is a fancy way for saying, without shading, I colored in the lines. I cheated here a bit and re-created this for today's blogpost. I did not save a version of the file just flatted at that time, so I went back in to the final color file and made this example of what the piece probably looked like before I started the final colors.

The final colors are seen here and were achived using the dodge and burn tools in Photoshop with a textured brush. I probably over rendered and texturized the piece compared to what I would do today, but I think it still holds up pretty well. The pinup appeared on the back of Usagi Yojimbo issue 104.

Watercolor Wednesday:In case you missed last week's Watercolor Wednesday pieces, here they are for a closer look. I started by drawing one of these and I thought "This is Tough Pete, nobody messes with Tough Pete" And I decided he was one of several brothers all named Pete who boxed...or just fought. I then drew and painted Angry Pete and Strong Pete. I had a lot of fun playing with the shapes of their anatomy and making them so odd looking. There was a conscious decision to make each wear primary colored pants and hats...but not the same color on any one Pete. I was torn about the idea of selling these individually or as a group. In the spirit of trying to keep prices down on these, and hoping to make more than 1 person happy with a purchase each week, I opted to split the brothers up....

...perhaps down the road I'll have to paint their rival cousins..three scrapping brothers named Mad Pete, Crazy Pete, and Big Pete. Tomorrow I'll post a few more paintings in my online store.

2013 Appearances: Emerald City: March 1-3
Fabletown Con: March 22-24
C2E2: April 26-28
Spectrum Live: May 17-19
Heroes Con: June 7-9
San Diego Comic Con: July 17-21

*more 2013 dates coming*


Steve said...

My wife and I love these! I hope you will be selling prints of them. Saw these on the usagi forums and had no idea you were the mouse guard creator until we clicked on your blog! It's pretty cool to see our two favorite comics in collaboration like this.

DPetersen said...

Steve: Sorry, no prints. I don't make/sell prints of characters I don't own. Happy to do the piece for Stan though (he owns the original) and the image was printed on Usagi #104

Steve said...

Thanks for the reply. I went out and picked up 104 :).

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