Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Raspberry Mouse Print process:

Earlier in the month I found that I was headed into C2E2 and the rest of my conventions with only a few copies of a limited edition print on-hand. So, I started work on a new print that I debut at C2E2, but have in my online store and will take to the rest of my conventions until they run out (edition of 300). I Ustreamed the process as I worked, but thought I'd post the process here on my blog as well, which will include new info not covered in the ustream because I continued to work on the piece long after the stream ended.

Julia liked how my last limited edition print was something the female Mouse Guard fans would find "pretty" while also not being too feminine for the male fans. So I set out with the same goal in mind. I swapped out the flowering branches with raspberry vines and the feathers for an actual bird. I did a rough sketch in my sketchbook and then scanned it. The image to the right is a photoshop corrected version where I had already made some adjustments in the distance between the mouse & the bird's head. Julia also likes the Dark Eyed Junco birds that hop around our back yard, so I used that bird as this mouse's mount.

With the above photoshopped sketch printed out to actual size (11" x 11" so it will fit onto a 12" x 12" sheet of bristol with a nice 0.5" border all around), I taped the printout to the back of a sheet of strathmore 300 series bristol. On a lightbox, I was able to see the printout to use as a guide as I inked. There wasn't a lot of black areas in this piece, I knew I would rely on color to help move the eye throughout my rather even-weighted lines. The background is also rather sparse, but I wasn't yet aware how that was a problem...I thought the lighter background would allow for a nice amount of breathing room.

As I colored the scanned inks, I started realizing that the composition wasn't working. There wasn't enough in the background to weight the figures to anything spatially. It was too  two dimensional and designey. I was struggling with the color choices too. My original plan was a dark grey mouse with a blue dress, and with a traditionally toned junco. But the grey and blue and more grey and, blue-grey that plan involved was too cool, and led me to this rendering to the right. As I signed off on my Ustream I said that I wanted to add more to the background, and I was sure that would also push the colors in a different direction.

Back on the original inked piece, I sketched out new raspberries and leaves and vines. I wanted them to overlap and have a bigger sense of depth. It took a few ties in sketching to get a composition that felt like what I was going for without being too heavy handed and cluttered. Even with that concern, the inks look busier than how I knew the final piece would look with all the color and adjusted palate. After a new scan of these inks, I patched in just the new lines (so I didn't need to be as fussy about trying to line up the new scan with the original inks).

The final image palette came together with a lot of help from Julia. She really didn't like the unconventional coloring on the Junco in my first pass...even though I could show her online reference for similar coloration in juncos, she thought the markings our backyard variety had were superior. After adjusting those colors and the background to something more pale and sky-like, the rest of the adjustments cascaded into easier and easier choices.

As I said at the start of the post, the new print (edition of 300) is now available in the online store

Free Comic Book Day Plans:
This Saturday I'll be making two local (MI) appearances. From 10-12:30 I'll be at Detroit Comics in Ferndale. From 1pm on I'll be at Green Brain Comics in Dearborn. Both stores will have the Mouse Guard/Rust Free Comic Book Day from Archaia and I'll be signing them (plus brining a few of my convention prints and original art). The artwork from this year's 8 page story will be available in the online store sometime that day.

And check back on the blog on Saturday night for a video of me reading the FCBD story.

Watercolor Wednesday:
Last week's set of 4 watercolors (which I insisted on breaking up and sending off across the world in different directions) was the result of a visual idea from my past. In 2007-8 I collaborated with glass artist Gary Bolt to make a glass casting of this group of skeleton characters: The King, Knight, Fool, & Villain. The group seemed like they would be fun subjects to watercolor and re-explore.

2013 Appearances: 
Spectrum Live: May 17-19
Heroes Con: June 7-9
Albuquerque Comic Expo June 21-23
San Diego Comic Con: July 17-21
*more 2013 dates coming*

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