For Volume 2 of Legends of the Guard (Which starts in issue form next Wednesday), I needed to design 12 new mouse storytellers - one for each of the contributors. A few of the artists had already turned in their stories when I started on the mouse designs, but not all, so instead of trying to match most of the mice to a particular story-tone, I just made a variety of characters that seemed interesting and matched them up later.
Here are the twelve storytelling mouse characters. Even though this art wasn't required until the Hardcover collection extras were being produced, I wanted a solid character model sheet to use while doing my pages for the series. Not only does each mouse have it's own marking (nicked ears, missing limbs) they also have their own fashion, details, palette, and tankard. For this blogpost, I'll talk about a few of the character's designs.
They all started as rougher sketches that I tightened up as I found a particular design I liked. Some of the characters started as 'What type of mouse hat haven't I drawn?" or "is there a material I haven't shown a mouse wearing often/yet?". Here is a scan of doodles on printed light blue 'mouse maniquins' and at the top and bottom are the versions I decided to tighten up and pursue as characters.
I had a bit of trouble as I was roughing out new clothes or details to make sure each character would read as a unique mouse and not easily mistaken for a different patron of the June Alley Inn. I knew I'd done a few commissions in the last year (colored for the 2013 sketchbook due out at SDCC this year) that had some character/clothing designs I liked, so I opted to pull those up and re-use them:
These two I did on my London trip at the start of 2012. Each were inspired by architecture and sculpture I saw while there. So these two became Holton (on the left, who tells Nick Tapalansky & Alex Eckman Lawn's Story) and Alton (on the right, who tells Bill Willingham's story) I sat these two close together in the tavern, but only because of their London design connection
This commission was to celebrate the engagement of some fans of mine, in fact, originally the ribbon-flag had the date of their happy day. The ladymouse on the balcony I thought had a nice dress that I'd like to draw again, so she became Odella (who tells Justin Gerard's story)
"A mouse guarding a pumpkin patch" was the request for this piece, and I took not only the design, but the 'guarding' bit as an occupation for him. For Legends of the Guard, he is now Orwin (who tells Ben Caldwell's story)
On two occasions, I used the main character from one of the contributor's stories as the storytellers, so it was a matter of drawing my interpretation of them:
For Stan Sakai's story, I felt the story might have more impact if the mice would be hearing it directly from who the tale happened to...it added a sincerity to my part of the book that was needed to do justice as a bridge in and out of Stan's story. She was un-named in the story, so I gave her the name Mira.
Lastly, Rick Geary's story is all told in the first person, so I had no choice but to have the main character also the mouse in the tavern narrating. In this case, Rick supplied me with the character's name: Edwy (as well as a background for his bio for the Hardcover extras page: The Storytellers.
To help me, I also made a floorplan chart showing where each character would be seated the majority of the book (as well as where each cover painting is hanging in the tavern). The floorplan is a top-down photo of my June Alley Inn model with the characters listed below and assigned a number/letter. The numbering was just to identify the mouse, the letter stood for which issue they told their tale in...this helped me distribute the characters around so we never spend too much time in any one corner of the bar.
From last week's Watercolor Wednesday paintings: Here is the Knight Gnome. The sketch started life as a carved chess piece, but kept progressing towards 'character' rather than 'inanimate object'. I played off the standard gnome hat as a peaked & studded helm for the diminutive fighter. And now every time I see the final image, I think that he'd make a fun Christmas Tree ornament (though I don't know what connection he would have to the holiday).
The other piece from last week started as the idea for an 'ugly' mask...but felt like more fun if it really was a character's face. And besides having an unfortunate visage I also don't think he looks too bright...so I dubbed him 'simpleton'