Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Monsters & Dames 2014

The Emerald City Comic Con puts out an art book each year called "Monsters & Dames"...with the theme matching the title. The book benefits the Seattle Children's Hospital and is a great collection of artwork from many of the guests and artists in artist alley. I've done pieces for 3 of the past books: Beauty & Beast, Frankenstein's Monster & Bride, & A Dame riding a Dragon. To the left you can see this year's piece, and today's blogpost will cover the process for making the artwork.

The beginning of this piece had a few false starts, including the idea of a monster admiring fairies (dame-fairies), a dame/monster wedding, and a dame walking her pet monster on a leash. I kept playing with monster heads to get me into the right mood for the piece, but none of these were what I wanted. I did like some of what was happening with one of the heads though (middle top), and thought I could make it better...

Taking that head I liked above, I worked out a better head design and felt I got to play with the monster's personality a bit. It combined a few ideas from the past designs, with a little bit of a Disney tiger mouth/jaw structure. The full figure sketch followed, which gave me a sense of the overall layout and scale of Monster to Dame...and then set about getting a dame pose that worked. The final dame sketch was a hybrid of a few reference photos for the pose, dress, & umbrella. For the beast, I was still undecided on those horns...with or without...

I composited the sketches in photoshop into a template for the file specs of the piece. The yellow and orange border lines represent the edge of the 'live area' as well as the 'bleed' (or in layman's terms, where you want to keep all the important bits, and where you need to extend the art out to so when the paper is trimmed you don't have an unprinted edge). I tinted the image of the dame to help me make better sense of the lines and figures. And while debating the horns, I dropped in a photo of some real ram horns and liked them so well, I didn't bother redrawing them for the layout.

I printed out the above composite and taped it to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol. On a lightbox, I was able to see through the bristol and use the printout as a guide to ink by. The inks are all done with Copic Multiliners (the 0.35 & 0.7 nibs mainly) I focused on adding a nice amount of texture while still making sure the outer contours still read well. The bone landscape was roughed in very loosely in the layout, so I did pencil in tighter bones as I inked...referencing dinosaur, large mammal, and human skeletons.

The inks are then scanned back into photoshop and I start the coloring process. This stage is called 'flatting' because I'm simply establishing the color areas with flat base colors. I had no idea what my overall palate would be for this piece, but in the flatting stage it doesn't really matter, just color in the lines and differentiate areas that are meant to be different colors. I tend to make a new layer for most types of 'things' in my file: "beast fur", " skin", "dress", "sky", "bones", etc. It makes it easier to re-isolate an area when I want to render it or adjust the color overall.

Here again is the final render, which I achieved by using the dodge & burn tools (with the drybrush as my brush to add texture & mottling).

The Monsters & Dames book will be available at the Emerald City Comic Con for purchase (as well as the original art being auctioned off there) and remaining books are usually offered for sale online through the Emerald City website after the con ends.

Also this year at Emerald City, I'll be debuting an offset print of last year's Beauty & Beast piece and offering more of them for sale in my online store after I return home.

Gordon Smuder Interpreted my Monster as a puppet:

2014 Appearances:
MSU Comics Forum: February 22
C2E2: April 25-27
Comicpalooza: May 23-25
Heroes Con: June 20-22
San Diego Comic Con: July 23-27
Boston Comic Con: August 8-10
NY Comic Con: Oct. 9-12

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