Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Feather Knighting Print art process:

Over a year ago, I posted about a false start on this piece. I wanted to do an oversized Mouse Guard print, with lots of detail, focusing on non-violent mice, and a ceremonial feel to it...but as I posted back in May of 2013, I never got it to a place where I could ink it. Today I'll go through the steps I took to get to this finished piece  and my plans for it.

Here is the composite of my three original sketches (the mouse with the feather, the mouse with the sword, and the room they occupy). I wanted to fill a room's shelves with artifacts and books and scrolls, and hidden Mouse Guard easter eggs. My problem with this was the wonky perspective of the circular room I'd sketched. And instead of establishing vanishing points, I built a model...

Using a few dishes & coffee mugs as circle templates, scrap bristol, cardboard, chipboard and basswood, I made model of how I thought the room should look. the brackets were cut on a small jigsaw to make life easier. I find making models like this to be very helpful not just with helping drawing in perspective, but also to help design a room in three dimensions as you build it. I decided to center the ceiling peak as I built this model, not just because it was easier, but because I as I held the rafters in different positions, I preferred it being not directly above the little platform the mice are on.

I photographed the model at an angle that worked with my original drawings of the mice and composited them together. This would serve as the perspective form foundation for the architecture I'd fill with curios and important mousey-things...but...this is the state where I abandoned the piece for over a year due to lack of time to devote to it. The original composite print-out stayed taped to my wall above my lightbox as a reminder to get back to it when I could.

Last week, I finally knocked the dust off this project and got it rolling again. I printed out the photo/drawing composite and on a lightbox re-prnciled the whole thing on several new sheets of paper (taped together to match the scale). Here I was finally able to add in all the items (many of which are nods back to various Legends of the Guard stories). I looked up to notes I'd jotted on the original sketch composite taped above my workspace, and made a few new ones as I went.

I taped the above redrawn pencil piece to the back of a sheet of 300 series bristol (24" x 12") and on my lightbox I started inking the piece: example 1, example 2. I ink with Copic Multiliner pens. I used the 0.7 nib mostly for this one, other than the eyes of the mice which I did with a 0.2. As usual I was adding various textures and line weights as I went to draw the viewer's eye through this messy cluttered room.

I scanned the inks in two different scans and then re assembled the pieces in Photoshop to start the coloring process. I established the various areas of the piece (fur, books, floor, clothes, wooden beams, etc) with obnoxious and garish colors to help me figure out if I stayed in the lines and if I established enough different areas so I could re-isolate any given object in the room to render it or alter it's final colors.

Here again are the finished colors. I did all the rendering using the dodge and burn tools in Photoshop while using a textured brush. This piece took me the longest of any single Mouse Guard page/piece I've ever colored. Partly because of all the little details on the shelves, but also because I knew this piece was going to be reproduced at-size and not shrunk down like other Mouse Guard pages and covers.

I plan to release this image as a 24" x 18" offset print (like my Beauty and the Beast print) and add a little text box at the bottom with a single paragraph story like the ones I write for the covers of Legends of the Guard. (The text shown here is placeholder-text...I didn't want to spoil the story yet). Today I'll be talking with my local printer to see if there is any way to have this in-time for Baltimore this weekend, otherwise, I'll release it at New York Comic Con.

Print now available online for purchase: 

2014 Appearances:
NY Comic Con: Oct. 9-12
Lucca Comics & Games (Italy): Oct. 31-Nov. 2


Seth Rosamilia said...

Gorgeous and inspiring. I'm pleased to have recognized at least a few of the easter eggs, and I certainly hope it makes it to the online store.

Tex Cap said...

I'll gladly second the comment that we'd love to see this for sale online. It's been a blast to watch the process and I'd love to potentially own a print of the final product for my Mouse Guard collection! Regardless, great great work!

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