Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Legends of the Guard Vol 3 #4 Cover Process

This week I'm sharing the cover to the final issue of Legends of the Guard Vol. 3 (I still have 1 cover to do for the Hardcover collection, but that's for a later blogpost). The final cover is shown to the left, but below is the process for the piece from concept to pencils through to colors. 

My original note to myself when I started this volume of Legends was: "#4: Insects crowning a mouse". The visual I had in mind then was much spookier and moodier, with misty dark blues in a foggy forest with a floor of scattered bones. But when it came time to draw this cover, I felt more whimsical and wanted the piece to feel more like a fairy tale. The mouse would be wearing a long cloak held up by some flying insect (I quickly thought moths were the right choice).  On copy paper, I sketched out the elements, doing some Google-fu to research types of moths and their markings as well as fireflies and even a caterpillar of one of the moth species.
I scanned those pencil drawings into Photoshop and started composing the cover's layout (keeping in mind where the fold between front and back cover is as well as where the logo is placed). For the background, I had a checkerboard pattern in mind already (I was thinking of is because of Edmund Dulac, one of my favorite illustrators, used it in his fairy tale illustrations often). I went in search of stock photos of stone arches that I could decorate with a checkered pattern and found an islamic facade that fit the bill. I modified the proportions, re-built the pattern and used it in several places the original photo didn't have it (including as the tile floor)

After that digital composite was built up with all the characters placed an background set, I printed it out at full size (8.25" x 16.25") and taped it to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol. On my lightbox, I was able to see the printout and use it as a pencil guide to ink on the bristol surface. Because I knew I wanted to push the background wall back with color to separate its business from the characters, I left a little space between the subjects and any of the background inks (other than where they meet the floor).

I scanned the inked artwork and started the process of establishing color areas called "flatting". The palate for the background was partly established by the original stock photo, but also by a few of Dulac's pieces I had in mind while working on this piece. The other colors were just put in as place holders as I filled in the spaces on the characters differentiating them from one another.

The final colors were achieved (after altering my flats to the palate that worked to keep the characters visible but looking like they belonged in the scene) by using the Dodge & Burn tools in Photoshiop and a textured brush. I added some effects to the fireflies to make them glow and some subtle rendering on all my color holds on the background and tilework.

Legends of the Guard Vol.3 #4 will have the full "legend" of this image on the inside front cover. And will feature stories by: Aaron Conley & Fabian Rangel Jr, Becky Cloonan, & Ryan Lang.

2015 Appearances:
C2E2 April 24-26
Motor City May 15-17
Denver Comic Con May 22-25
Heroes Con June 19-21
Long Beach Comic Con: Sept. 12-13
Baltimore Comic Con Sept. 25-27
New York Comic Con Oct. 8-11
Art-Bubble Comics Festival: Copenhagen: Nov. 14-15

1 comment:

Max West said...

Greetings from the Peace Garden State, Dave. You've got quite a cover there; I'm still hesitant myself to use Photoshop in my own work (other than for retouching) because I prefer traditional media. I've been neglecting your more recent additions to MouseGuard so I need to catch up.

Keep up the super work!

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