This last week I've been recovering from back to back travel to Seattle and Belgium and then returning with a head cold. To help ramp back into full-time work, I created this piece for myself. It wasn't just for fun, but will be included in this year's Mouse Guard sketchbook (coming in July). I've posted about stained glass in my work before and the importance it has to showing the culture, artisan craftsmanship, and myth-telling of the characters in a story. For today's blogpost I'll walk through the creation of this piece.
Originally I set out to do some kind of pattern art piece for the back cover of my sketchbook and I didn't have stained glass on the mind at all. But, while using google image search for pattern inspiration, I saw a piece of painted glass. Instead of using that image though, I went online to the place of my previous employment Materials Unlimited and looked at their stained glass offerings to find this window. I liked the round center portrait and the shield motif.
For the portrait though, I needed a mouse design. What mouse would be honored with the labor and effort of craftsmice creating a stained glass window of them? My answer: A Matriarch. I re-used one of the Matriarchs already depicted in stained glass in the Matriarch's Chamber "Veyga". From working at Materials Unlimited and also having done some stained glass work myself, I was familiar with the shapes of pieces glass can be cut into by hand and, therefore, where lead lines would go. This experience made simplifying a mouse portrait into a glass design all the easier and more satisfying.
In Photoshop I re-worked the existing glass photo elements and my new portrait into a square design and digitally layed out all the lead lines. Unfortunately, I was too lazy/unambitious to alter the designs of the shields to incorporate existing Mouse Guard heraldry, but as this piece was being done to shake off my travel/sickness rust, I pushed past it with the goal of getting the art finished. I printed out the design and taped it to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series Bristol. This is a scan of the printout with the blue painter's tape used to secure it to my bristol included.
With the printout on the back of the bristol, I was able to ink the piece on my lightbox where I can see through the bristol to use the printout as my "pencils". Because most of the lines are so thick, I used a 1.0 Copic Multiliner pen for most of the lead-work...but unfortunately that pen was of a disposable variety, and mostly dead when I started. So I took it apart, and rolled the dice refilling the ink cartridge by hand and a bottle of Bombay Black ink. Luckily, it worked! and then I finished out the finer details with a smaller nib pen. To help me isolate the details that are meant to be painted on the glass (opposed to lead lines separating different pieces) I avoided getting those detail lines from touching the lead line inks.
The last step was to scan my finished inks and color the piece. This included isolating all the 'painted & fired' detail inkwork for color holds, and flatting out the base colors. I pulled a lot of the palate from the original window, but I simplified the field glass to be less colorful. To render the color and add texture, I used the Dodge and Burn tools with a stock 'drybush' brush. The key to making this look authentic was to add the illusion of both grime and shadow where the glass meets the lead line. The other trick was that I selected pieces of glass in the same area of color and then lightened, darkened, and adjusted the color balance so they looked like separate pieces of glass instead of a Photoshop fill-tool layout.
C2E2 April 24-26
FCBD: Jetpack Comics NH: May 2nd
Motor City May 15-17
Denver Comic Con May 22-25
Heroes Con June 19-21
San Diego Comic Con July 8-12
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