The first step was coming up with a composition. I had some 16" x 20" matboard already cut and in the studio, so that pre-determined the size of this new piece. Looking through the Mouse Guard books, I flipped past the end chapters of Winter 1152 and decided to do a painting of a hare riding mouse. The sketch was done on copy paper, scanned in and enlarged to fit a 16" x 20" format. I used a border pattern I found online and then applied a grid to the file to help me with the next step.
Because this piece needs to be printed at the same 16" x20" size of my matboard, I had to print the file out over the course of several sheets of 8.5" x 11" paper. Then using the grid to help realign the pieces, I trimmed and taped together the sheets into a patchwork of the full image at actual size. I learned this method of printing large format images on standard size paper printers when I worked at the antique store Materials Unlimited and needed to make affordable new signs for sales or products that could be read at a distance.
When I normally work on an image that I digitally manipulated, I then move over to the lightbox to start work on bristol with the printout taped to the back...but since this painting is on matboard, I needed to do a different kind of transfer. On the backside, I rubbed graphite all over the areas where lines appeared on the front of the printout. I used a light table to help me see that I was getting coverage over the lines without wasting graphite or time and coating the entire backside.
I then taped the paper printout to the front of the matboard and traced over my lines with a ballpoint pen. Wherever I applied pressure, the graphite on the back would transfer over to the surface of the matboard. Pictured here is the 16" x 20" matboard with the entire image transferred over in graphite. It was late when I got this step done, and I hadn't thought about color choices at all yet, so instead of pushing forward and starting to paint, I went to bed and decided to tackle painting in the morning.
The next day, I decided that instead of the winter landscape from where fans saw the mice riding hares in Mouse Guard, I'd go for something warmer and more summer-ish. I started with a wash of yellow greens for the background. Then I discovered that this matboard, not thae same brand as the one I did my HEROES auction piece, would show the lamination glue streaks if the surface got too wet. I almost stopped and considered re-doing the transfer to a new sheet of board, but that would also mean a trip to the art supply store for new board. So I thought I'd push through and if got worse I'd stop.
Some more of those marks did show up, but in a way I found to be more like added texture rather than a flaw or distraction. So below you will see the many phone photos I took as I worked on this piece slowly building up the watercolor and then adding link work to punch up the illustration in the end.
Base color wash to the border.
Darker color to the pattern (detail)
Border color done
First wash to the hare's fur
More work on the Hare's Fur
& a wash to the Mouse's fur.
Cloak & Flag washes.
Adding details to the Hare
More shading on the fabric &
Starting on the Hare's riding tack.
Detail shot of the saddle & blanket
The finished piece.
This will be available to bid on at the Boston Comic Con on Saturday.
Boston Comic Con July 31- Aug. 2
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