This November, I'll be a guest at the Art Bubble festival in Copenhagen, Denmark! The organizers there asked if I'd create a special print for the festival (as I've done a few times in the past for International visits like the UK and Germany). A good part of my background is Danish (my great-great-grandfather was Johannes who came from Denmark to Michigan). On the left you can see the final print image. In this week's blogpost, I'll be sharing all the step-by-step process for creating it.
I wanted the print's image to be inspired by Danish heritage and symbolism. With an image search, I found the national coat of arms (three blue lions with nine hearts) as well as some fantasy art of Danish Vikings (I can't find any credit for the artist...anyone know). And with the plan of the background being the Danish flag, my version of the coat of arms, and a viking mouse, I sketched out these drawings on copy paper. I only drew 1 lion and 1 heart, as well as just half the crown, planning to use Photoshop tricks to make sure the patterning matched and was was symmetrical.
After I scanned in the copy paper sketches, I composited this rough in Photoshop with a mocked in partial Danish flag. The lions and hearts were color tinted to help me see the different shapes and get a clearer picture of the overall design. Oh, another design note, I saw references to Ermine fur in several other regional danish coat of arms, so I made this mouse's cloak ermine...but to help make that more obvious than just being fur, I decided this was a decorative/portraiture/fancy-dress cloak with the head of the long-dead ermine still attached. I printed out the composite and taped it to the back of a sheet of Strathmore Bristol and started inking it on my lightbox. Below are a few in process photos of the inks
To the left you can see the scan of the finished inks. Because I inked this all on the lightbox, there were no pencils to erase (though I did make an adjustment to the hand holding the helmet that I sketched out on the bristol, so there was a tiny bit of erasing to do). For pens, I used Copic Multiliners...the SP 0.7 and 0.3 nibs. I always try to give my work texture in the inks. Beyond the obvious hatching and stippling, you can see some pattern work and line-type variance: the ring-mail, the cuts on the mouse's head & ears, and the lions & hearts.
With the inks scanned, the tedious job of coloring known as flatting was ahead of me. This is the part where I just have to drop in flat colors (no rendering, shading, or texture) to establish which parts of the image are which colors. on this piece, I did get close to the final colors in the flatting, but there are lots of times I use garish made-up colors as I flat. I added color holds in this step as well. A color hold is where inked linework gets painted in color instead of black.
The exciting part of coloring is all the rendering and detail work. To the left you can see a photo I took of my screen as I was working. For all the shading and highlights I use the burn and dodge tools. When I'm using those, I also use a textured brush (a stock brush called "drybrush") so that it adds a bit of randomness to the work as well as that Mouse Guard-ish pebbled texture.
Here again is a photo of the printed poster art. According to the Art Bubble co-ordinaters, the poster is A3 sized on quality heavy stock. 500 copies have been made and will be sold for 100 Danish Krones ($15) at the Festival in the Round Tower.
If there are any left after the festival, Art Bubble is willing to sell worldwide for regular price and postage.
UPDATE: The posters are now available through the Art Bubble website: http://art-bubble.dk/en/print/
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