Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Digital Sketchbook Cover Process

At the very end of last year, I released a 288 page Digital Sketchbook collection with eleven of my past sketchbooks and 30 pieces added in to the collection. (You can purchase MOUSE GUARD DIGITAL SKETCHBOOK COLLECTION 2004-2015 here: http://mouseguard.bigcartel.com). The collection needed a new cover, which can be seen to the left, and for today's blogpost I'll break down the process I used to create the artwork.

I began with the idea of doing a Mouse Guard St. George and the Dragon homage. Instead of the saint, it would be an armored Guardmouse, instead of his horse, a sparrow, and instead of the dragon, a snake. On copy paper, I drew the snake and bird, but had a false start with the mouse. So on another sheet of paper, I drew the armored mouse and his lance at approximately the right posture & scale.

I scanned these sheets in to Photoshop and composited them back together. The snake & bird drawing I tinted red, the mouse blue. This helps me keep track of design elements instead of seeing the drawing as a mass of black pencil lines. I framed the piece with the appropriate square border, and then added some 7 pointed stars and a holy halo around the mouse's head. The name Jorgen is a Danish version of George, which I thought was an interesting way to nod at the source inspiration and break up the star pattern a bit.

The above layout was then printed out on copy paper and taped to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 bristol. I ink on a light box or Huion light pad. With the light coming through, I can see the layout under the bristol as I ink. I used Copic Multiliner SP pens (0.7 & 0.3 nibs).  To the right you can see the finished inks. These were fairly straight forward from my pencils...the only real amount of texture/tone I added was the lines on the floor.

After I finished the inks, I scanned them into Photoshop, cleaned up the scan, and started flatting the colors. This step of digital coloring is basically just coloring inside the lines and establishing the elements that are different colors. It's called flatting, because you aren't worried about rendering or effects or texture at this stage, you are just blocking out areas of flat color. At this stage I also added color holds, which are the areas where I painted the inkwork a color instead of black (the text, stars, & halo)

The final coloring was achieved by suing Photoshop tools with a textured brush. For adding the shadows I use the burn tool (at its lowest exposure) and for the highlights I use the dodge tool (also at its lowest exposure). The brush is a stock Photoshop brush. I think its called 'drybrush'. To the right is the finished product (sans-logo & title)

I liked this image enough that I've made it into my most recent tee shirt design. A two color silk screened image on Gildan Soft Style Heather Royal Blue tees. S, M, L, XL, 2X, & 3X.
They are available for purchase here: http://mouseguard.bigcartel.com

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