Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Fox 5x7 Print Process

For 2017 I'll be introducing a lot of new 5"x7" matted prints to my convention appearances and in my online store. Fans have been enjoying the Saxon, Gwendolyn, Sadie, and Kenzie prints in the same format, so in addition to adding more guardmouse characters for 2017, I'm also adding more animals/scenes.

In this post, I'll be sharing the process of creating the Fox and mouse-dwelling artwork to the left from concept to finished colors.

I started with a fox drawing (from reference of a fox in the snow) on copy paper. With all the dead thicket branches I planned to have in this piece getting in the way of the snow lines, I made life easier by laying a new sheet of copy paper over the fox drawing and then on a light pad draw them in around the fox. On yet another sheet of paper, I drew a little mousey building...

I found a photo online of this building called "The Shoemaker's Tower" in Sighisoara, Transilvania, Romania. I loved the shape of the roof peak, the offset tower, and the canopied balcony staircase. So, when I drew the little mousey version, I didn't change much other than making the lantern bigger and adding an existing mouse flag (see Black Axe). I decided that for one of the as-yet-unseen mouse towns, I'd use this aesthetic. So on my sketch I jotted down notes about one of the fallen towns: Woodruff's Grove. This is a small step towards developing that location, but this is a small step on which I can build much more in the future...but back to this print...

After I assembled the three drawings in photoshop (tinting them all to help my eye see where one ended and the other began...this is where having the branches separate from the snow-lines made a big difference) having these elements all on different sheets/layers I was able to make lots of adjustments to resize parts without affecting the lines of the things around them.

I printed out the photoshop assembled layout and taped it to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol and inked on a lightpad. I use a Huion lightpad that allows me to see the printout through the surface of the bristol. This means that on the surface of the bristol will only be my inks, no pencil lines to erase (though sometimes, I do tighten up the pencils a bit as I work if the layout sketch is too loose...in this case the eyes). For pens I used Copic Multiliners, the 0.7 & 0.3 nibs.

Once the inks are scanned, I start the process of flatting the piece for color. This means laying in flat color (no concerns with shading or texture) to establish that areas like the Fox's two different fur tones and making sure they are different from the branches, snow, building, etc.

Once the flat colors are in I start rendering each area using the dodge and burn tools (lighten and darken) with a textured brush. I added minimal colorholds on the snow linework and the flag embroidery.

Here again is the finished colored artwork. This print and many more will be available at any of my convention appearances this year was well as in my online store.

For process posts on previous prints:

2017 Appearances: 
Heroes Con: Jun. 16-18
San Diego Comic Con: July 19-23
Baltimore Comic Con: Sept. 22-24

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