In this post, I'll be sharing the process of creating the sparrow and banner artwork to the left from concept to finished colors.
Julia likes when I draw birds. So for one of the more animal-centric prints I decided to focus on a sparrow. But as I was drawing it, I really didn't want to add a mouse. So, I just kept looking at reference and doing a tight detailed pencil drawing of the sparrow. This is much more detailed and tight than my pencils are usually, but with all the delicate feathers, the way the tuck and the different textures of them around the neck and head and belly, I wanted my sketch to have all the info I needed when I'd get to the inking stage. Somehow, adding a mouse to this just felt like a stunt, not necessary to the drawing.
In photoshop I placed the sparrow pencils in the format template for my prints and painted in the tree branches to help me visualize if the piece really did need a mouse. Turns out it needed something, but instead of a mouse, I opted for banners streaming from the branches. Are these mouse flags? are they sparrow? or some other tree-canopy animal? It's not clear...though I'd bet on mouse.
I'd also considered making some kind of tall design, text, or symbol on the flags, but again decided to let the sparrow be the focus.
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). For pens I used Copic Multiliners, the 0.7 & 0.3 nibs. After finishing inking what was in the rough, I decided to silhouette more branches in the background, but was careful not to have them intersect any of the existing linework to make them easier to isolate for color holds later. .
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 sparrow's various feather tones, the branches and banners.
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 also added a color hold on all the branches in the background.
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:
San Diego Comic Con: July 19-23
Baltimore Comic Con: Sept. 22-24
New York Comic Con: Oct. 5-8