Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Family Mouse Commission Process

Several years ago, I did a commission for a family of Mouse Guard fans, when an engagement was about to happen. They wanted the piece to have a mouse lovingly proposing to another with the date included in the piece (though I swapped out the date for the word 'LOVE' when I colored it for a sketchbook) Then later, the family commissioned me again when the 1st baby of that union was expected. You can see both of those pieces colored to the left...but today's blogpost is all about the third piece I did for them this summer...

The couple now has a 2nd child, a daughter, and they wanted an updated family portrait. Although I wasn't accepting these types of inked commissions any more, the loyal fans & patrons, wanted this last piece to round out their collection. They requested the same characters of the parents, as well as the house with the balcony shown in the previous two, and ultimately their children enjoying the flowers. I sketched out these elements on sheets of copy paper.

After scanning the sketches, I was able to assemble a composition I was happy with in Photoshop. By having all the characters drawn separately, it wasn't difficult to mirror, resize, overlap or shift around each mouse as well as the background. I tinted each character's linework a different color to help me make more sense of the jumble of lines.

Once this was done, I could print it out to prep for inking...

I taped the printout onto the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol. Then, on a light-pad, I could see through the bristol to the printed lines to use as guides as I inked on the bristol's surface with Copic Multiliners (the 0.7 & 0.3 nibs mainly).

Most of the grass and the flowery background I improvised in ink as I worked.

Because this piece would work perfectly in a Mouse Guard sketchbook, I decided to get started on the 2018 book now. I flatted the colors for the piece to prep it for final color. Flatting is basically just coloring within the lines and organizing the layers of a color file so you can quickly isolate each area for rendering...establishing the fur colors are different spaces than the clothes and trim, and grass, and flowers, etc...

The colors for the parents and the house were somewhat already established, so I just had to focus on color choices for the kids.

Then last week over on Twitch, I did the final rendering for this piece so it's ready as a page for the 2018 sketchbook (It won't go to the printer until June). Below you can see the final colors after I rendered the piece using the Dodge and Burn tools mainly, with a little assist from the freehand lasso, color balance, and a few screen layers to help push the background further back.

2018 Appearances coming soon...

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