Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Conrad 5x7 Print Process

Conrad, the salty old peg-legged Guardmouse from Fall 1152 and The Black Axe, is the subject of a new 5X7 print (matted to 8" x 10") I'll be offering at conventions and in my online store. Conrad joins a portrait series that also includes: Saxon, Sadie, Gwendolyn, Kenzie, Rand, and Lieam.

To the left you can see the final artwork for the print, but below I walk through the process for creating this piece (which I also streamed LIVE several portions of on Twitch).

I started with a sketch of Conrad and a photo referenced location. The sketch is all in pencil on copy paper. I like to use copy paper because I don't feel precious about it, there is less at stake and so I'll feel more free to dig in to the drawing and worry less about mistakes. This isn't the final drawing and putting pencil on copy paper reinforces that in my head as I draw. I didn't put the XXX jug into the composition because I had the feeling I was going to move it around once I had everything in the size of the mat. The beach photo is one I took, setting the camera very low to get a mouse-eye-view at the beach in Ludington, Michigan.

I scanned the sketch into Photoshop and moved the jug into place. I also placed the photo behind it. Zooming in and shifting around, I was able to find a composition that I liked, where the horizon line felt right where the breaking wave had the most impact. I drew over the photo at this scale (printed out for reference) on copy paper on a light pad to define the shape of the breaking splash of the wave and the shape and placement of the rocks. Lining that drawing (tinted blue) with the Conrad sketch I had my final layout. Since the background photo was providing some color tone, I spotted in some flat colors for Conrad and the fish to help me visualize the finished piece as I worked.

A printed version of the above digital layout was taped to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol. On a light pad, I was able to see the printout as a guide and ink the lines confidently with Copic Multiliners (I think I only used the 0.7 nib here). Notice I didn't ink the water marks coming into contact with Conrad. That's in part to visually push the background back, but it's also so that on the next step my life is a bit easier...

That step is called 'flatting'. It's about establishing what areas are what colors, including the color holds (areas where I want the inkwork to be a color other than black).
There no worry about rendering here. Just flat color space. in this screenshot I've included my layer menu to show how I break down what colors go on what layers and where they fall in order above or below the inks layer (note the color holds are all above the inks and the image colors all are below).

I find that being able to click between layers to select what part of the piece you want to effect as you render is quicker than having the flats on one layer and using the magic-wand tool (a more common and popular method). To render this piece I used the dodge and burn tools in Photoshop and a stock textured brush.

To the right you can see the final results.
And you can purchase the matted print in my online store: http://mouseguard.bigcartel.com/product/conrad-matted-print

More of the 5x7" Mouse Guard character print process Blogposts:

Saxon Print: http://davidpetersen.blogspot.com/2015/04/5x7-saxon-print-process.html

Sadie Print: http://davidpetersen.blogspot.com/2016/04/sadie-5x7-print.html

Gwendolyn Print: http://davidpetersen.blogspot.com/2016/05/gwendolyn-print.html

Kenzie Print: http://davidpetersen.blogspot.com/2017/02/kenzie-5-x-7-print-process.html

Rand Print: http://davidpetersen.blogspot.com/2017/05/rand-5x7-print-process.html

Lieam Print: http://davidpetersen.blogspot.com/2017/07/lieam-5x7-print-process.html

2018 Appearances:

Heroes Con: June 15-17
San Diego Comic Con: July 18-22
Baltimore Comic Con: Sept. 28-30
New York Comic Con: Oct. 4-7

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