Celanawe's distant kin, caller to action, and companion on the quest of the Black Axe (not to mention ancestor of Farrer, forger of the Black Axe itself) Em of Appleloft is the subject of a new 5X7 print (matted to 8" x 10") I'll be offering at conventions and in my online store. Em joins a portrait series that also includes: Saxon, Sadie, Gwendolyn, Kenzie, Rand, Lieam, and Conrad. 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).
The first sketch of Em, I didn't care for so much (top left sketch). Nothing major was off, just lots of little somethings. On a lightbox, I redrew her, tweaking things as I went, adjusting her head angle and drape of her dress (bottom right). As she's from Appleloft, I decided to have her amongst the namesake fruit of that village. The stock photo reference was gathered (top right), cropped and amended, and then drawn onto copy paper on a light pad (bottom left).
Th emain motifs for Em was to make her wise and studious, carrying her notes and illuminations concerning the Black Axe history and lore while holding a feather quill to associate in her connection to birds.
The various drawings above were scanned in and assembled into a finished layout. The figure drawing scan is all tinted warm and the background cool. This helped me to make sense of the lines not only as I assembled this, but in the next step as I inked, helping me distinguish forms from one another. For similar reasons, I added in the color tones for the whole piece to help me start to solve any tangents or light on light or dark on dark areas that may not help the figure to separate from the background.
The above layout was printed out on copy paper and then taped to a back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol. On a light pad, I can see through the bristol to the printout and use it as a guide as I ink. For pens, I use Copic Multiliner SPs. The SP version has replaceable nibs and ink cartridges. I used the 0.7 nib for this exclusively I believe.
Knowing tone & value information from the layout, I was careful about where and how much texture I put into things like the leaves and branches.
When the inks were scanned, I flatted the colors in preparation for the final colors. This process is like a coloring book for professionals: 'stay inside the lines'. Here I'm putting in flat color where it belongs, establishing that her dress color is different than her hood or her fur, or her inner ear. I've also established some color-holds (areas where I want the ink lines as a color rather than black): her dress & sash pattern, the book cover details, and the spots on the apples.
The final step is the color rendering. I use the dodge and burn tools with a stock textured brush to do all the shading and highlighting. There are a few settings in Photoshop for dodge and burn to take note of for how I get the colors the way I want them, most importantly the 'range', which not only controls what values are effected the quickest/most by the tool, but also if it saturates or desaturates to get there.
To the right you can see the finished print for Em of Appleloft.
And you can purchase the print from my online store:
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
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