Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Rosard Mouse Print Process


*NOTE: THIS WAS WRITTEN PRIOR TO DISNEY CANCELING THE MOVIE AT FOX––WE ARE STILL EXPLORING ALL OPTIONS TO BRING THE MICE OF MOUSE GUARD TO LIFE*

When the Mouse Guard Movie was given a full green light from FOX, Stephen Christy and Ross Richie came to Michigan to deliver the good news, deliver the payment, and celebrate with a meal. As a thank you for their work on Mouse Guard as a book series and on the Movie (they are involved both in publishing at BOOM! and producers on the film at the FOX lot) I drew them each as a Guardmouse and gave them the original inked piece.

To the left you can see the finished colored version of 'Rosard' that I've released as a print available in my online store: mouseguard.bigcartel.com



Ross Richie is head of BOOM! Studios who acquired Archaia several years ago. But even before that, Ross had always been in my and Mouse Guard's corner. Early on he'd shared with me his appreciation for my book and hired me to do covers for BOOM! titles. When Archaia had hit some hard times, he mentioned to me, with no pressure or hard sell, that if things got bad, and I ever needed a new home for Mouse Guard, he was there for me. It was BOOM!'s deal with FOX that made the movie possible (and under the favorable terms for me). He's made a lot of things possible for me and Mouse Guard.



So, how to interpret Ross as a mouse? Well, I thought of Ross as firstly a guy who needed a weapon whose sound effect would go 'BOOM!'. Ross' personality is a big presence. It's not overwhelming, or oppressive, but it has a mass to it. I wanted to add that volume to his mouse's cloak, his oversized warhammer, and a story told in his fur and his scars.

The name Rosard comes from the origin spelling of the name Ross ('Ros') and the pronunciation of the Scottish Gaelic for 'Hammer' ('√≤rd' pronounced 'Ard'). I drew the Ross-mouse and the swirly patterned stones on one sheet of copy paper, scanned it in to Photoshop to resize it for the final artwork-size.



With the layout assembled and printed on to copy paper, I started inking it. I taped the printout to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol. On my Huion lightpad, I can see through the surface of the bristol to the printout below and use that as a guide to ink from. For pens I used my trusty Copic Multiliner SPs...primarily the 0.7 nib that I like so much.

It would have been easy to get carried away with the textures of the scarred mouse, his fur cloak, well-used front sash, hammer details, and stone background...but I tried to restrain myself and leave room for color.



I scanned the inks and started to lay in flat colors as well as establish the few color holds (areas where I want the ink lines to be a color other than black) on his scars

Ross' colors weren't as easy to pin-down as other human-to-guardmice-inspirations. I think of some of Ross' tenacity and directness to be in the red-family for cloak colors...but I opted to make that the front accent panel color and leave his fur and cloak more in a natural cream and brown tone-range. The hammer also had to be seen...it needs to do some of its job before it's even swung...so I went with a brassy tone for that.



The last step was to render the colors by adding light and shadow as well as texture using the Dodge and Burn tools in Photoshop with a stock textured brush. I did some color adjustments from the flat colors, punching up the fungus color to be a bit more vivid.


I've told Ross that his mouse 'Rosard' may make it into the Weasel War as a casualty...and to not take that personally. It doesn't mean there aren't stories to tell about that mouse earlier in his life...

You can buy a print of Rosard in my online store: mouseguard.bigcartel.com


2019 Appearances
Heroes Con June 14-16
San Diego Comic Con July 17-21
GenCon August 1-4
New York Comic Con October 3-6
Baltimore Comic Con October 18-20
The Fantastic Workshop Nov. 13-18

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Stjepan Mouse Print Process


*NOTE: THIS WAS WRITTEN PRIOR TO DISNEY CANCELING THE MOVIE AT FOX––WE ARE STILL EXPLORING ALL OPTIONS TO BRING THE MICE OF MOUSE GUARD TO LIFE*

Back when the Mouse Guard Movie was given a full green light from FOX, Stephen Christy and Ross Richie came to Michigan to deliver the good news, deliver the payment, and celebrate with a meal. As a thank you for their work on Mouse Guard as a book series and on the Movie (they are involved both in publishing at BOOM! and producers on the film at the FOX lot) I drew them each as a Guardmouse and gave them the original inked piece.

To the left you can see the finished colored version of 'Stjepan' that I've released as a print available in my online store: mouseguard.bigcartel.com


Stephen Christy joined Archaia after a troubled time where due to a partner leaving and other complications, the publisher was bankrupt and unable to publish comics. Until a new owner bought the company and had Stephen as his right-hand-man. Stephen essentially worked on the re-launch from his dining room table in Chicago (this is when Archaia had been in Fort Lee, NJ and before the official move to LA). Stephen has also been there for every incarnation of Mouse Guard being approached, pitched, and *nearly* sold as a movie prior to FOX and has been instrumental in shepherding it this time.




So, how to interpret Stephen as a mouse? Well, I think of Stephen as having an elegance about him. For that reason I kept his fur simple and I wanted his cloak to have detail. Trim and perhaps an insignia. And for a weapon, he's have something more like an epee or saber fencing sword.

I drew the Stephen-mouse on one sheet of copy paper, and the tree-trunk with mushroom fungus on another and then assembled the parts in Photoshop (tinting the background a different color to help me visualize it). The thistle was also inserted digitally from a clip-art sheet of insignias (I suppose that means he's either from or has valiantly served Thistledown--the same town where Gwendolyn is from).


With the layout assembled and printed on to copy paper, I can start inking it. I taped the printout to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol. On my Huion lightpad, I can see through the surface of the bristol to the printout below and use that as a guide to ink from. For pens I used my trusty Copic Multiliner SPs...primarily the 0.7 nib that I like so much.

To make sure I could separate the background lines of the forest floor, I left a white gap between the foreground inks and the sticks on the ground. That not only helps visually separate them, but also makes it easier in the next step when I have to establish the color holds.


I scanned the inks and started to lay in flat colors as well as establish all the color holds (areas where I want the ink lines to be a color other than black) on the cloak details and the background floor.

Stephen's colors came to me very quickly: Brown fur, and a royal blue cloak. There is an elegance to that color that fits what I was going for, but beyond that I just associate Stephen with the color blue, so it was a natural fit. The mushrooms then get into an orangey-tan to compliment the wardrobe hues.


The last step was to render the colors by adding light and shadow as well as texture using the Dodge and Burn tools in Photoshop with a stock textured brush. I did some color adjustments from the flat colors, punching up the fungus color to be a bit more vivid.

I've told Stephen that his mouse 'Stjepan' may make it into the Weasel War as a casualty...and to not take that personally. It doesn't mean there aren't stories to tell about that mouse earlier in his life...

You can buy a print of Stjepan in my online store: mouseguard.bigcartel.com


2019 Appearances
Heroes Con June 14-16
San Diego Comic Con July 17-21
GenCon August 1-4
New York Comic Con October 3-6
Baltimore Comic Con October 18-20
The Fantastic Workshop Nov. 13-18

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Celanawe Print Process

To have a new character print for my 2019 conventions and appearances, as well as to round out the main cast of Mouse Guard character prints, I've created a print of Celanawe (aka The Black Axe). To the left you can see the finished artwork, but for this blogpost I'll be sharing the art steps for how I got there in the post below.


Before the step-by-step though, the print is available for purchase in my online store: mouseguard.bigcartel.com




I started with a drawing of Celanawe on copy paper (right). I didn't have a clear picture in my head of where to put him in terms of a setting...mossy rocks, ferny undergrowth, something else entirely? So I scanned the character drawing and did a quick digital painting of fern-like plants surrounding the oldfur (not pictured). Using a printout of that digital painting as a guide, I penciled on a lightbox linework for the flora. The patterns of the leaf shapes in the foreground (bottom) were getting a bit too repetitive to also use as the background shapes, so I used a new sheet of copy paper to draw out a broader leaf that felt like it was from the same family.


With all those pencil drawings done, I was able to composite together a digital layout for the print. I blocked in the color on Celanawe so I could see him as a mass, and also to make it easier to paint in the leaf shapes behind him. The colors help me see when I'm inking what area is what item so that I can get their contours right but also so I can add texture in the right places.

This is a little overboard for a 'layout', and some fans who watched the process on Twitch pointed out that this almost looks finished as a piece in it's own right...


But I like inked lines, and that's what you all know Mouse Guard to be. So, with the above layout printed and taped to the back of a sheet of Strathmore Bristol 300, I started inking on my Huion lightpad with Copic Multiliner SP pens (the 0.7 for everything but around the eyes where I used a 0.3).

I streamed this part on Twitch as I built up my line weights, added texture, and tried to make sense of those lacy ferns.



The step after the inks are finished is scan them and start to add color. This part is all about flat color, no rendered effects, no shading, just establishing which parts are which colors. Since I'd done some color work on my layout, some of the color selection was already done, it was just a matter of carefully getting the new color layers to meet up with (and stay within the lines of) the inked drawing. At this stage I also established the few color holds (places where I want the ink line to be a color other than black)––in this case the cut on Celanawe's nose, the bowl opening of his pipe, and a little detail on the Ladybug shell where the white dot meets the red.


The last step was to render all the colors adding light and shadow as well as texture. I do most of that with the Dodge and Burn tools in Photoshop and a stock textured brush.

Another effect was I made a trail of my thumbprints on copy paper and a roller ball pen and scanned that pattern as the smoke trailing from Celanawe's pipe. I treated the thumbprints like a color hold on a separate layer where I could control the opacity over the existing scenery.



You can purchase this print (along with most of the other Mouse Guard characters) at my upcoming convention appearances as well as in my online store: mouseguard.bigcartel.com



2019 Convention Appearances

Heroes Con June 14-16
San Diego Comic Con July 17-21
New York Comic Con October 3-6
Baltimore Comic Con October 18-20

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Beneath the Dark Crystal #10 Cover Process

Here is my tenth variant cover for Archaia's Beneath the Dark Crystal series!


This cover, the last in the run to feature Mystics and skeksis, is of UrSu the Wisest of the Mystics and skekSo the Emperor of the Skeksis. Like my other covers these two are the counterparts of each other and paired together facing opposite directions. To the left you can see the finished artwork for the cover, but below I'll walk through the steps I took to to get there.



I'll start by saying that the challenge of this cover was that there was no official design for skekSo the Emperor in full skeksis garb. In the film he's bedridden and dying. My editor and I asked Henson for any chance of possible past Froud sketches or even perhaps any insight if skekSo is in the new Netflix prequel series, but they were only able to provide me with photos of the puppet used in the original film and some nice images of his bedchambers to draw inspiration from. So I set out to design The Emperor's costume myself.

Like all the past covers, I drew each character on separate sheets of copy paper. For the Emperor, I tried to use some of his blankets, wall hangings, and tasseled chords to drape him in. I also noticed in the run of drawing these covers that skeksis tend to have some carapace from some beast on Thra as part of their adornment––so I gave him a Crystal Bat collar with the crystal eye acting like an all-seeing 3rd eye for the ruler of those wretched cruel creatures. On his back I attempted to draw something resembling a Landstrider skull, but I'm not sure if I really did that so well.

The Wisest of the Mystics was fairly straight forward as a drawing in comparison, and when the two were drawn, I scanned them and tinted them each a different color when laying them out for the composition to help me see them better.

My editors and I waited, a little worried about the approvals on this one. The others were so inline with the original designs, that I took few liberties (other than trying to work out and interpret details of the costumes)––but here I 'd completely made up the visuals for a main character's look. We all breathed a big sigh of relief when Henson approved.

I printed out the above layout and taped it to the back of a sheet of Strathmore bristol to start inking it on a lightpad with Copic Multiliner pens.

In terms of ink details, I do think this one got a bit more texture than most of the other covers as I tried to help the viewer's eye (as well as my own) understand where fabrics and materials changed as they overlapped and draped the characters.


When the inks were approved, I started on flatting the colors. This is the step where I add flat colors, not worried about the texture and rendering and lighting effects of them, to the characters to establish what parts of the image are which colors.

The biggest challenge here was that I had very little to go on for what the Emperor's color palate would be. I opted to make him a bit darker than I think most of the bedchamber & puppet reference was to make this skeksis the most terrifying looking of them all.




The last step was to render all the colors adding highlights and shadows and texture with the dodge and burn tools in Photoshop while using a textured brush.

This cover marks a transition in the run. I still have two covers to go in the series, but this is the last cover to feature skeksis and mystics, and it was the last cover my Mouse Guard & Dark Crystal editor Cameron Chittock worked on with me before he moved on to a new path with his wife (another former Mouse Guard editor) as they start a new chapter in Boston.

2 covers left to go...time for some gelflings...


2019 Convention Appearances

Emerald City Comic Con March 14-17
Heroes Con June 14-16
San Diego Comic Con July 17-21
New York Comic Con October 3-6
Baltimore Comic Con October 18-20

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

2019 German Print Process


A few weeks ago on the return leg of my trip to Finland (my niece is an exchange student there) I did a signing at T3 in Frankfurt, Germany.
It was great to be back in Europe doing Mouse Guard promotion and getting to meet with fans from overseas.

The shop asked me to create a Mouse Guard print that we could sell and I could sign at the event.

To the left you can see the finished piece, but below I'll go through the steps to get there...



Back in 2007 I visited Berlin, Germany on a signing tour. For that appearance I was asked to create a limited print (hopefully with a German theme since I'd done something similar with aUK theme for an appearance there that same year). Here is that print, with a Germanic armored mouse with the heraldry of the black eagle and the German flag behind him.

I went back to this piece as the inspiration for the new one.



On a sheet of copy paper, I drew the same mouse, this time with his helmet removed and his body language more humble and reverent. It was fun to go back and rework a design from over a decade ago...to pay homage and make slight alterations in proportions, detail, and texture.  The eagle was drawn on a separate sheet of copy paper as I referenced a traditional image of a heraldic German black eagle. In place of the tiny details on the shield in the photo reference I substituted the colors of the German flag.

All of this was scanned and digitally assembled in Photoshop at the proper sizing for the finished print.

I printed the above digital composite of the sketches onto copy paper and then taped to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol.

Using a light pad, I was able to see through the surface of the bristol to the printout underneath to use it as a guide as I inked. To ink the piece I used Copic Multiliner SP pens (the 0.7 nib almost exclusively).

Knowing I was going to use a color hold on the eagle and heraldry, I tried to make sure I left a gap between the inks on those elements and the mouse himself.

After the inks were finished I scanned them into Photoshop. The first step in the coloring process is called 'flatting' because it deals with laying in flat colors to all of the image, establishing what areas are what colors (his fur is orange, the eagle is a grey-brown, the sky is cream, etc...) Most of those colors were already established by the previous print from 2007, but there were still tonal changes to be made.

This is also the step where I established all the color holds (areas I want the ink work to be a painted color other than black) on the eagle, his halo, the flag stripes, and the axe details.



The final step was to do the rendering an adding texture. I did that using a textured brush in Photoshop and the Dodge and Burn tools. The final piece got golor shifted a bit warmer than the flats in the end, and I added 'Mouse Guard' to the bottom for the final print.


Didn't make it to Frankfurt for the signing and you'd like to own one of these prints? Well, GOOD NEWS! I have a limited supply of them in my online store for sale currently:
mouseguard.bigcartel.com



2019 Convention Appearances

Heroes Con June 14-16
San Diego Comic Con July 17-21
New York Comic Con October 3-6
Baltimore Comic Con October 18-20

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Creator Commentary Winter #6

I've made a Creator Commentary video for the sixth and final issue/chapter of Mouse Guard Winter 1152!  Please feel free to follow along in your copy of the story in either issue form of from the hardcover as I talk about the behind the scenes details, art notes, and my head-space as I go page by page and panel by panel. Enjoy!




Direct link to watch on YouTube: https://youtu.be/0wemdt7zNTY



2019 Convention Appearances

Heroes Con June 14-16
New York Comic Con October 3-6
Baltimore Comic Con October 18-20

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Mouse Guard Movie Casting!

There has been a lot of news coming out about the Mouse Guard movie being made at FOX by director Wes Ball recently. The cast will all be giving motion capture performances with WETA doing the Visual Effects with filming due to start next month. And speaking of the cast, here is a run-down (incase you missed any of these announcements) of the actors playing the mice:

Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Lieam


Idris Elba as Celanawe


Sonoya Mizuno as Sadie


Jack Whitehall as Kenzie


Samson Kayo as Saxon


Giancarlo Esposito as Conrad



and Andy Serkis as Midnight






2019 Convention Appearances

Heroes Con June 14-16
San Diego Comic Con July 17-21
New York Comic Con October 3-6
Baltimore Comic Con October 18-20

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Gabcroon Recipie

In the hardcover extras of Fall 1152, I mentioned "A dense bread filled with seeds, fruits, and nuts." and I called it 'Gabcroon' (an anagram of a blondie-like desert bar my Grandmother called Congo Bars). I'd always imagined there would be variations of Gabcroon, but the version I'd always wanted to eat was something a bit more like a scone than a loaf of bread...and it would be packed with the fruits, seeds, and nuts to the point of almost being unable to keep it's form.

Several fans have shared with me their own recipes for Gabcroon over the years...




But last year at Heroes Con a fan named Rhomni St. John stopped by my table cosplaying as Sienna with a bee and offered me a few of her home-baked Gabcroon with a little vial of honey.

And they were delicious! I reached out to Rhomni about getting her recipe and she was kind enough to share it. Below are the ingredients and instructions for her version of Gabcroon:










Do you have a Gabcroon recipe of your own? Please share your results of this or your own recipe and I'll do a follow-up blogpost with the results!







2019 Convention Appearances

Emerald City Comic Con March 14-17
Heroes Con June 14-16
San Diego Comic Con July 17-21
New York Comic Con October 3-6
Baltimore Comic Con October 18-20

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Mouse Guard Sketchbook: 'Legends'

The new Mouse Guard sketchbook entitled 'Legends' is out and now available in my online store! This 24 page color sketchbook includes my homages to twenty eight of the Legends of the Guard stories told by the talented artists & writers who spanned 3 volumes of the anthology series.

Moving forward with my Mouse Guard sketchbooks I'll be not releasing them based on a calendar year, but themed, like this one, whenever I have enough content to do so. (I already have my next theme in-mind) Below you can see some interior pages with my homages to Dustin Nguyen, Hannah Lavender, Mark Buckingham, & Terry Moore:


Homage to Dustin Nguyen's tale 'The Fallen'


Homage to Hannah Lavender's tale 'The Armor Maker'


Homage to Mark Buckingham's tale 'The Gossling & The Ghost"


Homage to Terry Moore's tale 'The Shrike & The Toad'


In a few past blogposts I've shown other pieces for 

Sean Rubin & Alex Kain
Eric Canete
Jemma Salume
Charles Paul Wilson III
& Alex Sheikman

click here to view those:


And

Jeremy Bastian
Guy Davis
Cory Godbey
Nate Pride
Christian Slade
Jackson Sze
Ramon Perez
& Ryan Lang

click here to view those:

------------------------------------

Several of the original inked pieces are currently available in my online store: 






2019 Convention Appearances

Emerald City Comic Con March 14-17
Heroes Con June 14-16
San Diego Comic Con July 17-21
New York Comic Con October 3-6
Baltimore Comic Con October 18-20

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Beneath the Dark Crystal #9 Cover Process

Here is my ninth variant cover for Archaia's Beneath the Dark Crystal series!


This cover features UrAmaj the Mystic Cook and skekAyuk the Skeksis Gourmand. Like my other covers these two are the counterparts of each other and paired together facing opposite directions. To the left you can see the finished artwork for the cover, but below I'll walk through the steps I took to to get there.



The first step was to draw each character in profile. I draw the characters on separate pieces of copy paper to help me arrange, position and re-size them into an overall composition. I was able to use reference photos from the original production from Henson to help me figure out all the details on the characters and their costumes. When I scanned the drawings into photoshop, I tinted each drawing a different color to help me see where one character ended and the next began.

The background circle pattern is my redrawing of a Brian Froud design found in the World of the Dark Crystal art book.


Henson and Archaia had to approve the above layout before I could start inking the cover. Luckily, they've both been great about green-lighting my Dark Crystal work so-far (knock on wood for the rest of the cover run). When the approval came through, I printed out the above layout onto copy paper, and then taped it to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol.
On a lightpad I can ink on the surface of the bristol while still being able to see the layout underneath.

I used Copic Multiliner pens to do the inks focusing on how to play with line size and texture to get all those costume and fabric details to still read to the viewer's eye.


After the inks were approved I scanned them and started the coloring process known as 'flatting'. This is where flat colors are drawn in digitally to establish what areas of the image and the figures are which colors. A lot of the color choices were established by the reference photos, but I still handpicked the colors so that I could make some hue and value choices to get a better cohesive palate for the cover as a whole.


I only needed to establish one color hold (where I want the inkwork to be a color other than black) on this piece, and that was for the background pattern.



The final step was to render the colors using the dodge and burn tools (and a stock photoshop brush that adds texture) to add highlights, shadows, and texture to the colors.

At this stage I also dropped in another Froud-design that I inked as a ghostly overlay like the other covers in this series.

With this cover done, that leaves 3 to go!




2019 Convention Appearances
(more may be announced)

Emerald City Comic Con March 14-17
Heroes Con June 14-16
San Diego Comic Con July 17-21
New York Comic Con October 3-6
Baltimore Comic Con October 18-20

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