Tuesday, February 26, 2019

2019 Mouse Guard Bookplate Process

Every year since 2012 I've been creating a Mouse Guard bookplate (at the bottom of the post you can see other past year's bookplates and links to blogposts about them). The idea is that, with these signed by me, even if you can't bring me your physical copy of a Mouse Guard book, this bookplate can be glued in making your copy signed.

I'll have the bookplate at my 2018 conventions and in my online store soon after Emerald City Comic Con. For this blogpost, I wanted to go through the process to create the bookplate image.

For this year's Bookplate I took an unfinished drawing of a mouse playing a lute and tightened up the linework by tracing over the old piece on a light pad. I then did a quick color study in Photoshop, and added in medieval sheet music and the Mouse Guard shield emblem (soon to be an enamel pin!).

But as each year's bookplate art is created in some alternate medium like woodcut, stained glass, embroidery, etc (whether done in real life or digitally synthesized), I needed to do something unique with this piece. And I decided to paint it in gouache!.

I have to give a HUGE thanks to Tony DiTerlizzi for inspiring me to do this, as well as generously giving me his time and information over a phone call where he walked me through materials, tricks, techniques, and pitfalls (we also got to talk D&D and golden-age illustrators). Below are the steps I followed:

Using my lightpad, I transferred the drawing in a dark brown color pencil to Strathmore 4-ply smooth bristol board. More than just trace the outlines, I added a bit of tone and sketch texture...but not too much (My first attempt at this piece ended up in me tearing up the painting partly because I'd overworked the color pencil drawing at this stage)

I then mixed up a very wet and milky wash of unbleached titanium white acrylic paint to coat the drawing. This makes the working area all a little bit more parchment colored and gives a tonal base to work off of, much like when I work on toned paper. It also seals in the color pencil and gives the acryla-gouache something to bite onto.

With various mixes of browns, blacks, and blue, I mixed up some tonal base colors to start putting in my overall value scheme for the piece. Because the gouache I was using was acrylic base, once this is dry, I can paint over it without worrying it will lift color and turn to mud when I do the next coat.

Working back to front, I got all the musical notes and the staff lines and the shield painted in their correct color scheme. With the reds and yellows out I also mixed up the skin tones for the paws, tail, nose, and ears.

I then kept building up my color tones and getting the values closer

I was getting very close here, and even stopped to take a break and come back to it with fresh eyes. And after I took this photo with my phone, I happened to do a quick filter on it to change it to b&w...and I could see where the dark values needed to be pushed further...

And finally the finished image scanned and signed.

Past year's bookplates & process blogposts:







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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