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

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