Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Mouse Guard 'Snapping Turtle' Process

Later this month I'll be releasing a new Mouse Guard sketchbook titled 'Dawn, Daye, & Dusk'. I've created new pieces for almost the entire contents of the collection––mostly themed on trying to get certain lighting effects in to show time of day.

This Snapping Turtle piece to the left is a finished piece for that collection. And below I'm going to go through the process steps to create the art.

I started with wanting to be sure I had a few pieces for this collection with some kind of predator or threat. And it had been a while since I'd drawn a turtle that way in Mouse Guard (not since the 2011 Free Comic Book Day story that was later collected as the prologue for Black Axe). I found this photo of a snapping turtle and pretty faithfully used it as my jumping off point.

And using a lightpad I pretty literally drew the snapping turtle with the photo underneath to use for details & proportions. I did have to make some adjustments and line decisions, especially interpreting the back shell and repositioning the legs and feet. And since this is a Mouse Guard piece, I also had to draw some mice. I did that on separate sheets of paper––one a Guardmouse protecting the other, a mouse drawing water.

With those drawing scanned into photoshop, I could make edits and adjustments until I found the positions I liked for each character. To help me see each form, as well as help define the landscape I'd neglected to draw in the pencils drawings, I did a quick digital color job to rough in the shapes of water and grass.

I may have gone a bit overboard on the 'quick' digital coloring mock up--but having the landscape defined this way helped me in the next step defining the inking values.

I printed out the above digital layout on standard copy paper and taped that to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series Bristol. On my lightpad I was able to see through the surface of the bristol down to the printout to use as a guide to ink from. I used Copic Multiliner SP pens (I think I only used the 0.7 and 0.3 nibs on this one).

As I said above, having the digital color reference for the light and dark areas on the stones helped me as I stippled all that rock and stone texture.

Flat Colors:
With the inks completed and scanned back into Photoshop, I started on the coloring process. I used my colors from the mock-up as a starting point as I flatted in the base colors. This process is called 'flatting since all the colors are just that––flat colors with no texture or shading. It's just a way to establish where the various colors start and stop.

I also added a color hold at this stage on the grass and the water and some of the turtle's details. A color hold is where I want the ink work to be isolated and painted a color other than black.

Final colors:
The last step was to do all the rendering and adding light and shadow and texture to the piece. I do this almost entirely with the Dodge and Burn tools in Photoshop while using a stock texture brush.
I like that this piece has a narrative to it. When doing the layout I opted to rough in a clutch of eggs to show the turtle's motivations, and at the inking stage I put in a broken bow and a few arrows in the turtle's face. With just those little elements this single image tells several moments from before this tense snapshot of a Guardmouse's life.


Joker475 said...

Thank you.

Little Thumb Garden & Kitchen said...

Hi David, I first came across your work on society 6. I am so in love with your gnomes, I am thinking of getting my first tattoo after/done in the style of your gnome artwork! I am enjoying your Mouse Guard work as well. Glad someone out there is keeping magic alive. ✨

Joker475 said...

Hey little thumb garden what gnome would u get as a tattoo? Also 100 percent agree with you about David and his amazing work.

Little Thumb Garden & Kitchen said...

Hi Joker457! I really admire his "gnome on the run," as well as "resting with cardinal." Really just his entire pen and ink style is awesome (I'm not sure if I would stick to b/w or do color/elements of color). I'm playing around with the idea of a gnome/tea inspired tattoo(s?), doing a sort of artistic pairing on the top of my feet. So definitely a gnome, a teacup, garden/nature elements. Possibly a tea pot. Potential details may include snail, ladybug, mushroom, peacock moss. I have a lot of varied ideas on how I would potentially want the gnome to be engaged with the teacup or teapot!

Joker475 said...

Hi, sounds amazing such great ideas. Little thumb are you a landscaper? I hope ur tattoos come out great take care.

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