Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Mouse Guard Canoe and the Heron Process

I've released a new Mouse Guard sketchbook titled 'Dawn, Daye, & Dusk'. It can be found in my online store: https://mouseguard.bigcartel.com/

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 Canoe Mouse 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 wanted to do a piece of a mouse in a canoe, and after an image search for 'canoeing at dawn' I found this painting titled Hunters In A Canoe By Philip R. Goodwin. Goodwin's painting had an interesting angle to the action, and while I wanted to depict a single Guardmouse on the adventure, it gave me a steady foundation to work from.

I also found a photo of a traditional handmade birch bark canoe built by Henri Vaillancourt as reference for my mouse boat.

I drew the pencils for this in two passes. The first was of the mouse and canoe. The other was a background drawing of the stream, shore, and far off visitor. I wanted the mouse's mission to have meaning, so I loaded up his vessel with some packed goods (food & medicine perhaps?) and towing some barrels.

I added a dry leaf tied to the stern almost like a flag. And instead of the Moose in Goodwin's painting, I added a Heron––which in Mouse Guard is also a constellation used for navigation.

With the pencils combined in Photoshop, I printed them out on copy paper and taped them to the back of a sheet of 300 series Strathmore Bristol. I could use the printout like pencil lines to ink from by placing the piece on my lightpad, which allows me to see through the surface of the bristol. I used Copic Multiliner SP pens to do the inking. Because I knew depth was going to be important in this piece, I didn't connect any of the background ink lines to the mouse or canoe. This made the next step in color easier.

Flat Colors:
I scanned in the inks and started the coloring process––which was in this case almost as much about flatting colors in as it was establishing color holds. Flatting colors is just establishing with flat colors where every color starts and stops, a grownup version of coloring in the lines. Color Holds are ares that I need to isolate and paint so that they are a color other than black. In this piece, the birch bark, the canoe painted design, the leaf's veins, the water, the  nearer shore and the further shore and Heron are all separate color holds.

Final Colors:
The final colors were achieved by using the Dodge and Burn tools in Photoshop to work in specific light and shadow when rendering the piece. I use a stock brush in Photoshop that also adds that lightly pebbled texture.


Brendan Murphy said...

So good, it makes me feel warm inside just looking at it.

Tatiana Rigato said...

I loved to see this process! Great illustration, the kind that hooks you to the point that you can feel your own back bending because you are there, with the character, and you have to hide from view as well.

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