Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Rand Commission Art Process

Earlier this year I took on some inked commissions (something I rarely do anymore) as part of my August 2020 OnlineCon. One fan requested the Guardmouse Rand around the era of the Weasel War. In addition to inking the piece and sending it off to the commissioner, I've been coloring these pieces with the idea that they will eventually end up in a sketchbook or something similar. 

To the left you can see the finished colored piece, but below I'll run through the art process for creating it.

I started with a drawing of Rand, the Guardmouse with the copper shield, that I did on copy paper. All I was after was a cool pose. Then I decided that to signify this being around the time of the Weasel War, I should add a dead weasel for timeline-reference...but a weasel skeleton was something I thought looked infinitely cooler than just a deceased mustelid. I drew the weasel bones with the armor and clothes on a separate sheet of copy paper and after scanning both drawings and adding some quick digital color to block in shapes I was able to cobble together a composition. I have a visual association of Rand and dandelions, so those became a very easy and quick background element.

I printed out the above layout composition and taped it to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol. On my Huion lightpad I was able to see through the surface of the bristol to use the printout as a guide to ink by. I used Copic Miltiliner SP pens (primarily the 0.7 nib) to ink in the lines. It's in this step that I'm concerned with line weights, textures, spot of black and detail that isn't in the pencils. If memory serves, I inked this all on my Twitch stream as fans watched and asked questions. The inked art was then carefully packaged and shipped to its new owner.

But before the piece was shipped off, I got a high quality scan of it so I could use the art for my own purposes down the line––sketchbook or something. The coloring process starts with painting in all the areas with basic flat colors, establishing what parts are which colors. It's not necessary that everything be the same color as what will appear in the final, but just making the different color areas very easy to re-isolate during the final rendering process. At this step I also painted in a color hold (an area where I want the inkwork be be a color other than black) on the background and the pattern on Rand's shield. 

The last step is to render all the color––to add highlight, shadow, and texture. I do this mostly using the Dodge and Burn tools in Photoshop while using a stock textured brush. 

In my most recent sketchbook, Dawn, Daye, & Dusk I played a lot with lighting effects for different times of day––and I think it carried over into this new piece where I have more sun and lighting effects than I have in the past.

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