Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Bardrick-1st of the Black Axe Wielders

For a new 10 piece print set, I illustrated all of the past wielders of the Black Axe from Bardrick to Celanawe. I'd shown and listed the wielders in the Black Axe book--but they were only ever visualized as embroidery details on the Adana Tapestry––and I wanted to give them a more solid design existence. The set of ten 4.75" x 4.75" prints is available for sale in my online store and comes in a vellum envelope:

To the left you can see the finished art for the Bardrick, First of the Black Axes print in the set. Below I'm going to go through the process to create the art.

I started with a pencil drawing of Bardrick himself on copy paper, and then added another sheet of paper on top of it on a light box for the snake skeleton environment. I scanned both sheets into Photoshop (tinted them to make viewing them easier) and added some basic color blocking as well as a quick medieval tent.
With Bardrick being the fist I wanted him to be battle worn, so he has a tattered cloak which is stitched together in places. The helmet is the one I'd shown in the illuminated illustrations from Fall. And since one of the Black Axe's first mythic deeds was to have 'slain the five serpents who surrounded all that was' I though the snake bones as well as a tent that I thought implied a arduous campaign against the serpents.

I printed out the above layout when I was happy with the arrangement and taped that printout to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol. On my Huion Lightpad I'm able to see through the bristol to the the printout to use it as a guide to ink from. I ink with Copic Multiliner SP pens, and I used the 0.7 & 0.3 nibs for this piece.

I had to be careful with the density of the ground covering so that the snake skeleton could still be seen. I also made sure I left a little white gap between the background details and Bardrick--this helps me coloring in the next step, but also gives some visual separation in the planes of depth. 

Color Flats:
When the inks were done, I scanned the art and brought it back into Photoshop to start the coloring process. This is the step where I 'm basically just filling in each area with flat color. In this step I also establish the color holds, areas where I want the ink work to be a color other than black. In this piece that consists of all the tent lineart and the numeral '1'. That 1 is a runic numbering I stole from artist Jeremy Treece which is a large 1 with a smaller roman numerals coming off the right side--in this case, just another 1.

Final Colors:
The final colors were rendered by using the dodge and burn tools in Photoshop (and a textured brush) to add shadows, highlights, and textures. I select areas and play with the color balance to shift colors in some areas.

The entire 10 piece print set is available in my online store: https://mouseguard.bigcartel.com/product/wielders-of-the-black-axe-print-set

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