Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Ankur - 2nd 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 BAnkur, Second 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 Ankur on copy paper, and unlike much of my work, I did this drawing all in one go--no extra sheets for the background drawing, just a quick digital color blocking pass after drawing.
On the Adana Tapestry, Ankur is shown with a scale mail pattern on his clothes--and instead of making regular metal armor, I decided to go with a pinecone seed look––something a rugged outdoors mouse sourced and assembled himself. The stitching on the helm and the eyepatch also suggest an worn existence. The other theme of this piece was to do a Winter scene.

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.

Knowing the snow would be atop every branch, I decided to inking in the bottom area with some dense texture to give contrast. I also avoided bringing the background line art right against the flame of the torch or the numeral '2' to help in the next step as well as give some depth of field.

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 The snow, the flame, and the number 2.

Most of the colors were either plucked from the Adana Tapestry or established in my rough layout

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.

I added the falling snow snow and the torch glow effects on separate layers 

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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