Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Mice Gardening Radishes

Last year I did an online event called OnlineCon where I opened up a list for inked commissions. It's not often that I offer fully inked commissions like this any more, but I was open to the idea of making fans happy in troubled times, supplement my income with conventions responsibly canceled, and to generate material for an upcoming Mouse Guard sketchbook.

To the left you can see one of those pieces finished and colored ready for a page in that sketchbook––and in this blogpost I'll break down the process to get there.

The person commissioning this piece asked for two mice gardening together. It was something that he and his wife found solace in during the pandemic. I sketched out each character separately on copy paper (as well as a cart carrying radishes). Those drawings were then scanned and assembled in Photoshop until I had a composition that I liked. To flesh out the setting a bit more I quickly digitally painted in some background foliage. 

I inked the piece with a printout of the above layout taped to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol. On my Huion lightpad I can see through the bristol down to the pencils and use them as a guide while I ink. I used Copic Multiliner SP pens (the 0.7 & 0.3 nibs) to ink this as I streamed on Twitch, answering fans questions as I worked.

To help with the depth, I left a white gap between the inks of the figures and the background. This also helped when I was dealing with the color holds in the next step.

When the inks were finished, I started the color flatting (the first step of digital coloring where you establish all the color spaces with flat color). I also added all my color holds at this stage. Color holds are areas where I want the ink lines to be a color other than black, like the background and the dripping water. 

I actually did three different holds for the various depths of the background...the closest and darkest version was for the mouse with the watering can, then a slightly lighter one for the cart & vegetation behind him, and the lightest for the furthest leaves and plants.

Below you can see the final colors all rendered withe the Dodge and Burn tools and ready for inclusion in the sketchbook I'll release this year.

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