Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Celanawe - 10th 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 Celanawe, 10th of the Black Axes print in the set. Below I'm going to go through the process to create the art.

I wanted Celanawe's piece to feature wolves––which is a trick to include due to scale...either they are so far away that they are silhouettes, cropped to obscurity, or the mouse is so tiny they aren't a focus of the art any longer. So I had to cheat a bit with some foreshortening. I had a Celanawe already drawn and then I started placing in photo reference pics of various wolves until I found one that seemed like a believable composition. I then redrew the wolf from the reference, and added a bit of a rocky bit of coverage Celanawe can hide in. Some of the rock drawing is digital, but the wolf and Celanawe are drawn traditionally on copy paper and scanned into Photoshop and tinted for clarity.   

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 foreshortening and depth of field was going to be important, I left a white gap between the wolf inks and Celanawe, the plants, and rocks in the foreground. This way I could help sell that distance both here in the inks and in the next step.

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. The wolf and ground in this case became one big color hold, and the runic numeral '10' became another. I did give Celanawe a charcoal colored cloak here––like he had when inducted, but also what he wears in Winter, and unlike the faded light blue he wears in the Black Axe book.

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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