Tuesday, November 15, 2022

June Mouse Guard 2023 Calendar Art

This year I'm releasing a Mouse Guard 2023 Calendar. I'll be taking copies with me to Baltimore and selling them through my Online Store. I created seven new pieces of artwork specifically for the calendar (even numbered months mainly). The new pieces were all drawn at 12" x 12" (the size of the Calendar itself)
To the left you can see the final art piece for June. I wanted a moment of exhaustion and peace after the battle. I was also able to bring in a stained glass window I'd drawn before (used for the back cover of the sketchbook Dawn, Daye, Dusk)

Below in this blogpost I'll walk through the steps to creating it.

I started with the room (dropping in the stained glass window art I mentioned earlier). Unfortuneately somewhere in this, I lost the perspective of the floor, and it somewhat ruins the illustration, but I tried making it less distracting in the coloring stage. Next came the exausted mouse (wearing a cloak clasp with an anvil on it––this is meant to be somewhere in Ironwood) The snake was drawn separately referenced from a few photos of Michigan's Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake. Everything was reassembled in Photoshop where I tinted the pencil drawings different colors and added in some digitally drawn details (unfortunately I didn't see the perspective issues.)
With the above layout all set, I printed out the image (onto two sheets of legal paper that had to be registered and taped back together). I inked this piece on my Twitch stream on a Huion lightpad. Using the lightpad I could see through the 12" x 12" Strathmore bristol to the printout below so I could use it as a pencil guide. I used Copic Multiliner SP pens.

Most of this was fairly straight forward except for the snake's scales and dark spots.. I then had to balance the level of line density in the background wooden planks and beams so they receded into the background and didn't distract from the snake.

When the inks were done I scanned them into Photoshop and started the coloring process. In this step I am filling in each area with a flat color (no rendering, no textures)–it's like a professional version of coloring-in-the-lines. The colors for the window were already established from the original piece of artwork––the mouse, snake and background were variations on tones already in the window

At this stage I also establish the color holds (areas where I want the lineart to be a color other than black), here the glass, the mouse's cut, and the snake's eye

I rendered the piece using dodge and burn tools as well as a stock texture brush to add all the light, shadow, and texture. The light coming through the stained glass window (as well as the cast light spots on the characters did a lot of heavy lifting before I even started to render the scene and figures. As I mentioned earlier, I needed to draw your eye away from the perspective issues, so the tile floor is much darker and more muted than I'd originally envisioned.

The Calendar is available in my online store: https://mouseguard.bigcartel.com/product/mouse-guard-2023-calendar

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