Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Bone tribute, Get well soon Jeff Smith

On August 19th the official Cartoon Books twitter account shared the following:

"Jeff Smith is recuperating from a cardiac arrest, which he suffered on Sunday. There will be a long road to recovery, so regrettably we must cancel the remainder of his book tour this year."

Jeff's work, especially Bone, have been a guiding light for all-ages content in the comic & graphic novel space for decades. Jeff's always been a kind and generous supporter and friend, and I wanted to do a piece of tribute art while he's recovering.  

Kathleen Glosan, the production manager of Cartoon Books mentioned that if fans wanted to do any get-well art they'd love to share it as well as if we wanted to mail anything to Jeff she provided an address.

So, I started work on my rough right away. I drew Phone Bone on a sheet of copy paper as well as a mouse arms stretched wide. I then scanned those assembled then in Photoshop and did a bunch of alterations and digital corrections as well as a quickly painted background.

The next step was to print out the above layout and tape it to the back of a sheet of Strathmore bristol. On my Huion lightpad I was able to see through the surface of the bristol and use the printout as a guide to ink from. I used Copic Multiliner SP pens (the 0.7 for most of it, but the 0.3 for the mouse's eye).

It was tricky to ink Phone Bone so cleanly and not add in more texture like I do for most of my contour inking. I then made up for it with the environment.

When the inks were done, I scanned the art and started the coloring process with flat colors. This is the digital step where I clean up the artwork to be crisp blacks and whites and then I lay in flat colors for all of the shapes to establish what areas are what colors. It's a professional version of coloring inside the lines.

Most of the color choices were things I'd already decided on in my layout stage, but I certainly made some subtle changes in hue, saturation, and value to many areas so the whole piece worked together even before I started rendering it.

The last step was to render the color. I use a stock texture brush in Photoshop with the dodge and burn tools (these are carry-overs from when Photoshop was developed as a photo retouching tool and references darkroom exposure techniques). They basically just darken and lighten whatever color(s) they are going over at the time, so that's how I add shadows and highlights. I also select areas (like some individual leaves) and then slide the color balance around to shift the hue to make them look a little more individual and less of a digital mass of the same color.

The original inks have been sent to Jeff, and I hope you all join me in wishing and praying for the best for Jeff's recovery.

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