Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Goose At Dawn Tavern

As part of the new illustrations for a 2024 Mouse Guard Calendar, I did this piece of a little mouse tavern called The 'Goose at Dawn' with a old rotting stone staircase.

Like last year's calendar, this new one will feature half of the months featuring new-for-this-project artwork, while the other months feature existing favorite illustrations.

Below in this blogpost I'll walk through the process of creating the artwork

I started with some reference photos of a little cottage and a stairway to nowhere crumbling in the woods. I redrew them and combined them in mouse-form, swapping the neat little tiles on the roof for pine needle thatch and pinecone shingles, making each sill and window more rustic, and wrapping that stairwell around the back (does it connect with the tavern? or does it end abruptly?)

The tavern and stairs were drawn on different sheet and assembled in Photoshop. I also made a little sign using clip art and a font. With the setting in place, I printed out copy of this and on my light pad I penciled in the mouse inhabitants of the illustration. When they were done, I inserted them in Photoshop and tinted them all different colors to make seeing them a little easier.

I printed the above digitally assembled layout onto two sheets of legal sized paper (taping them together so the image was 11" x 11") and then taped them with painter's tape onto the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series Bristol.

On my Huion Lightpapd I was able to see through the surface of the bristol down to the printout and use it as my 'pencils' as I worked. I used Copic Multiliner SP pens (the 0.3 & 0.7 nibs).

I inked this piece focused mainly on making very compact scene readable even without color by changing density and variety of textures.
With the inks finished, I scanned them into Photoshop and started the coloring process. That first step is known as 'Flatting' and essentially is professional coloring-inside-the-lines. None of the color palette was established, and I started with a pink sky––perhaps implying that it is dawn and the tavern is closing with these mice being the last patrons and workers to leave. Every other color choice was born from that one.

Here I also established color holds (areas where I want the ink lines to be a color other than black) the stairway as it bends around into the distance, the trees even further back, and the sign details.

The final step was to render the piece. I used the Dodge and Burn tools in Photoshop while using a stock textured brush.

This piece took a lot of playing back and forth with different values and intensities of light to get the final art to work. I'm still not convinced I got there in the end, but I'm happy enough with it to include it in the calendar for 2024.

No comments:

Blog Archive