Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Foxglove Print Process

Each Year I create a new limited edition signed and numbered 11" x 11" print. The tradition started many years ago when Julia urged me to create a new print for a convention or event that was 'just pretty'. She thought that we had plenty of images of mice wielding swords and threatening snakes and owls––that the audience, especially women, appreciated when I just drew tender moments, or nature, or flowers.  I followed her advice, and for years now fans have proven her right by anticipating and purchasing the new square print I offer.

This year the piece is titled 'Foxglove'. Below I'll show the step-by-step of creating the art.

When scanning some old sketches for my Patreon rewards, I found a list on a previous 11x11 rough of flora to consider. On that list was Foxglove (and a few others I considered for this year). Then I did a pencil drawing of a mouse who would be among the foxglove blooms. She is based on the stained glass representation of the Matriarch Caylyn from the Matriarch Chamber from The Black Axe (Blogpost about the architectural model). 

I then used some photo reference of some foxglove blooms and drew a setting she'd fit in. These pencil drawings were scanned into Photoshop, tinted (to see them each more clearly), and then given a quick blocking of color for visual mass help.

When the layout was ready, I printed it out and taped it to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol. On my Huion A3 Lightpad I can see through the surface of the bristol down to the printout to use as a guide for inking. I used Copic Multiliner SP pens (The 0.7 nib mainly).

Lots of the inking was just about varying line weights on all the foxglove blooms and the draped fabrics. Then I wanted to limit texture to her clothing and not use it everywhere, so the difference in fabrics was evident. 

I inked almost all of this piece on my Twitch stream.

Once the inks were finished and scanned, I could start the coloring process. The first step to that is called 'flatting' which is where you paint in all the areas with flat colors only. It's about establishing easy to grab and re-isolate areas for the later step of rendering. Think of it as a professional version of digitally coloring in the lines.

Some of the color palette was dictated by the character's look in the stained glass window (though I got to elaborate on them here a bit). The colors of the foxglove were in a constant state of flux as I worked on this piece ranging from yellows to pinks to corals. You'll also notice I established some color holds at this step (areas where I want the linework to be a color other than black), like the spots in the foxglove, the embroidered details in her clothing and design on her tiara.

The last step was to render the colors using the dodge and burn tools in Photoshop with a stock texture brush. In the end, I also used a screen layer to lighten up certain areas in the background to push some depth of field and make the piece look less flat.

The print will be signed and numbered, available at ECCC this month and then in my online store afterwards. 
As this is the 13th year I've been doing these, here are the past year's 11x11 limited prints (many of which are available in a bundle in my online store) and links to blogposts for these pieces below

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