Tuesday, July 27, 2021
Tuesday, July 20, 2021
Tuesday, July 13, 2021
It's a free download from my website so that you and your friends & family can print out and craft together your own Owlhen Caregiver (as well as several other Guardmice):
Below you can see photos of the figure who appears in tomorrow's issue as well as influenced by the artwork of golden age illustrator Ivan Bilbin.
Tuesday, July 6, 2021
Last Friday on my Twitch Stream, we did the seventh community draw-along event #DrawTheExtinct where I posted an image from an old block print I made with a few animal photo inspiration prompts and the idea to create an imaginary extinct animal. I worked on my piece live on my Twitch stream while viewers worked at home and then on Monday we shared our finished pieces.
Here is my finished Pointed Hedgecock. And below are my steps to create it as well as the community submissions.
I told the viewers that they could use any combination of the inspiration prompts––they could make their version as cute and cuddly as a pocket pet stray kitten, as monstrous and deadly as a giant kaiju destroying cities, or anything in between. I also wanted this to be an excuse to get their pencils moving. I invited all skill levels, because I'm a firm believer that you shouldn't have to be good at something or pursuing mastery of it to just simply enjoy the act of it...and art is no exception.
On the Friday stream I started drawing with mechanical pencil on a sheet of copy paper to try and reimagine the beast. I used the shape overall body shape of the Spitz, but went for a mode hedgehog face and back spines and used the comb of the rooster for the ears while making the Spitz's normally curved poofy tail a long rooster tail feather plume. I scanned in my pencil drawing, made a few quick proportion corrections, and then blocked in the color idea of the rooster's feathers as a guide. This simple color I thought would help me see where I'd need to ink delineation notes in the next step.
Off stream I did a few white out corrections to the inks and then scanned the artwork into Photoshop to prep it for final color. First thing was to drop it into the template I have for #DrawTheExtinct pieces with the border, background, and a base shadow already established. Then I started drawing in flat colors. This part of coloring (called flatting) is just a professional digital version of coloring-in-the-lines to establish the color areas.
My color choices were already established from my color blocking back in the layout/pencils stage which were based on the rooster photos I used for reference––but as is my way, most of my greens and blues are a bit muted and warmer than real-life.
Below you can again see the final rendered colors with a border and type applied I also moved the eye a little bit closer to the nose in this final version.
But, as this is a community event, I wanted to share all the other entries posted in the Discord. I awarded a prize and we voted together on a few more (prize winners marked with *) on Monday's Twitch stream and we all enjoyed seeing what each other had done. I hope we get even more participants next month (first Friday!)
Tuesday, June 29, 2021
To the left you can see the finished cover, but below I'll go through the steps in creating it.
For Stan's 1988 cover of this issue, he'd drawn Usagi and Tomoe rushing out of the castle's jail gates and engaging in combat with several opponents. I decided to do very much the same cover idea but from a bit more distance and from a higher angle to show the architecture more.
While I used Nagoya Castle as a reference model for my first Usagi cover in this series, this time I searched the Google Sketchup 3D warehouse for user uploaded models of Japanese castles with gates that looked similar to the interior drawings from the issue. This is Yamato Koriyama castle, and using the 3D model I could rotate it and get my camera angle just right for what I had in mind.
Using the model placed into the cover template, I was able to draw over top a printout of it to get my architectural details the way I wanted them (I was also referencing Stand drawings from the interior pages of this issue).
With the architecture and perspective locked, I drew Usagi and Tomoe on separate sheets of copy paper and pasted them into the drawing in Photoshop. I could resize and rotate them until they were placed to my satisfaction. I did the same with the villains. and then gave everything a quick digital color paint job. Not only does this help me figure out the look, tone, and shape blocking of the piece, it also helps the editor see what my intentions are with little left up to interpretation.
When the above layout was approved by the editor and Stan, I started the inks. First step was to print the layout file onto copy paper (over two sheets that had to be taped together at the seam) and tape that to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 bristol. On my Huion lightpad I was able to ink the cover art using the printout as my pencils lines. This way in the end the inked artwork is very crisp and clean with no need to erase pencils lines. I used Copic Multiliner SP pens to ink the art (the 0.7 and 0.3 nibs).
Most of the inks on this piece were for the architecture. The characters are very small and the hardest part was inking Tomoe's face and getting the expression correct from my pencils.
You may have noticed in my original layout, I included the rain drops hitting the roofs and forming rings in the puddles on the ground. I got the idea from some of Stan's panels from the interior art and just wanted to include that element here to add to the drama and challenge our heroes are facing in this jail break.
Tuesday, June 22, 2021
To the left you can see one of those pieces finished and colored ready for a page in that sketchbook––and in this blogpost I'll break down the process to get there. This piece belongs to the same fan who commissioned the piece I shared the process of last week with a mouse explorer and his badger companion. And the same species swap happened on this piece too.
In addition to getting the new inked beetle piece scanned an registered properly, I had to mask out the linework of the badger so it didn't show through anywhere––especially in the open white areas where it would be very obvious if I missed cleaning it up.
I also took this step to establish color holds (an area where I want the black linework to be a color other than black) on the two depths of background, the water, and a little detail color hold on the canoe's decoration to make it look painted on.
Here are the final colors all rendered and textured. I do most of this work only using two tools in Photoshop: Dodge and Burn. These are tools that date back to when Photoshop was a photo retouching tool and emulate part of the development process to over and under expose areas––ie: make areas darker and lighter. So with a stock textured brush I add shadows and highlights.
This piece will eventually be collected with many more in an upcoming sketchbook I plan to release in early/mid 2022.
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