Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Storyteller Pinup

I was lucky enough to be asked by the folks at Archaia to do a pinup for their Jim Henson's The Storyteller Anthology Graphic Novel.(This also marks the 3rd Henson property I have been fortunate enough to have done pinup/cover/promotional artwork for Archaia!) The show did a wonderful job of transitioning between the Storyteller character and his dog and the story he was telling. The characters from the tale would appear in the reflections of water in bowls, on the sides of decorative steins, and in the painting over the hearth. I focused much of my attention to a way I thought I could capture that transition idea in a single pinup.

The story I started with was called The Tinderbox by Hans Christian Andersen. The story starts with a soldier who, on the request of a old witch-like woman, climbs down the trunk of a hollow tree to a cavern where three giant dogs guarding piles of treasure dwelled, as well as a magic tinderbox capable of controlling the beasts. I only roughed-in these parts in my sketch and focused more on trying to get the linkess of John Hurt as the Storyteller and his Henson-furred dog. I scanned the sketches from my sketchbook and resized the elements (adjusting how close the Storyteller and his dog are sitting, where they sit in the frame, etc.) I also tinted the pencil work different colors to help me visualize what lines belong to which character or the window.

I printed that layout at full scale and used it as a template to ink the piece, I started with the characters choosing to focus on the stained glass last. With the inks I tried to translate the softer pencil lines as competent inks lines. While areas like the Storyteller's jacket, hair and his dog all benefited from the ink translation, I lost something in his face. I planned to put some of the volume back in at the coloring stage. I'm sorry to say that paper I did my tighter version of the stained glass on has vanished. I know I was layering paper over the top of the rough and tightening in pencil and then with another overlayed sheet of paper stylizing the lines into stained glass lead-lines.

For the coloring, I scanned the inkwork in as usual and then colored it in photoshop 7 (yes, I know it's old..it's pre-CS...but it works and I LIKE IT!). I tired to go a bit more painterly on the Storyteller's face than I do with my normal Mouse Guard coloring. Part of that was that the splotchy texture works on everything -Mouse-Guard-ish but not as much with people's skin tones.Lots of color holds (areas where I color my black inkwork instead of leaving it black) were applied to the stained glass window including an overall glow for the window.

I had fun with this piece. I struggle to draw people since I'm out of practice and never had a great hold on it even when I was taking figure drawing, but I do find that drawing craggy-faced old men comes very naturally to me.

Upcoming Appearances:
London Super Con: Feb 25-26
Emerald City: March 30-April 1 
Boston Comic Con: April 21-22


Unknown said...

You did a really incredible job on the Storyteller piece, David. The likenesses are solid, but more than that, your skills at replicating stained glass through pen and color are extremely impressive.

CraftyAndy said...

Glad I'm not the only one that has fond memories of Jim Henson's Story hour. I mention that to anyone my age and they look at me queer.

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