Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Moonflower Mouse Print process:

Every year I release a new limited edition square Mouse Guard print. The past two years pieces (affectionately nicknamed "Peacock" & "Raspberry") were done with my wife's instructions to make the images "pretty". For this year's print, I continued the "pretty" edict and will be releasing this "Moonflower" print at C2E2, at shows for the rest of the year and in my online store in-between. Today I'll show the process of creating the print image.

The idea didn't come to me in a dream, but while I was very very tired and taking long blinks at my desk hours after I should have gone to bed. A mouse at night with nigh blooming flowers around her, framed by the moon, and clothed in beaded spider-web silk. I think I also figured there might be a moth in the image, but a few days later when I was starting the drawing, I decided to omit the animal companion. For inspiration I looked at Queen Amidalla's wedding dress and photos of Moonflowers. This series of pencil sketches (digitally composited together) features the same 3 closed blooms copied and mirrored for placement purposes.

The above digital composite sketch was printed out and taped to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 bristol. On my lightbox I was able to ink the piece using the printout as a guide (an image I tweeted of the piece in-progress). I modified each of the closed blooms as I inked them so thery were similar and took up the same space, but had variations of folds and wrinkles. The "beaded spider-web silk" was inked as a series of dotted lines (following a rough pencil web layout I taped to the back of the bristol). It looks a bit funny as an inked image because so many of the details are inked black, though I planned on altering them to all be lighter values in the color version.

I scanned the inked piece and started flatting in the colors. In this process, I'm less concerned about getting the right color values and more concerned with getting each area colored differently than the other parts around it: mouse fur, clothing, sky, flowers, moon, etc.). In-fact, in this earlier version of my color scheme (when I thought I was getting close to the right colors for each thing) the mouse had yellow toned attire. I was worried doing a cooler overall palate like I'd originally envisioned would feel too monochromatic and not give any sense of depth. But as I was working, Julia came down and convinced me to cool it all down again.

Here is another look at the final version of the print art. All of the rendering was done with a stock textured Photoshop brush and the Dodge and Burn tools. I used the inkwork to make a new layer of light stars, beading, and the moon's rim.

The edition of prints will be in the 300 range and debut at C2E2 this weekend. I'll have them up in the online store shortly after.

2014 Appearances:
Comicpalooza: May 23-25
Heroes Con: June 20-22
San Diego Comic Con: July 23-27
Boston Comic Con: August 8-10
NY Comic Con: Oct. 9-12

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