This is my third Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Macro series cover for IDW, and it features Leonardo. Originally the order of the turtles' macro series was different, and Leo was last, but a scheduling switch at the publisher gets Leo ahead of Raph.
You can see my previous TMNT covers here.
To the left is the finished art for the cover, and below in this blogpost, I'll go through the various steps to create the final piece.
The first step was to come up with what the cover was going to be about. In the issue, Leo does have a battle in the woods, and though my version isn't as it happens in the issue, it felt like a way to explore Leo in a more aggressive posture while also paying homage to some old Eastman & Laird drawn story notes.
I drew Leo on a sheet of copy paper (or actually a few that I cobbled together digitally taking the parts I liked from different sheets) in a birch tree forest. He's wearing the hooded garment he wears in issue #11 of the original Mirage TMNT series. I also opted to have him wounded, paying homage to the moment in that same Mirage Run when Leo is almost killed by the foot clan (in the 1990 movie, it's Raph instead of Leo...an odd coincidence considering the issue order swap here)
The color, snow and breath were digitally done to help me see the piece as a layout, but also for my editor Bobby as well as the license holders, Nickelodeon so everyone understood what the final art was going to resemble.
With the layout approved, I started inking the cover. I printed out the above digital composite layout and taped that to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol. On my lightpad I'm able to see through the surface of the bristol down to the printout to use as a pencils guide as I ink. For pens I used Copic Multiliners (my pens of choice). Here I used mostly a 0.7 other than a few details where I went down to a 0.3 nib.
Texture and hatching is very important to me, and I focused it here on the gear Leo is wearing as well as all those birch trees.
Once the inks were approved I could start on the coloring process. The first step of that is to 'flat' the piece by adding flat colors to establish the color areas...that Leo's hood is a different color than his bandanna, or his forearm wraps, or the sky, etc. I happened to use colors very close to my final piece, but I could have used any colors at this stage, purple skin, orange bandana, navy sky...it's just all about coloring within the lines so that it's easy to re-isolate those areas again when rendering.
In this step I also defined all the color holds, areas I wanted the inkwork to be a color other than black: The snow & the blood.
The final step is to do all of that rendering. Adding light and shadow and texture. I do this with the dodge and burn tools in Photoshop and a stock brush.
For the falling snow I pulled out my rarely used Wacom tablet to paint in some digital snow. In Mouse Guard I've always inked dots on a separate sheet of paper, but I find that creates something a bit too graphic and hard edged. Painting digitally, I was also able to add in the breath coming out of Leo's mouth.
Baltimore Comic Con: Sept. 28-30
New York Comic Con: Oct. 4-7
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