Tuesday, February 26, 2019

2019 Mouse Guard Bookplate Process

Every year since 2012 I've been creating a Mouse Guard bookplate (at the bottom of the post you can see other past year's bookplates and links to blogposts about them). The idea is that, with these signed by me, even if you can't bring me your physical copy of a Mouse Guard book, this bookplate can be glued in making your copy signed.

I'll have the bookplate at my 2018 conventions and in my online store soon after Emerald City Comic Con. For this blogpost, I wanted to go through the process to create the bookplate image.

For this year's Bookplate I took an unfinished drawing of a mouse playing a lute and tightened up the linework by tracing over the old piece on a light pad. I then did a quick color study in Photoshop, and added in medieval sheet music and the Mouse Guard shield emblem (soon to be an enamel pin!).

But as each year's bookplate art is created in some alternate medium like woodcut, stained glass, embroidery, etc (whether done in real life or digitally synthesized), I needed to do something unique with this piece. And I decided to paint it in gouache!.

I have to give a HUGE thanks to Tony DiTerlizzi for inspiring me to do this, as well as generously giving me his time and information over a phone call where he walked me through materials, tricks, techniques, and pitfalls (we also got to talk D&D and golden-age illustrators). Below are the steps I followed:

Using my lightpad, I transferred the drawing in a dark brown color pencil to Strathmore 4-ply smooth bristol board. More than just trace the outlines, I added a bit of tone and sketch texture...but not too much (My first attempt at this piece ended up in me tearing up the painting partly because I'd overworked the color pencil drawing at this stage)

I then mixed up a very wet and milky wash of unbleached titanium white acrylic paint to coat the drawing. This makes the working area all a little bit more parchment colored and gives a tonal base to work off of, much like when I work on toned paper. It also seals in the color pencil and gives the acryla-gouache something to bite onto.

With various mixes of browns, blacks, and blue, I mixed up some tonal base colors to start putting in my overall value scheme for the piece. Because the gouache I was using was acrylic base, once this is dry, I can paint over it without worrying it will lift color and turn to mud when I do the next coat.

Working back to front, I got all the musical notes and the staff lines and the shield painted in their correct color scheme. With the reds and yellows out I also mixed up the skin tones for the paws, tail, nose, and ears.

I then kept building up my color tones and getting the values closer

I was getting very close here, and even stopped to take a break and come back to it with fresh eyes. And after I took this photo with my phone, I happened to do a quick filter on it to change it to b&w...and I could see where the dark values needed to be pushed further...

And finally the finished image scanned and signed.

Past year's bookplates & process blogposts:







2019 Convention Appearances
(more may be announced)

Emerald City Comic Con March 14-17
Heroes Con June 14-16
San Diego Comic Con July 17-21
New York Comic Con October 3-6
Baltimore Comic Con October 18-20

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Beneath the Dark Crystal #8 Cover Process

Here is my eighth variant cover for Archaia's Beneath the Dark Crystal series!

This cover features UrNol the Mystic Herbalist (sometimes referred to as the Hunter) and skekNa the Skeksis Slave Master. Like my other covers these two are the counterparts of each other and paired together facing opposite directions. To the left you can see the finished artwork for the cover, but below I'll walk through the steps I took to to get there.

I started by drawing the two characters on separate sheets of copy paper. As each character was missing the same eye, I had to decide which character was more visually interesting showing their patch than the other, that would not only determine which way they faced, but as I alternate the directions of the mystics and skeksis on each cover, where it would fall in the issue numbering. I opted to show the patch of skekNa. Using reference provided by Henson, I was able to draw the two and then scan them into Photoshop and place them in a template for the cover. I tinted each character to help me see what lines were associated with which figure.

When Henson & Archaia approved the layout, I printed it out on copy paper and taped it to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol. using a lightpad, I can see through the surface of the bristol to use the printout as a guide to ink from. I used Copic Multiliner SP pens to inks with. Mostly using the 0.7 nib and swapping it out for the 0.3 for some of the finer details on their faces.

These characters had a little less texture detail than some of the other covers I've done in their series, so while I still had to do some work in the inks to make the forms have some tonal definition, this cover went quicker than the others to ink.

The next step, after the inks were approved, were to start coloring the cover. That first step is called 'flatting' where flat un-rendered colors are placed in digitally. The idea is to establish what parts of the characters are what colors, and where those colors change. It's like a professional version of coloring within the lines.

At this point I also established some color-holds, where I want the inklines to be a color other than black. For this cover those were for the background design and the chains on the shoulder of the skeksis.

When the flats are established (no need to submit for approvals at that stage), the more exciting part of adding shading highlights and texture to the colors is at hand. To do that I pretty exclusively use the dodge & burn tools in Photoshop with a stock textured brush.

Like the other covers in this series, I drop in an inked Froudian pattern overtop of the whole image as a ghostly symbol.

4 more covers to go!

2019 Convention Appearances
(more may be announced)

Emerald City Comic Con March 14-17
Heroes Con June 14-16
San Diego Comic Con July 17-21
New York Comic Con October 3-6
Baltimore Comic Con October 18-20

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Mouse Guard Creator Commentary: Winter #4

I've made a Creator Commentary video for the fourth issue/chapter of Mouse Guard Winter 1152!  Please feel free to follow along in your copy of the story in either issue form of from the hardcover as I talk about the behind the scenes details, art notes, and my head-space as I go page by page and panel by panel. Enjoy!

Direct link to watch on YouTube: https://youtu.be/zVw9YRnbG5U

2019 Convention Appearances
(more may be announced)
Heroes Con June 14-16
New York Comic Con October 3-6
Baltimore Comic Con October 18-20

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Fan Art

I love that fans of the Mouse Guard books and the RPG create artwork of the existing characters and moments from the comic and their player characters and moments from their campaigns. So for this post, I wanted to share as much of it as I could and celebrate the artistic side of Mouse Guard fandom. (See past Fan Art Blogposts here)

Josh Henson

Christopher Richard

Daniel Silva

David Cuerrier

Joe Bayhe

Diletta Magretti

Donnie Chase

Ethan Hudgens

Sammy as Celanawe

Rhomni as Sienna

Elizabeth McCann



Saxon & Sadie Halloween cosplay

Jared Blumberg

Kevin Owen

Lee Summers

Lulu Padilla

Randall Oakes

Scott Suarez

Wyndham Welch

София Луковникова

Kelly Sparks Salchi

Lucia Nanni

Miles Stock

Miles Stock (after Mignola)

Neil Schultz

Sondilyn Hollis

2019 Convention Appearances
(more may be announced)

Emerald City Comic Con March 14-17
Heroes Con June 14-16
San Diego Comic Con July 17-21
New York Comic Con October 3-6
Baltimore Comic Con October 18-20

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