Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Mouse Guard Sketchbook: 'Legends'

The new Mouse Guard sketchbook entitled 'Legends' is out and now available in my online store! This 24 page color sketchbook includes my homages to twenty eight of the Legends of the Guard stories told by the talented artists & writers who spanned 3 volumes of the anthology series.

Moving forward with my Mouse Guard sketchbooks I'll be not releasing them based on a calendar year, but themed, like this one, whenever I have enough content to do so. (I already have my next theme in-mind) Below you can see some interior pages with my homages to Dustin Nguyen, Hannah Lavender, Mark Buckingham, & Terry Moore:

Homage to Dustin Nguyen's tale 'The Fallen'

Homage to Hannah Lavender's tale 'The Armor Maker'

Homage to Mark Buckingham's tale 'The Gossling & The Ghost"

Homage to Terry Moore's tale 'The Shrike & The Toad'

In a few past blogposts I've shown other pieces for 

Sean Rubin & Alex Kain
Eric Canete
Jemma Salume
Charles Paul Wilson III
& Alex Sheikman

click here to view those:


Jeremy Bastian
Guy Davis
Cory Godbey
Nate Pride
Christian Slade
Jackson Sze
Ramon Perez
& Ryan Lang

click here to view those:


Several of the original inked pieces are currently available in my online store: 

2019 Convention Appearances

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, March 19, 2019

Beneath the Dark Crystal #9 Cover Process

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

This cover features UrAmaj the Mystic Cook and skekAyuk the Skeksis Gourmand. 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.

The first step was to draw each character in profile. I draw the characters on separate pieces of copy paper to help me arrange, position and re-size them into an overall composition. I was able to use reference photos from the original production from Henson to help me figure out all the details on the characters and their costumes. When I scanned the drawings into photoshop, I tinted each drawing a different color to help me see where one character ended and the next began.

The background circle pattern is my redrawing of a Brian Froud design found in the World of the Dark Crystal art book.

Henson and Archaia had to approve the above layout before I could start inking the cover. Luckily, they've both been great about green-lighting my Dark Crystal work so-far (knock on wood for the rest of the cover run). When the approval came through, I printed out the above layout onto copy paper, and then taped it to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol.
On a lightpad I can ink on the surface of the bristol while still being able to see the layout underneath.

I used Copic Multiliner pens to do the inks focusing on how to play with line size and texture to get all those costume and fabric details to still read to the viewer's eye.

After the inks were approved I scanned them and started the coloring process known as 'flatting'. This is where flat colors are drawn in digitally to establish what areas of the image and the figures are which colors. A lot of the color choices were established by the reference photos, but I still handpicked the colors so that I could make some hue and value choices to get a better cohesive palate for the cover as a whole.

I only needed to establish one color hold (where I want the inkwork to be a color other than black) on this piece, and that was for the background pattern.

The final step was to render the colors using the dodge and burn tools (and a stock photoshop brush that adds texture) to add highlights, shadows, and texture to the colors.

At this stage I also dropped in another Froud-design that I inked as a ghostly overlay like the other covers in this series.

With this cover done, that leaves 3 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, March 12, 2019

Mouse Guard Creator Commentary: Winter #5

I've made a Creator Commentary video for the fifth 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/Qcpr4yYGkiA

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, March 5, 2019

2019 Limited Edition Print 'TEASEL' process

For the past 8 years I've been making a limited edition 11" x 11" print that I sell at conventions and in my online store. The prints are signed and numbered (to an edition of 300) and are meant to depict something 'pretty' from the world of Mouse Guard (an edict Julia gave me in 2012 that I've listened to ever since. I tend to name the print not after the mouse depicted, but of the flora that makes up the background.

This print, titled 'Teasel' will be released at Emerald City Comic Con next week. Below are the steps I took to create the piece.

I drew the mouse in pencil on a sheet of copy paper. But since I wanted to be able to adjust her size to the background drawing and the moth, I just roughed in those elements in that drawing.

On another sheet of copy paper, I then drew more detailed versions of the moth and the teasel with some photo reference as a guide. The warhammer was also going to need to be resized and shifted around in the final composition, so I included that on the teasel/moth sheet of paper off to the side.

I think now's a good time to talk about the inspiration for these visuals. 1) I've been reading a webcomic by Minna Sundberg called 'Stand Still Stay Silent'.  Minna is Finnish and her series is set in Scandinavia and explores the languages, lore, religion, and clulture of those countries. I also love the blue/orange/brown/blush palate that often shows up in her work. 2) On our couch here at home, we have a comfy throw-blanket with a semi Norwegian patterning in a color scheme that fit feeling I was going for...and lastly the prickly burred dried plant called teasel felt like just the right visual as well as color to anchor a new Mouse Guard print and tie together the other inspirations.

So, with the pencil drawings I had on separate sheets of copy paper, I assembled a digital composition from the scans. This made it easy to reposition and rotate certain elements (like the mouse's head, the warhammer, the moth, the teasel) without having to carefully cut away from the objects around them. In Photoshop I tinted each thing a different color, and then added some stock Norwegian sweater designs to her cloak and hat. To help the illusion that the patterns are conforming to the flow and curves of the clothing, I used the warp and puppet warp tools in Photoshop to distort them believably enough.

With a printout of the above digitally corrected & layered composition taped to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol, I could ink the piece on a lightpad. I used a 0.7 nib Copic Multiliner pen to do my inks.

I inked most of this piece live on my twitch channel. But I did stop to ink the Norwegian pattern on the cloak off-stream after I thought about how to approach it. I debated over doing something solid black and having to avoid the contour lines of the folds and outer edge of the cloak (so I could easily isolate those areas for a color hold), or if I should do loose outlines...in the end I decided on a dark fur-like texture that I could feather as I approached the contour lines so the pattern didn't look so much like a stencil.

Once the inks were scanned in, I started the coloring process of adding in the flat colors digitally. I used a 6 color palette (3 warm browns, 3 muted blues) that I generated from looking at the throw-blanket. I did 2 different flat versions of the piece before I decided on the final base colors and where they should be placed. (I ended up going with the one on the right)

The final piece was then digitally rendered using the dodge and burn tools in Photoshop to add shadows and highlights. There are some instances where I painted in some colors or lassoed an area and adjusted the color balance to warm up the corner of the sky, make her nose more pink, and get some individual teasel burs to stand out.


Past year's 11' x 11" limited print process blogposts:

2012: "Peacock":

2013: "Raspberry":

2014: "Moonflower":

2015: "Lavender":

2016: "Juniper":

2017: "Rose":

2018: "Elderberry":

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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