Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Stjepan Mouse Print Process


Back when the Mouse Guard Movie was given a full green light from FOX, Stephen Christy and Ross Richie came to Michigan to deliver the good news, deliver the payment, and celebrate with a meal. As a thank you for their work on Mouse Guard as a book series and on the Movie (they are involved both in publishing at BOOM! and producers on the film at the FOX lot) I drew them each as a Guardmouse and gave them the original inked piece.

To the left you can see the finished colored version of 'Stjepan' that I've released as a print available in my online store: mouseguard.bigcartel.com

Stephen Christy joined Archaia after a troubled time where due to a partner leaving and other complications, the publisher was bankrupt and unable to publish comics. Until a new owner bought the company and had Stephen as his right-hand-man. Stephen essentially worked on the re-launch from his dining room table in Chicago (this is when Archaia had been in Fort Lee, NJ and before the official move to LA). Stephen has also been there for every incarnation of Mouse Guard being approached, pitched, and *nearly* sold as a movie prior to FOX and has been instrumental in shepherding it this time.

So, how to interpret Stephen as a mouse? Well, I think of Stephen as having an elegance about him. For that reason I kept his fur simple and I wanted his cloak to have detail. Trim and perhaps an insignia. And for a weapon, he's have something more like an epee or saber fencing sword.

I drew the Stephen-mouse on one sheet of copy paper, and the tree-trunk with mushroom fungus on another and then assembled the parts in Photoshop (tinting the background a different color to help me visualize it). The thistle was also inserted digitally from a clip-art sheet of insignias (I suppose that means he's either from or has valiantly served Thistledown--the same town where Gwendolyn is from).

With the layout assembled and printed on to copy paper, I can start inking it. I taped the printout to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol. On my Huion lightpad, I can see through the surface of the bristol to the printout below and use that as a guide to ink from. For pens I used my trusty Copic Multiliner SPs...primarily the 0.7 nib that I like so much.

To make sure I could separate the background lines of the forest floor, I left a white gap between the foreground inks and the sticks on the ground. That not only helps visually separate them, but also makes it easier in the next step when I have to establish the color holds.

I scanned the inks and started to lay in flat colors as well as establish all the color holds (areas where I want the ink lines to be a color other than black) on the cloak details and the background floor.

Stephen's colors came to me very quickly: Brown fur, and a royal blue cloak. There is an elegance to that color that fits what I was going for, but beyond that I just associate Stephen with the color blue, so it was a natural fit. The mushrooms then get into an orangey-tan to compliment the wardrobe hues.

The last step was to render the colors by adding light and shadow as well as texture using the Dodge and Burn tools in Photoshop with a stock textured brush. I did some color adjustments from the flat colors, punching up the fungus color to be a bit more vivid.

I've told Stephen that his mouse 'Stjepan' may make it into the Weasel War as a casualty...and to not take that personally. It doesn't mean there aren't stories to tell about that mouse earlier in his life...

You can buy a print of Stjepan in my online store: mouseguard.bigcartel.com

2019 Appearances
Heroes Con June 14-16
San Diego Comic Con July 17-21
GenCon August 1-4
New York Comic Con October 3-6
Baltimore Comic Con October 18-20
The Fantastic Workshop Nov. 13-18

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