For this blogpost, I'll be walking through the process for the Hornblower Guardmouse print you can see to the left.
The inspiration for the piece was a Woman's Sufferage meeting propaganda poster that I came across online. I loved the pose and the armor––and felt it was a great starting point for a Mouse Guard piece. So, I drew my guardmouse version of the hornblower, but replaced the metal horn with a tooth-horn borrowed from the Legends of the Guard Vol 1 cover tale. The fox was suggested by Julia and the castle-rooftop was done referencing Bran Castle in Romania. I drew my pencils on copy paper with a 0.5 lead in a mechanical pencil.
After I had my pencils scanned in, I composed the final layout in Photoshop (truth be told, I started doing this right after I had the mouse drawn). I tint each drawing a different color to help me see the various elements. for the same reason, and to block in my understanding of the forms, I did a quick digital coloring job. It was at that digital coloring stage that I also blobbed in some vines of ivy draping over the castle roofs and towers.
There's a part of me that was coming up with context for this image being a past matriarch on the tower parapet of Lockhaven, with a fox companion signaling for the Guard.
I printed out the above layout onto copy paper, and then taped that to the back of a sheet of 11"x 14" Strathmore bristol. On my Huion lightpad, I could see through the surface of the bristol to the printout below so I could ink the piece.
I inked with Copic Multiliner SP pens (I think I almost exclusively used the 0.7 nib for this piece).
The inking process was something I broadcast on my Twitch Chanel (twitch.tv/davidpetersen) as fans watched and could ask me questions.
After I finished the inks, I scanned them and moved on to the first part of the digital coloring stage called flatting (something else I did LIVE on my Twitch Chanel). This is the step where I place in flat colors to establish the color palate and to define where all the colors are (what is ivy, what is shingle, what is white fur, what is orange, what is armor, what is cloth or cording, etc.). To push back the depth and add some effects, I also established a lot of color holds. These are places I want the inkwork to be a color other than black...so the distance linework became a brown, the fox became a bit lighter, the engraving on the horn was tinted to look more like scrimshaw---and purely as a digital addition, I drew in whiskers on the fox.
The last step was to do the final colors on the piece. I only did a little bit of this step on Twitch (though I did work on the tower stone and the shingles). The rendering and the texture are done simultaneously as I use a stock textured brush when I'm using the dodge and burn tools to add highlights and shadows.