The Diamond order code is MAY210942.
The 32 page issue will be in shops: Jul 14, 2021
For this blogpost I'll go through the steps and references for creating the cover art you see to the left.
Ivan Bilbin for my reference point. On the interior pages I emulated his work more convincingly, with his flat illustrative style focusing on detailed contours rather than rendered forms or lines for shadow. For the cover art, I wanted a more David Petersen/Mouse Guard looking version so I rendered the piece more naturally. Though I wanted to keep the elaborate flat pattern on the cloak of the mouse character––and I borrowed that design from this piece of Bilbin's titled The Island of Buyan from 1905.
Luckily because it's a historic site that is easily accessible, there are lots of photos available online from different angles that would help me use it page after page. In the Mouse Guard version, I turned several of the turret sections from a log-cabin timber construction to a woven bird's nest look.
The last reference I gathered was for the owl. I'd featured a Great Horned Owl in the Winter 1152 storyline and wanted something visually different. Researching various owl species, I landed on the Northern Hawk Owl which had the right size scale I wanted as well as some interesting feather patterning.
I also used Photoshops tools to warp my re-drawn Bilbin-esque fabric pattern to match the contour of the mouse's cloak.
To make the coloring step easier, I left a gap in the inks between the figures in the foreground and the architecture of the nest-building. Even in black and white, it visually helps break up the planes.
I scanned the inks back into Photoshop and started the coloring process. That first part of digital coloring is like a professional version of coloring-in-the-lines called flatting. It's where you establish all the color spaces with flat colors. I'd already colored the interior story pages, so the color choices were mostly established.
At this step I also made all of my color holds (areas where I want the inkwork to be a color other than black). I created a color hold each for: the architecture, the owl, the owl's eyes, the fabric patterns, and the feather's stripes.
Here is the solicitation info for the issue, due out July 14th 2021:
Which of life's biggest lessons can be learned from the smallest amongst us? A young mouse learns that compassion and kindness are the great virtues in "The Owlhen Caregiver." "Piper the Listener" finds a brave mouse venturing into the wild country to learn the tongues of other beasts. And a grizzled oldfur shares the lesson of putting a whisker out too far in "The Wild Wolf." Three poignant tales mark creator David Petersen's return to his beloved Eisner and Harvey Award-winning series in this self-contained special.
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MAY210942 –– $4.99