Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Celanawe Vs One Eyed Owl Commission/Sketchbook Piece

 Last year and earlier this year I did an online event called OnlineCon where I opened up a list for inked commissions. It's not often that I offer fully inked commissions like this any more, but I was open to the idea of making fans happy in troubled times, supplement my income with conventions responsibly canceled, and to generate material for an upcoming Mouse Guard sketchbook.

To the left you can see one of those pieces finished and colored ready for a page in that sketchbook––and in this blogpost I'll break down the process to get there.

The request was to recreate the epic battle between Celanawe and the One-Eyed Owl from Winter 1152. The fan commissioning the piece asked that the owl be partially in flight. I drew the owl and Celanawe each separately on sheets of copy paper and then scanned them. With each drawing digitally tinted a different color I was able to easily see each figure as I moved, rotated, and resized them to create a composition. I digitally drew in some quick snow blanketed ground and rocks and toyed with the idea of horizontal lines to tone the background.

I printed out the above layout on copy paper and taped it to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol. On my Huion lightpad I can see through the surface of the bristol down to the printout to use as a guide as I ink. I used Copic Multiliner SP pens (the 0.7 & 0.3 nibs). I wanted the owl to have the most density of ink, while fading that off in the tail feathers as the snow is kicked up. I decided not to add the horizontal lines to the sky because I was worried it would compete with the owl and the overall composition..

When I had these inks finished, Julia shipped off the original art to the its new owner.

Before the art was shipped off though, I got a high-res scan of it so I could start the coloring process for this piece. That first step is called 'flatting' which is basically a professional task of coloring-in-the-lines and establishing what color area each thing in the piece is. The final color choices don't matter so much here, and to take the pressure off, I went with some garish choices just to get this step done. 

I also took this step to establish color holds (areas where I want the black linework to be a color other than black) on all of the snow and the wounded eye.

Here are the final colors all rendered and textured. I do most of this work only using two tools in Photoshop: Dodge and Burn. These are tools that date back to when Photoshop was a photo retouching tool and emulate part of the development process to over and under expose areas––ie: make areas darker and lighter. So with a stock textured brush I add shadows and highlights.This piece will eventually be collected with many more in an upcoming sketchbook I plan to release in early/mid 2022.

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