Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Otter Printmaker Commission/Sketchbook Piece Process

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 a sea otter as a renaissance printmaker. While I'm happy to do this kind of subject, I didn't know if it would fit into a Mouse Guard sketchbook––but as I worked on it, I enjoyed the piece so much, that it's going in even if this isn't how I'd depict otters in my books.

I drew different elements on sheets of copy paper and then assembled them in Photoshop. Besides drawing an otter holding paper, I wanted to ficus on giving him an appropriate renaissance flourish to his clothes--specifically his hat and getting a historically accurate printing press. To bedazzle the hat, I just added a crab instead of a feather plume, and for the press I referenced the Rembrandt Press in Amsterdam.

With the pencil drawings assembled with a bit of digital assistance into a layout I liked, I printed out the above image onto copy paper. I then taped that copy paper onto 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 tried to use a lot of hatch marks to define the greytones in the piece--which ties into my own experience when getting my degree in Printmaking.

The original artwork was then packed up carefully and shipped off to the owner. But before it left, I got a proper high-res scan so that I could include it in the next Mouse Guard sketchbook. 

First step to coloring is called 'flatting'. It's basically a professional version of coloring-in-the-lines and establishing what color area each thing in the piece is. The final colors can be altered, but because they are easy to grab flat tones, I can render each color area separately from the other.

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

No comments:

Blog Archive