Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Abandoned Mouse Dwelling & Mallard

Early next year I plan to release a new Mouse Guard sketchbook titled "Alone Together". The majority of that material is inked commissions I did during last year's ONLINECON event. But to round out the sketchbook sometimes I need to generate some material of my own both to fill up pages and to add certain tone or subject for a thematic through line for the work in the book

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 idea for this piece came from a photo shared on a Twitter account that shares abandoned architecture. I thought I could do something fun with this dwelling if I just added a mouse and something for scale. Somehow my thinking lead me to a duck.

And while it wasn't until after I'd done the pencils that I included a Tiger Moth, I'm sharing my photo reference here at this step.

For the pencils I placed a printout of the architecture on my lightpad and started penciling my version of it on a clean sheet of copy paper. While this seems like simply tracing, I'm certainly focusing on details I want to include and avoiding others I don't care about. I'm also moving the paper around to condense and compress elements, and include new details. 

The duck was penciled separately and added in digitally in Photoshop, where I also quickly drew in my mouse explorer (who I decided after this stage needed a moth companion)

With the pencils sorted (Though I think I did go through one more round of edits on the above image before this step), I printed them out and taped that to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol. On my Huion lightpad, I was able to see through the bristol to the pencils so I could use them as reference while I inked the lines. I used Copic Multiliner SP pens (the 0.7 & 0.3 nibs).

I inked the piece on my Twitch stream and answered questions as I worked.

Once the piece was inked, I scanned in the original art and started the coloring process in Photoshop. In this process the goal is to color in all the color spaces with flat colors, no rendering, no texture, no lighting effects. This is so it's easy to grab any of these colors later on as you render them.

Some of my color choices were pre-determined by the photo reference, but I definitely shifted the hues all closer to a warmer yellow area than they strictly needed to be.

Below you can see the final colors all rendered withe the Dodge and Burn tools and ready for inclusion in the sketchbook I'll release next year.

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