Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Mouse Funeral

I've released a new Mouse Guard sketchbook titled "Alone Together" (https://mouseguard.bigcartel.com/product/alone-together-sketchbook) 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 sketchbook 'Alone Together' has a bit of a theme about living through the pandemic. And while some of those piece of art had to do with hobbies or hiking or isolation, I felt I needed to touch on the idea of the loss of life. I've drawn mouse funerals before in the pages of Mouse Guard, and wanted to show one that had some ritual to it, something that felt like honoring the dead. I drew the body and the platform and then using a lightpad drew the mice carrying them on separate sheets of paper. I drew the mouse leading the service as well as the pre-lit pyre that way too and then digitally cobbled them together and added a few tones to help me remember where some shadows would be.

With the above layout finished, I printed it out and taped it to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol. On my Huion Lightpad I was able to use the printout as a guide to ink from. I used Copic Multiliner SP pens (the 0.7 nib).

The trick on this piece was to make the ground cover darkest under the mice & deceased, but in a way where I could feather the technique out to be almost non-existent where the shadows were's to make the piece have to texture-breathing-room.

Color Flats:
With the finished inks scanned I could start on the coloring process. The original inked art was shipped off to the new owner and I worked on this piece for my sketchbook. The color flats stage is just coloring in the lines with flat colors, establishing what every major area's base color is––no rendering, no textures, no effects. I went with the matching cool toned red hoods & collars to help with that sense of ceremony. 

At this stage (but not shown here) I also added color holds (areas where I want the linework to be a color other than black) to the flames on the candles.

Final Colors:
Using Photoshops's Dodge and Burn tools (as well as a stock textured brush) I added all the shadows and highlights. In some places I shifted colors by selecting areas with a lasso tool and using color balance sliders to get them where I wanted them. I added some lighting effects to the candles and a digital thumbprint smoke effect layer to the censer (which I forgot to turn on before turning in to the printer––and so it's not visible in the printed sketchbook)

This piece is one of the pieces included in the 2022 Mouse Guard sketchbook 'Alone Together' which is available in my online store: (https://mouseguard.bigcartel.com/product/alone-together-sketchbook)

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