I've been recovering from COVID (exposed on Christmas Eve and symptomatic on the 26th) and this was the first time I'd picked up a pencil since before Christmas.
To the left you can see the finished artwork, and below I'll go through the steps to get there.
I started with the idea of a mouse beating a drum (it came to me as I was watching an old episode of QI and they used an etching of musical parade goers as they talked about the feast of fools). I drew the mouse on a sheet of copy paper knowing my plan was to do some type of checked banner behind him with 2023 set in some font.
I scanned the drawing and worked on the digital design work (resizing, typography, the diamond pattern) when I realized I didn't like his right hand––so I copied the drumstick from the other hand and digitally drew a replacement hand for his right.
When I got the digital version of the layout the way I liked, I resized it to be about 8" square and printed it out on another sheet of copy paper. I taped that to the back of a sheet of Strathmore Bristol and inked the piece atop my Huion A3 Lightpad.
I used Copic Multiliner pens (the 0.7 nib mostly) to do the inking. It was fairly straight forward without too much texture other than on the cloak and filling in the '2023' numbers.
I scanned the above inks and prepared them for coloring in Photoshop. First, adjusting levels and balances so that the black lines were crisp and the white areas were clean. Then, establishing color holds (areas where I want the ink lines to be a color other than black) on the banner & numbers. And lastly, drawing in flat colors to every area and establish the palette. It's a professional version of coloring inside the lines.
The last part is rendering all those flat colors––adding shading, highlights, and textures.
Happy 2023 Guardmice! March to the beat of your own drum.