Tuesday, March 28, 2023

2023 Bookplate Process

 Each year I do a new Mouse Guard bookplate for sale at conventions and in my online store. The idea is that this mini-print can be pasted/taped into your book(s), you can write your name in to identify it as yours to borrowers, and since the bookplates are signed, it means you now have a signed book. I try and make each year's bookplate art some medium the mice would/could use. I've done stained glass, relief printing, embroidery, mosaic, etc in past years––this year I went with a proper painting.

Unfortunately I didn't take any photos as I worked, but I think I've cobbled together a few images that will still illustrate the process.

This was not the first idea for the bookplate. Originally I'd worked up an illustration to look like a simple engraving, but scrapped it as the bookplate art and re-used it as a sticker (which I'll post about next week).

To start on the physical painting, I did a quick digital painting to get in the painter's mindset (form over line) on my iPad in Procreate. 

This was to help me practice painting, but also just to come up with the composition of the piece itself that I could transfer on to canvas. 
And I could also look to this digital version to reference as I painted the traditional version to get value reference.

At Blick art supply, I picked up a little pack of 6" x 6" pre stretched/mounted canvases. I resized and printed out the digital painting to match the pre-stretched canvas and with a sheet of graphite paper in between I was able to transfer the drawing onto the canvas.

In some ways, this felt like I was moving backwards. I'd just worked up a digital painting to commit to lit forms and here I was reducing that into line again

As I mentioned above, I forgot to take photos during the process, so here's a photo of the traced printout, used graphite paper, and another blank canvas

To paint the piece I used acryla gouache (recommended to me by Tony DiTerlizzi many years ago). I'd already done a quick practice mouse in gouache before starting this bookplate piece on a piece of chipboard (see photo) and decided to use that was my palette on this piece.

I wouldn't recommend using something like chipboard as a palette. Since it's absorbant, the colors aren't as true as they will appear on the primed canvas. But the water content will also get sucked into the chipboard and dry everything out quicker than you might like, not to mention that fiber from the chipboard will lift and clog up the end of your brush.

I'm sad I didn't take process photos as I painted this piece. I'd have liked to show how I built up the layers. Once the piece was finished, I scanned it and did a little digital touch up by adding a little bit of highlight to the upper left and shadow to the lower right.

The bookplate is available in my online store: mouseguard.bigcartel.com

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