Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Loukas & Saxon Calendar Piece

I was asked by Scott Dunbier if I'd like to contribute an original piece to the charity auction he runs for the Hero Initiative at Baltimore Comic Con next month

The original inks (see below) were turned over to Scott at San Diego Comic Con and will be included in the auction.

But I decided even before I started on the piece, that it could pull double duty and be used for a 2024 Mouse Guard Calendar. So, my process was more involved since I knew the final piece would also be colored and used for print.

For a subject matter I started with the idea of drawing Loukas, Saxon's Mentor who made an appearance in Winter. I thought it would be cool to have a strong veteran of the Mouse Guard as the focus of the piece. But somewhere in drawing him on a sheet of copy paper, I also wondered what it would look like if I added a young Saxon. And as I drew Sax, I decided not to draw a cloak, but to draw him in a pre-Guard induction vest.

These drawings were done on copy paper, scanned into Photoshop, assembled with a quick digital flat painting and background
I printed the above digitally assembled layout onto two sheets of legal sized paper (taping them together so the image was 11" x 11") and then taped them with painter's tape onto the bak of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series Bristol.

On my Huion Lightpapd I was able to see through the surface of the bristol down to the printout and use it as my 'pencils' as I worked. I used Copic Multiliner SP pens (the 0.3 & 0.7 nibs). 

Because the inks were set to be auctioned, I wanted to do something with lots of line weight and texture while sting being clear to read and very clean.

With the inks finished, I scanned them into Photoshop and started the coloring process. That first step is known as 'Flatting' and essentially is professional coloring-inside-the-lines. A lot of the color palette was established both by the cannon of what I know the characters look like, but also from my layout stage. 

Here I also established color holds (areas where I want the ink lines to be a color other than black) on the oak leaves, Loukas' plaid tunic, and Saxon's scratches.

The final step was to render the piece. I used the Dodge and Burn tools in Photoshop while using a stock textured brush.

The colored image will appear in a calendar for 2024––AND the original inks will be in the Hero Initiative auction at Baltimore Comic Con.

Art will be available for viewing both at the Baltimore Comic-Con, and at Hero Initiative’s website: https://www.heroinitiative.org/portfolio-item/2023-baltimore-comic-con-auction/

In addition to bidding at the auction, advance proxy bidding will also be available via Hero’s website with a strict deadline of August 31, 2023. Hero will begin accepting bids on August 21.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

The Bygones Fan Art

For several years I've been a fan of the music of Joshua Lee Turner. I've enjoyed his solo work, his collaborations with Carson McKee, and more recently his pairing with Allison Young as 'The Bygones'.

Josh & Allison currently have a Kickstarter running for a first full album and tour for The Bygones (funded in less than 48 hours!): https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thebygonesband/the-bygones-first-full-album-and-tour-3

I decided, just for fun, to do some fan art of the duo as birds in a mock poster/tee design––sort of as a thank you for the enjoyment they've given me through their music. Below is a bit of process & inspiration for the piece, as well as some links to videos of Josh, Carson, & Allison's music.

The piece started with inspiration of a drawing Allison did as part of the Kickstarter graphics with little bird versions of them singing and playing the guitar. I based my birds on house finches, but added in some glasses on Josh and looked at specific references of his guitar and classic microphones that Allison uses when she preforms with Post Modern Jukebox.

I drew the duo traditionally in pencil on copy paper and then added some digital tweaks for my layout with a stock banner shape, clip art notes, a font for the text, and straight lines for the guitar strings.

I printed the above layout onto copy paper and taped it to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol. On my Huion lightpad I was able to see through the surface of the bristol to the image below and used it as a guide to ink from.

For pens I used Copic Multiliner SP's with the 0.7 & 0.3 nibs. The pencils were pretty tight with a lot of lineweight work already done, so the inks were mostly about reinforcing that without screwing it up and overworking it in the process.

In addition to the full color version you saw at the top of this post (where I ignored real-life finch color patterns and went for nodes to Allison & Josh's hair as base colors), I tried making something a little more vintage looking with a monochrome grey-blue tinted version.

Again, this art was done just for fun, to share with Josh & Allison (who wrote me back very kind notes on Instagram), and to help get more eyes and ears to music and musicians I appreciate.

Here is The Bygones Kickstarter link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thebygonesband/the-bygones-first-full-album-and-tour-3 (still time to help fund and get a copy of the album early)

And here are some videos of the music that inspired me to back their album and follow their music.

Public Life –– Solo Album by Joshua Lee Turner

After seeing some of Josh's YouTube videos of him playing covers or explaining Nick Drake's guitar specifics, this was the work of his that got me hooked. It was my go-to Pandemic soundtrack starter. There's a Paul Simon & Nick Drake quality to this album that I really love.

Below is the entire album as a playlist on YouTube:

UNAMERICANA –– The Other Favorites
(Carson McKee & Joshua Lee Turner)

Carson is Josh's long time friend and collaborator and together they are a Folk duo called The Other Favorites. This album was released during the pandemic––I think one track per week. There's a Kingston Trio meets Simon and Garfunkel meets Tennessee Ernie Ford feel to the set-list, and while it leans more classic country than I normally go, I'm happy to be there for this album.

Below is the entire album as a single video on YouTube:

In The Hollow Wood ––– The Bygones

As the Kickstarter is currently going for their first album, 
there isn't a lot of original music available from The Bygones yet...but Josh and Allison have performed many times together on Josh's YouTube channel.

But one song that has been released is 'In The Hollow Wood' A dreamy lullaby folk ballad that evokes the tale of Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree.

Below is a video of that song on YouTube:


Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Wild's End cover

Wilds End is back for a 4th series. From Dan Abnett & I.N.J. Culbard, publisged by BOOM! Studios is this anthropomorphic mix of Wind in the Willows & War of the Worlds.

I've been asked to provide a variant cover for Issue #3 of the series and in this blogpost I'll go through the steps to making the final art you see here.

If you'd like to go back and see a variant cover I did for Volume 1, I have a blogpost for that one too: http://davidpetersen.blogspot.com/2014/06/wilds-end-cover-process.html

Layout: I was given an outline of some early issues, some character concept art, and some editor suggestions for cover ideas. One of which I mis-read as 'All the characters shocked to be pulling in one of the aliens in their fishing net'––when in-fact it was more like 'one character, looking away not noticing the alien is trapped in the net'. Whoops. 

Well I drew these characters each separately on copy paper, and assembled them in Photoshop. I also had a 3D fishing boat model as reference, and I pasted in a drawing from the concept art of the alien 'lantern body'. I added some flat colors to help me see all the forms and plan for avoiding tangents and bad compositional overlaps, and I sent it off, apologizing to the editor for misreading the brief and hoping it would still be ok.

Inks: Turns out it was ok. The team liked the composition and felt that since this is a variant cover, I had more narrative leeway. I printed out the above layout and taped it to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series 11" x 17" bristol.

On my Huion lightpad I was able to see through the surface of the bristol to use the printout as a guide to ink from. I used Copic Multiliner SP pens (the 0.7 & 0.3 nibs).

Most of the inking was straight forward, but I did consider inking the badger character's dark spots flat black, before opting to leave them open so I could show more fur texture and details around the muscles & eye.

Color Flats: When the inks were approved by the editorial team, I scanned them in and started the coloring process by painting in mostly flat colors. This process, known as 'flatting' is a professional version of coloring in the lines, but also helps set up the digital file to be able to later re-isolate areas to render them separately. 

Many of my color choices were already established in my layout, but they still needed subtle shifts in value, hue, and saturation until it all looked right against the inked lines rather than a pencil drawing collage. 

I added in color hold (areas where I want the ink work to be a color other than black) on the Badger's tattoos, the ship's lettering, the alien's tentacles, the cat's eyes, and the polkadot bandanna.

Final Colors: The last step was to render the color. I do this with Photoshop's Dodge (lighten) and Burn (Darken) tools and a stock textured brush (Dry Brush).

Around character's noses I also lassoed areas and tinted them a bit pinker/warmer as well as using a textured paint brush to add some rust coloration to the ship's hull.

Wild's End Vol. 4 Issue #3 is available for your comic shop tomorrow August 16th

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Many-Eyed Bone Moon Dragon

Last Friday on my Twitch Stream, we did the #DiscoveringDragons Community-Draw-Along! It's a fun event where I welcome all skill levels to push their pencils (or whatever tools they use to make art).

I worked on my piece live on my Twitch stream while viewers worked at home and then on Monday we shared our finished pieces.

Here is my finished colored Dragon. And below are my steps to create it as well as the community submissions.

For #DiscoveringDragons, I post two or three prompt words for everyone to make into a dragon. It's a nice framework for artists of any skill level to focus some time on an 'assignment' to shake the rust off or get the pencil moving again––all while also being loose enough that there's plenty of room for individual expression and interpretation.

This month the prompt was three words: Many-Eyed, Bone, & Moon.

I opened several tabs of google image searches of dragons, pterosaur skeletons, bird skulls, and of the moon phases. 

I knew from the start I wanted a dragon that had the stance of a walking pterosaur. So, I started with that body drawing. I didn't leave quite enough room on the sheet of copy paper for the head, so I drew it separately on another sheet (referencing bird skulls, but adding more possible eye sockets).

Somewhere in there my concept of a halo of moons in their phases (with the skull lighting them like a sun) it dawned on me that those moons could also serve as the many eyes. 

I scanned the drawings I had, merged them in photoshop, used some shape tools to lay out the moon-eyes and did a quick color blocking to see the forms better. I then printed it out so I could ink it.

The printout was taped it to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol. Using a lightpad, I was able to see through the surface of the bristol as I inked the dragon. I used Copic Multiliner 0.7 SP pen to ink the art. 

Most of the inking was straight forward other than the on-the-spot line weights and contours that imply more form and planes to the bones. I also wanted to play with the idea of this dragon glowing a bit, but also letting off some darkness (like the Balrog being a creature of smoke and shadow--but also flame). So, on the back of the bristol I stippled in a darkness aura around the creature while leaving a little air gap around it. 

I was unable to get the inks finished before my stream ended but I wished the viewers all luck with their pieces and told them we'd take a look at everyone's work on Monday.

After some dinner, I came back up to the studio and finished inking the piece and then scanned both sides of the bristol and assembled them to start the color flatting process––basically professional coloring-in-the-lines. I kept the idea from the layout phase of using a yellow-purple contrast for my color scheme (though toned down more). I also added color holds to the darkness aura (making it a pale mauve), the moon-eyes, & pupils.

For the final colors and all the highlights, shading, and texture I used the dodge and burn tools with a stock photoshop texture brush. Below you can again see the final rendered dragon.

But, as this is a community event, I wanted to share all the other entries posted in the Discord.







Sleepless Ninja



Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Recent Toned Commissions

 My Toned Commissions from SDCC

A Guardmouse that resembles the fan who commissioned it.

Hawk Wizard

A Frodo-esque Mouse

A Samwise-esque Mouse

Usagi Yojimbo


Mrs. Brisby from Secret of NIMH


Fan's RPG character with a concertina 

A dog named River

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