Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Yulefrost Process

 During the Christmas season I drew, colored and inked the piece to the left as a Happy Holidays piece to share with fans. Of course, in Mouse Guard, the winter holiday is Yulefrost, and it's a bit more of a solemn affair. 

This artwork will serve double duty though and also be included in my next sketchbook (which I don't have a release date for)

In this blogpost, I'll go through the process of creating it.

I started with discovering the term 'Lychgate' (a covered gateway found at the entrance to a traditional English or English-style churchyard) and then went on a Google search bonanza of looking at all different styles of them. I landed on a 3D model of one up on sketchfab, which meant I could rotate it to any angle I wanted for reference. I also nabbed this photo of a pinecone to drape in candle, which is how I've drawn mice celebrating Yulefrost in the past.

Using the reference I drew the Lychgate and pinecone as a setting on a sheet of copy paper. Using my Huion lightpad, on a new sheet of copy paper place on top of it I drew the mouse and the candles.

I scanned these drawings into Photoshop and then assembled them (tinting the linework for the elements different colors to help me see which lines belonged to which objects.

I also added in a digital crescent moon shape and an overall border.

With the layout/pencils to my liking, I printed them out and taped them to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol. On the lightpad I was able to see through the bristol and use the printout as a guide to ink from. For pens I used Copic Multiliners (the 0.3 & 0.7 nibs mainly).

Most of the inking was straight forward and I tried to balance my density of linework throughout so that the piece would still be readable and not too muddy. 

I inked the stars and moon in black, even though I knew they'd be a color in the final product.

Then I scanned the inks and started the coloring process with flat colors (nicknamed 'flatting' for that very reason). I didn't have any colors to go on from my layout/pencils like I sometimes do, so I just started dropping in things that made sense (the blue of the night sky, a more grey-brown for the wood, etc.) 

Color holds (areas where I want the ink lines to be a color other than black) were applied to the moon, stars, snow, flames, and a glow around all the light sources.

The last step was to render the piece using the dodge and burn tools (lighten and darken) while also doing a bit of painting and color shifting to light the inside of the Lytchgate that would be affected by the lantern. The final detail was to digitally draw/paint in some puffy falling snow.

As I said, this piece will eventually be collected in my next sketchbook. And in case you didn't see it a few months agao––belated Happy Holidays to you all.

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