Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Mouse Guard Lanyard!

I've designed & produced a Mouse Guard Lanyard which will be for sale at Emerald City Comic Con  and available in my online store soon after we return home. 

It's a 1.5" wide sublimated ribbon lanyard with printing on the front and back side as well as a lobster claw style clasp for your badge/id.

This is an item Julia has wanted us to produce for some time, but I was always hesitant about, but after ECCC last year, I surrendered and started looking into the manufacturing options (Thanks here to Jim Demonakos & James Kim for their help).

Below are some of the process for creating the very thin and very long art.

I toyed around with a few different design ideas (a few of which I may revisit if sales on this are successful enough) and landed on something that featured many of the main characters as well as some Ivy and the Mouse Guard logo.

In playing with a layout, I dropped in some art from character paintings I did for SDCC last year and liked how they looked so I redrew them as crisp ink drawings. I also did new art to add in Celanawe and Gwendolyn (and I would have added in Rand too if he'd have fit). I inked the characters in two groups (even though Lieam overlaps Sadie) so that I could fit them easier on a sheet of bristol board and perhaps make the original art more sellable.
For the ivy, I needed a very long stretch of it. I inked everything twice as large as it would end up printing (that way I could ink it comfortably, but it wasn't so large that I'd loose detail in the reduction).

That meant I needed 51" of ivy 3" wide. So, I broke up the ivy into 3 segments that overlapped slightly that I could piece back together in Photoshop after scanning (you can see some registration & calibration marks in the margins). The inks for these were done on a sheet of 14" x 17" Strathmore bristol with Copic Multiliner SP pens.
After everything was scanned and assembled I had a very tall file to get ready for printing. I've separated it into two parts here for the sake of the blog to make it easier to see.

The characters colors were pretty well established from having draw and colored the same characters for years (though I always make micro adjustments to compensate for the colors surrounding those established colors). I also established color holds (areas where I want the ink lines to be a color other than black) on the ivy veins and Gwendolyn's dress.

I played with the ivy colors for a while too--there are lots of shades of green and I needed these to be a bit warmer and more subtle than most ivy you'd see in the wild.
The last step before sending them off to manufacturing was to render all the the color and finish the logo/emblem treatment.

I used the Dodge and Burn tools in Photoshop with a stock textured brush to add all the shadows and highlights. 

There was also a period of experimentation for how best to make sure the logo & emblem didn't get lost in the business of the ivy, but I'm happy with the final results.

As I said above, the lanyard will be available at Emerald City Comic Con at the end of this month and in my online store shortly after we return home.

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