Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Recent Commissions

Here are some Toned Commissions from mostly from Lake Como Comic Art Fest and Heroes Con

A Scouting Mouse

A Fan's RPG Mouse Archer Character

Guardmouse with sword & torch

Raphael, a TMNT

Usagi Yojimbo

Guardmouse with a spear

Traveling Adventurer Guardmouse



Lone Wolf & Cub

Beep the Meep

Sci-Fi Mouse

TMNT in Samurai Armor on a Sketch Cover

Lieam with a crab looming

Weasel wearing House of Slaughter Mask
from Something is Killing the Children

urVa the Archer on a sketch cover

A fan's Harengon D&D character

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Guardmouse in Hawk Nest

Before leaving for Lake Como Comic Art Festival I finished a few inked pieces that would be Mouse Guard inked original Artwork available for sale.

My idea was that these would also serve as pages for the next Mouse Guard sketchbook tentatively titled: 'Past Whereabouts'.

To the left you can see the finished colored piece for the sketchbook, but below I'll walk through the process of creating the artwork.
This piece started with the mouse drawing, a Guardmouse holding on to the edge of something, a high rock face, a tree trunk, or––as I ultimately drew in, a hawk's nest.

As I drew the mouse, I liked the plan that this was a younger patrolling Gwendolyn before her time as a Matrirch (though I forgot to add her normal skirting which would help identify her, but also makes sense not to wear when climbing harrowing heights.)

The pencil sketch was scanned into Photoshop so I could block in some color to help me see what areas where what textures. I also added in a photo of a halberd blade for reference.

The above layout was printed out and taped to the back of a Strathmore 300 series sheet of smooth bristol. On my Huion Lightpad I can see through the surface of the bristol and use the printout as a guide to ink from.

I used Copic Multiliner SP pens to do the linework, most of which was focused on giving the nest and branches texture and depth while leaving Gwendolyn relatively clean so she could be seen.

The original inks for this piece are available for sale in my online store:
After the inks were finished, I scanned them into Photoshop and started the coloring process. This first step is called 'flatting' because it's just about adding flat colors to all the various areas (her fur color, her cloak color, the sky, the branches, the nest, etc.) It's a professional version of coloring-in-the-lines. 

At this stage I also added a color hold (areas where I want the inkwork to be a color other than black) to the spots on the eggs. I also end up adding another one to act as a light corona in the final coloring stage)
The final color rendering was done using Photoshop's Dodge and Burn tools (to lighten and darken whatever color is present) and a stock textured brush. I did use the paint brush a bit to make my own blush gradient in the background, and I selected areas with the lasso tool and shifted color balance to give nest twigs different tones and Gwendolyn's nose  bit of pink.

As I said at the start, this will eventually be published in my next sketchbook which may be out at the end of this year or the start of next (depending on timing with getting enough pages done between projects AND convention schedules)

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Morose Wooly Dragon

Last week 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). It takes place on the first Friday of the month.

I worked on my piece live on my Twitch stream while viewers worked at home and then on the following 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 two words: Wooly & Morose

I opened several tabs of google image searches of sad dragons, Pokemon's Snorlax, Rams & Sheep, and some Mercer Mayer illustrations

I started on copy paper with the head and then worried about fitting it on the paper, so I drew a small thumbnail of the body below it, scanned it into Photoshop and started combining and digitally drawing over the top until I had the bigger shapes figured out I also used a 3D model of Ram hors rotated to the right angle for reference).

I printed that rough out and on a lightpad drew tighter pencils on a lightpad and a new sheet of copy paper.

Those pencils were then re-scanned and I cleaned up my color blocking to help me see what areas were what colors (what was horn vs wool, etc).

I printed out the above design at full scale and taped that onto 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 pen to ink the art.

The inking on this piece started with the nose and mouth, but moved quickly to figuring out the texture and line density of the wooly hair so it felt matted and curly, but not heavy. I was unable to finish the inks on-stream, but returned to them later that night off-stream, where the inking continued on the rest of the body and the ankle and tail wool.

The next day, I scanned the inks to I could start the coloring process. After prepping the digital scan of the inks, I established a color hold (an area where I want the ink to be a color other than black)––the overall lines became a dark brown. Most of my #DiscoveringDragon pieces have at least two color holds, I think the is the first where I only needed one.

Then it was time to start the color flatting process––basically professional coloring-in-the-lines. Some of this is just to make it easy to re-isolate various parts when doing later painting & rendering. Most of the colors were established in the rough, but I played with the final value/hue choices.

For the final colors I used the dodge and burn tools to add shadows and highlights to give the dragon some form. Most of the work was in darkening in all the shadows in the wooly bits. and then––I opted to do a 2nd color hold on just the wooly bits. Below you can again see the final Dragon...

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




Nate Pride




Kasey Snow


Tuesday, June 4, 2024

HEROES CON 2024 paintings

For my return to Heroes Con next weekend, I've painted two 16" x 20" pieces in watercolor and color pencil. One of them will be put into the Saturday art auction at the convention. The other will be available at my table the next day with a price set from the winning bid of Saturday's auction.

I have not decided which will be in the auction––I think I'll decide when I arrive in Charlotte.

I wanted the paintings to work together as a pair (so if the winning bidder wants the other painting they can come buy it from me) but where each piece would work as a stand alone piece if they went to different buyers. I opted this year to do facing mirrored portraits of Celanawe and Midnight each with the Black Axe.

I did quick color blocking to help me see the forms but also to plan my colors and value ranges when doing the paintings

The pencil drawings were printed out (over 4 sheets of paper that needed to be patchwork taped together––with the help of a grid to get the alignment right) with graphite paper then placed between the printout and the illustration board.

By tracing over the printout drawing with a ballpoint pen, the pressure transfers the image onto the illustration board. This was done for both pieces 

I set up my two paintings and my watercolor trays (old Windsor Newton Cotman tubes that have mostly dried up and I use like dry cakes) on a TV tray and my desk with a large glass of water. It's nice to have two paintings going at once, so that you can swap between them when one is too wet to work and needs some drying time.

I painted the Mouse Guard portraits on my Twitch stream at the end of May.

Instead of now showing a great deal of photos tracking the progress/process of the paintings, I've put them all together in a YouTube video that you can watch below

Watch directly on YouTube:

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