Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Animal Farm

Back in January, I drew a propaganda-esque image of Napoleon from George Orwell's Animal Farm using a quote from the book: "It was as though the world had turned upside-down...There was nothing there now except a single Commandment. It ran: ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS." I know Animal Farm is an allegory about Communism, but I think the sentiments about corrupt leaders, rule manipulation, forced inequality, and hypocrisy can be used as a warning for many-a-circumstance

At a time when I was hearing from some fans on social media that they didn't think I should talk politics but post art instead, I decided to illustrate a powerful quote from a 70+ year-old book that would speak louder than my own type. The social media posts were shared, liked, & retweeted. The original art (left) was offered up for sale with 100% of the proceeds going to the ACLU.

I have made the poster available in 2 FREE variations: Classroom & Protest with links to the High-Res 11"x17" .PDFs for you to download, print,
and use for your classroom, library, home, office, or march.

Classroom Poster

High res Poster file:

Protest Poster

High res Poster file:

2017 Appearances: 
San Diego Comic Con: July 19-23
Baltimore Comic Con: Sept. 22-24

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Lieam 5x7 Print Process

I've been trying to offer up more 5" x 7" matted prints at conventions and in my online store. The most requested character for one of these prints in 2016 was Lieam. The redfurred mouse never was supposed to be as important to the Mouse Guard story as he ended up being, but after his heroic moment in issue #1, his role only became more important with each appearance. In today's blogpost I'll share the process for creating the image for this print.

I merged together several rough sketches (one of Lieam, one of his sword, another of the stairs and then a fourth of the ivy) in Photoshop to create this rough. This way, I could reposition and alter each component (resizing, rotating, etc.) and add some tinted color to help me see the difference in what was ivy vs stone wall or Lieam himself.

I printed out the above layout and taped it to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol. On a light pad (I really like the Huion brand of these) I can see through the surface of the Bristol and ink using the printout as my 'pencils' to guide me. I used Copic Multiliners (the 0.7 & 0.3 nibs). I broadcast LIVE as I inked this piece over on Facebook and you can  watch the video here: https://www.facebook.com/david.petersen.777/videos/10155779637514778/

Color Flats & Final Colors:
After scanning in the inked piece (and adjusting the levels and cleaning up any dirt, dust, etc from the scan) the first step to coloring is Flatting in colors. This means, like any good coloring book user, you color spaces inside the lines. But when flatting, you don't need to worry at all about shading, lighting effects, or even if you are going to use the real colors.

After the areas of color are isolated by flat colors, I went in an rendered each part using the Dodge & Burn tools in Photoshop. I have my settings on Range: Highlights and 1% exposure most of the time and I use a textured brush.

I also broadcast as I flatted and colored this piece: https://www.facebook.com/david.petersen.777/videos/10155799623789778/

The final 5" x 7" matted print will be available at my 2017 convention appearances and in my online store.

More of the 5x7" Mouse Guard character print process Blogposts:
Saxon Print: http://davidpetersen.blogspot.com/2015/04/5x7-saxon-print-process.html
Sadie Print: http://davidpetersen.blogspot.com/2016/04/sadie-5x7-print.html
Gwendolyn Print: http://davidpetersen.blogspot.com/2016/05/gwendolyn-print.html
Kenzie Print: http://davidpetersen.blogspot.com/2017/02/kenzie-5-x-7-print-process.html
Rand Print: http://davidpetersen.blogspot.com/2017/05/rand-5x7-print-process.html

2017 Appearances: 
Heroes Con: Jun. 16-18
San Diego Comic Con: July 19-23
Baltimore Comic Con: Sept. 22-24

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Haven Guild Founders process

This piece of the four founders of the Haven Guild (see Mouse Guard: The Black Axe) will appear in my 2017 sketchbook. I'd depicted representations of these characters in various Mouse Guard volumes as embroidery and wooden statuary shrines, but never the real-mouse versions. So, in an attempt to deepen the lore of the world of Mouse Guard, I created this piece both for reference as well as fodder for my sketchbook (to be available at SDCC and in my online store thereafter). For today's blogpost, I walk through the steps (including a video stream) of creating this piece.

In The Black Axe volume, I'd introduced the clandestine order called the "Haven Guild", an architectural discipline group who held the secrets of creating the grandest of mouse architecture (including all the ins and outs of secret passageways for the Black Axe) as well as the most important developments for each of their trades. On copy paper, I drew out the four mice, roughly in the same posture as their wooden counterparts in Black Axe. There are two other mice who play a role in the history of the Haven Guild, one is a rejected founder, the other a later addition...but for the purposes of the lore of the Haven Guild, there are only 4 founders.

I'd always thought of these guys as my mousey versions of the Hogwarts founders, but perhaps without the drama of Salazar Slytherin exiting the group. While wanting to show real-mouse depictions of the characters, I wanted the framing of them to still show some reverence, some clout, and prestige. I found a border pattern in an online search and then squashed, stretched, chopped, condensed, and tweaked it until it became a nice frame for each Haven Guild member. I dropped in scans of the mouse sketches (tinted for clarity) as well as each's symbol from the Black Axe Hardcover extras, and a checkerboard background and some typography for their names.

I printed out the photoshop composited layout seen above onto copy paper. I then taped that printout to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol. On my Huion lightpad I can see through the bristol down to the printout and ink the piece without having to transfer it or erase any pencil lines. To ink I use Copic Multiliners (the SP aluminum bodied refillable versions) with the 0.7 & 0.3 nibs.

I streamed this part of the process on Facebook LIVE as I worked on it back in March. You can watch that video below, as I ink and take questions from the viewers:

After the inks were finished and scanned, I started the coloring process. In photoshop, I set the scan of the inks as my topmost layer and set it to 'multiply' mode (which means that everything white is treated as transparent and anything black is opaque. On layers below the inks layer I then start drawing in flat colors for all the various parts. The important thing here isn't so much the color choices as it is about just coloring everything a different color and staying within the lines. I did have a rough palate I knew to use based on color notes I'd already given the characters in the Black Axe Hardcover extras (and pulling in a little Hogwarts as well)

Here again are the final colors. Using the Dodge and Burn tools in Photoshop with a stock textured brush, I rendered all the fur, clothing, checkers, borders, tools, and flesh of the Haven Guild.

I also added some color-holds, a term which basically amounts to painting over the inkwork so those lines become a painted color rather than flat back. This allows me to temper the checker pattern grid, the type, and the symbols.

2017 Appearances: 
San Diego Comic Con: July 19-23
Baltimore Comic Con: Sept. 22-24

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Sparrow 5x7 Print Process

For 2017 I'll be introducing a lot of new 5"x7" matted prints to my convention appearances and in my online store. Fans have been enjoying the Saxon, Gwendolyn, Sadie, and Kenzie prints in the same format, so in addition to adding more guardmouse characters for 2017, I'm also adding more animals/scenes.

In this post, I'll be sharing the process of creating the sparrow and banner artwork to the left from concept to finished colors.

Julia likes when I draw birds. So for one of the more animal-centric prints I decided to focus on a sparrow. But as I was drawing it, I really didn't want to add a mouse. So, I just kept looking at reference and doing a tight detailed pencil drawing of the sparrow.  This is much more detailed and tight than my pencils are usually, but with all the delicate feathers, the way the tuck and the different textures of them around the neck and head and belly, I wanted my sketch to have all the info I needed when I'd get to the inking stage. Somehow, adding a mouse to this just felt like a stunt, not necessary to the drawing.

In photoshop I placed the sparrow pencils in the format template for my prints and painted in the tree branches to help me visualize if the piece really did need a mouse. Turns out it needed something, but instead of a mouse, I opted for banners streaming from the branches. Are these mouse flags? are they sparrow? or some other tree-canopy animal? It's not clear...though I'd bet on mouse.

I'd also considered making some kind of tall design, text, or symbol on the flags, but again decided to let the sparrow be the focus.

I printed out the photoshop assembled layout and taped it to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol and inked on a lightpad. I use a Huion lightpad that allows me to see the printout through the surface of the bristol. This means that on the surface of the bristol will only be my inks, no pencil lines to erase (though sometimes, I do tighten up the pencils a bit as I work if the layout sketch is too loose). For pens I used Copic Multiliners, the 0.7 & 0.3 nibs. After finishing inking what was in the rough, I decided to silhouette more branches in the background, but was careful not to have them intersect any of the existing linework to make them easier to isolate for color holds later. .

Once the inks are scanned, I start the process of flatting the piece for color. This means laying in flat color (no concerns with shading or texture) to establish that areas like the sparrow's various feather tones, the branches and banners.

Once the flat colors are in I start rendering each area using the dodge and burn tools (lighten and darken) with a textured brush. I also added a color hold on all the branches in the background.

Here again is the finished colored artwork. This print and many more will be available at any of my convention appearances this year was well as in my online store.

For process posts on previous prints:

2017 Appearances: 
San Diego Comic Con: July 19-23
Baltimore Comic Con: Sept. 22-24

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Mouse Guard Model Video: A Ship of Shell & Timber Scrap

For the fifth issue/chapter of The Black Axe, I built a model of a junk boat made of mouse-salvaged materials. With the fan excitement over the video of Adam Savage talking to me about my models on Tested.com I wanted to do some videos where I talk about a specific model, how I built it, what the materials were, and why I built it in the first place.

Below you can watch as I explain how I made the model modular to protect my initial craftwork on it:

For another Blogpost on this model : 

2017 Appearances: 
San Diego Comic Con: July 19-23
Baltimore Comic Con: Sept. 22-24

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Heroes-Con 2017 Auction 20" x 32" process

Each year HEROES Con has an art auction on Saturday night.
The proceeds go to help fund next year's HEROES CON, which is one of the last remaining independently owned comic-centric conventions. Shelton Drum & Co. Do a fantastic job of making everyone (exhibitors & attendees alike) feel at home & welcome. Some folks do their piece for the art auction up on a live art-stage at the convention (where attendees can watch the process). I prefer to do my piece at home in the studio where I can take more time, assure a level of quality, and not take away any table time for fans at the convention. For today's blogpost, I'll be sharing my process from start to finish:

Pencil sketches on copy paper of Saxon, Rand, & Kenzie. I then scanned these and arranged them into a composition on a mossy tree branch in Photoshop...

The layout is too big to print, so I break it up into single copy paper sheet segments and print those. The grid is to help align & register the 9 pieces of paper back into one image.

Close-up of the printed layout.

The final painting will be on mat board, so to transfer the drawing to mat board, I start rubbing graphite all over the back side of the taped together layout...

Mostly I just go over where all my drawn lines are, but there are so many close lines, tik marks, etc, that I end up coating most of the paper.

Here is the paper coated and ready for transfer. It's a messy job.

I then tape the layout down to the matboard and then trace over my drawing with a ball-point pen. Wherever I applied pressure the graphite on the back transfers off onto the mat board. This part is tedious.

Here is the mat board with a successful transfer!

I then started applying the lightest washes to the largest areas with watercolor.

First washes done.

Went into the mossy greens next....

Then the pale fiddly fleshy subtle bits of mouse skin...

and more mouse skin...

Then time to cover some larger ground with the fur.

Saxon & Rand's fur built up a bit.

All mouse fur done with the tree branch filled in.

Cloaks were next...

Primary color patrol cloaks blocked in with some rendering.

With a smaller brush I painted in the border detail.

Weapons, and small misc completed means that the painting part of this piece is done!

Here is my watercolor try at the end of the process (the watercolor tubes are a hodgepodge, but mostly Windsor Newtons)

I feel like my watercolor work doesn't stand well on its own without a strong line. Instead of using ink (which would be too stark & bold) I "inked" the drawing with a dark brown color pencil.

Here again is the final piece 20" x 32". It will be in the Saturday evening auction.
I believe you must be present in Charlotte to bid, I'm looking forward to seeing this go to a good home.


2017 Appearances: 
Heroes Con: Jun. 16-18
San Diego Comic Con: July 19-23
Baltimore Comic Con: Sept. 22-24

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Toned Paper Commissions

Here are some more recent Toned Paper Commissions from Emerald City, C2E2, & my livestreams. I will be taking commissions like these at HEROES-CON later this month for $200. First-come/first served.

"Nelly" a fan's dog

Robin Hood

AOA Colossus

Mr. Mole


Armored Cat

Northern Saw-Whet Owl


Armored Mouse

Cheshire Cat


Scrooge McDuck

Tin Woodsman




Weasel Warlord


Tavern Mouse

Hogwarts Owl

2017 Appearances: 
Heroes Con: Jun. 16-18
San Diego Comic Con: July 19-23
Baltimore Comic Con: Sept. 22-24

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