Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Recent Commissions

This week I'm sharing a batch of commissions from San Diego and Boston.

A Mouse Astronomer:
I did a little google image searching to mentally combine several concepts for what a Medieval Astronomer would look like or what tools he'd use. Here are examples of the types of pieces I used as inspiration: example A, example B,  example C
That "C" example is where I took the the tapestry and costume cues.

Welcoming Baby Rex:
A family had me commemorate the engagement of their daughter a few years back (the piece on the lower left here). Now they are married and asked me to depict the welcoming of baby Rex. I kept the same costumes for the parents and also the location, but inside now instead of the balcony.

Death Hissing Snake:
This was a piece I started as a commission example, but sold recently out of my portfolio. I saw a photo of a blind mink-eyed snake and thought that was a good creepy basis for a classic mouse battle. 

Mouse Glassblower:
In my product description in my online store for commissions, I listed the idea of just listing a trade for a mouse like: Mouse Glassblower. This customer liked that idea so much, she requested just that. I'd drawn some glassblowing mice in Fall 1152, but wanted to show a studio/workshop with more tools and work items. The tied & hanging inventory is my idea, and while not very practical, looks cool.

Sadie & Kenzie at the pond:
The visuals for this were very specifically picked by the fan who commissioned the piece, from the dragon fly and the acorns to the pond, lillypads and frogs. Kenzie and Sadie holding paws was also in the request. Unfortunately I couldn't also fit in the pinecone or fireflies...but for artistic balance, I have to reign it in every now and then.

Young Fisher-mice:
Requested here were two young male mice fishing at night in the light of the moon and a few lanterns. It was fun to design a little twig & rope net for capturing the minnow, and I think I want to do more of those fabric/paper lanterns in future Mouse Guard stories. What was really cool was when the owner of the commission came to pick it up with his son, he asked to see "the commission of the mice & fish" I'd tweeted earlier that day...and when looking at it he revealed to the son that it was the father who commissioned it. It was a surprise.

I don't often draw human ladies for commissions, and I tend to steer people away from them (I don't really know why you'd spend the money for me to draw a Power Girl or Wonder Woman...seems a waste for an ugly piece) In this case, I thought I could work with the mood, time period garments & weapons and use the stylization of the Pixar design to my advantage. Wish I'd made the wisps glow a bit more.

Mouse & Crocodile:
"A mouse or group of mice riding the head of a partially submerged Crocodile like Washington crossing the Delaware". I opted to raise the croc's head out of the water more than the classic mostly submerged swimming profile to make the piece more interesting and dynamic.

Ragnier the Hunter:
A fan who saw a previous piece I did of Ragnier (a character who will appear in this Fall's Baldwin the Brave and Other Tales Mouse Guard collection) asked me to do a Ragnier piece for him. I looked up reference for an owl skull (this owl must've been a small one). With the story he's appearing in not-yet published and to have had 2 commission of him, I think he's a popular character I may need to revisit in another Mouse Guard story.

Raphael Riding Grimlock:
As an homage to my TMNT in Time #1 cover (where I had the 4 turtles on the back of a dinosaur) and the most recent Transformer's movie featuring Optimus Prime riding Grimlock, this fan asked me to mash the two together. It was hard to come up with solid useable reference for Grimlock since the original toy had such limited movement and more recent versions are not my idea of the king of the dinobots.

A Mouse Wizard:
These days I've stopped doing any commissions of Mouse Guard style mice doing/being something outside of what they'd be in one of my stories or a Legends of the Guard story. But when this fan requested a mouse wizard, I had to make an exception and go full out. The fan understood and mentioned that the wizard could look like something from a plauseable Legends story, but I couldn't resist getting a Dumbledore & Gandalf level wizard to cast a spell on the page.

I just released my 2014 sketchbook featuring last year's mouse commissions colored for the 24 page collection. You can now purchase it through my online store. The above commissions were drawn after this book was sent to the printer, but they will appear in the already-in-the-works 2015 sketchbook. If you are interested in getting a commission from me, I take a limited number of commissions before most conventions I attend. In my online store, I offer them up as pre-order items about a week before that particular convention. The piece MUST be picked up at the show. The pieces are inked 7” x 7” pieces on 12” x 12” bristol with the detail level of a finished Mouse Guard page.

2014 Appearances:
NY Comic Con: Oct. 9-12
Lucca Comics & Games (Italy): Oct. 31-Nov. 2

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Fan Art

It's been a while since I've shared the Mouse Guard Fan Art I receive. So here's a helping of awesome appreciation from my talented readers:

Daniel Constantin Popa


Ashley McLaughlin

Bella Julia Martinez

Bradd Parton

Bradley Phillips

Chris Knox

Elizabeth McGann

Garrett Pomeroy


Jacob Matthess

A Tattooed Fan at NYCC
(Sorry I missed your name)

M Gardner

Melisa Ong Mi Qin

Rachel Bennett

Sam Willits

Steam Mouse

Alex Cockburn

Craig Brasco

Eric Muller

Heriberto Valle Martinez

Luan Ferreira 

Ryan Allen


Paul Davies

Sophie Portal (age 8)

2014 Appearances:
NY Comic Con: Oct. 9-12

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

RPG 2nd Edition Card Art

The Second Edition of the Mouse Guard Role Playing Game will have new cards. In the original release, the cards were only a part of the boxed set and only in the boxed set supplement were the rules to implement the cards explained. For the Second Edition, Luke has included the rules in the Hardcover Rulebook, and decks of cards will be made available separately through Archaia (though they will also be included in a new release of the Boxed Set) For today's blogpost, I'll give a rundown of the types of cards and show the newly created art for each group. (Note this is only the art for the cards, other information, borers, rules, text, etc will adorn the final cards)
Action Cards:
In the Mouse Guard RPG, the characters and GM plan out their three actions for a round in a conflict secretly from one another and then revealed and resolved in order. The deck of cards allows each player (and the GM) to easily set face-down in front of them their action cards for each round and flip them over as they need to be revealed. The four types of actions are Feint (represented by Kenzie), Maneuver (represented by Sadie), Defend (represented by Rand), and Attack (represented by Saxon). Each card will contain rule details for how to handle each action type. And the Action cards in Mouse Guard aren't just for fighting, but can be used for any type of conflict in the game: a race to a goal, a public debate, even a cooking competition!

Weapon Cards:
In the Mouse Guard RPG, each weapon has rules associated with it that are more to do with how they act in use than just the amount of damage each inflicts. For players to keep track of those rules and swap weapons if they wish, they can use the cards and keep their weapon(s) in front of them for easy reference. For the new art, I tried to show a variety of styles of weapons where possible, but overall just make everything look cool and like it came from a Mouse Guard story you read (even if you haven't yet). The weapons cards consist of: Axe, Mace, Staff, Knife, Spear, Halberd, Bow & Arrows, Sword, Shield, Sling, and Hook & Line.

Luke also asked me to include for this release (something that was not in the original Boxed Set) artwork for new Armor Cards: Heavy and Light. Each have a bonus for using in terms of defense, but come with other downsides in terms of maneuverability and hiding. The heavy armor I based on a piece I drew as a commission that became the 2011 sketchbook cover, and the light is based on Jeremy Bastian's take on Midnight's armor from Fall 1152.

Condition Cards:
Instead of the traditional hit points as a way of marking the effects of damage and failures the Mouse Guard RPG puts conditions on your character which each have their own way of affecting your character and their own way to recover from them. The rules for each take up the majority of the card space, but for these instead of drawing 5 unhappy & unpleasant looking mice, I opted to design a unique border to stylize the card's condition type (each with a unique palate to help with distinguishing the cards from one another. Below you will find the art for Angry, Sick, Tired, Injured, and Hungry/Thirsty.

Luke, Archaia, and I do not have a firm date for the Mouse Guard RPG Second Edition, the Boxed set, or these cards, but the materials are being final-edited and proofed currently. We will update when we can....However....

Swords and Strongholds:
We are in the final two days of our  Kickstarter for the Mouse Guard board game Swords & Strongholds designed by Luke Crane & I. Now's the time to secure your copy: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/burningwheel/mouse-guard-swords-and-strongholds

2014 Appearances:
Boston Comic Con: August 8-10
NY Comic Con: Oct. 9-12

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

RPG 2nd Edition Boxed Set Artwork

With the 2nd Edition of the Mouse Guard RPG coming,  I created new art not only for the Hardcover Rulebook, but also for the new Boxed Set. This boxed set (like the last one) will contain the rulebook in softcover, a GM screen, Dice, Cards, Character Sheets, a map, and a supplement book.

For this week's blogpost I'm showing my process for creating the artwork for the 2nd Edition Boxed Set box.

I wanted this new art to catch up with the three mice show on the original boxed set artwork. Having them only watched by a predator as they do some non-fighting task seemed like a fun way to offset the new heat-of-battle themed hardcover art. I opted for the fan-favorite leaf-boat (below I describe more about the boat model I made and used for this piece) I sketched the different mice and the weasel separately in my sketchbook and then scanned them, tinted them, and reassembled them into this composite composition.

Because I needed a leaf boat that was more detailed than the one Sadie paddles in to Calogero (Fall 1152), I made a model. I found two leaf images online and printed them out, then mirrored them and did it again. I glued the mirrored leaves together so each were 2 paper layers thick and printed on both sides. Using little toothpick sized scraps of wood, I pinned together a leaf boat shape that looked plausible and aesthetically pleasing.

I inked the art on Strathmore 300 series bristol with Copic Multiliners (the 0.3 & 0.7 nibs) and a bit of ink and brush for the water. Inking on a light table I was able to use a printout of my digital composite above as a guide instead of re-penciling the piece on bristol. I left a lot of the water open for color and pushed the texture back to the background. Creating groupings of texture like this causes contrast which can help push the foreground away from the background.

I scanned the inked artwork and started flatting the shapes in with really awful colors. Other than using the original boxed set art as a color guide for the mice, I had no idea what my overall palate would be for this piece, but when flatting, you don't really need to know...you just establish that the fur is a different color than the cloak, which is different from the leaf boat, etc. I also created several color holds at this stage (areas where I want the inkwork to be a color instead of black) some of these were for details or water, but others were used to push the background and the foreground even further apart.

Here again is the final rendered colors for the piece.

Luke, Archaia, and I do not have a firm date for the Mouse Guard RPG Second Edition Boxed set, but the materials are being final-edited and proofed currently. We will update when we can.

Swords and Strongholds:
And a reminder that the Kickstarter for the Mouse Guard board game Swords & Strongholds designed by Luke Crane & I is still  going here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/burningwheel/mouse-guard-swords-and-strongholds

2014 Appearances:
Boston Comic Con: August 8-10
NY Comic Con: Oct. 9-12

Blog Archive