Guest Announcement! (Topatoco Special Edition Part 2)
Becky Dreistadt & Frank Gibson (Frequent collaborators and the creators of the webcomic Tiny Kitten Teeth. Becky is also a character designer on the upcoming Bee and PuppyCat cartoon, an artist on Adventure Time, and Adventure Time with Fionna & Cake comics. Frank is a co-writer on Bee and PuppyCat, and has written for the Adventure Time comic) beckyandfrank
Jeph Jacques (Creator/writer/artist of the webcomic Questionable Content) jephjacques
David Malki ! (Creator of Wondermark, and editor of the Machine of Death anthologies) davidmalki
Dante Shepherd (Creator of the photocomic Surviving The World and writer of PhD Unknown) danteshepherd
Chris Yates (Artist and creator the Baffler puzzles, and Nothing But Flowers) nbftv
That’s it for Topatoco guests, but you can check our full list on the Special Guests page!
Are you interested in how I made my Duck Amuck poster? Well, here is how it was done, with photos and everything! We also still have limited amounts of the poster on sale at our store!
Step 1 - Coming up with a concept can be really tricky when you get an assignment like this! I really love Chuck Jones and this is one of my favorite Looney Tunes shorts, if not my absolute favorite, so it’s a high pressure situation. After watching the short a number of times, I did a few sketches and none of them were coming out right. I came up with one concept, but I didn’t feel it was iconic enough, so I decided to focus on the defining scene with Daffy as the flower monster.
Re-drawing a scene isn’t really appealing so I wanted to find my own take on the character. Thinking about flowers, as I often do, I referenced Polish cut-out folk art, which tends to contain a lot of flowers. I also wanted to somehow show some of the other key scenes in the short and thought that the best way for that would to be to have them hidden in the borders looking as it if it was carved, to continue the folk art theme. The text is based on German and Pennsylvanian Dutch typography.
Step 2 - I proceeded onto pencils after the sketch was approved. I had to special order paper so I could make the image larger than the final print would be. That way it would look a little tighter once the image is shrunk down. I spent a lot of time measuring everything out for symmetry and equal-spacing, especially Daffy’s face.
Step 3 - Using my friend Zach’s lightbox, I then traced the pencils onto the piece of watercolor paper that I would be painting the poster on. I used paper clips to make sure that the paper wouldn’t shift too much to prevent the image from becoming crooked.
Step 4 - I made some paint studies to determine what colors I wanted to use and to have something to refer to when I’m mixing paint for the final. I was limited to seven colors so I had to really make sure that all of the seven colors would look nice together. I went with the second image because I found it was close enough to the original palette, but not too derivative.
Step 5 - I printed out the final pencils onto a piece of computer paper so I could color the whole image as a guide. I used colored pencils so that I could still see the outline pencils easily.
Step 6 - I start on the black first using Pebeo T7 Extra Fine Gouache and Rosemary & Co Sable brushes. I prefer working with the black first as I don’t have to mix it and I generally paint the background of a painting first so it’s easier to see the character. From here I begin outlining where i’m going to paint and then start filling in the shapes.
Step 7 - Next is mixing the colors. I do one at a time, mixing enough to do two coats of gouache, with a little extra in case I need to go back and fix the color later on. After I mix the paint I keep some out to use in the painting and then put the rest into a jar. With gouache it can dry very quickly and since I’m working on the painting over a period of days I need to make sure that I have all the paints saved so I could fix a color at anytime.
Step 8 - The second color is lime green, it takes two coats of paint. Next I make the color rose, put in into a jar and then fill in that color. I do this one by one with each color, sometimes having to go back in fill in areas that I have forgotten or even re-mixing a color because it looks bad right next to another color. The trickiest part is trying to prevent simultaneous contrast from occurring. This was really prevalent with any of the pinks next to the lime green. In order to fix this I would take out the problem color from its jar and mix in some of the contrasting color. After remixing the color I would test it on the painting to check if it was working. When it worked I re-potted it in a clean jar.
Step 9 - After I have finished doing two coats of every color, I go back and touch up everything. The final color that I paint is another coat of black for the background. At this point I’ve been handling the painting for about 10 days and there is dust and paint smears on the black so I have to fix it.
Step 10 - The painting is done! Now we drop the painting off at Static Medium in LA to get it photographed, as this thing is way too big for a scanner and for projects like this I need more accurate color reproduction. They always do an amazing job and just e-mail us a file when they’re done.
Step 11 - Now I need to do the lettering! The final poster is going to be screen printed and since this is a painting, the colors are not on separate layers in Photoshop. This means someone has to do pre-production to separate out the colors, which are the lovely people at D&L Screenprinting. It is easier for them if I letter separately, as this will ensure it comes out sharp enough. Using the lightbox again, I transfer the pencils to a piece of Bristol Board. I then hand inked the lettering with Nicker Comic Ink and a Size 1 brush. I then went over the lettering with white Pebeo Gouache to fix the problems and add the interior lines within the leaves.
Step 12 - I do the same with the credits, referring to the original credit font since it very nicely fits with the folk art look.
Step 13 - I bring the text into Photoshop and do more corrections, even though it was looking nice on the paper there were still some issues to address with the alignment of each letter. After I fix everything on the Cintiq I digitally color the fonts and put them over the painting. My partner Frank does color correction on the poster using levels in Photoshop, which pumps up certain colors and also makes them flatter so it will be easier for the printer to do the color separation. Now, almost two weeks later, we’re done and it’s off to D&L to do the final print!
Thanks again to Mondo for allowing me to work on such a fun project!
Like the poster? Get one of the last remaining APs at our store now!
I love you art style so much. Do you mind telling what kind of brushes and textures you use?
Thanks! My work is 100% traditional. I use Rosemary & Co Sable brushes, as well as a Winsor Newton Series 7. I work on a few different watercolor papers, ranging for Arches to Hahnemuhle. I work with Pebeo T7 Gouache primarily, but I also enjoy Holbein Acryla, Nicker Poster Color, Turner Gouache and Cartoon Color Cel Vinyl.
Hi there! I know that you guys produce your art through painting, right? I was curious what the process is that you use to reproduce your works!
Yes, we work almost 100% traditionally. When we do prints, they are giclee prints (aka fancy french word for digital prints) and I will tell you all my secrets, as they were passed down to me by other people who are much smarter!
The printer is the Canon Pixma Pro 9000 Mark II. Find some rebates, usually it is cheapest on Amazon. The paper is Canson Infinity Arches Aquarelle Rag (the lower GSM one) from B&H Photo Video, which is where it is the cheapest.
My scanner isn’t great, I should ideally be reproducing through photography, but it is big and damn cheap! The Brother MFC-2490CW! However, I’ve become accustomed to bumping up my levels in Photoshop so that it more accurately represents the original painting (Image->Adjustment->Levels). My levels are often around 15/1.0/245 but that will vary based on your original paper stock, scanner, paints and style.
The 15 darkens some of the colors lightened in the scanning process. Mid-range stays the same, but there is some wiggle room. Bringing the whites to 250/245 disappears some of the unsightly paper texture picked up in the scans, this is often represented in scans as a faded blue color on white backgrounds. I prefer to get rid of it.