Love and Capes Boston Print Process

If you’ve been following me on Twitter or Facebook (and if you’re not, you should be) you know that I’ve been trying to do three extra con prints for cities that I’m not really doing shows in to pad out my forthcoming con print postcard set that will debut at Emerald City Comic Con. I got the third done today, so now I have prints for Boston, Las Vegas and Cleveland should I ever do shows there and an even twenty postcards in each package to boot.

So this is my Boston print. People have asked me to share more process stuff, so here’s how these happen. Click on any thumbnail to see a bigger version.

The Love and Capes Boston Print

First, I ask around to see what local landmark I should do. I stay away from things with logos or copyrighted images trying to keep with things that are in the public domain. Asking locals and travelers gives me a good idea for what they would like to see featured. So, I was worried about doing the Space Needle for the first Seattle print because everyone does the Space Needle. But, that’s what they recommended. My very first one, Charlotte, was inspired by a friend telling me about the Queen Charlotte statue at the airport. And I wouldn’t have known to do the Saturn V rocket (or that it was no longer exposed to the elements) without asking for local Houston advice.

Here, Lora Innes, historian and the talent behind The Dreamer
, said “Do the Paul Revere Statue in front of the Old North Church.” It seemed a better fit than the Zakim bridge or anything else. So I started Google searching for photos until I found enough reference to start.

RoughOnce I find one, I start doing the rough. I often do the tracing paper and pencil thing, but I want to learn how to use my Cintiq
better, so I roughed it out on there. I wanted to ink it on the Cintiq too, but I wasn’t happy with the results. So I kept with the pencils. I made them into a non-repoducing blue color, so that I could print them out on good board and ink them.

I took those bluelines and placed them in the Adobe Illustrator document that has the frame of the print. Then I inked the technical stuff in Illustrator. One of the conceits of the style of Love and Capes is that most things are inked with a French curve instead of a ruler, giving things an off-kilter cartoony look. Doing this part in Illustrator allows me to make exactly the large curves that would take a couple passes and some effort with the curve.

Super techie stuff now: I expand all the lines to become editable shapes, and I tweak the shapes with the direct pencilsselection tool. This lets me get a little more character into the mechanical ink lines and emulate a hand drawn look where I could change pressure on my pen and get some “pop” to it. This is also where I do a lot of lettering.

On this, I inked the statue base, but not the church itself. The church’s lines were small enough that it would be easier to do those with the French curve.

I print this hybrid out onto a piece of Canson Smooth Bristol
using my Brother 11×17 Multi Function Printer/Scanner
. The statue base and the frame print in black. Everything else is in non-repro blue.

I ink most of the piece with a Raphael #2 brush
. For this one in particular, I called up a lot of Bill Waterston’s Calvin and Hobbes art to see the brilliant way he handled foresty background. I used him as a guide for inking the trees and leaves.

The church was inked with the aforementioned curve and a variety of Microns
. I really like these pens. They have a hard felt tip, and I can vary my pressure and get an interesting line. They’re also cheaper and travel much better than the rapidiographs that they replaced in my artbin. (Or, in my case, Superman lunch box.)

With everything now black and white, I scan it back into the computer. The non-repro blue lines don’t scan, and I adjust the grays and blacks until I get a clean black and white image.inks

I don’t use a flatter or do the traditional system of coloring the background first. A lot of Love and Capes is from a preexisting pallett of colors. The red and gold in Mark’s uniform is always the same color, same for Abby’s hair and skin and so on. I use an insane number of layers until I get the piece mostly where I want it. I’ll adjust hue and saturation to test some colors, like with the sky or Abby’s outfit, until I find what makes the image pop.

From there, I create a shadow layer set to multiply and use a transparent deep brown to create the darker tones. And then I create what I call a “patch” layer on top of all the colors (but below the inks) and I zoom into to “actual pixels” and then I sample the colors and patch any places where I’ve gone too far outside the lines.

colorsI select the black lines and make them a rich black, and with those selected I start coloring some of those black lines for added depth. So, Mark and Abby and the statue are the rich black, the trees and backgrounds are a deep brown, and the church is purple to really throw it back.

The last thing is, before I go to print, I’ll add a copyright notice with my website. I save a flat version so it’s smaller and easier to send. And done!

Simple, right?

2 Responses to “Love and Capes Boston Print Process”

  1. regina maerkle Says:

    COMPLICATED FOR A NON ARTIST. BUT LIKE I HAVE ALWAYS SAID ” ALL U HAVE 2 DO—”

  2. joe c Says:

    Hey you did Boston after all! :D Nice of you to use the Revere statue in the North End, too. The piece looks great.


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