How I Made the RathaCon Limited Edition Print Art

This post does contain affiliate links. Bear with me.

So this started, initially, as a multi-part blog post series.

Then it got complicated.

Specifically, the art got complicated, and I wasn’t able to make a new blog post each week to detail the process of making this thing.

Let’s go into the details, though, so I can show you WHY this art took so long. And also how I make big illustrations like this one.

STEP 1: THUMBNAILS

Thumbnails are what I like to call the really rough sketches of an idea. It’s something I borrowed from animation film language.

I already wrote a post about this step, which you can read here.

STEP 2: PENCILS

I wrote about why I choose this design, as well as the details of it, in the second part of the blog series. Now I’m going to get into the how.

It took a little while for the email chain with the convention staff to start (another reason that the weekly blog post idea had to get pushed). But once it got going, I was able to get feedback and get to work.

Pencils – or, the sketched the version of a thing – is something I do with just one pencil in one go.

When I first started in comics, I USED to do the undersketch with one pencil (usually a 2H), then the top layer in a darker tone (like B).

Now, I do all of my pencilling with just one pencil. Usually a mechanical one. I believe the RathaCon art was drawn with my Tombow monograph mechanical pencil, but right now I am in LOVE with the Zebra DelGuard mechanical pencil.

STEP 3: INKS

This step takes a deceptively long time.

It takes a long time for me because I try to control the line weight as much as possible: making some areas dark with a bolder line, but light with a lighter line.

Inking is also the stage where I have to squint at my pencil drawing and determine what lines will look the best when inked.

Because pencils are when I get real loose. Inks are where things get tight and snappy.

STEP 4: COLORS

Depending on the piece, I’ll make it either traditional-only (usually with Copic markers). Or I make it a combination of traditional and digital. Or I have all the colors be digital.

For the RathaCon print art, I opted to combine the traditional and digital modes. So I colored with my Copics first, then scanned the art, to start the next step…

STEP 6: DIGITAL EDITS

At this stage I go back over the art in Clip Studio Paint and erase any stray marks, fix any color bleeds, and generally just clean the piece up.

I also like to adjust how much the colors pop at this stage. So I play with the levels a little.

STEP 7: DIGITAL COLORS

With the RathaCon art, the only digital color I needed to add was the background tint.

In almost any other piece, I’ll add a layer over the art in Clip Studio Paint in order to add shadows. These make the art pop even more.

STEP 8: FORMATTING

I originally made the art for this print at 11 x 17 inches.

About a week ago, the RathaCon staff asked if I could make the piece an 8.5 x 11 inch one instead.

Pro tip: it’s WAY EASIER to shrink an illustration than to enlarge it.

It took a little wiggling to keep the scale of the piece consistent and not accidentally cut off bits of it. But a new scale was figured out.

And there you have it!

As I mentioned, this art will be available as a limited edition 8.5 x 11 inch print at RathaCon, for $10 a piece.

So if you’re in Athens, OH on April 27, I hope you get it! This is a limited print run, so once it’s gone – it’s gone.

I’ll have these beauties for sale at my table, and they’ll also be available at the RathaCon official table.

Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

Designing a Print for RathaCon, Step 2: Pencilling

After much discussion and user feedback via Instagram, the votes trended towards THIS design shown up top. So I drew it.

RathaCon is host to a LOT of nerdy events, from tabletop gaming rooms to belly dancers and Quidditch. I wanted this design to incorporate the many scenes that RathaCon has played host to.

I even squeezed in some gears for the steampunk elements, because there’s a steampunk contingent that appears every year. Magic: The Gathering cards and comic books will fill up some of the spaces around the edges. Plus the GhostBusters logo is to homage the local GhostBusting team.

There’s still some details to fit in, but so far it’s off to a great start. Don’t ya’ think?

The Silly Tale of the Smith Family Commission

I was first approached by Mr. Smith, at the Pittsburgh Witches Ball. He asked me if I was available to do commissions.

That made me ask, “What would you like me to draw for you?” And he said, “I was thinking of getting my family drawn as superheroes. But let me get back to you on that.”

About a month later I was approached by Mrs. Smith.

She asked, “Can you please draw my family and me as super heroes?” To which I said, “Absolutely!”

That resulted in this:

While I was drawing this, Mr. Smith contacted me again. He said, “Hey! Are you still available to do commissions? Because I would really like you to draw my family as superheroes.”

Before I could reply, I contacted Mrs. Smith and said, “Uh…your husband just asked me to make the same thing you asked for. What should I do?”

She laughed.

So I said to Mr. Smith, “Sure I can make the thing!”

And that’s how I drew this:

They were both surprised when the presents were unwrapped.

The Legend of Jamie Roberts’ Newest Print

Awwww yeah! This print got finished not too long ago to showcase my new upcoming webcomic, The Legend of Jamie Roberts. (Coming online mid- to late-November.)

Illustrated here, from foreground to background, is Jamie Roberts, Ragun Ranki (pronounced Rah-Goon Ra-N-key), and the dragon shape of Ragun Basho (pronounced Rah-Goon Bah-show).

This took a little while to illustrate, especially with the waves of The Way in the background. The Way is the spirit world, where souls rest after death and before birth, and where Ranki was banished after The War of the Leaders 500 years before the start of the Legend.

Here’s some clips of the progress of the piece:

The colors of the background and Ranki were done in Clip Studio Paint to save me some marker ink.

This image will do double-duty as both a print and as the cover art for Chapter 1’s online serialization.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

“I Am The Land,” An Art Piece

i am the land american gods art illustration by kelci crawford

If you’re a fan of Neil Gaiman’s book, American Gods, like I am, then you know why this piece is called “I Am The Land.” If you haven’t read the book (or read the comic, or seen the TV show) yet, you should fix that. Like, ASAP.

American Gods is one of those books that shook me when I first read it. Every time I re-read it, I discover something new about it. It’s dream-like and jarring yet also grounded (in the sense that the god characters act like people and not like high-concept “I am above petty emotions” personalities. Zack Snyder should learn a thing or two from this book).

One of the recurring characters in American Gods is a man with a buffalo head. He doesn’t outright murder anyone in the book. However, when I got the idea for this piece of art, I finished a section of the comic book adaptation of the novel – specifically, the section about Vikings landing in Canada and killing a Native American, and then the Natives killing every Viking in retaliation. Yes, the account is fiction, but there’s an element of truth to it, to the idea that America is a land stained in blood.

That’s why I made this piece.

This was drawn with my trusty mechanical pencil and Pentel Brush Sign Pen, with colors by my Copic markers. The background color was done with a Kuretake Zig Clean Color FB brush pen. It’s dying out a little though, so I’ll need to replace it soon.

Soon this will be a print measuring 11×17 inches. When it’s in the shop, I’ll announce it on the email newsletter first. It’s going to be a limited print run, though, so because of that, it’ll be a little more than just $10.

Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.