Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 429

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Photoshop, 4125 × 6263 px.

My first official Usagi Yojimbo cover is out today! It's a variant, so it might be harder to track down, but here's the full description. I've always loved Japanese woodblock prints, ever since I first saw them in my parents' art supply store. And I've always loved Usagi, ever since getting an issue at a comic book convention (No. 22, with the Komori Ninja! I was about 8 at the time).

There are lots of resources for Ukiyo-e across the web, but here's a great one to start with:
ukiyo-e.org. About mid-way through the cover, I came across a technique I hadn't seen before — kimedashi — which gives the print some dimension through embossing. I really liked the effect, and thought it suited the snow and fur perfectly, not to mention his scar. I had to darken the white of the paper to make the highlights visible, but that helped to sell the antique appearance. 

Everything was done in Photoshop with lots of layer effects and masking. The final clocked in at about 20 hours, 7 of which was just tinkering with textures and edges to achieve a convincing look. Down below you can see the original head I had in place for Usagi. It was good enough, but I felt it looked too close to Stan's version. Looking for something different, I tried to imagine how I'd sculpt it, which also helped with the shadows.

I hope you enjoy the relaunch under his new Dark Horse imprint!

Lots of research into Japanese prints

work in progress

digital layout


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