Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Life of an Item with MrooArt

Hello, I'm Shannon Dybvig of Mroo Art! I live in a gnome-filled apartment in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. I mostly draw and sculpt and am heavily influenced by fantasy, science fiction, surrealism, and comic arts. In my shop I carry an assortment of original polymer clay creatures and dragons, original art necklaces, print-based magnets, original drawings, prints, and greeting cards.

My drawing process can start in a couple of ways. If I'm only concept building, I work in my sketchbook and the results are usually half-formed people and a variety of mark-making - often an art of its own right, but at the same time not really "finished" works. When seeking to create a "finished" piece, I usually start off with a mood or concept and an idea for a pose for a figure - I use the human body as a vehicle for exploring emotions and concepts relating to interpersonal and internal relationships.

For my Fall Faery piece I was in a bit of a glum mood when I started working on it and the body position followed fairly quickly. I think the image speaks for itself better than I do in text, so I'll spare you any more exposition on the ideation process. I lay down some quick pencil work first, to get the energy of the mood down, and then I go in with a few details.

I try to get most of the details cleared up during the inking and coloring processes so the energy of the mood isn't lost. Previously when I've detailed the piece too much at the pencil stage the final piece ends up not being particularly emotive because the mark-making is so different when you're going over lines you've already made instead of making new ones.

For this piece I used my glass dip pen with Private Reserve ink. The lines that come from that pen lend themselves to the feeling of this piece, and the ink has a lovely fluidity to it - it's a very thick and luxurious ink. After I inked the piece I scanned it, cleaned up any smudges, and printed it on bristol paper for coloring. I sometimes color on the same sheet as I do my linework, but I didn't in this instance for two reasons: the paper I worked on does not respond well to my coloring methods (Copic Sketch art markers and water color) and the Private Reserve ink doesn't react kindly to my Copics either. I haven't tried it with the water colors.

I don't have a photo of it, but I worked out the colors of the faery on a small scrap of bristol to make sure I liked them before using them on the lines. The background was made on a piece of water color paper using, unsurprisingly, water colors. I scanned the two separately and joined them in my photo editing program (GIMP).

Here is a video showing a good portion of the inking and coloring processes (silent for your continued listening-to-something-else pleasure). The footage in this video originally lasted nearly an hour (I think, it may have been more?), but it has been condensed down to just over two minutes.

The final step is print-testing. Print-testing involves printing the image with different color adjustments and aligning the piece to the paper correctly (my printer has become a little wonky about proper alignment in its age).

I have two types of paper I print on - my greeting cards and my normal print size. They take the ink slightly differently from each other, so I have to test how the image prints on each and adjust the values of the image accordingly. For nearly every print/card I make I have two different files for the two papers. Print-testing can take printing the image just once or 10+ times! Luckily this piece only took a few tests before it was production-ready.

So, there you have it! That's how I make a print/card from start to finish. The final piece can be found here (the 8x10 version will be posted soon, I got a little distracted by another project!).


  1. Wow Mroo that was intriguing and very interesting! No wonder true art comes with a price tag! I'll think muce more positively about the cost of art from now on! You do beautiful work!

  2. Sweet work MrooArt! We love seeing progress shots & the video is awesome ;)

  3. So much fun to watch you work in hyper-speed! Well done! Beautiful shop and amazing work. Thank you for sharing with us! I'll be keeping an eye on you.

  4. I agree, very interesting. I too love the progress shots and video. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Awesome Life of an Item article! Love it. :)

  6. Nice work!!! I love seeing work in progress!

  7. Ooohhhh, your fall fairy is beautiful! It was such a treat to watch her being created. What an enormous and lovely talent you have.