Art From Mars, The Naturalists 1-Up Mushroom

I’ve been working on this one for a long time, started as just sketched ideas for fun and me playing around with mushrooms (fun to draw, try it!) and eventually culminated in what I thought the Mario 1-Up mushroom would look like if it were sketched full color by like…Charles Darwin or someone. Just having fun! But it’s probably one of the better drawings I’ve managed to churn out, so I wanted to show you guys the process, and by all means give some feedback. No way to get better if you don’t have potential problems pointed out right? Right! So here we go, the history of the making of the 1-Up Mushroom, took me forever to do this!

Really I just started having fun with pencils in a big old sketchbook I found in Shanghai, full of a ton of fairly crappy brown paper. The advantage of this is that you don't care if you mess up, unlike when you're drawing on moleskin or something. So you're a lot looser, just having fun, and you get a lot of fun drawings done. Stuff like this was how I started figuring what I'd like for mushroom shapes and such once I switched to the nicer paper. 
Really I just started having fun with pencils in a big old sketchbook I found in Shanghai, full of a ton of fairly crappy brown paper. The advantage of this is that you don’t care if you mess up, unlike when you’re drawing on moleskin or something. So you’re a lot looser, just having fun, and you get a lot of fun drawings done. Stuff like this was how I started figuring what I’d like for mushroom shapes and such once I switched to the nicer paper.
Ok and now we're drawing on the nicer paper, so careful careful! I would gently trace out what I liked with a 2H pencil, nice and light. Make the corrections, play a last bit with form, and then ink in the final stuff, before switching to a .05 black pen and going crazy with texture and tiny dots and little scratch marks. I have something of a fascination with too much detail (trying to stop!) but it does look nice on plain white paper. Then you X-acto that sheet out of the book, and put it through the scanner! 
Ok and now we’re drawing on the nicer paper, so careful careful! I would gently trace out what I liked with a 2H pencil, nice and light. Make the corrections, play a last bit with form, and then ink in the final stuff, before switching to a .05 black pen and going crazy with texture and tiny dots and little scratch marks. I have something of a fascination with too much detail (trying to stop!) but it does look nice on plain white paper. Then you X-acto that sheet out of the book, and put it through the scanner!
Once you get it into the computer you get to clean up little bits of random junk, scanner artifacts and paper texture, till you get just the nice sharp line work on its own layer. Now that it's all clean and ultra high resolution in the computer (1200dpi!) you can start to paint it! 
Once you get it into the computer you get to clean up little bits of random junk, scanner artifacts and paper texture, till you get just the nice sharp line work on its own layer. Now that it’s all clean and ultra high resolution in the computer (1200dpi!) you can start to paint it!
I started with the main piece of course, just getting in the absolute basic color blocking that would help me figure out what I wanted to do with light and such. Looking back, I'd have thrown a neutral background color so I didn't have to deal with all the white, but live and learn eh? 
I started with the main piece of course, just getting in the absolute basic color blocking that would help me figure out what I wanted to do with light and such. Looking back, I’d have thrown a neutral background color so I didn’t have to deal with all the white, but live and learn eh?
1-Up Color Process 2
Start adding in more colors for the secondary objects such as rocks, grass, that goofy little leaf, and some basic suggestion of ground color. Really just trying to make the whole thing vaguely coherent before moving on to the next step. 
Now comes the beginnings of shading on the Mushroom itself, make it look more dimensional and vibrant instead of the flat green it was with just the line work. Trying to just keep colors in the background neutral at this point so I can really pick them to compliment the mushroom once it's in a place I like. 
Now comes the beginnings of shading on the Mushroom itself, make it look more dimensional and vibrant instead of the flat green it was with just the line work. Trying to just keep colors in the background neutral at this point so I can really pick them to compliment the mushroom once it’s in a place I like.
I can't just make the whole shirt a mess of colors and shapes of course, so now I've started the basics of figuring out where I'd like the border to be. I was going for what it would look like if you were to be like...the size of a turtle and wandered out of the brush, to see the mushroom. So frame it in grasses and flowers! 
I can’t just make the whole shirt a mess of colors and shapes of course, so now I’ve started the basics of figuring out where I’d like the border to be. I was going for what it would look like if you were to be like…the size of a turtle and wandered out of the brush, to see the mushroom. So frame it in grasses and flowers!
A long time later I had the basic outlines of what I wanted the edge work to be. I moved the light source for the piece into the top left, and tweaked the mushroom shading to match. Filled in the dirt, gave the rocks lots of texture and subtle color, just went to town and had fun giving the central work too much attention. Now it's time to fill in the outside edge and give myself a border! This...is a work of love that takes way too long and I could have (should have!) done it much faster than I did. Too focused on detail sometime, blah! 
A long time later I had the basic outlines of what I wanted the edge work to be. I moved the light source for the piece into the top left, and tweaked the mushroom shading to match. Filled in the dirt, gave the rocks lots of texture and subtle color, just went to town and had fun giving the central work too much attention. Now it’s time to fill in the outside edge and give myself a border! This…is a work of love that takes way too long and I could have (should have!) done it much faster than I did. Too focused on detail sometime, blah!
Ok so I really like this, I know that the border is...way too much, tons of texture and detail and I put just as much work into the border as I did into the mushroom. Or more. Let's just pretend it wasn't more. I think it came out very nice, I like the blue of those flowers especially, but it's just too heavy isn't it? So I started the process of trying to make it a silhouette more than a frame. Sad day, that was a LOT of work. 
Ok so I really like this, I know that the border is…way too much, tons of texture and detail and I put just as much work into the border as I did into the mushroom. Or more. Let’s just pretend it wasn’t more. I think it came out very nice, I like the blue of those flowers especially, but it’s just too heavy isn’t it? So I started the process of trying to make it a silhouette more than a frame. Sad day, that was a LOT of work.
So I've taken a fair amount of the detail out (argh...) and darkened things up. It's starting to fade better into the edges of the shirt, but there's still a lot of detail in there that I love to look at, and that means I'm not paying attention to the mushroom in the center. It was a lot of fun to draw, and good practice, but I gotta fade it out even more to get a proper balance in the composition. Le sigh! 
So I’ve taken a fair amount of the detail out (argh…) and darkened things up. It’s starting to fade better into the edges of the shirt, but there’s still a lot of detail in there that I love to look at, and that means I’m not paying attention to the mushroom in the center. It was a lot of fun to draw, and good practice, but I gotta fade it out even more to get a proper balance in the composition. Le sigh!
And here I've darkened out the edges to the point where it looks like they're still being lit from the central form, but rapidly fade off into nothing. The black edges you see would be whatever color the shirt is that it's printed on. Hopefully a dark color, and hopefully it'll look like the mushroom is sitting inside the shirt, and not framed by a lot of grass directly on the shirt. I also added the background grasses to lend a little more depth, and ever so slightly grunged up the sky while desaturating it a biit so it wasn't as poppy. The only star should be the mushroom! This is likely the absolute final version, and if I do make any tweaks, they would be quite minor. 
And here I’ve darkened out the edges to the point where it looks like they’re still being lit from the central form, but rapidly fade off into nothing. The black edges you see would be whatever color the shirt is that it’s printed on. Hopefully a dark color, and hopefully it’ll look like the mushroom is sitting inside the shirt, and not framed by a lot of grass directly on the shirt. I also added the background grasses to lend a little more depth, and ever so slightly grunged up the sky while desaturating it a biit so it wasn’t as poppy. The only star should be the mushroom! This is likely the absolute final version, and if I do make any tweaks, they would be quite minor.
And here it is on a shirt, yay! That took a long time...and I still have to do this to another mushroom I've already drawn! But till then, I'm going to have fun doing some spacey art! I am living on Mars after all. Oh and that's not me btw, it's one of the models from Threadless, I'll get printed there one day...sigh, one day!
And here it is on a shirt, yay! That took a long time…and I still have to do this to another mushroom I’ve already drawn! But till then, I’m going to have fun doing some spacey art! I am living on Mars after all. Oh and that’s not me btw, it’s one of the models from Threadless, I’ll get printed there one day…sigh, one day!

I hope you enjoyed seeing how everything went together, like the final, and perhaps want to go draw some stuff of your own as well! Art is one of the hobbies that’s going to be keeping me sane while I’m here, so even if this one sucked and you hate it, I’ll be getting a lot better over the next ten months! Hope you stick around and see the rest of my spacey adventures here, and of course the art I’ll be trying to pump out between science experiments!

Till next time! Keep the Earth cool for me!

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6 thoughts on “Art From Mars, The Naturalists 1-Up Mushroom

  1. Very cool!! But where is the mushroom’s shadow? Or maybe you didn’t want it to have a shadow. Either way it looks great 🙂

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    1. Oh I thought about putting it in there but with all the grass and other things it was a choice between being even more realistic with a shadow..or leaving it out for clarity. Good catch though! I just wanted to make it a little easier to see the central part popping out, without darkening things more with a shadow.

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      1. Makes sense. And I forgot to say I love the grass in the distance behind the mushroom. That really finished the whole thing up for me. Can’t wait to see what else you create!

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      2. Ah thanks so much! I’ve got the Mario Grow mushroom finished, just have to add the new amazing border style and better grass to it. The site is actually linked to my Design by Human profile, where I keep a lot of my art. Or you can look up “TenkenNoKaiten” on Society6 or Redbubble. I’m hoping to get really good at drawing while I’m here, big time hobby. I’m glad you like it! I really liked how the grass came out too, and I’ve got…2 more mushrooms planned, and a bunch of other mario things, all in this style. Gonna be fun!

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    2. You make magic in the unique kingdom of the mushroom world…the beginning to the end..colors exploding in your color choices..you made me want to wear this world..love Judith

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