A New System of Measurement


First you start with an idea. Ideas can come from any place. Sometimes a song reminds you of something. Sometimes something happens that just makes you really mad and you can't get it out of your head. Sometimes you just think, "What if..." Sometimes ideas just seem to pop up out of nowhere.

In this case the idea came from my friend Avani who said that she once had an ice cream cone that had "a baby's head of ice cream," on top of it. How grim is that? When I asked why she didn't describe it as a grapefruit or a softball, she said those two things didn't have the right texture.

I write down lists of ideas so I don't forget them. I generally write on anything handy, so an old envelope can end up having seven or eight ideas scrawled on the back of it. In this case, I wrote down the idea in my notebook while I was flying back from San Francisco to Boston.

I draw almost all my blog posts in my sketchbook. I use a non-photo blue pencil which will disappear when I scan the picture as line art. I prefer Staedtler pencils, but I've also used Prismacolor Non-Copy pencils (I find their lead a little too hard and difficult to erase). In this image I adjusted my scanner settings so that the lines could be seen. On the actual page they are much lighter.

Next I do the lettering. I use a dip pen to do this. I think most comics artists who do hand lettering use a C-5 or C-6 pen nib, which are both lettering nibs. I use a Hunt 512 pen nib, which is a drawing nib, but I like the way the letters come out with it. I use Speedball Super Black India Ink.

Panel borders and word balloons are next. I use a brush for this, generally a fine pointed round sable brush, size 3. Currently I'm using Raphael brushes, but I'm not really picky about the brand.

Characters come next. I'll use different brushes depending on how detailed the drawing is. This drawing isn't particularly detailed so I just used a fine pointed round sable brush, size 2 for all of it. If it were more detailed I would use a size 1 or 0. I generally never go smaller than that, but if there is some really fine line work to be done I will switch over to a dip pen and use a Hunt 102 pen nib (this creates a pretty flexible and expressive line similar to a brush)(good for people) or a Hunt 107 (much stiffer, which creates a more uniform line)(good for objects).

I scan the drawing into the computer at 600 dpi. I do all the coloring in Photoshop.

I don't worry about colors much at first. I'm more concerned about getting the different areas of color blocked out. Things can looks pretty garish at first.

Once I have the colors laid out, I start tweaking things and get to a color mix that I am happy with (like at the top). Some comics take less than an hour to do; everything just sort of flows out smoothly. Some take much longer. This one took awhile simply because I stopped to scan the progress of the page.


Avani Agarwal said…
who uses babies heads for measurement?!
Casey said…
Awesome post! I always wondered about the whole process of putting your stuff online...and it's not at all what I had imagined. I hope you're doing well.