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Monday, December 20, 2010

Prat's Progress

Just for fun I thought you might like to see a photo of the latest Postman Prat as it appeared during the pencil stage. There's my desk in the photo above with the partly completed pages, photographed a few weeks ago. (Don't worry. I don't draw in candlelight. It's just how the photo's turned out.) Beside the artwork is the script I had e-mailed to me from the Dandy office. I go through the script and mark out how many panels will appear on each row.

These days I pencil the strips with Light Blue Prismacolor Col-Erase pencils. They're non-repro, which means that the blue pencil lines won't reproduce on screen when you scan them into your computer as black line. That's after you ink them of course, and recently I've taken to using various sizes of Uni Pin Fine Line fibre tip pens. (Sizes 0.5 and 0.8 mainly.) I've avoided using fibre tip pens in the past as they smudge or fade when you erase pencil lines, but now I'm using non-repro blue pencils they don't need to be erased.

The Uni Pin pens give a good consistent line and a good degree of control. I usually double back over some lines to give them a thick/thin effect and a sense of weight. Over the years I've used dip nibs and Rotring pens but the Uni Pin ones seem to suit me at present. As for paper, I currently use Canson Bristol Board.

After inking I scan the pages into my Mac at 300dpi, black line (to eliminate the blue pencil). However, here's a section scanned in colour so you can see the pencils and inks:

After cleaning up the pages in Photoshop (correcting minor errors etc) I convert it to Greyscale, fill in the large areas of solid black, convert it to CMYK, and colour the pages. Here's a panel from the finished page:

I then e-mail the pages to the Dandy editor, along with the script, and the pages are lettered in the office using the script as a guide. The finished product is in the shops now in the monster-sized 76 page Christmas issue of The Dandy!


john said...

Very interesting..thanks for sharing it ...

Peter Gray said...

Love seeing the workings of a comic page..
Interesting you are using a pen now..
A pen would work better for me also I could never master the fiber tip nib pen and ink..interesting about the blue pencil idea..thanks for sharing what you do..

I am full of admiration in what you do..knowing as a cartoonist the amount of time and skill that goes into it..making sure you are enjoying what you do at the same time..:) Also I often look at my own Tom Thug original hanging up..

Well back to drawing my animal art.drawing a cute seal at the moment for my Aunty a Christmas've must of done some fun Christmas cards for relatives yourself..if its possible if they are comic/cartoon ones they would be fun to see at the blog..

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks Peter. Keep up the good work on your animal drawings. You're improving all the time and I'm glad to hear they're selling.

I didn't make relatives any Christmas cards but I did produce loads of comics just for my Mum and Dad to read when I was a kid. Perhaps I'll put some of those strips on my blog one day, but they are pretty rough.

Manic Man said...

Nice work..

I've always been in two minds about the use of blue pencil.. but since most of my work is pretty much left as sketchs, and i use that to redraw them on PC and do whatever i want then, it's kinda a bit pointless for me..

SJ Beckett said...

It's always great to hear how artists work. Thanks for the insight Lew.

In the photo it looks like you draw only half the page on an A3 sheet of board, is that correct?

I think I'll give that a go, I currently draw a full page on A3 and scan the black line at 600dpi. I use blue colour eno pencils, they grip the paper really well.


Chris said...

Great piece Lew!
I always like to see artwork from start to finish.

So from the pic, do you use two pieces of Bristol board per finished page?

Do you have to show the Dandy any roughs or are you just left to get on with it?


spleenal said...

Ah, the blue line.
I remember when I first started using blue, just the time saved on rubbing out!

non repro is a life saver. It's light enough not to be seen by scanners set to grey scale. You may have a light blue pencil or pen in the house that's good enough scribble on some paper, scan it in and have a look.

Been a big fan of your line for a while Lew.

Fanton said...

I must get some of those blue pencils, I'm still rubbing out lines, like a caveman. If cavemen had rubbers, of course.

How long does it take you to do a page, Lew?

Anonymous said...

It's always good to see how the professionals do it. Thanks very much for posting this.

(Me, I'm a bit of an inverse fuddy-duddy - I can't imagine replenishing a continuous stream of top-of-the-range art equipment. I also don't find pencils a very forgiving medium when I make a mistake, which is often, or when I need to add fine detail. As soon as I can buy a graphics tablet and decent art package, I'll be out of this game.)

As for "the finished product is in the shops now"... if only that wasn't just true in theory. I tried to find the Dandy yesterday, and failed utterly. I didn't think it was possible for a comic to be carried by fewer newsagents than the Beano. :-(

Lew Stringer said...

SJ, Chris, yes I draw the page in two halves, each on a sheet of A3, although each half isn't quite A3 size so I cut off a bit. Occasionally I'll draw them a bit smaller, depending on what the script calls for.

Andy, on a good day I can pencil/ink a page in a day. Colour it as well if I work into the night.

Lew Stringer said...

Swirly, the Christmas Dandy has been out since last Wednesday. Perhaps your area has had distribution problems?

James Spiring said...

Or perhaps the shop sold out? You still have two weeks to find a copy though.

Craig said...

#Andy + Lew - There must be a good cartoonists' in-joke in a caveman erasing his blue roughs from his cave-paintings!


Harry Rickard said...

Very interesting Lew, I'm now trying to find some of those blue pencils you used... They seem perfect! The reason I never use pencil is because I'm worried about ink smudging when I've gone over the comic strip in ink... This was a great piece which has really helped me to improve my comic strips, thank you. :)

P.S. Where do you get those blue pencils? And how much? I'm part of a comic called the Wizzo: and we could really use with some pencils like them! :)

P.P.S: Here's the Wizzo Facebook Page if you're interested:

Thank you! :)

Lew Stringer said...

The pencils were only about a pound each Harry, but unfortunately the place I got them from has stopped selling them now because some idiot told the staff that they DID reproduce on scans and they believed him!

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