My process for creating strips is fairly simple.  Almost all of it is created by hand.  Here is the process describing how I made this strip.

* Ideas for the major plot arc:

Prior to starting Familiar Ground, I had an idea for a story.  I didn’t know all the details of that story, but I had an idea of the major characters.  I knew the starting point.  I knew the end point.  I knew that I had to hit certain spots in the story by certain dates.  I also had a rough pencil sketch of where I want to take the first three books (oh yeah, I’ve divided the story up into three books).

So I know the destination and the spots along the way I need to reach, but the actual path in getting there is a discovery I’m making every day.

* Ideas for individual strips:

Ideas come from everywhere.  I try to always have a writing pad and pencil with me at all times.  I can’t recall the number of times I’ve come up with a great idea only to forget it five minutes later.  If you’re in a creative field, ALWAYS carry something to write with.

pocket-notebook1

I have one 200 page spiral notebook where I place all my strip ideas and write out actual dialogue.

book-of-ideas-and-dialogue

* Writing

Sometimes I’ll write the dialogue in my notebook along with the idea.  Sometimes, I flesh out the dialogue from a single word idea when I sit down to draw.  However, the goal is to always trim the text as much as possible, so regardless, I usually need to edit my dialogue before actually drawing the strip.

Writing the dialogue in the panels is the first step before I start drawing.  Often (though not always) I would also sketch out how I want the panels to look like.

outline-on-scratch-paper

* Materials

  • I use the following materials for the regular strip:
  • Smooth Bristol Board, cut up into 5.5″ x 14″ strips (the actual drawn panels are 4″ x 13″)
  • Faber-Castell Pitt artist pens (various size pens, including brush pen)
  • Micron archival ink pens (08 and 005)
  • Prismacolor colored pencil (non-photo blue)
  • White out
  • Clear plastic ruler
  • T-square
  • Eraser

strip-materials

I have other things around that I’m playing with but aren’t currently going into the regular strips (watercolors, india ink, sable brush, etc).

Oh, and this is the workspace I use for drawing.

workspace

* Drawing and Inking

I use a pre-cut template to outline my panels in non-photo blue pencil.

template-outline

Then I start writing the dialogue in blue pencil after drawing some guidelines.

text-is-put-in-first

I draw the balloon clouds and then draw the figures around that, again using blue pencil.

sketch-in-blue-ink

Then I ink all of it using the various ink pens I have, just going over the blue pencil sketches, depending on how thick the lines need to be.

I usually start inking the text first using the micron 08 pen.

inking-text

Then I ink the rest of the strip using the Pitt brush pen for thicker lines, and the “S” Pitt pen or the 005 Micron for fine lines.  I usually stay close to what I’ve roughed out in blue pencil.

finished-inking1

The non-photo blue pencil lines are not picked up by the scanner so I don’t bother erasing them.

* Scan and Post

I scan into Adobe Photoshop, erase mistakes and post to the web.

Easy!

It takes me about two to three hours altogether to go through the above process.

Strip stats:  Bristol board 5.5″ x 14″.  Drawn area is 4″ x 13″.  A few older sketches are on 4.75″ x 12″ Bristol Board with a drawn area of 3.25″ x 11″.  Special/Sunday strips are on 11″ x 14″ bristol with no set drawn area.

The original sketches for each strip are for sale.  If you’re interested in buying original art from the strip, contact me!  Check here to see if the comic strip you are interested in is available.

Strips are currently priced at $45.  Special/Weekend/Double size strips are priced at $55.  These prices will be going up each year on the anniversary of this strip (April 1st), so get them while you can!