It was my plan to document how I draw an Everyday for the 150th strip as something extra for you guys and a thank you for reading. Unfortunately I didn’t have the time to do that, it was a rush to get it done to complete Collection Three and get that printed in time for the UK Thing. However, last week I had the time to document my step by step process with today’s strip, #153.

Here’s a nifty little animated gif I made of the process, but for a step-by-step description keep reading after the cut.

Firstly, Layout:

Scruffy as a tramp’s dog but essential for figuring out how many panels I need, where they’re going to go and roughly what will be in each one. For longer comics I always thumbnail a page beforehand but for The Everyday I just scribble it out on the A5 cut of Bristol Board that I use. Working loose like this is a good way to capture gestures and poses and follow them through to the final stage, keep your eye on panel 1 for such a thing.

Next, Pencils:

Here’s where most of the work is done. My main battle is with time. I find the quicker, simpler, clearer drawings always tell the story better so I work small to avoid getting lost in details. Sometimes I forget this and adjust to working on a small scale and redraw a 15mm face several times like a fool. Trying to fit 12 panels on an A5 page certainly helps me focus on what’s important in each panel, as any unnecessary details just make it hard to squeeze everything else in so must be discarded. Note the only changes from the Layout are in panels 8 and 9 where I altered the dialogue and speech balloons a bit and in panel 11 where I added the blink sound effects.

Then, Lettering:

I can’t recall where I picked up the tip to ink the lettering and first (Bryan Lee O’Malley maybe?), but whoever it was noted that if you do the panel borders first, then the lettering, then the speech balloons, you’ve inked half the page without even doing any drawing. It’s also better to work this way because you know what you’re drawing around rather than leaving gaps to squeeze balloons into later. I draw all this and any sound effects with a Superfine Faber-Castell PITT pen.

Moving on to, Inks:

Pretty straightforward here, I use a Faber-Castell PITT Brush pen to ink over the pencils. Some artists’ pencils are really loose and they do a lot of the drawing straight to ink, but I am not that brave or skilled, preferring to get almost everything captured in pencil first. I try and leave all the black areas for the next step, denoted with a cross, but occasionally I fill in a little black at this stage for clarity. Once everything’s inked I rub out all the pencil.

Almost there, Filling in the Blacks:

I rub out the pencil before this step because if I do it afterwards a lot of the ink comes away with the pencil and the black areas are left uneven which means either re-inking the blacks or more cleaning up in Photoshop. I like to have the final piece of artwork as close to how it is viewed in print or on screen as I can make it in the time. Once everything’s filled in, I double check for any sneaky little Xs I may have missed and then add the date, the logo and my signature. I usually decide whether the strip needs a title or not while I’m drawing it and add that last.

Lastly, cleaning up in Photoshop:

My routine in Photoshop is fairly simple. I scan the page at 600dpi Grayscale. I open it in Photoshop, zoom in so I can see the detail and adjust the Levels so that the blacks are black and the whites are white. Then I run Threshold to eliminate any grey pixels between the two. After that I go around the page, still fairly zoomed in and clean up any blotches, dust or fluff that may have got into the scanner and the shadow of the paper on the right hand side of the image. Then, if I must, I digitally alter or redraw any elements I think could be better or that I made a mistake on. For this strip the text in panel 8 was quite cramped (in a 5x4cm panel, no way!) so I spaced it out as best I could. Finally I copy and paste the whole image into a preset A5 template. This contains a layer with the actual logo on a seperate layer which covers my hand scribbled one. I save it and make a 72dpi, 900 pixel wide JPEG version which is what I upload to the site.

And that’s how I draw an Everyday strip. No great revelations I imagine but hopefully it was interesting for you to see the indecipherable scribblings and smudgy pencils of a comic in progress. Thanks for reading.