Archive for March, 2011

I miss derby. I’ve been avoiding it a bit at the moment, mainly because I hate not being part of it and knowing that I won’t have time for it for a little while. Still … all the skating and fun and fitness and outfits and FRIENDS … I miss them so!

Last night my lovely former teammates the Junkyard Dolls were modeling at Dr. Sketchy’s, so I got to have a happy fun arty reunion with them. Here are my sketches …

Left-Handed Five Minute Sketch ... ugh

Team Captain Quickshot Kitty! (5 mins)

My Derby L'il Sis Trixy Le Doom! (5 mins)

Smearin' Off Ice and Adrenaline Junkie (5 mins)

Adrenaline Junkie examining Smearin's Bruise (10 mins)

Quickshot Kitty and Doris Day of Reckoning (10 mins)

Adrenaline Junkie (1/2 of the 20 mins)

Smearin' (1/2 of the 20 mins)

And yes, Smearin’ is wearing a monster bra.

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My friend and I hit up the Boutique Warehouse Sale Spring Preview Party last night in Timonium – a sneak peek at what local designers would be releasing for spring. We’ve only just started dabbling in the Baltimore/DC Fashion Scene, having made previous visits to a Preview Sale in DC (that was a mobhouse, but featured tons of good food and wine) and Baltimore Fashion Week’s Runway show (which was painfully awkward and featured Miss Maryland scolding the crowd for not clapping enough).

We were tipped off to this party by one of my favorite stores – Doubledutch Boutique, so I knew it was worth checking out. There was champagne at the door, and pizza and teeny cupcakes, and an assortment of racks from various stores in the area – clothes, bath supplies, jewelry, and shoes. I always tend to find these situations a bit overwhelming – not knowing where to look first or what to try on. There were some drool-worthy shoes wayyy out of my price range ($333) and a DKNY skirt I almost talked myself into buying, but didn’t ($173). Then I tripped over the curtain that disguised the dressing room area, tearing it down and exposing several women mid-outfit change to all the shoppers … and figured it was time to leave.

In the end, I bought these cute little shorts from Liza Byrd Boutique:

They’ll be perfect for spring/summer (even though it’s supposed to snow tomorrow).

Going to these sorts of shopping events just makes me hungry for more — anyone know where to find the super secret shopping sales in Baltimore? Anyone know the handshake to get in??

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It’s time for Part 3 of my Comics Making Process – Inking!

When we last left off we had a page all pencilled, waiting for some ink:


So I gather together all my favorite inking tools. I prefer the Pentel Brush Pen, and Microns of various sizes. The Pentel is a fairly recent obsession of mine (and by fairly recent, I mean since 2008, when I started using it), recommended to me by the incomparable Chris Schweizer. Finally, a brush pen that kept its fine point for months, even years after purchasing! It was a bit of a learning curve at first, and occasionally my hand will still spazz out and give everything a thick line, but overall I loooooves it.


Okay, so I’ve got my inking tools and my page to be inked. Now depending on the contents of the page, I’ll use one of the Microns and a ruler first in order to block out all of the architecture – basically anything requiring a straight line. Sometimes I’ll go over lines without the use of a ruler, which, for me, is almost always a mistake. (I’ve got those blasted coffee hands – all a-jittery)


This might be common sense, but I try to ink from the upper left hand corner of each panel down to the lower right hand corner so I limit my ink smudging as much as possible. Apart from the straight-line items on the page, I’ll use the Microns for anything tinier or more precise than I trust myself to be able to do with the brush pen.


Now, with inking (depending on how you eventually finalize each page), you have a chance to really add some good shadows and depth. Pay attention to what time of day it is in your scene, where the light sources would be coming from, etc. In my earlier comicking days, I tended to shade everyone equally, as if there were a little sun hanging directly over each and every character. I didn’t really get that I had to create a whole environment for my characters to be running around in, I couldn’t just light them all individually. Anyhoo.

Now for this page, you can see I didn’t play too much with shadows and contrasty lighting. In the past, I’ve colored my Gods & Undergrads pages. Recently I haven’t had enough time to fully color each page, so I’ve been doing them in straight black-and-white. However, since I one day hope to color them, I don’t add as much depth with my inking as I would if this were closer to the finished product. Also, you’ll notice I’ve left the borders of the panels as-is – no inking by hand. I’ll leave that for Part 4 – Computerizing!

Past Parts:

My Comic Process Part 1: Thumbnailing

My Comic Process Part 2: Pencilling

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Wonky Weather

Sorry for the silence lately – it was appropriate, because I was called out of town in order to attend my dear grandmother’s funeral. I want to post a proper memorial on her, once I can figure out how to straighten out my words into what I want to say. She was amazing, as grandmothers are, and surprisingly driven, inspiring, creative, talented, goofy, and fun. I’m terribly lucky that she was part of my life and part of my blood.

But until then, here’s a little remnant from the drive back that my boyfriend and I experienced … HAIL!!

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My messy l'il workspace

Here we go on to Part 2 of my comics making process – pencilling! So now I move into my office, and set up shop at my drawing desk. Yes, it’s a little old and filthy and apparently I work best when surrounded by clutter … shh! Don’t tell anyone!

I’ve got my coffee and my pig pencil case, so I’m ready. Here are a few of the supplies I use — paper. Strathmore’s smooth Bristol, 11×14, has been my preferred paper for years now.

I use blue pencil, and with a mechanical pencil housing blue lead, I’m able to get a much thinner, sketchier line than I would with a regular pencil. The only problem? I tend to press down really hard when I pencil, so I break the tips off when I draw like nobody’s business.

My eraser’s pretty standard. It does its job.

So I take my 11×14 sheet of Bristol and tape it down to my drawing table. That way, it doesn’t slip out of the way when I’m aggressively sketching and breaking off lead and whatnot. Now here’s the part where I do a little math: My paper is 11″ wide x 14″ long, and my final end product will be printed on paper that’s 5.5″ wide x 7.75″ long – standard page size for a manga-sized book. I’ve figured out that this gives me about a 4.33″ wide x 6.933″ long space to fit all my art in, with no risk of bleeding out in to margin space. I’m definitely not the best at properly adjusting my pages in order to take advantage of bleed space in printed pages, but at least I have a rough guess for how much room I’ll be allowed to work with for my comic page. So when I compare 11″x14″ (paper size) with 4.33″x6.933″ (drawing space), I discover that I have to slim down my paper width area a wee bit in order to match the ratio I want to end up with. So my drawing area becomes 8.74″ wide x 14″ long. So I simply measure 1.14″ off of each side, draw a little line, and know that these are my boundaries to draw within.

Then I measure out the page into thirds, since my thumbnail sketch told me that I wanted 3 rows of panels on this page. Again, I do a little math to measure out the page into my panel areas, but you’re free to do this as anally or as sketchily as you please.

Now that the page is divided up into spaces for the panels, I mark out the panel lines themselves, leaving a little bit of room between panels for the gutters.

Then, finally, I can begin sketching! I’ve got my boundaries, I’ve got my thumbnails, so this should be the easy part, right? Wellll … it depends on how detailed your thumbnails are, and how skilled you are at things like perspective and environment drawing (and I am not). So this part can take me a little while as I slowly build panel …

… by panel …

… being careful to write out all of my dialogue, so I can have room for it when I put it in on the computer in the final stage (stay tuned for that exciting installment!).


Sometimes I’ll tape up previous pages as reference (shown at the right is the inked version of this page, which I put up to remember certain details about how I drew the characters the last time).

Until – voila! I’m all done.

The page is now all pencilled and ready to be inked, which is Part 3 of my Comics Process … stay tuned!

My Comics Process Part 1: Thumbnailing


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Today I want to give you a peek into my comic process. Here, I’m going to use the next page of Gods & Undergrads as an example – as I’m updating it, I’ll post the steps I go through in order to update that particular comic, page by page.

So, first, I lay out my supplies:

My comic-makin' supplies

Here I’ve got my notebook, my pig pencil case (awesome), my phone (for research), iPod (for background), pencils, and lastly, my Gods & Undergrads binder. For all of my comics, I print out all of the pages I’ve done so far and slide them into a 3-ring binder so I can easily flip through and reference what I’ve already done.

In the pockets of the binder, I’ve got some of my storyboarding aids:

Storyboard for the Whole Book

I like to visualize the whole book I’m going to create, even if I’m not exactly sure what will go on each and every page. Seeing the whole thing all at once helps me structure what I want to happen, and when. And yes – I tend to wrinkle this storyboard aid and spill coffee on it constantly. I’ll scribble out general plot movements or ideas I have on this page.

So I’m on Page 35, and as you can see I haven’t really written any notes yet:

Page 35!

I also check my notebook to see if I’ve scribbled down anything I want to have happen on that page:

(I’ve blurred out any bits that might give away what I have planned for the future of the story) – no peeking!

Next, I get out one of my templates for planning out the details for each individual page:

Page by Page Storyboards

Depending on how I feel, I’ll use just one or a couple of these boxes to plan out an entire comic book page. For this particular page, I want to work out the dialogue first.

I plot out the basics of the conversation – one character speaks, then the other. There are no details about environment, facial expressions, camera angles, nothing. Pure dialogue. A lot of the time, just getting a version of the dialogue down first and knowing what I want said on a page helps me to visually plan it out.

My handwriting is messy

Next, I plot out the panels of the page and generally (very, very sketchily) what’s going to go in them:

I’ll include parts of the dialogue, but depending on how much space it’s taking up, I’ll tend to abbreviate it. I use the panels to break up the text to match with different shots. I’ve also added in more dialogue to what I wrote below. As well as one, lonely design note: Neil: Peacoat.

Gods & Undergrads has always been a very boxy comic. I don’t tend to experiment much with page layout or elaborate backgrounds – it’s primarily dialogue-driven. I think it’s because back when I started it, I was still terrified of drawing backgrounds, and pretty inexperienced in general, so I relied on box-box-box grid layouts and minimal environments. (Aw, who am I kidding – I’m still terrified of drawing backgrounds!)

Ta daaaa! There you have it, my page 35 is all planned out. Stay tuned for the next installment: pencilling!

Thumbnailing Complete!

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Nerdin’ Out

Wearing my glasses, OD’ing on coffee, and doing my taxes. Yes, it’s an exciting Saturday morning in my house! For some reason I secretly enjoy pouring through a year’s worth of receipts and book orders and calculating just what exactly happened in 2010. Is that weird?

I’m also listening to episode after episode of A History of the World in 100 Objects, a fabulous BBC podcast. Learning things like how the first evidence of written language was of inventory of beer. And how people used to bury prize weapons (like jade axes) with the dead so they would never be used again. Neat!

So because the soundtrack to my day is primarily British voices, I’m inspired to post a little Giles sketch I did a ways back …


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