When I was working on Lighter Than My Shadow, I mostly followed a very strict and orderly routine according to the wallchart. This was necessary to constantly remind me that as long as I kept on top of what needed to be done – week by week, day by day – I could deliver a 500 page book within the deadline.
Roughly, I drew 12 pages per week for a little over 14 months. This rate was possible because I opted for a pared down visual style, and also because I’d spent the better part of the preceding three years planning. I no longer had much creative thinking to do, I just needed to draw.
The first stage in creating a page of finished artwork was to translate my storyboard to a full-size pencil sketch ready for inking. Often at this stage I would make some changes if I had an idea for a better composition or panel progression. I was also incorporating the last round of editorial feedback so the last storyboards and the final artwork often diverged a surprising amount. These changes I planned as very quick thumbnail sketches that were only understandable the day I drew them – looking back they make very little sense, and I can only sometimes match them to the corresponding finished page!
Technical stuff. I drew each double page spread as a single piece of artwork at actual size (390 x 255mm). I drew on A3 recycled xerox paper but I wish I hadn’t. I chose it because it’s cheap, and therefore less intimidating. I get very frightened by using posh paper, and afraid to start work, but if I’m using something like xerox paper which is so cheap it feels disposable, I’m a little less precious. It also happens to take Pigma Micron pens (size 01 and 005) very well. The downside of this cheap paper is that it’s non-archival, and, let’s be honest, downright flimsy. When I was deep in the process of Lighter Than My Shadow, the last thing I was thinking of was exhibiting or even selling artwork. Now the slog is behind me, I have 250 original pieces that I’m sure people would love to see, but they’re on cheap, rapidly yellowing paper that wouldn’t look nice hung on a wall and certainly isn’t saleable. I plan to get more comfortable with expensive paper in future.
I pencilled 4 pages – 2 double pages spreads – at a time, which would usually take a morning, giving the afternoon and evening for inking (that’s tomorrow’s post).