I’m not sure why I waited so long to do this, but I figured it was about time I showed my process for creating a Snowflakes strip. It all starts with the script from Zach and James, which I will omit here to prevent any spoilers for this yet-to-be-published strip.
I draw all my roughs on tracing paper. A nice thick pad of tracing paper provides a really soft cushion for my pencil, and I find I sketch looser on a soft surface. Also – I can easily flip the paper to get a fresh view of my drawing and catch any mistakes. Sometimes I even draw certain elements, such as characters, on the other side of the paper if I’ve roughed in a nice background I don’t want to screw it up. This way, if the characters aren’t sitting right, I can easily erase them without destroying the background sketch on the other side.
I sketch the roughs for my strips relatively small (about 2.5×7″). It’s a lot easier to rough in basic shapes and compositions at this smaller scale without getting caught up in the details (which I am VERY prone to do). This helps me focus on overall flow, composition, and tonal values much easier. I find I produce better compositions when I work this way. If I start out large, I end up spending so much longer working out the composition, and it’s just not worth it. It’s a lot easier to try out different compositions without wasting too much time.
As a template for my 2×7″ strip storyboards, I use a handy little cardboard cutout that I created. This keeps all of the sketches at the same size, and in perfect proportion to the full size strips. I simply trace the outline on the the paper, and I’m ready to go.
The pencils I use are the Staedtler Mars Micro (0.5mm and 0.9mm). I love using these mechanical pencils. They feel great, and no constant sharpening! Plus, having a consistent sharpness is less distracting and let’s me forget about the tool I’m using and focus on what I’m using it for.
Next: In Part 2, I’ll go through my process of drawing the strip full size on my light table.