Every year in May, the National Cartoonists Society has a weekend awards gala. (This year it's going to be in Hollywood!) It's a weekend full of seminars and parties and reuniting with cartoonist friends and making some new ones. The highlight of the weekend is the Awards banquet (black tie!) where cartoonists of many different categories of cartooning are recognized as well as one outstanding cartoonist who receives the prestigious "Reuben Award".
This year, my Canadian chapter is sponsoring a page in the Reuben Journal to congratulate the nominees. My very talented colleagues have all sent in art which will be pieced together by our esteemed Chapter President, John Martz.
Below, I'm going to show the art that I sent in, and each stage I go through to finish a cartoon after the pencil stage.
Here's Maeve, after pencil lines have been erased and I've done the initial inking. You can see where I've messed up the chin line . . . my first stroke wasn't far out enough and I had to fill it in to make her face proportioned. I also messed up on the arm holding the martini glass. It needed to be slimmed down. And yes. . . I see the toes don't look right either . . . I know the biggest toe needs to be on the inside of the foot (re. the foot in front) . . . and the drawing is just too loose rather than I actually drew it incorrectly. (although, if it looks wrong, I guess it IS drawn incorrectly)
The second stage is to scan the art in Photoshop. (I still use Photoshop 5 because I know it and it's comfortable) This stage is all about cleaning up the art. I erase any specks that show up from the scanning and the mistakes I've made. Notice that Maeve's chin has been thinned out and her arm holding the martini glass has been slimmed down. I've also erased part of Maeve's bust (boob? breast? bodacious ta-ta? . . . what am I supposed to say here??) because I decided the arm would actually be behind her (insert your mammory word of choice) rather than over it. Same thing with the index finger holding the martini glass . . . it should be over the stem not behind it.
One thing you may not notice here is that I've smoothed out various brush strokes, either by erasing them and making them thinner or inking over them and making them thicker. (the "making them thicker part" will be done in the next stage) I use a Pentel brush pen for the largest strokes of inking. I actually prefer to use a Speedball C-5 but the last batch of paper I bought doesn't work well with the Speedball dip pen. The paper isn't smooth enough and I get a scratchy look. Why am I using this paper if I don't like it? Go back and read this post if you're really interested. I'm still searching for another paper but since I spent about 500 bucks on the stuff I have, I have to use it up first.
ANYWAY, have you ever been driving and notice that you're close to running out of gas but you keep pushing it and pushing it and PUSHING IT because you don't want to be bothered to stop and refill? This frequently happens to me when I'm inking. The Pentel brush gets low on ink and I start getting the dry-brush effect and instead of stopping my inking and re-filling, I keep going because I hate to stop in the middle of the process. I know it's stupid. I KNOW IT'S STUPID. But it's one the things I do time and time again and then I pay for it when I get to the Photoshop stage because I then need to smooth out my rough lines. I don't do all of them. . . it just seems to look bad when I'm doing the long brush strokes. Like, for instance, Maeve's legs and arms. So, at this stage, I've fixed this.
The third stage is dropping in the blacks. . . mainly Maeve's hair, sunglasses, the Maple Leaf and a bit in the shoes. The toes still look wrong and it's driving me nuts right now while looking at them . . . but the art is long gone and the whole thing is a fait accompli. And who the hell looks at feet anyway?
I've connected a few lines here and there . . . like the fingers that are resting on Maeve's hips and the liquid in the martini glass. Some lines can be left unfinished and unconnected and some can't. There's no rule for this. It's strictly based on what I think looks right. I've made the earing loop smoother, I've adjusted the toothpick in the olive, I've painted Maeve's toes (there're those d@mn toes again) and I've smoothed out the bottom line of her nose. I also played around with the Maple Leaf on her shirt which, although it was just a loose rendering of the emblem of our Canadian flag, it still needed a little tightening up. While dropping in the blacks, I still need to go back and erase here and there. At the end of this stage, the art is finished except for . . .
. . . dropping in some halftone screening for a little more contrast and interest. I've added screening to the shorts and the olive. Finally, I've used the airbrush tool to give the sunglasses a little highlighting which I rather liked.
And there she is, all dressed up and ready to go to Hollywood. Cheers!
UPDATE: I fixed the toes and John graciously allowed me to resend the artwork. Hey, John...when next we meet, martini on me!