Coincidentally, as I was digging through my boxes of stuff a couple months ago, I came across a perfect example of this process - a cartoon that I had published a while back complete with all of the images from ideation to completion.
Well, good for you, dear reader, you can now witness the true anatomy of an Eimertoon.
PHASE 1 - IDEATION
Judging from the below sketch, I would say I was in some boring meeting that anyone who works in an office space is forced to sit through during any given day. Maybe it was a meeting about eCommerce or the purchasing demographics of a Target consumer. Or maybe it was a meeting discussing HR health benefits. It really doesn't matter.
But, what matters is, I was bored enough to jot down this quick sketch (approx 3" x 5" in size) that, obviously, I thought was funny enough to remember:
PHASE 2 - CLARIFICATION
While there are a number of ways to get your images from your brain to the computer and out into the real world, I would say my process is half old-school meshed with half new-school - so to speak.
That night, or perhaps months later (I can't remember), I came upon the above sketch and tried to work out the minor details including art direction, placement of characters and, of course, an entertaining punchline or joke. That said, below is a slightly bigger (8 x10) pencil sketch of the scrap of paper you see above:
PHASE 3 - FINE TUNING
Most cartoonists or animators who I know (which is few), or have witnessed on various shows and publications (which is many), have some sort of light table, which is a table that has either a clear piece of glass with a light shooting out of the bottom so you can quickly create reproductions of sketches in a moment's notice.
I have two light tables at my house. One is a desk that my father and I made waaaaay back in the early 90's. Another is a smaller, portable light table (purchased at Pat Catan's).
With the light table on at full blast, I lay another sheet of white paper on top of the above sketch. Then I take an ink pen (I use a fine or superfine Faber-Castell PITT artist pen by the way), I trace over the above image, eliminating the rough pencil sketches and strengthening the overall drawing. Eventually, I get to the below image:
PHASE 4 - SHADING, CROSS-HATCHING
I have four favorite cartoonists: Sergio Aragones (of MAD magazine fame), Bill Watterson (of Calvin and Hobbes fame), Peter Bagge (of HATE fame) and Don Martin (also of MAD magazine fame). By hours and hours of trial and error and insane attempts at emulating these four cartoonists, I've created my own unique style. Trust me, your style will eventually just happen as well.
Sergio Aragones, who inked his MAD marginals and very own comic book Groo the Wanderer for a while, has this great freeflow inking style that I truly appreciate. I also love Peter Bagge's use of thick lines to capture the characters in their very own angst-ridden shells. Watterson and Martin, of course have a fun inking styles as well. (Google all of these cartoonists if you don't believe me)
In terms of cross-hatching, I idolize horror illustrator Bernie Wrightson and his work. Truth be told, I can't even emulate his style. If you want to see some of his fantastic pen and ink drawings, check out his website, and also do a Google image search. See what I mean?
Voila! With a tip of the hat to my favorite cartoonists, you have the final inked version prior to scanning:
PHASE 5 - COLORINGFinally, I scan the above document on any flat-bed scanner I can find (work, home, neighbor's house, cellphone), save as a JPEG file at 300 dpi, then open up in Photoshop and begin the coloring process.
Yeah, Photoshop, I know, I know. Illustrator is much better. Also, you can get better line quality with Flash as well. But let me explain. Harking back to my days as an animator/inker for a local animation company in Columbus, we used Photoshop for virtually everything. Truth be told, it's what I know. Eventually, I'm going to pick up some tutorials or take a couple classes to learn the basics of getting those hi-res vector images that can go transfer fantastically to t-shirts, bumper stickers and posters, etc. However, until I can grab ahold of that much-needed tutorial time, I'm sticking with Photoshop.
After about an hour of intense coloring, I finally decide on a punchline. During the punchline writing/ideation phase, I like to picture 10 of my closest friends, and, basically, write to them. They understand my sick sense of humor. So, if they think the joke is funny, then I've done my job. If I get anyone else to laugh, it's simply a bonus.
After completion, I save a final version at 300 DPI then I save another smaller version which I shrink the image size down to about 2" at 300 DPI (the best effective online viewing size in my opinion) then post onto Facebook, Twitter, this blog (and hopefully other places) for the world to see:
So, there you have it. A quick, down and dirty way to get your cartoons from inception to conception in less than a day. The entire inking, drawing, scanning and coloring process takes, on average, a couple hours. For bigger, more-color intense projects you can double the time.
For antoher Anatomy of an Eimertoon T-Shirt Design, click here.