Every freelance artist knows the pain of trying to be a business person when all they really want to do is make art. The whole “getting paid” part is more about a desire for spending all your time getting to create instead of having another job to pay the bills. It’s a tough proposition. Either you spend more time ( a LOT more) operating the business-side of freelancing than one would want, or, like me, you end up getting another job so that the art-making doesn’t become just amount the money. There’s many pitfalls with either, and the one I have fallen into for the past few years is spending so much time working elsewhere that my freelance efforts have suffered.
Recently, however, a series of events have coinciding in my life, giving me a second wind, and I feel a powerful push to do more freelancing. One of those events have been an inexplicable upswing in commissions, encouraging me to keep going as well as giving me a good reason to draw more!
So, I’ve been in my studio a lot more lately, and I feel the desire to finish old projects as well as really dig into new ones. In keeping with that, I want to start making available the long-awaited issue #3 of Father Robot:
Want one? Well, you certainly can right here!
Someone asked me at the last comic convention my process for creating drawings. At the time I was working on commissions I had received at that event, which could be anything from superheroes to caricatures of the attendee, but normally they were good ol’ robots. This is what happened when both your table banners feature giant robots. At the table, I work a lot faster than I do in my studio and erase all my pencil lines, but I thought I’d share my ideal process, when I have more time and all my gear, here for you all. So, let’s start at the end. Then, scroll down and I’ll lay out the process a little but more. Here’s the end-product, a hand-drawn bust of Father Robot with value (shading):
To get to this, I first lay down a bunch of wild sketches with light blue (non-photo) pencils. Because I am an extremely messy sketcher, I prefer a very light pencil that erases completely. Some brands are very greasy and, even if used lightly, don’t erase very easily. This is important if you plan to “color” directly on the original drawing later. This pencil lines need to be able to be removed, or maybe I just want to be able to correct the shape with an eraser. I prefer Prismacolor Col-Erase pencils. It ends up being very vague and light:
Then I come back with either a soft, dark lead either in normal gray/black graphite or a drake color of blue. I like art pencils, but any ol’ pencil will do, preferably (for me) 2B or harder. While traveling, I carry mechanical pencils with me, with a variety of leads preloaded. With the right tool in-hand, I render a clearer drawing that’s going to be pretty close to the product I want to end up with:
After that, I can draw right over the top on the pencil lines with ink. Sometimes the paper won’t take the ink if the pencil was to greasy or too much drawing was done. So, I can just lay a piece of tracing paper, vellum, or, in this case, marker paper over the sketch and draw clean, inked, line work. This process is also good if I want to make multiple drawings from one sketch or I know there’s something I want to fix in the composition. Here’s the result with Copic technical pens on some Bienfang Graphics 360 marker paper:
As you can see, I wanted to turn the eyes a bit and feel free to sketch some more details of the neck and the body around the head, but for the most part it retains the point of the original sketch. Then I get out my Copic markers and just have fun. When I’m at conventions, I try to bring at least a dozen different values with me to do commissions, but on this, non-con, trip I’m on currently, I only carried three values, or shades, with me. I can compensate for this lack of variety by working fast and laying down, then blending, two values together with the pigment is still wet. I think I got a pretty good result! Here it is again:
That’s about it. If I work fast, I can get a piece like this done in a little over half an hour. I spent more time on that for this one because no one was waiting for it. Hope you enjoy a little peak into my work process!