Saturday, June 11, 2011


It is less than two months until the SCBWI Los Angeles Conference. I thought I was going to start feeling rushed at this point, but things are going very well. I finished the first of my new portfolio pieces last week. In fact, I finished it in half the time by starting the piece differently. It was a big experiment, but I had nothing to lose and I ended up winning big.

Normally I dial in my final sketch on vellum and then transfer it onto bristol with graphite paper. I'm not very fond of that step. I always feel like I lose detail and line quality, so I decided to experiment with scanning my final layout and printing it onto the bristol with my inkjet printer. My scanning/printing tests turned out great so I decided to take everything one step further to save time.

After I transfer the layout, I usually block in color with an airbrush or brush thin layers of paint. This stage is very rough, but it saves time. I also spend a fair amount of time fixing things that didn't transfer well. This adds time. I often feel like I'm re-drawing what I had already spent a lot of time on. I thought, what if I blocked in color on the computer directly on my scanned layout and then printed it out? When I tested this technique by printing out onto bristol and using colored pencil over it, it worked beautifully. The final illustration turned out great and was finished in half the time. I wasn't struggling with all those lost details from transferring and I could erase without losing my base layout. I also had the psychological benefit of knowing I could print out a new copy easily if I needed to start again. (I've never had to start an illustration over, but it's always a dread in the back of my mind. It's nice to be rid of that.)

So, I'm cruising through my new pieces with the knowledge that my usual 8-12 hour days at the drawing board are going to yield even more. I even took a couple days off without worry. What's not to like? Back to it...


  1. The next couple months will go quick I bet! Glad you found a speedy process!

  2. It is definitely getting exciting. There is still editing to be done on this piece, but because it went faster, there is time to put it away and look at it again with fresh eyes in a couple weeks.