Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Medical Specialty Stereotype #2: Neurology

I had my first night on call last night as Team Captain. What is it like being Team Captain? Imagine, if you will, that you have ten children, all of whom want your attention simultaneously. Five of whom are newborn quintuplets. And you have no arms or legs. And you are getting sprayed by a fire hose.

Now you're getting close.


(No, seriously, I warned you.)

Some people have asked what drawing materials I use for my comics, and the answer would probably disappoint you, because they are not very arty or fancy. Basically, I have followed the same method for drawing comics for the past ten or so years (I used to do a comic strip in college), and it's pretty basic.

First, I do a rough sketch in my notebook, so I know how to lay everything out. Then I pencil in the strip with a Zebra mechanical pencil with 0.5mm HB lead. In college I used to use a more readily available Bic 0.5mm disposable mechanical pencil with 2B lead, but I've since found the harder HB lead gives the line a little more control and is less smudgy. The down side is that the harder lead takes a little more elbow grease to erase.

After I pencil in the whole strip, I go over all my lines with ink, and I have three pens that I use for this, depending on the thickness of the line that I need. For the thickest line, like for the borders or for large text, I use a regular old black Sharpie. For thinner lines, like for all dialogue and the speech bubbles and most of the writing, I use a black Pilot Xtra Fine Razor Point, which is just basically a fiber-tipped ink pen. Because of the fiber tip, it gets dull rather quickly, so I have to have kind of a big stash on hand, but also because of the fiber tip, there's a nice smooth friction-y control that comes with the line. And for the thinnest lines, I use a Pigma Micron 01, which I believe has a 0.25mm tip. It's also a fiber tipped pen, so you have to be careful not to push too hard or else the tip will splay out and you will be pissed. (I used to use a Pilot P-500 to this same end as I do tend to press hard when I draw or write and the Pilot pen has a sturdy metal tip, but that didn't really work out in the end because ballpoint gel ink pens tend to skip when you're tracing over pencil lead.)

As for the paper I use, I tend to use something like this, it hasn't always been this exact brand, but just any kind of 9" x 12" archival paper for pens that is relatively non-bleedy. Because I don't like bleeding, anywhere, ever. I also have recently been using a large sketch clipboard, not because I want to look pretentious and arty (that's accomplished with my beret and existential ennui) but because my desk is such a mess that I need it just to have an empty surface to draw on. I take the board and balance it between the edge of my desk and the armrests of my desk chair, and voila! I do not have to clean my desk. Which is good.

After I finish inking in all the pencil lines, I erase all the pencil with a big fat eraser (good to do this outside or in the fire escape, because those little bits get everywhere) and then I scan the comic into Photoshop. I don't do a lot of Photoshop with my comics because I don't know how--the extent of my manipulations is limited to cropping out individual panels for computer layout purposes, or erasing/filling in little spots that were missed manually. Rarely, I will use color, but mostly I don't, because it's just too much damn work. Overall, for a six panel strip, the whole process from start to finish can take anywhere from 4 to 6 hours.

OK, that's it, hope it was helpful or interesting to someone at least. If you have e-mailed me or commented asking me about my drawing materials in the past, I apologize for not giving a real answer until now, but as you all know, I am a horrible person with a shrivelled black heart and a categorical problem with returning e-mail in a timely fashion. Boring shop talk over, resume your lives.