Another blog that was written before lockdown. It seems so long ago now.

I’ve been working on a bunch of things lately. On my commutes into the city on Mondays and Tuesdays I’ve been working on making some of my cartoon art cards for my “Drifting and Dreaming” comic strip. Over the last couple of years I’ve only been able to get about three months ahead with the once a week Sunday strip. It takes a lot of work to make one. It takes more work than my two other strips “Four Talking Boxes” and “Message Tee” because I don’t have to draw all new things for those two strips. I make those ones in a different way.

With “Drifting and Dreaming” any individual strip is made up of four parts: Two cartoon art cards, one regular art card, and the bit of writing that is “The Middle Story.” The art cards are easy enough. I just make a drawing on a baseball card size piece of paper. I’ve been making art cards for a long time now so it’s a habit. Usually I don’t have to draw them special for the strip as I’m doing them anyway and their numbers can build up. Of course that’s not always the case. Sometimes I run out of them.

The cartoon art cards are much harder to make. With them I have to do some writing and drawing to make each individual one. I now make them differently than I used to. When I first started them, and for many cards after, I would draw a face/head spontaneously in ink. I could do them faster that way and it led me down many strange and interesting paths. But after years of doing them that way I found I was repeating myself a bit too much and that got boring for me. I needed new faces.

So a couple of years ago I switched over to making quick pencil drawings to work out some of the features of the face. I would only spend a couple of minutes on each pencil drawing. I still wanted the face spontaneous. I just wanted to minimize repeating myself. After the pencil drawing I’d go in with my ink pen and draw over the pencils with a black ink line.

Once the face was drawn I’d go into the drawing with markers to color the drawing in. These cartoon art cards coincided with my learning to use markers way back in 2010. I first started out with Sharpie markers but then moved on to ShinHan Touch markers, Prismacolor markers, Pitt Pens, and Copic markers. I mostly use Copic markers these days but not always. Sometimes I get bored with them and use another set.

The coloring of the cards can take the longest time of all the stages. I usually make my cartoon art cards in batches of ten. I lay all ten cards out in front of me and first color all their backgrounds. I put two colors in the background of each card. I’ll grab my markers, pick a color, and start filling in backgrounds with that color. Then I pick another color, and another color, and probably up to five colors for the rest of the cards.

After doing the background on ten cards (sometimes twenty) I color each card individually until it’s finished. I start with the one on the left in front of me and color on down the line until I’m done. Well, I probably take some breaks in there too. It takes around two hours to get ten cards colored.

When I first made these cards I wouldn’t write what was in the word balloon until after I finished drawing the face. But somewhere along the way I switched my order. I think was when I started making ASMR drawing videos of my art cards. For video it was much better to have it already written and lettered so that at the end of the video I’d have a finished card. It’s not very interesting to watch somebody write on video.

Finally I scan in the finished art card and digitally set them up to be used. After that I have to do some more writing. I open up my digital file and write “The Middle Story” part of the card. I write ten of them in a row because I usually set up ten cards at a time. That’s two months worth of cards.

For the last month I’ve been doing some of these cartoon art cards on my commute. Since the trains don’t run on my schedule I have some time to wait at the train station. I can pull out my cards and do some pencilling or inking as I sit on a bench. I also work for a little while on the cards before I head out to catch the train.

Last fall I ever wrote a few of the cards as I was riding the train but I found it difficult. There are tons of other people on the train plus the distraction of the scenery going by. I had more trouble than usual writing them and they probably took me twice as long. It’s better to just read on my train ride.

So I started to write them on Sunday nights when I was doing nothing. I found this easy and relaxing. Since the writing in these strips is trying to be witty and odd I also found in easier to have a podcast or something on as I write them. I’m not really listening the podcast but certain words catch my ear and can start a phase for the cards.

I write directly on the cards in pencil. First I draw a border around the edge of the card, then draw guide lines on the top of the card to help me letter straight, and finally I draw the bottom of the word balloon. Then I write the card. After I get the writing correct I letter in the words in ink.

I’ve got a small aluminum card holder made for carrying around art cards. I put my lettered cards in that case and put the case in my commuting bag. Over the last month I got ten cartoon art cards finished the first week and then went a week for three weeks after that. That’s a good amount but it took a lot of effort. I’ve finished with this stage of them and now I have to go and write a whole bunch of “Middle Stories.” This might take a while.