I am not a fan of wasting paper. Especially not drawing paper. There are a lot of different kinds of drawing paper from cheap to really expensive. Cheap is usually just any old kind of paper. I know artists who will draw on whatever is at hand. Some draw on a plain old piece of printer paper (it used to be typing paper but who has a typewriter anymore?). It’s cheap and it’s handy.

The next thing up from printer paper is the paper found in pads sold under the name “Drawing paper.” That’s the paper you can find in any basic arts and crafts store, general store, and even a well stocked pharmacy. There is nothing special about it that I can see and I generally stay away from the stuff. I stay away from all cheap paper most of the time. I don’t like the stuff. I find it too smooth, too hard to erase on, and I struggle with drawing on it in general. It also doesn’t take ink well. Don’t use tools you struggle with if you can help it. It’s better to make things easy on yourself.

The most expensive paper that I’ve used is a 300lb watercolor paper. That’s some thick paper. Paper is measured by weight and the higher the number of pounds the thicker the paper. 300lb is about as thick as it gets for me. One 22×30 inch sheet of 300lb watercolor paper is going to run about $15. It’s well worth it if you’re going to make some large watercolors (or even small ones) but that’s not the kind of paper I work on as my everyday paper. Mind you I’d hate to waste a sheet of that expensive paper but I’m not sure I ever have. I don’t use it often and when I do it’s usually at the end of a very long process where I have most things worked out so the chances of the drawing going wrong are slim.

Things going wrong is one way that paper can be wasted. That happened to me recently with some sketch covers. I had an idea come to me and I quickly implemented that idea. Too quickly. The drawings came out terribly and I ended up with a couple of wasted sheets of paper. Usually I’m patient so that type of wasting of paper doesn’t happen too often. That and I start my drawing out small. Wasting a five by seven inch piece of paper isn’t too bad. In the story I just told the pieces of paper were eleven by fourteen inches. That hurts a little more.

The more common way for me to waste paper is in my preparation process. That’s where I messed things up today. I had finished nine small six by nine inch pencil drawings and was setting a few of them up to be covers in my faux comic book cover series. I scanned the drawings in and then blew them up and placed them into one of my cover templates. The cover templates are designed and made up to look like comic book covers. They’ve got the logo and trade dress of a comic book. In the trade dress is an issue number and a month just like on an old comic book cover. And I keep track of them too. If issue one has January on it than issue two will have February as its month.

The series I was working on today was “Dreams of Things.” I’ve done about fifty drawings in that series and it turns out I messed up last time I printed some out to be inked. That’s another thing I do. I prep some covers for inking and coloring in bunches and then let them sit there until I get to them. The last two I let sit there I messed up on. First of all, I accidentally made two different issue number 50s and printed them out. That was annoying but not too big a deal since I had duplicated numbers in this series before. I did those on purpose though so doing it not on purpose was a disappointment.

As I was setting up issue number 52 I checked to make sure I had the correct month on it. It turned out to be August and everything was okay. Then I did a few more unrelated things and came back to set up issue 53. I checked the month and got all confused. I’m not even sure what caused the initial confusion but eventually figured out that both of my number 50s that I set up weeks ago had the wrong month on them. Crap, that’s annoying. At least I hadn’t inked them yet.

The paper that I usually work on is a two-ply Bristol board. At 96lbs it’s a pretty thick piece of paper. You can buy it with a smooth or rough surface in many different sizes. The size I was working at for those covers was a fourteen by seventeen inch piece of paper cut down to eleven by seventeen inches. The Bristol I buy costs about $15 for twenty sheets. That’s not too bad. There is more expensive Bristol out there but I only use that on occasion. I prefer to use a watercolor paper if I’m upgrading my paper.

So now I had the choice to live with the wrong months on the cover or print out two new versions with the correct months on them and throw $1.50 down the drain. As much as it pained me I went with the two new versions. It’s not a ton of money but I hate to waste stuff.

So now I’ll aim to not waste the two pieces of paper. The key is to use the back of paper to make a working drawing. Something that isn’t going to be a finished piece. Sometimes in this situation I’ll cut the paper into smaller pieces to draw on but in this case I think I’ll keep them at eleven by seventeen inches. I can make a full size working drawing on the backs of them. Let’s hope they come out okay.