Sunday Mailbag

November 5th, 2006 | Posted in Mailbag

Q: When you transfer drawings from your sketches to the “official board” MAD sends you… do you just redraw the whole thing or what do you do?

A: I physically redraw it, but considering I don’t draw the roughs very detailed it’s more of a tightening and completing than it is total redrawing. Here’s the process:

I do the sketches at print size, directly on the MAD layouts like so:

mad7.jpg

Then I scan them into PhotoShop. I enlarge them to 200% of the original size, which makes them the exact size of the boards MAD sends me. I print them on my Epson Color Stylus 2200, which is an oversized printer that can handle large paper like Super B (13″ x 19″). In the case of a splash page, I print it in quarters and tape them together. In the case of a regular page, each row will fit on a Super B page.

I have a homemade light table in my studio. I made it out of a large overhead fluorescent shoplight I bought at Home Depot. I built a frame for it and turned it upside down, removing the flimsy plastic cover. I bought a sheet of Plexiglas cut to just bigger than the edges of the shoplight, and sanded one side until it was milky white. I placed it over the light with the sanded side down. I had to add an outlet plug to the end of the wires, as these lights are made to be hard wired in and not ‘plugged’ in. Presto! A large (24″ x 48″) light table!

Using the table I place the MAD boards over top of the enlarged sketch prints, line them up properly and sketch in the images. I do this lightly and without adding detail, except in the rare cases where my rough sketch happened to turn out really nicely and I don’t need to work it up any more than I already did. In most cases, I just put down a quick impression of the roughs.

Once I have that done, I drag out my reference. I always work out the faces and caricatures far more completely, and will also add in the background details and flesh out the rest of the art. Sometimes this means a lot of work and sometimes the rough sketch will serve just fine for the basis of the inks. I always want to leave room for interpretation with the inks, or else the inks will just be “tracing” the lines and it will lose life and spontaneity.

Comments

  1. Trevour says:

    Tom – it’s a new thing you should market – inexpensive light tables! Or at least an instructional booklet on what parts to buy and how to build one. I think I might do something like this now, after reading this. Surely it was much less than something like this!

    Currently I only have a 20″ plexiglas animation disc that I bought from Chromacolour, and have it mounted on a homemade wooden enclousure that my friend built, with a circular flourescent light inside, that’s hardwired with a lightswitch on the side. It’s perfect for animating stuff, but there isn’t much area to work with if I want to trace something for other projects. Plus it’s rather awkward working around the acme pegs.

  2. giangia says:

    Hi Tom, do you use light blue pencils in the tranfering process? my problem when someone else is going to ink my work, they have a lot of sketch lines.

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