Time-saving drawing tips

I saw a video on a page I follow on Facebook, the video, “4 Time-Saving Tips from a guy who spent 13 years drawing a comic” is by cartoonist Lars Martinson.

Lars worked on a very detailed graphic novel called Tonoharu, for 13 years, from when he was 25 to 38. The fine detail on each page is what killed all that time.

As I had stated in the past, Hal and High Water is taking me from 2 to 2.5 hours to create each strip. And I work fast. Ironically, one of the top syndicate guys told me I worked too fast, without even knowing me or seeing me work, he saw my work, he just didn’t see me work! But he is right, I work fast, so that 2 hours or more for one single strip is a bit much.

I’m trying to pare it down. I see many comic strips that use the copy and paste method where characters are concerned, you know, using the same images over and over again by cutting and pasting the same image in each panel. I don’t care for that method, so that way of saving time is out for me.

But Lars is the extreme – he goes all out with every drawing, where I’ll focus on one panel usually and I pare down the details on that, but I do put a lot into that and in others I’ll use no or little background.

storeI recently drew a country store panel, a general store actually, that could have so much background, picture a general store, there usually is not one space that doesn’t visually capture your eye. Well I redrew that strip twice, so that made that a 5 to 6 hour strip in work time! But it was important to pick and choose the correct images for the store without going overboard.

I could have added so many more items to the panel, but I wanted to keep it simple but still convey the idea of a general/country store. I didn’t want the background to take away from the characters, Hal, looking at a soda can, and Sam, speaking to the proprietor behind the counter. In another panel I show candy jars and Hal reaching onto a pickle barrel, but it’s not all in one panel.

Lars talks about having to have certain scenes in his comic because he thought of that scene in his head and didn’t want to change that. I have changed scenes often, I’ve changed angles and people in the scene. I’m not as strict as Lars. He calls them, “Carved in stone first drafts.”

Lars has four tips for time saving, I won’t give them away here since I do want people to watch his video. But one thing he talks about is being “lazy” and what he means is that to save time, you have to be lazy in some instances – like in Anime comics, there is not much movement, whether you realize it or not, there’s a lot of time saving in drawing, he shows an example on his video. Also, not spending a lot of time on backgrounds and details in every single comic and every single panel saves time – a lot of time.

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Drawing sailboats

boat1

Since Hal and High Water is about two friends taking off on a sailboat, I had to learn to draw a sailboat. At first I liked the idea of an old rickety fishing boat, but how would they sail around the world on that, so I had to change to sailboat.

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I didn’t want to get too technical with the drawings because first off, it’s not my style of drawing and it’s too complicated for a comic strip; a sailboat has so much rigging and details that it would be too much to draw this daily.

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For the first strips, they need to be in the boat since that is the premise of the strip, but as the strip goes on, they will get off and see the ports of call, the places where they dock.

I kept the drawing simple, but you can tell that it’s a sailboat. In one strip I show them sleeping in bunks below the deck. They have a kitchen/galley and it’s a nice size boat.

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In a lot of the strips I show the boat only once, in one panel, to establish their location. Since there is dialogue, I have the characters on or below deck, but you don’t see the full boat of course, like this image below.

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Here Sam is steering the vessel (that’s Hal to the right) and you see the steering wheel and some rigging and the sail itself to the left, and the railing, but not much else.

I use photos and I’ve always lived around boats, so I go out to the marinas in my neighborhood and I take photos of the boats from various angles so that I can use them as guides when I draw.

Benilda

hal-and-high-water-benildaBenilda – that’s the name of Hal’s wife. In the first strip Benilda throws Hal out and that’s where her name is used. We don’t see her, but she’s a character. I’m sure we’ll see her in the future, but for now, she is talked about but not seen.

Where did I get the name Benilda? It’s the name of a client of mine, but I’ve never met her! She purchases office items from me, she orders online regularly and it all happens online, we’ve never met, never spoken on the phone, I’m not even sure if we’ have an email conversation. Orders come in, they are from Benilda, they are processed and shipped. She’s ordered for many years and every so often, there she is, her name pops up – an order from Benilda.

I can’t even think of her last name at the moment, but with a name like Benilda, you don’t need a last name, like Cher or Madonna or Prince.

I love the sound of Benilda and so I used it as the main woman in the Hal and High Water Strip – who is currently not seen!

NEXT BLOG POST:  DRAWING BOATS – LOTS OF BOATS

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Getting Hal ready for his close-up

hal-and-high-water-the-preview

These are the first two panels of my new Hal and High Water comic strip. I’ve been working on it every day, getting it ready for publication.

I’m trying to get the story going fast, I don’t want to drag out the story, you know, explaining how Hal and his best friend Beau get into their current situation, I want the adventure to start right off, so I’m wrestling with that – do I explain it all for a few weeks’ worth of strips, or just get into the action after a week or so of strips?

I could do a flashback, you know, start off with them being out in the wilderness and then backtrack, you know, have a few strips later on titled, “How it all began.” Hmm, maybe, I like that idea.

Anyway, I need readers and fans, so hope you’ll be one of them. You can find the strip online somewhere daily, not sure where yet, but on social media, you can find Hal at these links below. When the strip starts publishing, I’ll post it daily on Facebook and Instagram. Twitter, I’ll use that for conversation, sharing cartooning stories, blog posts and things like that. Here are the links:

Hal and High Water Twitter: twitter.com/HalAndHighWater
Hal and High Water Instagram: instagram.com/HalAndHighWater
Hal and High Water Facebook: facebook.com/HalAndHighWater

NEXT BLOG POST: Where did the name Benilda come from?

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Drawing Hal

hal-and-high-water

This is the first panel of the first reincarnation of “Hal an High Water.” I started it yesterday.

halI kept putting it off until the time was right, there were things that I was working out in my head and on paper and eventually digitally. I wasn’t happy with the Hal I had originally, his nose was too far from his head, it looked great in black and white, but when color was added it had a strange look. And his hair, I thought it was too much, too out there, he needed a haircut. This image here is the previous Hal.

I was also working on boats since boats and particularly sailboats are a big part of the strip.

I know it looked as if I wasn’t doing anything, but I was working it all out in my head and finally it all came together.

But once I felt things were right I got right into it. It’s taking about two hours for each strip to be done from start to final coloring. I need to get that down to an hour, which I will. But I’m into it. I really am enjoying Hal and the actual work. As I stated before, I prefer drawing single panel cartoons but decided at this time a comic strip was the way to go and it’s working out well.

For updates on the progress, you can follow me on social media here:
Hal and High Water Twitter: twitter.com/HalAndHighWater
Hal and High Water Instagram: instagram.com/HalAndHighWater
Hal and High Water Facebook: facebook.com/HalAndHighWater

I’m loving the linked cartoons

I’m in New York this week for Comic Con which starts Thursday. I’ll post lots of pics once I go. But I saw something today that I love.

I’m always looking for ways for comics to be shared. I wrote recently about the subway, a thought I had for many years, you know, a single panel cartoon where ads or maps are placed now.

link1

Here is a Link NYC station and you can see the comic right there.

But today I came upon something at the Link NYC site. If you don’t know what that is, Link NYC are stations in areas where old pay phones used to be and the Link is a free service all over the city where you can get free wifi, charge your electronics, get information, see the news and even make free phone calls! And I saw today that there is a New Yorker cartoon on the Link along with the ads and news! Love that.

link2

This cartoon rotates with ads and news and such. 

As people walk by they can get a chuckle along with seeing the news and weather, etc.

link3

Here is an ad that rotates on the Link.

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This is the front of the Link NYC were you operate, link in, charge, make calls, etc.

Gary Larson is forcing my hand

hal-and-high-water

After posting about how much I love single panel comics, I see that The Far Side is coming back. Everyone is making a big deal about changes on the website here: thefarside.com. It’s been updated after years of being dormant.

Could it be reruns or new stuff? Speculation is that it will start up again on January 1, 2020 because it first appeared on January 1, 1980. So will it start up again fresh, will it be reruns or what on January 1, 2020? Of course I think we all hope for new stuff!

Anyway, to that end, how can I compete, how can anyone compete? After Gary Larson left the scene on January 1, 1997 (Gary likes January 1st), there were lots of new single panel comics appearing to try and fill the space left.

Now the Gemini in me has changed course regarding my comic strip/panel. I’m thinking of now starting up a strip, rather than a panel and have a usual sitcom style thing going.

I like the name I trademarked in the past, “Hal and High Water,” and originally it was about living in a world where the whole planet is submerged due to global warming, but now with the major hurricanes we are seeing these past few years and the real threat of global warming, it doesn’t seem like a funny idea to play around with in a comic strip. So I’ll keep the name “Hal and High Water,” and keep Hal and one or two of the other characters and reformat it.

The premise is explained like this on Twitter: “Comic strip. Hal’s wife threw him out. Now he ends up traveling the world in an old rickety boat with his best friend. Adventures await!”

It’s a bit more exciting than that and I see a lot of interesting and fun things happening. I’d like to incorporate my own travels into the strip and use real scenery that I encounter. I’ve been practicing drawing lots of boats lately, I guess that will be a big feature in the strip.

I’m not sure of a start date, but was thinking of January 1, 2020, too. If it’s good enough for Gary Larson . . .

Anyway, I’ll post on a website, not sure where yet, and also daily on Facebook and Instagram. You may not realize, but Instagram is really a great place to read comics, with the feature where you can swipe through the panels, it’s an excellent place to find new comics.

You can follow along now for updates and things like that along with Twitter.

Here are the social media links:

Hal and High Water Twitter: twitter.com/HalAndHighWater
Hal and High Water Instagram: instagram.com/HalAndHighWater
Hal and High Water Facebook: facebook.com/HalAndHighWater