ACW Episode 53 – Sleepwear (plus how to make a comic strip)

Just one more example of how exciting the life of an erotica writer really is 😉

I thought I might show you all how I put together the Adventures of Cynical Woman web comics. I’m sure you’re all just fascina– Hey! Get back here! I’m not done talking to you yet!

Where was I? Oh yes, how I put the comic strips together. First, I need an idea. This week’s idea was inspired by an e-mail interview I did with a journalist who wanted to know how I write erotica. I mentioned that some nights I curl up in bed with my laptop to write my stories, but that wasn’t nearly as sexy as it sounded because I always wear flannel PJs and tuck a heating pad under my feet. This particular erotica author does NOT like to be cold.

So I had my idea. Next, I needed to script it out and draw a quick thumbnail sketch of what the panels would look like. I do this step in a notebook I keep just for the cartoons. Here’s what the idea sketch and script look like.

Very fascinating, right? Right! Anyway, once I know what I’m writing and drawing, I set up a sheet of paper on my handy dandy drawing board.

The drawing board is actually a piece of foam core with some white poster-board taped over it for a smooth drawing surface. I use a low tack tape to attach the paper, and then use a mechanical pencil and T-square to draft out the panels. I always draw in red pencil. You’ll see why in a bit.

Next, I roughly sketch in where each of the characters and props are going to go in each panel. This is nothing fancy, just stick figures and basic shapes to help me determine how much room each character will need in the panel and still leave room for the word balloons and text.

Then I start to draw a detailed sketch for each panel, again using the same mechanical pencil with red lead.

I like to do a fairly detailed drawing so I know exactly what I have to ink. Once the final sketching is done, I pull out a brush pen (I use Faber Castell brush markers; they’re the best!) and I ink the cartoon. For the borders and fine line work and cross hatching, I use a Faber Castell technical pen or a Micron Pigma pen.

Once I’ve got the inking done, I scan the cartoon into the computer via Photoshop. I have to do it in two pieces, since I use a very big piece of paper for the cartoon. I don’t bother erasing the red pencil marks because I don’t have to. I simply delete the red color channels from my image once it’s been scanned in and then convert the whole thing to grey scale. Voila! No more red pencil, just black ink.

Once everything is scanned in, I use Photoshop to pull it all together. I have a blank comic template set up with all the credits and titles already in it, as well as guidelines set up to help me line up the artwork. I use the text tool and the pen/shape tools to add the text and word balloons. For the final touch, I add two extra layers to the image, one for black areas and one for white high lights. I’ve found it’s easier and cleaner for me to add black areas to the cartoon in Photoshop than to do it by hand, so certain things like the laptop in this cartoon or the Hubster’s hair will be blacked in then, with another layer set up for white highlights on top of that.

Once it’s all done, I flatten all the layers in Photoshop, scale the image down, and then put it in a blog post for the website. The whole process takes anywhere from 2-4 hours, depending on how detailed the cartoon is, or how tired I am that day. Today I was beat, so between that and putting together this little behind-the-scenes look, I probably spent about 4 1/2 hours on this total.

Anyway, that’s how it’s done. Now aren’t you glad you hung around to read all that? Wasn’t that just fascinating? Hello? Hellooooooo…

I can hear you breathing, you know.

Don’t forget, episode 03 of Rats! runs this Thursday on!

About Cynical Woman

Cartoonist, Artist, Geek, Evil Crafter, Girl Scout Troop Leader and Writer. Also, a zombie. I haven't slept in I don't know how long.
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  1. Fascinating. Y’know, I somehow had the idea that you’d gone fully digital. This is like taking a photograph on Kodachrome B/W film, developing and printing it, and then digitising it. But I’m not complainin’ – what works, works well! 🙂

  2. Steve,

    I used to do the cartoons all digitally, using a program called Manga Studio, but it took longer to get them done that way than it does to draw them by hand and then scan them in. It took me a while to figure this out, and to finally stream line the process to the point where I can do one cartoon a week without killing myself. I love Manga Studio, but for various reasons it was not the route to go.

    Now photography, yeah I do all that digital. I took a photography course, and did not care to get into making my own prints from film what so ever. I never could get the film wrapped correctly around the little reel before putting it into the developer.

  3. I think it’s interesting, but I geek out on all kinds of things. BTW – the comic got a loud chuckle from me.

  4. Perfect!!

    I have to admit, I read this earlier, and have been giggling for hours, so I wanted to thank you!

    I’ve definitely written my share of sexy, nearly nuclear sex scenes while wearing flannel and fuzzy socks!

    Hey! It’s winter! The very moment they invent thongs and open-cup bras that still keep you warm in spite of the lack of covering, I’ll write in January wearing just those!

  5. Kathleen,

    I always want to know how other writers and artists work. It fascinates me and gives me good ideas about how I could do my own stuff. With art, it’s easier to see what people do, especially with the abundance of tutorial books and magazines out now. Writing? A little harder to get inside another author’s head, but worth it when I can do it.

  6. Angela,

    I’m with you. The moment they invent lingerie that can keep me warm and toasty even when I’m not actually engaged in intimate activity, then I’ll start wearing the lacy stuff to bed. Until then, it’s flannel all the way!

  7. Great post and strip, Helen! I was fascinated by it, too, even though I don’t draw. Actually, I love this strip and I’m getting to love Rats, too.

    Now, about lacy lingerie, I find that rubber keeps me much warmer than little, insubstantial, lacy things–and it can be a lot scarier, too. I’m just sayin’…

  8. D.L.,

    LOL! I’ll have to keep rubber in mind, although I worry I might then squeak in bed. Though I suppose that wouldn’t be so bad, would it 😉

    Glad you’re enjoying the cartoons and thank you muchly for the feedback. Mmmmmmmmm-WAH!

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