I thought I’d share a little of my process when I’m writing/drawing Oxford Clay.

If you can’t be bothered to read the whole thing, it is basically ‘Brain-Paper-Computer’. Pretty simple really.

Anyway, diehard readers, most of the writing is done while I’m out running so I have no real distractions. I don’t script anything beforehand as I find it quite constrictive working to a script that I wrote for myself. I find it more helpful to rough things out in pencil and adjust from there. With comics, I don’t really see the distinction between drawing and writing. I think that they are interchangeable modes of thinking about the same thing.

Once I know what I want from the page I’m drawing, I start to rough it out;

As you can see from the picture, I draw in an A3 Seawhite sketchbook. I like the paper and find that the hardback cover keeps everything nice and neat. On a separate sheet, I have made myself a grid that I slide under each page. The blue lines measure 8ths and the red measure 3rds. I find this grid both flexible and rigid, which sounds like a contradiction, but I find it really useful in maintaining consistency in my layout.

With my grid in place, I start pencilling in my panels provisionally. I don’t start placing panels willy-nilly, I always have a plan, although it sometimes gets adjusted as I think it through. I sketch in with a  Pilot Color Eno 0.7 propelling pencil in blue;

I sketch in blue after learning my lessons from sketching in pencil. If you aren’t aware of this particular trick of the trade, and spend lots of time erasing out your pencil lines, prepare to have your MIND BLOWN.

I start to get the rough forms in, and I mean ROUGH. At this point, this often barely constitutes drawing. What I’m trying to do at this point is to work out the flow and pacing of the page, including dialogue and sound effects. I construct the entire page like this and read it through a couple of times until I’m happy with it.

My next step is to ink in the borders.I put these in first for two reasons. One, for me it is the easiest way to start committing ink to the page. I find it eases me into ‘inking mode’, so I’m less fussy and pedantic about inking the rest of it, and secondly, I tend to overshoot my margins without a black line telling me not to go over it.

I ink in my borders with an Osmiroid 65 lever action refill fountain pen with a Rolatip Medium Soft nib. That’s probably too much detail, but it is a lovely pen with a really nice consistent line when you want it, plus I can fill it with whatever ink I so choose.

Speaking of ink, I like to use Platinum Carbon Ink. It isn’t the blackest or thickest ink I’ve used, but it will refill cartridge pens and brush pens without clogging them up, which is a bonus in my opinion. I use the same ink for everything when I’m drawing Oxford Clay, but more on that later. I ink with a Nikko G-nib, which is a flexible nib and gives you real control over line variance, from needle-thin to very thick lines and everything in between;

I ink in the characters and dialogue first because a) they are more fun to draw and b) they are the focal point of the strip. I try to draw them relatively spontaneously, which is one of the reasons I leave the pencils really rough. If I mess up, I use Deleter No. 2 white ink for corrections.

At this point, I sneak the page upstairs and dry it off with my wife’s hair drier. Not very rock’n’roll, no, but a very useful thing to do, and a lesson you need to learn only once! With all the characters and dialogue inked, I make a start on the backgrounds and scenery.

I build up the backgrounds using the G-nib dip pen;

With the background inked, I use a Sailor Recruit fountain pen filled with Platinum ink to add detail;

With the inks finished and blow-dried, the page is scanned. In Photoshop, the blue lines are removed using the channel mixer’s ‘black and white with blue filter’ preset, the levels are adjusted to get a nice white/black and the page is prepared for colouring digitally. I don’t think there is much else interesting about talking about how I use Photoshop, other than to say I use a Wacom, so I’ll end there. Thanks for reading.

Now, questions?