STEP 1: THE IDEA Step one is probably the hardest step. How do you come up with an idea that is funny, original, and holiday-oriented when you have 2000 years (give or take) of Christmas Cards that came before? Plus, I like for it to be political, but not too political; because despite one disaster after another, 1/3rd of you still think Bush is the best president ever. And I don't want to spoil your holiday. Let me tell you, ideas ain't easy. Luckily, my lovely wife, JoAnn, provides me with inspiration: Where's our card? Have you finished our card? When are you going to get our card done?
STEP 2: THE SKETCH Next comes the sketch. I doodle around on whatever scrap paper is available, and I try to figure out how to present the idea. Normally, I wouldn't make a card with two panels, because that's a lot of information for a small card. However, I couldn't determine a layout that would work in one panel. Here are a couple of sketches: I also looked online for pictures of Laura Bush, because I haven't drawn her before. She never stops smiling.
STEP 3: THE DRAWING Next comes the actual drawing. I take an 11" x 14" sheet of Bristol (a heavy paper), and using a mechanical pencil, a sliding t-square, and 30-60-90 triangle, I draw a "frame" for the images. Here's a picture of my desk (it's usually not this clean) and some tools (not to scale):
Once the frame is complete. I draw everything out in pencil, trying to make as few mistakes as possible. I use a very hard lead so that the image is very faint if I need to erase. I still make a lot of mistakes.
STEP 4: INKING Next I go over all of the pencils with ink. Some people think this means "tracing," but it's not. Inking adds a whole different character to the image. Good cartoonists can add flair and depth to their drawings in the inking process. (I'm still working on the "good cartoonist" part.) I use a brush as much as possible, because markers tend to fade over time. For this image, only the panel border was inked with a pen. Once all the ink is dry, I erase all the left over pencil lines. In this case, the inked copy looked like this:
STEP 5: COPYING and SCANNING Next, it's off to the copy store. Because I work on 11" x 14" paper, I need to copy and reduce the image to normal letter-sized paper so that it will fit on my home scanner. Once I have the reduced copy, I scan it into my computer.
STEP 6: USING PHOTOSHOP I take the scanned image and open it in a software program called Photoshop. This program allows me to manipulate the image and make it ready for printing. With Photoshop I added some gray (for contrast), the text and word balloons, and the snow in panel one. I also realized that I had sized the image wrong, so I fattened it up with some holly that I stole from last year's Christmas Card. Then I saved it in a format that could easily be printed.
STEP 7: PRINTING Then it's back to the copy store to print the card. I had them print 2 images on a page of card stock and then cut the page in half.
STEP 8: MAILING Then JoAnn and I just address, stamp, add something pithy like "Merry Christmas," and drop the cards in the mail. See how easy it is! Anyone can do it!
Visions of Christmas Cards Past: