November 20, 2006

Cameron Chesney

Comics: "How To See The Aura", "Daphne", "Jodi's House", story "Professional Help" in True Porn 2
Making comics since year of: Many when I was in my teens in the mid 80s, now at a slow pace since 2001
Art education/schools attended: Alberta College of Art & Design (Calgary, AB), School of Visual Arts (NYC)


Pencils: I still love to use a wood-clenched pencil, and I used to just buy boxes of the cheapest brands I could find.  A while back I read an article about how some animators in California love to use Tombow Mono pencils which are made in Japan. Its funny becuse you wouldn't think there was that much of a difference, but I won't use any other pencil now, except for the occasional non repro-blue (Color-erase).  If you haven't tried them, you should give them a shot.  They glide across the surface and produce great marks.

Inks:  I prefer to use Dr P. H. Martin's "Tech" waterproof drawing ink.  The P.H. Martin's  "Black Star" is also very good, but the "Tech" is better.  Very hard to find, so buy a big bottle when you do.  I usually have to search it out in the internet.  I hope they keep making it, because most of the commercially available drawing ink is crap.  Seriously.

Brushes:  Since I was young, every single cartooning "how to" book I read mentioned the Winsor Newton Series 7 Sable brush.  How expensive it is and the purity of the line you can get from it if you practice with it and take care  of it and clean it after every use. It's all true.   I use a # 4 mostly, and sometimes a #3.  I managed to talk an art supply store into selling me a Series 7, #7 for $60 because it had been on their shelves for so long.  I can't believe the thin line I can get from it (not to mention the giant thick one).  If you've never got the hang of using a brush to ink your comics, you owe it to yourself to take a serious break from the pen and learn how to use it.  You won't believe how much your work will improve...

Pens:  One of my good friends used to work in a lab at an art school, and as they began renovating the workshop she came across a huge tub of old (from the 60s, but never used) pen points, and knowing my love for them, gave me the entire tub.  I was elated.  I can't tell you how superior they are to the ones you buy today.  Even if they happen to be the same style.  Something must have happened to the quality of the metal or something.  My favorite pen to use from this tub is a Joseph Gillott's 170 or the 290.  I only have a few dozen of them left, so I try and take very good care of them.  Of the modern pen-points that you can still purchase today I like the ever-popular Hunt 102 crowquill, which is incredibly flexible.  Recently I have tried using the Deleter brand pen points which are made of very fine steel, and are available imported from Japan via the internet.  They are really wonderful, and really worth checking out.

Paper: Strathmore Bristol.  I have been drawing very large lately, so I have been buying large sheets of the Strathmore 500 series.  I like the cold-pressed board because sometimes I like to watercolor my originals, after I have obtained a high-quality scan of the finished Black & White.  I have also experimented with washed black tones on white after looking at the work of Jack Cole (his pin-ups).  I use a lamp-black watercolor (Winsor Newton) to apply the wash, after mixing 3 different tints on my palatte (a 25% a 50% and a 75% grey tone).  Even though comics are an art made for reproduction, I see no reason why we can't treat our originals with the same respect that we treat a painting.  I love looking at cartoonists originals, in a gallery or wherever they may be.

Lettering:  I will use a Speedball lettering pen A-5 most of the time for my large size work, but I have also used a Rapidograph .4 when I am working smaller.  Lettering is the area that I really need to work on the most.  Sometimes I will use a computer font, but I prefer to hand-letter.

Color:  Working as a Graphic Designer for a number of years I learned how to flat color using Photoshop on a Mac quite early on.  I still really prefer the look of a handcolored reproduction if time allows...

Layout/ Composition:  For this I will usually just sketch out on one of those yellow legal pads, using a pencil or sometimes a black marker.  If I'm having trouble with a drawing, I will try and work it out on tracing paper, and then transfer it to the Bristol when ready.

Convention Sketches (when different from illustrations done in the studio): I haven't done many conventions at all as a professional, but I would use a sketchbook with nice paper in it that can easily be removed.  Probably draw with pencil, then a permanent marker...

Tool timeline, starting from when you began drawing in any serious way until the present, and what spurred the changes: As I kid I loved to draw directly to finish with a ballpoint pen, but as I got older I became curious as to how comics were "Professionally Made", so I sought out as many "how to" books as I could find.  Most of my knowledge about "tools" and techniques came from very good books.  One book that I recommend still, even though it is very outdated and out of print, is Ken Muse's "The Secrets of Professional Cartooning".  It is a book mostly for the "strip" artist, but there is a plethora of information there about tools, techniques, and methods.  If you have some $ to spend, search on E-Bay and see if you can track down the 3 volume "Famous Artists" Correspondence Course circa the mid 1950s.  These volumes are FULL of "old school" gems that are in print nowhere else.  While you're at it look for the "Famous Artists" Cartooning Course from the late 60s.  You might not have to pay that much for them, and you can always make a copy for yourself and sell the originals back on E-Bay, getting most of your money back.  Again, the material is dated, but still contains many useful bits of information that you are not likely to find anywhere else.  I would have killed to have read this stuff in my early years.  I wish I had.  Speaking of excellent books, if you haven't read Scott McCloud's book Making Comics yet, you really, really should.
I have also been using my Mac more and more to create digital images, using Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and my scanner.  I started doing it several years ago when I was working in the NY garment industry doing licensed Disney characters via Adobe Illustrator for screen print output.  I got very good at manipulating vector paths to simulate a fine ink line.  If you would like to learn more about using Adobe Illustrator to create your comics I recommend reading some of Alberto Ruiz' tutorials in Mike Manley's "Draw!" magazine.  
  All in all though I still very much prefer comics done with the traditional pen & Ink on paper.  I am very excited by the changes happening in the comics scene these days, with so many young people creating and publishing their own stuff.  Its great to see so many women creating excellent comics work.  Now is a great time to be creating comics.

What tools you'd never use, and why: Ballpoint pen.  Because it is non-archival and will diminish with time.  Non water-proof ink or markers...  Keep your originals as permanent as you can.  You'll be glad you did 30 years later...  

And lastly, any advice you'd like to give: Work hard and often, but don't forget to live.  Do it because you love it.  And support your peers.


Eric Dyck said...

that was a good one...nice to see an ACAD alum...

Anonymous said...

I noticed you said not to use ballpoint pens since they are not archival. Have you had any experience working with ballpoint pens to produce art that you were going to mass produce like a mini-comic book? If so was the quality satisfactory? I have been thinking about doing mini-comic books using ballpoint pens since they are so versatile and inexpensive. Do you have any suggestions, advice or helpful criticisms? Thanks for your time. :) Pod