December 19, 2010

week on Comic Tools: Eraser Shields

In the course of penciling comics, sometimes you end up with little distracting lines that you want to get rid of, but they're so close to lines you want to keep that erasing one might accidentally erase the other. It's a common problem when drawing fiddly, intricate things like faces, or as I've chosen for this example, skulls.

My usual solution to this problem is to form a point on my kneaded rubber eraser and use it to erase only the lines I want gone. If you do this, make sure your point isn't long and floppy like this, or you won't be able to press on it hard enough to erase.

Make the angle of the tip as obtuse as you can, and the tip will hold up to much harder erasing before losing its shape.

However some artists, like my girlfriend, press their pencil into the paper like a marine trying to stab through body armor, and kneaded rubber erasers aren't enough. Here's her eraser, worn to a blunted nubble:

How is she to erase single lines with this, without erasing everything around them? That is where eraser shields come in. An eraser shield is just a paper-thin piece of steel slightly larger than a credit card, with holes of various shapes and sizes cut in it. You cunningly select and position the holes to mask off the lines you want gone, like so,

And then erase them.

You have to be careful about checking your placement, though,

lest you remove lines you in fact want to keep:

They really ought to make these in clear flexible plastic for better positioning. It wouldn't be too difficult to make one out of acetate, though. Any material that was thin and stiff enough would work.

Anyway, here's the cleaned pencils,

And heres the skull all inked up:

Sorry I haven't been getting to comments yet, my keyboard is broken and my spacebar has been dead all week. I've been inserting every space by copying and pasting, writing this. I have a friend with a new one, though, so hopefully that'll be sorted out soon.

See you next week!

December 12, 2010

Eraser shields: Not for dueling pencil knights.

(Also, not actually the subject of this post.)

I'm ready to start posting every week again. I know, it's been awhile. A lot's happened. I moved in with my girlfriend. I got a full-time job in New York Central Art Supply's paper department. I was removed from the book I've worked on, or worked to be able to work on, for the last four and a half years. I did a shitload of anatomy research, the results of which you'll be seeing in the future on this blog. I started a new project with a friend of mine, which I'll be discussing much more freely than my previous project as I work on it.

I'll talk about my removal from the book I was working on in more detail another time. All I'll say for now is that it wasn't acrimonious, but it was very sad and disappointing for all parties. Basically, I hadn't turned in any work in a long time, and because of my new job, no work was forthcoming any time soon. First Second said they needed the book done by such-and-such time, I said I could not do it by then, and so they were forced to let me go. I think it's important for people to share their failures as well as successes, particularly ones that are learning experiences, so believe me, I WILL go into more detail about this later. But at the moment the circumstances of my being let go aren't totally over with, or even solidified in terms of what will happen legally, and it's still pretty goddamned painful to talk about, so you'll excuse me if I refuse to answer any questions on the subject for now.

But it, in combination with a major move, is the main reason I've been offline so long, and not really been in the spirit of blogging about comics.

Anyhow, I'll be resuming tools posts next week with a post about the eraser shield. And I'll be catching up responding to a backlog of reader comments during the week.