Archive for March, 2012

The Write Stuff

Last week I met with a group of Cub Scouts to help them with their “Artistry Activity Pin”.

For the better part of an hour we discussed various careers in the field of art.

When we got around to talking about being a cartoonist, I told them about my webcomic and showed them samples of my work.

We then got into how I put together the comic and publish it on the web, along with the materials I use.

I thought it might be fun to give you a “behind the scenes” look at “Dad’s Day” too.

So here we go…

First, I work out of an office in my basement. It has an ample supply of natural light and is also quiet when it is noisy in other parts of the house! For decor, I wound up with, not so much by choice, a classic “dorm room” look. A couple of flags of my favorite college teams, a few framed marathon posters and race numbers from ones that I have ran as well as the original artwork from my first ‘toon. All hung on the walls with very little thought given to why or where!

Not pretty, but comfortable!

I do not have a “fancy” drawing table! The “guts” of it I’ve had for about twenty years and when the original table top had seen its better days, I simply went to a local home improvement store and purchased a new piece of wood and trimmed to size and installed it myself. That, along with an inexpensive light from an office supply store, makes for a fine work station.

My drawing table.

Inexpensive lighting...think I used a coupon too!

I use a lot of “Post-It” notes and index cards to keep track of ideas that pop into my head. I also keep a notebook of gags that I have written, which is broken down into various themes. When I’m in a drought in terms of writing, I break out the nerf ball!

Just a small sample of my supply!

The cure for a case of "writer's block"!

I sketch out ‘toons on basic printer paper and also a sketch tablet. I use a pencil during this stage of the process. Once I’ve figured out how I want it to look, I use tracing paper to lay it all out. From there, I will use a light box and Micron pens to transfer it onto Strathmore Bristol paper, which is the final work I do by hand.

The "Light Tracer 2" light box.

Paper for the inked version.

Micron pen used for inking.

Cup made by my daughter that holds my pens.

My original artwork is drawn to a size of 4″ by 13″.

As of yet, I don’t own a scanner that can handle work that big. Therefore, before I can load onto my computer, I need to reduce it down a bit. I head off to my local FedEx-Kinkos and get copies of my originals reduced down to a size that fits on my scanner, which is a Hewlett-Packard, Model 3054. After scanning onto my computer, which is an I-Mac, I use Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 to get the ‘toon ready for the web. When I launched Dad’s Day way back in 2009, learning how to use all of the Photoshop tools was probably the most challenging part of producing a webcomic. There were no instructions on how to color a cartoon with the software, so it was done with a lot of trial and error (and a few thousand internet searches as well)

Also, a note about my computer…I made the switch to the Apple Mac about four months ago and it has cut the time it takes to prepare a cartoon in half!

Love the mac!

The HP 3054 scanner/printer.

My mac!

That’s about it!

Well, all except for a couple of small details…

I usually have music playing while I’m at the drawing table. I have various playlists set up with I-Tunes and a selection is made depending upon my mood.

And of course…

I ALWAYS have coffee!!



I live five minutes from a Starbucks, in case of an emergency!

A Fling With Spring!

This is usually the time of year when us hearty Minnesotans have had enough of winter and are racing to the airport to catch a flight to anywhere that doesn’t use the word, “windchill” in their daily vocabulary!

We’re usually sick and tired of scraping our car windows, jump starting dead car batteries and of course shoveling piles of snow!

But not this year!

No, this year people are digging through their closets for shorts, bikes are being pulled out of storage, the shovels are being put away!

You might call it, “madness” for a month that begins with the letter “M” and ends in “h”! (Didn’t want to make the NCAA trademark police upset!)

Call it what you want, but I like it!

On Wednesday we set a record with a high temperature of 72 degrees and there is no end in sight! We may even hit the 80 degree mark this weekend, which has never happened this early in a year!

Of course we should have seen it coming. Our first clue came way back on February 2, when good ‘ol “Punxsutawney Phil” emerged from his log home in a “Speedo” and in need of a refill on his margarita! Yes, our usual eight to ten more weeks of winter was cut in half, thanks to El Nino, La Nina or whatever means “fire up the grill” in Spanish!

What some more proof that the Winter (if you want to call it that) of 2012 is history…

The pile of snow at the end of my drive is on “life support”.

I went for my first early morning run outside this week and I did it in shorts!

A friend of mine spotted the advance scout for mosquito nation.

I opened the windows in our house for the first time since they were “hermetically” sealed last October.

My daughter wore “flip flops” to school this week. (No truth to the rumor that she as been doing it all winter due to an inattentive father!)

Son #2 had his first track practice this week.

The girls and boys state high school basketball tournaments are this week and next with no blizzards in sight!

I uncovered the grill on on my deck this week and cooked some steaks!

The ice on our area lakes will be gone soon…well before the norm of the Fourth of July! (Just kidding on the latter.)

Want a stock tip?

Buy Coppertone!

Want a new and warm spring break destination?

Hello Minneapolis!

Take that Orlando!

RIP Winter '12