(from the desk of Nick Bertozzi)
STEP 1: Write a script. People will tell you this is hard to do. They are not lying to you.
STEP 2: Lay out the pages with rough drawings and roughly positioned text.
I tried using a new roughing technique for LEWIS & CLARK, putting together all of my layout using Adobe Illustrator. It's great for positioning text exactly where you want it, but drawing right onto a computer is a crazy idea. Just think, you can draw your image up to 800% magnification which means the awesome detail that you're drawing on Meriwether Lewis's epaulets will look like a muddy splotch at 100% magnification. Stay AWAY from the zoom tool is my advice here.
STEP 3: Pencil the pages onto 11" x 14" bristol board using the Roughs in Step 2 as a guide.
This is the stage in which I try to get the characters' poses and facial expressions just right. If I get the pose right, I can give an emotional resonance to the dialogue balloon that the character is speaking in order to make that character seem more real.
STEP 4: Ink over the pencils using an old-fashioned pen nib and brush with india ink.
This is the part in which I try to make the pages look good; thicken up the lines so that the pictures are easy to read, and using different inking techniques to make the background elements and props look like they're supposed to: plants are inked like plants, example. Sounds easy, but it's hard for me!
STEP 5: Scan and manipulate the image to get it to read as clearly as possible.
Even though I spend all that time on Steps 1-4, there's still lots of little things that go wrong and I don't often see them until someone points them out to me. On these pages I added black to the tops of the buildings so that the entire two-page spread appears more solid, I moved some panels around purely for design sake, and most importantly, I added more space in the word balloons so they'd be easier to read.
The whole process takes a few days — and I haven't even mentioned the time spent researching the buildings and costumery of the era nor the hours spent trying to get better at drawing horses – not sure if I succeeded on that last one – but I think it's worth it.
Thanks for reading!
(you can find more of this book here)