Cartooning tutorial 3: paper

I have not discovered a way to make a picture of a sheet of white A4 picture look interesting. It should be said that the rest of this blog post is essentially about A4 paper – feel free to click away now. A summary of tutorial 3 in my cartooning tutorials series, entitled ‘paper’: It…

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I have not discovered a way to make a picture of a sheet of white A4 picture look interesting. It should be said that the rest of this blog post is essentially about A4 paper – feel free to click away now.

A summary of tutorial 3 in my cartooning tutorials series, entitled ‘paper’: It doesn’t really matter.

I use Staples ‘Inkjet’ paper. This is because I have found, through experimentation, that the pens I use leave a sharp black line on this paper – it is very smooth – whereas on some papers there is a tiny bit of ‘bleed’, meaning that the lines are not as crisp. It does also seem fairly smudge-resistant compared with other A4 papers. I have a tendency to smudge my ink lines, particularly when erasing, so it is good to minimise this.

In Staples (our local branch at least) you can go in and take a sample sheet of each of their 5 or 6 different A4 papers and try them without needing to buy the whole ream. I did this – took a sheet of each (labelled it of course), then tried drawing, erasing and smudging with a variety of pens. I’m sure lots of other types of paper would do equally well, but this is what I now use. This is for my final drawings I should add – I use a lot of scrap paper of whatever kind for rough drawings, layouts, notes, shopping lists and that kind of thing.

Important note: do not use Staples Inkjet paper in an inkjet printer – it is entirely unsuitable. I find that it is too smooth and the rollers cannot cannot get a grip, even if I shout ‘get a grip!’

Paper size. I tend to use A4 paper even when doing a larger cartoon, such as a Greenbelt map or my ‘Church Times’ cartoon from last week’s newspaper. I just do the cartoon on two sheets which I tape loosely together when drawing and then separate to scan on an A4 scanner. I join them up again using the editing software on the computer. If my main aim was to sell the originals I would of course not do this. In an ideal world I’d have an A3 scanner, but I don’t have the space for one.

The main thing to say is that it isn’t really the paper that makes or breaks a cartoon. It’s all about the pen. No… sorry, I mean it is all about how good the drawing is. I will get onto that in tutorials 3 to 299.

9 Comments

  1. Thanks for the insight, Dave. I had no idea places like Staples would offer such try-before-you-buy services on papers. That said, I have yet to darken the door of a branch of Staples. I must be missing out!

  2. Only 80gsm I see. We use 100gsm as it makes our customers think we are bold and firm…not true of course.

    We get ours from Viking. It used to be called Imperial but now it is called Colour which is odd as it very white.

  3. Point of clarification
    Are you really going to make us hang on until Tutorial 300 (if not later) to find out about pens? Because the tea is without milk, it may still be fit to drink, but the biscuit will be stale and the paper blank. In the worst case scenario, Staples may have been so stung by the claim that their inkjet paper isn’t inkjet compatible that they will withdraw it from sale, before our (as yet unspecified) pens have made as much as a single, comically-charged stoke.

  4. Sam – Being able to visit a branch of Staples upon the merest whim is the one benefit of living alongside the Thames estuary. Trust me – you’re not missing out.

    Chris – 100gsm. Goodness. I have toyed with moving to 90sgm during my crazier moments, but came to my senses in the cold light of day.

    Jeremy – I see your point. But if I make tutorial 4 all about pens you’ll have pen and paper but still no idea how to go about beginning to draw anything. Staples Inkjet paper – yes, I would panic buy immediately.

  5. I would be interested in knowing how you differentiate between your scrap paper and that which you keep for best.

    1. Sara – A good question and I’m glad you asked it.

      It is indeed important to know which sheets of paper are scrap (ie with scribbles on), and which are best (ie pristine). My preferred method of differentiating between the two is to write ‘best’ in the corner of each sheet of best paper. Unfortunately once the sheet has this written on it, it immediately becomes scrap. So I have to find another sheet of best paper, and label it, which… (etc). I have been known to go through an entire ream in this manner.

  6. bleeding paper… the things I did not know before I came to church! At least one mystery solved: it is not the pen that bleeds, but the paper! I await with bated breath the solution of more mysteries: such as: it is not the pen that draws but the hand; because I have lingering doubts on that, when I see the final cartoon.

  7. Have you thought of labelling the scrap paper instead? Maybe in pencil, so that you can erase it later.

  8. Perhaps you could just label the scrap paper first? I imagine the time freed from the labelling duty could lead to all sorts of exciting adventures being possible.

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