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30 Day Comic Challenge: A Midpoint Update

What follows is an update on the 30 day personal challenge I'm currently putting myself through in the name of (cue echo) better comics! For other posts about the challenge, please check out the Blog archives at I hope the things I'm learning are useful to other folks, and might spark some discussion around how to improve productivity in comic making.
On Thursday night, I finished the fifteenth of the thirty comics I'm creating in my "one-a-day" personal challenge. Being halfway through, it seems like an appropriate time to share more lessons learned (your mileage may vary):

  • It takes me an average of three hours to make a strip. That includes writing, thumbnails, lettering, penciling, inking & finishing. There's really nothing I can do, short of changing my drawing style, to speed this (aside from whatever incremental improvements my speed gains through drawing these characters repeatedly over time).
  • Repurposing old art as pencils for new (a prior idea I listed) doesn't do anything to save time. It takes just as long to find the right pose and modify it for context as it does to just pencil the art from scratch.
  • It's turning out that pencils aren't really even the time consuming part. Inks are, because I'm concerned more with final appearance at that stage.
  • Penciling on good old fashioned paper (I had been penciling and inking directly in my tablet PC) actually gives me more accuracy, and a bit more speed, since I can see the whole image at once, and can spin it to my heart's content. (Maybe this would be different if I were working on an ultra big ultra swanky Wacom Cintiq instead of a tablet PC laptop screen.)
  • If I can't reduce my overall time to completion of a strip, at least I can break it up. Keeping a notebook in my pocket allows me to write on the fly, and I can refine, thumbnail, and pencil over lunch. This means less work in a single sitting, and more opportunities to make use of little pockets of dead time through the day. All hail productivity!
  • Photoshop actions can potentially help save me time in the finishing step, for applying sepia hues and saving out versions, as long as I create the actions correctly.
  • It pays to be loose in the inking stage. I gain speed, quality, and enjoyment. It pays to be a bit more precise in the penciling stage. I can't make up for poor underdrawing in the final rendering.

More to be shared as I sally forth! Thanks to everyone who's sent me ideas, suggestions, and cheers of support--it means more than you know! (This daily comic thing with a day job and family is hard work. How Corey Pandolph and Brad Guigar manage their prolificity is beyond me...)