I'm about halfway into the finishing of final art for a picture book I'm working on with Candlewick. I've been photo-documenting this process, specifically on one piece (chosen at random), for the purpose of this blog. This ain't rocket science, but I thought it could be interesting to play it out here.
Step One: Sketch is approved. Right on!
Step Two: I print out a laser print of said sketch at 100%. (Note: paper should be your typical, run-of-the-mill copy paper. Nothing fancy. To be sure, nothing thick. Thin is good.)
Step Three: With a graphite stick, the softer the better (I use 6B), I rub the back of the laser print, applying a nice heavy coat of graphite to the reverse side of the drawing.
Step Four: Flipping the laser-printed sketch over and with a medium-tack tape, I attach the drawing to the final surface the art will be created on. (In other words, don't use box tape or something that's made to stick well, cause when you pull off this tape you don't want any damage to your final surface.) In my case, final surface, it's hot-pressed watercolor paper.
Step Five: With a sharp pencil, I then draw over (exactly) the sketch that was approved. By drawing over this line I'm now transferring the graphite that was previously applied to the back of this paper. In other words, once finishing this step, I'll have an exact duplicate of the approved sketch, but on my final surface. Thus guaranteeing no discrepancy between sketch and final artwork.
Step Six: Next, I pull back the top sheet and remove tape carefully, revealing an exact transfer of my approved sketch on the final surface. A bit light, but dark enough to see and that's actually pretty perfect.
Step Seven: With my choice of pen, Speedball nibs B-6 and B-5 1/2 (and must be waterproof ink) I draw over the light, transferred graphite line on the watercolor paper, "inking" (as the cartoonists say) this drawing.
Step Eight: After inking, I carefully erase all graphite marks from the paper. (Not too soon. Don't wanna move an eraser over wet ink. And not too hard. Don't wanna damage the paper or the sweet, sweet lines!) Then I get on with the watercolor painting.
Step Nine: This one's finished! Have a sip of coffee. Check email. Hurry up and get to the next one.
Editor's Note: For the record, I do each of these steps in complete batches. Meaning, I print out ALL 32+ appoved sketches. Then I transfer ALL 32+ graphite-backed printouts onto watercolor paper. Then I ink ALL 32+ drawings, etc. I don't make one piece, start to finish, at a time. That would drive me nuts--and for another reason or two, of which I won't bore you with at this particular post.