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Keep on learning

Yes- the diary comics continue (there are well over 500 of them now), and I thought some of you might like to read about my process. Although it changes frequently as I try new things and aim to get all my ‘mistakes’ out of my system, this will touch on some of the approaches and aims of late, particularly regarding experimentations with media.

In the diary comix 19th-22nd May (below) I pushed further with layout than I had before, influenced by the work of David Mack. I think I threw a bit of Robert Crumb in there as well, strictly in regard to a comment he made in this documentary (well worth watching) where he reminded me of the pleasure of drawing without controlling, and of allowing yourself to be surprised by the end result. I also splashed some blue ink around, prompting me to push a little further in colour.04.19-22.15

19th – 22nd April. 210mm x 297mm. 70gsm Canson Bleedproof paper. Watercolour, ink and copic markers.

My next attempt at pushing boundaries came immediately after, this time using watercolours. As my first attempt I was quite cautious and I used them here in a limited way, shy to push the possibilities of this medium. However, although watercolour was previously unexplored it felt familiar due to my experience in using ink-washes, and the end result produced some quite lovely touches; the way the paint dries, the patterns and fusions of colours it makes are greater than I could have created intentionally. I set out the next day to purchase proper watercolour paper!


23rd – 25th April. 210mm x 297mm. Watercolours on 110gsm Mont Marte archival paper.

Here I’m playing with the watercolours, seeing how the paint dries, playing with mixing, not attempting to form any kind of image. I learned a lot here but was playing it quite safe by not putting paint over an existing drawing.

This page has since become my brush drying surface!


Luckily I was able to make use of this in one of the diary comics…


I now felt a bit more ready to make another page of diary comics using watercolour, and produced the page below. First using graphite pencil to sketch the scenes, then watercolour and then ink. Although happy with parts of it I could see I needed to be more adventurous with my application of paint.


23rd – 26th May. 210mm x 297mm. Watercolour, graphite pencil and ink. 270gsm Canson watercolour paper.

This lovely chap below was based my experience at the Free Comic Book Day and the technique is from in-class exercise that I talk about here. The image was developed by drawing in ink over dried watercolour contours, an informative and enjoyable exercise.


2nd May. 210mm x 297mm. Watercolour and ink. 270gsm Canson watercolour paper.

The next couple of weeks were busy and so I fell back on quick black and white/limited copic comics, however all this watercolour practice seemed to improve my copic marker ability. I’m stoked with the rendering on the right arm below.


11th May. 210mm x 297mm. Copic marker and ink. 110gsm Bleedproof paper.

Below is my most recent watercolour experiment.

And what a learning experience this one was. I sketch it all out and see what happens, using up the full page and making a bit of a ‘meta-page’. These were first pencilled in using blue animation pencils, loose washes of watercolours are applied over the top. That was mistake number one. Once I realised this didn’t look so great I tried erasing the blue lines once the ink had dried a little. This was mistake number two, as the paper ripped, softened by my excessive water application. Eventually (with some modification of my erasing technique) I managed to soften some of the lines to the point of bearability. My third big mistake was in heavy application of green and blue washes to the girl’s face, while the fourth mistake was in trying to make it better by layering more and more paint on top.


23rd – 26th May. 210mm x 297mm. Watercolour and ink. 270gsm Canson watercolour paper.

Of course, all of these ‘mistakes’ are actually blessings, as each one makes it clearer the next time what to do and what not to do. By happily wrestling with this for a whole day longer than I was supposed to I learned a ton about application, brush technique, and colour mixing. The next diary comics are also going to be water colours and ink. I can’t wait to mess it all up again.