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Starting Off As A Cartoonist

Cartooning is great fun, and having aquired the skill, is a wonderful way of making a good living. However, everyone needs to start at the beginning, and here are a few pointers to bear in mind as you set off. Always use good quality materials, this should be pretty obvious, but it's surprising how many people try to cut corners by skimping.

As with most crafts it is always much easier to use the best tools. You will be using ink pens, the kind that hold a nib and you dip into Ink, sounds old fashioned but this is still the way to get best results and is used by most cartoonists today. You will require a broad, medium, and fine nib, those recommended are Hunt No.

512, Hunt No.513, and Esterbrook No 359. New pens (nibs) should be moistened before use, you can use a damp fine cloth or tissue, or traditionally, your lips. This removes the film of fine oil used in packing to prevent rust, and enables the ink to adhere to the nib.

Ink should be black and permanent, good quality of course, maybe Higgins. Pencils of course, you should always start with pencil drawings and continue with pencil to develop your craft until you feel confident to proceed to ink. As a general rule it is best to start all drawings with light pencil lines that can later be inked over and erased. It is much easier to darken and strengthen a line than to do the opposite. Pencils should be "H" and as they are pretty cheap, keep a good stock.

Keep them sharp, using a good quality sharprner, and throw (or give) them away when they are not much more than half way down. As mentioned before, they are cheap, and using a stub of a pencil cramps the hand. When making a drawing (in pencil) with the intention of the finished piece being in Ink, make your pencil lines as inconspicuous as possible.

For reproductive purposes the lines obviously have to be erased. Again a good quality eraser should be used, there are many to choose from, but soft is to be preferred to hard, you do not want to damage the paper/card. The paler your pencil lines, the less rubbing out is required, and the less the danger of partially obliterating your inked lines, or damaging the surface. Also a heavy pencil line can make things confusing when going over it with ink. A softish pencil like the "H" gives freedom to the stroke. The harder the pencil the more stilted the result, and also the more difficult to erase.

In the first instance doodle as much as you can, don't worry too much about what you are drawing, just get the feeling of the pencil over the paper/card and the types of effect that can be got by varying pressure, using the pint and side of the lead etc. This way you will gradually develop your own individual style as you did when you were learning to write. Keep a piece of white paper under your hand when it rests on a part of the drawing in which the pencil lines appear, this will prevent smudging. Makes erasures deliberately and gently ? don't give an impression of your mother scrubbing behind your ears. Try to erase in one direction only. Never be in too much of a hurry, your speed will develop with practise.

In the first intance draw slowly, slowly, slowly, and don't bother with the ink until you have developed a little confidence and style. Most of all enjoy what you are doing, before you know it you will have as much work as you can handle, and the potential to make an excellent living.

Chris Haycock is an information publisher, one of whose hobbies is cartooning. For more information on cartooning, including details of a very special insiders course on cartooning, go to http://www.cartoonsforfunandprofit.com


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