Creating a Snowflakes Strip – Part 2: Pencilling

In part 1, I discussed my process for thumbnailing a strip. Here will go through my process for pencilling the strip at full size.

I begin by scanning my original 2.5×7″ thumbnail sketch, and enlarging it to 5×14″ in Photoshop. I then print out this enlarged rough, and in the case of this double size strip, tape the pages together since it won’t fit on one page.

This is my original sketch scanned and enlarged. Being a double sized strip, this measures 10×14″ instead of the usual 5×14″.


Once I have the sketch at this size, I take one of my big sheets of Strathmore Bristol (1 ply, plate surface, 30×40″) and cut off a piece to size. The plate surface is excellent for pencil and ink work, especially when I’m using a nib pen – the ink just flows ever so nicely. I like the 2 ply bristol as well, but it’s a bit more difficult to see the artwork from underneath on my light table due to the extra thickness.

Once I have the paper cut, I trace around my full size strip template (similar to my thumbnail template, only bigger!) to create the exterior panel borders.

Using these size templates saves me the time and hassle of measuring out the exterior borders of the strip every time. Plus, it keeps my exterior strip borders perfectly square and consistent. Over the course of 300+ strips, I’m sure I’ve saved over an hour of measuring.


Next, I switch on my light table, slap down my paper, and begin redrawing the strip using my enlarged thumbnail as a guide. For the panel gutters, I use another custom template I made to ensure they are all consistent, and more importantly, to save me the time of measuring!

My panel gutter template. I simply trace inside the cut out area and voila! Instant panel gutter with no fuss.


While I’m redrawing the strip on my light table, I’m adjusting, reworking, and fixing certain elements. I’m not simply tracing the rough, I’m redrawing it, consciously keeping my drawing loose. If you simply trace the rough, your final drawing may end up looking stiff and lifeless. It’s best to use the rough sketch as a guide and to “redraw”. You’ll find yourself fixing small details, and the final drawing will look much better as a result.

Working on the pencils on my light table

Final pencils with the panel borders inked


As I pencil the strip, I’m not too concerned with getting every line just right or super tight.  I simply want to make sure that the characters are on model, and that everything looks correct proportionally. As the rough thumbnail was a guide for the full size pencils, the full size pencils are basically a guide for the final inks.

Next: I’ll go through my process of inking and scanning the strip.


  1. LOVE the templates for gutters! I might steal that. Great freakin idea

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