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the 9 lives of a cat panel…

I thought I’d share the steps it takes me to produce these cat pages using just one panel as an example. Besides, I’m currently going through these steps for chapter 5 so I don’t have any new drawings for the blog.

1: I doodle on Grant’s script that I’ve printed out. Just trying to get general placement of word balloons and characters.

I’ve also doodled on the back of the script to try to envision the layout of the panels for that page.

2: I do all of the lettering in a program called Comic Life and place the balloons, without tails, into their general position in the panel.

3: In a 3D program called SketchUp, I managed to find a ward room that was very close to what I had used in the last chapter. I added some other elements that I needed including the 3D figures. Most of them are the same figure but that doesn’t matter, they’re just there for size and position.

4: I use Shelley as a model (here in my bathrobe) and photograph her from the same angle that I’ve place the characters.

5: I then cut and paste from the photos onto the SketchUp figures and cut and paste cat heads onto everybody from a 3D SketchUp cat. I adjust the word balloons closer to where they’ll finally end up.

6: I print out the layouts full size and trace them using a light box onto the drawing paper adding lighting and shading.

7: Then I ink it.

8: Then I colour it.

9: Then I scan it back into the computer (saved in a file folder called ‘cat scans’, naturally). I adjust the contrast, add highlights and any other special effects I may deem necessary, and the final word balloons.

You may think that this is a ridiculously complicated way to do these pages… and you’d be right.

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Cat Chapter 4 done…

Panel from chapter 4 of Grant Morrison’s ‘the smile of the absent cat’:

And here’s what 8 finished pages look like:

To be able to read ’em though, you’ll have to get the upcoming issue of Heavy Metal. Or wait for the 48 page book, when and if it’s finally done.

I’m starting on chapter 5 and still waiting for the final chapter from Grant.

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still drawing cats…

I’ve finished penciling chapter 4 of ‘smile of the absent cat’ by Grant Morrison and have started inking. Here’s a penciled panel from page 7:

This weekend, have a happy First Sunday After the First Full Moon After the Spring Equinox! (Which somehow involves a rabbit hiding coloured chicken eggs… or something.)

Next weekend:

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cats continued…

After quite a gap (involving issues of non-payment and having to first catch up on commissions for which I did get paid), I’ve resumed working on Grant Morrison’s ‘smile of the absent cat’ story. I have the scripts for chapters 4 and 5 and am awaiting the final chapter.

Here are the pencils so far for the first 4 pages of chapter 4:

…okay… on to the next 4 pages.



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Evolution of a page…

Here are the steps I go through for each page of the ‘Smile of the Absent Cat’ story:

  1. Break the page down into the panels described in the script and place the word balloons.
  2. Do a rough pencil layout of characters, action and location.
  3. Tight pencil
  4. Ink
  5. Colour
  6. Re-position word balloons.

Then lather, rinse, repeat as necessary:


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Slowly entering the 20th century…

…I’m not quite ready for the 21st century just yet.

We still just use our phone as a —you know— a phone.

The only internet access we have is a Rogers ‘Rocket Stick’ (if you use more than 12 gig a month, the costs ‘rocket’ and they ‘stick’ you with the bill).

So no YouTube or Netflix, we don’t have cable or satellite.

Our primary source of heat is still the wood stove and we still live out in the country where we regularly have power outages and frequently have no running water…


…I have a new Wacom Cintiq 13HD drawing tablet:

I had decided —for reasons too numerous and boring to go into here— that I would colour the ‘Absent Cat’ pages on the computer and that things would go much faster if I used the right equipment.

So far, so good, I think.



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Trying to get these pages done…

…it’s like trying to herd cats.

I am—ever so slowly—getting there.

I’ve got the next eight pages penciled and almost the first six inked:

The bright dots on the pages are from our little mirror ball hanging in the window:


Around here it’s known as ‘Sparkle Time’.