The latest strip I did over at Little Reading featured a huge swath of clouds that cut through the whole comic. While drawing the clouds, I tried to follow the construction hierarchy method that John Kricfalusi often discusses on his blog.
First I laid out the space on the page I wanted to be taken up by the clouds. Here my goal was to use the clouds to lead the eye across the strip, while being dynamic and pleasing. On the right side I'd already begun the next phase, when I decided it might be nice to scan and post my progress on this comic.
The next step was to lay down the lines that would give the clouds shape and construction. I tried to keep the look and flow looking natural. My thoughts were of a "vortex of clouds," and so i made the clouds swirl around like a funnel.
The final step was to draw in the minor details that would give the clouds character, make them read as clouds. I also experimented with some stylistic swirls. While drawing, I worked from the left side of the strip to the right, and I feel that towards the right side I was drawing the clouds a little more confidently. The left side would have benefited from being reworked, but, well... with comics I try to keep moving forward, get it done, move onto the next.
This final drawing is the comic as it looked just before I inked. I tried to work some monsters into the background. The whole comic at this point has been fairly abstract in the background details: Holly is boxing with a vampire, Tenenbaum, and gradually the environment has become more and more monster-themed. In this comic the action has been brought up to a climax, and the monsters have come out in full force to add to the excitement.
And that's how I do it! You can find the final product here. I've learned a lot while drawing this story, which you can see by comparing today's comic to the first strip. Certain elements of cartooning can only be learned if you strap yourself to a single project for a length of time. Working on a project, limiting yourself in scope, is a good way to pick up those skills that can only be gained through rigorous practice. I hope you found this post useful!