Inside the Cartoonist’s Studio: Alex Heberling
|This post has been submitted by Webcomics.com member Alex Heberling, creator of The Hues.|
Hi there! I’m Alex Heberling, and I make The Hues. My studio is in the main room of my apartment.
On the left, I have some metal wire shelves that hold most of my convention stuff, shipping supplies, and some random art supplies. Right next to that is a cube shelving unit that I used to use for my display at cons, which holds more art supplies and my yarn stash.
Turning toward my desk is another cube tower that stores my paper stock for prints, as well as my accounting records. I have a Canon Pixma iX6520 printer, and I produce all my prints in-house.
This is my desk from Ikea! I love the shelving unit on the side SO much. My monitors are both on matching stands, which gives me a little extra space for stowing small objects underneath; namely, it’s where my tablet lives when I need to use the tabletop space.
My tablet is up on an Artograph brand light box, which I use when I do traditional media. It does double duty of being a little better for me ergonomically, and making the tablet fit under the monitor stand better. (It’s just about an inch too wide to lay flat, but fits perfectly with the light box.)
When I’m arting, I use the mouse left-handed. It helps a lot with my RSI, since I’m not using my right hand for EVERYTHING for hours at a time. So my right hand covers the tablet, and when I need to right-click or whatnot, my left hand picks up the slack.
I pinned a bunch of inspirational pictures and notes to the wall behind my monitors, just in case I need a pick-me-up. 🙂 (The “IT IS THE FINALE” banner is leftover from the party I threw for The Office’s series finale in 2013. It was hard to reach up there to put it up in the first place, so I never bothered to take it down.)
I use a Monoprice drawing tablet, which I really love. After experiencing a lot of RSI and finger numbness over the years, I started wrapping my stylus in this self-adhesive foam that I bought on Amazon. It’s a little prone to erosion and crumbling, but it’s also sort of formed to my hand over the few weeks since I wrapped it.
When I write The Hues, I typically like to go out into the world with my tiny laptop; my usual writing spot is a nearby Panera cafe, because free coffee refills! My writing is all done in Evernote. I start out with a general idea of what I want to happen in a chapter, so I first write a paragraph-long chapter summary. Then, I start to break up the sentences and plot beats in the paragraph into what I think would fit on a single page, and I smush everything around until I have a 24-page chapter. Once I have a sentence or two describing what happens on the page, I start to break up the moments into panels and I do a quick pass of dialogue, which gets revised in a few different stages until I have a script ready to start drawing.
I do thumbnailing in my sketchbook, then I take quick snapshots of them with my iPod’s camera to transfer them to my computer for easy reference. I don’t need them to be super high quality at this stage, since they’re pretty rough. The thumbnailing stage often prompts me to rewrite or reblock certain scenes to better the story.
Everything from here is all-digital! I use Manga Studio 5 to make my comic pages, but I also use Photoshop CS4 when I’m coloring for clients, as well as for finishing and cropping TH pages, and making my update thumbnails for social media.
And that is how the sausage is made.