Last updated June 1998. Created by Ampersand, with contributions from Ishmael Hope, LVJeff, Neil McAllister, Widya Santosa, Angela Silva, Donn Smith, Martha (and cats), Steve Lieber, and Ampersand. Please note that this site is no longer being maintained or updated. Looking through it now, I think it's still potentially very useful for beginning cartoonists who plan to draw with ink on paper, but utterly worthless if you're planning to draw on computer. :-) Comments may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can draw comics with practically everything. More than one professional cartoonist has created wonderful effects by glueing chunks of machinery to their pages, for instance.
Since this faq's ambitions are a good deal more modest than "everything," it'll only attempt to cover the basics. These are the materials most cartoonists use, most of the time; but of course materials not discussed here can also be used to create great comics. In the end, "whatever works for you" is the only right answer.
This faq has glaring blanks in a number of areas; it is hoped that more contributions will eventually fill in these gaps. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed, both in correcting my errors and in quoted comments throughout the faq. Whenever there's an unattributed first person ("I think that..."), the first person in question is Ampersand.
For a more technical and comprehensive look at art medias used for drawing on paper, I recommend R'ykandar Korra'ti's Art Materials FAQ.
ANNOYING PREACHY BIT
Many beginning cartoonists are simply too hung up on knowing the "right" materials; some people spend more time preparing to draw than drawing. Knowing the common materials is helpful, but what really matters is that you be working on drawing comics (not pin-ups) every day, for years on end. Do that and you'll become a better cartoonist, even if you're drawing with crayolas on notebook paper. End of annoying preachy bit.
Most comics are drawn on two-ply bristol, which is a nice thick, durable paper available at any art supply store. It comes in two finishes: Rough (also called "Kid" or "Vellum") and Smooth (also called "Plate"). The rough finish may produce slightly fuzzier ink lines, and may make some pen nibs "splatter" a bit more. Ink will take longer to dry on the smooth finish, making accidental smears more likely. The two finishes also have different "feels."
Try them both, and see which you like better. You'll also find a difference between different brands of paper. In general, paper is a "you get what you pay for" field, and the cheaper brands will hold up less well.
A good art supply store will have bristol available in large sheets, rather than only pads; once you know what kind you prefer, this is a cheaper way to buy good paper. Often they'll cut the paper to size for you in the store, if you ask.
Many cartoonists use Vellum paper (which is entirely unrelated to the vellum finish bristol discussed above). Vellum paper is a bit like tracing paper but much higher quality (and price). This is good for artists who redraw a lot, since erasing over and over can wear paper down, making it harder to ink on. With vellum, you always ink on a fresh, untouched piece of paper, without having to stare at a lightbox. But vellum is more delicate than bristol, so accidental tearing is correspondingly more likely; many cartoonists who work on vellum mount the vellum on a piece of stiff white board when they're finished.
PAPER SIZE (for books and strips)
Most comic book artists draw 10" wide by 15" high. Leave at least a half-inch border on every side of the paper - which means a minimum paper size of 11"x16". Note that you can draw any size, so long as it's in the correct proportions - 2 units wide for every 3 units high.
Most comic strip artists draw 13.25" wide by 4.25" high, or thereabouts (other options include: 7"x2.25", 10"x3.25", 12.25"x4", 14"x4.5", and so on). Again, any size will work so long as it's the correct proportions, and be sure to leave at least a half-inch border on every side.
Single panel strips are usually drawn 3.5" wide by 4" high, but again just keep the proportions correct, leave a border and you'll be fine.
First of all, some cartoonists are perfectly content using a plain ol' yellow no. 2 pencil. Cheap, reliable, and if you get mad you can snap 'em in half without guilt. Other cartoonists find the "feel" of a no. 2 inferior to art pencils.
Art supply stores sell pencils that range from "6H" to "6B." The "H's" have harder leads, which will need to be sharpened less often, produce a fainter-but-sharper line, and won't smear much. The "B's" have softer leads, which will wear down quicker and produce a darker-but-fuzzier line which tends to smear. "B's" are easier to erase, as well.
"6H" is the hardest, "6B" the softest, and "HB" is smack-dab in the middle. Most cartoonists use something in the 2H-2B range.
Widya Santosa:"I also find that sometimes blunt pencils are best when inking, especially with a brush. There is a low variance of width with a sharp or mechanical pencil, and unless you ink with a technical pen, you won't get the same reproduction. Blunt pencils allow you to pencil more "like a brush", encouraging you to get that flow. It also dissuades you from concentrating on details. Usually I have both a sharp and a blunt (but not too blunt) pencil beside me. How good pencils look also depend on the grain of paper, I've found.
"If you have pencils that, when you sharpen them, the wood is brittle and causes the lead to break, throw them away. The pencil is either old or of low quality (or cheap)."
NON-PHOTO BLUE PENCIL
You can also buy non-photo blue pencils at any art supply store; many cartoonists swear by these. These are just what they sound like: a particular shade of light blue that won't be picked up by the cameras used in most black-and-white printing processes, or by a xerox machine. The advantage is that you won't have to erase. This saves time; also, some cartoonists find that erasing makes ink lines "fuzzier."
The disadvantage is that n-p-blue pencil can be a bit harder to see when inking. Some n-p-blue pencils also have a "waxy" feel, and some artists find that ink doesn't always go down smoothly over n-p-blue pencil.
(Note that the pencil should be marked "non-photo blue" or "non-repro blue"; just any blue pencil won't work.)
Donn Smith: "Eberhard Faber's Col-Erase blue (#1276) is a notable exception to this rule. I've been using them almost exclusively for about fifteen years. They're completely invisible to the camera (unless you _really_ gouge into the paper), but they're considerably less waxy feeling than the non-photo blues -- in fact, the feel is almost comparable to a 2B -- and they take ink admirably."
Steve Lieber: "Bill Loebs told me that when he was working on Journey, he filled a tech-pen with a non repro blue ink and did his "pencils" with this. The advantage, he said, was that it didn't build up the unpleasant waxy surface that he was getting with blue pencils, and that he liked the feel of doodling out his layouts in ink."
You can buy any of the above types of lead for a mechanical pencil. Mechanical pencils come in three widths: 0.7 (pretty narrow), 0.5 (the most commonly used) and 0.3 (pretty wide).
Mechanical pencils save you from constant sharpening, and in the long run it's probably cheaper to use a mechanical pencil (although in the short run it will be much more costly). But mechanical pencils don't have as fine a line as a freshly-sharpened "normal" pencil.
Another mechancial pencil option is a clutch type lead holder using 2mm leads, which you can then sharpen to your liking with a lead pointer.
Whatever kind of eraser you use, take care to not let your palm touch the business end. Hand oils (and sweat, too) can cause nasty, impossible-to-erase smears.
Standard "PINK PEARL" erasers work all right, but are a bit hard on paper, and may smear pencil lines more than other sorts.
PLASTIC ERASERS (you know, the bright-white or -blue kind) are gentler on paper and generally work better than pink erasers; but I find they're also more prone to hand-oil smears. They often come in a stiff sheaf of cardboard, making it easier not to touch.
Plastic erasers also come in the "click-eraser" form, which is kinda a mechanical pencil with an eraser in it instead of pencil leads. These can be better for erasing small areas accurately.
KNEADED ERASERS are even gentler on paper, although if you press down hard on your pencil you may find the other sorts more effective. Kneaded erasers are also far and away the most fun to fiddle with.
GUM ERASERS are the brown crumbly sort. I've never used one, and have no idea how good they are.
Martha (and cats):"I find the gum-type to work well in massive erasing, where an entire piece of paper is 'cleaned.' It's less useful in delicate work, since it tends to crumble, and works best with blunt corners. I like them since they can pick-up alot of the PrismaColor pigments, as well as lighten most inks."
For brushes and crow-quill pens, always use waterproof india ink. Which brand you use is up to you; I've found Pelican to be adequate. If you have big black areas, you'll probably find that the blacks are never perfectly dark; if you leave the ink uncapped for a couple of days, it'll get darker, but it will also not flow as smoothly through pens.
Steve Lieber: "My favorte brand of drawing ink is Higgins Black Magic, particularly when I'm doing a lot of brushwork. The stuff starts out fairly thick, and by the end of the day, it's dense and velvety. If I need to thin it, I use a few drops of ammonia which seems to be a more effective solvent.
"If I'm doing something entirely in pen, I'll sometimes switch to Pelican, which is a little more free flowing and doesn't require me to clean the pen as often."
The most common pen nib used in comics is a Hunt #102 or #104. You can buy them in an art supply store: these are just the pen nibs, so you'll also have to buy a pen stock or two to hold the nibs in. (Make sure that the stock you buy fits a #102/104 type, as not all Hunt nibs can fit into the same stock.)
Hunt nibs are stiffer when you buy them, more flexible once you've used 'em a while, garbage once you've used 'em a bit more. I keep several pen stocks handy, so that I can have a nicely flexible one for most drawing, one with a brand-new nib for thin lines, and one that's near death for rougher, thick lines.
Beginners usually have trouble with nib pens splattering or dropping puddles of black ink on their artwork (see fixing mistakes, below). A nib (especially a nib that ends in a sharp point) can't be used like an ordinary pen; you should always be drawing the pen towards you, never from side-to-side (although most cartoonists end up doing this a bit) and never, EVER pushing it forwards. Shake the pen a little after each time you dip it in the ink, to get rid of excess, and then do a test line on a piece of scrap paper. Also check that there aren't paper fibers caught in the end of the nib.
Widya Santosa: "Interestingly enough, I try never to let the nib touch the paper. I try to get the ink to "drip" smoothly from the nib to the paper. This means the nib must be a fraction above or just resting on the paper, and it's the ink forming on the nib that provides the contact. This means nibs last longer, and you develop a lighter touch. Of course if you rely on the nib to give variance of thickness of line, this method won't work well."
Some cartoonists swear that nibs must be washed constantly if they're to work; others don't wash 'em until they're crusty and disgusting, at which point they scrape the layers of dried ink off with a razor blade. Find what works for you.
That said, be aware that even the most experienced nib-users sometimes get ink blobs they didn't want; keep a paper towel handy for sopping these up. It's the price you pay for such a great flexible line.
For more on Hunt Pen Nibs, read Dave Sim's essay on the subject.
The most popular brush among cartoonists is the Windsor-Neuton Series 7 sable #2. #1 (thinner) and #3 (thicker) also get used a lot. Be warned: these suckers are horribly expensive. The good news is, if you take good care of your brush, it'll last years, and maybe forever (Will Eisner has gotten over a quarter century's use out of some of his brushes).
Taking care of your brush: try to only dip the bottom 2/3rds of the brush in the ink. Don't "bend it back on itself" as you ink - hold it almost perpendicular to the paper, and use smooth motions.
The moment you're done inking - even if you're only putting the brush down for ten minutes - rinse it out in a jar of water. If you'll be putting it down for more than twenty minutes, wash it gently but thoroughly in cool water (hot water will weaken the glue that holds the brush hairs on). The bit you have to get clean is the base of the brush, where the hairs are connected to the stick; if ink dries there, it can weaken the glue or split the brush (so clumps of hair go in different directions, instead of coming to a point). After you've cleaned it, twirl the end between your fingertips or lips to put a point back on.
Steve Lieber: "Old, split and ruined brushes can be a valuable asset. I have a dozen or so that I use for textures and dry brush patterns. I scrub in rough tones with them, fan the bristles out and drag them lightly across the page, stamp out textures, anything to increase the range of marks and tones in my pictures, anywhere a clean or accurate mark isn't needed. Henry C. Pitz and Robert Fawcett are two good illustrators to investigate for ideas about this approach."
Totally inflexible lines, expensive, you always have to wash 'em and they clog anyway (or at least that's Ampersand's experience - for another opinion, see below). That said, a good thick-lined technical pen is the best thing for drawing panel borders, and one with a tiny point is good to have around for noodling little details. Howard Cruse does most of his inking with technical pens.
Neal McAllister: "This clogging thing is really just a factor of nobody being trained in the use of technical pens. They don't clog, simply, if you don't let ink dry in them. That means you can't leave ink in them when you store them. If it's too much hassle to wash them out completely (I mean take them apart) after you're done using them, then you should make a point on a daily basis to draw, even just a few scribbly swirly lines, with each of your pens. This will keep the ink flowing, and it will be less likely to gum up. Just like brushes and pen points, if you take care of your equipment it will be better equipped to take care of you. The main mistake with technical pens is in thinking they're just like a ballpoint pen full of india ink."
Donn Smith: "I hear tell that they don't clog as much if you use red ink instead of black (red being thinner), but I've never tried this. Nowadays, I just use the newer Rapidographs that take a disposable ink cartridge and nib all in one. Of course, they still clog and blot and generally annoy you long before they run out of ink. " (Ampersand's comment: the only problem with these is that they're VERY expensive.)
Ampersand: "I use Staedtler Marsmatic 700 Technical Pens (point size 3.5 for borders, .45 for small lines), but there are many good brands out there. I use this brand because that's what my studio-mate uses, and I borrow hers rather than buying my own. I find that a tolerant studio-mate is an invaluable art supply."
It's tempting to use art markers instead of Technical pens (you can find a selection at any good art supply store). The ink in markers is never as good, tends to smudge if you touch it, and will fade and turn purple in just a couple of years; also, in the long run, markers cost more.
But I still use them, for convenience's sake, mainly for panel borders. Markers are easy to buy, because you can test them on a piece of scrap paper in the art store before buying. Look for a marker with the least "bluish" black line, and for one that won't smear if you run your thumb over the mark three seconds after drawing it. I use a "Pigma Micron" 08, for what that's worth.
Neil McAllister writes: "I hear this sort of thing a lot too, about the smudging and turning blue and so forth, and I haven't really encountered any of these effects. Markers fading or changing color is a factor of light -- don't let your pieces be exposed to direct sunlight by any means. But there are markers that have a different formulation from others that are designed not to fade -- the Pigma series you mentioned being an example. You may want to make a distinction."
You'll also find items like brush markers, pen markers and other such things available. I've found that imitations never work as well as the original (and disposables are always more expensive in the long run), but a few cartoonists (including Scott McCloud) do like these things. You'll also want to get some bleed-proof white ink - see fixing mistakes below.
Widya Santosa: "I think brush markers are good for those trying to get a handle on brushes. I did my apprenticeship on brush markers. They're definitely cheaper than real brushes, and you can afford to mess around with them.
"I also use thick nib oil markers to ink blacks, rather than use india ink."
I use a Rotring F point; it's not flexible enough for most inking, but it's great for sketching, for some shading, for correcting small errors and - if you don't mind the inflexible line - for lettering. (Donna Barr, I've been told, uses the Rotring for almost all of her inking; I don't know if that's true or not.)
If you use Rotring pens, do note that the ink in the disposable plastic ink cartridges that comes with the pen isn't waterproof. You can use that stuff for doodling or writing letters, but for drawing comics you should buy a special nondisposable, reloadable cartridge. You can load the cartridge with waterproof black ink, but just like using a mechanical pen, some inks will clog less than others. I use Pelican ink in my Rotring.
Don't laugh. If you want to cover a huge area of your paper with ink, nothing will be faster or put down ink more evenly than a q-tip dipped in black india.
If you want that even, professional look you'll have to buy an AMES LETTERING GUIDE (better yet, buy two or three - they're easy to lose). It's a bit of plastic that has a rotatable inside circle with a few rows of evenly-spaced holes in it in the middle, and I can't even describe the damn thing. But if you play around with one for a while, you'll see how it and a T-Square will allow you to draw a variety of even guidelines with ease. Use a non-photo blue pencil for making guidelines, or if you use a "normal" pencil be careful not to press down too hard.
If you want to draw standard-sized comic book lettering, and if you're drawing 10"x15", then set the lettering guide around 3.5. (Incidentally, for inking lots of tiny, perfect, parallel lines, the Ames Lettering Guide and a fine-point technical pen can't be beat.)
I used to use a Rotring fountain pen, but only because I'm too poor a letterer to use a more expressive lettering pen. Rotring was easy to control, fairly tidy, and never blotched.
Steve Lieber: "I've gotten great results with both the Pigma Micron 03 and the Staedtler pigment liner 03. The line is crisp and slightly responsive to pressure, so you can add a bit of nuance to the strokes that's impossible with a tech pen. The ink will fade a bit under heavy erasing, (particularly on plate finish surfaces) so rule your guidelines as lightly as possible, and don't grind the eraser."
Ishmael Hope: "I use the Hunt 107 for my lettering. I find it the best and it even gives a nice, flexible line. Also, I heard that Mell Lazarus of Miss Peach and Momma uses a C-5 chisel point speedball."
I recently started lettering with a computer, using a font created from my own handwriting. I found it slightly less expressive than hand-lettering (although not everyone agrees), but ten times better for speed, ease and consistency.
If you have access to a copy of Phontographer or other font-creation program, a homemade font is best; a pre-bought font, however good, will never be as perfect a "fit" with your drawing style as your own handwriting. Be warned: font-creation programs are VERY expensive.
There are several commercial comic-book lettering fonts available. Active Images makes the best-looking commercial fonts I've seen, but they cost over $100 a pop. However, they've recently added a $29 package which is worth looking at. Another commercial font is Whiz-Bang, which looks okay and costs $35. And there's also Ron Evry's Witzworx, a shareware (yay!) font available for $10 in money or trade. Most of these seem to be "superhero-y" fonts.
One of the Active Image folks has written a terrific Computer Lettering Beginner's Guide.
Plain old WHITE-OUT will hide all sorts of sins... or so I find.
Neil McAllister: "GAH! Horrible stuff. Flakes, gums, doesn't leave a good drawing surface... terrible."
Steve Lieber: "I'd found WHITE-OUT to be as close to useless as any art supply I've ever encountered."
Many cartoonists prefer to use OPAQUE WHITE INK, available at art supply stores. If you choose this, I recommend that you buy a different, less expensive brush for white ink than that you use for black ink.
Neil McAllister: "I would request that you warn AGAINST the most common white ink, Higgins. 'Opaque' being the operative word here, Higgins is certainly not that. The best I've found is FW, Windsor-Newton maybe a second."
WHITE GESSO - the stuff that's used to prepare the surface of canvases for painting - is terrific for covering mistakes, and if you put it down smoothly it makes a good drawing surface.
Neil McAllister: "But you've left out what I use most, which is WHITE GOUACHE. I've heard of many artists using this as well."
Steve Lieber: "The best corrector I've found is Winsor-Newton Permanent White gouache. This is sold in tubes with the rest of their lines of gouache, rather than in the little jars you'll see on display next to the ink. Don't use the W-N Zinc White. It yellows fairly quickly and doesn't take ink as well. It will take a number of coats to cover non-waterproof inks, however, and non-pigment marker dye will bleed through it no matter what."
Neil McAllister: "Also, if you're working with markers you'll want a bottle of some kind of BLEED-PROOF WHITE, like Dr. Martin's... otherwise you'll find those marker dyes seeping right up through your white-out and making a horrible mess."
When a mistake's really bad, it's often easiest to redraw whatever detail you messed up on a separate piece of paper, and then glue the new detail down over the old detail. Cut it out with an X-ACTO KNIFE or RAZOR BLADE - you'll need a more accurate cut than you can get with a scissors. (You can also use a razor blade to literally scrape ink you don't like off the paper.)
Neil McAllister: "Actually, though it may be easier to get weird crinkly cuts with an X-Acto, you will actually get a cleaner cut with a pair of scissors if you can make them work for you. Those "paper fuzzies" around the edge of the piece you're pasting on can be murder if your blade just wasn't quite brand new enough."
RUBBER CEMENT is the favorite glue to use for correcting mistakes; wet it, lay it down and you have about ten seconds to get it into place before it dries. If you mess up, peel it off and try again.
Neil McAllister: "Not many people seem to know that the appropriate way to use rubber cement is to apply it to BOTH surfaces that you intend to glue together, and then let it dry! Cured rubber cement sticks to itself and nothing else, so what you can do is position the piece you're gluing by putting a sheet of paper or glassine between the two surfaces. When you're done positioning, pull out the glassine and press down, and the rubber cement sticks."
(Ampersand's comment: I did know that method as the way to get the very best stick, but - especially since I glue down my word balloons, and so have to do rather a lot of pasting every page - I find that I prefer the faster method. But there's no doubt that Neil McAllister's method will form a superior bond.)
(Including T-square and triangle, ellipse guides, lightboxes, drafting tables, old toothbrushes, tone screens, photocopiers, and other stuff.)
T-SQUARE AND TRIANGLE. Some cartoonists find these difficult to use at first, but no one wants to admit to being that clumsy, so none of the books mention it. If you're one of those cartoonists, don't worry - it (eventually) gets easier.
Steve Lieber: "Get a metal T square rather than a plastic one. The latter tend to warp. Also one with a ruler on it is handy. If you use the same measurements over and over, mark your T-square, triangle and desk with them so that you can put your paper in the same spot every time, refer to your reference marks and tick them off without having to do any measuring.
"You might also mention that ELLIPSE GUIDES are available to help the maladroit cartoonist make clean, symetrical word balloons." These are just pieces of firm plastic with a variety of ellipses cut out in a variety of sizes, and they are indeed very useful.
LIGHTBOXES are so incredibly useful that you can almost forget how insanely overpriced they are. A lightbox is a couple of bright, florescent lights in a metal box, except for the top side which is glazed glass. You turn on the light, and any piece of paper you put on top of the box becomes tracing paper. I ink this way, so that the paper I ink on is untouched by pencil.
Some of my more tool-inclined acquaintances have made their own lightboxes. Another inexpensive alternative is any large window (sliding-glass doors are best). Just tape the papers to the window and start tracing. When it gets to be night, leave the lights on inside and go outside to work.
Donn Smith: "A nice, thick bit of glass suspended between two chairs with a lamp underneath, while a bit more dangerous, can be nice for those of us who prefer a more horizontal surface."
Widya Santosa: "I use overhead projectors when at work. The units to use are light generating from below units, not the light reflection units. The beam out a strong light, so you have to ensure that you use them in a lighted room, and not to let your eyes be exposed to the direct light."
Everyone knows what drafting tables are, and most cartoonists find that drawing at an angle really is better - both for seeing what you're doing, and for your back. If you can't afford a drafting table, you can buy a sturdy drawing board, and put it on your kitchen table with a crate or something at the other end to prop it up.
Steve Lieber: "Cut the box your ink came in in half and tape it securely to your drawing board. This gives you a safe place to keep your open ink bottle. And if you don't have a tray that attaches to the side of your board, a sturdy shoe box lid makes a nice place to lay down things that would otherwise roll away."
Used to make really cool black spatter-patterns of ink - just rub a brushful of ink along the top, hold the toothbrush over the paper and stroke the bristols with a fingertip. Do the same thing with white ink over black paper for great starscapes. After it dries, you can use it to clean pen nibs.
Pre-printed screens with black-and-white patterns on them; this is what Dave Sim uses to turn Cerebus gray. Cut out a piece larger than the area you need and cover the entire area; then use your x-acto knife to slice away and peel off the tone that's covering the wrong areas. These are pretty expensive.
Widya Santosa: "Here's a tip for saving money on tone sheets- use a photocopier! Here's what I do. Photocopy the image. Many photocopiers allow you to feed single sheets, so photocopy the tone sheet, feeding the photocopied image through the single sheet feeder. If this isn't possible, photocopy the tone sheet, and trace the image onto the photocopy using a light table.
"Also, many artists use only three or four grades of tone. Find out what artists prefer to use.
"Another toning utility is the tone board(?) Joe Staton is a heavy user of this. The tone board has a raised texture, and you place your image on it. By rubbing something like a black crayon or chinagraph pencil at different pressures you can get varying shades."
You can also buy DUOSHADE PAPER, which have shading already on them that can be made visible in the areas you want with a special chemical. I've never used this, but I bet it's costly.
Neil McAllister: "About the duoshade paper where you use the chemical developers, yeah last I checked it was pretty expensive and it's probably moreso now, but with the escalating costs of shading films it might be becoming cost-effective as well as much quicker to use! I've never used it myself... it's also hard to find! [...] It comes in a variety of papers, though, including vellum as well as bristol. And there are more textures than the standard "crosshatch lines" style you've probably seen."
Obviously, most cartoonists can't afford their own photocopier. I tend to save up all my photocopying tasks so I can take care of 'em all in one trip a week. Anything you can do with a photocopier, you can also do with a computer outfitted with a scanner and good printer (also not cheap, but probably most people who read this already own the computer).
Widya Santosa: "Photocopy machines are very useful, especially if you are in proximity of a machine you can use for free. I use them for all types of purposes.
"I often keep records of pencilled pages, then inked pages. Inked pages are useful for scanning as black and white images for pictorial processing. By varying the sizes you can often catch aspects that look fine at one size but look odd at another (usually at the printed size.)
"Photocopying can also give you an indication of how something will look on the printed page. Although finer paper is the norm nowdays, most self publishers will have to use not so nice paper, where the ink can bleed. That can destroy finely detailed art. By reducing the photocopy scale to 60% of printed size, you can get a fair indication of what the finished printed art will look like. (This is also important for lettering as well. Lettering too small to read will ruin your story.)
"I also do a lot of my design on scratch paper, often with type on the other side. The original can't be used on a light table well. A photocopy of the design can be, and by re-sizing a small doodle can be the basis for a splash page.
"Something I've never done is photocopying images directly on the page. A children's book illustrator I met does this. She doodles and doodles until she gets the images she wants, and then she cuts and pastes the images into a background. She then gets watercolour paper and photocopies the collaged image onto the watercolour paper. She then colours it."
OTHER STUFF YOU'LL PROBABLY USE
Ruler, masking tape or artist's white tape, "magic" or "invisable" tape, pencil sharpener, lotsa cheap scrap paper, dust brush (for getting rid of eraser particles), jar of water, cups and small containers for holding pencils, nibs, and other bits of art debris.
That's it! If you have any suggestions, additions, comments, or contrary opinions for me, feel free to email me.