How I Created After Eden
The Creation Story (of a Cartoon)
Take a journey back to the beginning, and see a Creation cartoon come to life in six literal steps!*
*Although times have changed since this strip was created (pencil, ink, and scanners have become styluses and tablets)—the 6 steps are still the same!
Scroll down below to see how I apply these same steps to the Truth Jabs cartoon.
1. Ideas First!
The process of creating After Eden cartoons (and all of my other cartoons) began with ideas. Before I launched this cartoon feature, many hours were spent collecting possible subjects that would later be used to develop cartoons. Most of my time was spent thinking about the lives of Adam and Eve and other people in Genesis 1-11, and then writing these thoughts down in one of several notebooks.
No matter where I go, there is usually a notebook close by—ready for my next idea. If I don't write ideas down right away, I will usually forget them. Not all ideas end up turning into a cartoon, but the more ideas I can come up with, the better the chances of having one of them become a future cartoon.
Ultimately (of course), the credit for these ideas must go to the Creator of all creativity—our Creator God. That being said, I wish I could say all of the ideas come easy. But thinking up good ideas is the hardest part of the entire process!
2. Rough Sketches
Unlike our Creator, I cannot create things instantly perfect. I have to start simple and add more detail as I progress. The earliest drawings are usually quite rough looking, little sketches. Sometimes many of these rough sketches are drawn before a "good one" is drawn. If one of these little sketches works for me, I will then redevelop it with another sketch, and then rework the wording as needed.
A few of the examples shown here were made before I had decided to go with the title After Eden. At that point, the final look for Adam and Eve had also not been developed yet, as I was just trying to collect successful cartoon ideas. The sketches from that point forward were the ones that produced the first drawn After Eden cartoon. I later chose to display this cartoon closer to Valentine's Day (so it waited around for a while).
This is the first successful thumbnail for the cartoon that developed from start to finish.
Many times the final text is not decided until the artwork is complete. Thankfully, this cartoon's text was finished here.
The look for the cartoon versions of Adam and Eve needed to be developed. Here is the sketch that helped me do just that.
3. Pencils & Inks
The next step is to take the good rough sketch and trace it into a preprinted cartoon panel. Notice this time the pencil lines were not so sketchy. This was very important because these lines were used as a guide for the final ink drawing. The tracing was done on a lightbox.
Are you shocked that I would actually trace? Well, I was not finished tracing yet! The next step was to use the refined pencil drawing to produce the final inked art. Again this was done on the lightbox. The ink lines were drawn with Rapidograph tech pens. They were fast to use and produced a very nice quality line. As you can see, the inked art was drawn in pieces. This helped me later, because I liked to make the color of the line work in the background different than the line color of Adam and Eve. This was done best by drawing the elements of the cartoon separately. Later on, these two pieces were assembled on the computer.
This example was simple, with only 2 pieces. Most After Edens were drawn with 5 to 10 pieces.
4. Scanning the Artwork
The next step was to get the line art on the paper into my computer. This was accomplished by using a scanner. The scanner I used was made by Canon and the scans are made at 300 dpi (dots per inch). Once the art was scanned into my computer, I converted it from the bitmap file the scanner made, into a vector art file. I used a program called Adobe Streamline for this. The vector art file was then opened in the next program I use in the process.
Converting to vector art, the left half of the picture was being converted to vector art as the right side was finished (taken with digital camera).
5. Assembling, Coloring & Final Text
With the vector art, the final steps were completed quickly. The program I used then was Macromedia Freehand (now it's Illustrator or Photoshop).
With that program, I colored the artwork layer by layer.
After the coloring was done, I combined the cartoon layers.
Assembling the layers of the cartoon: Notice in the art below, Adam and Eve are now on the green plant background but the art is still two separate pieces. One piece just lays on top of the other. See how the lines for the grass and trees are dark green instead of black. Again, drawing the artwork in separate layers allowed me to do this. The dark green lines help set the background elements into the back of the picture and make Adam and Eve stand out more. The last thing to do with the art was to paste it into the cartoon panel. It's ALMOST done. There's still one more MAJOR thing to do.
Since this cartoon had the final text decided very early on, it does not show what happened to most of the After Eden cartoons. At this point, I usually either added the final text or made changes to the text until it worked for the cartoon. Finalizing the text is probably the second hardest part of creating a cartoon (than and now). It might not seem like much, but if you don't get the text just right, the readers may not understand the cartoon, the cartoon might not be funny, or worse, it could be Biblically wrong. There are so many ways to get the text wrong. This is where members of the AiG staff became very valuable to me as After Eden reviewers. I showed some of them the cartoon before anyone saw it on the Internet. Based on their comments, I made the final changes to the text. The cartoon was now ready to be converted into the right file formats to appear online.
Total drawing and computer time for After Eden: 1 to 2 hours for each panel (now it's mostly drawing on a tablet). it depended on how much there was to draw and how fast a cartoon came together. Sometimes I didn't have to draw more than one rough sketch to know I had it just right.
The hardest time-consuming parts are getting the ideas for the cartoon and tweaking the text at the end. I can't put a time guesstimate on those.
6 .Converting Files & Posting Online
Once I finished the cartoon in Freehand (now Illustrator), I copied it in Photoshop (both then and now). Photoshop is then able to convert it into the file formats I use to display the cartoons online and in print (jpg, png, and gif). Saving versions in both color and grayscale (aka black-and-white). For print we use 300 dpi (more ink dots are needed to produce a clean line), and 72 ppi (pixels per inch) for websites. Plus thumbnails and other languages.
The first edition of this page was originally created because a fan wrote in and asked a question. I'm thankful for everyone who takes the time to write. Although most emails are positive, some are negative. Christian cartooning draws all kinds of responses from all kinds of people.
I try to be as biblically accurate as possible. A big "Thank you!" goes out to everyone who give valuable input in the creation process.
What the Process Looks Like Today
This is a behind the scenes look at the creation of a Christmas 2019 Truth Jabs cartoon. Not only do I show some of the drawing and coloring in process, but I also talk about the idea and thinking that went into the cartoon. Although much has changed since I created After Eden, the process is the same.