Notes
   from the Gumbo Ranch ...



Gumbo Ranch
Miles City, Montana

Sometimes people ask, "Do you use a computer in your cartooning?" In case you've ever wondered, here's a piece from a book I'm doing for kids -- you know, to teach them how to draw their own toons:

* * * * *

I've been drawing toons for the newspapers for nearly 25 years. During much of that time I used regular pencils, Flair pens and good ol' copier paper. I was on the road alot back then -- you know, visiting my subscribing papers or going to schools to teach kids to draw.

So, I kept my tools simple -- I mean, I didn't want to get used to drawing with one really cool pencil or pen, then lose it somewhere down the road and not be able to find another. I knew I could find cheap #2 pencils and Flairs everywhere.

But then, back about 15 years ago, I found a special paper for shading -- called Grafix. After I finished my inkwork on this special paper, I'd take out a couple of paint brushes and paint on the clear Grafix liquid wherever I wanted shading -- and the liquid would develop the shading lines that were imbedded in the paper.

Only, Flairs wouldn't work for me anymore. They have an ink inside them that's made with water -- and when I painted on the shading, the ink dissolved. So, I began using Rapidograph ink pens. Unfortunately, they were expensive and only available at art stores -- but the ink was permanent.

They were also a bit hard to get used to. It took me two or three Rapidographs with different penpoints to make the same kind of lines I used to make with one Flair.

Then, in 1997, I bought a computer. And a software program called "Photoshop." And everything changed.

Now I don't use ink pens at all. Just pencils. Then I scan my pencilwork onto my computer and it automatically turns the pencil into ink! I call my Mac computer "the best ink pen I ever had."

I also do my shading on the computer. And the color when I need it.

I encourage you to also try your hand at using a computer, too, for cartooning. It's really lots of fun, and you can do all sorts of things that weren't possible back in the old days when I got started.

Fact is, I built this book using my Mac -- including all the cartooning that's in it.




Best of all -- if you have the right computer, you can cartoon anywhere. Even outside. Sure, an ink pen is a bit lighter to tote around. But, in these parts, you can't pass up a fine day ...

* * * * *

Hope you enjoy the new toons. I'll have something for you next week on "Back to School."

See ya,




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