Artist trading cards are fun to do. Not only are they small, easy, and relatively quick, they’re also nice and portable. They fit into any trading card case or protective sleeve and many people like to keep binders full of ones they’ve collected. I started doing ATCs about a year ago for my table at Heroes Con in Charlotte with colored pencils and really like how they came out. Several people have asked me to make some process shots to show how I made them, so here we are.
Meego is a character I created for a 6 page comic called Grob the Great in the 100 Days of Comics first anthology. A Kickstarter launch for it is in the works and I’ll be posting more artwork related to it in the future. In the meantime if you’d like to follow along or see some sketches and works in progress, check out the THEE 100’s Comics Anthology Facebook page.
The first thing to start with is the trading cards themselves. You can make your own by cutting up Bristol board, but the pre-made ones are pretty cheap. You can find them in most craft stores and on Amazon for a reasonable price. They come in different paper types depending on what you’re using to make them, but I use Strathmore Smooth Surface Bristol trading cards because it takes inks and pencils well. The only caveat to this is that you really need to let your inks dry before cleaning up pencils and coloring them or it will smear. If you don’t have one already, now would also be a good time to invest in a kneaded rubber eraser. I use mine for everything from erasing pencils under inks to lightning up areas on a pencil drawing and always have 2 or 3 hanging around in my art supplies.
I started my card with a light pencil sketch using a mechanical #2 pencil. Unless you’re planning to make the graphite part of the final piece, it’s good to keep them light so they’re easy to erase later on.
Next I inked it using superfine and extra-superfine PITT pens from Faber Castell which I like because they use India ink. Again, let your inks dry completely before moving on to the next step which is erasing the underlying pencils.
Now it’s time to add color. With this piece I used Sargent colored pencils which work well for all-purpose coloring. Some people swear by Crayola, but those tend to break when using extra pressure for a deeper color so it pays to spend a little more for better quality. The trick with any colored pencils is to start light and gradually layer the color on. As you get near the end, add more pressure for a richer, deeper color. Keep a pencil sharpener and kneaded eraser handing for details and cleaning up any oops.
After I finished with the colors, I still needed to add some background stars. For this I used a Faber Castell PITT pen in white #101. Whiteout is an acceptable and cheaper alternative, but I already had this pen in my supplies to use for signing art prints so that’s what I used.
In any case, that’s it! Go forth and experiment with your own artist trading card masterpieces and be sure to have some fun with it. And remember… a little glitter goes a long way! (speaking from personal experience)