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This past February, the Wolf King team hit crunch time. I was in full swing, inking one illustration per evening after work and two per day on the weekends. I was also in the throes of finalizing art for an early readers picture book. I was on the home stretch and had reached a scene with the brothers and good old Bonifer Squoon, which I was anticipating with excitement.
I began cranking away at inking the “Spidifer” scene and was about 75% finished when it happened. After one of my frequent dips into the inkwell I realized there was a small cat hair resting on my nib. Without a second thought, I blew a quick puff at the hair to toss it off. And then my eyes focused on the illustration below and the spray of black acrylic ink that freckled its once-pristine surface. My heart cramped. My instinct was to somehow brush this dust off of my drawing. But it wasn’t dust, and I knew it. It was there to stay. I could barely believe it had happened.
I pride myself on not making errors when I ink, and even if I do, I work it into the art. Some illustrators splatter ink all over their art because it suits their style, but I was going for a classic ink style that needed to look sharp and clean. I realized that I didn’t have time at this point to worry about fixing it with white paint and re-inking, so I trudged on. Making matters worse, when I showed my wife the final illustration she pointed at Kal’s silhouette and asked, “Why did you give him black eyes?” I hadn’t, but ironically the spray had fallen into the spots where his eye sockets would have been. I had to laugh at that point.
Thankfully, Photoshop is awesome. I scanned the image in, optimized it, and then precision-erased spots and clone-stamped lines until only I knew it had ever happened. But now, I really enjoy sharing the original piece, with its flaws, and telling the untold tale of Bonifer Squoon and the Cat Hair of Doom!