The making of “As The Deer Flies”


I’ve gathered together a bunch of photos here that I took while working on the new Laser Moose and Rabbit Boy book, As The Deer Flies. I started writing the book in spring of 2020, just when the pandemic was starting to get crazy, and I spent much of my lockdown time drawing and scanning and coloring the book – and now it’s available in stores everywhere. Not a bad way to spend a pandemic!


April 2020
In March and April of 2020, I started writing the script for the new book. Meanwhile, COVID was feeling pretty serious and people started hoarding food …except for manicotti noodles?!
May 2020
But I didn’t have any trouble picking up supplies for the book: a bunch of new Staedtler pens and six 25-page pads of Canson Bristol paper!
June 2020 sketches
In June, while my editor reviewed the script, I worked on early sketches for the book. I wanted to do fun and interesting things with forest scenes in this book, so I did a lot of nature sketching.
June 2020 Characters
I also worked on character designs at this time. I wanted to make Gus a bit more realistic-looking (but not too much!), so I drew a lot of wolves!


first haircut
I put off getting a haircut for a long time because of COVID. In July, I ventured outside because I was getting pretty crazy-looking. Little did I know that COVID was going to get worse and I wouldn’t get another haircut for almost a year.
July 2020 1st draft
I started drawing my first draft, which I like to do in a very scribbly style, in ink. At this stage, I’m just throwing stuff down to see what works.
July 2020 first draft 2
For the rest of July 2020 and into a bit of August, I kept working on these preliminary pages and I could start to see the book coming together.


Before drawing the second draft, I needed to create a little cheat sheet so I could remember where to put Frank’s leg scars. Maybe I should draw them right onto my deer model!
August 2020 2nd draft
For the second draft, I polish things up a little more and make any big changes for things I didn’t like in the first draft. This two-page spread later became the dedication and table of contents pages.
The Old Oak
I spent a lot of time on this page, and I looked at tons of images of gnarly old oak trees.
Aug 2020 2nd draft
And here’s the second-draft version of that cave image we saw before.


Sept 2020 final draft
I started work on the final art in early September 2020. At this point, I switch from using plain old printer paper to the nice Bristol paper.
Sept 2020 Final draft
Here’s the final version of that page with the old oak. Looks like I removed the squirrel that was there in the previous draft.
Sept 2020 final draft
For this book, I set myself a personal challenge to create more detailed forest scenes. This scruffy old tree stump is like many that I see here in Stanley Park in Vancouver.
Sept 2020 final draft
Here’s our squirrel buddy again, running into a bit of laser-related trouble.
I finished drawing all of the final art pages in early October 2020.


October 2020 Scanning
When I’m finished drawing, I scan in all of the pages and start working on the computer (in Photoshop). I often zoom in close like this and clean up stray pixels here and there.
Oct 2020 cleanup
Here I’m cleaning up a page that includes a cameo appearance by a Northern Flicker. These beautiful birds are often in our neighborhood here and sometimes stop by the window sill to torment the cats.
Oct 2020 scanning
Here’s that cave scene again, scanned in and ready for color!


November 2020 - Color Test
And here it is again with color – but not the FINAL color. This is from when my partner Janet and I prepared the color test to send to the printer. We do a color test for every book, and we like to use it to try out different color schemes for new characters and scenes, to see what things will look like when they’re printed.
Nov 2020 color test
Here I’m testing colors for a new character, this little yellow warbler, and for the skunk cabbage that I added to several forest scenes. (Skunk cabbage is a real plant. I see a lot of it in Stanley Park.)
Dec 2020 color test returns
A few weeks later, in early December 2020, the color test came back from the printer and we could see how the colors would look in the final book. Here, we’re testing different color schemes for Gus and the warbler.
Dec 2020 Coloring
For a black-and-white cat, Crumble sure loves color. This is the set of process swatches that Janet and I use when we want to see what the colors will look like when printed.


December 2020 Coloring
Now that I know what the colors look like when printed, I start coloring all of the pages in Photoshop. Crumble likes to help by lurking behind my monitor. (That’s a Tim Gough print on the wall behind Crummers. On the shelves you can see some of the portfolio books where I store my original Savage Chickens comics.)
Dec 2020 coloring
Here’s that Northern Flicker again, but in color! I spent the bulk of December 2020 adding color to the pages.
December 2020 coloring
After coloring all of the pages, I went back and added shadows to all of them. Here’s a page in the process of being shadowed.
Final coloring - Jan 2021
In January 2021, I finished the coloring. The final step is to “flatten” the files and put the color and the linework on separate layers of the file. Here’s the opening scene, with just the color layer showing.


February 2021 Cover
With the inside pages all finished, in February 2021 I started work on the back cover. I’m about to draw over top of an earlier draft, using my light box. Note that I use post-it notes to hold my paper in place at the corners.
February 2021 Cover
And we decided to make the book title look more like the earlier books by adding a blockier-looking title font.
May 2021 Cover
In May 2021, I got to see the proof of the cover…
May 2021 Cover
…and the front cover had that fun shiny gloss for the title badge and the lasers.


June 2021 Haircut
Working on a book can sometimes make you feel like a bit of a hermit, but this time I actually looked like one when the book was finished. After getting my COVID vaccinations, I got a long-overdue haircut!
Sept 2021 Finished
In September, I got my advance author copies of “As The Deer Flies”! It’s so fun to open up a new book, and smell that new book smell. I dedicated this one to my friends at the Vancouver Comic Jam.
Sept 2021 Finished
I’m really happy with how it turned out! (You can see the origins of this scene if you look back at my early nature sketches above!)
Sept 2021 Finished
With all the uncertainty in the world lately, it was pretty nice to have this book project happening. It kept me pretty busy!
September 2021 - The book is done!
Here’s the final version of that cave scene you’ve seen throughout this collection of photos.
And now that the book is out, I can’t wait for you all to read it! It’s available in stores everywhere, and I hope to be booking some public appearances soon. It’ll be nice to see people in real life again!

If you’ve got any questions about the book or my process, put them in the comments or send me an email. And I’d love to hear what you think of the book! 🙂

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