Hey it's been a while since we've had a good, old-fashioned beaver gag, no? Okay, well at least that what I tell myself pretty much every time I sit back down at the drawing table.
This particular panel grew from a series of concept sketches done for a recurring client and their annual calendar. Even when an idea isn't used it's never wasted and can be incubated for additional inspiration, or at least recycled into a new funny.
At the time of drawing this variation, I had lost somewhere these original sketches (even forgetting they had already been posted as part of another thematically-related cartoon's process), and so had to re-create it from memory. Good thing it's like a steel trap, or at least in my case, an aluminum deadfall.
What's kinda funny in retrospect is not only how closely the rebooted version adhered to the first one, but how it subtly improved the composition by reversing the relative positions of the beaver and the log, making for a much improved (clearer) contrast in both scale + value. At least that's the theory I'm sticking to. It still needed some additional tweaking after inking: opening it up a little by deleting the the foreground element and leveling out the horizontal axis. It's the little things that, uh, gnaw at you.
And here's a bonus series of snapshots on the process (also shown in video here) I use when slapping some water-soluble pencils for a quick watercolor wash treatment on the original pen +ink piece. Clockwise from the bottom you can see the transition from initial application to a halfway point when it dries enough to add a second round to push the value a bit more. Then it gets sprayed with a fixative and added to the box of original artwork for sale at my annual retrospective gig (see 2016, 2017 and 2018).