Monday, 25 September 2017

Cartooning - Rule of Threes Revisited


I've just realised that the latest FunStreak cartoon ( follows the Rule of Threes pattern. The first two boxes set the scene and perform the misdirection, and the last one delivers the punchline.

This one came from a conversation I was having on Saturday morning with my 'significant other'. We were reminiscing about the past, how cute our kids used to be, and talking about how prudity replaces the carefree attitude that children have when they're little. Sometimes the truth slips out in a joke; the grass really was long, and my son help out?.. well let's just leave it there!

The Cartoon

I started off drawing the final frame, adding temporary lines to a vanishing point around the middle of the page. It was important that the final reveal should show the long grass, so it made sense to have the couple actually in a garden. Sunloungers were the simplest thing to draw, I drew one and then mirrored it over to give me the second. The grass was added in layers, a little bit like waves on the sea.

A simple garden scene

Finally a couple of figures and a table were added to complete the scene.

The completed scene
Frames one and two are based on zoomed in copies of this image. It's a great way of re-using the artwork, but ensure you alter the figures to provide a bit of variation.

Zoomed in Images for Frames 1 and 2

Simple Really.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Cartooning - Should you use Shading?


To shade, or not to shade, that is the question! I recently evolved Area 5.1 into X-Failes so that I could show more detail and produce a more colourful product, but recently I've been feeling that it's been taking too much time. Truth be told, if it had gained me loads more views and likes I wouldn't care, but it hasn't.

I do use the following techniques to speed things up.
  • Re-use characters and objects.
  • Trace pictures of items I'm unfamiliar with.
  • Re-use backgrounds.
But although shading can look really nice, it takes time, even when re-using artwork. Just flipping the image over usually requires extra effort, negating the time saved while you re-work the shading. And I didn't help myself by giving him tattoos.

Cartoon with Shading

Moving to a Flatter Style

Looking at the new style, it looks like I just copied from the cartoon above, removed the shading and tweaked it. But those elements have been re-used a few times and the fact they line up is just by chance.

Cartoon with flatter colouring

The thing I didnt expect was the colours to look bolder. I haven't been 100% consistant with eradicating the shading so there's still a slightly 3D feel about it.

The biggest time saver is probably the background. It's not much more effort than roughing it out with pencil and adding a bit of colour with a large marker pen. I then reduced the saturation by making it slightly opaque. The softer background does provide some degree of separation from the foreground objects, it focuses the reader a little.

Link to latest cartoon :

Monday, 11 September 2017

Working On List Ideas - Part 2


If you remember last time, I had a list based idea that I'd almost finished putting together. The main challenge was to create a cartoon without spending too much time drawing because the comedy is in the list. Anything else should just support that.

(NB. Thanks for the list ideas Shiela, although they came a little late. Go-Ape was a nice idea and I'd have used that one)

The Solution

Okay, here's what I came up with,.. pretty simple, a marketing guy explaining charity suggestions to an unknown client. There are a few similarities with the maths professor cartoon I drew.

Comparison of ideas
I started with another screen grab from my phone's notes application and turned it into a flipchart or whiteboard list. A few scribbles help to differentiate the new ideas from the established charity month ideas.

I drew a marketeer (delivering it as a presentation), and added that little bit of dialogue so the reader understands where the idea came from.

Final cartoon here:

Part One

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Working On List Ideas - Part 1


Today I'm breaking the mould and writing about a cartoon that I haven't finished, in fact I haven't even started drawing. I didnt want it to go out half baked, but I thought it might be interesting to share what I have already.

Sometimes ideas aren't very visual, the challenge then is how to turn it into a cartoon, and this is definitely the case with lists. When I tackled this problem last time (on Area 5.1 - Imprinted Habits) I created a fake magazine page. In the blog entry for it I described the process, but I remember it being a lot of hard work involving generation of additional ideas to fill the rest of the page.

The challenge will be trying to come up with something simpler. This one's intended for FunStreak, and my rule is no more than two hours drawing, ideally less than an hour.

My List

There's a few charity events coming up that promote certain actions for a whole month. The one that's being promoted quite heavily now is "Go Sober for October", but soon there'll be "Movember" too and Facebook will be awash with facial hair selfies.

It's all good stuff, but it got me thinking about what other things could happen for the other months. I started scribbling ideas down on a pad and then eventually I typed them in to notes on my ipad and tried to assign an emoji.

My Monthly Event Ideas

Some of the ideas need work, or replacing. Other's like "Banuary", if I decide to go with it, need a little explanation.

Part Two

Friday, 1 September 2017

Sketchy Details - Planning your Cartoon


My usual method of creating a cartoon tends to follow this process:-
  1. Have great idea.
  2. Write down dialogue and review.
  3. Draw pencil sketch or thumbnails.
  4. Draw each frame on the tablet.
  5. Import into ComicLife and compose.
  6. Finalise and resize to 850px wide.
Step 3 often looks like it's been missed, that's because I rough it out on the tablet, or I create empty planning frames (with dilogue) in ComicLife. More often than not, I just plan it in my head, but there's always some sort of plan, there has to be.

The last X-Fails had quite a detailed sketch, so I thought I'd share it with you.

Sketch Plan

You'll notice there's some quite extreme camera angles in this cartoon.

We start off with a high level of perspective viewed from below, using the vanishing point method to scale the policeman's body. But you have to be brave and really draw those boots big if you want him to appear close up.

The next three shots are simple close-ups showing the dialogue and that pistol action. They were chosen to focus the readers attention to try and increase the level of misdirection.

Finally we have a standard frame to fill the page width with the big reveal. (Five's a difficult number to arrange otherwise)

Here's the link to the finished cartoon, often things get changed along the way, but this time it came out quite close:

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Web Comics with Stories


I'm now four episodes into X-Fails and things are going well. Viewing figures are acceptable and I'm finding it's actually easier to generate ideas using the story arc method. I first tried this out with my Star Wars episodes (links here)
It was fun to put my own spin on the Star Wars universe and it had the advantage that one idea easily led into the next.

So with X-Fails, the drawing is more interesting. It takes more effort, but I think it's easier for people to relate to. The little green men may still make the odd appearance, but for now I'm convinced that X-Fails is the right direction.

Changing Style

The original idea for Area 5.1 was quick and simple drawing so that weekly submissions would be possible. But I soon found that generating usable ideas could be a problem. Also, as my drawing skills improved there was little scope for improving those aliens, unless I re-designed them.

So X-Fails evolved, giving me more scope to include new characters and taking the story idea and running with it. I still try and make each page funny, but they're no longer as "stand-alone".

Area 5.1 (X-Fails) - Say No More

Link to the cartoon:

Here we see a new character, who could be a local busy-body, or maybe somebody important, but the boys accept his help without realising they could be getting themselves into trouble. Judging by the few comments I have received, people just wanted them to start digging, so I was happy to oblige.

You'll find out soon whether they find anything interesting, or just get into trouble. Hopefully people will get hooked into the story and they'll keep coming back.

But, if it's stand-alone comics you want, there's always FunStreak, or any of the others listed down the right of this page.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Cartoon Challenge - Taking the Opposite

The Challenge

It was quite a simple exercise, but it turned out to be quite an undertaking.

These challenges normally come from discussions about cartoons that Shiela or I find and share with each other. The example that inspired this one comes from The Argyle Sweater with this great snake based idea.

In brief..
"Take a well known saying and make the opposite work for someone different."

I really struggled with this one, I could come up with ideas based on well-known sayings, but they didn't match the challenge criteria. In the end I had help from my girlfriend, who came up with the idea about using the phrase "You'll have someones eye out", with someone different being a Pirate.

I liked it, but wasn't sure how to make it work!

Developing the Idea

I spent some time considering an alternative based on rubber sucker tipped arrows, but the idea I came up with didn't meet the requirements. The best bet seemed to be find a way to make pirates work.

Thinking about other sharp pointy things, this would generally be a sword or cutlass. It got me thinking about kids being chastised for fighting with sticks and pieces of wood. Their parents saying "be careful, you'll have someones eye out with that stick"

What if that parent was a pirate with an eye patch, and what might he have said instead?

My Cartoon Challenge Submission

Link to original comic :