Monday, 24 July 2017

Cartooning - Don't Ignore the Obvious


Recently I had an a comic idea where the joke used a play on the word "wicked". Here it is...

It bombed,.. the big mistake I made here is ignoring the obvious!

What Do I Mean?

Possibly like many others, you see this picture and think,..

"Shouldn't the candle be lit at both ends, I mean he's busy ain't he?"

But, burning the candle at both ends wasn't the joke I was going for, it's more subtle than that. The candle has a wick running through it which I'd showed as not lit, to try and veer the reader away from the accepted wisdom. I'd ignored the obvious and tried to be clever.

Learning From Mistakes

Contrary to popular beliefs, it's acceptable to make mistakes, but you should at least try to find out what you did wrong so you could avoid it next time.

I nearly fell into the same trap with this one..

This is one of those jokes that works better spoken than when written down. At first I wrote the line "Hysteria = Length x Wit", but it troubled me. The correct spelling doesn't feature the word "area", so the joke is lost.

I'd already shown various formulae for calculating areas on the blackboard, but I still felt compelled to spell it incorrectly and hyphenated to make my point.

I like it as a concept, but it still doesn't feel quite right when written down.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Cartoon Challenge - Here's another

I found a load more well known sayings today, so I picked one out and drew it.

It's a bit of a play on words... (hopefully you can tell it's a candle)

I deliberately didn't show a lit candle because it might have confused with the saying about burning it at both ends. Other than that, pretty simple.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Cartoon Challenge - Single Frames

This is my version of the single frame cartoon with caption which is taken out of context to form the joke. For it to work it has to be a well know saying or item, and so I chose this euphemism on a whim.

Finding the saying as your starting point isn't so easy, I think I must have scanned through hundreds before I stumbled across this one. At first I was going to hint at it, but after drawing the cartoon I decided the line must appear otherwise people won't get it.

Sleeve tattoo

Rick and I were discussing the fact that some single-frame cartoons have a caption which could be perfectly innocent if taken out of context. But the image gives the line a completely new and funny meaning.

We wondered whether this might be a good way to come up with new ideas - listen out for a perfectly innocent line but hear it in a different way.

We decided to use this as a challenge.

Here's my first. I think I heard the line "can you do me a sleeve?" in a list of 'things to say to piss off your tattooist'. I believe a sleeve should develop over time. Asking for a complete one is a sad symptom of our instant-gratification world.

The picture obviously plays on the meaning of 'sleeve'. I could have stuck to the rules of the challenge and drawn something for the caption 'can you do me a sleeve' but I like this slightly developed version better.

The idea seems pretty obvious to me now. I'm sure it must have been done before but I didn't bother Googling to find out, I don't care.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Building a Scene From a Photograph


My recent X-Fails series of cartoons featured an alien supposed to be buried in a grave yard. A trawl of internet images returned a good photo of the Aurora Cemetery sign from wikipedia.

I decided to use this as my starting point.

The Aurora Cemetery Sign from Wikipedia

Thinking Outside the Box

I know it's an over-used term, but if the edge of the photo is the box then what I was missing was outside of this. I decided to flip the image and drop a single vanishing point.

Building on the image using perspective

It became quite easy to copy and paste those stone columns and fences, reducing the size each time. I then extended the horizon, added my characters, a smattering of tombstones and a little bit of colour.

The completed image
Link to comic..

Monday, 10 July 2017

Evolution - A Fresh Viewpoint


The scooter drawing came about after buying my oldest son his first motorised transport. It may not be much, but to a teenager it's freedom and a step towards responsibility. The drawing started out as a celebration of this, but I couldn't ignore the comic element which would eventually become an Area 5.1 cartoon idea. It meant turning it into a kids space ride, the sort of thing you'd find outside a supermarket for tots to ride.

But I wasn't finished with it,...

Reworking The Image

About a week later I decided to revisit the drawing. I'd perhaps been a little cruel in my mockery of the subject and I wanted to put things right. I wanted something positive. It is a fun thing to ride, and for kids my son's age they are briefly very cool.

I went through the following thought stages:-

1)    Finish drawing the scooter properly.
2)    The alien doesn't look right, let's make him a Hells Angel
3)    He looks good, maybe I can use him in my cartoon!
4)    Let's add a sidecar (cos that's funny on a scooter) and give him a friend.
5)    Hey, let's have them investigating UFO sightings!!

It really wasnt a well thought out process, just a series of "what-ifs". I also went with a very saturated full colour image, inspired by posters I'd seen when I was researching the X-File idea.

The evolution of the scooter image

The name X-Fails came about from a typo, I was trying to describe the cartoon's inspiration in an email and I typed "fail" instead of "file". I couldn't ignore the idea of parody on Mulder and Sculley, but it's very much from an amateur angle.

The completed poster
Once I've adde the field of corn and the UFO, it was just a case of finding the right fonts.

I have no idea if this new direction is the right one, but I really am ready for a change. I think my audience are too. I don't think the little green men are something that people can associate themselves with, so it's time to try something new.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Hey Good Looking - Area 5.1 Cartoon

No hints or tips this week, just a quick blog about "Hey Good Looking", my latest Area 5.1 cartoon, and a mention about how Facebook embeds images in the news feed.

The Cartoon Idea

I listen to podcasts a lot on my daily commute, so I hear a few adverts from the forward thinking companies that support this sort of media. One of them is Blue Apron who supply meal ingredients, and the main thrust is always "you get just the right amount of everything you need, so nothing is wasted".

That seems a reasonable thing to say, especially for ingredients that are more niche.

But it got me thinking,.. do you get a big box with everything jumbled together, or is everything individually packed? My idea was based around the latter, so lots and lots of packaging.

The answer to that question is available here if you're interested, a padded box, packaging, lots of cellophane and ziplock bags. It's the modern way!

The Final Frame.

Often I have a frame that I've struggled with, and "Hey Good Looking" was no exception.

The jokes about excessive packaging, so you can see in my first attempt that the focus in the final image was all wrong.

My final frame didnt work

Initially the image was going to be packaging sat in the bin, but I felt that it needed to be linked to the preparation of the meal. I decided to show the used packaging in the background instead, but now the bacon cake is in the foreground, so this is what you look at... it means that the joke gets a little lost.

The revised final frame

The fix required a number of changes:-
 - Add the outer bag to link back to the previous frames.
 - Move the plate so it's smaller and no longer in the middle.
 - Use white out-lining to ensure separation of the key elements.

Facebook Issues

My final point is about the job that Facebook does when displaying images from linked pages. It takes a landscape snap of the middle of the image so anything that's portrait ratio gets chopped off top and bottom. Look at the mess it made when I tried to use it today.

Facebook newsfeed image

I decided I'd had enough of Facebook cocking it up. I made a new image with just the first frame and added the "click to read comic" box. The stats are back up to normal, so I think it worked. Didn't bother using it for Google+ because for some reason it does a good job.

My new Facebook page link image

Anyway, that's it for now, I think I'll continue creating facebook images, and I hope some of you found that useful.