Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Art Imitating Life: Snowie

They say that Life imitates Art, but for a cartoonist, Art so often comes from real life. It’s the ‘write what you know’ theory. In this case, a hungry white cat showed up on our doorstep one night and turned our lives upside down. It was immediately expected, by those following the story on facebook, that this blizzard of fur had to appear in Knight and Day.

Oddly enough, I once had a cat very much like Snowie, and it was always my intention to have Snowball appear in my comic strip one day. As nice as that would have been, it just didn’t feel right when Knight and Day rolled around. However, you can see her in a few of my earliest comic strips, in my book Once Upon a Times....

Now, however, I can pay homage to both cats at the same time, and get inspiration from both real life and from happy memories.

A star is born. :0)

JOHN :0)
PS On my iPod?  Sarah Brightman, La Luna

Friday, March 11, 2011

Cartooning 101: The Basics

My drawing table, littered with tracing paper.  Well, littered, anyway! Time to clean...

When I was taking cartooning classes, there was one important lesson that our teacher imparted to us, over and over:  use tracing paper to sketch.  Why?  Because it's relatively cheap, and if you make a mistake, you can toss it.  So many people are afraid to make a mistake, so don't draw at all, choosing to stare at the blank page instead, awaiting inspiration.  This violates another very important lesson they teach you in cartooning school, which is to draw as much as you can!  Later on, while taking graphic design classes, my instructor also was a big fan of tracing paper.  In a large composition, you may sketch a character or something really nice, but not like another part.  So... you trace over the good part, or cut that out, and use it to redraw the scene.  Heck, you can make 5 or 6 sketches of the same scene and cut and past the best bits, for a great rough sketch.

Today's Knight and Day, done first on tracing paper, then inked on the lightbox, then fixed, cleaned,
and shaded on the computer in photoshop.  Some strips are higher maintenance than others. :0)

They say that George Herriman (Krazy Kat) could sit down and start inking, without any sketching or anything.  Looking at the compositions of his Sunday pages, I find that really hard to believe.  I'm sure he sketched thumbnails at the least, but even if he didn't, I recommend highly creating a few sketches before setting out to do any final artwork.  I, for one, can sometimes sit down and work away perfectly, but there are other times when I flounder across the paper, and nothing seems to go right.  In that case, a tight sketch is a life saver, which I can throw on the light box, and ink over.  At least then I'll make less mistakes. :0)

Even if you've moved to the computer for life, you should still sketch. Any decent draw or paint program should give you layers, so always sketch on one layer first, then draw on another layer above it.  Well, not always... there is something to be said for spontaneity.  It all depends upon your style, and how loose you allow yourself to be.

The important thing is, of course, to not leave that paper blank. :0)

Cheers,    JOHN :0)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

In Which I Make a Cool Pirate Video

While I'm holding off on cartoon news for the moment, I just had to share with you a cool little video I put together the other day.

Okay, so some of you are aware that I am slightly obsessed with Disney's so called 'dark' rides... an obsession that precedes even my first visit to the parks.  You see, long before there were Legos and snap-together kits, there was the model kit.  A kit that, no matter what the box said, required quite a bit of skill to put together and paint.  And I just love working with my hands!

Some of my many happy childhood memories involve putting together Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean model kits with zap/action!  The one I remember most is Condemned to Chains Forever, in which a pirate skeleton fights an eternal battle with an alligator that's trying to chew on his leg.  It's no wonder the comic book I'm working on is titled The Ghost Pirate Skeletons of Three Craters Lake, is it?

So, a few years later I have managed to get the same model kit, complete in it's box.  And now it will take me years to find the time to actually build it and build it right.  However, I had ten minutes free one Saturday morning, so over coffee I carefully removed the pieces from their sprues, and, like any good model builder, fit them together before any attempt at gluing. And being the show person that I am, I just had to video the attempt, and ad some animation to it. :0)

Please enjoy!

PS  As I kid I ripped the box open and started painting and gluing haphazardly until I had a sloppy mess that little resembled the picture on the box.  And I loved every minute of it. :0)

PSS If enough of you clamor to see more, I'll be forced to find the time to play, er... work towards making another video in this series.  Please? :0)

On my iPod?  Ariene Brunet, "Le pied dans ma bulle"    Nice!