Friday, December 2, 2016

So where do you get your ideas from?

If there is one question that all cartoonists get asked more than anything else its 'where do you get your ideas from?' and frustratingly enough its the one question we really don't have a concise, go-to, answer for. So we tend to roll out stock answers every time the question arises.

Well I've decided that is a bit of a cop out and today---and quite possibly for some time to come---I aim to answer that question as best as I can, and the way I'm going to do it is by example.

I still wont be able to give you a stock answer to the perennial question, but what I can do is show you a cartoon I've already done and talk you through the process from blank page to finished cartoon. Like I said: it's not a cover all answer, but with every example I show you, you will probably get a better viewpoint as to how these mystifying little things get created. And if it turns out to be popular enough feature, here at the Diary of a Cartoonist & Writer, I may very well seek out guest cartoonists to take you through their gag writing process.



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Lets move onto our first one.


This cartoon is from a series of single panel gags provisionally titled 'Noodlepates' ( a medieval word meaning, daft, crazy or not quite all there; a very good description of my mind and the crazies that inhabit my cartoon world).

This cartoon came about from a discussion with a lady friend of mine. We were going over the fertile ground of the battle of the sexes and how women have a harder time than men, I countered with Man-flu and she hit back with giving birth.

Now this is a subject over which we men have no real point of reference, so generally they have us stumped. But when she went on to say, 'and it's not just the giving birth it everything associated with it' my ears pricked up and I asked her to elaborate. And that was when she started talking about pelvic floor exercises.

Now I didn't need that explaining to me, so my eyes rolled back, my expression became vacant and the creative ideas began to form in front of my minds eye.

The best way I can describe this part of the process is 'images'--some fully formed, others not so fully formed---fly around my head in gyroscopic formations, while all the time words and phrases start to develop; coalesce; and when a phrase or saying meets with an image they crash together and I have the idea, or the germ of an idea.

In this cartoons case I thought that if the elasticity of childbirth can cause such problems for women who have on average 2.5 children, imagine what it must be like for a creature that does it for a living...like a hen.

Once the concept was sorted I created the first idea which had two hens discussing how they just didn't have a chance to work on their pelvic floor exercises before the next egg came along. Although it was a fun idea it lacked something; It lacked impact, and if there's one thing I want in my cartoons--- at every available opportunity---its impact.

When the word impact came into my head I saw an egg splattering against the wall and every thing started flying into place like a giant tetras game and then wham! The idea above.

Next I put the cartoon up on my Facebook page and got a lot of positive feedback, mainly---I am delighted to say---from women. And when I get that kind of response I just know I have a winner. So much so that this particular gag is now available on a mug from my Redbubble site

Like I say, I have no 'go-to' answer for my gag writing and the ideas I get, but if this helped in any way at all I will gladly do more and add this to the growing list of regular and semi regular features I produce here on the Diary of a Cartoonist & Writer

As always, if you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask or just leave a comment below---it's how I know you're all paying attention.

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If you like what you see, and want to see more, then please sign up to my email list and have every blog notification sent direct to your email box, assuring that you'll never miss a single post ever again.

I sincerely hope you enjoyed this post. If you did then please share it like a demented sharing person and keep coming back for more of the same, and a whole lot besides.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

New Rugby Watercolour Print Tutorial


A new cartoon tutorial on how I created a watercolour for the sporting prints section of my RedBubble store.


I have another print. 

I could just show it to you, but that would be too easy, and anyway, I think you would rather like to see how it was produced; to go behind the scenes a bit and see what my thought process (for what it is), was for this picture. Correct?

Of course you would. But if you don't then take a look at the picture above, soak it in, enjoy it for what it is, and move on knowing that you've done your good deed for the day and made this cartoonist very happy.

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Okay. So for those of you who had a good look and thought: 'You know what, I think I'll invest a bit more of my day and quite possibly two thirds of this cup of tea and at least two and a half chocolate hobnobs to see just how he got from point A to point B.'

Part 1

So here we go.

With my watercolour prints---particularly the sporting ones---I tend to take a phrase or saying that is pertinent to that sport or past-time and create a humorous image around it. This particular painting was called 'The Drop Kick'.

Once I had the title I needed to create an image to go with it. After a while sketching layouts it quickly became obvious that the image I was leaning towards was going to be a very busy one; a picture that would incorporate a lot of bodies, sight gags and action.

Now the only way I can do this---without having thousands of indecipherable pencil lines all over my watercolour paper---making it virtually impossible to see where I've been, let alone where I am going---is to draw the component parts of the picture, paste them together then light-box them directly onto the watercolour paper.


Now those more eagle eyed amongst you will probably have noted already that on the finished picture not everything is as it was on the original rough layout. Whereas some characters have been removed, others have been added after the light-boxing was completed. 

I also know that I said to draw a picture of this complexity straight onto the finished page would be just too confusing. But to be honest with you, once the main body of the picture was complete, adding one or two more characters really wasn't going to be a problem. Especially, as I have done here, if they are going to be largely independent of the main scrum of characters. 

But at this stage it is more important to get the characters roughed and down; I can always move them around the page and light-box them in slightly different positions afterwards.


Part 2

To be honest with you I feel like I'm cheating when I light-box my art through to the watercolour paper. But I always try to equate the circle with the square by pointing out that the concentration and constant taping and re taping of the rough to the back of the paper while positioning and re positioning the image and changing the composition all the time is no simple task. And anyway. It was me that drew the rough images and layouts in the first place: it's not like I'm copying someone else's work, right?

Good. I am now happy and have talked myself into a nice place: very important when you are about to take on a project of this magnitude, peppered as it is with the multitude of potential disasters and pit-falls that they all come fitted with as standard.

Part 3


For those of you who have seen past watercolour tutorials, here on the Diary of a Cartoonist and Writer, you will know that once the characters are laid down in clean, crisp pencil lines, I mask some or all of them off, allowing me to drop in the big washes.

In this case I masked only a little before wetting the paper by where the sky was going, then I set to; I laid down the first big wash with a gulp and sigh of both trepidation and anxiety.

I placed a few strokes of Naples Yellow and I was off. Once the yellow was down I immediately added the cobalt blue, making sure not to let it bleed into the Naples Yellow causing it to turn a murky green.

'The beauty of art is that the rules are there to be broken; in fact I actively encourage you to do so'. 

Once it had begun to dry---but was still a little damp---I touched some raw sienna to the cobalt blue mix on my palette and tapped it in gently to a few areas to give the sky a bit more atmosphere: Rugby is, after all, predominantly a winter based sport, so moody or leaden skies are as regular as the fixtures themselves.

Having said that, I didn't want to make the sky so dark as to detract from the main image. If I had been producing just a landscape then the sky would be one of its main players, but seeing as the focus of the picture was going to be its characters, the sky had to take a back seat and take on the role as the support act.

Part 3



Like I say, normally I mask out the characters when laying out a large wash. But in this case---and with all of the confusion of characters---I really wasn't that confident that I would get everything that needed to be covered, covered: in the end I did wind up going over one of the players but luckily I spotted it at an early stage and turned his green hue into subtle shading.

At this point it all looks a little flat and unappetising, but this is normal for one of my pieces. I need to put a weak wash down as my method of colouring is to bring it to life using many layers; often more than is advised.

For example, most artist teachers say to give your paintings component parts three layers: light, medium and shade (or dark). I have often thrown that rule right out of the window I purposely leave open for just such eventualities. I, personally, work on as many layers as I think the painting needs. The beauty of art is that the rules are there to be broken; in fact I actively encourage you to do so. 


Part 4

I suppose I could go through every single stage from here on in, explaining what it is I do.What brushes I use. Which end I squeeze the paint tube from or how many sugars I take in my tea. And if you really want to know all that then it's a mixture of rounds, numbers 1, 3 and 6. A liner brush and a number 7 chisel. I squeeze from what ever part I pick it up from and it's one sugar in my Earl Grey.

But to be honest with you, the boring fact of the matter is: the rest of the process is as un-glamorous as just putting down one layer of colour on top of another until the characters become solid and three dimensional.

I will say this though: when producing a picture as involved and as complicated as this one, strong colours around it's central characters is paramount; it gives a uniformity that's easily broken up when darker characters arrive in the middle, and it is this contrast of colours that will pull the viewers eyes into the paintings main point: that of the drop kick.

But that said, here's a shed load of images showing you the stages I went through and the layers I built up to complete this project.

Typically a painting like this will take around fifteen man hours to complete, but it is rarely done in one sitting. A painting of this complexity needs me to walk away many times and keep on coming back with fresh eyes and a clear head.

Any way, please enjoy the images below and as always, any comments you may have, please let me have them in the comments section below and I will do my best to answer all your questions.



















 ...and finally, I used a dip pen (Gilliott 303 nib) and a bottle of Windsor and Newton nut brown ink to give the characters a gentle, yet subtle definition and filled the stands with spectators; signed it and pulled the tape of to give it a nice, crisp border.

The image is then ready to upload to my RedBubble site for all to see and purchase.



If you like what you see, and want to see more, then please sign up to my email list and have every blog notification sent direct to your email box, assuring that you'll never miss a single post ever again.

I sincerely hope you enjoyed this post. If you did then please share it like a demented sharing person and keep coming back for more of the same, and a whole lot besides.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Comicbook Submissions--- Brabbles & Boggitt Part VI




If you like what you see, and want to see more, then please sign up to my email list and have every blog notification sent direct to your email box and don't miss a single post ever again.

I sincerely hope you enjoyed this post. If you did then please share it like a demented sharing person and keep on coming back for more of the same, and a whole lot besides.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Comic Book Submission---Brabbles & Boggitt Part V





If you like what you see, and want to see more, then please sign up to my email list and have every blog notification sent direct to your email box and don't miss a single post ever again.

I sincerely hope you enjoyed this post. If you did then please share it like a demented sharing person and keep on coming back for more of the same, and a whole lot besides.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Comic Book Submission---Brabbles & Boggitt Part IV











If you like what you see, and want to see more, then please sign up to my email list and have every blog notification sent direct to your email box and don't miss a single post ever again.

I sincerely hope you enjoyed this post. If you did then please share it like a demented sharing person and keep on coming back for more of the same, and a whole lot besides.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Fan Art!

Copying is the sincerest form of flattery!

Or so they say. But I think the sincerest form a flattery is when someone copies 'your' art. And today that is exactly what has happened.

I have had many people copy my art in the past but it has always been from characters I've produced for the UK comics market; therefore not my characters; just ones that I've been asked to produce. But today, a very talented young lady called Tia Powell, from West Wales, did me the great honour of rendering our very own Brabbles & Boggitt and sending it to me.

Apparently she agonized over the form and structure and probably drew and re-drew before sending me her favourite. Well all I can say is thank you very much Tia, you have done my little creations proud and you should be very pleased with what you have done.

I showed the boys their pictures and Brabbles laughed uproariously and said it showed off his brilliant side and Boggitt  simply smiled quietly, and from Boggitt that is praise indeed, as he tends to keep his thoughts to himself.

But generally it's a thumbs up from the boys Tia!

Anyway, they've gone off to produce more pages of their story for Friday...well Boggitt is doing all the work while Brabbles gives direction, or as he says: 'His brilliant advice, which is, well quite frankly, brilliant!' Nothing new there then.

If you have any fan art from anything I draw I am always delighted to see it. It doesn't matter what age group you are I am more than happy to post, and if you have a website or blog I will definitely link to it for you.

Right, I'd better get going, I can hear the boys arguing over the stories direction.See you all on Friday.




On Friday it's back to the next instalment of Brabbles & Boggitt and the Blue Eves and the Shoemakers. This week the two misfits finally find the cobblers...which turns out to be only the beginning of their problems...see you then

If you like what you see, and want to see more, then please sign up to my email list and have every blog notification sent direct to your email box and don't miss a single post ever again.

I sincerely hope you enjoyed this post. If you did then please share it like a demented sharing person and keep on coming back for more of the same, and a whole lot besides.


Friday, June 3, 2016

Comic Book Submission- Brabbles & Boggitt Page III




Next Wednesday I will be showing you the art of one of my younger fans, Tia Powell. She has taken the time and done me the honour of Drawing Brabbles & Boggitt and I will be sharing them with you.

If you like what you see, and want to see more, then please sign up to my email list and have every blog notification sent direct to your email box and don't miss a single post ever again.

I sincerely hope you enjoyed this post. If you did then please share it like a demented sharing person and keep on coming back for more of the same, and a whole lot besides.








Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Over a Barrel




The tale below took place a few years ago when I was working behind a bar. Everything was new to me and even simple tasks in hindsight were mountains back then. So with that in mind, sit back and enjoy my tale of ineptitude and a cartoonist out of water.


Roberto is somewhat of an enigma at the hotel where I work. There is nothing that this diminutive head waiter cannot solve with a tired, almost bored flick of the wrist, a swarthy grunt or a confident air that can only be fully realised by someone who has spent an inordinate amount of their youth, fiddling around olive groves.

A couple of nights back the lager tap ran dry and I had to go down to the cellar and change the barrel for the first time on my own.

It is a relatively simple process, involving you twisting the gas tube off the empty barrel, removing it, bringing the new one in, and attaching the gas line; locking it on, releasing the catch, pumping the liquid into a tube and watching the gravity ball float to the top.

Like I said, a relatively simple process. But like all processes that involve more than one level and me, there’s a disproportionate amount of catastrophes that can be realised; especially if you have a large collection of other barrels, a virtual spaghetti plate of tubes and wires, a low ceiling, high pressure gas lines and cylinders and a stockroom full of as-of-yet unbroken bottled fruit mixers and beers…and ME.

So as I said, I had to go and change the barrel, leaving the customer and Roberto, our diminutive head waiter and smouldering cauldron of Mediterranean hormones, playing candy crush on his cracked mobile.

So off I toddled down to the cellar, located the barrel, twisted and pulled the line off---a little too close to my face, giving my eyebrows a middle parting they hadn’t planned on receiving---and put it to one side. I took the old barrel out of the way and located the new. So far all was going well.

I then flipped the cap off the new cask, slotted the gas line onto it, twisted the nozzle into place, released the catch and stood mesmerized at all hell broke loose around me.

Like I said, where there is an infinite amount of moves that can be mirrored by an equally infinite number of catastrophes---and me---then you have the prefect recipe for disasters.

Put simply, I had placed the nozzle over the cap in the only way I could see how. It had seemed to slot perfectly into place when in actual fact, all it had done was to break the seal. And within a few brief seconds it had built up the pressure to near critical mass and forced the gas line off like a cork from a Champagne bottle and began to liberally spread its liquid presence all over me and the low ceilinged cellar. I slipped on another barrel, which I’d been using as a stepping stone to the one I wanted, and landed unceremoniously onto the cold flag stone floor. The barrel continued to erupt as the gas line was flipping and swirling around the room like a very annoyed Cobra who has just found out he’s been double booked at a snake charmers convention.

I reacted with a mixture of panic and panic by hurling myself at the gas line, missing it, and being thanked for my efforts by getting an eye full of mass produced lager, this made me lash out to regain my balance with the effect of upending the barrel towards the wall. The pressure of the newly upended lager and the newly discovered wall was, well, quite spectacular really.

It launched itself off the wall and into me, sending us both into the bottled fruit mixers and beer stockroom; the still irate gas line followed us in for no other reason that it could sense a bit of fun in the offing. When I landed with a winded oouf! I still had a firm yet desperate hold on the barrel as the gas line snapped back and forth like a spitting cobra.

Now in situations like this, when you are either holding onto a very annoyed Tiger or a beer barrel with too much fizz, it is always a wise move to let go of the object and seek refuge. But when you have a severely parted eyebrow, and eye full of fizzing lager and a beer barrel that has you in a full nelson, you tend not to act with normality.

I have no idea how long me and the barrel were locked in mortal combat, or how drenched I actually got, but at some point between me and the barrel dragging ourselves around the cellar, and closing time, it all came to an abrupt halt. It took me a few moments to catch my breath, but when I did manage to focus briefly on the carnage around me, I saw that Roberto, who had obviously surmised correctly that I had been gone too long and had probably gotten myself into a pickle of epic proportions, had glided downstairs on an air of Mediterranean confidence and cool, grabbed the barrel by the scruff of its collar, calmed the beast of a gas line, slotted it in place, filled the tube, released the ball---all with one hand--- while moving up two levels on his candy crush.

By the time I had got back up stairs and was mopping myself down, Roberto had served the customer and was back on his bar stool muttering something that sounded both derogatory, and probably well deserved, in Italian.


I went back to my position behind the bar and quietly dripped while standing in awe at this pint sized Fonzy.


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On Friday page three of the eight part segment of the new Brabbles & Boggitt story goes live. Try not to miss it, I did, after all, spend a lot of time preparing it

 If you like what you see, and want to see more, then please sign up to my email list and have every blog notification sent direct to your email box and don't miss a single post ever again.

I sincerely hope you enjoyed this post. If you did then please share it like a demented sharing person and keep on coming back for more of the same, and a whole lot besides.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Comic Book submission- Brabbles & Boggitt Page II

...And onto Page two. Brabbles and Boggitt have arrived in the small town in search of new shoes for Brabbles. Boggitt has already lain the rules down: 'Get shoes and move on without any hair-brained scheme that will result in them getting tarred and feathered out of town.' Brabbles, as usual, fails to see the point, now Boggitt has to explain it to him...simply....

Next Wednesday I'll be treating you...or is that subjecting you to...I'll let you be the judge...of one of my short stories. This one is about my days working behind a bar and how the simple task of changing a barrel could go so horribly wrong...oh and there will be illustrations; probably quite a few.

If you like what you see, and want to see more, then please sign up to my email list and have every blog notification sent direct to your email box and don't miss a single post ever again.

I sincerely hope you enjoyed this post. If you did then please share it like a demented sharing person and keep on coming back for more of the same, and a whole lot besides.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Commercial Caricature Commission---a tale the working process

Its very rare that I get asked to produce commercial caricatures.
Normally I produce the birthday, anniversary, wedding and Christmas gift ideas; and I'm happy to do so.

But every now and then, I do get approached either directly by a commercial client or via a PR company or designer.

In this case a PR company had been tasked with the job of producing an annual report for a management company and making it look fun.

Now management is one dry area by definition, but add to that the fact that they were all accountants and financial advisers, and therefore see a sense humour as an affliction of which they are immune. So what must've seemed like forever and a day of brain storming, trying to extract a joke out of counting beads, Pythagoras or double entry book keeping, and after about the 5,000th cup of coffee the PR people must've thrown their collective arms up in despair and called in the only nutcases on the planet capable of finding humour in an accountant. They called in the Cartoonist (Que the theme tune to the A-Team).

So I took the call, read the brief, studied the subjects, realised they were all money people---not known for their hi jinx and general wacky personalities---and began to come out in hot sweats and palpitations. I immediately began to make excuses why I couldn't do it; at one point I even produced a fake note from my mother excusing me from caricature duties.

But the PR people were having none of it. They saw a way out and with their knuckles white with determination not to let me go, they pushed on.

They told me that they would be supplying the script. They had given up on humour as, it would appear, had their clients. So they had written what the clients had thought hysterical, and all I had to do was lay out the artwork. I sighed greatly at this encouraging news; when clients write the script for you then that is at least one thing they can't complain about, but still I wasn't completely taken in. I asked if I would have full artistic say on layout decisions. Yes they said. You are of course the professional whose advice we seek.

I ticked that one off. We discussed budget and they assured me that that was covered and dangled a juicy check in front of me. I salivated and accepted the job like the cartoon tart I am.

Once I had agreed, and they had finished fist pumping the air in silent elation, they proceeded to tell me what the client wanted; I produced the rough caricature layouts and the PR company sent these off to the clients.
After a few days I became acutely aware that something big was about to happen. Was it the darkening of the sky's? Was it the baromatic change in air pressure or was in the sound of a computer groaning as something exceedingly large was attempting to arrive via its back portal? The Accountants, it would appear, had written back.

The accompanying cover note---from the PR company---stated that within the attached file were a pointers from the client. I knew things didn't bode well when I had to enlist the services of an e-forklift truck to extract this monolithic 400GB tome; in all honesty if I had printed it off it would've put the entire set of Game of Thrones to shame.
'FEW'

When I pointed out about the artistic direction agreement we had made and how I would have final say, they came out with the usual 'Ah if it was only up to us we would green light it right away'.

Don't get me wrong, I fully understand that a client may want a few important changes made, that's why we submit roughs. But I also expect the PR company to let the client know what is a reasonable demand and an unreasonable demand. Changing the hair colour to a lighter shade of blond is acceptable. Making them a little taller would've been a reasonable amendment, but turning a little overweight, be-speckled, snotty faced accountant into Brad Pitt was not.

Anyway we too'd and froo'd with memo after memo and whittled down their requests into something more like Lord of the Rings and I proceeded to produce the page roughs. Now here I felt I was on more solid ground. Here, I felt, the PR company would say to the client 'Look this guy has been producing comic pages for a long time and has worked with some very big names in the business. You don't need to pick or interfere, he has this under control'

That's what they should've said. What ever they did say had nothing to do with that because back came what can only be described as the Encyclopaedia Britannica of emails. These jolly little accountants and management demagogues decided that fiddling figures was no longer enough for them. They had decided, between waking up in their stockbroker belt houses that morning and seeing my layouts, that they were now eminently qualified cartoonists.

A few more emails whizzed and fizz-banged around the Internets' ether and a few choice words and hard decisions were made. Eventually and within budget---their budget because no way was the money they coughed up ever going to pay for the constant re-draws, nit-picking, unreasonable demands and endless minor changes that they wanted, ever going to pay for the time I wasted placating them---but the cartoon was eventually completed and emailed over.

I have no idea what their clients made of the finished job, all I know is that although their budget was on target, mine was way under the hours worked in relation to the price paid.

But then we don't draw cartoons to make money. No cartoonist EVER draws to make money. We start out with that plan but somehow the client and their endless meddling and pointless changes soon scuppers that dream.

Anyway. Having heard me describe some of the pain barriers I hit, here the finished page.

Enjoy...some one's got to.


On Friday we have part II of the Brabbles & Boggitt story that I'm submitting to publishers, comic European Bande Dessinee publishers. Next Wednesday I'll be showing you some pages from a new comic I've been asked to create characters for. So please come back for more of the same.

If you like what you see, and want to see more, then please sign up to my email list and have every blog notification sent direct to your email box and don't miss a single post ever again.

I sincerely hope you enjoyed this post. If you did then please share it like a demented sharing person and keep on coming back for more of the same, and a whole lot besides.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Comicbook Submission---Brabbles & Boggitt Part I

New Submission work!

I wont be sending this submission off to the big five US syndicates, this time the project is going to a plethora of English speaking comic publishers and magazines and then to the French, Dutch and Belgian market.

Brabbles & Boggitt, for those with a long memory and who can remember the graphic novel I serialised on here a couple of years back, are two little travellers who roam through the land of Once Upon a Time, retelling and reliving the old fairy tales and folklore stories of yore, but with a modern day twist.

Brabbles is a ridiculously over confident yellow mouse who can only see the stellar brilliance of his own way. He has a million and one get rich quick schemes, all of which fail in a million and one spectacularly ways and result in his and Boggitt's removal from town while being covered in tar and feathers.

Boggitt, the doom and gloom caterpillar, is his travelling companion. It is his job to keep Brabbles on the straight and narrow and to curtail his get rich quick schemes to a minimum. Neither of which he
manages with anything approaching aplomb. His next best bet is to go along with Brabbles' schemes and try an minimalise the damage, which he largely does, but not enough to avoid their outward journey while covered in tar and feathers.

The tale I will be sending out is titled the Blue Elves and the Shoemakers; a tale about a break away splinter group of Elves who are trying to fund the hostile take over of the King of the Mountain Elves monopoly on the Porridge mines (the key food to the Elven peoples---He who rules the Porridge, rules the people). To do this they need to get every new traveller who comes through this town to open up a cobblers' shop which they then run from the back and take all the profits.

The Blue Elves and the Shoemakers is a tale of sweat-shops, pressure groups, hostile takeovers, kidnapping, big business, local politics and out-of-control monarchy at its grubby worst. All my tales, as I've said above, take well known stories, fairy tales and folklore and give them a modern day twist, but through the eyes of an over confident yellow mouse and his doom and gloom caterpillar travelling buddy.

Part one today; come back next Friday and every Friday after for eight whole weeks. Who knows, I may even go further. Especially if its popular.

Enjoy

Next Wednesday its more about my caricature business. This time it'll be about the production of a commercial comic page for a company's annual financial report that I got asked to do. Still caricatures, but this time coloured in Photoshop. Hope to see you then.

If you like what you see, and want to see more, then please sign up to my email list and have every blog notification sent direct to your email box and don't miss a single post ever again.

I sincerely hope you enjoyed this post. If you did then please share it like a demented sharing person and keep on coming back for more of the same, and a whole lot besides.





Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Caricature Commissions II

Well last weeks post on my personal cartoons went down well. People I hardly know---who had found my post on Facelessbook, Twitter, Instagram ect---just came up to me and told me how much they enjoyed it.

Well it's always nice to hear that my work and blog posts are hitting home and getting noticed in places I never even knew they were. And through the power of people sharing my posts, even more are finding our little corner of the web.

Okay, so this week, as promised, I'm going to be showing you some stage sections of a couple of caricatures I've been commissioned to do lately.

I would like to say that I'll make this a regular feature but the nature of caricature commissions is that they are very sporadic; Christmas time being it's most busy. So maybe more around that time..who knows.

But that aside the first one was for a chap called Mark who was having one of those 'landmark Birthdays'---his 60th I believe--- and worked as a JCB digger operator. He loved his job and his little dog, was a tea lover and went away in his caravan whenever possible.

I always ask for as much information as possible when producing these caricature commissions and I work on getting as much detail in as possible. Below are a few of the stages involved in this particular caricature commission.


The first stage is to light-box the accepted rough through to some heavy stock watercolour paper. I trace it through because there are fewer lines to cover over with the water colours later on. This means I'm able to build more subtle layers.


Then it's onto the masking fluid. Normally I will mask the whole image area off and allow the large sky washes to find all their little crevasses and cracks, but in this illustration the sky was fairly high up in the picture so I just spot masked the image.



Next I scrape away the masking fluid---after the sky is put down and it has dried---then I lay the basic colour washes. I always use Windsor & Newton watercolours and sometimes mix it with Windsor & Newton Gouache. Sometimes, and particularly in this caricature commission, I am given colour schemes to work with and with this particular caricature they were largely muted tones. So I chose to pump up the colour by making the JCB lighter.


From this point onwards I build up the layers, one by one; making sure the colours don't clash and have an over all balance.

Finally I start to build up the areas that wont have any pen and ink outlines, like the countryside scene behind.

Although you can't see it in this picture, I placed sheep in the field, simply by dotting them with blobs of white gouache.



Then comes the final stage; the outline finished inks and signature. Then it's packaged up and sent out to my customer. In this case, Mark's wife who commissioned it as a birthday gift idea.

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And now, another caricature tutorial...my God, I spoil you!

Next up came Raymond and another 60th birthday gift.

Raymond loved to wander around Radyr Woods---a local beauty spot to him---mess around on his boat, play the saxophone, dress up as a pirate (oh yes he did) and fish. Oh and he had an unfortunate incident once with a low bridge while not looking where he was going.

Like the previous caricature commission I light boxed the pencils through, masked off the image and laid down the basic washes; once again with Windsor & Newton.


The basic washes in this picture were a lot more involved and needed a little more definition.


Next came the building up of the layers, especially the face. In Raymond's case he had a face for caricaturists to die for.


Once all the layers were down it was time to work on the outline. With my caricatures I like to give the outer lines a bold, thick look and do all the fine details with a dip pen and nib. I use Windsor & Newton black India ink for all my outline work and a Daler Rowney No. 1 Daylon Brush.


Then it's in with the dip pen line work. This is ideal for all the subtle shading, cross-hatching that accentuate the folds in the clothing; it also works well on the distance stuff like the bridge and rocks; the grass and fine tree detail.
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 Then it's the final stage and sign it and dispatch it to the client.

Et voila! Another look over my shoulder at how I work. I hope you enjoyed it.

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It is worth mentioning at this point that I am always open to caricature commissions. All I need is a few good clear and preferably close up photos of the person you would like caricatured and as much information about them as to make their painting as personal as possible
They make ideal Birthday, wedding, anniversary, retirement, Christmas and special occasion gift ideas and are always very well received.
They are produced in high quality watercolour paints and placed onto the best, hardest wearing watercolour paper.
For more details and prices, please feel free to email me from the 'Contact Me' page above where I will be more than happy to answer any of your questions.

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On Friday don't miss the first page of the new Brabbles & Boggitt tale. This, like the Tales from 'Toonsville comic strip, will run every week with snippets of my thoughts on the story and the processes and techniques involved. So please do come back and keep on coming back; and while you're at it, take a look around the site at all the other things on offer.

If you like what you see, and want to see more, then please sign up to my email list and have every blog notification sent direct to your email box and don't miss a single post ever again.

I sincerely hope you enjoyed this post. If you did then please share it like a demented sharing person and keep on coming back for more of the same, and a whole lot besides.

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Next Comic Strip Submission---Pixy Wood

Well, here we go again. Well almost!

No sooner is one comic strip submission winging it's way over to the good old US of A than another idea is creeping like ivy across my drawing board and coalescing into a new idea.

Now this doesn't mean I don't think Tales from Toonsville has a cat in hells chance of selling, quite the opposite. I wouldn't have produced it if I didn't think it would have as good a chance as any other, but as I said in a previous post: 'This doesn't say you have no faith in the one you've just dispatched, it's just a way I have found to keep the hope alive and the odds my favour: the more I produce, the more they see my name. And the more they recognise my work the more likely they are to pay it even closer attention. And that, my friends, is more then half the battle'.

But that said, every time I complete a strip I can't see me ever creating one that I love so much. You see, I immerse myself in my art and ideas and every pencil stroke or scratch from the dip pen sees me imagining myself doing this for a living.

I guess I just love cartooning that much.


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Over the past week or two,  I've been uploading to Instagram a lot of close ups of the panel work from my new strip, and I thought it would be nice to both post some of them here and talk a little bit about the new idea.

Pixy Wood, the name of the new proposed comic strip, has been with me for many years in one form or another. It was originally based on my grandfather's amazing tales of the Little People---the little spirits of his native Ireland---and when I was old enough to draw with any confidence I started to work up these characters.

Over the years they have grown and developed: been reinvented and redrawn in so many formats.


Pixy Wood (yes I know I've spelled it wrong, it was a conscious decision) is a cross fantasy/folklore strip that has, in it's time, been a children's novel, a picture book. A graphic novel and been through several incarnations as a comic strip. In fact when I was last attempting to sell an idea to the top five syndicates, Tribune Media Services showed it some real interest and in a personal letter I was told it was voted down by just one vote. So Pixy Wood could very well have been a staple in newspapers since the late 1990's. But it wasn't to be.

But now I have resurrected the strip, given it a new direction, repositioned and tightened up the personality and character traits, brought a few new characters in and changed completely the strips format.

Where as Pixy Wood always used to be a gag a day strip based on the daily comings and goings of a bunch of eccentric woodland spirits, it has now morphed into a docu-soap with longer stories being broken up by smaller ones before returning to the larger tale again.

There are a few stories being dealt with in the first 30 or so strips that'll make up this syndicate submission package. 


Dram O'Mara and Zymurgy P Lonnegan
Over the weeks that I will be showing them here you will hear of stories as odd as the Egg of Thritsella, the giant Eagle; Eejit Hunting Season; the 4:30 ant bus and the annual Pooka bake-off.

Pixy Wood has always been a vehicle for the part of my brain that deals with the fantastical and magical and the part that creates stories that wont fit into any other genre or strip idea I may have.

Oh and for the sheer hell of it, here's a few more snippets from the next comic strip submission to the big five US syndicates.














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Now onto part two of this blog.


I had originally intended to run the serialisation of a Sleepy Hamlet story over the next five to seven weeks and illustrate it. Unfortunately I have just discovered that under the rules of Kindle Singles, none of the stories they publish can have been published or posted anywhere else; they have to be original pieces of work, so sadly I cannot do anything about that for now as I wish to submit this tale to their editors.

However I may serialise the first three chapters of my already published novel the Night of the Village Idiots which is available on Amazon to download now. I will, of course, illustrate that as well. But that is for the future.

But for now you will have to put up with me bringing forward an idea I originally had planned for sometime around June/July.

Brabbles & Boggitt are not new characters to this blog as anyone with a very long memory will remember. I published an entire 46 page tale here in weekly segments a couple of years back. and I've recently written another story that I wish to pitch to comic book publishers around the world.

But in the meantime, and just like I did with the Tales from Toonsville strip, I will be serialising each of the eight comic pages that go toward making a pitch. So once again, you get first shot at the feature before anyone else...lucky old you!

Anyway, to wrap up this lengthy post I'd like to invite you all back next Friday for Part I of the Brabbles & Boggitt tale title the Blue Elves & the Shoemakers.



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Next Wednesday I will be taking you through the process of producing a watercolour caricature. I've done one of these before, but seeing as it was very popular and you do like my tutorials, I'm going to do another one for you, then we'll have more tutorial work, talk of other comics projects, more sketchbook corner, new comic book and comic strip submissions and..and...well it's just all too much but very much fun indeed, and it's all here on your Diary of a Cartoonist & Writer. 

Please sign up to my email list and have every blog notification sent direct to your email box and don't miss a single post ever again..



I sincerely hope you enjoyed this post. If you did then please share it like a demented sharing person and keep on coming back for more of the same, and a whole lot besides.