Friday, April 30, 2010

Things to remember when creating a cartoon strip - 1

  1. English comics read from left to right - this means that the character with the final say in the strip should usually be on the right...
  2. Always do a thumbnail sketch first (see 1. - DOH!)...
  3. Take your time. One full strip will take at least a couple of hours to produce in the beginning...
  4. Write in quiet, draw however you feel comfortable...
  5. You are the artist - at the end of the day, it's your creation, and you alone decide if it's worthy...

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Inking Test

In preparation for a webcomic, I tried inking various character studies using different methods. Top left with a copic brushpen, top middle with a PITT brush pen, top right with a papermate nylon, bottom with a PITT Fine. all are outlined using an old PITT brush pen with a bad tip.

In all fairness, I can't see much difference. The PITT gives a finer line than the others, but that's about it. Obviously, the inks differ, but in usage terms - nothing in it. I found this when looking at fountain pens - in most cases, there is little to no difference in the output - just how the pen feels when you're using it. It's a valuable lesson. As I'm using normal paper, I may go back to the Rotring Art Pen...

Friday, April 23, 2010

More DS pictures...

3 quick cartoons taken from the DS, all using the DS Colors software. All are in their raw format. Above is a little scientist..

Here is a youngster in a parka taking a walk in the country,

..and here is Frankie (again). What I've noticed is that because I have only a small resolution to work with (512 pixels square), I'm having to draw cartoons with more geometric shapes for them to be successful. But this is what you can do with them once they're vectorized...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Can't afford a cintiq? How about drawing with your DS?

I've always wanted a cintiq, but I've never been able to afford one. Recently, I discovered that some people use their Nintendo DS to create art, so I decided to find out more...

For those who still don't know, a Nintendo DS is a pocket sized games console, that has a touch / pressure sensitive screen it uses for input. Put that together with some wonderfully talented coders & hardware hackers, and the result is the DS Homebrew Scene - a collection of applications and games written by enthusiasts, and freely available to the public. To run these applications, your DS has to have a plugin memory card containing the applications you want to run.

One of these applications is DS Colors, a simple sketching program. It has a limited resolution, no undo feature (yet) and no layers. but it's pressure sensitive, which means you can vary the size / opacity of your strokes, and it has a nifty playback feature, which can be used as a sort of undo (play to the point you wish to carry on from), and which can also be used to resize the picture using a nice java application.

Enough talk - lets look at the results.
This is Frankie - a toy rabbit with a teddy bear's ears (it's a long story). This little character was drawn on my DS using colors, and here is Frankie after being vectored and coloured...

In short, this could be a great way to create cartoons, so I'll let you know how it turns out, but for more information on DS Colors, go to

Friday, April 16, 2010

The state of UK Web Comics

As anyone who reads this blog will know (if there is anyone out there :) ), I'm a amatuer cartoonist. I've been interested in cartoons for as long as I can remember, but it's only recently that I've become active as a cartoonist. When I got started over a year back, I started checking out web comics, and I've come to notice one important fact - most of the best web comics are American.

Why is this?

The UK has enormous talent, our cartoonists are some of the best in the world, so why are the UK web comics (with a few exceptions - don't expect me to name names) so poor? Is it because of the size of our beloved isles (less cartoonist per square metre), or our work ethic? I can't believe it's our sense of humour - british comedy is widely recognized as being some of the best in the world.

Something has to be done to correct the balance, so perhaps I should put my money where my mouth is and do my own. I've been thinking about it for a while now, so we'll see what develops...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ultravox ROCK!

It's official - the guys are back and they can STILL rock!

If you're an 80's kid (like moi), and you know anything about the synth rock / pop scene, then you'll know about Ultravox, the british band responsible for the grandest piece of synth rock/opera ever produced - I am of course, talking about the mighty Vienna.

Well, I couldn't make any live gigs when they were at their height in the 80's, and would you believe it, I couldn't make any of their live gigs when they reformed last year. But now however, I have in my hands the live cd/dvd of their reformation tour "Return to Eden" Ultravox Fan Site

Midge Ure - Guitar/Keyboards/Vocals
Chris Allen - Bass/Keyboards/Vocals
Billie Currie - Keyboards/Viola
Warren Caan - Drums, Electronic Percussion/Vocals

The band always have been a great inspiration to me. Warren Cann is my 2nd favourite canadian, and my all time drumming hero (yes Warren, I picked up sticks because of you). You guys changed my life forever, and I am forever in your debt.

If you're a synth rock/pop fan, do yourself a favour - get the album/dvd, and enjoy!

RainyEyes - Lips

Another commission piece. If you compare the previous "RainyEyes", I hope you'll notice that my style has progressed significantly over the last few months - let's hope it continues to get better...

Friday, April 09, 2010

Crash of the titles... :)

Got home last night, to find my lovely wife shoving my tea into my waiting hands with the phrase...

"'Hurry up - we're going to the pictures tonight!"

Turns out she had made plans for us to go and see "Clash of the Titans" at the local cinema, so off we trotted. After taking our seats at the back of the cinema (don't get any ideas you lot, I'm a good boy ;) ), we settled down with our Roy Orbison cast off 3d specs, and watched the show.

Oh dear.

Hollywood is going through a phase right now called "lets do a remake of an existing film ,rather than think up some original idea for ourselves", and "Clash - the remake" suffers terribly from this sickening syndrome. It's almost like having a film making recipe

Take one former Hollywood blockbuster
Remove any hint of original storytelling
Cast "Top" actors (i.e. those that are currently popular, or cheap)
Add characters / monsters that could be made into "cool" action figures
Liberally add CGI effects (optional)
Stir until grey, reheat and serve on a bed of good old fashioned spiel.

Former recipes include Battlestar Galactica, Planet of the Apes.

Ray Harryhousen is still the man - If you watch one "Clash of the Titans" this year, make it his - you'll be less disappointed.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010


Zoo time...

Went to my local zoo over the easter holiday, and it inspired some cartoons. I'm going to post some raw cartoon ideas, and see how they develop over the next week - during the process, I'll post some of the stages - here is a quick concept sketch (with adjustments) - it's a bit raw, so please forgive me...

This will probably be redrawn, as I'm not that happy with it, but we'll see...