Friday, August 25, 2006

Oktoberfest approacheth

Summer is bordered by Spring and Memorial and Labor Day...and by Cinco De Mayo and Oktoberfest.

I like the food elements of those last two festivities very much. (I can still taste the large steins of full-bodied beer and freshly-roasted chicken at Oktoberfest in Munich from a trip there over ten years ago.) There's no need to talk about how good food at Cinco De Mayo celebration can be. Once, I mixed German beer with Mexican food. Seemed like a good idea at the time...

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Original Art

This card was created for a client and it fits today's subject because I didn't simply email the card art to him. I printed the card on heavy card stock and mailed it to him. (Not an uncommon request...but it happens less often these days.)

Yesterday, after blathering on here about how changes in technology have affected the drawing of cartoons, I became nostalgic for the days of old. (A time stretching from the era of "golden age" cartoons to not very long ago.) There were no digital files, just ink, pencil and possibly some paint on paper. It was simple and seemed closer to real art back then.

Does an emailed series of 1's and 0's, digitized from a scan of Charles Schulz's Peanuts have anywhere near the same inspirational ability as a large piece of bristol that he personally splashed with jet black india ink? I say nay.

Most cartoonists draw digitally now. So does original art even exist anymore?
Increasingly, it only exists if a client asks for it.

In my case, (where we're not talking about collectible art, like that of Schulz's), some clients simply want a large piece of art for their homes or offices, so a nicely printed copy will do. With some of the new types of printers with 'solid' or laser-bonded inks, you can provide a long-lasting, almost archival print.

Some clients however, are more discerning. They want an actual drawing, with the sketches in blue pencil or graphite visible in areas, and also the look and feel of the ink on the bristol board. They are willing to pay more for it and they honestly appreciate the art itself when it is done.

Despite my regular use and high appreciation of digital tablets, I agree with some of this thinking. Looking at an original piece of art -- especially one created by another cartoonist -- is fascinating. Because of this, I have some originals from some of my idols and I go to see cartoon art on exhibition. You can see some of the writing and drawing process. There are wording changes or whited-out see the abandonment of one position or facial expression for a better one. It's a lesson almost as good as sitting right next to the cartoonist at the time of creation.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The evolution of craft

This is my Dad, to a "T". Seriously. He hates computers and the Internet.

I just had a brief discussion about new technology with a fellow cartoonist, (Mark Anderson), and we introduced each other to new gizmos/tools, (or write-offs). So, I thought I'd expand on that subject here and detail how the "craft" of cartooning has changed with technology.

I used to be a purist, with all my work done in india ink on paper. But with client deadlines overwhelming at times, I decided to try a digital drawing tablet for inking over my scanned sketches in Photoshop...and later, after becoming more comfortable with the hand-eye coordination differences, sometimes sketching into Photoshop, with no scanning.

I traded my first tablet in for a
Wacom Intuous 3 a couple years ago, when it debuted on the market. The main innovation over the well-liked Intuos 2 is that you can program the buttons and touch strips to zoom in and out, increase/decrease your brush/eraser diameter...and also handle functions like switching among brush types & paint bucket, and stepping backward and forward in time with your non-drawing hand. It all becomes a big time saver, in addition to the time and materials saved by drawing digitally.

Recently I've been drawing some things without sketches, because with quick steps back in time possible, every stray stroke can be removed easier than erasing. It's scary in a way how the process has evolved for many cartoonists, (as well as animators and illustrators.) Still, if a client wants frameable, original art, then I break out the india ink and bristol -- and happily oblige them.

The other half of cartooning, the ideas, (the more important half, I think), hasn't evolved at all with technology. The only innovation worth mentioning is Microsoft Word...and it isn't much help in actually finding the spark of humor or cleverness needed to fuel a good cartoon.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Back from vacation...

My apologies for the lengthy time between posts. I was on vacation for a week and for a week or two prior to that, found myself swamped with client work and staying up until 2 AM most nights to meet deadlines...

But I will do my best to make up for it and post regularly this week. Hope your summer is winding down nicely.