Sunday, April 26, 2009

Doodle Penance: "comic freedom poetry"

The week's "Doodle Penance" has to be a solo effort, because Mike has other things on his mind. But I'm going to supplement my little doodle with a few selections from other cartoonists.

That's because when I read this week's search term — "comic freedom poetry" — a little slideshow started in my mind: it was something like "Stereotypical Comics Hippies I Have Seen Outside the Undergrounds," and featured the following images.

First, of course, Chester Williams, a minor character from out of Alan Moore's run on Swamp Thing. Chester's the guy who finds one of Swamp Thing's hallucinogenic tubers in the swamp...

(That's a page drawn by Stan Woch, and collected in A Murder of Crows.)

Chester's a pretty sympathetic guy, even if he's not the smartest or most upright of characters. I'd be willing to argue that you can tell a lot about a cartoonist's outlook from the way he treats his aging hippies. Faded idealism is a vulnerable sort of personality, and some cartoonists won't treat it kindly. Early signs of Frank Miller's cynicism, for example, are obvious in his handling of this all-business peacenik in Ronin.

(You'll probably want to click that to enlarge it.)

And of course you'd know that these hippies belonged to the satirical and grotesque world of early Dan Clowes, even if he hadn't signed the title panel.

All of this leads to my own "freedom poetry" doodle. I'm not sure what this says about me as a cartoonist, though.

Maybe I'm trying to say that freedom really isn't the secret to good poetry?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Stereoscopic Cosmic Ukulele

I was so taken with our friend Ben Towle's Kirby-style ukulele (in turn inspired by our own post on Kirbytech) that I wanted to fiddle with the image a little bit myself.

What I've done here is turned it into another stereoscopic 3-D image. If you stare at the picture below and let your eyes relax -- or look at it as if you're looking at something farther away -- the two halves of the image should swim together to assemble a third composite image, which will be in 3-D.

Some people have an easier time seeing the small version of this image, but depending on your screen size or screen resolution, you may also be able to get the full-size image to assemble. It'll be pretty dramatic, I think. Click on it and give it a try.

You may also find it more dramatic if it looks like it's toppling towards you:

The hardest part of creating this image was getting all of the fiddly extra parts of the uke outlined with my "angle-lasso" tool, so I could cut it free from the background. If you've got any questions on how I did this, please post 'em in the comments. I'm happy to offer preliminary tips, for what they're worth.

Update: I wanted to make sure Ben could see what I'd done, so I goofed around with the "Selective Color" feature long enough to figure out how to make a proper red-green 3-D image. Ben, if you've got some spare 3-D glasses, click to enlarge this one!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Beaumont Fletcher, Critical Detective

Hey, here's another color portrait of one of our old characters. I mean, it's sort of a color portrait.

To find out what makes Beaumont Fletcher sweat, consult the comics sestina in your copy of Satisfactory Comics #6.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Doodle Penance: "shriveled folks in a comics kingdom"

Okay, maybe I didn't put as much thought into this week's "Doodle Penance" as I should have. I'm not sure.

Someone came to our site looking for "shriveled folks in a comics kingdom," and that googler didn't stay put, because it's a matter we haven't really addressed up to this point.

And so we set about to address it. My own thought process went something like this:

"A comics kingdom? Where could that be? I'm pretty sure Papa Smurf isn't the king of the Smurfs. Babar is a king, but are those books really comics? And Doom is definitely the monarch of Latveria, I don't think I've ever heard anyone refer to Latveria as a kingdom. Maybe Wakanda, then?"

I'm sure you'll recognize Ulysses Klaw, there, all Ahab-like, getting his arm shriveled or withered by whatever's glowing in the foreground. (My guess? Radioactive vibranium. That stuff will eff you up.) Later on, of course, he'd transform himself into a bright-red, anosmic being of living sound. This is sort of his origin moment. But you knew that.

Mike? I'm guessing you won't have drawn the same thing as me this time...

—Indeed not. But may I say DAMN? That's a fine doodle! I bow to you!

No, I haven't drawn the same thing as you. When I first saw the prompt, I thought of notably shriveled cartoon characters I've seen: Superman post-nuke in The Dark Knight Returns, a Kurt Wolfgang doodle in my sketchbook, the California Raisins...but none of these was sufficiently kingly. In the end, I did opt for at least one non-royal figure in homage to the Raisins, but mostly I took some beloved cartoon kings and shrank the (occasionally ample) flesh off their bones:
From left to right, that's Otto Soglow's Little King (the fabric of whose robe is gathered in folds on the floor since he no longer puffs it out with his customary girth); Walt Wallet from Gasoline Alley (shoehorned in here as the creation of cartoonist Frank King); Jack Kent's King Aroo, whose hair itself has shriveled (generating an uncanny family resemblance to the Hawaiian Punch mascot); and Grape Ape after too much exposure to the sun (my Raisin homage for bona fide shriveling).

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Skele-Tut's Trip in Space

I've made a little more progress on that promotional image. It's going slowly, but the work is mostly pretty fun.

This afternoon, I daubed a few digital shades onto our old pal Skele-Tut, who is still lost in space...

To find out what Skele-Tut is staring at, consult your copy of Elm City Jams #2.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

All Hail the King of Fleas!

I've been working on some color portraits of some of our old characters, for a piece of promotional material—nothing fancy, but sort of a fun way to spend some procrastination time.

I'm particularly happy with this image of the King of Fleas.

To find out more about the King of Fleas, you can consult your copy of Satisfactory Comics #5.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Doodle Penance: "to draw the triple constraint"

This week's "Doodle Penance" comes courtesy of a googler who was looking for "to draw the triple constraint." (I knew we'd wind up having to pay somehow for the penance we drew a couple of weeks ago.)

My doodle should more or less speak for itself. If you click it to enlarge it, you'll see my re-creation of the opening splash page from an issue of Mr. Miracle that featured "Kartuun the Complicator" and two guest stars from other worlds.

Mike? What have you got?


You may need to click to try to puzzle out the faint text. Or, hell, I'll just transcribe it here, with commentary:


Harry (thinking): Manacles...straitjacket...iron cage...Have I met my match at last??

Caption: A bad hand in a poker game with the DEVIL teaches Harry that it's a high-stakes hazard TO DRAW...THE TRIPLE CONSTRAINT!

The idea is that Harry lost a card game with Old Scratch and had to pay up not with cash or his soul but with a triple constraint he had to escape from or die trying (whereupon, presumably, his soul WOULD be forfeit to Old Scratch).

Don't ask me how manacles and straitjackets work at the same time. I was drawing in a damn hurry because I was needled by Isaac's snarkiness about timing. Mistakes were made. And no, I hadn't seen Isaac's design yet when I drew mine. This is how our minds work, apparently. Constraints of another kind...or ruts, if you like.

Monday, April 6, 2009

An Experiment with the Third Dimension

You know what just occurred to me?

In Photoshop, I often compose images in layers. I also often nudge those layers a little to the left or to the right, to get them to line up correctly.

The difference between left-eye perspective and right-eye perspective, in three-dimensional vision, is a shifting of elements in various "layers" to the left or the right.

It should be easy, then, to use Photoshop to compose rudimentary stereoscopic images.

I'm sure this has occurred to many, many people before me, but it felt like such an interesting idea that I decided to try it out.

This is obviously a clumsy doodle, but if you click to enlarge it, then sit back from your computer screen and relax (or diverge) your eyes, as if you were looking at something more distant, you ought to get a 3-D "composite" image between the two "ghost" pictures. You may actually have an easier time getting the images to overlap if you don't click to enlarge: less overlapping work for your eyes.

Give it a try and let me know what you think. It didn't take long to make that image (less than half an hour, from doodle to post). A better one wouldn't take a whole lot longer.

If you think it works, I can try to post a "step-by-step how-to" later this week.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Doodle Penance: "step by step how to draw funny easy tigers"

This week's "Doodle Penance" is a pretty specific request. Someone came to our site looking for "step by step how to draw funny easy tigers." Apparently a lot of people consult our site while they're playing Pictionary.

Seriously, people. We're good doodlers and everything, but the person you really want to consult about this kind of thing is Ed Emberley.

Nevertheless, I am always willing to provide a service to our reader(s). Let's see... What do tigers look like?

Okay. First step, as usual, is to make an S.

Then, make another, more different S.

Still with me? Add a consummate V and a couple of tipped-over Cs. (I said consummate!)

Perfect! Now all you have to do is draw the rest of the tiger!

After that, it would be a good idea to color your tiger. (Warning: images at that link are dangerously cute.)

No, no, no. Tigers don't come in grape flavor.

That's better. But it doesn't look like a very funny tiger, does it? Let me rethink this a little bit. I need a more funny tiger.

Okay, that's a better start. He sure looks funny. But remember: as I said a couple of weeks ago, spot blacks sell your drawing. (Mike implied the same thing quite a while back, too, now that I think of it.)

Now that's a funny tiger. If you don't recognize this fellow, you need to wean yourself off of that Disney pabulum and read yourself a book.

(Seriously, I could go on and on about differences between the Disney Pooh material and the Milne-Shepard books, but Tigger is one of the major differences. In the movies, he's a goofy, bouncy, older-brother figure, full of self-assurance and manic energy. In the books, he's the youngest creature in the Hundred-Acre Woods: so innocent of his own identity that he spends an entire story discovering what it is that tiggers prefer to eat. (The answer? Extract of malt, naturally.) When Tigger bounces someone in the books, it's with the sort of "I don't know why I acted out" energy that two-year-olds have, not with any sort of intentionality. But that's got nothing to do with how to draw him.)

Where was I? Oh, yes:

Mike? What have you got this week?

—Nothing as adorable as Tigger, I assure you! And I fear that what I came up with is more on the order of "step by step how to draw cute tabby cats" than "...funny easy tigers," so we'll have to let our would-be artists add the essentials to make the creature properly tigerish (more whiskers on the side of the face would help). However, I did at least avoid the temptation to pull a Bob Weber, Jr., as you did with step 4 up there (seriously: check out step 1 of Weber's "How to draw a cow" by clicking here. Step ONE, I tell you!!!). No, I offer genuine, nigh foolproof instructions on how to draw a recognizable striped feline out of eleven extremely basic shapes. You may want to click to enlarge the text, but I'm pretty sure the instructions are legible without the words:

PS: I'd never heard of Ed Emberley, but I seem to have adopted his method, more or less. Because I'm here to serve the people! Step by step! How to draw! Easy! I take the people at their word. (Unless the word is "funny." Or "tigers.")

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Happy April Fool's Day!

April Fool's Day has got to be my second-favorite holiday in the calendar. Or at least I love it in theory.

In practice, I don't get to play nearly as many pranks or to jink half as many japes as I'd like to. It's a drag sometimes to have to act like a responsible adult.

However, in the spirit of the day, let's see how long it takes Mike to notice this.

It's a colored version of his self-portrait from our fun Demonstration project.

Shh! Don't leave a comment. If you do, he'll get an email about it!