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Good cartoons and illustrations

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Good cartoons and illustrations

Postby ruggie » Thu 10 Sep 2015 19:44 GMT

I did think about picking up Kay's 'any cartoonists here?' thread, but that's been dormant for a year, and I wanted to broaden the scope a little.

I'm talking about the drawings themselves here, not the themes behind them, which allows me to group cartoons and book illustrations together.

It seems to me that the 20th century saw much the same changes in illustration as those it saw in writing. The ponderous latin-inspired nested clauses of Dickens gave way to the stripped-down English of Shaw, Orwell, and the writers we are used to today. Hergé introduced the clean, simple lines of the Tintin strips. The ugly, childish Victorian cartoons evolved into a range of styles, from the grotesque but dynamic caricatures drawn by Gerald Scarfe to the simple but sometimes weirdly stylised characters in Dilbert or Simpsons cartoons, or the work of English cartoonists such as Carl Giles and Matt.

It is one thing to prune your drawing in the same way as you would your writing, removing any line whose existence adds nothing to the viewer's understanding, but you still need to convey mood and action. Not all modern illustrators manage this, but I try hard to understand how the good ones do so, and try to do the same myself. It's not easy.

Can anyone pass on anything they have learned on the subject, or can we just brainstorm a bit in the hope that we'll come up with some guidelines?
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Re: Good cartoons and illustrations

Postby ruggie » Fri 2 Oct 2015 19:32 GMT

Steve Bright (Brighty) has very kindly and encouragingly answered my comment on part 4 of this Expat Interview: http://britishexpat.com/interviews/expat-interview-steve-bright-4/. I'm not directly interested in drawing caricatures, but understanding the trade must be a help towards drawing comic book characters, which are very similar to what I want to draw as illustrations to my books - in fact, I am even wondering whether to try creating a story as a strip cartoon.

What drove me to try digging up and improving on my drawing skills was the experience of trying to hire and direct a professional illustrator. Apart from the fact that none of my books has yet earned enough to cover the cost, I have not found an artists who draws what I visualise.
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Re: Good cartoons and illustrations

Postby Kay » Sat 3 Oct 2015 10:33 GMT

I know what you mean about trying to get someone else to draw what you visualise. If you can explain it properly to them, you could probably be able to rough it out yourself.

I too could never find exactly what I wanted, and didn't have the money to have bespoke artwork created, so I also decided to DIY. There's been a lot to learn but the great bonus is that it's turned into a very rewarding hobby.

We're hoping to move house soon and there'll be more space for both of us to do more hobby activities. Mind you, there'll be plenty of painting of another sort required. But I'll not mind that as long as I'm fit enough. It's still a creative activity as long as you're not painting everything magnolia. After over a year in rented accommodation, I plan to splash out with some colour!

When you say you'd like to illustrate your own books, do you mean the Grandpa Mike ones for kids or your other books?

BTW, if anyone wants to find out more about Mike and his books, we also did an interview with him.
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Re: Good cartoons and illustrations

Postby ruggie » Mon 5 Oct 2015 15:05 GMT

I'll be interested to see what you come up with when you choose colour schemes for your house. Many of the paint manufacturers have huge palettes to choose from these days, so you may find yourself whiling away quite a few hours before you make up your mind.

In my bachelor days, I painted a mural on one wall of the living room in my flat, and later replaced it with a huge chart of the English Channel which I bought from the shop that sold real navigation charts.

The first place that I'll insert my own illustrations (and cover images) will certainly be the Grandpa Mike books, both completely new ones and revamped old ones (probably regrouped as larger volumes). I notice that quite a few of the small, specialist publishers seem keen to find author/illustrators.
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Re: Good cartoons and illustrations

Postby Kay » Tue 6 Oct 2015 06:08 GMT

Yes! I'm excited about having a load of blank canvases to work on. I'd love to do some trompe l'oeuil work too. And a muriel (sic) LOL!. I'd quite like to paint fake doors into other worlds - like a hobbit door half way up the stairs...

After a year of magnolia walls and beige carpets, I'll go wild!

Living in rented accommodation has really stifled my creativity so I'll probably go OTT when we get our own place again.

One thing I've already decided is that the dining room will be made into a kitchen. For heaven's sake, if you're not doing official "entertaining" who needs to give over a big room to sit for an hour each day to eat yer tea? And I thought it might be quite fun to paint one of the walls in blackboard paint.

I don't really mind what crazy thing I do to the walls with paint. After all, it'll just take a couple of big buckets of magnolia to undo it.
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Re: Good cartoons and illustrations

Postby Kay » Tue 6 Oct 2015 06:10 GMT

Sorry, I got carried away with ideas for our "new" house. (It's just a 1930s terrace.)

I'm interested to hear that publishers are keen on illustrated works these days. That's definitely something that appeals to me.
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Re: Good cartoons and illustrations

Postby ruggie » Tue 6 Oct 2015 17:06 GMT

Not so much that they're keen on illustrated works - I was searching among publishers of stuff that is usually illustrated - but that they were happy to receive text complete with illustrations by the author (but warned that they might still choose to use a different illustrator if they wanted to).
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Re: Good cartoons and illustrations

Postby ruggie » Thu 7 Apr 2016 11:07 GMT

Well, I've been round the loop a couple of times now. I learned basic tablet skills and managed to produce a few pics that my Facebook friends liked for various reasons, but I still can't draw a smooth line where I want to using a small tablet. I keep getting the orientation of my hand wrong - that bit is easier with a finger or stylus directly on a touch screen. Then I discovered erasable ballpoints and did the initial work that way before scanning and finishing off with the tablet. Now I'm back to using the tablet from scratch, switching furiously between white and black as I go along. The result reminds me of the scraperboard stuff my kids did at school. If you want to see some examples, check out the Grandpa Mike page on Facebook - or I could upload a few examples here if it won't take too much BE data storage space.

Not all the FB fans of my drawings are family members or 'live' friends, but I'd like feedback from people who aren't afraid to criticise...
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Re: Good cartoons and illustrations

Postby Kay » Thu 7 Apr 2016 11:40 GMT

It sounds interesting, Mike. Feel free to give us a link to your Facebook page. We're happy enough for those kind of links from old-timers. It's just wannabe spammers and self-promoters we're down on. :D

When you say "small tablet", what size is small?
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Re: Good cartoons and illustrations

Postby ruggie » Fri 8 Apr 2016 07:23 GMT

By a small tablet I mean the one we both use, not the pro tablets that can be as big as my PC screen. Here is a link to a recent pic on my FB page, to show what I'm talking about when I say it looks like scraperboard.
https://www.facebook.com/601935509900239/photos/pb.601935509900239.-2207520000.1460099711./1037233166370469

And here is one that I drew with a ballpoint, then scanned.

https://www.facebook.com/601935509900239/photos/pb.601935509900239.-2207520000.1460100084./970183909742062/
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