Friday, May 27, 2016

Rate Hawks

Howdy.

Here's the latest comic for Investing.com. This week's topic is the hawkish position taken by several officials at the Federal Reserve.

The team at Investing.com asked me to draw Janet Yellen (dressed as a bird keeper) standing on the lawn in front of the Federal Reserve Building and behind the Fed podium. On both hands, Yellen would have a hawk: one with the head of Stanley Fischer and the other with the head of William Dudley. In the background, I was asked to include three more hawks flying overhead with the names Harker, Bullard, and Kashkari.

Here's the layout sketch:

And here's the final:

Thoughts:

This one wasn't exactly a cake walk. Three characters is a lot for a one-day turnaround. I probably could have re-used older drawings of both Fischer and Yellen, but I decided to draw them from scratch. I guess I wanted the challenge. And I think it turned out pretty well. The composition isn't amazing, but I think the colors are strong and the caricatures are good.

That's about as much as I can ask for.

Until next week,

Cheers.


Friday, May 20, 2016

Investing.com: Oil be darned

Hullo. Here's the latest comic for Investing.com. This week's subject is about the partial recovery of oil prices.

Here's the layout:

And here's the final:


Not going to sugar coat it: This one was not so much fun. There was just a TON of stuff going on in this comic. Even re-using characters from older cartoons, this took me 10 hours. And, mostly because it's so busy, it's not my favorite comic. I know, that seems counter-intuitive coming from a guy who loves detail as much as I do, but there it is.

But, take a look at what happens when you take out everything in the foreground:


You get a thing I pretty much never draw: A landscape. And, what's more, not a terrible looking one, either. Kind of peaceful.

Until next week,

Cheers.


Friday, May 13, 2016

Investing.com: The Weight

Hullo!

Here's the latest financial comic for Investing.com. This week's subject is the market's effect on proposed interest rate hike.

The crew at Investing.com asked me to draw the following: Janet Yellen attempting to bench press a set of weights reading "0.75%" (the proposed interest rate). Preventing her from doing so would be two big bulls (the market). One was to be actually holding the barbells down and the other was to be sort of taunting Yellen with the "Oh no you don't" hand gesture.  I was also asked to include the words "FED Rates" on the wall in the background.

Here's the layout sketch:

And here's the final:

Thoughts:

I chose a different angle this time around. Typically, because time is so limited for these comics, I'll essentially draw the scene as a straight shot (with the camera on the same level as the characters). But this time the camera is raised up slightly and looking down at the scene. I figured a side shot might not work as well given that the barbells might block Yellen's face. Also, this angle seemed like it would be more interesting to look at.

I think it IS a more dynamic, interesting angle. But it was a lot more work to arrange and draw the scene this way. I'm not used to arranging things like this, so it doesn't come naturally or easily. And I'm still not completely sure I drew it convincingly. The bull in the white tank top, for instance: his head/face angle seems off.

Still, I think it was a good effort, and I'm going to make more of an effort in the future to try different angles and perspectives. Seems like a good skill to build up. Plus, I could use the practice.

Until next week,

Cheers.







Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Magazine Cover: Here We Have Idaho

Hello!

I was contacted a couple of months ago by the editor of a magazine called "Here We Have Idaho", which is put out by the University of Idaho and covers all things UI (academics, research, alumni, etc.). She asked if I would be interested in creating an illustration for the cover and I (of course) jumped at the opportunity.

Projects like this can begin from any number of starting points. Sometimes I'm asked to imagine ideas and concepts from scratch. In this case, the editor and art director already had a pretty solid idea and approach for the cover.

The idea was a map of the state of Idaho, drawn in a vintage style. The map would feature graphic elements/icons (drawn in that same style) representing articles within the issue covering a wide variety of current projects being spearheaded by various departments and colleges within the university. So the HWHI team already had the subject matter and a general style they wanted to employ.

As such, my job as the illustrator was twofold:

One: To create a set of concepts that distilled that idea into a style that fit with the goals of the issue.
Two: Once a concept was chosen from that set, draw that concept.

So, first things first: The concepts.

The word "vintage" can mean a lot of things. What era? Usually, when people say "vintage" they mean 1950s and 60s. But the word can refer to pretty much any time period before the one we're in right now. Since I'm a fan of mid-century aesthetics, I created two concepts that used some of the visual elements of design and illustration from that time and a third concept from earlier (20s and 30s).

Travel Poster: The style from these posters is oft-imitated these days. Perhaps a bit too much. But I can't resist the bold colors and stylized imagery of illustrators around that time. It has a built in nostalgia factor, even for a dude born well after these aesthetic trends went the way of the Cold War.

 Travel "Stickers": The design of the icons in this concept were based on those stickers people used to get when they traveled to various hotels. They'd stick them to suitcases and steamer trunks. They were badges of experience and always beautifully drawn and designed.

Textbook Diagrams and the 20s Map: Because old textbook diagrams are cool and so are 20s and 30s maps. Again, there's a kind of mood and gravitas built in to educational imagery from the past, even if the information being conveyed is complete malarkey.


The latter of the set of concepts was chosen, but sans letters or numbers indicating various parts or points of the icons. Because there were quite a few icons to be drawn, the final version took quite a bit of time to create. Each one had to be drawn in the same style with semi-muted colors and engraving-like shading lines. This isn't anything close to the style in which I draw naturally, so it was, at times, painstaking. Always fun, though.

And I think it turned out well:


Reflections: A great project, overall. Drawing outside my typical style/approach was a challenge, but a fun one. I think (well, hope, anyway) that the illustration has the vintage feel we were going after. The editor and art director liked it, which is always great. The only icon I don't like is the cow. For some reason, I never think my drawings of cows look right. My favorite icon is the geyser. I don't know why. Because I said so. That's why.

Cheers.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Investing.com: Devaluation Evaluation

Hullo!

Here's the latest financial comic for Investing.com. This week's subject is volatility in the currency markets and a concerted effort by multiple governments to devalue their own currencies.

The crew at Investing.com asked me to draw a steep downhill track. Racing on that track would be China President Xi Jinping, Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Glenn Stevens, EU President Mario Draghi, and Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda. They were to be racing toward a finish line reading "Bottom" and in the afore-mentioned order. I was also asked to draw a weight attached to Kuroda's leg, symbolizing the G7 decision that has hamstrung Japan's currency control efforts. This, it should be noted, was all explained to me. I'm not this well-informed on monetary news in real life.

Here's the layout sketch:

And here's the final:

Thoughts:

I'm pretty happy with the caricatures and the face shading on this one. I think they all look pretty solid and I think Stevens looks particularly good. I feel so so about the composition. The slanted track and the number of characters (and my decision to use a profile view of the scene) necessitated smaller-sized characters than I would have preferred.

 I'm not thrilled about the big, green field. It seems a little too simple, but with four caricatures I didn't have time for anything too elaborate. Even re-using a background from an old comic, this puppy took me 11 hours. Overall: Hard work, but I think it's a solid result.

Until next week!

Cheers.



Friday, April 29, 2016

Friday, April 22, 2016

Investing.com: Bullish Market

Howdy!

After a week-long hiatus (I was in New Hampshire for an illustration show), here's the latest comic for Investing.com. This week's topic has to do with a recent upturn in markets, likely related to recent decisions by Fed Chair Janet Yellen.

The team at Investing.com asked me to draw a new version of an older comic. The original had Xi Jinping riding a bear galloping toward the New York Stock Exchange on a gloomy day. I was asked to create a new version with Janet Yellen riding a muscular bull clad in a green shirt toward the NYSE. Walking away from the NYSE would be the bear from the original comic (looking sad and tired). I was also asked to change the weather from gloomy to sunny.

Here's the sketch:

And here's the final:

Thoughts:

Not too much to jaw about on this one. I'm still enjoying the more gestural coloring and shading. In this comic it ends up looking kind of chunky, like I used a ragged chisel tip marker. But I don't mind it. I like the more expressive and even abstracted approach. I feel like I've been so controlled in my technique for so long that I'll probably enjoy the loosening up for a goodly long time. I imagine it will be a while before the pendulum swings the other way.

One more thought: The background was part of the original comic and specifically needed to be included in this comic. It occurs to me this time around that the rolling hills are a strange choice for the environs surrounding the NYSE.

Overall, though, this was a fun comic to draw.

Cheers.