Sunday, August 31, 2014

S and P 500 x 4


Here's the latest comic for

This week the Standard and Poor's 500 closed above 2000 for the first time.  There is some question as to whether or not the index will remain at that height for long, however.  In light of this news, the crew at asked me to draw a comic that showed Janet Yellen and Ben Bernanke standing in Time Square celebrating with the New Year's Eve ball dropping in the background.  I was also asked to include confetti and fireworks.

Here's the sketch (with no confetti or fireworks yet):

Here's the final:

Here's what I learned from this comic:

1.) Confetti is fun to draw.
2.) Janet Yellen isn't the most expressive human being in the world, but compared to her predecessors, she's Jim Carrey.
3.) Time Square is not so easy to draw.  I tried a bunch of different approaches and I'm still not sure I was terribly successful in drawing the recognizable landmark.  Which is why I cheated and put a big sign in the background that says "Time Square".  That's the great thing about comics: When in doubt, label it.

I learned other things, too, but I'm going to call it a day.

Overall, I think this comic cuts the mustard.  I'll give it 2000 points, though I'm not sure how many total points are on the scale.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Department of Lands: The Saga Continues


Here's part five of the recent Department of Lands mega project.  The project was a manual outlining various management and construction techniques and laws for land, forest and road management.  A lot of the materials covered watersheds and preventing erosion, runoff and contamination.  I was hired to illustrate various figures within this manual (and was pleased as punch to do so).

Why, you may be asking, in this age of technology and whatnot, is anyone still using illustration?  Why don't people just use stock images and photography?  Or take their own photographs?  By the way, them's fightin' words.

1.) If your subject matter is new, theoretical, hypothetical or imaginative, chances are there just aren't any images of that subject matter.
2.) While using stock images and photography could work for certain applications, you have no control over the subject matter itself (angle, size, proportion, tone, etc.).  Having custom illustrations created for your project means your images can show exactly what you want, how you want.
3.) Using stock images means you run the risk of using an image that's already been used hundreds or even thousands of times.  That could send the wrong message about your work.
4.) Finally, illustration is unique and visually interesting.  It draws attention.

Ok, no more soap boxing.  How about some drawings?

Two road type cross sections.

This is the layout sketch for the "Class 1 Stream Protection Zone", which is the area around a stream that, as the name might suggest, is protected.

Here's the final:

This one took quite a bit of time, but I'm happy with the result.  'Nuff said.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Financial Comic DOUBLE DIGEST!


The good folks at are releasing a new app for the iphone.  They asked me to draw two comics to promote the launch, which meant this week's work load was substantially heavier than normal.

Here's the sketch of the first comic:

And here's the final:

This one took way longer than usual.  The request was straightforward enough: I was asked to draw a bear and a bull in line at a coffee shop looking at the app on their phones.  This is actually a little trickier than you might think, though.  It's a bit of challenge to show a character AND show the contents of their phone screen.  The screens have to be big.  They also have to be angled in a way that allows the audience/camera to see the screen but is still reasonable enough for the characters to be looking at it.

Mostly this one took longer than expected because I re-drew that &*%$#@ barista three different times.  Notice how the sketch is completely different than the original?  I could have left well-enough alone, finalized the original sketch and finished quite a bit earlier.  But I have a hard time just letting something go, particularly if I know I can do better.

Here's the sketch of the second comic:

I was asked to draw Janet Yellen sitting in a subway car looking at the app on her phone.  I was also asked to include a couple of other passengers also looking at their phones.  The composition on this one is a little different, but I think it works.  Yellen's face is a bit scary in this sketch, but I corrected a bit of that in the outline and color so her eyes aren't QUITE so insane looking (she still looks a little bit like she's going to take a bite out of her phone):

Not the best caricature of Yellen I've ever done, but serviceable.  I like the backgrounds on both of these comics.  That's probably another reason these took so long.  I worked somewhere in the neighborhood of 24 hours in two days.

Still fun, though.  My worst day drawing is better than my best day cleaning movie theaters, digging ditches, selling hotdogs, and chemically pressure treating lumber.  I know.  It's an astounding resume.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Risky Business


Here's the latest comic for  This week's topic is the ongoing diplomatic tension between the United States and Russia.  Mostly over Ukraine.  Among other measures, both countries have enacted sanctions against each other.

I was asked by the crew at to draw Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama playing the strategy game Risk.  The subject matter is usually a little more complex than that, but this time my instructions were fairly straightforward.  Here's the sketch:

Politically, I wish all our disputes were settled by playing Risk.  Which is probably why I'm not in charge of anything.  Playing Risk seems like a much better option than sanctions.  Or at least more fun.

In terms of the craft, this one was both fun and satisfying.  The uncomplicated subject matter meant I could focus more on the characters, expressions, and composition.  Also, have I mentioned how much I love to draw Vladimir Putin?  His face is perfect for caricature.  He has a prominent forehead, a distinctive nose and a tiny mouth and jaw.  And somehow his blank expression is always really expressive.  The man is just so much fun to draw.

I think both Putin and Obama turned out fairly well (in terms of the drawing).  The background could have used more visual interest and the Risk box could have used a bit more attention, but those are nitpicky details.

On my non-existent rating scale, I'd give this comic four generals, one infantryman, a cannon and Australia.  It's absolutely the best comic I've done this week.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Department of Lands: Fourth Installment

Here's the fourth set of illustrations from a recent project for the Department of Lands.  This set features a Stream Protection Zone and several illustrations about road construction and terminology.  I'd bet you've been searching high and low for just such a post. no more, friend:

In the words of Cleavon Little: "I always like to keep my audience RIVETED."  These were actually pretty fun to draw, though.  I know, that makes me kind of a weirdo.  But c'est la vie.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Slip Slidin' Away


Here's the latest comic for  This week's comic has to do with a possible "correction" in the market.  "Correction" is (I think) one of those words that people in government tend to use so as not to cause panic.  It's one of many euphemisms intended to make a situation sound not quite as bad as it actually is, similar to a "soft" economy.  In terms of the stock market, a "correction" means the whole thing is going to drop.  It's called a correction because, theoretically, the markets have been going up for too long and the drop will bring things back to "normal".

I was asked by the team at to draw three men sliding out of control down a muddy hill.  Each was to be wearing a shirt with the name of a specific index on it.  I was also asked to include clouds and rain in the form of numbers.

Here's the sketch:

And here's the final:

Because none of the men had to be based on anyone specific, I figured this would take me less time than usual, in spite of all my experience to the contrary.  Sure enough, this one took me just as long to draw as all the others (somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 hours).  A little longer, in fact.  I'm not sure why.

Overall, I think this comic is ok.  I like the DAX guy's face.  The composition and colors are serviceable.  But something about the DOW character bugs me a bit.  I'm just not sure exactly what.  That's the thing: If I can see what's wrong with a drawing, I can fix it.  But sometimes a drawing doesn't look quite right and I can't put my finger on why.  And sometimes there's nothing actually wrong at all.  Sometimes I'm just being overly critical.

It's not a science, this drawing thing.  But it is fun.  This comic was tiring and frustrating at times, but fun nonetheless.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Department of Lands: Part Trois

Here's another set of technical illustrations from a recent project for the Department of Lands.  The illustrations are part of a manual of "Best Management Practices", which provides information and guidance for land management.

These describe various types of road cuts:

This illustration shows three different types of skid trail configurations:

This last one deals with road locations.


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Splish Splash


Here's the latest comic for

Recently, Janet Yellen made some comments indicating she believed the markets are experiencing a "social media bubble" (overvalued stock prices of social media companies).  In spite of her comments, Facebook and Twitter have posted impressive profits this quarter.

I was asked by the good folks at to draw Janet Yellen imagining Mark Zuckerberg (the founder of Facebook) in a claw foot tub full of bubbles (the bath bubbles being a metaphor for the financial ones).  Instead of rubber ducks, they asked me to draw the Twitter logo.  Here's the sketch:

And here's how the final version shaped up:

I think this one turned out fairly well.  Yellen's caricature is a little off, but I think Zuckerberg looks pretty good.  On top of the caricatures, I also like the black and white tile background of the bathroom.  I did it specifically to help distinguish the bathroom wall from the office wall and I think it did its job admirably and added a bit of visual interest to boot.

Not sure how many times I've drawn Yellen at this point, but at this rate she'll be approaching Bernanke's numbers quick fast and in a hurry.  I thought about re-using her face from a previous comic, but that seems like cheating.  And doing so doesn't help me improve.

I have no idea whether or not her prediction about social media stock prices will come to fruition, but the head of the Fed often makes sober predictions based on sound reasoning and data.  One assumes she still thinks social media shareholders will...take a bath.

I'm sorry.  I couldn't resist.