Thursday, December 31, 2015

Chef

Here's the latest poster illustration. It's part of an ongoing set of stand-alone drawings/paintings I've been working on recently.

The genesis of this one came after I'd been watching a series on world-class chefs. The show intimated that many of them are intolerable humans. I thought it would be funny and interesting to draw a chef who was grotesquely proportioned and scary-looking at the moment just after a kitchen catastrophe and just before his apoplectic response.

Here's the sketch:


And here's the final:





This one is for sale one tab over at the "Buy Stuff" page. Iff'n you're interested.

Cheers.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Investing.com: Interest Rate Hike

Hullo.

Here's the latest comic for Investing.com. It came a day early this week, which meant some last-minute schedule reshuffling and a little more of a mad-dash feel, but otherwise it was a fairly straightforward comic.

The subject this week is the Federal Reserve meeting tomorrow (I'm writing this Tuesday but it won't post until Thursday) wherein Janet Yellen is finally expected to announce that the Fed intends to raise interest rates for the first time in six years or so.

The crew at Investing.com asked me to draw a fancy, Oscar-like theater, in front of which Former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke hands current Chair Janet Yellen an Oscar-like award with the projected interest rate numbers on it.

Here's the sketch:

And here's how the final turned out:


Post-Game Commentary: Because the comic was a day early and I felt even more rushed than usual, I can't say this is my best work. However, I think it's serviceable. And somehow, even after SO many financial comics and SO many times drawing both Bernanke and Yellen, it's still kinda fun. Shading their faces in particular is still interesting to me. Granted, I think it has something to do with my experiments with a more loose style, but still. That's something to be thankful for.

Until next week.

Cheers.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Crazy Train

Howdy!

Here's the latest comic for Investing.com. This time around, the subject is the continuing slide in oil prices and the subsequent geopolitical consequences thereof.

The good folks at Investing.com asked me to draw a comic with the following details:

-An OPEC-colored train (complete with OPEC logo) pulling oil tankers going down a hill.
-Said train being driven by a determined looking Saudi man (with the flag of Saudi Arabia on his arm) and a nervous-looking Iranian man (with the flag of Iran on his arm) standing behind him and reaching for the emergency brake.
-Damaged train tracks somewhere down the line from the train.
-A sign that reads "$25" (a reference to the fact that some predictions have oil sliding to $25/barrel).
-A nice background of some kind.
-3-4 oil rigs spouting oil in the background somewhere.

Here's the layout:



And here's how the final turned out:

Thoughts:

This was a fun comic to draw and I think it turned out pretty well. I'm not sure the front car of the train looks much like any train engine I've ever seen, but I think it's passable.  The people were fun to draw. I've been sketching a lot exaggerated profiles of characters lately and some of that more pronounced style found its way into the layout here. I'm also still working on the more loose techniques (line work, shading, brush strokes, etc.) and it continues to be fun.

Overall, a good time.

Until next week.

Cheers.



Friday, December 4, 2015

Surfer

Here's the second illustration in the series of fun, personal illustrations I'm working on right now. Like I mentioned before, I'll probably sell these in print or poster form at some point, I'm just not exactly sure when. But I'll let you know.

For now, these are just for fun. And they're plenty of fun. More painterly, more loose, different color choices, and all sorts of goofy weirdness. These make illustration feel like play again, which is great.


Cheers.

Investing.com: Rough Ride

Hiya,

Here's the latest comic for Investing.com. There was a bit of a hiatus because of Thanksgiving, but I was back in the saddle this week. Unfortunately, during the week-long break, I seem to have forgotten how to ride a horse, so it was a rough and unpleasant ride.

The crew at Investing.com asked me to draw a comic about the diverging monetary policies of the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank. They asked me to include the following:

-Janet Yellen and Mario Draghi driving away from each other via a fork in the road.
-Janet Yellen in a truck with American flag colors.
-Mario Draghi in a BMW with the ECB logo on the side.
-Road signs that indicate the diverging policies (and are also based on the road sign designs of their respective country's origin)

Overall, pretty straightforward. But the big problem for me is that I was asked to draw cars, which are my Achilles' heal. That's misleading, because it suggests I have only one weakness when it comes to drawing. I actually have many. So I guess it's more like my Achilles' finger or something. But cars are at the top of the list. I find them difficult and tedious to draw.

The other tough part was figuring out a composition and layout that would work. I was asked to draw Yellen and Draghi. No big deal. I've drawn both scores of times before. But I was asked to draw them driving away from each other. Ok, still no big deal. I could theoretically draw them driving toward the "camera" (viewer) and still be able to show their faces and their vehicles. But that perspective gets ruled out when the detail of the road signs gets added in. The signs needed to be legible and that rules out the perspective where they're driving toward the camera.

I had to consider all these factors and all my options for potential solutions very quickly, because I have to begin drawing the comic first thing in the morning if I'm going to make the end of the day deadline. So here's the layout I settled on:


It seemed like the best option for the factors involved. I figured I had to choose between showing Yellen and Draghi's faces at a more recognizable angle OR drawing the road signs in a way that was legible and made sense. Given more time, I might have come up with a different solution that was a better fit, but I didn't have the luxury of time.

The drawbacks to this layout were chiefly that Yellen and Draghi are seen from the back (and are subsequently less recognizable) and, even more difficult for me, I was drawing two different cars at two different, odd angles. A car under the best of circumstances isn't easy for me. Two cars at 3/4-ish angles is grueling.

Here's how the final turned out:



I do not like how I drew this comic. Not one bit. In my defense, I did the best I could in the amount of time I had. Also, this would have been a tough comic no matter how confident or warmed up I felt. However, I can't say this one is going into the portfolio. It combined a lot of my weaknesses into a single comic and I think the final product shows it.

Some comics turn out great and I feel good about them when they're done and, in turn, good about myself. This weren't one of 'em.

Sigh.

Until next week,

Cheers.


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Scoot

Here's an illustration I did recently, just for fun. It's part of a series of single-character illustrations where I'm exploring some new techniques. I'll probably be selling prints of this series at some point, and I'll keep you posted when I do.


Friday, November 20, 2015

Investing.com: France and Germany

Here is this week's comic for Investing.com. The subject this week is the recent attacks in France and the potential effects that tragedy may have on the economy.

I was asked by the team at Investing.com to draw German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francios Hollande, dressed in the soccer uniforms of their countries, standing in an empty soccer stadium with police behind them. Here's the sketch:

And here's the final:


These are strange times. My heart goes out to the people of France.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Investing.com: Interest Rate Countdown

Hullo.

Here's the latest comic for Investing.com. This week's topic is the upcoming rise in interest rates (set for December). The crew at Investing.com asked me to draw Janet Yellen climbing a set of stairs to board a space shuttle with the interest rate increment inscribed on the side. They also asked me to add Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer (looking serious and holding a clipboard) and a second general worker doing general worker-type stuff.

Here's the sketch:

And here's the final:


Not too much to say about this one. I'm continuing my exploration of a more loose style and techniques, which has been fun. It's made drawing exciting and interesting again. I'm pretty satisfied with the result of the comic this week.

So I got that goin' for me.

Which is nice.

Cheers.


Friday, November 6, 2015

Investing.com: VW sputters, Tesla surges.

Howdy,

Here's the latest comic for Investing.com. This time around, the subject is the falling fortunes of Volkswagon and the rising fortunes of Tesla.

The good folks at Investing.com asked me to draw a two-panel comic. In the first panel I was asked to draw a VW bug (2015) spewing a cloud of exhaust while driving through an environment ravaged by global warming. The second panel was to show a Tesla Model S driving through a bucolic scene with blue skies and green hills.

Here's the layout sketch:

And here's the final:


Thoughts:

I decided to draw the cars from the side (a 3/4 view is harder and more time-intensive and a front view makes it harder to easily distinguish the car models). Because of that choice, it made more sense to split the cartoon horizontally rather than vertically.

Drawing the two divergent backgrounds and moods was super fun. Having this kind of variety in a comic is always challenging, but also interesting. Two-panel cartoons are more work for sure, but they're just more interesting to draw. I didn't even mind drawing the cars this time (they're usually difficult and frustrating subjects for me), but this time it was manageable.

Finally, I'm continuing my efforts to loosen up my style: visible sketch lines, various line weights, and visible brush strokes. Things aren't as carefully drawn, and I think the result is less stodgy and more energetic. But it's a work in progress.

Overall, pretty fun comic and (I think) a pretty strong result.

Until next week,

Cheers.

Financial comic: The Quick and the Deadline.

Here's a comic I did earlier this week for a company out of Chicago. They needed a fairly fast turnaround time. I'm no stranger to short deadlines, but this one was tough to meet. I ended up having to really scramble at the end.

Here's the sketch:

The flat color:

And the final:


I've probably mentioned this before, but one of the benefits of working really fast is that I don't have enough time to be precious about the drawing. I have to run pretty much on instinct instead of overthinking every line the way I normally do when I have all the time in the world. The result is, in my opinion, much better. It ends up having more energy and life. The lines aren't so stiff, the color isn't so uptight. It breathes a bit more.

This general loosening up is something I'm trying to incorporate into all my work now. I'm trying to keep some of the energy of the sketch in the final piece. I'm trying to be more expressive and not hide my techniques as much. You can see this in the brush strokes on the faces, particularly the face on the right.

So far, I like how it's working. I think I'll stick with it.

Cheers.


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Pulp Poster Illustration

Here's a poster I did for some friends several weeks ago. It's based on some of the horror comic/pulp cover illustrations of the 70s and 80s.

Here's the layout sketch:

 And here's the final:

Cheers.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Investing.com: Nasdaq

Hiya,

Here's the latest comic for Investing.com. This week's topic is the recent massive earnings posted by the large tech companies and the subsequent record rise in the NASDAQ index.

The good folks at Investing.com asked me to draw the Nasdaq building at night. At the base of the building, holding it up, they asked me to draw Tim Cook, Sergey Brin, and Mark Zuckerberg (super bulked up and swol with muscles, bro).

And here it is:






Thoughts:

This was a tough comic for me. Buildings aren't my strong suit. I prefer organic subjects. I suppose it's partially because I think they're more interesting and partially because it's easy for buildings to look bad in an illustration. Plus, drawing a city (or even a small section of a city) is a huge amount of work. There's so much detail and energy (reflections, cars, people, etc) that drawing it convincingly would have taken me a week. As it was, I had a day.

I was asked to draw a specific building at a specific angle at a specific time. I did my best to do a serviceable job of it. But given the time, the streets had to stay empty of cars and people, and I had to leave out the various neon signs and screens and other light sources you would normally see in a scene like this. I think the result is a little lifeless. An empty street looks strange, like something out of Omega Man.

I decided to draw the three tech amigos as statues. There's a pretty big historical/architectural precedent for ornamental stone columns in the shape of swol' dudes. Also, it's about all I had time for. And even then, it was a mad dash from start to finish.

Here's what I like:

-The lighting is pretty dramatic. There's a lot of contrast and I think I captured the glow of the screen pretty well. I also like the lighting on the figures/statues.

-The foreground elements (telephone, lamp and sign posts, wires): This is something I haven't done before (that I can remember). I wanted to fill some of that space left empty by the details I had to leave out and (hopefully) create a little more of that cluttered energy that you see in big cities. This was my spur-of-the-moment solution. I think it works, to a point.

Not my strongest subject matter and not much time to work with. The result is maybe a C+ comic. But then, I always critique my comics more harshly right after the fact. I was looking through a stack of old comics recently. I can remember absolutely hating some of them. But after some time and distance I though, "Well, these aren't as bad as I remember."

So that's something.

Until next week,

Cheers.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Back to the Future: History's gonna change.

Hullo.

Here's the latest comic for Investing.com.

This week's subject was two fold: The upcoming Ferrari IPO and "Back to the Future" day. The crew at Investing.com asked me to modify an older comic already featuring Mary McFly (drawn way back in January of 2015). Back then, the comic was about falling oil prices.

I was asked to take that comic and change the Delorian to a Ferrari. I was also asked to add Doc Brown and to change the top text to reflect the comic's subject.

The comic, at least from the illustration perspective, was serviceable. But I figured I could do better, so I started over. It has been nine months, after all. Here's the sketch:

And here's the final:


I think I did a better job this time around, both with likenesses and with color.

I've also have a new project: To loosen up. My style has gotten a little too clean and a little too uptight over the years. So I'm employing some new techniques to combat my OCD tendencies to keep everything intensely precise (including less blending, more sketch lines, and less line consistency). It's bound to be a process that takes a while, but I think it's worth it.

Cheers.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Investing.com: Redux

Hello!

After a couple of weeks of hiatus, Investing.com comics are back. And what better way to mark their return than with a sequel of sorts. This week's comic is about the ongoing turmoil in the markets and the effect said turmoil is having on emerging markets.

I was asked by the crew at Investing.com to do a new version of "The Perfect Storm" comic from several weeks ago. Only this time, I would be adding characters. Behind the boat bearing Yellen and Xi Jinping, they asked me to add a second, smaller boat with Vladimir Putin at the helm and two men (Turkish and Brazilian) falling out the back.

And here she blows:


This comic was a bit more of a challenge than I was expecting. I figured I could just draw the three dudes in a boat, dust off my hands in a cartoonish fashion and have a beer. But because the other elements of the original comic had to stay in place, it was spatially tricky. It was tough to draw the Turkish and Brazilian man falling out of the boat with space at such a premium. There wasn't enough room to draw the action the way I would have preferred.

It changes the composition fairly dramatically as well. And it's a bit cluttered. There's a lot going on now in this comic. But I think Putin's caricature is pretty good. And I also made an effort to draw the Turkish and Brazilian guys so that they look like they're from those countries. Ordinarily I might have just drawn a couple of generic cartoon guys wearing flag shirts and called it good. But my "generic" people tend to be a bit bland, so I decided against default impulses.

Ok, that's alls I got for now.

Until next week,

Cheers.

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Screamatorium of Dr. Frightmarestein, economic edition.

Here's a fun financial comic I drew last week. The subject is the possible consequences of raising the interest rates vis-a-vis the overall US economy and the markets therein.

Here's the sketch:

And here's the final:

Cheers.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

High Striking

Hello!

Apologies for the delay in postings recently. There were a couple of reasons: 1.) I'm working on several projects that I can't really share (for now) and 2.) I was a little burned out. I think there were too many plates spinning for too long and I just had to step back from a few things temporarily.

But now we're back on the (internet) air.

Here's a piece I've been meaning to post for a while now. It was a private commission for a friend.

Here's the layout sketch:

And here's the final:


It's always a pleasure to venture outside of my usual style. Much of the work I do is cartoony and exaggerated. It's a fun style to work in and people seem to like it. But it's also enjoyable to have the opportunity to explore different approaches to illustration. Projects like this one are ideal for that kind of exploration: plenty of detail, dark/creepy subject matter, and no particularly deadline meant I could really sink my teeth into it.

It's similar to the technical illustration I do in that it's challenging and it feels like stretching muscles that I rarely (if ever) get to use. Projects like this are enough of a departure that they should be scary or intimidating to tackle, but they're not. At this point, I have enough experience and confidence and curiosity that my response is usually, "Well, let's try it and see what happens." I wish I were that brave in every aspect of my life.

At any rate, fun project. Fun process, good result. Feels like a success.

Cheers.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Investing.com: Before and After

Howdy,

Here are this week's and last week's comics for Investing.com. Both are about interest rates. The first was about the decision around raising the rates, the second is about the consequences of that decision.

Until next week,

Cheers.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Investing.com: Europe and Refugees

Hello,

Here's the latest comic for Investing.com. This week's subject is the ongoing refugee crisis and the possible social and economic ramifications of a large influx of refugees into various European countries.

The team at Investing.com asked me to draw a line of refugees being greeted by Angela Merkel and Mario Draghi. They also asked me to draw a man wearing the Hungarian flag harassing/assaulting the refugees.

Here's the sketch:

And here's the final:


Rough comic this week. Mostly because of the number of characters. Because there were so many, I have mixed feelings about the turnout. The volume of work and the amount of time it took me to complete that work meant I couldn't take as much time to draw each individual character/element. Ideally, I would always have as much time as I needed to work on each character until they met my standards. But this just isn't feasible with a one-day deadline.

I did my best with the time I had, and that's as much as I can do.

Until next week,

Cheers.


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Investing.com Extra: Gorilla in the Midst

Hiya,

This was an extra comic for Investing.com last week. It's based on a recent fight between a company called NYC Mesh and internet goliath Time Warner Cable. The idea behind NYC Mesh is that high speed internet could be decentralized, eliminating the need for behemoth providers like Time Warner Cable. Time Warner Cable, apparently, is not fond of this idea.

I was asked by the crew at Investing.com to draw a parody of the famous scene in "King Kong" (wherein the movie's namesake is batting at planes from atop a skyscraper). Only in this one, I was asked to draw the gorilla yanking at an NYC Mesh dish and wearing a cape with the Time Warner logo.

Here's the sketch:



And here's the final:


This comic was SO much fun. Partially because I don't have the opportunity to draw giant, angry gorillas as often as you might think. I was sorry when I finished this comic. Like a great book or delicious piece of cake, the end came too soon.

Cheers.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Investing.com: Storm's A-Brewin.

Greetings!

Here's this week's comic for Investing.com. This time around, the subject is a potential looming economic downturn brought on by a number of factors (dropping commodity prices, China's faltering economy, etc.).

The team at Investing.com asked me to draw a parody of the movie poster for "A Perfect Storm". In this version, Janet Yellen and Xi Jinping were to be in a small, battered fishing boat in stormy weather while a massive wave towers over them. I was also asked to draw Yellen smoking a cigar and holding a beer and to draw her sporting an anchor tattoo.

Here's the sketch:

And here's the final:

Fun comic this week. It's a little different than typical investing comic, and a little variety is always welcome. Plus, it was fun to draw and I think it turned out pretty well. Overall, I'd say this week's comic was a win.

Until next week,

Cheers.




Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Saturday Kickstarter 2 Launch!


Dear Everyone,

Salutations and a happy Tuesday to you all. It’s officially September 1st and today’s the day I launch my Kickstarter campaign to help fund the printing of my giant illustrated book, Saturday.

Haven’t heard of it? Saturday is a great big book about imagination, creativity, an abysmal week, and family. If that sounds more cheesy than Pizza Hut's Mozzerellapocalypse Pizza, keep in mind that Saturday also involves robots, dinosaurs, aliens, references to "Carrie" and "Bladerunner", Estelle Getty-like old ladies, and some bathroom humor.



How could I possibly fit all that into one book? Well, I’ll tell you: almost a decade’s worth of elbow grease did the trick. Saturday also includes my patented “Work-On-A-Thing-Until-You’re-Half-Dead” technology. And now by supporting this campaign, you can finally get your hands on your very own copy. You can also get custom stickers, postcards, posters, and see me look awkward on camera. If you’re a fan of good craftsmanship, elaborate illustration, quirky humor and odd cultural references, this is the book for you.

The campaign is fairly short (it ends Sept. 20th) and the number of books and custom rewards I have to offer are limited, so jump on it if’n you’re interested.

To visit, support, or just gawk, click here:

 https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2024291706/saturday-the-colossal-comic-of-illustrated-odditie


Thank you for your time.

Most sincerely,

Noah Kroese

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Investing.com: The pusher man.

Hello!

Here's the latest comic for Investing.com.

This week's comic actually happened a day earlier than usual (Tuesday instead of Wednesday), owing to the turmoil in world markets last Friday and earlier this week. Investing.com wanted the comic to be as timely as possible, which is why they asked me to draw it early. Being a creature of habit, the schedule change threw me off a bit, but I did my best to rally and put up a good fight.

It's been a rough ride for many in the financial world as of late, mainly because of the decline in the Chinese markets and the currency devaluation. In an effort to mitigate that decline, China decided to cut interest rates, which subsequently spurred the markets (somewhat).

This week's comic has to do with that decision to cut interest rates. I was asked by the good folks at Investing.com to draw a Wall Street trader buying drugs from a drug dealer in a red trenchcoat. (The implication is that the markets are "addicted" to stimulus measures like lowering interest rates.) In the background, they asked me to put in a bull shooting up in the background. All this was to take place on a street corner with the New York Stock Exchange in the background.

Here's the sketch:

And here's the final:

Reflections:

Tough comic this week. Three characters and a fairly complex background meant a lot of hours on this one. I can't say I'm super happy with everything, but I think it's a decent comic. The dealer's face still bugs me a bit. You can see I changed it from the original sketch. He looked a little too cartoonishly villainous with the smile. But something about his face still bothers me for a reason I can't put my finger on.

To be honest, though, after this many hours, I can't really see the comic anymore. It's just a collection of lines at the moment and it will take a few days for the lines and color to re-assemble themselves into a composition I can assess with any clarity.

Until next week,

Cheers.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Lindy's Sports Annual 2015: Basketball!

Hello!

It's late August. Which means kids of all ages are being dragged back to school, the Summer is quickly waxing, and it's time for some marathon illustrating for "Lindy's Sports Annual". Since I no longer attend school and I'm sick to death of hot weather, the latter is the only item I'm excited about.

This time around the court, we were talking coaches and Australia. As is usually the case, these were all turned around fairly quickly. It's a challenge I enjoy and also dread a bit, mostly because it puts me through the ringer and because I don't have time to do much revising. But that's sometimes for the best. All these illustrations (six people spread over three illustrations) were done in the course of two days.

First up, the coaches. Dean Smith and Jerry Tarkanian left us recently (both in February). "Lindy's was including profiles of both legendary gents, and I was asked to draw portraits to accompany them.

Here are the sketches:

And here are the finals:

(Smith)

(Tarkanian)

As far as the illustration goes, the Dean Smith drawing is fairly standard fare as far as my work is concerned. I approached it the way I would have approached just about any other caricature. But I wasn't happy with it. The drawing is fine, but something about it seemed boring to me. Probably because I did the same thing I always do.

So, when the time came to color and shade the drawing of Tarkanian, I went out on a limb and tried something different. I used a different method of shading that involves more solid colors and harder lines. I also switched up the line weights somewhat. The result was a portrait that looks more illustrative, I think. It's clear that this is a drawing done by hand. I think it's a little more expressive and has more personality than the Smith drawing. It took me about the same amount of time, but it was a lot of fun to experiment. A little nerve-wracking because I wasn't sure it would turn out and didn't have time to re-do it if it was awful, but fun nonetheless.


The other illustration was to accompany a piece about a spate of basketball players from Australia. I was asked to draw multiple players superimposed over something Australian. I chose the country itself, 'cause it don't get much more Australian that Australia. Hey, you want some deep, pithy metaphor? You grind out this much work in two days and see how clever you feel.

Here's the sketch:


The players are Ben Simmons, Dante Exum, Andrew Bogut and Patty Mills. The layouts on this one are a little more expressive, too. They're not meant to be exactly likenesses (which is what I normally draw). I let myself be a little more loose with this one. Again, I think it makes it more expressive and gives it a bit of a sense of humor.

Here's the final:

I used the same shading techniques on the Australia piece that I used on the Tarkanian portrait. Again, I had more fun than I would have using my more traditional approach and I think that benefited the illustration. I'm going to try to implement this style a little more in the future. And who knows, maybe even try some other unfamiliar techniques. Because I'm a loose cannon.

Overall, this set was great good fun. I'm always happy to work with "Lindy's", however fast the deadline.

Cheers.