Sunday, May 31, 2015

Fifa Folks Filch Finances, Blatter Rattled Rather Badly

Howdy,

Here's the latest comic for Investing.com. This week's topic is the recent corruption allegations against FIFA officials and whether or not FIFA president Sepp Blatter will also be implicated in the pecuniary impropriety.

The team at Investing.com asked me to draw a parody of the movie poster for "The Godfather". They asked me to replace Marlon Brando with President Blatter. I was also asked to include a parodied version of the World Cup trophy, along with a Qatar Sheik in the background holding wads of money.

Here's the sketch:

And here's the final version:

Thoughts:

It's always interesting to parody an existing style or piece of art, particularly one as iconic as this one. It was tricky to keep the comic aesthetically recognizable and have Blatter's caricature be recognizable at the same time. It meant drawing and shading in a way that's significantly different from what comes naturally to me. Still, it was a fun challenge and I think it turned out ok.

It did end up looking a little bit like Frank Miller meets Tintin, though. The sheik I drew ended up looking unintentionally like Thompson and Thompson dressed in their "disguises" in "The Crab with the Golden Claws" (possibly my favorite Tintin book of all time other than "Tintin and the Blue Lotus").

Overall, this was a pretty fun comic. Crazy different from any of the others before it. But they say variety is the spice of life, so...there you go.

Until next week.

Cheers.




Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Character Concept set: Harold

Hiya.

Here's another character concept set for a client's book. The character is named Harold, and he's the companion to the character in this set of concepts.

The character, Harold, is loud, prone to histrionics, and generally obnoxious. He's also a made-up creature with very little by way of a physical description in the text, so the visual options were pretty much wide-open.

Here's the first round:




Ordinarily, I wouldn't have drawn two different sets for one character (mostly because almost all of the concepts in the first round will get rejected). But in this case, I wasn't sure if the character was more animal-like or more of an insect and I wanted to present both options to the client and let her react to the drawn options.

Often, with character concepts, (at least in my experience), the process of deciding how the character will look is part intellectual and part visceral. As with the Sylvester character, the client chose a concept from the first lineup. I made it clear that I would be happy to keep drawing if none of the options fit the bill, but she was adamant. She liked one in particular and that was that.

So, after some refining, this is the character that came to fruition:


(She chose the clothes from the middle sketch.)

This set of character concepts was an intense amount of fun. Trying to capture a personality is way more fun than trying to capture a "look". I can't really articulate why, exactly, but I think it has something to do with the energy contained in a personality. Even a very boring personality has boring energy that comes out in every facet of that character. Whereas a "look" doesn't necessarily have energy of its own.

This was one of those projects that reminds me how lucky I am to draw for a living.

Cheers.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Short Post: Market Marionettes

Hiya.

Here's the latest comic for Investing.com. The subject is the recent rise in major global exchanges in anticipation of possible central bank stimulus.

The team at Investing.com asked me to draw Fed Chair Janet Yellen, ECB President Mario Draghi and Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda as street performing puppeteers. Instead of puppets, however, each was to be "controlling" mini-versions of their country's stock exchanges. In the background, I was asked to draw Ben Bernanke in a helicopter raining money down upon the trio.

Here's the sketch:

And here's the final:

Tough comic this week because of the complexity, so I can't say I'm completely satisfied with the result. But there are a couple of details I like (the graffiti in the background, the sign, the color of the sky and the background buildings). It's the little things, as they say.

Until next week.

Cheers.


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Gross' Bunds don't gross funds...

Gutentag!

Here's the latest comic for Investing.com.

This week's topic is a massive global bond sell off and the ramifications thereof, including heavy losses by Bill Gross who was heavily invested in German Bunds. This may or may not have been partially influenced by Fed Chair Janet Yellen stating that she thinks stocks are "overvalued".

The team at Investing.com asked me to draw Gross, sitting up in bed and visibly shaken. Next to Gross, I was asked to draw his nightmare: A thought bubble in which Yellen is popping bubbles labeled DAX, DOW, Real Estate, Bunds, and T-Bonds.

Here's the sketch:

I decided to draw Yellen dressed as one of the fairy godmothers from Sleeping Beauty. Mostly because it's a dream and dreams are supposed to be a little weird. Also, the stumpy little fairy body fit better inside the cartoon bubble.

Here's the outline:

And here's the final:


This week's comic was a complete joy to work on. Both of the subjects have great faces for caricature, the backgrounds were different than normal and interesting, and the drawing went fairly smoothly. I know I say it very, very rarely, but here goes: I actually like this comic. I'm satisfied with the drawing, the color, the shading and the layout. Here's hoping next week's comic goes as well.

Cheers.



Sunday, May 10, 2015

Investing.com: Roll out the barrel

Howdy,

Here's the latest comic for Investing.com. This week's subject is the possible rebound of oil prices after a pronounced and prolonged softening of the market.

The good folks at Investing.com asked me to draw three sheikhs. The first two were to be raising glasses of oil and the third was to be counting money. In the background, I was asked to include a graph depicting the last several months' worth of oil prices that included the dramatic drop and recent rebound. They also asked me to include an oil well gushing oil.

Here's the sketch:

Here's the outline:

And here's the final:


Composition-wise, I tried a couple of different layouts at first, including one with the oil rig to the far left. But that arranged all the elements of the comic from tallest to shortest, left to right. It didn't look right for some reason, so I placed the rig in the center to break up the line a bit.

Instead of using standard numbers indicating price per barrel of oil on the graph, I decided to add cartoony barrels of oil with the prices on them. Mostly to add a bit of visual interest and to try something a little different.

Otherwise, everything else was fairly straightforward. After being disappointed with the way last week's comic turned out, I was determined that this comic would be better. As a result, I probably spent a little more time on the layout than I would have ordinarily. But I think the extra time was worth it.

Incidentally, I took another look at last week's comic. I don't think it's the WORST comic I've ever done, but I can see multiple areas where I could have done better. This week's comic is far more cohesive-feeling.

Until next week.

Cheers.




Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Sylvester Character Concepts

Concept drawings:

Here's a series of character concepts for a client who has written a children's book and has asked me to illustrate it.

The first step was to read the manuscript and get a feel for the character through the story (pulling out details, physical descriptions, mannerisms, behaviors, etc.). Then I sat down and had some conversations with the author about what she thought of the character, how she envisioned him, and a few details that weren't necessarily evident in the text but that might be helpful.

After giving it some thought and writing down some ideas, it was time to start sketching. Here's the first round of concepts:



In my experience, the first round of concepts is like cooking noodles: at first, you're just throwing them against the wall to see what sticks. Usually you don't get it right the first time. Also, when I'm done drawing the concepts, I pour either a tomato or cream-based sauce over them and eat them.

I pretty much use the same process for developing character concepts as I do for designing a logo: I get as much information as I can from the client, do some research on my own, do some thinking and idea scrawling, and then I sketch out a set of ideas that I think best embody what the client wants.

Typically, some concepts are rejected outright. I'll ask what they like and don't like about each concept and then I go back to the drawing board (literally) with that information and start again. Each time gets us closer to the idea the client has in their head. The first round is just a starting point and as such has the greatest variety of visual ideas. The last round is usually just fine-tuning small details.


This time was an anomaly: the client liked one of the concepts in the very first set. This rarely happens. It can be a fairly involved process to bring a client's idea to life. Sometimes their vision is extremely specific and sometimes there's only a general sense of how they want their character to look. Both scenarios present their own challenges.

But since this time the needle was threaded pretty quickly, the next step was to draw the character with a few different expressions and at a few different angles (above).



Finally, I sketched up a few body and clothing options. At that point, except for color, this character was pretty much good to go. There are two other characters in this story and I'll get to them in a later post.

Cheers.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

All Around the Limbo Clock

Hello!

After a brief station break from Investing.com comics, we're back on the air. This week's comic has to do with first quarter U.S. earnings reports. Apparently, the forecasts were super low, so all the major companies exceeded the first quarter expectations.

I was asked by the crew at Investing.com to draw the heads of Facebook, Apple and Microsoft in a Limbo line on the beach. Zuckerberg, Cook, and Nadella were to be getting ready to easily stroll under a bar set ludicrously high.

Here's the sketch:

Here's the outline:

And here's the final:

Thoughts: Because I hadn't drawn an investing comic for a while, I felt like a pig on roller skates drawing this one. As such, I don't think it's my best performance. The caricatures are ok, though I think Mark Zuckerberg's face is a bit off. Also, his arms were meant to look like he's using them for balance, but they just kind of look awkward and unnatural. In fact, I think everyone's posing is a little stiff.

This is something I'm going to attempt to remedy in future comics. I want to draw the characters in more natural, relaxed, or action-based poses rather than just having some big heads placed precariously atop wax-like bodies.

But this one has a fork firmly stuck in it, so the best I can do is be conscious of the posing in the next comic.

Until next week.

Cheers.