Creating Cartoons: Step-by-Step Part 2

The final version of this cartoon appeared in GPReview in February, 2001. You can read more about the story behind it here.


STEP 1: Roughing out the concept


Here you can see where, on a scrap of paper, I've decided on the cartoon's dynamics - a large, suited character (based on England's famed upper-class, corporate fat cats) delivering his ultimatum to John Howard, whose reactions are important. He is on the right, because he can't possible react to something that hasn't been said yet! So we need his reactions AFTER the corporate bigwig has said what he needs to say. This is repeated in the second half of the cartoon.


STEP 2: Defining the text

Here, I've worked out where the dialogue is to go. I've pencilled it in, so I can estimate the amount of space I'll need when I ink it in later. You can see where I've sacrificed the character's legs for the text, which is more important. The second panel is vacant - to repeat the scene, I'll trace just the basic elements of the first panel into the second using a lightbox - there will be fundamental differences (expressions, gestures, etc.) but the basic office set will be the same... this trick helps with continuity.


STEP 3: Inking it in

Here's the inked-in black and white version of the cartoon. I've rubbed out the pencil work and used correction fluid to remove any excessive elements - it is very, very easy to "overdraw" a cartoon. It's important to keep it relatively simple so the reader doesn't get distracted from the message. I have a fairly elaborate style of drawing and it's easy to get carried away, so I have to keep my overdrawing tendency in check! To create a flow of emphasis, I've written the key words in bold as a little experiment. Some people italicize, but I thought I'd try something different. To make the text panels stand out a bit, I reduced the top and bottom of the drawing area - while the drawing still fits the dimensions required, it looks a little more dynamic.


STEP 4: Adding colour

The finished cartoon! I use Pantone markers to add my colour prior to scanning the cartoon and emailing the cartoon to Melbourne. The markers blend together quite well and are less fiddly than guache, which I also sometimes use. After I apply the colour, I use the correction fluid to add little highlights of light to the tips of noses, cheeks and glasses - basically, anything with a shiny surface. Correction fluid is not necessarily for mistakes - I also use it to sometimes separate a character from the background... otherwise, for example, it might like a bookshelf is coming out the side someone's head. I've always liked green walls and purple carpet - don't ask me why!

Anyway - the client was happy and I got paid. Another job well done!


Click here for an example of creating art from a client's concept


Press the button to return to Steve's Home Page


All artwork ©2003 Noz Productions