Ah, I’m afraid this post is a bit grim, not the usual light-hearted fare. There are times, however, when an illustrator and cartoonist must use what skill he has to speak out on important issues. This is one of those times.
There’s a sensational trial going on in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. It began on March 18th. Until a few days ago, however, you might not have heard about it. That’s because most media outlets ignored the trial. Seats reserved for the press were empty.
On trial: Dr. Kermit Gosnell who ran a filthy abortion clinic for four decades, and
is accused of murdering newborn babies, performing hundreds of illegal late-term abortions, and killing and injuring numerous patients. Despite ongoing complaints, local and state authorities looked the other way and did nothing.
Big story, right? You’d never know it. The media opted out, and has been covering other pressing matters. I got the idea for this cartoon after watching the Sunday ABC television news. Nary a mention of Gosnell, but they found time to cover Tiger Woods’ assessed penalty at the Masters golf tournament.
So why hasn’t the media seen fit to cover the story? One can only hypothesize, and many conservative commentators have: they believe the news media has ignored the case because of ideological bias. Media studies have shown that the great majority of U.S. journalists are pro-abortion and vote Democratic. The best known of these studies
is The Media Elite by Lichter, Lichter, and Rothman.
In short, the media has been ignoring the Gosnell case because it makes abortion and abortion providers look bad. Impossible to prove, of course, and most journalists would deny it, but I suspect it’s true, and so do others.
At the end of his Atlantic piece, Conor Friedersdorf writes that the Gosnell case “arguably informs the abortion debate in any number of ways, and has numerous plausible implications for abortion policy…” I agree.
What do you think? Had you heard of the case? Is media bias something you think about? Did you know that most journalists share similar opinions on social issues and political candidates? Hope you’ll leave a comment.
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This is a mini Photoshop tutorial that contains a larger lesson: when you paint yourself into a corner, you can sometimes paint your way out of it. That’s good to know if you’re
an illustrator who sometimes makes poor color choices. Like me, for example… : (
Yes, a change for the better, I think.
It was done with a single adjustment layer and a mask– one of my favorite combinations for achieving effects in Photoshop.
I began by first duplicating my Background Layer. (First rule of Photoshop: always protect your original in case disaster ensues.)
Then I selected Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Hue/Saturation. This causes two things to happen: a new layer appears in my Layers Window (below, left), and the Hue/Saturation Window displays (below, right). I’ll be using the sliders in this second window to adjust the colors.
When it first pops up, the Hue/Saturation Window shows an Edit setting of “Master.” The Master setting will affect all colors.
Are there any rules for using the sliders? Not that I’m aware of. I slide them right and left until I get the effect I want. As you can see below, I got decidedly mixed results.
Finally, I adjusted the Cyans, changing that garish aquamarine to light blue.
At this point you may be raising your hand and saying, “But sir–! There were three other color channels: Greens, Blues, and Magentas. What about those??”
Good question, glad you asked. I did tinker with those other three channels, and got negligible results. So I left all their settings at zero. It’s surprising, but individual channels often contribute little or nothing to the colors in a photo or illustration.
So we’ve achieved a much nicer color combination than the original red, greenish yellow, and aquamarine. All that’s left is to recover her original skin tones using a layer mask.
With my adjustment layer active, I select Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal All. The last part– Reveal All– simply means create the mask, but leave it transparent (i.e., it’s not actually masking anything yet).
Below we see the Layers Window before the mask is added (left); immediately after the transparent mask is added (middle); and what the mask looks like after we’ve applied black to the areas where we want to mask out the color change (adjustment).
With the mask selected, I use the Pen tool to careful select those areas where I want to mask out the change and recover my original color.
Below, you can see a portion of the face selected with the Pen tool (left), and the result (right) when that area is then filled with black. I repeat this process until I’ve masked out all unwanted portions of the color change.
Point of interest: see the “jags” in the magnified images below? That’s because I was working with a very small JPEG at 72 dpi. (I lost my 300 dpi original in a computer crash many years ago.)
What this means: you can apply a color adjustment and a mask to even small, low-quality images, and still get pretty good results. (Admittedly, this is a simple image. It would be harder to achieve good results with a complex image with many color gradations.)
Here’s the Before and After again. If you look closely, you’ll see her eye color is different.
I liked her “corrected” eye color better, and decided not to mask it out. Nice to think one can be that precise, even with a low-res image.
What do you think? Any color theory people out there? Can anyone explain why Cyans are a big factor in this illo, but not Blues?
Does a post like this boost your appreciation for non-digital artists (think of someone splashing real watercolor onto watercolor paper) who can’t change their colors by clicking on a few computer keys? (Me, I’m ready to kiss their feet.)
Stay alert for pranksters, especially guys who draw funny pictures, and if you see a street musician today, give him an extra tip!
I’ve been working on some projects, and have fallen behind in my blog posts, so I shall dip once more into the archives… (insert dramatic piano chord here).
I’ve always loved caricatures, and I’ve done a lot of them– some for assignments, others simply to promote my work. Here’s an assortment, I hope you’ll recognize some of them. Answers at end of post.
Note: There are puns and jokes in some of the caricatures. I’ll list these at the end as well.
5. Who guitarist Pete Townshend
Puns & Jokes:
1. B.B. King is playing two bees and a crown, “spelling” out his name.
2. There’s a little angel on Bishop Sheen’s chalkboard. He would write on it during his television show, sometimes completely filling it up. He would then walk away from it, and continue speaking. When he returned to it, the board would be clean– and he’d thank his “little angel” for helping him out.
3. Everybody knows owls say “Who?” This particular owl is saying “Hu.” A single red star is a symbol for communism.
4. Picasso is receiving a swift kick while holding his anti-war painting, Guernica.
5. Albert Einstein (playing violin in background) is most closely identified with his famous formula for energy, E = mc2. I changed the second part to c4 miles, as a pun
on The Who’s hit record, I Can See For Miles.
The other three original members of The Who can be seen in the three planets. There’s
a spider hanging off the orange planet. Bassist John Entwistle’s face appears in the orange planet. Entwistle wrote the group’s most famous song that was not written by Townshend: the novelty number, Boris The Spider… whew!
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Begorrah! St. Patty’s Day has come and gone, and I’m late with this post. O’Sorry!
As mentioned in a prior post, I used to draw a comic strip for a local paper back in the mid 90s. It was about a street musician named Busker.
Here’s a St. Patty’s strip from March 1997. I didn’t have a computer back then, but I’ve used Photoshop to reset the text here, to make it more readable. You can also view the hand-lettered original.
If you’re not familiar with Danny Boy, it’s one of the true weepers. I remember tears streaming down my face when I listened to a haunting version of it at a barbershop concert many years ago. Here’s a lovely arrangement by The King’s Singers:
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Today’s Pressing Question: Does being an illustrator have any perks? Besides fame and fortune, I mean… : )
Well, yes. I can think of one: Every so often you get to sneak an inside joke into a drawing. I have a good example, but I need to give you some information first.
I do a cartoon for Fiddler Magazine. It’s a quarterly. Being a niche publication, their budget is very small. I receive a token payment and two copies of every issue. I like the editor, I like the magazine. It’s a labor of love for me. Do I play the fiddle myself? No.
The first time they asked me for a cartoon, I was busy. They needed something right away. It occurred to me that I had hundreds of old cartoons that I did on speculation back in the 1980s and 90s. Most had never been published. I dragged some out of storage, and rewrote some of the captions. They were a big hit, and I’ve done the same thing ever since: write a new caption for an old cartoon.
Here’s the rewrite. I had to change some facial expressions as well. I also reduced the size of my signature and made it more discreet. Nothing like a big showy distracting signature to mark you as an insecure amateur!
This one still makes me laugh. It should have sold! Good old supermarket tabloids, with their trashy celebrity gossip and ridiculous headlines. The cartoon dates back to 1996. “Fergie” is a reference to Sarah, Duchess of York, and “Roseanne” is comedienne Roseanne Barr.
No? Don’t feel bad. The joke is so far inside, there are only two people in the world who would get it: me and Harvey Tolman.
All of the performers listed are real people. The Grascals are a bluegrass band. Becky Buller is a bluegrass fiddler and songwriter. Liberty Pike and the Steeldrivers are bands which combine bluegrass with country and other musical genres. The three bands all have fiddlers. Natalie MacMaster is one of the most famous Cape Breton style fiddlers in the world.
Harvey Tolman is my electrician. He lives about four miles from me. He is also an excellent fiddler, and has been honored at the state level for his contribution to New Hampshire’s folk heritage. Like Ms. MacMaster, Harvey plays Cape Breton style fiddle. Putting his name above hers on the sign was part of the joke. Since he’s a good fiddler,
my little joke was also a tribute.
Did I really sneak the joke in without the editor’s knowledge? No. I told her about it when I submitted the cartoon, and she just published it in the latest issue. I’d love to see the magazine do a story about Harvey someday. Speaking of which, here’s the man himself:
Ever heard of contra dancing? It’s a form of folk dancing that remains popular here in New England, USA. The town of Nelson, NH, is famous for its contra dances, and Mr. Tolman has been playing at them for over 30 years. You can see him in action in this short YouTube clip. Looking for an aerobic workout that will put a big smile on your face? Try contra dancing!
What do you think? Do you like fiddle music? Ever done any contra or folk dancing? Have you ever entered a cartoon caption contest, where you have to write a caption for a given cartoon drawing? Hope you’ll leave a comment.
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I entered a poster design contest last fall. Alas, I didn’t win. Years ago, I would have labeled this a failure. Now I’m smarter: I call it a “learning experience.” : )
Here’s my losing entry:
It’s the sort of thing that begs an explanation, isn’t it??
I’ll start by telling you that Redbubble is an online store for artists and illustrators. I have a Redbubble account, but I’ve been using Fine Art America to sell my work. There are many such online stores. They handle the printing, framing, and mailing, and they take the lion’s share of the sale price.
The New York Comic Con is an annual convention in New York City for fans of comics and pop culture. Redbubble is one of many exhibitors at this convention.
Redbubble held a show poster challenge: design a poster to publicize Redbubble’s presence at the 2012 New York Comic Con. The only requirements were that it mention Redbubble, New York Comic Con or NYCC, and the convention dates, October 11-14, 2012.
I did some research, and learned that much of the focus at the convention is on superhero comics. My brilliant concept: a Superworm emerging from a Big Apple covered with skyscrapers, and blowing soap bubbles– especially a big red one. Here’s a larger detail image:
There were 69 entries. Redbubble awarded first, second, and third prizes. The winner (left) and the runner-up are shown below:
Below, left: the third place winner. On the right: the most popular entry, which received the most votes from Redbubble members themselves. I really admire the bold design and energy of the latter, and I like it much better than the three winners.
A poster is usually vertical. My horizontal design was a mistake.
A poster is supposed to promote. My text was much too small.
Most entries had a single bold image. Mine lacked focus.
Mine was the most “cartoony” image. It may have appeared trite or disrespectful.
Giving my poster an “old paper” look made no sense– what was I thinking??
Attendance at the 2012 conference over its 4-day run was 116,000. Here’s a shot of fans pouring into the convention center. I suspect there may have been a rumor that I’d be making a personal appearance… : )
What do you think? Did you like any of the NYCC posters? Ever had a poster that really caught your eye and stands out in your memory? Ever been to a fan convention or dressed up as a superhero? Hope you’ll leave a comment.
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