Welcome back to another edition of The Sketchbook, where I take you through the process of how I created one of my WCPO cartoons. This week we're kicking around the FC Cincinnati-themed Caption This.
You may not have noticed, but I haven't been drawing a whole lot of cartoons lately. A few weeks ago, I started having intense pain my drawing arm and hand.
Turns out I have lateral epicondylitis, also known as tennis elbow or painters' elbow. It's a repetitive stress injury from spending too many hours at the drawing board without taking breaks or practicing good posture. I'd already scheduled some time off around the July 4 holiday, which allowed me to rest, and the fine folks at Oxford Physical Therapy are doing their best to get me back into fighting shape. But I still had to get a Caption This out.
FC Cincinnati's recent hot streak in the Ohio Cup gave me a good topic for the cartoon. I think a lot of us are surprised by how FC Cincinnati has taken the Cincinnati sports world by storm. We're pretty entrenched in our ways when it comes to the Reds and Bengals.
I imagined two parents, each wearing shirts sporting the emblems of our legacy teams. With them would be a kid, who I put in an FC Cincinnati shirt. She'd be the one commenting, and I felt it'd be open enough to interpretation. Was she knocking the Reds and Bengals? Being encouraging toward the teams?
I started by blocking in shapes. Just sloppy blobs, really. But it's a quick way to start working out the composition of the piece. What goes where? How does it look at a glance? That's what I work out in this stage.
Drawing the parents was easy. Unless I'm drawing an actual, specific person, I tend to revert to some basic, generic shapes for the characters in my cartoons. I'm producing three to five cartoons a week, along with other illustrations or comics on the side. I'd love to create new character designs for each toon, but I just don't have the time. One day, I'll go a bit more in-depth on how I (and others) use generic characters.
Drawing the girl was a bit more of a challenge. I wanted to give her some attitude through her body language, but still leave it up to some interpretation from you, the audience.
I thought a shrug and a turn of the head would work well, but it took a couple of tries to get the right attitude down. Although I may use generic shapes and faces when I draw my characters, I tend to put a lot of effort into their gestures. Getting a character's gesture just right can really bring a drawing to life.
Once I sketched out the girl, I placed her in the foreground with her parents. Originally, she was far in the foreground, with the "camera" pointed up at her, and her parents further away in the background.
She appeared large in comparison to her parents. This would have worked out well had I had a background or other depth clues that would show the perspective, but I left the background blank. That made the girl seem like she was a giant. (Not that there's anything wrong with being a giant.)
I shrunk the girl down so she'd be more in proportion to the adults. From there, I went about inking and coloring the final drawing.
"But," you say, "why does the girl's shirt say ‘Cavaliers' and not FC Cincinnati? What trickery is this?" This toon was supposed to have run a few weeks ago during the NBA Finals. Even though my arm fell off, we needed a Caption This, and I had this toon saved. It was easy to change the girl's shirt from a Cav's jersey to having the FC Cincinnati logo. I got to take a week to let my arm rest while still releasing a cartoon.