ORIGINAL CARTOONING & MANGA

This gallery contains images created for projects I have completed in my Cartooning studies at George Brown College. The courses there have been great and I have noticed a a great change in my style in just one year. First up is ANDI, an original character I created for Cartooning Part One.

ANDI- A BEACH PRINCESS WITH A DIFFERENCE

Miranda 'Andi' Schell is in her early twenties and lives in a small seaside community on the east coast, where fishing and tourism are the main sources of income for residents. She is a free-spirited loner, with few close friends outside her aunt and a punkish girlfriend from her wild days in high school, which she finished through night classes after giving birth to a boy named Spencer when she was 17. Spencer is Andi in male miniature, in the care of Aunt Torrie, who is battling cancer and running an ice cream parlour near the beach. Andi comes from money, but has been largely cut off since Spencer's birth. Refusing to give him up to her mother was the last straw in their stormy relationship. It is only through Torrie that Andi can see Spencer at all, and that is even conditional on the understanding that Torrie is in charge- no questions asked and none answered. Andi supports herself through working at the ice cream parlour in the summer time, being a model for residents of a local artist's colony, and working for odd jobs from organizing beach volleyball and sand sculpture contests to guarding the town from gangs, shadowy government organisations and anything the mayor- Hugh Hugly- wants to do.

There is a lot more, but I don't want to give away spoilers, except to say this could become a project alongside SARGASSO or even a possible successor.

What follows are character designs for Andi, completed in blue and graphite pencil and Copic markers. The main sheet is enlarged so you can see the various poses in more detail. This is literally the whole of Assignment Two from GBC's Cartooning Part One, a course I thoroughly enjoyed.

ANDI POSE DESIGN SHEET

ANDI POSE DESIGN CLOSE UP 1

ANDI POSE DESIGN CLOSE UP 2

ANDI POSE DESIGN CLOSE UP 3

ANDI POSE DESIGN CLOSE UP 4

ANDI POSE DESIGN CLOSE UP 5

ANDI POSE DESIGN CLOSE UP 6

 

ANDI POSE DESIGN SIGNATURE PIECE

 

For the piece that follows, we were given the line and very specific directions on the composition and number of characters, along with their possible positions. From that list came this, with Andi, the mayor and Spencer dealing with a houseboat party gone very wrong. the blue pencil was mandated for the final to show proof of perspective and the breakdowns of the characters. It was admittedly upsetting to add this when the piece was finished, but the assignment dictated it and who am I to argue with the instructor? In the end, it's hardly noticeable.

"Let's make sure that we never do this again."

ANDI SUMMATIVE CARTOON PIECE

 

ANDI IN DEVELOPMENT

I got to know my beach princess very well during the course of the 16 weeks the class lasted. Every week, we were given different challenges to meet in terms of designing the characters and making them move realistically. We also addressed issues related to accomodation, which was to set up the final piece. Even though I imagined Andi living in a beach trailer hybrid, it made more dramatic sense in the final piece to have her in a houseboat.

What follows are early drawing samples of Andi as she developed. The head stayed large for a while, until the second assignment when I shrank it down to the proportions you see above. We were asked at times to look at the character at different ages and to even complete a primitive walk cycle, or gesture poses based on character designs in Preston Blair's book on cartooning. One week, we were asked to imagine the character in different forms- hence the princess and the punk. All of these studies were completed on the fly in the class with no reference or rehearsal. Eventually, I was able to conceive of Andi in almost any situation in my head. Finally, I was starting to think like a cartoonist. Now the really hard part begins...

 

ANDI'S BEACH TRAILER HOME

 

 

CARTOONING PART TWO- ZEPHYR, BUNTY AND SOME MAGGOTS

The second course in Cartooning at George Brown led to the design of new characters who stand on their own, but who are kin to Andi and her people from the first course. This course allowed me to develop cartoons and and four panel comic strips. I began the course with three possible sets of characters, eliminating two quickly because of the complexity of world building to go with them. One will be revisted in the future. For now, however, I settled on the characters seen below. Welcome to...

THE 'REEL' WORLD OF ZEPHYR CROW

CHARACTER DESIGN SHEET PENCIL ROUGHS FOR ZEPHYR CROW

graphite on paper

These images show Zephyr as originally conceived, wearing one of those cute animal hats. I lost the hat after Project One as it was a nuisance to draw all the time, keeping the ears and animal face in perspective and proportion. The basic idea is there, though. She is almost albino with very pale skin and almost white hair. Her eyes are an icy blue, reflective of her ability to see her way through the echoes of spiritual energy generated by the magic of movie makers in an old abandoned backlot over the fence behind her house.

EARLY ZEPHYR EXPRESSION SHEET

graphite on paper

We weren't asked to create an expression sheet this time in the course, but I felt I needed to do so in order to understand Zephyr better. Here are some studies, illustrating the problem I was already having with that stupid hat.

She needed a foil in her adventures, according to the project outlines. That became Bunty, her precocious sister.

BUNTY CROW

graphite on paper

 

Bunty has the capacity for sisterly evil, but is generally more impish than malevolent. She is usually like this or dressed up in various costumes. The pirate outfit was the set up for what became the first project, a single panel cartoon set outside the family home, featuring the characters engaged in a situation where one would be speaking a line chosen from a list provided by the instructor. The requirements were VERY precise for this. A third character was needed. This became Howard Elbee, former string and rubber band special effects man in the studio that once existed over the back fence. Here he is in three poses, one of which shows him with the Seaview, the iconic submarine from VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA. That was a visual joke for the instructor, who was a big fan of that show.

HOWARD ELBEE

graphite on paper

Putting it all together, using the line "Nice day for a walk, isn't it?" from the list, I came up with this idea.

Several changes were made from this to the final version seen below. The treasure chest was replaced with a small 'pirate dog' and Howard's arm was moved, so he wasn't holding the submarine model the same way. I also added more stage business, making this a rather complex piece- not the best idea for something that would in reality be seen far smaller than its original size of 12in wide by 16in tall. I was not very happy with the final piece, but include it here as a cautionary tale.

"NICE DAY FOR A WALK, ISN'T IT?"

pen and ink on illustration board

 

PROJECT TWO- INTRODUCING M. AGGOTT

The second project involved using the two characters and introducing a monster to the scene. The scenario was also specific. The monster is supposed to be selling its house to the characters. One is oblivious to the nature of the place and the other is not. Ink and wash was used and we spent a lot of time looking at works by people like Dedini- see the fan art page of this site- and Charles Addams. I did some research for my monster using Google Images to set a framework. Monsters come in two disctinct categories- cute and nasty. As this cartoon was supposed to evoke humour, Giger type creatures were off the table for consideration. Dark humour is one thing, but considering Zephyr and Bunty were involved I felt it was best to keep it light like MONSTERS Inc. Monsieur Aggott was the result of this. He is a dandy 7ft tall fly who speaks like a cross between Vincent Price and Maurice Chevalier. (Of course he does! Who else would he imitate?) He was one of Howard's old creature creations in the studio way back when and somehow he actually became alive. (There are reasons for this, but I'm not telling at this time. Sorry.) After the recession of 2008 hit, Aggott fell on hard times and eventually even convention appearances were not enough to keep his delightfully shabby mansion going. So... he is forced to sell it and we find him making his pitch to Zephyr, while Bunty- usually the cool one- sees some of Aggott's maggot children making mischief on the floor. My character sheet below was supposed to include four rotations of Aggott- or was it three. (The instructions said one thing in one paragraph and something else in another.) It did not matter anyway for the instructor as he pointed out I added the new characters and rotations for them, making for 13 poses in all..

Personally, I hate flies. So this was a chance to work with making these creatures a little more presentable. There is definitely some of Mr. Peanut in him, but with the hairy legs and many limbs, not to mention the cape-like wings, he goes way beyond that other guy. As for the maggot children, they have become darlings and fan favourites. They can come in so many shapes and sizes and do anything, as you will see in the frames where I put everything together for the final inking of Project Two in the course. They have no eyes and lots of teeth. The comment of "they're cute and disgusting all at the same time" has been made often.

MONSIEUR AGGOTT AND HIS MAGGOT CHILDREN

pen and ink wash on illustration board copyright C.A. Seaman 2014

 

PROJECT TWO: HOW TO SELL YOUR HOUSE IF YOU ARE A 7ft TALL FLY

We were required to put the characters into an interior scene and use two-point perspective on the project. There were things about depth in two point perspective that mystified me, even after I read books on the subject. This course helped me learn a method which solved those problems, making checker-board floors now easy to do. Assuming others were going to do that, I therefore avoided them in the final piece, except where placing the characters was concerned. Using the scale techniques I learned, it was possible to place the characters accurately within the scene and, using cut-outs I made of them, planning the project in advance before putting pencil to paper on the final. The work leading up to this was enormous, and hopefully from learning what I did I can take short cuts next time to make the lead time briefer as in a course it's one thing to do all this stuff, but deadlines in the business may make it impossible.

Above is the rough layout of the room in two point perspective. You can see the horizon line and using rulers if you printed this out, you can see where the two vanishing points were going to be. They were far off the page, necessitating me to tape down the paper and use meter sticks to place the converging lines. The DVP is an arbitrary placement on the horizon line, but where you put it will determine the overall layout of the work. So be careful. Using a back wall to scale the squares and choosing their size at 1x1ft, it was then possible, using the DVP and the vanishing points to lay out a grid on the floor in a correct scale, using it to place the characters in the depth of the scene and the back wall to scale their height correctly. As you will see, I made a few changes to Zephyr and Bunty, with Zephyr becoming a bit older in the piece. The scale is not that different from Project One, however. Something else I did was simplify the clothes a little. The object in this project was to simplify it more than Project One. I was successful, but where the placement and activities of the maggot children were considered, it was a careful consideration of how much was too much at every step of the way.

Finally, I did use Poser to build the scene. However, there were nagging questions in my mind about the scale of the characters as only Zephyr and Bunty existed in the computer. M. Aggott had to rendered by hand. I thus dumped Poser out of the final planning, trusting in my instructor's knowledge of perspective to steer me through to the end. It was a good gamble...

Here are some images of the cut outs, roughs and other bits showing how Project Two came together. Looking back, I really managed to make a mountain out of a fly's house on this one. What I learned, however, made developing Project Three a lot easier. Also, it gave me a critical eye when looking at how Charles Addams developed his cartoons. The second one in used the cutouts, superimposed on the Poser room I created. I made multiple copies of the bottom half of the image in full scale so I could test out different combinations of maggots in action. I was then advised by a friend to scale them down to the size seen if they were in a newspaper. From that, I determined what combination of maggots was needed to make the piece work.

"IT NEEDS WORK, BUT IT'S CLOSE TO ALL AMENITIES. THE MALL. THE BUS. THE DUMP."

pen and ink wash on illustration board, copyright C.A. Seaman 2014

 

PROJECT THREE- THE STRIP

Project Three was a lot more open-ended in its conception. It had to be funny. It had to have four panels and use the characters. Beyond that, it was pretty much up to us what happened. Given how the story had gone off track in Project Two with the introduction of the maggot children, who effective stole the narrative, it actually made for some interesting possibilites for this project and whatever may happen with these characters in the future.

The strip is basically a sequel. I will show you the final piece first to put it into context.

 

THE REEL WORLD OF ZEPHYR CROW

pen and ink on illustration board, copyright C.A. Seaman 2014

 

Poor Bunty...

This is actually a little different from the one handed in. Bunty's shorts were white originally and the arm in panel three had some bad musculature in it as well as facial features that didn't quite work. After I got it back, I did something I never do and put back on the table to be fixed up. It took a while, but it worked better in the end. Below are some of the development pieces that went into it. These were originally drawn in specially scaled panels set on 8.5x11" paper, cleaned up and then reduced and scanned into a template for the final strip. I used Poser to set the scene in panels 1-3 and sketched from observation as if I was drawing from real models in a life drawing class. No speech bubbles were included at this time- but I knew to keep the upper parts of the frame open enough for them and thus had less trouble than some in the class placing the dialogue in the space provided. Even so, when I transferred my 'script' into the frames, I found the dialogue too wordy and then cut it down to fit.

Above is an early draft on panel three with post notes for the dialogue. You can see how it changed from this version to the final. Below is the initial set up with the scans into the panels, which we could scale to be larger than but only in proportion to the ideal size of 13x4" in size. The reproduction below is, as noted, not to scale.

 

I am glad these are part of a learning process. I need to streamline the process and will do so as I get more practice in the area. What was learned here alone was enough to make future strips easier to create... or at least that's my story and I am sticking to it.

CARTOONING THREE

This course continued the adventures with Zephyr and Bunty. What follows are studies and projects that developed the characters, scenes and stories a bit further.

 

THE ANTHOLOGY COVER PROJECT

Our first project had us taking our characters from Cartooning Two and creating an anthology cover for an imagined collection of strips and Sunday cartoons. As a lot of anthologies tend to come out in time for Christmas, a suggestion was made that a seasonal theme could be used. What follows below is the process work and final image that came from that. A reproduction of an existing anthology cover was also required. Check in on the fan art page of this website to see how that worked out.

the planning for this involved revisiting territory covered in Cartooning Two, where I had to place the characters in a two point perspective scene. using the Wally Wood maxim of saving resources and trying to re-use them in later projects, I dug up the tow point perspective chart I created in Project Three of the last course to see if I could put it back into action. The short andwer was 'no', because the composition and its orientation was different along the horizon line. A new chart was created, elements of which were then combined with the drawing of the characters, using a scanner, Corel Photopaint and some virtual rulers to create the vanishing points. The rough work, including some pre-vis work in Poser, follows.

Above are the Poser pre-visualisations of the project with major elements like most of the characters, the tree, fireplace and hearth, a window with curtains and more. Lighting is checked here and the characters are posed in the setting to get ideas of how to place them in the final. As you can see in the next set of images, a lot of changes were made. Zephyr was too awkwardly posed here, and when M. Aggott was added, his compound eye would have had little else to look at other than Zephyr's breasts. Posing M. Aggott was itself difficult. All previous drawings showed him standing up. How does he sit down? I had to spend some time working out that one. It was a good lesson for hopeful future forays into character design.

The picture below shows the final composition. No Poser previs here. I just sat down and quickly sketched the whole thing, with all of the computer work still fresh in my mind. I find Poser is great that way, giving me the chance to play with set ups to give me a sense of what works or not, and what is possible where the compositions are concerned. In time, as I build more confidence, I know I will need it less to put pieces together. But for now, it helps a lot.

This was the drawing of the characters in a good cluster. I sort of figured out how to get M. Aggott to sit down, treating his thorax like a beer belly in the picture and simply changing out his dandy costume for a Santa suit. Bunty, clutching the gingerbread man stays true to the original work and was even the subject of the first colour test for a character Zephyr's world, as seen below.

BUNTY WITH A GINGERBREAD MAN

illustration marker and watercolour on paper, copyright C.A. Seaman 2014

The first colour test with Bunty and one of the brood, just to see what colours might work with the characters. A bit more highlight could be used on the skin, but it wasn't a bad effort for something on the fly in 30 minutes.

Next, I had to wrestle with the perspective and create the setting for the new picture. This took a lot less time than it did in Cartooning Two, having learned how to create the grid and use the software to extend lines to their natural vanishing points. Anyone who has ever done work with wide vanishing points knows they can be many feet apart. For one project in another course, not included on the website, the vanishing points in a two point perspective piece would have been 12 feet apart had I drawn them out in the 'real' world!

The first image is the original drawing of the one vanishing point. The next image shows lines added after scanning into Photopaint. The final image shows the characters dropped into the scene and lined up according to the vanishing points by eye- the same way I would likely do this most of the time if I had not been required to work to the strict requirements of the project. I am honestly not a fan of this method for working, but my work surface is only so big and the computer does help literally stretch the horizon to infinity in a small space.

From this composite, I created a new file in the computer at the same size of the final piece, cut out what I needed from here and dropped it in. Now I had the foundation I needed to build the details of the room that appear in the final layout below.

This is the early cartoony style of Zephyr and Bunty that links with the projects from Cartooning Two. The final Sunday panel project which followed this, (in the course and on the screen below), had a version of these characters which for me, linked up more closely with the original designs from early in 2014. Still, I am not complaining about how they came out here. I like them a lot in this style as well, as it works in the setting of M. Aggott's house and his many maggot children, who look so covetously at Bunty and her gingerbread man. This project was seriously hard work to design, but worth it for what I learned in the end.

What follows are some of the versions we had to submit along with the final. There was a full size graphite pencil version, a monochromatic colour study in watercolour, a half-scale full colour watercolour study and then the large board. I did not add the half-scale watercolour here, as it is redundant.

 

 

THE 'REEL' WORLD OF ZEPHYR CROW ANTHOLOGY COVER

12x16" Pen and ink and watercolour on illustration board. Copyright C.A. Seaman 2014.

 

THE SUNDAY COMIC

The final project, and for now, the last time you'll be seeing Zephyr and Bunty, involved creating a Sunday comic layout. I believe this is the look on the faces I am seeking, having developed them from the original drawings in Cartooning Two. This was a lot of fun from beginning to end, with the characters being set the way I wanted them in such a way to make designing this a breeze. With all the Poser models and work done on revised back stories, this strip could continue. For now, however, another, much larger project lies in the wings- something that will finally blend the comics with the military work that dominates the fine art section of this website. It'll be great to see Zephyr and Bunty again in the future, and hopefully return to that other massive undertaking, the SARGASSO books.

The initial layout. The script was more or less in my head, so I sketched out the piece, then set to figuring out the panel sizes. I then created created massive templates in Photopaint so I could draw in the images. These hands of mine don't like fiddly small pictures much these days! What follows are the drawings themselves, much reduced from their original sizes- between 8.5x11" and 11x17" in paper size. A couple of the Poser set ups are also included for fun. I don't use photo referencing as such, but use the Poser models to 'act out' the work, print a reference sheet and then freehand the rest. I make changes as I go so I'm not slavishly copying the work. The approach is the same used by Rockwell, and if it worked for him, it's good enough for me.

Panel One, with the title card blanked out, as the logo wasn't designed at the time.

Panel Two, with the Poser reference included. The differences are obvious.

Panel Three, before Zephyr gained a few much needed inches on the hips to literally round her out. That changes was done on the final sheet before the whole thing was transferred to the board for inking. The final works much better, but this was a good start. Note the little details on Bunty's sketchpad.

I learned from reading about Wally Wood's methodology the idea of saving materials and re-using them when possible to save time. Panels Four and Five develop the narrative just fine, but it was more effective to re-use the basic hand and smartphone pose for both, changing the picture on the screen and adding the speech bubble in Five that sets up the dialogue leading to the punch line. Bunty's hand was a little gnarly here, so it was suggested I smooth it out. That job was completed on the final sheet.

Panel Six, which when you see the final, was pushed over to set up the speech bubble better. I meant showing more of Zephyr's torso. In the original drawing, Zephyr was farther away from Bunty, and a couple of eagle eyes suggested overlapping them more and changing the scale of Bunty's head to reflect her age. This was a challenge as she was closer than Zephyr but had different head proportions to her older sister. As a result, in correct positioning, Zephy and Bunty's heads appear almost the same size. Poser was useless in anticipating this. A good reason for keeping it as a means of setting up the action like a storyboard, rather than slavishly copying from it as I am sure some people do...

Panel Seven, with the speech bubble sketched in lightly just to check placement. Again, if I followed the Poser image literally, half of Bunty's head would have disappeared under the punchline!

Panel Eight- Zephyr's reaction and a strategically place arm to cover certain body parts. A couple of people wondered about Zephyr's sunbathing, but I pointed out I first saw characters in DOONESBURY tanning this way over 20 years ago. That ended the discussion. Then they simply commented on how much they liked her feet...

The raw drawing for Panel Nine, without the background and related details, which went in on the final. There seemed no point in doing everything over and over again, so I just used these drawing panels to set the figures and gauge the space needed for speech bubbles. Eventually, the process will be simplified to cut more middle steps out, but for now, it works.

 

And below... the final piece!

 

THE 'REEL' WORLD OF ZEPHYR CROW SUNDAY STRIP

16x12", pen, ink, watercolour on board. Image copyright C.A. Seaman 2014

The colour is a little off on the title card, with the lettering needing a bit more orange in it, but generally, it held up well under the scanner. It is also a bit smaller than it would appear in some Sunday papers.

 

 

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The images inspired by existing anime/manga and are not copyrighted by me, except for everything in the ORIGINAL MANGA section, which is mine...my own, MY PRECIOUSSSS....
Last revised: January 31, 2015.