The Man works for an aerospace manufacturing firm, in quality assurance. It’s a job, you know? Every year, the company holds a big picnic in the park, with a bouncing castle and water guns and games for the little kids. Hot dogs and hamburgers provided by the company, potluck for everything else, water balloons, temporary tattoos, that sort of thing. Very America. Much wholesome. In advance of the picnic, they print a commemorative shirt, designed by an employee. Whoever wins the design contest gets a little bonus, maybe $100.
So The Man had this idea, putting the koala in quality. The words are his, and the idea for the picture is his, but he doesn’t have the patience for drawing. He mentioned this concept about 6 months ago, and I said I could probably do it (I’m much better at Photoshop and the Wacom tablet than I was last year!) but we didn’t follow through. Yesterday, he mentioned that the design was due next week, so I did a little sketch. Today he mentioned that it was actually due tomorrow. That was fine, since I had the sketch and no comic anyway.
This is what I did today. I started by looking at how other cartoonists would depict the body of a koala giving a thumbs up. The Man was very clear that the koala must be giving a thumbs up. I was surprised to find that this is, apparently, a common theme, and there were many thumbs up koalas from which to choose. Then I looked at photographs of actual koalas, because most people who draw cartoon animals don’t seem to have ever seen that actual animal, and I like some degree of verisimilitude in my comics. Once I got the eyes, nose, and mouth satisfactorily blocked out and positioned, I just started grabbing colors from actual koala photos, and drawing tiny dots and lines to represent fur. Then I used the blur tool to floofify QA Koala. Somewhere along the line I noted that koalas do not, in fact, have tails and deleted the vestigial one that had appeared in my original reference image. You can’t trust cartoonists. Not about animal anatomy.
The Man was happy with the design but wanted it a bit darker, so I added a layer, grabbed a dark gray, set the opacity to 20%, covered the koala with this shade, and then cleaned up the edges. The Man came in again as I was finishing up the outline and said he could see that I was doing something, but he couldn’t tell what. “I’m making him floofier,” says I. The blur tool is great for cartoon fur.
I used fonts for the lettering instead of doing it by hand. The original version has the company name and “2016 company picnic” written at the top, but I took that out for this blog.
Whether or not we win (“When we win,” The Man said, assuming that no one else was going to top this) I’ll fix this design up a bit more and offer it on my website. Someone, somewhere, wants a Koala-T.