The Man gets credit for this idea. We were driving around in the desert both lamenting the loss of our glasses, but apparently he found his under the seat, whereas mine have been gone for a couple of weeks. Doubtless they will turn up again after I have spent several hundred dollars and several hours of my life replacing them. Anyway, he said our glasses were probably together having little baby monocles. Monocle is a funny word. We also like to imagine our cell phones mating. We are funny people.
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.
If I had all the time and money in the world, I would have gone back to school and studied visual art or graphic design, but that simply wasn’t an option, and I had a pretty good idea of what I need to do anyway. The Trickster’s Hat was simply the first few credit hours in my personal graduate study of art. With my husband encouraging me, I gave up my day job devoted myself to drawing. I calculated I could cover my expenses from savings for two years, and if I couldn’t make some kind of impact in two years, I would move on and figure out something else to do with my adulthood.
Instead of creating art in a vacuum, which had been my basic MO for most of my life, I decided to publish my final products, here in this blog, but also on some T-shirts. I liked the quality and artist-centric philosophy of RedBubble.com and found the site easy to navigate. I acquired a Wacom tablet and forced myself to learn how to use it. Then I began drawing like my life depended on it. I knew that my work would be imperfect, and I embraced that. Whether or not people loved it, I was going to take this chance seriously.
You can acquire any of these designs, and more, on a variety of products: shirts of every size, style, and color, plus sticker, device covers, pillows, tote bags, greeting cards, and poster. Visit my online shop for more details.