I recently figured out how to use Adobe Photoshop to create cartoons. I've been using the program for several years now, both to edit photographs and create graphics. I know how to use most of the features. But the other night I was dozing in bed when it suddenly dawned on me that the "pen tool" -- which I knew how to use -- wasn't really a pen tool, it was a pair of scissors. Huh? I know why Adobe named it the pen tool. It was the best they could do. But my late night epiphany was that you don't use it to create things in the manner that you would use a real pen. You use it more like you would if you were cutting out shapes in paper and gluing them together in layers to make a picture.
Shazammo! Such a dorky, simple insight, but so useful. I've been avidly doodling comics every free moment I get since then.
With my newfound knowledge comes a heightened interest in what other people are drawing, so I'd like to take the opportunity to show some interesting web comics that have been making me laugh and say hmm!
The Order of the Stick.http://www.giantitp.com/cgi-bin/GiantITP/ootscript
Ultra-simplistic yet excellent art, excellent story-telling about a party of adventurers in a D&D world. I've actually been using Rich Burlew's comic to tutor seventh graders in English literature because of his craft in character development and plot archs. Plus, the strip is just plain funny. Read strips 25-28, where Elan the Bard (my favorite character) decides that if not wearing any armor enables you to move more quietly, then not wearing any clothes at all should make him supah-silent! Highly recommended. PG-13
Intriguing to anyone who has ever struggled with depression, this comic has a fascinating allegorical bent and artwork that is compelling and unusual. Highly recommended. PG-13
Rob and Elliot.http://www.robandelliot.cycomics.com/index.php
This one has been growing on me ever since they showed the "outtakes" from Alf where Alf actually eats the cat. These guys don't get too crude, but they're more risque than the previously mentioned webcomics. A variation in art style. While the previous two look very Photoshopped, this one seems to be a hybrid of hand drawn and computer touch up.
Alien Loves Predator.http://alienlovespredator.com/index.php
Definitely rated R for crude sexual content and language. Done mostly with photography, the characters are little plastic action figures. Something about the dead pan way that the two aliens go about life in New York City is hilarious. If you're going to read one, start with #140, where the Alien makes a smart-ass remark and winds up being treated as a terrorist. Never tell the cops you have a bomb in your scrotum. ("Sir, step away from your nut sack.") In New York, no one can hear you scream. Rated R.
Read it now, repent later. This one just makes me kinda giggle.
Asylum on 5th Street.http://www.asylumon5thstreet.com/
This strip is done by hand, and Jin shows you how she does it in excellent detail here. That's the kind of art Sand and Audie do that I find so amazing. I've scratched the surface at creating this kind of art work and it takes incredible study, talent, and pure damn hard work. Jin Wicked's style is a bit cartoony, and the story lines are cute but not that compelling. Still, she has a knack for marketing and the comic is entertaining. I have it pointing to the one where David Duchovny is the building inspector. Silly fun.
Nine Planets Without Intelligent Life.http://www.bohemiandrive.com/comics/npwil/episodes
Two robots on a road trip through the solar system. This is another gem of excellent art and good story telling. The guys who do this have obviously been well educated in their field. Their use of light, shadow and composition is awesome. The story is unusual and enjoyably told, too. "The weird thing about culture," one robot tells another who aspires to something more, "is that you can chase it as fast as you can and it still speeds past you at the same rate. And once you finally give up, everyone you knew before has gotten old." Highly recommended. PG-13