Tag Archives: drawing

Cartoon Museum? Yes!

10 Dec

This past Thursday on a cold, windy day, my family and I decided to get out of town and take a trip east to Columbus, Ohio. It’s only about an hour away from our home in Dayton, so it’s a nice little getaway.

Though it’s always nice to take random road trips, on this one we had a mission: Go to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum at Ohio State University.


I get irritated at myself on the little things I miss out on. Here is a museum for cartoonists – and I NEVER went to it until this visit. I mean, a museum dedicated to my industry in my own backyard and – for some reason or another – it’s my first time going there. SMH




So You Want To Be A Cartoonist? Part 1

11 Sep


I guess you’re reading this because you’re thinking of getting into cartooning, right?  Or, maybe you’re just bored and the other blogs on your reading list are reruns.  Whatever the case may be, I decided to start a new series about becoming a cartoonist.  I’m not sure how long it’s going to be or anything like that.  I’m just going to start – and finish – when necessary.


Oh. It’s 2016…

1 Mar

Recently I’ve been thinking you know, I haven’t written a blog post recently.

So, today I typed in my web browser the address of this blog that you’re reading now.  To my surprise, the last time I wrote was 2015.  Last year (yikes).  Whoah…it’s been awhile.  What’s really upsetting is there has been a lot going on between the time I posted last and now.  Basically, I’ve left all of you in the dark for quite awhile on anything new.  I’m not quite sure how many of you are heartbroken about the fact that I haven’t posted lately, but I’ll try to change my vicious pattern of not posting.  Starting with this.

Where does one begin since I haven’t been writing?

I’ll start here: It’s been busy (obvious statement, I know).

As many of you know, I’m a new father, so I’ll write about that for today and get into other “busyness” in later blog posts.

Ella was born November 16th of last year.  Fatherhood has been good to me.  A great thing!  I know – I know…all new parents say that.  But, it is very true.

Starting off, for me, it was like this.  Let me attempt to use an analogy.

In the hospital room, it reminded me of waiting for a train.  Have you ever done that?  Waited for a train at a station on the platform?  I used to take Amtrak all the time.  I still would, but I don’t travel much.  Anyhow, I’m using this scenario because being in the delivery room did remind me of waiting for a passenger train.

The train station is typically quiet – especially if you’re traveling from a small town in the middle of night (which, for me was often leaving Hutchinson, Kansas, around 3 AM).  It’s silent.  Nothing happening.  And then, all of a sudden, you hear a horn in the distance.  Then, a light.  And all of a sudden, it gets louder and LOUDER.  Gates are flashing, going down.  There are people gathering around the platform.  Rumbling of a huge train coming in for a stop. A flurry of activity.

And then, as quickly as the activity began, it stops.  Becomes quiet again and you’re off on a comfortable ride.

The birth of my daughter in the delivery room reminded me of this.  Nothing happening at all, then signs of her coming.  Suddenly, people (nurses and a doctor) gather in the room and – BOOM – there she is!  Crying a little bit.  But, once all the activity settles down and it’s just us in the delivery room with a few members of the family, it’s quiet again.  She’s asleep and we’re off on a new journey.


What a great journey it’s been since November.  I’m savoring every moment.  Yeah, I’m excited for her to talk, learn to draw and hangout with me without having to bring along a burp cloth.  But, the way she is now I’m absorbing up and also realizing it won’t last so enjoy every progression, moment and time from here on out.  Again, I know it’s all been said before, but now I realize how true it all is.  I already feel like she’s growing up too fast and it’s been just over three months.  If she picks up a pen and starts cartooning within the next several days, I wouldn’t be too shocked.  (And then I’ll have to explain to her all the frustrations of being in the cartooning profession.)



This ride is quite an exciting one.  And many stops along the way (especially to change poopy diapers).  I’m thrilled to be aboard.

I’ll leave you with that.  Just another brief “hello” from Ella and me.

I’ll try to write more soon.  For now though, that’s my latest update.

And now I can say I’ve finally written a blog post in 2016 (applause).



17 Caricatures Project

12 Oct

One piece of advice that I can give any cartoonist is this:  Get away from your comfort zone as much as possible!  Seriously, I was in a cesspool of mediocre work of mine for years until I learned this.  You can’t just stay stagnant.  Trying new things – whether you like it or not – helps.  Even learning to paint, use Photoshop, drawing with crayons, etc. is great to develop your own style.  The more you know in general, even if it’s stuff you’ll never use (like math) makes for a better artist.

That being said, I used to be anti-caricature.

I didn’t enjoy doing them, I didn’t think I was good at them and so – I basically passed on almost all projects that included them.

Recently though (this past year) I’ve started created them more and more.  And I’ve had several clients hire me to do them.  The results?  Well, happy clients.  I discovered people don’t hate them and actually, they can be quite a bit of fun to do.

I’m not a Tom Richmond when it comes to OUTSTANDING caricature.  I compare my work more along the lines of The Simpsons.  You know how when that cartoon series gets a guest star on, they look ‘Simpson-ish’, but yet still distinguishable of that person?  That’s more of how I would describe my caricature work.  Much simpler and cartoon-like.

Anyhow, as long as my clients are happy –  I’m happy.  And so far, everyone that has hired me to do my particular style of caricatures really have enjoyed them.  I’m pleased with the work as well.  Yes, I strive to be more of a Tom (Richmond, that is), but also think there’s something to the simplicity of my work that is great for certain projects.

I thought I’d share a recent project I drew for a printing company based out of Norway.

They wanted me to draw their employees – seventeen of them – to be used as wall art.  The work is going to be enlarged to life-size via a Vector file.  Basically, the main contact person sent me 17 photos of the various employees.   No, they weren’t all together, so my job was to put them all in one image and make it work.

He (the contact) gave me some great insight on who was short, who was tall, who did what and so-forth.  I also included some of the materials that they used on a regular basis (printing stuff, computers, etc).  The goal:  Caricatures of their workplace.  For now, just a black & white image.

I love challenging work and so I was anxious to tackle this job.  I thought, in the process, I would document it so I could explain how I went about doing it all.

The first step was printing out all the separate images of the employees.  In respect to the client, I won’t show you their actual photos.  At any rate, I printed those out in black & white (since that was all I was doing) and also printed out various images of their workspace.  Yes, I had a pile of papers to contend with.

I then took his visual advice of who was taller/shorter and worked that part into the image.  So, basically I drew just outlines of where images would go on the paper so I could fit all seventeen people in there.


Next was putting the actual people in here as a rough sketch.


When I do a rough sketch, they are VERY rough.

I added a lot of elements like an old printing press, printers, etc.  When this above rough was done, I sent it to the client.  He wanted it more modern and less crowded, so I removed several items.


I sent off the above sketch, and the clients wanted a few things removed and changed.  I made the changes and came up with this final sketch (below).


They were happy with it, so then the inking began.



After inking the entire thing, I scanned it into the computer, cleaned it up and added several black areas that I felt would enhance it.

And this was the final result.

Johan A - Z FINAL

Another point I want to make is ALWAYS take any kind of adjustments, reworks, etc. from clients as a complement.  Sometimes clients think they’re annoying me when asking to make changes.  I like when they ask me to because that way I know it becomes perfect.  I offer my own insight as well on what I think works, and if they suggest something I don’t think is good to do, I’ll mention it to them.  At any rate, it makes for a happy customer at the end with patience and working well with the person who commissioned the work.

So, this was my big seventeen caricature project.

I had a great time working on this and glad again that I learned awhile back to get out of my comfort zone of just doing things I wanted.  A few years ago, I would have never tackled something like this.

The only comfort zone you should stick with when cartooning is your stool.  If it’s not comfortable, get a new one.  The whole idea is to spend as much time at the drawing table as possible, right?  Happy Hiney = Happy Hand Drawings

Announcement Time

7 Feb

As all my email subscribers, know I’ve been hinting that there’s some new – and cool – stuff on the way that I’ve been working on.  Well, the time is coming soon for launch!

No, it’s not another Kickstarter (whew!), so calm down.  That didn’t go so well last time.

I’m taking Nate’s Ramblings into a new medium.  Let me explain…

AS much as I love to write (and I’ll continue to do so) I still feel at a distance a lot of times when doing so.  Writing is a great way to tell stories, share ideas and kind of get to know me.  But, me as a person, I don’t know many of my fans and readers what-so-ever personally and I don’t think you really have a chance to know me.  So, I thought a  good way to introduce myself and become more of a ‘friend’ is to not only have comics, blogs – but also a sweet new thing:


I’m about to launch a weekly video series called Nate Ramblings (same as this blog except without the ‘s’).

My whole idea and premise of the series is to give you all an insider look at what I do – offering tips and tricks – basically showing you what I do on a regular basis in cartooning.  I’m going to make it fun and entertaining (hopefully).  I figured since they can make cooking shows a good time to watch, I can do this with cartooning.  And no, I’m not just going to have a camera setup with me drawing.  Nope.  It is a lot more involved than that.

This weekly series will debut on a new website and – like my comics – you can get a FREE weekly subscription to it.  I’ll have comment areas and more for Q&A which I’ll be actively involved in.

I have taught many cartooning classes before and so this is right up my alley.  Part of my career I wanted to tap into more was teaching.  And what better audience than the one I already have?  Plus, I think this will be a great opportunity to meet new friends (online and off) out there that enjoy the art like me.

I’ll be featuring topics such as drawing, Photoshop, characters, putting together ideas, etc.  TONS of topics!  And I know you can YouTube just about anything these days, so I’m hoping to touch on things that aren’t so obvious.  Really, it will be exactly what I do.  So, you can use it or not.  Either way, no biggie.

And these series will also show a lot of my flaws.  Trust me guys, I have a TON of them I can’t wait to share with you on video and point out.  Because I think a lot of us are in the same boat.

So, anyway, we’re looking at the debut to be in several weeks.

If you’re like me, sometimes it’s fun to sit back and relax and just watch something instead of read.  Well, soon you can.  (Unless, of course, you’re busy watching old Seinfeld episodes.)

I’ll post again WHEN it’s launched and make sure you all have the access to check it out and have access.  Like anything, I’m sure the series will be tweaked as it goes along and I’ll have to get comfortable doing them as well.  It’s all very new to me!  I’ve had video interviews and stuff, but this is a bit different.  But, hey, I’ll get it down.  We’ll see.

Any way, that’s my announcement.  I can’t wait to launch this series.  I’ve invested a lot of time into it already and getting all the behind the curtain things figured out.

I’ll fill you all in again soon!

See you on camera in a few weeks.

P.S. – in the meantime, subscribe to my daily email HERE for constant updates, new stuff and more.

Anything but that

15 Apr

If you’re an artist, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about with this post.  And if you’re not an artist, I’m sure there are numerous other things you can relate to about it.  Anyhow, being the cartoonist-illustrator-artist that I am, there are things I hate to draw.

In fact, there are things I hate to draw so much, I’ll scrap a good comic with a great premise at times to avoid doing so.  (Okay, not so much now, but back in the day I would.  Now I like to challenge myself a bit more.  Still though, doesn’t mean I enjoy drawing the stuff.)

It’s funny because a lot of times I don’t know why that is.  Why are some things fun to draw and other things just – well – suck?

I may have a few reasons.

One of the big ones for me is drawing bicycles.  I absolutely hate drawing bikes.  They’re awkward, goofy and every time I draw one, I’m never happy with it.  A big reason for me also disliking to draw them so much is the circle aspect of it.  I hate drawing circles (perfect circles, that is).  And with a bike, if your circle isn’t “perfect” it doesn’t come across as a good bike.  It looks like a crappy bike that was just hit by a city bus.

Bike 1

Bike 2

Above:  Past examples of bike drawings I did for Tommy Blaze’s series, Knocking On Heaven’s Door.


Moving on….

I hate drawing cars.  Okay, let me rephrase that – I’m bad at drawing cars.

If I have a picture of a car in front of me, I’m usually okay.  However, if I go off my memory, well, the results are a bit more lackluster.

bod121215Above:  A car of mine.  Notice the misshapen wheels, ugly rims and general crappiness.

Again, like the bike (and the above example points out) I think the roundness plays a big role.  I’m just not good at those pesky circles!

Caricature is another thing I don’t enjoy drawing.  Likeness isn’t a strong trait of mine.  I can get in the ballpark, but I can’t seem to hit a home run.

2011-10-05Above:  Would Edgar approve?  Well…not too sure.

I’ve always been a bit envious of great MAD Magazine cartoonist like Tom Richmond who nails it regularly (getting likeness down and creating an awesome caricature.)

Another area I’m not too great in is when it comes to having certain body parts twisted or turned a certain way that I’m not used to.

2011-11-04Above:  Even a simple cartoon like this can be awkward for me to draw.  I forget how many times I erased pencil marks to get it right, but I’m guessing quite a few.

So, that’s just a little run-down of things I’m not good at or happy drawing.

There are more as well and I’m sure I’ll run across more as time goes through, but these were some of my biggest ones where I think to myself, “Anything but that!”

Again though, even if you’re not an artist, I’m sure there are things you can relate to.  A car mechanic might not enjoy oil changes, a pilot might hate landing and a psycho path probably hates straightjackets.  Anyway, as an artist, these are mine.  I’ll probably just try to avoid them all from here on out.

What are your “things” that you hate?