MouseArt---My Gift to Computer Art.

If the truth be to told I've always had to learn things the hard way: growing up, art, life; the whole shebangly boogle. In fact if anything was ever to be learned, and there were two roads marked Easy Way and Hard Way, I would stride without a momentary thought or a heart-beat straight up the one marked 'Hard Way'.

And never more so has this been the case than when it came to learning new cartoon skills and techniques.

I've always been impressed and often amazed at the art being produced by creators working on Cinteq's and i-Pads, and have often thought about purchasing one myself. But I am a bit of a traditionalist and have always been happy working in dip pen and brush and ink. Also I'm too tight fisted to fork out the necessary chunk of wedge that these monsters require.

But over the years I have been worn down by many fellow cartoonists, most notably Gavin Thomson, who now does virtually all his work through his beloved i-Pad, and he regularly tempts me to the freedom of owning one by sending me pictures of him working on his strip Treknet at the beach.

I am now beginning to weaken. Only now, it appears, I will have to but an i-Pad and a ticket to a South African beach...this is getting more expensive by the second.

But even if I did succumb to this i-paddly thing I would never use it to produce the Sleepy Hamlet pages or my Adam and Eve comics, but instead I would use it for illustration work for children's books and magazines.

So having made this momentous decision I looked at the two roads, but this time the one marked 'Easy Way' had a Cinteq and an i-Pad looking all pretty and captivating like an electronic lady of the night. The 'Hard Way' road had it's usual black thunderheads of desperation and boxes of head ache tablets. So I guess you've worked out which road I took.

Yep thunderheads here I come.

Rather than taking the relative technical simplicity of software and devices I have grabbed my computer mouse and Photoshop and am now teaching myself to draw freehand with my ancient and quite honestly, belligerent mouse: I've always shaded my cartoons by using the mouse, but this time I'm going the whole hog and doing it all.

Am I insane? Probably. Did I do it? Well why not take a look below and judge for yourself as I take you through the process I have worked out for myself in what I call 'MouseArt'.

I took for my subject the children's classic the Three Pigs and below are the stages I took to build one of the three pigs and end up with the whole picture.

Enjoy, my friends.

Stage 1. was the flats, produced by drawing the character using the relevant colours.

Stage 2. I built up the shading.

Stage 3. Once the main shading was completed I selected the branches with the 'wand tool' and began the laborious task of defining the sticks and deciding which one went under or over the other.

Once that was completed I began to give it some grain work.

Stage 4. Then finally I highlighted and defined everything that I felt needed defining and pig one was complete.

I then went onto the other two pigs, using the same process.

The 5th and penultimate stage was to create the background.

Now to give a tutorial to that would be a little too much for one blogpost, so I promise that I'll be working on another one soon, hopefully when install some software to film the process in Photoshop.

But that said, here's the finished background MouseArt.

...and from here I simply dropped the three pigs into their positions, did any resizing required, and clicked save.

And here is the finished page.

I hope you liked this post and have had a good look around the site at the many others. I have plenty of exciting projects on and plan many more ideas for the Cartoonist Diary website and blog and I would love to have you come along for the ride. If you like the sound of that, then please sign up below and get a link emailed to you every time I post something new.


All artwork and the written word are copyright Karl Dixon