Yo Ho Ho

I created my comic series, RUM, five years ago. It saw nearly 60 pages created which carried the story along with each addition, over the three or so years that I continued it. Three years is a long time, especially for an artist like myself who, those few years ago, was still trying to find their art-style and direction. And so, RUM is a complete artistic mess and visual disaster, because it quite simply displays the stages of my ability and style as an illustrator. It was my plan from the very beginning to eventually use the pages I created to formulate, at the very least, a digital publication; a graphic novel of some kind. It was ambitious, but I thought a page a week would eventually see its conception, what I didn’t realize what that over the years I would be creating it, I would be itching (as all artists should be) to develop, redesign, and reinvigorate the series visually. Those who followed the series will remember when I drastically changed the art-style of the comic for maybe three or four pages before entirely switching back, because I wanted to experiment.

It taught me a lot, but going back to the original plan, I would be embarrassed to ‘release’ a graphic novel in that kind of a state, where the quality of each page frequently changes. What RUM, in its current state, is, is a piece of history that shows me growing as an illustrator. I’m not saying this is the end of RUM, after the many years I’ve spent slaving on creating each addition to the story, I’ve still got more than enough love in my heart to call it quits; I would love to continue the series in some form or another. And my style has changed tremendously since I first put pen to tablet to draw Captain Wobbleboots for the first time. So, I thought, why not bring old Wobbleboots back to life, and blow away the dust from the currently lifeless and forgotten character. This was my attempt to recreate Wobbleboots in my current style, no attempts to experiment, just how I would sit down to create any other character.

It was a lot of fun to make, and I’d love to see Wobbleboots return in this way, if he is destined to. I think the character is a lot of fun too, and he always has been, when drawing his facial expressions or writing what he does next. I think just how different this design is, or how different I am as an illustrator, can only really be seen when directly compared with my older work. I sorted through a collection of the old comics and pulled from them all the different variations of Wobbleboots over the years, and the change is surprising.

 rum

I originally wanted to put the years of when each one was drawn, but honestly I couldn’t tell you. Obviously, doing away with black outlines is the most obvious visual difference between the new and the old Wobbleboots, and that’s simply because I find it much easier to work without outlines, as well as it being my preference. The addition of the nose is another notable change. Strangely only the main characters in RUM where the ones without noses, but as I added characters, the new ones all sported a nose. Nowadays I like adding the nose to give a little bit more depth and colour to the face, as well as making the character more expressive – as different shaped noses suggest different character. But I think the most interesting difference is colour. I originally started using bright colours, especially in his face and skin, and the reds of his coat. I became more and more wary of bright colours as time went on, to the point where the third version of Wobbleboots has almost grey skin. I still think the duller colours in the third version are an improvement over the first and the second, because the standard, bright colours look tacky and ill-thought-through. But as I’ve changed up my palette to more pastel-like colours, a lot of colour has returned in my art-style, and I think it brings a whole lot of life back into the character, away from a design that was looking dangerously dull. Rich colours makes everything much easier to rest your eyes on, and I think my latest design uses colours to really bring some fun to the character.

I just noticed, Wobbleboots isn’t smiling anymore, I’ll need to fix that.

The Start Of It All

And as my last full stop hit the page on my final exam paper, summer began. It almost feels alien that I will never have to study anything other than Graphic Design for the rest of my life, but at the same time it feels great that I’m finally on the path I want to go down, and no longer sitting at the crossroads. I can finally label myself as a person that actually focuses on design work, rather than just a student, which is actually very liberating!

As summer begans I’m finally able to kick-start what I want to be the new Carrot Cake Studios, and so – ta dah! Whereas in the past the blog was just another page on the website, this time everything else on the website centres itself around the blog. In many ways, the website is blog, and visa versa. For now, a lot of content that used to be on the website isn’t avaialable, but I’ll be working on fully integrating all of my artwork and animations into their own pages and will be able to accessed and commented on as though they were blog posts – exciting stuff! I’m hoping this new design really streamlines the website and helps it from becoming stale, because now the front page will be constantly updating and providing you with new stuff to see.

Whereas it isn’t a primary feature of the new website, you can now become a subscriber to the website by creating an account right here on Carrot Cake, which will hopefully expand the feedback section into something that feels a little bit more like a community. It may be slow development, but I urge you to take the few second it will take to create your very own account on Carrot Cake so you can join in right from the start and always keep in touch. As Carrot Cake grows over the next few years, faster than it has done before, I hope the community will grow with it! I will be doing my best to create a place that isn’t only a document of my work and life, but also a place to share with you guys a bit of food for thought, or some inspiring design, or just something that makes visiting the website a worthwhile part of your day. I’m really looking forward to how everything shapes out!

Like I said, the wheels may be turning slowly at the moment, but they’ve actually started turning for the first time in years. Summer will certainly be a time for me to reflect and relax (as well as work), so the next couple of months will be perfect to set out the foundations for the next coming years here at Carrot Cake as I begin my journey into university and my life as a designer and share with you the places I’ve been, the things I’m working on, the people I’ve met. These are super exciting times.

I hope you’ll join me along the way.

Cheers.