A few years ago during a slow day at work I was surfing the net, or the part we’re allowed to surf from our work computer, and found these cartoon ladies. I have no memory of what site they’re from, I just thought they were cute. I also thought “wow, I could do that!” They were fairly simply pixel drawings and I like to do things with Microsoft’s Paint program. Yes, I know it’s a very simple and basic program that everyone criticizes. I have Adobe Photoshop and other programs that are so full of fancy tools that I will never learn them all. But Paint is what I have on my work computer so it was my only option.
I started off by modifying the cartoon ladies at the office and it grew from there. Eventually my cartoon looked nothing like the originals, which was what I wanted. It’s never nice to steal someone’s work, and I hadn’t meant to do that. I just used it as a starting point and ran with it from there. I call it “rustic” drawing; fairly flat, no depth and definitely 2D. Purely having fun one pixel at a time.
My first cartoon ended up looking like me. I have long strawberry blonde hair and it was easy to over-emphasize it and make me look like walking hair. That made me giggle. From there I worked until I captured my sister, Linda, who has curled bangs no matter what hair style she has. I was thrilled. By then I was thinking maybe I should give up my day job and just draw cartoons for a living. Well. It was a thought.
After emailing my two cartoons to Linda for her opinion, I was so pleased when she replied that I was extremely talented, and these were so good and I was her favorite sister. Or… something like that. She really was impressed though, and gave me some good tips for small changes and tweaks. From there I worked on the rest of the SOTT gals: our sister Dawn, my niece Ashley, and my daughter Emily. Linda and I giggled back and forth by email at how uncanny the resemblences were getting as she gave me suggestions for tweaks.
SOTT is Sisterhood of the Traveling Tiara, our birthday group. We get together to celebrate on each of our birthdays throughout the year, The birthday gal wears the tiara around town to wherever she chooses to dine, have coffee, have dessert. It’s quite fun; people joke with us and once someone asked Linda if it was her birthday. She laughed and said “No, I won!” We laughed so hard; she thought that one up pretty fast! I’m re-posting one of our formal poses for one of our milestone birthday celebrations. Ok, it was me turning 50, I’ll re-admit that!
So anyway, once I had the faces and hair down, it was just a matter of putting legs on the gals. Up to that point they were fully dressed with purses and no legs. Ready to shop but with a major handicap. So I worked on legs and feet and of course shoes. Growing legs was not such a tough hurdle. With so few pixels, putting details in the footwear wasn’t possible. But I did what I could with my pixel dots.
From there I lost interest in drawings for awhile. It was something that I worked on in the office during slow times, and then emailed home and worked on them on my laptop as I watched tv during the winter. Come summer, I had too many other things to do to play with my gals and the office was short on staff for awhile so I was busy.
Starting them up again the next winter I found creative ways to dress the gals and change their hair here and there. While surfing at work again one day I found a site that had little dresses and realized I could get crazy and put us in some wild outfits. I discovered I could replicate them, modify them, and put them on my gals. So a few of the outfits are not my original idea, they were just modified by me.
Eventually Linda decided I should create a book for each of us using the gals and have them saying funny things or put them in funny poses or situations. I’ve never gone quite that far but do have some where they are joking or being goofy in some way. Some of the poses I did just because they were so NOT our style that they were hilarious.
Finally I started to share them with the rest of the gals. I sent a few at a time out by email and crossed my fingers. The caricatures went over well, the gals weren’t too insulted and did enjoy seeing us in different outfits and poses. I don’t think they mind appearing in my cartoons. It is really just us laughing at ourselves.
I even bought sheets of magnetic paper at one point and used my printer to make a set of fridge magnets for each of us with our winter outfits on. My grandchildren love to match the magnets to the family pictures on the fridge. They can totally match the faces to the pictures, and that makes me so proud of my work. If a 5 year old can figure out Auntie Linda from Aunti Em, I am doing pretty well!
I also started a series of gherkin pickle cartoons a few years ago, but that’s a story for another post. I wanted to introduce the SOTT ladies today and say that periodically I will put up a new post of my caricatures, done in themes. Today’s pictures were some of my first drawings and there was a lot of evolving before I would show anyone. I’d modify a drawing and save it as the next number, doll1.bmp, doll1.bmp, etc. I was up in the 40’s by the time I thought to start the numbers over again. One day I looked back and deleted all my previous work; it was all that bad. I’ve come a long way and who knows, maybe I’ll get to making those books some day.