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What is a cartoon really?
Many of us love cartoons,
most of us grew up reading them
or having them read to us.
The fact is, cartoons have been around a long time.
There are all kinds of cartoons:
strip comics,
comic books,
political cartoons,
single-panel cartoons,
graphic novels,
web comics,
there is something for everyone.
No matter the form them come in,
cartoons elicit all kinds of emotions from the viewer
- happiness, sadness, anger, hilarity, calm -
and can transmit ideas in an instant.
Cartoons are a universal medium enjoyed and understood
around the world and across borders.
This is why they have survived so long as an art form.
But how can a medium that is on the surface so simple
have so much influence and at times be so meaningful?
Let's look at what a cartoon is.
It starts with an idea.
The idea can be verbal,
written in words,
or it can be visual.
A visual idea is simply
a picture,
a drawing,
a doodle.
These ideas come from a variety of places.
Cartoonists might find the idea from observing life,
reading a newspaper,
trawling online.
It can come from a sentence someone said
or a single word heard on television.
Cartoonists are like sponges;
they soak up people, places, mannerisms, clothing, and behavior.
Sometimes they might jot them down
in a little black book that they carry around with them.
Other times, it is just soaked up into the cartoonist's brain
only to be squeezed out later when she is sitting at her drawing table.
Not only does a cartoonist have to be aware
of what she is seeing visually,
but she has to listen to herself think.
In other words, take the incoming information
and select it, shape it, and then use it for a cartoon.
Now that you have an idea,
or something you think could be good for a cartoon,
it's time to shape it.
A cartoon is like a staged play.
A cartoonist is playwright,
stage designer,
and costume designer.
A cartoon has characters,
a set,
even if one line,
and a backstory.
The characters must be dressed to fit the idea,
speak in a way that is natural and forwards the idea
or gives the punchline.
Nothing should be in the cartoon
that is not absolutely necessary for the advancement of the idea.
The image and words have to dance together
in a way that makes sense.
It could be a graceful dance, or an awkward dance,
if that is part of the humor or idea.
And then the execution.
Some cartoonists sketch the idea with pencil
then ink it with pen using a light box.
Others visualize the image in their head
and draw directly on the paper in pen.
Different kinds of pens are used:
felt-tip, mechanical pen, or a crow quill.
Paper can be light-weight or heavy-bond.
Many cartoonists add gray tone, called a wash,
by using black watercolor and a brush.
Others use a soft pencil for the tone.
Color is usually created by using watercolor.
A finished cartoon can then be scanned and adjusted,
and the caption can be added on the computer with Photoshop.
New technologies are emerging for the cartoonist's use in creating her cartoon.
Photoshop can serve as a tool for color and image.
Some may draw directly on a tablet with a stylus.
The choices at this stage of creation work in tandem with the idea,
and often when the final caption is added,
it gets adjusted yet again.
But, little is left to chance,
except, perhaps, some of the watercolor.
All these elements function in concert with one another.
It's almost like a dance of words, ideas, and images
that work together in order to make the cartoon
a timeless, resilient work of art.


【TED-Ed】窺探漫畫家的世界 - Inside a cartoonist's world - Liza Donnelly

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