If Ya Can't Type Nuthin' Nice...

What is it about the anonymity people enjoy online that brings out the secret jerk in so many of us? If people behaved as badly in the real world I'm certain that I'd feel obliged to spend a good part of my day punching jerks in the nose. My arms would be tired from all the punching, and I'm not even a punching kind of guy.

Click for gigantic version

The intent of this piece is to portray someone who is a very nice person but behaves like a (blank) on the internet, and this behavior manifests only because she (or he) thinks no one will ever know who is typing those awful things. Below are the doodles from the development process. My first idea was to have a character sitting in front of a computer wearing a villainous fright-mask of some kind. And yes, Richard Nixon came to mind, but there's no need to bring him into this.

I've been wanting to revisit a style I have experimented with in the past (here and here). This approach relies on shapes defining the drawing rather than lines, although I do lay down pencil strokes where they feel appropriate to me.

Click for big.

I have difficulty working quickly this way. The image looks much simpler than my other styles, but it takes me much longer. I haven't  practiced enough to be able to find a pleasing solution on the first go. Do I draw and then do shapes? Or should shapes be painted first and the line work drawn in after? Probably the latter, but I tend to draw lines before shapes when I'm cartooning.

After some stressful wrangling, the large image in the collage above appeared. I changed the figure's colors many times, drew over the top of it, erased and drew again, and so on. I wasn't happy with it. I was so involved with matching the style that I wasn't thinking about the basic message I should have been crafting.

Time to re-visit my idea. This is a nice person who turns evil once they they decide to type in the comment box. It occurred to me applying the color differently might be the way to clarify the story.

I went with a super soft pastel coloring scheme, keeping the colors cooler or less intense to heighten contrast with the red-devil mask. I gave up on sticking to the the flat-color look and let the character of a textured brush do what it wanted. It looks okay to me now.

When illustrating, don't be afraid to change your mind, especially if you haven't made up your mind in the first place.

The End.

The story, by the most excellent and entertaining writer Angela Hill, can be found here.

And here is what it looked like in the paper: