Designing cartoon Hoppy

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I wanted to make a logo for the site that would feature a cute little cartoon version of Hoppy.  OK, I think it would be cool to have a little cartoon of Hoppy, me and the van.  Maybe I’ll get there down the road, but that was a little ambitious to start with.  I got the idea for a cartoon Hoppy from a project my ex-boyfriend did several years ago where he created a cartoon version of me.  While I like to use Photoshop for a bit of simple photo editing- resizing, cropping, adjusting contrast, and other similar tasks, I am far from any sort of Photoshop expert.  I may be able to remove a pimple, but I’m not going to be giving myself bigger breasts or making myself look 15 years younger or 25 pounds lighter any day soon.

Anyway, I wanted to share the evolution of my cartoon Hoppy attempts.  It was a ton of fun working on this.  It makes me feel like I don’t dive into enough artistic endeavors these days.  In a way, it makes me feel like I’m six with a big box of crayons again.  It is such a joy to learn new skills.  So much of the time, I aim for perfection.  In this post, I want to share the progress along the way- the versions that are far from perfect.  I hope to convey the fun from the process!  It’s not always about being perfect, but about learning and growing.

As a side note, when talking to people about art, I’ve noticed that a lot of people don’t want to try any sort of artistic pursuit because they feel like the results won’t be good enough.  How many people will say, ‘I can’t draw’ when what they mean is that they can’t draw a picture that will look just like a photograph?  How will they ever get better if they won’t try?  And is the point really to draw a perfect picture anyway?

Back to the topic, here’s the original photo that I started out working from.

Hoppy - Original
Hoppy – Original

For my first attempt, I followed a tutorial at Digital Camera World.  A lot of the steps I could follow, but I’m not really sure what they are doing.  I made my best attempt.  One cool thing about this tutorial was that it was based off of a man that had these tattoos and included instructions for how to get the tattoos from the original photo to show through.  I was able to use that to get the monkeys on Mr. Rabbit’s shirt.  This first attempt took me a couple of hours one morning.  Here’s my first cartoon Hop.

Hoppy - Cartoon - V1
Hoppy – Cartoon – V1

I recently read a post on Steve Pavlina’s blog called Take an Inspiration Day advocating taking a day to really dive into a topic or activity that you’ve always wanted to try.  While Photoshop is certainly something that I’ve used before, I started wondering if I were to spend a day immersed in it, what new skills could I learn?  There are a handful of things that I know how to do in Photoshop and I use those limited things over and over.  If I expanded my skill set and learned a ton of new things, how much more powerful of a tool would it become for me?  So I decided to spend a full day on my next attempt.

I started in following the directions from Creating a Professional Cartoon Effect.  Some of the steps here were not well explained for my competence level and I found myself off exploring some other tutorials about Adding Light Streaks and Making Selections with the Pen Tool at Photoshop Essentials.  I spent a lot of time playing along the way, trying out different techniques.  Here’s a couple of the things I did while learning a few new techniques.

Hoppy with colored monkeys
Hoppy with colored monkeys
Hoppy with Blue monkeys
Hoppy with Blue monkeys

After learning some new techniques, I spent a few hours working on a higher quality version of cartoon Hop.  I wanted this one to look clean and tried to take the time to make everything look good.  There were some things about the original image I was using that gave poor results when following the tutorials I found.  In the end, I used the pen tool to make paths to outline the shapes.  I then used stroke to produce the black outlines and fill to color everything in.  This method worked well and had many advantages.  Most of the tutorials recommended some other steps for producing the line art which all then required going in to clean up the lines.  After that, they suggested going in to add color.  Basically this meant extra work.  Plus, drawing clean lines with a mouse is next to impossible- I suspect the authors of the tutorials had pen tablets or another sort of pen input that I was lacking.  There are a few things I would probably do differently if I did it all over again, but who knows, maybe I’ll mess around with those another day.  Overall, I’m really happy with how it came out.  Here’s my final version after one day of learning more and working on it.

Hoppy - Cartoon - V2
Hoppy – Cartoon – V2

I’m pretty thrilled.  It’s very close to the image I had in my head of what I wanted.  I feel good about my final version of cartoon Hoppy.  In a lot of ways, it looks like a simple cartoon, but it wasn’t so simple to make it.  It really was a lot of new techniques and tools and options that I had never used in Photoshop before, some of which I didn’t use for the final version but it took some experimenting to see what would work.  While I’ve done some basic photo editing, this was a completely different type of project.  I’m actually a bit proud of myself.  Plus, it really was fun to take a day to learn how to do something new.  I also explored a lot of new things in Photoshop and I’m sure my new tools will prove useful down the road.

Here’s the old banner design for the site and the new one with my new cartoon Hoppy added in to it.

Live Hoppy- Life & travels (with a bunny)
Old Banner
New banner design with Hop
New banner design with Hop

I spent a Saturday working on this and really gave myself permission to fully focus the whole day on it.  (I did do a few chores and other things that I really needed to do.  Plus, I took some breaks because I think that helps my productivity.)  Beyond being really nice to just do something I wanted to the whole day, it reminded me of a few things about myself.  I really feel like I am at my best when I am focusing on one task.  I do my best work and make the most progress when I have several hours (or days) to dedicate to one thing and just work on that.  This can be a bit of a problem for me too because I can get so focused on one thing that the other things in my life are neglected.  I really work to find some sort of balance, but this reminded me of the benefits of really taking time to just focus on one thing.

Cartoon Hoppy

What would it be like if I took one day
To open up Photoshop and let myself play?
Working to make a cartoon out of baby bunny
Try a technique and laugh if it comes out funny
Maybe take away the color, turning everything grey

Or maybe turn all of the monkeys blue
Or make Hoppy’s nose look like it grew
Search online to learn some tips and tricks
And to do it all just for the kicks
Take some time to learn something new

At the end of the day, watch the setting sun
And look back at all I’ve learned and done
Put my new cartoon Hop up on display
Think about what I can do in just one day
I created my vision and it really was fun!

4 Responses

  1. Thanks for sharing the creation of Hoppy. One day I will follow through your chain of inspiration with the photoshop links and see if I can discover some fun and inspirational creation, too! Love it!

  2. This is really amazing. It made me take a step back and think about the creativity that went into all of this. You took a rabbit and are creating an entirely new world for him and yourself.

    Great Job !!!

    1. Thank you for your kind comment. As in most cases, my creativity is merely a few good ideas stolen from others and mushed together. 🙂

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