Behind-the-Scenes: Tjeerd Royaards

170518 European arms exports

Behind-the-Scenes is a series that shows how cartoonists work. In this edition the work of cartoonist and Cartoon Movement editor Tjeerd Royaards.

This cartoon is made using Photoshop CS 5 and a Yiynova MVP20U+RH digital drawing tablet (review available here) and deals with European export of weapons. Europe is responsible for about 30% of the global arms trade.

The video condenses a process of three hours into 9 minutes.

The Hidden Power of Innocent Lines

Interview with Chilean cartoonist Fiestoforo.

Fiestoforo is a cartoonist from Chile now residing in the United Kingdom. His work forcuses mainly on injustice, and the many forms it takes. We talk to him about how he works, and about the cartoon as a form of protest.

Fish: Evolution, here I come! Police officer: Back off , you piece of shit!

What does your artist name, 'Fiestoforo', mean?

'Fiestoforo is a compound word meaning “he who carries the feast”, from fiesta or “feast” in Spanish and phoros, bearer in Greek, in the same way as the name Christophoros, but without the Messiah part.'

How and when did you become a cartoonist?

'I started to do cartoons a couple of years ago and published them on the internet. Through internet networking I was invited to join a group of political cartoonists. It was a gradual process that took some years. At the beginning I only drew for practice to become a better artist. Later I realised you can convey powerful ideas through cartooning.'

How do you work, and what materials do you use?

'The first stage of my process could be described as more traditional. I make a sketch with pencil, which is inked using a nib pen. Then, in the second stage, I resort to new technologies. I scan and colour the drawing using an open-source software called GIMP. I use a tablet for adding texture to the colours. Regularly, it takes a couple of hours to finish a cartoon.'

How did you develop your style?

'By trial and error, using several tools and materials, I chose those I was more comfortable with. Observing works by renowned artists and their techniques must have influenced me too.'

Why do political cartoons matter?

'Being a simple and efficient way to express a political view on any matter, it is difficult to find a cartoon that does not elicit any kind of response from the viewer. Therefore, I think they are powerful means of communication, disguised as innocent lines on a surface.'

Your work focuses on indigenous rights, intercultural relations, social movement, and environmental affairs. In the Arab World, the Arab Spring seems to have shifted the role of political cartoon; stencilled on walls and signs they have almost become a form of protest. How do you see this development?

'What I have noticed is that people are recognising the power of symbols. Regularly they are used by governments and institutions to foster their beliefs and values and published on common items, so common that you do not even realise their presence. For example,  in Chile, the military dictatorship in the 80’s had coins bearing the image of lady liberty as if she had just broken a chain with the date of the coup d'état marked. Back then the image was quite solemn, but today when you look at it, it seems naive and in bad taste, specially because you realise what they were trying to do. Now I think people are occupying and displaying their own symbols, probably because it is quite simple and straightforward to share images on the internet.'

How do you see the future of political cartoons?

'The immediacy of information and communication is affecting political cartoons. If a cartoon is published days after an event, it may even seem outdated. Therefore, I have noticed that on the internet you can see reactions in the form of political cartoons minutes after an significant event occurs. This may affect the way political cartoons depict opinions, because the focus is on yielding a quick response, instead of reflecting on the events to craft a well-thought piece. Obviously, there are examples of both approaches.'

If the cartoon will be used more and more as a form of protest, is there a future for professional cartoonists (meaning cartoonists that can earn a living from their work)?

'I think there is. A professional cartoonist has developed a set of skills based on knowledge and experience. If you know about composition, design, colour schemes, analysis of discourse, etc. you will better to convey your ideas, and the result would be more pleasing for the viewers. I think this will be valued by the recipients of your work.'

In the slideshow below you can see a step-by-spep process of how Fiestoforo creates his cartoons. For an even more detailed explanation of his work process, check out 'How to make a political cartoon' on Fiestoforo also has two Youtube videos explaining how to add color and texture using GIMP.


Interview by Tjeerd Royaards. To see more of Fiestoforo's work, visit his website or Facebook page.

Interview with Payam Borumand


Payam Boromand lives and works in a country that's not often associated with political cartoons: Iran. And, admittedly, when you look at Payam's work, it is more focused on broad societal themes such as migration, conflict and the environment than on the politics of Iran. We talk to him to find out what it's like to be a cartoonist in Iran, and also to learn more about the way he works.

Could you describe the process of how you make cartoons and the materials that you use?

'I usually read news online before drawing a cartoon. Then I try to find a humor on the topic. Afterwards I sketch it in my mind. This helps me find the best composition of my cartoon. Sometimes I cannot find an appropriate idea, but I still pick up my pencil and paper and start drawing without having a specific target.

Another method that helps me come up with ideas for cartoons is that I think of the words related to the subject about which I am going to draw. For example, when I think of the word newspaper, I can review things related to it in my mind, such as freedom of speech, censorship, and other things. ‏

Experience has shown me that the first idea is not necessarily the best idea. I can decide what I want after drawing several different sketches, and then I draw the final sketch. ‏The process of converting the idea into cartoons starts by sketching on paper by pencil, after that I use pen for highlighting lines. Sometimes I use highlighters or brushes and ink for this purpose. The last step is to paint the cartoon using Adobe Photoshop.

From sketch to cartoonBoromand3

Are there many cartoonists in Iran?

Yes. Iran is one of the countries which has so many cartoonists. I think the main reason for this is that Iranians like humor and cartoons are very demanding. They love to humorize serious things. Even if people don’t have the time to read a newspaper or magazine, they still have the time to see their cartoons. This high demand, I guess, arouses interest among artists to take up a cartoonist career. 

Is it difficult to be a cartoonist in Iran? What are the red lines (subjects you cannot draw about)?

I think the main problem for Iranian cartoonists is that the pay rate is very low compared to universal standards. Cartoonists are not usually financially supported by an organization and they have to work independently.

Iranians are very traditional and religious so I, as a cartoonist, have learned not to draw cartoons with these subjects. ‏

Do political cartoons play an important role in Iranian society?

Yes, indeed. I think cartoonists can picture things that cannot be expressed verbally. Political cartoons can play an important role in criticizing. Cartoonists can influence people with the humor in their work and highlight hidden things. I think that visual media, in general, is very much appreciated among Iranians. With all these problems, Iranian cartoonists try to speak out, criticize, and picture good and bad in their cartoons.

Behind-the-Scenes: Marian Kamensky


Behind-the-Scenes is an ongoing series that shows how cartoonists work. In this edition we feature Marian Kamensky from Vienna, and a cartoon on Berlusconi in prison ('Bunga Bunga').

Marian makes all his dawings by hand, using pen and ink. All the shading and coloring is done with Photoshop. The first image below shows the cartoon is it drawn by hand. In the second image, shading, coloring etc. are applies, turning the image from a relatively simple black & white image into a finished cartoon.



Behind-the-Scenes: Morhaf Youssef


In this edition of Behind-the-Scenes, the series where we take a look at how cartoonists work, we visit Syrian artist Morhaf Youssef. Morhaf employs mixed techniques, using acrylic and water colors in some of his cartoons, and digital coloring (with Photoshop) in others.

Because of the conflict in Syria, Morhaf currently resides in Jordan. Here are some shots of his studio:


The animation below shows the making of the cartoon at the top of this post. Be sure to turn on the sound, because there is a nice soundtrack included:


Behind-the-Scenes: Elihu Duayer


After a hiatus of about six months, we are back with our series Behind-the-Scenes, visiting some of the cartoonists that recently joined us, taking a look at how they make cartoons.

In this edition we visit Elihu Duayer, an artist from Brazil. The cartoon we look at was made for our project 360 Degrees, and is about child labor.  Elihu: 'I believe the work process cartoonists everywhere is quite the same, the difference lies in the different coloring styles and techniques.' Take a look at his way of working in the slideshow below: