Seth Boyes joined the Dickinson County News staff in March of 2017. In his first week at the DCN, he covered a train derailment near Graettinger. The tankers carrying ethanol burst into flames. Seth's photo of the event won first place for Best Breaking News photo at the 2018 Iowa Newspaper Association Convention and Trade Show. Since, Seth has won nearly a dozen awards for writing, photography and multimedia content. Seth graduated from Iowa State University in 2009 with a degree in Integrated Studio Arts. His original cartoons run regularly in the Spencer Daily Reporter and the DCN. Both he and his wife Janet hail from Clear Lake and have come to expect summers to be full of the hustle and bustle of tourists and visitors.
Iowa students learned Friday that school would not be resuming before the semester ended (drop the needle on Alice Cooper). For a lot of students, this is actually sad news. Young students miss their friends and their teachers – that daily social structure they were just getting used to. Older students, particularly high school seniors, will miss out on some of the quintessential happenings of the spring semester. Proms have been cancelled, and in-person commencement ceremonies may not take place either. It all depends. Yet, students press on. They will graduate with or without dawning a cap and gown. Next year will come with or without online learning. The ripple effect of COVID-19 has simply left a notable mark on the class of 2020, it has not stopped it. So, congratulations to every graduate. May this moment in history only make you stronger.
I had planned to have a more elaborate background for this panel but, as is the pattern these days with COVID-19 coverage, I ran out of time. Still, I'm very satisfied with what I created. The spotlight element may become more and more common in my work, given how much I enjoy it. At any rate, the composition was the hardest part of this cartoon. I had to find a perspective which left both the mask and mortarboard recognizable – and that's not as easy as one might think. The mortarboard is basically a square from a majority of its angles, and if the mask lay too low, it just looked like a lump with fettuccine under it. I kept my brush tip quite small compared to most of my work in order to keep the cartoonishness at a greater distance. I also used a more textured scatter brush to shade the mortarboard in order to give it a more tactile feel – which hopefully translates into an emotional clue for the viewer.
The text on the mask is what really brings in a sense of reality. I used the ever-present Impact font to look official and then warped the text to my drawing using a transformation layer. The graphic to the left of the text went through similar distortion to be sure it matched. I also purposefully kept the shade of yellow consistent between the mask's straps and the tassel. It's both aesthetically and metaphorically appropriate. The fuzzy spotlight was actually an accident. I meant to use a crisp-edged cutout, but I had just used a fuzzy eraser tip and forgot to switch it out before stamping the circle. It's not a difficult thing to fix in Photoshop – just a single "undo" stroke – but I actually liked it. The blurred edge ended up putting more focus on the two objects in the pseudo still life. And the black also happened to take some of the shadow issues I had with the tassel out of play, which was great.
Combined, those two elements draw the viewer in, rather than hold them at the panel's edges. The gentle wash of the floor plane does the rest by alluding to a greater space the viewer is only seeing through a keyhole, while at the same time seeing all of what is important to the piece.
I recorded my screen again to get the process animation for this one, which made it easy to see just how much time it took me to do this. In total, this took about an hour and 45 minutes to complete – an hour and a half on Monday and about 15 minutes for the last bits Tuesday afternoon. Of course, I then started to dislike the off-center composition I chose, so I later moved it toward the center some, but you won't see that in the time lapse.