Muscle car QSL

K4BFH ham radio cartoon QSL by N2ESTRyan, K4BFH, loves his Ford Mustang. His XYL loves training horses. Could I combine the two on a QSL?

I enjoy drawing cars, so I got to work creating a simplified version of his Mustang. This particular car, though, presented a special challenge: How do you illustrate a black car using black outlines? My solution was to lighten up the black slightly and then define the edges of the car with shine and shadow. It works well enough, in a cartoon sort of way. That’s Ryan at the wheel.

Ryan’s wife appears in the background. If the horse’s pose looks familiar, there’s a reason — it’s the same pose used by Ford for its classic Mustang badge. The font used for Ryan’s callsign also comes from that logo and badge. This QSL is all Mustang, all the way.

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Buckeye in a balloon

K8QR ham radio cartoon QSL by N2ESTYi Zhang, K8QR, wanted to combine his love of ham radio with his interest in hot-air balloons. What better way to connect them than the world’s longest wire antenna? As an added touch, to acknowledge his Columbus QTH, I added a banner for THE Ohio Station University. He does much of his operating from the school’s club station, W8LT.

In addition to being a good ham, K8QR has the patience of a saint; we’d been talking about this commission since last spring. I hope the finished QSL was worth the wait.

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County hunter!

N8OYY ham radio cartoon QSL back by N2ESTIf you like chasing counties, you’ll like this QSL card.

Ed, N8OYY, told me he enjoys “county hunting all 3,077 U.S. counties and driving from county to county making contacts from my SUV.” He wanted something to illustrate that, showing his specific vehicle, a Kia Sorento. I suggested conveying the idea with a faux map of various counties and his SUV wandering through it. Ed liked the idea, so I went to work.

The map I drew isn’t an exact representation, but it tells you what you need to know. The SUV, however, is definitely a Kia Sorento. (I’ve liked drawing cars since I was a kid, so it was easy to do it right.) I then added the call sign in 3-D and a burst with the words “county hunter!” … and there you have it.

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Flying over Albuquerque

K0WBG ham radio cartoon QSL by N2ESTMathias, K0WBG, wanted a lot on his QSL — a caricature of himself, something about ham radio, something about Albuquerque, and a Cessna plane with a very specific color scheme from his flight club. Oh, and could I make sure to use a certain tail number?

I squeezed as much as I could onto this QSL card but ultimately had to choose between his caricature and an accurate representation of the plane; I couldn’t do both because their scales just didn’t match, and a postcard is too small to make it work. I ultimately went for the plane, using a combination of lightbox and eyeball to get it right. Ham radio is there through his call sign in the clouds, and that tower on the left is from Albuquerque International Sunport.

Maybe it’s a guy thing, or maybe it’s just my left brain giving my right brain a rest. In any case, I’ve always loved drawing hardware. This one was fun.

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All about public service

Gordon Wes Tech public service watermarkThis is another cartoon I created for Gordon West’s new Technician license manual, illustrating public service. We all know this guy, of course: Club baseball cap, orange vest, and a half dozen handi-talkies hanging from his belt. (The only reason I’ve never been this guy myself is I can’t afford a half dozen handi-talkies — a single dual-bander usually suffices.)

A lot of new licensees joined our ranks for just this purpose. Are you one of them? What public-service groups do you belong to? And how many radios do you carry on event day?

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Exit, pursued by a bear

W7CBA ham radio cartoon QSL by N2ESTSteve, W7CBA, lives in Montana and likes the great outdoors. Can you draw me being chased by a grizzly, he asked? Sure, I said. And thus began this QSL card.

I changed it up a little, with Steve fleeing in panic while the bears size up his abandoned handi-talkie and backpack. Next thing you know, the bears are going to want to get their Tech licenses. (By the way, there’s a really good Tech study guide that just came out with illustrations by N2EST. I imagine the bears will either find it helpful or delicious.)

For extra points: Who recognizes the source of the above headline? Hint: He wasn’t a ham-radio operator but did have something to do with Hamlet.

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Something different: a single-sided QSL card

N1YBK-ham-radio-cartoon-QSL-by-N2ESTHere’s something different (for me, at least): a single-sided QSL card.

Even if one of my QSLs is meant to be sent as a postcard, I usually design them two sided: color on the front, black and white on the back. I like working with a big canvas.

Matt, N9YBK, however, was on a tight budget. He’s a former cop who works as an IT professional, freelances as a photojournalist and has eight kids. I get that. Contrary to popular perception, we cartoonists have to watch our pennies, too. I did my QSLs on the cheap for years.

My solution to Matt’s budget dilemma was to forego color and consolidate both his cartoon and the report form on one side of the card. The cartoon combines two aspects of Matt: his trusty camera; and his dream police cruiser, a Dodge Charger. Matt liked his card. So did I.

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Lawnmower Man

WA5TQB ham radio cartoon QSL by N2ESTThis is not the short story by Stephen King; rather, it’s just one serious ham with a serious lawn mower. The squirrel is safe.

Both Jack, WA5TQB, and his daughter Dana worked with me to create this card, with Dana sending photo reference of Jack — on his riding lawn mower, operating mobile. All I had to do was cartoon it up and add typography. If you must mow your lawn, fellow hams, then this is the way to do it.

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What’s your favorite mobile mode?

amateur radio mobile operators car cycle bikeHere’s another illustration that was commissioned but didn’t see print for one reason or another. It’s a shame, too — I put a lot of work into it and was looking forward to sharing it with the world. A detail of the illustration headlines the post; the full illustration is below.

Perhaps the most enjoyable part of drawing it was dropping in a couple of Easter eggs. One will be obvious to the Old Timers. The other one is in the upper right corner: I drew myself and my wife Gail, N2ART, in our little turquoise Honda Fit. In the back seat are our cats, Bones and Geordi. I resisted the urge to draw them wearing headphones.

This cartoon was designed to showcase different types of mobile operation. What’s your preferred mode of operation?

amateur radio mobile operators

 

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May the Force be with you …

KC3PO ham radio cartoon QSL by N2ESTAs a rule, I normally won’t create a QSL featuring a well-know copyrighted character — but there’s an exception to every rule.

Over the years I’ve drawn dozens of licensed characters, and I’ve found that most of their owners are protective, often litigious, over their property. Why court trouble by drawing one without their permission? I say as much on my website.

That’s why Gary, KC3PO, practically apologized to me when he wrote to request a custom QSL. “After reading your FAQ, I fear my dreams may be crushed,” he wrote.

What did he want on his QSL? Well, look at his call sign.

I deliberated over this one. I even asked professional colleagues for their take on it. Several suggested I draw a parody of Star Wars, something that called it to mind without actually duplicating it.

Problem was, Star Wars was tough to parody without coming so close to the source material that I may as well just draw it outright. I found it impossible to draw something that looks enough like C-3PO to be identifiable without actually being C-3PO.

But then I thought about what artists typically do at comics conventions: They draw favorite characters for fans. Representatives of the rights holders are usually in the same building, and they don’t care — as long as it’s for a fan. And who could be more of a Star Wars fan than somebody who manages to work “C3PO” into his call sign?

Once I relaxed about it, this one was fun. Gary likes to operate from parks, so he wanted C-3PO operating from a picnic table. I drew a few walkers in the distance. The font was obvious. And after tweaking the background colors into a warm-to-cool gradation, Gary was happy with the results. May the Force be with you, indeed.

 

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