Sunday Mailbag

August 21st, 2011 | Posted in Mailbag

Q:  I have been looking to your drawings for inspiration, and I have realized that they look very clean and flawless. So my question is do you find yourself making a lot of mistakes when drawing or even sketching? How often do you erase, if at all? What is your tool of choice for erasing? (because I can seriously never tell so it must be damn good).

A: Of course I make a lot of mistakes when I sketch, and I do plenty of erasing. The sketches I post for the “Sketch o’the Week” are usually ones I have “tightened up” a bit, meaning I erase some of the stray lines and use some bolder, stronger lines to make it more defined and less “sketchy”. Also, when I scan them in I play with the values in PhotoShop to strength the lines. That doesn’t mean I don’t have many stray lines or don’t do any erasing. That’s what a sketch is all about… exploring and experimenting.

Here are a couple of raw sketches and studies I did recently for my “Secret Agent Man” print:

As you can see, plenty sketchy and loose. These studies were redrawn as more involved sketches, then transferred to bristol board for final artwork.

As for erasers, I like to use kneadable erasers and occasionally white, plastic ones. I hate pink pearls and gum erasers.

Thanks to Rachel Rivera for the question. If you have a question you want answered for the mailbag about cartooning, illustration, MAD Magazine, caricature or similar, e-mail me and I’ll try and answer it here!


  1. George Cook says:

    Nice! I too look at your work for inspiration. Thanks for sharing some of your raw sketches, Tom! I always like seeing some of the rougher sketches that some artists have.

  2. Tom M. says:

    This is what makes your blog soooo COOL! Your so ready to share and answer questions. I love seeing the behind the scenes kind of work and share this stuff with budding artist too. I had some nutty ideas about the process of making art when starting out that only got cured by learning from others. May be you get tired of hearing it, but you are an inspiration.

    Tom M.


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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