Sunday Mailbag

November 27th, 2011 | Posted in Mailbag

Q: Can you share how much time an average project (such as the “workplace posters”) takes you to produce? Does your Cintique make a difference in that timeframe?

A: That’s a question I get often and it’s one that is impossible to answer. Each project is different and factors like multiple revisions, complexity of the image and even just “having a bad drawing day” come into play.

Specifically, I will say one of those workplace posters take me about 1 1/2 to 2 days to do from sketch to final, although complexity of the scene makes a difference. This one:

…took only a long day to do. This one:

…took closer to three days. A page in MAD takes about 2-3 days from rough to final colored art. Splashes about 3-4 days:

Click for a closer look…

Painted illustrations like this one:

…take me a lot longer. I can basically noodle away on these things forever. The one above probably took two days to paint, but I could have spent two more days tightening it up further.

It’s all relative. Some days things just flow off the end of the pencil almost effortlessly, and some days I wear out a whole eraser trying to get one stupid hand right. As for the Cintiq, at first it actually slowed me down as I spent too much time rendering things that ended up printing so small the detail was wasted. Now I have my technique with the Cintiq down, which includes doing most of the rendering/coloring at 50% of zoom, so it does help make things go faster.

Thanks to Nick Nix¬¨‚Ć 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. jjackle says:

    Good to get an idea how long your work takes you. For the longest time i just thought cartooninsts breeze through pages and pages of work a day. Now i am slowly finding out that it takes a day or more to do 1 page or detailed spot. Now I don’t feel that bad about taking a day to draw a page or two.

  2. Skip says:

    I get that question a lot, too. One of my paintings will need anywhere from two days to two months or more. Size doesn’t have that much to do with it – an 18×24 can take longer than a 55×40. When the stars are aligned and magic is happening, it’s like it’s painting itself, and I’m just along for the ride. I live for those days, but they don’t happen too often, unfortunately. Most of the time it’s a slog. Put this in, take that out, adjust the colors, until something says “it’s done” or else I take a box cutter to the canvas. And since I only show the ones that work, people assume that it’s effortless. I had one studio visitor rhapsodize “Oh, it must be so relaxing!” Lady, you don’t have a clue …

  3. Nick says:

    These days I seem to be getting busier and busier and things just seem to take forever to develop. It’s good to have a general idea of the process that other artists go through to achieve such good results. I see what you mean about the issues of size and zoom on the computer. I really appreciate you taking the time answer my question. You’re aces in my book. Thanks again!!


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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