Sunday Mailbag- Bad Drawing?

November 6th, 2016 | Posted in Mailbag

Sunday Mailbag!

Q: Ever had to do a convincing “bad” drawing–either for a tutorial or something like a child’s drawing? Every time I see a “bad” drawing done on purpose by a good artist, it always looks too… er… “good”… there’s good structure, good linework… it’s almost like the artist doesn’t know how to do a bad drawing anymore. How might you approach doing such a drawing?

A: Some people would say I don’t need any special approach to do a bad drawing… I just let my natural talent take over!

But, if I ever need to do something really, purposefully bad for some reason… a gag maybe or as you say a “kid’s drawing”, I do two things to attempt to get that look:

First, I try and think in visually inept terms… meaning I attempt to see objects and shapes as not only simplistic but to draw them inaccurately. A square has all four sides different lengths, and not at parallel angle, for example.

Second, I draw it with my left hand, and hold the pencil (or whatever drawing tool I am using) awkwardly with my palm up, or between my pinky and ring finger. That severe lack of coordination and control of the pencil helps a lot. Here’s an example of a recent spot illustration I did for MAD where I needed to make part of the drawing child-like and amateurish:


Sorry Dubya.

Anyway that’s how I do it when called to do it. And no, I didn’t use that approach for “Goodnight Batcave” despite how the art looks… haters.

Thanks to Chad Lehman 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. Chad says:

    Haha… thank you!

  2. alex in San Jose says:

    Wow I’m barely an “nartist” but …. I’ve been accused of being one! I know what you mean, once you’ve done enough drawing in your life, even a “dash off” looks too good to be by 8-year-old Mikey from next door. I, too, use my non-drawing hand. Or, and this never fails, just use a computer! in my own experience, there’s nothing like a computer to take 1000’s of years of human drawing experience and skill and make us all draw like a drunk 3-toed sloth with a pencil tied to his non-dominant paw. Grab that computer mouse and try to draw good, and you’ll draw baaaaaad and by that I mean, bad.


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