On the Drawing Board

September 21st, 2006 | Posted in On the Drawing Board

Things are getting crazy in the studio. After finishing the pencil roughs (and I mean ROUGHS) for the “Gray’s Anatomy” parody for MAD, I just had time to ink and color the Scholastic illustration and ink the poster job before approvals came in from MAD. Haven’t touched the Nader finals yet. Hoo boy.

Here’s the final art for the Scholastic job. If the colors look garish and without a lot of contrast, it’s because I did it on purpose. The Scholastic publication this will appear in is printed on uncoated stock, and that causes the ink to soak into the paper. As a result, colors with too much black in the CMYK percentages get muddy and ugly. Therefore I needed to keep the colors bright and avoid too much “K” in the “CMYK”.


That is an interesting point. As an illustrator I try to take printing into account when doing the art. That’s hard to do with one time jobs, but in the case of multiple jobs for the same client, I can “tweak” my color and approach to make the most of the final result. For example, every time a MAD job sees print, I will compare the color on the printed page to the color on my computer screen. A long time ago I calibrated my monitor to match it as closely as possible. It’s impossible to match an RBG monitor that shows colors using a mixture of red, blue and green with a printed piece that uses cyan, magenta, red and black (CMYK), but you can get close with respect to certain colors and values. I’ve found that I can get my flesh colors and the values of those colors pretty close with my monitor, if I accept that my browns will be much less saturated in print than on my screen, and the blues will be darker and more saturated. I just make sure I use very warm, reddish browns when I color knowing the color shift will turn them more green and therefore more true brown in print. I downplay my blues knowing they will be brighter in print. In works pretty well for the MAD stuff, and holds up about the same for other publications as long as it’s a somewhat glossy stock like MAD uses these days. Scholastic warned me about the uncoated paper, and I kept it in mind. The technical side of print illustration is boring, but believe me art directors appreciate an illustrator that understands somewhat of the printing process… even if it is only to better choose colors in anticipation of a print job.

The other thing I got done before getting back to the MAD job was the inks on the latest workplace poster:


I’ll post the color version next week, but this will have to sit on the back burner for a while as I try and bang out the “Gray’s Anatomy” job. When you get multiple jobs going at the same time, you have to be able to switch back and forth during times when one job might be in for approvals of sketches and another has a deadline looming. It’s a balancing act, and if you fall behind then the late nights and energy drinks come into play.

So, don’t be surprised to see the Dreaded Deadline Demon rearing it’s ugly head on the blog in the next week or so. I’ll try and post some of the pencils for “Gray’s Anatomy” when I get to that point, but the roughs I sent MAD are too rough for that. When I work out some of the caricatures more completely I’ll post some images.


  1. paulcapurso says:

    Hey Tom,

    Another great entry AND this finished illustration is great! Drake & Josh is my 8 year old son’s favorite show!!! I’m going to show him what a great you did as he’ll love it!!!


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

Workshops Ad

Dracula ad

Doctor Who Ad

Superman Ad

%d bloggers like this: