On the Drawing Board

October 29th, 2007 | Posted in On the Drawing Board

I’m busy right now on the final coloring for two MAD jobs, plus an ad job and another poster after that, then we’ll see if I get a breather. These “On the Drawing Board” posts are getting harder to do, because I can never show what I am working on as most clients don’t want that made public until after it’s seen print. Instead of “On the Drawing Board” I should started calling them “On the drawing board about 6 weeks ago and I’ve forgotten all about it by now…”

October may have been the busiest month I’ve ever had freelance-wise… at one time I had six jobs going at once, and did over a dozen throughout the month. I even had to spend one of the days on my family trip to Florida holed up at my buddy Keelan’s place doing the color work on an ad job… that I can’t show you until next month. By the time I can show this work to you, it’s like ancient history to me.

Well, I’ve tried to begin scanning in my steps on some of these jobs so when I can post an image it’s not just a “see, lookee here whut aye dun!” sort of thing. In that spirit, here’s a poster job I did last month with some of the steps along the way:

The initial assignment was to create an image of a lady finds that the bathroom remodelers have left the place a mess as they race off for the day. I did a rough of the basic layout to start at about 6″ x 6″… the final poster is going to be 17″ x 17″. This client likes a cartoony look and humor without it being over the top… they are especially concerned that the people depicted are not very outlandish, but animated. Here’s my initial layout sketch:


From here I worked up a tighter pencil at 12″ x 12″ for client review:


The client’s feedback was that they wanted a sense of the woman having just arrived home to find this mess. I reworked the figure to change the body angle, and added the groceries and keys to tell the story a bit more clearly. I did a separate sketch of the new figure to run by them:


Then I placed it in the original sketch and fixed what needed fixing digitally for final approval.


I got the green light, so I transfered the drawing to board at 17″ x 17″ (I ink these at print size since any bigger is just too big to work or scan) for inking. I decided to lose the keys as they were unnecessary. I then inked it:


Following that I started with the color. Here’s a partially finished stage:


Then the final illustration:

Click for a closer look

It takes me a whole day to ink and color one of these, and that’s a very long day. Realistically it’s more like two days. They aren’t complicated but they are big, and that means I have to render things well so they look good up close.

When some of the other jobs I did this month see print, I’ll share them here.


  1. Joe Bluhm says:

    I often get mixed up in trying to “paint” when I’m cartooning, and your work is a good reminder that local colors are not my enemy. I also like the Court Jones painting on her wall.

  2. Tom says:

    Ha ha! Actually that’s a cropped out area from the Court EF cover I did… that’s my version of his painting!

  3. PaulMcCall says:

    You can scan a 17″ x 17″ inked piece!?! Great Googly Moogly what size/type scanner do you have!

  4. Tom says:

    I have a 12 x 17 Microtek 9800XL flatbed. So, I have to do two scans and stitch them together. Not a problem at that size… You should see me scan a MAD splash… 21 x 32!!!

  5. stephen silver says:

    That’s great seeing the process. Well Played!


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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