Poster Job Steps

December 4th, 2009 | Posted in General

Nothing particularly interesting comes to mind to blog about today so here are the steps involved in a recent “workplace poster” job:

1. The assignment: 17 x 17 full color illustration showing a woman cutting off a man with an infant and a can of baby formula in a grocery store checkout line. Man should look surprised and a little annoyed but also dealing with it well. Lady has a cart full of groceries and will obviously be taking a lot of time checking out. The cashier is a trainee (must be young and labeled as a trainee) and looks confused/apprehensive.

2. Initial Pencils: (posted as a “sketch o’the week” a few weeks back):


Direction: The client was concerned that the image might be interpreted as this lady racing past the others and out the door as in stealing the groceries. They wanted me to demonstrate better that she was cutting in line.

3. Sketch #2:


I did a number of things to try and give a better impression of her cutting in line. First I changed the angle of the man so she is cutting in front of him rather than past him. I added the sound effect of screeching brakes, and skid marks on the floor. Finally I added the “Express Lane” gag which, combined with her “I know I am doing something wrong” stare back at him gives people a reason to think she’s getting in line.

4. Sketch approved. Final inks:

Final inks

There were a few tweaks needed… they wanted me to move the man’s right arm up like he’s leaning back way from a collision and to give him a similar expression to the baby’s. Easy enough.

5. Final illustration:

Final illustration
Click for a closer look…


  1. Ed says:

    Love this peek at the step-by-step process! Thanks for posting!

  2. gustavo says:

    One question:

    Whom was the poster for? A magazine , an ad?
    One tricky question:

    Which person of the poster could be latino?

    Answer: Whoever!

    • Tom says:

      Sorry, I post about these jobs so often I fail to realize that many readers haven’t seen earlier references to these jobs.

      I do a monthly poster for this client that is part of a subscription service they offer to employers. It’s kind of a communications/motivational program, where they get a package each month with a poster and other items that are displayed on a special display unit or a bulletin board that deliver motivational messages like “work together”, “stay focused and calm”, “don’t let things get to you” etc. The images are supposed to be humorous scenes that go along with whatever copy and headline is that month’s theme. I’ve been doing this for years and years.

      Re: The Latino comment- I think the man and kid are pretty obviously black. The cashier is supposed to be Asian but actually I only suggested those kinds of features so she could be construed as multi-ethnic or any one of a variety of different races… “race neutral”, so to speak.

      The woman is white as anyone doing anything wrong or stupid in these workplace posters is always white. I actually had one of my wife’s cousins, who’s employer in Missouri subscribes to this program and who has seen my posters each month for some time, tell me the people in his office call them the “dumb white guy” posters. That’s a sad truth but it’s necessary to avoid any outrage and accusations about racism. No one complains if you draw the white guy doing something stupid or careless, but you can bet you’ll hear from somebody with a soapbox should you dare to make a person or any other race look like that way. That is just reality. One day this world will grow up enough to not make this necessary… I hope I live to see that.

      • I’m mostly happy that this one isn’t a “dumb white GUY” poster, to mix things up, and it shows a guy who is presumably a loving, responsible father(BONUS!).
        I’ve been avoiding drawing fat or disabled antagonists because of similar concerns, which means I rarely draw fat or disabled characters. Protagonist spots(nor positive antagonist spots) don’t open up very often in my comics.


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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