Sunday Mailbag- Digital Sketches?

June 28th, 2015 | Posted in General

Sunday Mailbag!
Q: Recently you changed your working process and now you are doing your pencil sketches for mad parodies just digitally. Is this now your favorit method for all sketches? And I think your inks are still real inks. Do you print out your digital sketches and ink over them? Can you give some details and pros and cons of your new working process?

A: To be honest I have not completely switched to digital pencil roughs for everything I do. In fact I sort of go back and forth these days between preferring doing comps and roughs digitally and doing them on paper with real pencil. There are two advantages I’ve found to working digitally at the conception and rough stage, especially when it comes to doing comic book style storytelling, that makes it compelling to go that route:

1.No Erasing! This saves me an enormous amount of time, and allows me to be less concerned with scale and proportion at this stage. When I say “no erasing” I don’t mean that I don’t make mistakes and have to redraw whatever I’m working on. What I mean is this scenario: I’m working on a panel and I draw a pretty decent caricature of so-and-so, then I realize I drew the head too big, or it would be better on the other side of the panel, or some other decision that were I working traditionally I would have to scrap that decent drawing of so-and-so, erase it and redraw it. On the computer I can simply select it, resize it, move it, experiment with placement, etc. In the old says I’d have had to scan that drawing, resize it and then light table it to make that work. The flexibility of working digitally is a real time saver.

2. No concern with “pencil line quality”– I admit when I do pencil work I have a hard time letting go of my concern of the quality of the line, and get too wrapped up in a nice, clean drawing. My comic book illustrator friends used to make fun of me saying I should just scan in my pencils, adjust the levels, and start coloring them. There is no tactile quality to the end of the stylus, so I tend to stay looser with my lines and spend less time refining them. Another time saver.

Still, when I go back to the pencil and paper when doing roughs I quickly start thinking this is the way to go again. Then I go back to doing it on the Cintiq and wonder why I do it any other way.

Thanks to Dominick Zeillinger 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. I am a traditional artist trying to learn digital but its taking me long to catch up. what would be your advice to me???


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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