Sunday Mailbag- Where Do You Start?

September 17th, 2017 | Posted in MAD Magazine

Q: When you start a drawing, in what part of the body (if it is a sketch) do you start it? Is it the shape of the head, the eyes, the nose, or does it depend on the subject?

A: If I am working in the studio or on a drawing that is not a live caricature, I start with the head shape, and then block in the eyes and nose (the “T” shape), then the mouth, etc. I keep sketching to tighten and refine the drawing until I am done, or if I want a more finished piece I might “knock down” the rough sketch (erase it until it is very light on the paper) and then draw bolder, tighter lines on top. This is a video I did a few years ago of a quick sketch of Morena Baccarin done digitally where you can see my basic process:

If I am doing a “live” caricature, I start from the inside of the face and work outward. Since I do no sketching, I just jump right in with bold, strong lines. I start with the eyes, then nose, mouth, outside of face, forehead, hair, etc.

Thanks to Audy Ferrer 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. David Robinson says:

    When inking, I would begin with the same eye that you did 😀 – Dave


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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