My Cartoon Process

Today I’m finishing up my new batch of cartoons for July. And this morning while scanning I discovered that for one cartoon I had a very clear visual progression of my process from beginning to end, so I thought I’d share.

Here’s the sheet where the idea is. It’s kind of hiding in amongst the doodles:

cartoon process 1

Here it is:

cartoon process 2

To be honest I wasn’t sure if it was even funny, so I ran it past my wife who chuckled (although, like me, she couldn’t quite figure out why) and then I sketched it up:

cartoon process 3

The thing about a sketch is you never really capture that initial vibe again. For me this is the best this cartoon will ever communicate visually, but unfortunately it’s not something anyone would publish.

I draw that box there to frame the image and let me know what I need to include, and what I can leave out.

Now on to ink:

cartoon process 4

This is a rejected ink. The look on their faces is off and that lamp on the side is waaaay too big.

Normally I’d fix it in Photoshop, but there’s enough here that I don’t like that I decide it would be more efficient to just start over.

Here’s the final ink for the cartoon:

cartoon process 5

I feel like I got the vibe as close to the sketch as I could. Also at this point I’m considering putting “this” in italics in the final. You’d be surprised how little tiny writing changes like that can make a difference.

cartoon process 6

Here’s the final version of the cartoon with the caption typeset (no italics BTW) and the shading.

I chose not to shade anything else in the room to keep the focus on the dog and cat. (Also, I don’t like shading large areas because there’s so many opportunities for problems to creep in.)

So that’s it! Hope you enjoyed this little glance at how I write and draw cartoons.

3 thoughts on “My Cartoon Process”

  1. Thanks for sharing, Mark. I love seeing people’s work process. I think it’s important for aspiring artists to see how much work goes into the final piece. More importantly, it’s important for them to see that it doesn’t have to be perfect the first time.


  2. Always great to see another cartoonist’s process. And the gag is wonderful. I’m jealous.

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