Sketching, Resketching & Inking Cartoons

Video transcript:

Hi there, this is Mark Anderson from and today I am going to be showing you how I sketch and re-sketch and then ink a cartoon. What’s different this time, I have done a number of videos where I have drawn a business cartoon or a family scene, some sort of cartoon scene that I am used to drawing because of course I want to put my best foot forward there on the video and look like I know what I am doing, but I thought it would be interesting this time to draw a scene for you that I haven’t drawn before. It’s an idea that I got when I was at a bank recently and although it doesn’t look like that now, it’ll make more sense later and I’ll explain to you why I got the idea, but it’s a–I am going to be drawing a guy here in bed who has died and then a grim reaper and a ghost. But this isn’t a scene that I’ve necessarily done before so I am just sort of winging it here and doing a very rough sketch to lay things out.

So there is the guy and he is laying in bed now I’ve sort of got to the angle of the scene roughed in, there is the pillow and I am keeping this very, very rough and very loose and trying to go fast and you know keep it lively. So you are going to see lots of sketchy lines and things that aren’t going to make it into the final art of course. But it’s just the way–see there I drew it like a head where I wanted it and then I decided I didn’t want it there. Now it looks like I am changing something again I don’t quite know am I putting–I’ve recorded this voice over later so it’s been a couple of weeks since I drew this, so I am sort of watching along as you go here, sort of like a director’s cut of the cartoon.

Oh here is the ghost, here’s like the idea of the ghost coming out of the guy, I am sort of drawing it over there and there is his ghostly arms and there’s he is coming out of the chest of the old man laying in the bed. Yeah I’ve abandoned–I abandoned that head over to the upper right of him. Here comes the grim reaper, again I just started with real basic shapes, he’s you know the grim reaper sort of this hooded shrouded figure, so I start with this circle for the head and a triangle sort of over it and a wavy line to make the robe. So very, very basic kinds of shapes and lines and I am just moving fast and I am not worrying about making mistakes and as I go the things that I like I tend of reinforce or draw darker or yeah to go over the line again. Oh here I am sort of going back and this guy and adding a few hairs in and this mouth I sort of jump back and forth.

I am not sure if there is any rhyme or reason necessarily, it’s just sort of letting my self go. So there is the grim reaper, now I am drawing his, is that a sickle is it? No it’s a–oh I am never going to pronounce this right I got myself into recording. Is it a scythe? Is that how you say that? Is that the correct term for that? Wow you know what I should’ve looked at it out before recording this. Note to self – If there is an important part of the cartoon and you don’t know how to pronounce it, look it up before recording the voice over for the video.

So here is my the rough, rough sketch and what I am going to do now is take this and why am I signing my rough sketch? I am going take this and I am going to trace over using my light desk. Those are good transition, nice job iMovie. So there I’ve got the rough sketch under a clean sheet of paper and I am taking my pencil here and I am redoing, going over those lines and again I am trying to keep it fast and fluid but I am sort of giving myself a cleaned up sketch to do the ink off of.

So I’ve got the basic idea of the cartoon there and I am just going to clean it up so when that I ink it’s the best possible version of this cartoon. So there is a lot of–I do a lot of editing and a lot of redrawing cartoons, there is my first sketch and often times it takes more than one clean up sketch. Sometimes I do 2, 3, 4, if I started to get into like the 3rd or 4th sketch I know that something is wrong and I then need to start over or figure out how to draw what I need to draw and take another look at it, so generally its that first rough sketch and then the next sketch and then I move on to ink after that.

So here’s our grim reaper, he is looking pretty good. He is a–he is going to be talking to the ghost here you can see it, oh it looks nice. Then I’ll be drawing the ghost in here. When I do the ink for this what I will do is draw the ghost separately from the rest of the cartoon and then when I scan it in I’ll scan in the grim reaper at the bed with the dead man and then I’ll also scan in the ghost and I’ll put the ghost in on another layer in Photoshop because I want to change the opacity there and have him appear like he is–this transparent or you know translucent ghost over the scene and that was something that I sort of thought of when I did this and thought that it would be fun to do so, here is my clean up sketch, that’s looking pretty nice that’s all right. Okay nice job me.

Re-focusing the camera there it’s looking pretty good. I am not drawing a lot of background in here. Oh see now there I go, I am just I didn’t like the little wave on of his ghosty body so I am sort of going over and redoing the arms again giving his head a little bit more of a squiggle so that he appears more ghostly and I apparently did not like the shape of the hood on this grim reaper. But yeah that’s looking pretty good. Am I doing another sketch? Like I said it’s been a while so I am doing another sketch. Wow! Remember that thing I told you like if I get to go the 3rd or 4th sketch I really need to take it a–yep I am doing another one. Here I go, look at me go. I am redoing this one, I want to get this one right apparently.

I am recording this on September 12th but I actually did this cartoon – I drew this cartoon on August 1st, so it’s about a month and a half later so I apologize for my apparent confusion over what I am actually doing here but that’s why it’s much later after I drew it. So I am on the third sketch here drawing my ghost coming out of the dead guy and the grim reaper will be talking to him, so now I’m getting that and again I am doing little the other hand a little squiggle to make his legs and feet and things in the bed.

You know by the time we get to a third sketch like this you just really start to worry a bit like, oh boy, you know, how bad is this going to be, how dead is this going to be on the page, so I am a little worried now rewatching that this cartoon is just going to lie there but I seem to remember that it turned out pretty nicely. I looked at it real quick before I started putting this video together and it turned out all right.

So again the thing that I tried to keep in mind is just to move fast–wow! You can’t see anything there, look at that giant hand! I just try to keep moving fast and loose and not be too careful. There is nothing worse than a cartoon that just looks like it’s just going to lay there. You really want this to pop and so I am not worried about getting the exact squiggle on the hood right you know, oh it goes up here and down here its just a nice little squiggly line and there it is. All right so there is the third and boy I hope it’s a final, I didn’t watch this before I started recording, obviously now I am–am I going to sign it again? Looks like neat little pencil trick there. That actually looked impressive. I think I’ve–oh okay, I like to put a box around the sketch so that I can sort of see like where I need to stop and start and stop drawing for the ink so its sort of like putting a frame around it so that I know I don’t need to go below here and I am writing myself a little note, I do this all the time. Yep I there right there I was like hmm–I think I’ll do that separately and do that in Photoshop.

So here I am doing the ink, I am sorry for the length of this; it looks like we are going to clock in at just about 15 minutes which I thought was long. When I looked at it I was like wow, it never takes me that long to do it, it’s that there its got that’s the time burglar that third sketch, but it all turned out for the best and when you think about it 15 minutes versus 10 minutes in the grand scheme of things to get a cartoon right, I will make that time investment I will add another 5 minutes to my work day to get this dead guy cartoon right. So now I am inking and give you a little bit more of a closer appearance so you can see that. I love these brush pens boy they are just so nice; they move so nicely on a page I keep think one of these days I am going to move to that Wacom that Cintiq is that what it is? Is that how you pronounce that? Another word I don’t know how to pronounce but that one’s made up so it doesn’t count. I keep thinking one of these days I am going to move to going all digital but boy I just can’t, I am not there I love that feel of pen and that ink on paper and just the way that it sits, there is just a good feel, I don’t know that I could get that, I know a lot of people do it and are really happy with it and I moved all my shading to Photoshop but boy I don’t know that I could ever give up like the ink and paper aspect of it, I just wouldn’t feel good about it.

Change something with the lights, lights there may be I just changed the focus on the camera. I have got a–I am doing this on a light desk and then sometimes I’ll also turn on my desk lamp depending on like how much I want to see it. So sometimes I have got light coming up from underneath and on top, like I said depending on how much of what I want to see for tracing or inking or penciling. I am not ashamed to have a whole bunch of lights and I’ll put more lights on if I think I need it I would do that. Here is the sleeve, its looking pretty nice, I put an arrow there, what is that arrow for? I made some sort of mistake I don’t remember what now; oh I bet it’s for the little crinkle in his elbow I don’t think that turned out very well. I bet that’s what I put that there for. Take that out in Photoshop.

So now see here I am taking the pieces of paper apart and you get to see it, oh! Oh yeah you don’t miss a thing I don’t know, at this umm…hmm…no, no, you dear viewer get to see every little bit, me repositioning things, taping things. May be I’ll go get a soda you get–it’s unvarnished. I am doing the ghost just a little bit up above there and here comes the ink. I am trying to keep it nice and wavy and I am not worried about little gaps between lines, I am not going to worry about making sure that everything is tightly closed up I don’t–its just not my style, I don’t but there is so many artists that I was influenced by but the ones that I always like to have that really loose style and they didn’t connect all the lines and I just always love the way that looked.

So I am finishing up the ink on this, there is the ghost floating above and I am writing another little note there to put that down and skin those in separately and put that over that in Photoshop and looks like I am going to be up there. Here comes signature and this cartoon is up on my website now, I believe what is the number of this cartoon? I need to get organized before I recorded these things. Anyway here is the final version of the cartoon, “If you are as satisfied with my service please take a moment to fill out the survey.” Guy said this to me at the bank and I thought I know there is a cartoon there. So thanks for watching and be sure to visit

Cartoon #6673 Sketch to Ink

Lately I’ve been testing out a new setup for getting video of me working. Let me know what you think:

Video transcription:

Hi there. This is Mark Anderson from and I’m going to show you how I sketch and resketch and ink a cartoon from beginning to end. So, here we’re starting with the first pencil sketch. The cartoon I’m going to be doing is a medical cartoon where a guy is at the doctor and the doctor is giving him some advice. So, you can see I start with a circle there for the head and I’m drawing the legs. I go pretty fast with the initial sketch because I like to try to keep it real lose and real easy and I know that I’m going to do a sort of cleaned up version of this for myself later on, so I’m not super worried about how things go or erasing or changing things in the first sketch. So here he is on the little table. I got to say, this isn’t one of my favorite scenes to draw because it’s sort of a weird angle but I haven’t quite figured out a good way to do it yet and get the idea of being in that waiting room at the doctor. Okay. Here’s the doctor, I am putting a little bit different hair on him. I didn’t draw the rest of the guy’s legs over on the left because I’m planning on cutting the scene off there. I’ve drawn the scene a lot so I know that I’ll probably cut it off right there so I don’t even go all the way down and you can see I’m not even worrying like I’m drawing his arm right over the rest of him. Again, this is a very, very quick sort of dirty sketch. This part it only takes a few minutes. So see I’m sort of framing it in there, I’m sort of framing it and putting in some more details, making things a little darker for myself. I don’t know if that line over there is the one for the patient’s other arm. What am I doing? Oh, I’m giving him… oh I changed it into a gown. It’s been a little while since I looked at this. For a second, I thought I was giving him really long arm. I’m changing it to a gown because I hate drawing; the guy is in a boxer shorts at the doctor because it’s sort of a weird angle to draw the shorts from with the legs coming out. Yeah. That’s right, so I changed this to a like a gown. Like he got into a gown to be examined and I’m just finishing some… I don’t really need to sign this first sketch; I don’t know why I’m doing that but all right.

We’re going to be moving on to the cleaned up sketch here in just a second but there is one last look at the rough sketch and here we’re back. There…now, I’m turning on my light desk at the table there and getting my couple of pieces of paper lined up and trust me, it will focus here in just a second. So I have a drawing or drafting table and then I have a real flat light desk that I keep on top of it and then I use my giant hand there to keep you from seeing things. Now, I’m doing the clean-up sketch, this is like another chance for me to work on things that I liked and didn’t liked in the sketch before I ink it. I don’t necessarily need to do this but I find it over the years that it actually saves me time to do this sort of cleanup sketch even for myself. I do this for clients a lot because if you show a client that rough sketch, that beginning sketch and you say, “Well, here it is. What do you think?” They’re all like, “Oh… it’s terrible”. So you can’t show them, you have to show them a cleaned up sketch and I found over the years that doing a cleaned-up sketch for myself like this moves things along because you leave it real rough and then you go right to ink. At least for me, I find little problems then and I end up inking two or three times sometimes on a complicated cartoon. So over the years, I’ve just gotten used to doing this sort of like resketch for myself.

So basically, I’m tracing but I’m trying to trace quickly and lightly and I’m not…again, I don’t want to get bogged down in all kinds up nit-picky details because then you sort of leech the life out of the cartoon and I don’t want that. I want it to look sort of dashed off like I just sat down with my pen and ink and just went… oh look, oh the cartoon just flows, who knows where they come from. You want it to look like that but it doesn’t ever work like that. So there’s the finish clean-up sketch and I’m turning off the light desk so you can get a better look at it and focus, focus.

And so there is the rough sketch. It’s sort of messy and there is the cleaned up sketch for me. Rough sketch, clean up sketch. Rough sketch, clean up sketch.

All right, now what I’m going to show you is I take this cleaned up sketch and this is mainly because I’m getting old and my visions isn’t what it once was. I take this cleaned up sketch and I scan it… oh, it’s big. I scan it in, I have a little self-feeding scanner so I take this sketch here, I scan it in and then I blow it up. I print it out at about, I don’t know, 150%, something like that and then this is what I’ll do the ink off of. I used to… upside-down cartoon. See, I use the same piece of paper to do a bunch of cartoons. So yeah, up there at the top you see the other cartoon that I was working on upside-down. Now, I’m taping this on… taping my ink paper onto the sketch here so that it doesn’t move on while I’m working on it.

Yeah. I generally work small but I found—like in the past year, I need to work bigger but I don’t sketch big and I like my sketches to be what they are and I don’t want to change how big I sketch so I found the way it works for me is I don’t worry about anything what I’m sketching and then once I’m done with it then I blow it up to a size that I feel comfortable inking so that way I feel like I’m staying true to the original sketch but then I can draw something that I can see and the line isn’t like an inch thick when you’re done.

So I’m doing some inking here. You see I move pretty fast. I’m not worried about getting every line exactly as they were on the sketch. The sketch is sort of a guide more than anything and I’m just trying to move fast and loose and again keep that spontaneity in the final art that I have in the sketch hopefully. Now, this is of course like the third time I’ve done this little piece so every time, it becomes a little clearer and a little more finished but I really don’t want it to be dead on the page so I try to move fast and easy and just keep it fresh. There, I’m drawing the tie, putting in my little details there. All told like to do the first sketch and then the second sketch and then going here to ink. This video clock saying it’s just about 9-½ minutes. Of course, there’s time for scanning stuff in and I still need to shade it, I’ll do that in Photoshop. I used to do it with markers but I found now that I’m working bigger with my inks, it was taking so much time with the markers and I was using so many markers so that’s another thing that’s changed recently as I do all of my shading in Photoshop now. I recreated my markers, my Prismacolor markers into like an endless pattern in the different percentages and Photoshop and that’s what I use for shading now.

It looks pretty good and I try to keep that as organic as possible. Here’s that gown again, it’s looking pretty good and there’s his legs coming down. I don’t like to draw a feet so if I can cut that off so I don’t have to draw feet. I’m doing it, I am cheating. I am terrible at feet so unless I really have to draw them, I don’t.

So, it’s looking like a pretty good scene, just about done here. Need to add my signature. Hope you enjoyed this video. If you… you can check out this cartoon on my website. I forget which number it is but just look under medical or doctor and you’ll see it. And here it is, I’m turning off the tracing and there you go. So hope you like it,

Valentine’s Day Cartoon – Sketch Video

I’m trying a whole new approach to blogging this year, and one aspect is going to be some video content.

And, since people seem to enjoy watching the drawing process, I’m beginning with a video of myself sketching an upcoming Valentine’s Day cartoon. It seemed a good place to start.

(Note – I don’t reveal the cartoon’s gag until the very end of the video, but if you’re one of those people who just can’t wait (like me!), I’ve posted an image of the final sketch below the video/transcript at the very end of this blog.)

Anyway, enjoy:

If you want to see the video bigger, you see it at YouTube here.

Hi there, this is Mark Anderson from, and today I’m going to be sketching a Valentine’s Day cartoon. I’m only doing the sketch; I’ve done videos before where I’ve done a sketch and then the ink and then the Photoshop, but I thought this time I would just concentrate on the sketch portion.

So, here I am starting my guy… Here’s my big giant hand…

I tend to draw really small, as you can probably tell by the hand to drawing ratio. I draw relatively small. The final sketch will probably end up being like 5″ x 7″. I don’t actually have an oversized giganta-hand, but that’s why it looks so big.

This is an idea I came up with at about 4:30 in the morning yesterday. I was laying in bed, woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep, so sometimes what I do then is I sort of brainstorm ideas, and this one popped into my head.

(Sorry about the focus there. I’m using my iPhone on my lamp on my drafting table to record the video. So it’s a little shaky and sometimes the focus goes in and out. My apologies. This is the best system I could come up with other than hanging something over my head, and I’m not sure I want anything that permanent.)

The idea is a guy at a card store for Valentine’s Day. This will start looking better here in just a second. I think I’m writing “Valentines” on the sign above.

This is an idea I came up with the other day very very early in the morning. I have to make sure when I come up with an idea like that that I sort of repeat it to myself. I actually have to mouth it to myself, and I have to mouth it quietly because I don’t want to wake anybody up. I have to lay there in bed and say “Valentines. A guy shopping for cards…” I have to do it like two or three times, otherwise it won’t stick. Or I have to get up right away and go downstairs and write it down. In this case I got up, and went downstairs and wrote it down and now I’m sketching it here soon after.

I was trying to come up with something different than your standard Cupid cartoon, so I branched out into Valentines cards.

You can see I stay pretty loose with a sketch (the guy there is really sketchy). I start with basic shapes and do details from there. I would assume everybody sketches largely the same way. I don’t think I do anything special, but I thought it would be interesting to see how this works.

This ended up being a problem with all of the cards. I’ll tell you the idea at the end, I don’t want to jump to the joke. But part of the problem with this cartoon is having to draw all of these cards. There is a reason I have to draw somewhat specifically on each card to make the joke make sense. That will become evident at the end.

I’m using a ForestChoice pencil which I love! I adore these pencils. If you get a chance to get a box of those… I think you can just go to and buy them. I love ’em! They keep a nice point, it’s a good eraser, the pencil just feels good in my hand. I love these. I think the paper is just some standard laser printer paper.

So here I am drawing hearts and frilly lace stuff on the sides. The person there shopping for the cards is obviously a guy.

I tend to draw pretty heavy too. I normally, and you probably can’t see it in this video because I’m so tightly cropped on what I’m doing, I normally sharpen my pencils every 30 seconds. Even though the ForestChoice keeps a pretty decent point, I sharpen my pencils a lot. Because I just have a thing about sharp pencils.

Some more hearts and pretty Valentine’s Day cards… (Focusing iPhone.)

I apologize that you can’t see what I’m drawing there until my giganta-hand moves out of the way, but this is the best system I could come up with. I tried coming at it sideways, and this is the best system.

I actually tried drawing stuff on Photoshop. I got a nice pencil brush type thing on Photoshop and I tried it out because I thought it would be easier to record a screencast, but as much as I like coloring in Photoshop, I don’t like sketching and I don’t like inking in Photoshop. Maybe I just haven’t put in the time or gotten myself the correct tools, but sketching or inking I go really really fast, generally.

This one is slower, I think this whole video is about 10 minutes from beginning to end, and the reason this is… I can normally do a sketch in about half this time, but this is a scene I’m not familiar with. I don’t draw a lot of guys shopping for cards, so I haven’t learned the tricks yet of who goes where.

You know if this were a sales graph scene I could probably knock out a sketch for that in like two minutes because I know where everybody sits, I know where the table goes, I know how to set that scene. This is a different scene, and some of it is that there are a million cards to do stuff on.

So you can see on the left side I’m doing a happy bear, and there’s a cat, and a guy, and I tried to draw some cartoon panels and there’s a bunny, I think there’s a wolf… So I tried to draw funny cartoony stuff on the left series of cards, and on the right side I did romantic-y stuff.

Again, I won’t fill in the gag until the end, but see if you can figure it out.

The scene itself is pretty simple. You just have a guy, and then you have that sort of angled card display, and there isn’t need to do a whole lot more than that for this joke. I could draw another thing of cards in the background, and a woman shopping. Or I could draw a register in the background or a display or a sale thing. You could draw the whole card shop if you wanted to, but it doesn’t help the gag.

This gag has got to read quick. You’ve got like 3-5 seconds and so the card… It has to read that it’s a card store, it has to read that it’s a guy, and it has to read that they’re valentines. So you have to get all those things across, it needs to read left to right, and you need to do it all quickly.

You need to set the scene, set the characters, set all that stuff up quickly, so I tend toward as simple a scene as I can.Of course everybody likes to put in details now and again, of course that’s fun.

Here I’m sort of darkening this guy up so you can see him a little bit. Not that you can see him with my giganta-hand in the way, but I’m trying to darken him up a little bit. You get a little reflection off the graphite there. I apologize for that. Looks like I’m darkening up the signs that are up top.

There’s two sections of cards as I mentioned, so I’m starting to write what’s going to be the joke. There’s no caption, it’s a captionless cartoon, so there’s not a gag line underneath. It’s all dealing with the signs in the card store here.

I’ll end the transcript here and show you the finished sketch below:

valentine cartoon sketch

Thanks so much for watching, I hope you enjoyed it! And let me know if there are any other videos you’d like to see!

And feel free to check out some finished Valentines Day cartoons!