My 2015 Reubens Talk

A few weeks back I had the honor of speaking at the 2015 NCS Reuben Awards in Washington, DC. It went really well and was well-received, so I thought I’d share it here in case you missed it or weren’t able to attend.

BTW, there were questions at the end, but I left those off. If you have questions feel free to drop me a line.

Shading Cartoons With Markers – Video

A while back I did a video on shading cartoons in Photoshop, so I thought I’d also give you a look at shading my cartoons with markers as well.


Video Transcription

Hi there, this is Mark Anderson from, and I’m going to show you how I shade my cartoons using markers. We’re going to jump right in here. I have got a batch of cartoons that I’ve already inked, they are all about school by the way. And I am using Prismacolor cool grey markers, I think this one it’s hard to tell but I think this is a 30%.

I usually let the ink dry for a little while, although if I am in a hurry, the markers or the brush pen that I use dries pretty quickly, so I can usually jump right in and shade right away. But if I have the time I like to give the ink just a little bit time to set, so I can make sure that it doesn’t smear. I’ve got four cartoons on a single page of, I don’t know, this is 8X10 or, oh it’s 9X12, I believe it’s 9X12 Borden & Riley Marker Bleed Proof Paper, and I tend to work really small and I try to be efficient. So I’ve got four cartoons on the one sheet of paper here that I am shading, and again about being efficient, I am using the same marker to do washers on all four cartoons at once.

So I’ll shade one cartoon with the 30%, and then I will flip the paper around like so and then I will continue shading with 30% until I figure out I’ve got over 30% is done, and then I will move onto 40, 50, 60, what have you. I don’t do well a lot of shading, you can see here like there is a desk that I am not shading, you couldn’t find, there we go. I’m not going to shade all of the grass behind this, I am not going to shade the sidewalk. I tend to stay pretty light, it’s just personal taste plus it’s a lot less shading and there is a lot less marker work to do.

It’s just one of those things that has evolved over the years, I used to shade a lot more and I used to shade a lot heavier and darker and as time is going on, I tend to almost never shade the background on my own cartoons. I also work pretty fast, as you can tell. I’m going to shade four cartoons here about 7 minutes from beginning to end. I know a lot of people shade all sorts of different ways, ink washers and of course, I also have a video where I’ve shade the cartoons on the computer using some custom patterns that I created in Photoshop, but even that takes longer than most because then I can undo, and oh I’m not sure if that’s quite right, there is a real organic, real feel to working like this that I really like. You are not getting the marker in all of the places and you get variance, and sometimes it’s darker and sometimes it’s lighter, and it’s just there is a real feeling to it that I can’t get any other way. So if I can shade this way, I prefer to.

I’m using my iPhone, I apologize for this sort of shakiness and sometimes if the light tends to change, I’ve got my iPhone, I’ve got a special clamp clipped to my lamp on my drafting table that’s taking this, which is pretty good video. Now that I’m looking at it, it takes a little bit to see the product that you are shading through the iPhone while you are shading it, so this isn’t like 100% natural, so I tend to get really close, I have bad eyes, I have terrible vision. So when I am shading I’m right on top of it, and maybe it’s because I work so small, I don’t know, but I tend to like get my nose, I’ve actually gotten like my nose print on art while shading that I have to write a little note, you know remove nose print in Photoshop.

But this, I’m actually back a little bit because I need to make room for the camera, so you are not going to see any nose prints today on the art. We’re finishing up a lot of these here, I am just doing some detail work, there is my giant hand, looks like I am doing some darker work. I tend to work with again Prismacolor cool grey markers, and 30% is about the lightest, I’ll go, I find that that scans pretty light. I used to go 20% and 10%, but then I’d do all of these different percents, and then I would scan them and pretend the 20 just wouldn’t show up.

So over the years, I’ve gotten it down to be between 30 and 60, if I need something really black, I’ll do 70 or 80 but that’s pretty rare. Now I’ve got my little fixed notes there, and I need to fix the A in that formula on the chart board via the back of the a little bit. I’ll write myself notes like that, I tend not to draw over, again I draw really fast too, so little mistakes, I’ll write myself a note and then I’ll Photoshop out any problems.

Doing just a little bit of shading back there on the periodic table, let’s now go and see, looking to see if I, doing the little 30% line work on that sidewalk to make that pop a little bit, oh hey we are shading the background, breaking my own, I didn’t expect that I would but then you have it. You can see I’ve got the caption written in pretty sloppily below, that’s just to remind myself the caption. There has been times I have done a cartoon and inked it and shade it and then I didn’t write the caption down on the final art, and I had thought, oh I will find this sketch out or I will remember it, and I never do, and then I have a cartoon where I am like, oh, oh what was that caption, it’s driving me crazy.

Well we are finishing up here, there is four cartoons, and we are coming up to the end of the video, hope you liked it, feel free to see all of my cartoons on, there is thousands and thousands there, and I hope you enjoyed this look at me shading my cartoons with markers. I hope you learned something, I had a lot of fun, and I’ll see you next time.

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!