I get lots of questions about how I draw my cartoons, and requests to see my sketches, so here it is again on my latest “Swing State Twister” cartoon. I do a pencil sketch where I block out the layout with a 5H pencil on 11″ x 17″ bond paper. When I come up with a layout I like, I use a #2 office pencil to heavy up the parts I need to make clear.
Then I draw with a #2 pencil on drafting vellum, over the sketch, and I come up with a line drawing that is what most people see in the newspaper. In this case, I traced maps of the swing states and positioned them on a layer to make the spots on the “Twister board,” just because that was quick and easier than trying to draw accurate maps in perspective. I like to do just line art without grayscale – there’s something more pure about that, but in this case I thought the spots needed to be stronger, so I added gray to them.
There is always something nicer about the sketch than the finish. Romney’s face is better in the sketch. I draw my finished line in pencil because I’m always fighting being stiff and I want to keep a loose, comfortable quality to the line.
The last step is to add color behind the line art in layers in Photoshop. I don’t do very sophisticated color, just enough to make it clear.
I really draw for the black and white version rather than the color – even though it is always the color version that readers see here on the web. I suppose that if I liked the color better, I would do a better job with the color rather than just doing enough to make it work. I know that’s bad, I should pay more attention to the color – here are my last couple of cartoons in both color and black and white. I think both are better in black and white.