Everyone tells me they like it when I post my messy rough skteches – so here are a couple of new ones.  The latest cartoon makes fun of how silly it is that Obama continues to try to coax the Republicans when the Dems and the GOP are so far apart.

I start with a messy rough sketch in hard pencil on slick paper – to discourage me from rendering in the sketch and force me to draw quickly, without worrying about mistakes.  I shouldn’t worry about a rough sketch looking good – and this one certainly doesn’t look good.  Here you can see that I erased, and I redrew Obama’s face on top with a darker pencil because I wanted it to look goofier and simpler than I had drawn on the first pass.  When I make an error it is usually to draw too realistically, or to draw too much detail; I have to think hard about making things simpler and cartoonier when I draw.

Next I do the finished line art on a piece of drafting vellum in pencil.  I draw pretty hard, so the lines are crisp and I scan the art at high contrast so it ends up looking like ink. I do the shading on Obama’s pinstripe suit by smudging the pencil with my finger. This line drawing is what most readers will see in the newspaper.

Then, for a small but growing number of newspapers who print editorial cartoons in color, and for our readers on the web, I add color in Photoshop.  I take care to use simple, bright colors because of poor newspaper printing.  I also make sure that my black line art is on a separate channel (the “K” channel in CMYK) so that the lines stay crisp and don’t get broken up into a halftone screen when the cartoon is reprinted.  Many cartoonists save their cartoons in RGB format and their black lines look like an illegible mess when their cartoons are printed just a little bit out of register, as is typical with lousy newspaper printing.

With this next cartoon I wanted to give the impression that Obama had stepped into, and gotten stuck in a mess that wasn’t of his own making, and that his reaction to the mess was only to make it worse. (And gooey bubble gum is always fun to draw.)

Here again I drew over the rough sketch in hard pencil on drafting vellum and scanned the drawing at high contrast to look like ink. Lots of artists complain that they like their pencil sketches better than their finished ink drawings because they lose the spontaneous look with ink. The shading on his pinstripe suit is finger smudges again. All of my drawings are 11×17, which is larger than most editorial cartoonists draw.   The black line art below is what most people see will in their newspaper.

Then I colored it in Photoshop. The pink color helps the bubble gum look more like gum.