Entries tagged “cartoon.”

Join me at FiftyThree’s Portland Remixer, February 26

FiftyThree makes some really neat stuff, like Paper, Pencil and Mix. Together, these tools provide what is easily my favorite drawing experience on my trusty iPad.

So I’m understandably honored that the fine folks at FiftyThree asked me to present a brief sketching workshop at their Portland Remixer this Thursday, February 26.

From the event description:

Come meet the FiftyThree team in Portland. We’ll have food, drinks and a special featured creator who will give insight into their work. Bringing your iPad is highly recommended for some remixing fun, learning how to get the most out of Paper and Mix, and meeting fellow creators. We’ll be at the Oregon Story Board office inside OMSI. We’ll be giving away a Pencil stylus to one lucky attendee. Hope to see you there!

I’ll be sharing some fast and easy techniques for drawing cartoons with Mix, Pencil and Paper. My Mix profile shows a bit of the tomfoolery you can expect.

The fun starts at 6pm at the Oregon Story Board office inside OMSI Phase 2. All ages are welcome.

More info and RSVP

Letters to Sergio

Sergio Aragonés is my favorite cartoonist and creator of my favorite comic book series, Groo the Wanderer. I’ve been a fan ever since I found a second-hand copy of In MAD We Trust!, and quickly fell in love with the spontaneity, wit and inventiveness of his work. It’s just so effortlessly hilarious.

A gaggle of Groos greet Sergio at Comic-Con 2007. (That’s my dad and I front and center!)

 Today is Sergio’s birthday, so I thought I’d share a letter of mine that saw print in issue 11 of Sergio Aragonés Funnies a few months back:

Dear Sergio,

As a longtime fan of your work, I can’t overstate what a treat it is to read each and every issue of Funnies. Your pantomime gags, Plop!-esque vignettes and delightfully jam-packed puzzles crack me up without fail, but the autobiographical stories are by far my favorite feature. It’s fascinating (and a lot of fun) to read accounts of your amazing life experiences, each bursting at the seams with your signature expressiveness, hilarity and warmth.

Your work continues to entertain and inspire me, and this comic is a treasure. Thank you for drawing it!

Your pal,
Tyler Sticka
Portland, OR

 This is actually my second letter printed in a Sergio comic. The first was six years ago in issue two of the Groo miniseries, Hell on Earth. It was a tad less reverent:

Dear Groo Crew,

Thank you for allowing me the fantastic opportunity to meet almost all of you at the 2007 Comic-Con in celebration of Groo’s twenty-fifth anniversary. Sergio’s my cartooning idol, and it was amazing to show him in-person the Groo illustration I did for the souvenir book.

More importantly, I’d like to thank you for returning to this character after such a long absence. Not because I enjoy reading his adventures and laughing out loud every issue; surely you’re all too bright to buy that sort of half-hearted line of transparent compliments. No sirs, I’m thanking you for providing the structure my life so desperately needs and, up until recently, the gourd-nosed one so diligently provided.

You see, earlier this year I tracked down the last Groo comic I needed. I had all of them, every story, in English. The pursuit of this goal had taken me through all the ups and downs of childhood, adolescence, and adulthood (the latter term applied loosely given the fact that I still read comic books). As my initial excitement for this accomplishment waned, I found myself grasping for some sort of permanence and, having been abandoned by the pursuit of the last telling of that first joke, I spiraled into an abyss of disappointment and shame. Where once I was a wildly successful millionaire philanthropist with the world at my fingertips, my motivation now dissolved until I found my only professional pursuit to be that most deplorable of occupations: cartoonist. My mental state also worsened, as I complained to my psychotherapist of strange urges to change my name “Gary Grossman” and start hunting for copies of Groo in Tahiti.

But now, Groo is coming back! Normalcy will be restored and my life will regain balance. Perhaps soon I’ll finally land that much more respectable job as a puppy fur broker, maybe even move out of this box (which is already snug due to all the Groo comics). Thank you Sergio, Mark, Stan and Tom for answering my prayers.

Gradually stabilizing,
Tyler Sticka

P.S. You’ll be receiving an invoice for the sum total of psychiatric bills incurred as a result of your elongated “break.”

(You’ll have to track down that issue to read Mark Evanier’s response.)

Here’s the artwork that was published in that year’s black-and-white Comic-Con souvenir book:

I met Sergio at the convention. He was very nice and extremely encouraging, which explains my record-breaking grin in this photo:

There’s a brand-new Groo miniseries in publication right now that pits the titular swordsman against the legendary Conan (the barbarian, not the talk-show host). It’s available digitally or at a comic shop near you (if you’re in the Portland area, my favorites are Excalibur and Floating World).

Feliz Cumpleaños, Sergio! Thanks again for so many laughs!

Bebop and Rocksteady

Last week was all-TMNT for Sketch Dailies topics, so I whipped up this Bebop and Rocksteady artwork for Friday’s theme. It was one of several sketches featured by Sketch Dailies and ended up getting a surprising amount of love on the Twitters compared to other stuff I’ve shared.

I also shared a WIP version earlier that day:

With these drawings I was trying to think less about the accepted design of either character and more the aspects of them relative to one another that stood out to me in terms of defining shapes and personality. I’ve been inspired a lot lately by Robert Iza’s process for breaking a character down into a set of building blocks you can rearrange at will. This has helped me learn to be more adventurous with character design in general. In this case, it allowed me to reduce Bebop’s overall size in order to contrast a bit better with Rocksteady.

This is also the first time I’ve used a fantastic new Photoshop brush, the “inking master” from Marco Caradonna’s “Essentials” brushset. Once I round out its shape a little, it’s the closest I’ve come to the feel of my trusty Speedball B6 pen nib on smooth bristol. Though my inking is still a bit crude (on a good day I might call it “honest”), I think it feels much more confident than in other recent drawings of mine.

Tanooki Mario Redux

Sketch Dailies are daily prompts for artists to sketch a variety of subjects. Last Thursday’s prompt was “Mario,” which I couldn’t resist joining in on:

Imagine my surprise when Theodore Taylor let me know that my silly drawing was featured amongst a bunch of amazing Mario sketches on Kotaku!

Just for fun, I made a couple of tweaks to the sketch, adding a containing shape to the otherwise plain sky and a bit of grain to break up the monotony of the flat colors:

Most artists I know could tweak their work forever, but I usually resist the urge. I guess the added attention made me succumb to the temptation this time around!

Robot Masters Collab: Plug Man

After having so much fun drawing that fin piranha, I decided to go ahead and join Justin Hill’s Robot Master Collab. Robot Masters are the bosses in the Mega Man series of games. Some are really cool, some are pretty quirky, but they’re all really fun and creative.

Colin Abel beat me to my first choice (Magnet Man), but I consider that something of a “happy accident,” since it meant I got to draw Plug Man… a quirkier character probably better suited to my style.


I work at Cloud Four, home of the Mobile Portland Device Lab, so inspiration wasn’t an issue. He had to be waiting for his phone to charge.

One of the benefits of sketching with a tablet is that you can create new layers for certain portions of your sketch and adjust them as needed. In this case, the character’s arm was giving me some trouble, so I started sketching on a separate layer and used purple (instead of the usual blue) so that portion would be visible without erasing whatever’s beneath.


One challenge with drawing cartoony robots is to strike the right balance of precision and character. If your lines are too wobbly, it won’t feel mechanical. If your lines are too stiff, it won’t feel expressive. Instead of relying on the steadiness of my hand, I used three simple tricks to help maintain that balance:

  • I used the Rotate View Tool to make sure I was always drawing at a comfortable angle. This helped steady some of my lines a tad.
  • I held down shift while drawing straight lines. (Totally cheating, I know!)
  • For things like the power prongs that come in pairs, I would draw one, then make a copy and re-draw portions of it so it wouldn’t look xeroxed.


When I can, I like to avoid simply color-matching the source material (unless I’m trying to do a really literal homage to the original game sprites or something like that). I chose a more blue-based gray and saturated fuchsia, which I thought would compliment the chunky lines better.

Final Touches

I think it’s fun how the robot masters are typically rendered kind of like they’re made out of plastic rather than chrome, so I maintained that simplicity in my shadows and highlights. I felt the previous version of the word balloon and battery indicator competed too much with the figure, so I changed it to something closer to the original sketch.

You can see the finished collaboration here. (My favorite piece is definitely Frog Man by Eric Kubli.)