More Art from Ads


Back in February, I did a couple sketches based on clothing ads I saw online. A couple weeks ago, I was flipping through my daily pile of junk mail and came across a small postcard ad for some local dentist’s office. I took a glance and thought, “wow, those might be the happiest people I’ve ever seen.” I guess that’s the best way to advertise for a dentist; happy people showing their teeth. Something tells me a group of closed-mouth frowners wouldn’t really drive customers in that profession!

Anyway, after that brief brain-drift about the happy dental patients, I immediately thought about my previous ad sketches. Why not do another? Advertisements are sort of fun to draw, because they are such odd scenes; either everyone is smiling uncontrollably, or they’re glancing solemnly off camera. It’s pretty strange and subsequently quite hilarious.

Unfortunately, the junk mail found its natural home in the garbage after I made some progress on the outline, so I had to start making stuff up. This is especially true of the color, because I focused on just getting basic shapes and proportions while I still had the ad card. Another thing that was a bit different; I imagined a more realistic situation while I drew instead of thinking of it as an ad. Basically, I pretended that the kid in the middle accidentally said something hilarious to the adults, while the kids didn’t quite understand why it was so funny. That, or the same kid burped or something. The kid on the right is either confused or grossed out; either scenario works!


Above, you can see the final product. For a casual, looser drawing, I really like how it turned out. This was one of those sort of happy accident situations, where I didn’t care much how it came together, and then the result beat my (low) expectations. I scored some surprisingly nature expressions I think, and the shading and skin color variations worked well. I believe I’m getting better at skin tones and shading, and still getting more confident laying the color on thickly. I’m especially surprised that I was able use my imagination (or memory) to fill in major portions of this; as I’ve discussed before in other posts, my imaginative drawing skills are not a strong point. So that was nice to see.

Since I was so casual with this, a downside is that I didn’t remember to take any progression photos as I went along. Really I was most of the way done before I thought to do that! I didn’t work much on their clothing, and I only took one shot before I added that basic color. So, no .gif for this post, which I’ve really come to enjoy including. Hopefully, I remember on the next sketch, which will likely return to the “hometown series” content. Ha…unless I see another interesting ad somewhere!



  • Once again, I love your explanation of your process. So totally refreshing that you let us see the steps along the way. I usually forget to take such photographs, but your blog inspires me! Thank you!


  • Your faces are very expressive and it looks like you got the likeness down (something I struggle with, I tend to make people look perfect or more attractive by accident which is a bad habit). Focusing the shading on the faces works well in this case given the complicated figure dynamics, it would be easy to spend a lot of time on their bodies when that isn’t the focus of the drawing, sometimes less is more, so good job!

    • I really appreciate that Blu. I’ve got a big pile of weaknesses as an artist, but I like to think that faces and expressions are things I’ve done a decent job with. I should practice on the things I’m not as skilled with though; I’d like to keep improving if possible, and practice seems to be the the right path. But in this case, I think you’re right! Less was more here, and these corny ad people worked out

  • I always find that it’s so hard to get the black part of the smile that surrounds the teeth. If you don’t do it correctly, they turn out like jack o’lanterns. Your drawing reminds me of the pics of ladies laughing while eating salads. The guy on the left seems the most genuine bc his eyes are squinty.

    • Definitely agree, Kerbey! It’s tough to get that black part around the smile, towards the edges of the mouth. It requires such precision, and even small variations can have a huge impact on how the entire expression is interpreted. I also sometimes have difficulty figuring out if I need to blend in some pink for the tongue, or how much of the gums I should show.

      I’d say that entire mouth package (teeth, gums, tongue, deep shadows) is one of two areas I find myself really having to focus for – the other being the eyes, if it’s a close sketch.

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