Super 8 Sketch Card Process

When I’m not busy making children’s books or comics, I like to make sketch cards for fun, often featuring geeky fan art of my favorite TV or movie characters. (You can check out previous cards I’ve made here, here, and here.) I recently made a set of six cards featuring the gang of kids from the movie Super 8, which was my favorite movie of 2011 (probably one of my favorite movies ever actually). Anyway, I thought this would be a good opportunity to show a little process stuff.

Unlike most of my illustration work, these sketch cards that I paint are not digital. They are done with real paint and pencil on real paper. That’s partly why I enjoy making these so much – it’s a great break from my usual process and subject matter. And they’re small – only 2.5″x3.5″ – so they are really quick to make.

I make my sketch cards on Strathmore bristol paper. Normally, I cut up the paper to card size and then paint on it, but for this set I decided to create two sets of three cards that fit together like a puzzle. Therefore, I left the paper intact and just drew the guidelines. Then I drew my sketches with a pencil.


I usually start with the background and work my way forward. The background is usually pretty simple because the cards are so small. I also like to keep the colors very simple for backgrounds; it helps the characters pop. I used transparent washes of watercolor to build up the background.

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I then paint the characters, mostly with gouache paint. Gouache is a lot like watercolor, but it’s opaque. This allows me to build on top of the background. I draw in some of the line and details back in with a pencil on top of the gouache.

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Here’s the second set:

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And the finished cards:

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And all done and cut up:


Hope you enjoyed the post and learned stuff. Now go watch Super 8!

5 thoughts on “Super 8 Sketch Card Process

  1. Jardley

    I love the expression on the boy’s face in the top right. Ditto on the clothing on the dude with glasses. You only used gouache and watercolor? The features on their faces look tinged with some pastels or colored pencil. How did you get that effect?

    1. Dani Post author

      Some of the line was drawn back with a regular pencil. Other than that, what you are probably seeing is dry-brushed gouache.

  2. Cartoon Thunder

    These look terrific. I picked up some sketch cards at my local art store and have only tried them out a time or two as I’m kind of intimidated by drawing that small. I think, however, that I need to expand to some other instruments than my usual toolset.

    Your post suggests a few more possibilities to help me overcome this little barrier I’ve created for myself. Not to mention some tangential possibilities for creating sketch cards and fan art of other sizes as well.

    Thanks for your blog, and your art.

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