Video of Bob Staake's unusual drawing process

Bob Staake is a talented and delightful children's book illustrator. I've written about him on Boing Boing before.

Staake once told me that he still draws with a mouse and an ancient copy of Adobe Photoshop 3.0 (on Mac OS 7, I seem to remember). Here's a video to prove it.

This is one guy who won't be switching to a Cintiq anytime soon. It reminds me of Hunter S. Thompson using his IBM Selectric and a fax machine to submit his stories in the 21st century.

No matter -- Staake is an absolute wizard at what he does, and watching his odd drawing process is really something to behold, at least for and Adobe Illustrator die-hard like myself. Link to Staake's website (Via Drawn!)


  1. That is one of the coolest things I’ve seen posted here in a while. It’s like that old saw about a sculptor chipping away at a block of stone until he’s removed all the pieces that don’t look like his subject.

  2. OMFG! It’s like Staake is working in reverse-negatives of negative space!!! Augh! My brain can’t imagine even trying this technique.

    Hmm. Wonder if it has changes the way he sees the world around him when he moves through it daily. I know after a punishing round of Tetris, my brain tries to force images of the world around me to ‘behave’ in like patterns. Truly awesome post.

  3. Yes, totally mindblowing evidence that some people think in a completely different way than I do. I would never have dreamed of approaching it that way, but what an elegant way to work.

    I also wish the music from the video was credited, I really liked it!

  4. That was great. So much fun to watch the process. I’d be thinking I knew where he was headed at a given point, and then he’d head off in a completely different direction. Cool!

    And the music was swell.

  5. More irrefutable proof that art is created by the artist & not his tools. I work in audio & so often it seems that as the tools get more complex the work becomes less inspired.

    There is a point in creating where one’s tools become transcendent. Constantly switching or upgrading these tools perhaps detracts from this mastery?

  6. OK, following up my own post, I emailed him telling how much I enjoyed the music – and he says lots of people have said so and he is putting out his own CD within 2 or 3 weeks! It will be called “feelin’ loopy” by the Bob Staarke Trio and will be for sale on his website. I will certainly be picking one up!

  7. Wow, thats awesome stuff. I wonder how integral his workflow is to maintaining his style and helping him come up with new ideas. It seems you could duplicate the example piece in other more modern software far easier. But I guess thats the point: it would only work for copying. The use of negative space must be a fantastic way of forcing you to rethink what you’re doing constantly.

  8. His ability to keep track of all his layers is impressive. I wonder how he decided that drawing this way was better than just painting, or drawing, then scanning and then manipulating the image with software? Which is what I do. Very cool and thanks for posting.

  9. Very Cool. My brain would quit for good if I tried to do things this way. Love how he sees the image in the shapes, and then subtracts things until he brings it out. More ‘digital sculpting’ than ‘drawing’.

  10. I’m not in his class, but that’s not too different from how I used to work when I did something swooshy or curvy in Photoshop. Lots of intersecting and subtracting of ovals. Now I try to do everything in bezier curves in case I need to go back and make little tweaks.

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