Emily the Strange by tydesign



Artist’s Notes

This week’s sketch challenge of Death vs Emily the Strange was bittersweet. Though it’s been a few weeks since the challenge was posted it does still feel like yesterday. The reason is that this challenge was just as much about the loss of our black cat, Yami as it was the character’s themselves. Hence the Commish’s proviso and mandate that we include the familiars of Death or Emily the Strange. You can read more about it here.

As a bonus (or scrap), I also did a sketch of one of my favorite comic book characters, Death. I’m a goth wannabe.


I knew immediately that my sketch submission would be Emily the Strange, in tribute not only to the Commish herself, but to the black cat that was an important part of the family, Yami. I wanted Emily to be leaning over, petting Yami on her white-patched belly as she tried to resist purring and submitting to sleep.


The drawing came quickly, blue lines laid down fast. I also knew I was going to include some plush characters from Emily’s favorite Studio Ghibli anime, My Neighbor Totoro. This was definitely going to be a sketch that fell outside of the skills I was trying to develop the past couple of weeks, primarily because it was a bit more personal than some of the others. I also wanted to be tight in areas and loose and dream like in others. You can see the contrast particularly in the way the figure and cat are drawn versus the secondary elements, which become even rougher and stylized.


Overall, I think I’m quite pleased with the sketch, but looking at it now I may redo some elements that were rough and stylized and correct them a bit. I do like the rough areas because they add an element of nostalgia and dreaming, without taking away from the focus of Emily and Yami. In fact, were I to add watercolors I can visually see these recede even more into the background.


  • I’m quite happy with the balance of tighter pencils and looser styles. I took inspiration from David Mack, but kept true to Emily the Strange.

Sketch Tools

  • Pilot Color Eno Mechanical Pencil – 0.7 mm – Soft Blue Body – Soft Blue Lead
  • Ohto Promecha 500P Drafting Pencil – 0.4 mm
  • Paper Mate Tuff Stuff Eraser Stick
  • Tombow Mono Zero Eraser – 2.3 mm – Circle – Black Body
  • STAEDTLER 526 B209 Mars Rasoplast Black Edition Eraser
  • Strathmore 300 Series Bristol Board Pads

Coming Weeks

  • Continue to work on anatomy, foreshortening.
  • Develop a style, visual voice.
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