Kelsey Dake

Kelsey Dake – Rough on Rats

ALRIGHT, so I suppose it’s finally high time I make a post here on the blog. And my what a monumental task this feels like! So where does one start? I suppose I could just jump right in and share one of my most recently “released” illustrations, and heck, why not show the entire process. My website doesn’t really lend itself to sharing my process so I will go ahead and do that here! (Get ready for shitty cellphone pictures)

So the deal with this particular piece is it was for a big project (that I can’t say which, gahhh legal!), and I did two separate pieces for this project, but this one I’m about to share was killed and never published. Which fucking sucks cause it’s rad!

I was approached with this advertisement from the 1800s with a dead rat on it for rat poison. And the request was to sort of modernize or do my own take of the ad and then transpose the same type from the original ad.

LOC Rough on Rats sheet music

So here’s that original ad but like, super tiny, sorry. A lot of people wonder how I then approach the final drawing, and what my “process” entails. So normally I do a ton of research, I don’t like drawing stuff from out of my head cause it tends to get cartoony and isn’t exactly my favorite, so that meant for this project I had to find a crap ton of pictures of dead rats, rat skeletons, rat anatomy charts, etc. Luckily I have a thick stomach. But I’m glad I sat and did the research because I found out wonderful things about rats like the fact that they have toenails! Who would’ve thunk it?

Alright, after I had a substantial pile of rat knowledge, I was ready to dive into the pencil layer. I always do a pencil layer now just to make sure I can dial in the drawing before putting ink down. I start with loose and rough lines and then tighten up the drawing with several passes. The pencil layer thing started when I really got into doing portraits because if I could get the likeness right in the pencil phase, then I wouldn’t have to struggle to change things once the ink layer was done. So that pencil layer phase has sort of been employed in every drawing I do now.


Voila, pencil layer in three parts! Loose, one pass, two pass, and the addition of the type. Ps, I have two drafting brushes to get rid of eraser shits, they are the best, and I swear by them. Once all the pencil is down and I’m satisfied, I get into inking. Again, it goes in passes. I get all of the outlines down for the most part and then start rendering (fur, hair, texture).


Once everything is inked, I erase, scan, and add color in the computer.




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