Maurice Sendak’s Techniques

One of my favorite illustrators is Maurice Sendak. I tried to find out information online about his illustration techniques, especially in his book, Where the Wild Things Are. Nothing came up, so I did a bit of my own research, copied some of his sketches,  and thought I’d share…

I found a few museum originals, and I could tell that he usually used a “normal” sized piece of paper (8 1/2″ x 11″ or slightly larger.)

To learn more about his techniques I used his book as a reference and made some quick sketches. (I wasn’t interested in making an exact copy, but really wanted to learn more about his cross-hatching and strokes.)

Here are a few of my studies that I drew in my notebook. I quickly discovered that  he must’ve used a pen around or less than .3 mm.


Also, his strokes were especially long and continuous in the background, and he almost covered the page with cross-hatching.


In certain parts of his illustrations, he used different colored inks.  (I’m excited to try out some new grey pens that are even thinner.)







I noticed a picture on the wall of a monster that Max drew.  I had never seen it before, and it was a pleasant surprise!

Copy of Sendak’s Dog








I listened to some old interviews and learned that the initial book proposal was  Where the Horses Are, but he had trouble drawing horses.  Here is another copy of one of his monsters. He said that they were modeled after elderly relatives.



I’d love to hear about the techniques that you’ve discovered.

Thanks for visiting!

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