How to Draw Lively Poses - SpongeBob Tip Sheets

These SpongeBob drawing tips were prepared for a class at Nickelodeon in 2005. If you click on any of the images below, you'll see a really HUGE high-resolution version that shows all the details!
On Silhouettes and Clarity
drawing tips 01 Silhouette SpongeBob
One of the big problems with animation studio model sheets is that the characters are invariably standing in completely stiff poses that make them look like they've been cheerfully impaled on a titanium rod.
To help the storyboard artists loosen up a bit, drawings are clipped out of the storyboards showcasing the best of the comedic and dynamic pose possibilities. Most of the artists tack those pose sheets up on the wall, but they soon become little more than wallpaper.
These tip sheets were created to encourage artists to break out of the horizontal and vertical stiffness of the SpongeBob model sheets, and to show how a little bit of movement and action and acting can make the cartoon characters come to life.
If you want to learn how to draw SpongeBob, or how to draw any cartoon characters with a little more zip, I hope these drawing tips will give you some ideas.

Drawing Characters with a strong Line of Action
How to draw SpongeBob cartooning tips 02 Line of Action Squidward

Acting is Movement

How to draw SpongeBob drawing_tips_03_Line-of-Action Plankton

CLICK on any of the images to
view a really BIG high-resolution version

The page below illustrates that characters should use their entire body to help act out the change in expression

How to draw SpongeBob drawing_tips_04_Line-of-Action Mr. Krabs

This page below illustrates stiff non-acting (top pose) vs. dynamic, full-body acting (bottom pose)

How to draw SpongeBob cartooning storyboard tips_05_Line-of-Action Patrick and SpongeBob - Patrick has bad breath

CLICK on any of the images
to view a really BIG high-res tip sheet

Acting with the entire body...
storyboard How to draw SpongeBob tips_06_Line-of-Action-Acting Squidward

If you'd like to see more in this series, please leave a comment below!
Update! Some very cool people left some very nice comments, so the next batch of SpongeBob Drawing Tips has just been posted HERE

More SpongeBob Drawing Tips

Spongebob Guide to Lively Poses by Sherm Cohen
Of course, I would still like to hear your comments on this series of posts, so please leave your two cents worth below ^_^


Anonymous said...

I like those sheets. I'm very interested in animation and always in search of pencil tests, scribbles, etc.
Cool blog anyway!

Sherm said...

Hi, Daniel...I'm glad you like the pose sheets. If we get a few more comments I'll start posting some more ^_^ --sherm

Anonymous said...

Hi there, I blogged about your post (link pasted below) but the trackback doesn't seem to come through to blogger.

Consider this my request for any more of these you have kicking around. Great stuff, great blog and thanks for sharing.


Sherm said...

Hi, datter...looks like your trackback finally came through. I guess it takes a while for the links to hook up!

Thanks for the comment and the link...your blog looks very nice! I noticed your post about Pentel brush pens. Have you ever tried the Mitsubishi / uniball PFK-205 or the PILOT SV-30KK-B ? They're both amazingly AWESOME brush pens! I use them all the time for sketching and for storyboard work. They're both available online at and

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip, I'm definitely going to look into those. I'm a brush pen addict now. :)

Unknown said...

Thanks for the sheets, really really helpful. I'd like to see more about poses, shil, and line of action stuff it really helps to sell the acting!

Sherm said...

Hey there Helmy...Thanks for stopping by and leaving that nice comment. I'm glad to know that people like you and Daniel and datter are enjoying the pose sheets.

All we need is ONE more blog comment, and then I'll post the next set of instructional SpongeBob pose sheets, so keep those comments coming!

Julián Höek said...

keep those tip sheets coming!!!!!
thanks a lot sherm, these are awesose!
any tip for staging the character with good composition perhaps?
thanks again!
you pal

Sherm said...

Hey, Julian... You just pushed it over the top! I'm sure glad to hear from you and it's nice to know this stuff is helpful. I will start prepping the next batch of tip sheets later today, and I'll have them posted soon.'ll be glad to know that there are a couple pages on staging and composition in the next batch ^_^

Julián Höek said...


Benjamin Anders said...

These are so helpful. I'd love to see more of these helpful tips!

Tanya said...

Oh, these are just awesome! An excellent learning tool. I'm interested in animation, and I'm a bit of a pack rat anyway, so I found these extremely fun and helpful. :)

Patrick Seery said...

That's awesome! We are learning to do double takes at the moment, and your advice on movement = action is really going to help make my inanimate object give that big double take motion. Thanks a lot!

Anonymous said...

I like this guide, helpful :)

Flamin' Carrot said...

Sherm, I just found you and am tucking you into my favourites! Love vthis post to smithereens!

Matt B said...

Hey Sherm,

Very nice tips, I'm considering splurging on your Storyboard Secrets DVDs.
The cinematic staging and adding more dynamic perspective to blackgrounds / layouts reminds me a lot of that old Brad Bird / Simpsons PDF that's been kicked around the net, of which I always point folks toward.

Thanks for all the great shows and keep up the good work Sir.

All the best.
Matt B

Anonymous said...

this is gabe such helpful I can draw them all I want more lines of action and stuff


Hi sherm. Are you the creator of spongebob? I like to watch it with my kids. They love it. This is very good lessons. I hope more from you. Thanks.

Sherm said...

Hi Tajul -- SpongeBob was created by Stephen Hillenburg; I started working on the show in 1998 as a storyboard artist and writer, and I'm currently working on the SpongeBob Movie 2!

Anonymous said...

Sherm, I hope that while working with Stephen on the second movie you could maybe convince him to become a showrunner for Spongebob again?

Is Stephen aware of how many fans really WANT him to return to the show? Nothing against the new writers, but the whole fanbase would LOVE to see him return. Even if just for one season.

I really hope that working on the movie sparks some inspiration within him to maybe just become a showrunner for one season.

I really wish there was something the fans could do to persuade him into returning. I'm sure he's aware of it.

At the very least, could you relay this message to him or something? I don't know, I just figure since you're someone who talks to him maybe you could say something

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this! I will show these images in my middle school theatre classroom to better explain movement in acting. Brilliant!