How to Draw… Master Sazuke

The third character in our on-going “How to Draw…” series is our favorite Ninja-Emu, Master Sazuke! Sazuke has always been fun to draw and he’s fairly simple for beginners! Since he is an emu and a ninja, it has allowed me to put him in some pretty crazy poses and funny situations over the years.

Please note that I am only showing the 3/4 view at this time and I will update this post later with a front view tutorial (I think he’s more fun to draw in 3/4!).

Some Helpful Tips Before We Get Started

Please remember to stay loose and draw lightly. Do not bear down on your pencil and allow the shapes to build up. It sometimes helps to practice drawing circles first to help you loosen up!

Please read some of the Character Design posts I’ve done as well; they’re sure to be helpful in helping improve your drawing skills.

Master Sazuke 3/4 View

Let’s draw Master Sazuke from a 3/4 view!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Let’s break this down below.

  1. Start with a circle. Add a vertical guideline through the center of the circle top to bottom. Then, add a horizontal guideline through the center of the circle. These will both have a slight curve to them now, since Sazuke is turning his head to a 3/4 view.
  2. Add the mask. Master Sazuke’s mask is a rounded rectangle shape that sits on top of the horizontal guideline.
  3. Top of the beak. In the center of the mask, draw a bump that curves outside of the circle. This creates the tip of Sazuke’s beak.
  4. Bottom of the Beak. Starting at the tip of the beak, where you left off, draw a line back towards the circle, creating Master Sazuke’s cone-shaped beak.
  5. Cheeks. Draw a backwards C-shaped line that curves from the bottom of the beak up to the mask and touches the original bump where you started Sazuke’s beak.
  6. Teeth. Master Sazuke’s teeth are almost always showing, no matter what mood he is in. His teeth are a triangle shape.
  7. Bite. Draw a curved line horizontally through the teeth to create the bite between his top and bottom teeth.
  8. Draw the neck. Master Sazuke’s neck is basically just a tube shape that will connect to your original circle, tapering slightly. You can draw lightly through the beak to make sure it connects.
  9. Eyes shapes. Master Sazuke’s eyes are often squinting, and they can be represented with two slanted lines tapering from thick to thin.
  10. Clean up. Erase all of your guidelines, including the horizontal and vertical guides, parts of the original circle, and any other guidelines you may have drawn.
  11. Color and complete! Master Sazuke’s ninja outfit is all-black, and he has a very bright orange bill. His feathers under the mask are peach, but his hands and body are a greenish-brown color!

And there you have it!

I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I did writing it. Truth is, I love teaching things like this and I really miss it. It was a huge part of my younger adult life when I was working for Disney and I just don’t have the opportunity to do it anymore.

I plan to teach several more of my Schmitty’s Toons! characters in this series. If you have a favorite that you would like to do next, please notify me in the comments.

In the comments below, I would also love to see your beautiful creations! Please don’t be afraid to share!

Schmitty out.


Character Design: Upholding Character Integrity

In this entry, I may come off as ranting a bit because I will be discussing the topic of character integrity. I would consider this to be my all-time biggest pet peeve when it comes to designing characters. I believe that preserving character integrity is the defining mark of a good character artist. The irony of this post is that I may ruin some character integrity just by writing about it. Please be advised that there may also be some disturbing images as well due to the subject matter. I apologize ahead of time!

What exactly is character integrity and why is it important?

Character integrity is what you do when you remove all of your personal biases, artistic style, and preferences from your artwork, ESPECIALLY if you are drawing a character that is not your own. It’s what gives the character their uniqueness and allows them to become a fully fledged “free thinking” individual outside of yourself. It helps maintain your suspension of disbelief that this is a real-life breathing individual, not just a flat two-dimensional drawing. It’s staying true to your model sheets. Anyone can draw a character, but if you are not staying true to who the character is, then you are not creating a successful representation of the character.

Some thoughts about character integrity from my Disney Days:

When I was working at Disney, this was one of the core values that they instilled in EVERY cast member upon hire. There was a whole training class on this topic and it didn’t matter what your line of work was, you had to take it. That’s how important it is! It wasn’t just for artists. It was for everyone.

For instance, you wouldn’t say to a guest that Mickey was getting hot and sweaty inside the suit, so he/she had to swap out with another cast member so he/she could go take a smoke break (yes, this happens)… you would say something along the lines of “Mickey went to go get a bite of cheese and he will be back shortly!” or something to that effect. It’s a way of maintaining the suspension of disbelief, or “preserving the magic” as Disney would say.


Nobody wants to see that.

In the case of us artists at Disney, I got very frustrated with some of the other artists when they would say “that’s not how I draw Mickey!” First of all, if you even have to say that phrase, then you’re drawing him wrong. Period. I unfortunately heard it on more than one occasion. The only correct way to draw Mickey is in the Disney style. Granted Mickey has evolved over the years (like many other characters of his time period), but he has always maintained his personality through each incarnation, even if the style changed slightly. You should always do your best to maintain the style that was set forth by Mickey’s original creators. You should not be creating some bastardized version of your own. I have always looked at this as very selfish. You’re amusing yourself, not others.

Monster Mouse

Mickey is an actor and can don lots of outfits and disguises. His personality always shines through no matter what outfit he has on. One of the more popular “versions” of Mickey that I experienced artists drawing was representations of Mickey dressed up as different monsters. In most cases, this is acceptable, as long as you keep this in mind: Mickey is a friendly mouse and is not the type of character to set out to scare anyone (unless it’s in good fun, of course). He’s not an evil blood-sucking vampire; he’s only dressed up as one and he still smiles for pictures.


See, he’s not-so-scary!

Runaway Brain (click to watch)


In the mid 90’s, Disney created a short titled “Runaway Brain.” This short has unfortunately been omitted from a lot of Disney collections because Disney felt that the portrayal of Mickey did not stay true to the character. This couldn’t be further from the truth, since the character in Mickey’s body is actually the monster and Mickey himself was in the monster’s body. Mickey still maintained his personality, but outside of his own body! Some people cite this short as one that defiles Mickey’s integrity, but it does not in fact, since it makes sense for the story.

Disney Princesses


Another popular portrayal that you may have seen around is the combination of the Disney Princesses in a single image. As far as integrity is concerned this is absolutely not okay, with the exception of one rule: the princesses should never interact with one another or acknowledge each other’s existence.

Why is this? Well, the princesses exist independently of one another in different time periods and in different countries. For the same reason, they should also not be represented in costumes since they are not actors like Mickey and his friends. If you look at most of the Disney-approved images of the princesses, you will see that they are not looking at each other or interacting with one another at all. This is in an effort to preserve the integrity of the character.

As you can see, character integrity has always been very important to Disney and it has been a key part in what continues to set them apart from their competition. People go to Walt Disney World and Disneyland to escape reality and visit a fantasy world. Character integrity plays a key part in maintaining that suspension of disbelief and providing the escape that their guests are looking for!

Okay, enough about Disney.

How does character integrity play into my characters on Schmitty’s Toons!? Well, some of the integrity is obviously in the design of the characters. Since they were originally created in Flash, part of preserving their integrity was in maintaining their Flash-style even when they were hand drawn (or in the case of 3D animation, they are cell-shaded).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Just like Mickey, my characters have also evolved over the years as my own artistic style has evolved. The wonderful thing about being the creator of my own characters is that I am the one who sets the rules of what is acceptable in terms of integrity!

Throughout all of the style changes over the years, the original personalities have still maintained. Dippy is still a nervous, friendly duck with terrible luck, Master Sazuke can be a friend or foe depending on the situation and regularly practices martial arts, and Pelican is a deranged platypus that just wants to be just like the rest of the bird crew. If someone other than me were to draw them, they MUST draw them with all of these things in mind, otherwise they are not staying true to the characters.

In summary, don’t under any circumstances add your own personal touches to someone’s existing character design. If you decide to draw Mickey, then draw Mickey. He’s a very challenging character that has stood the test of time and adding your own touches is not going to improve on him. If you want to be creative, then create your own characters, set your own rules for them and hopefully other artists will then want to emulate you and your style therein maintaining your characters’ integrity.

What are your thoughts about character integrity? We’d like to hear them in the comments!

Schmitty out.