Solve Unamusement: Cartoons (How To)

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The Dudel Journal

Cartoons (How To)

This isn't going to be an actual "How To" on drawing cartoons but more of what to focus on. The idea of most cartoons is to get their point across quickly and simply. This means making general shapes for objects be they animate or otherwise and using simple phrases. There are those, mostly in the "business" of comic books that over complicate things in order to make something "eye dropping" but this was not the original purpose of the cartoon.

  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Eraser
  • Outline Pen
  • Color Pencils

Cartoons and drawing them is all about being to the point. You've a statement to make, even if it a silly or stupid one. This statement must be clear and obtained fast. The easiest way is through a cartoon. The most common of these would be the cartoons in your newspaper on political issues. The images are drawn free hand and their subject is directly to the point.

Now we've the gist on what our purpose is, where to start? A majority of artist start with the focal point of whatever the image is. In cartoons this is usually the eyes or head of the character. There are the exceptions, of course, in which case on object is enlarged to bring emphasis on it but usually the point is the face of the character when drawing. The eyes, face and head of a character, when drawing cartoons, do not need to actually proportionate to anything. As this is a distortion of reality there is no need to sick the character in it. Personally I like to make the eyes rather big and obvious, not in the manner of some Japanese cartoons but still bigger.

After the eyes are placed the head gets drawn around it, this is odd as most draw the head and then the eyes inside. A lot like to keep the head and eyes within certain proportions but as this is cartooning, there is no need for that. Once the head is around the eyes, the shape isn't relevant and can be anything from circular to octagonal, the nose is placed. The nose is a simple line between the eyes and is only there to show that the character is "humanoid". Without the "nose line" you start making things look animal like. That is, of course, okay if that is the intention.

The eyes, head and nose are all in place now comes the mouth and eyebrows. These should flow with each other. If a character is all smiles then the eyebrows show if the smiles is for good intentions or not. Eyebrows do not go on the eyes but above them. There should never be a time when the eyebrow is over the shape you have made for the eye unless you are trying to "blur" their lines. If that is the case then the eyes will look partially closed regardless of what you try. The mouth should be the startings of the characters sex. If female the lips should be a little bigger or at least "fuller" then if male. There should also be an "air" about the eyebrows and, unless going for a butch type chick, should be thin.

Right now we've a floating head with no hair, so lets toss some hair on top, any type. The hair and clothes sell the characters sex, usually. As with most things there are exceptions but nine times out of ten the character will be deemed either male or female by the clothes it is wearing, especially in cartoons. There is a simple rule, females have longer hair and wear more "flowing" clothes. It is a stereotype but you'll have no confusion about what characters of yours are female and others male. Hands on the body are usually limited to three fingers but you may draw as many or less as you wish. On a personal line, I rarely draw toes and sometimes "hide" feet altogether.

Now we've a character in empty space, give them something in the background. The easiest of these is the simple horizon. A straight line from one side of the paper to the other which "breaks" behind the character. This line becomes the horizion, the top the sky and the bottom the ground/earth. This is simply to keep the character within a world, rather then have them floating in the middle of nothing. Once the ground and sky are established you have a choice.

To color or not to color, that is a big question. I will leave it up to you. Color pencils work the best for cartoons. I suggest outlineing your character before you actual start to color, however. Trace the lines you have drawn, even some mistakes, and the character POPs from their paper prison.

Now that you are done, why not share what you've got? Hit the image at photobucket and post the link in a comment, here.


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