How to Make Political Cartoons

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So you are feeling witty, giddy and arty, and you think you have what it takes to draw political cartoons? Political cartoons, also known as editorial cartoons, illustrate a message to the literate world. Unlike other forms of art, political cartoons almost always are accompanied by the written word. A slogan or some political jargon is paired or encompassed by a witty cartoon that only the twisted mind of a political cartoonist would contrive.

Things You'll Need

  • Pencils
  • Pens
  • Sketch pad
  • Note paper
  • Unishade Graphix paper with cross hatching
  • Pick your tools based on the medium you use. The traditional political cartoons have been in print, but many political cartoons can also be found on the Internet. You’ll need to use ink for print or a computer for digital art. Drafting pens work well for print, and so do brushes and India ink. The type of brushes or pens you will use are crow-quills or sable brushes. You can purchase these at any art supply store. For digital art, you will need a digital tablet and Adobe Photoshop.

  • Study the styles of Herblock, Bill Mauldin, John Fischetti, Paul Conrad, Pat Oliphant or Jeff MacNelly. Eventually, however, you will want to develop your own styles.

  • Get yourself well read and informed. Read the newspaper and jot down any subjects of political importance onto a large sheet of paper or an artist’s sketchpad; 11-by-17 or larger is a good size of pad to start with. Just go through the articles in the newspaper. When you see something that you think you have something to say about, write it down on your pad and circle it. Ask yourself where you stand on the issues that interest you.

  • Write down every word that comes to your mind regarding the issues you’ve read about. Sketch down the images that come into your mind. You can use a pencil for this, because you are not doing your final drawing yet. Find another topic and do the same note-taking routine. Draw a line between any similarities of words and pictures that you doodle down on the page. Eventually you will have a map for your big idea. Try to read into what everyone is talking about in the news. Take into account what seems to be the general opinion reflected by the journalists. Ask yourself whether or not you agree with the journalists or the politicians in the newspaper. If something strikes you as funny, then write it down.

  • Take the ideas you generated from your notebook map of ideas and twist them around into something funny. Look at other artists for examples. No one can be taught how to have a sense of humor. You’ll just have to pick it up on your own.

  • Draw your final draft of your political cartoon onto Unishade Graphix paper with embedded cross-hatching. Use India ink to draw thick, dark lines for your drawing. Light pen or pencils are not dark enough to photocopy very well. There are some exceptions, but most cartoonists use dark inks.

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