How to Create Cartoon Images

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Drawing cartoons is a way of life for many illustrators. Cartoons are found in newspaper comics, children’s books, comic books and advertising. When drawing a cartoon image, the key is to borrow from the features of an actual person and distort those features. This type of cartooning is referred to as a caricature and often seen in political and editorial periodicals. Create a cartoon image of a person or animal by utilizing the basics of drawing and your own artistic flair.

Things You'll Need

  • Photographic reference (optional)
  • Pencil
  • Drawing paper
  • Ink pen
  • Rubber eraser
  • Look at the features of the person or animal in your photographic reference, if you are using one. Pay special attention to the eyes, mouth, ears and overall head shape. If you prefer, use a model or an image from your own mind instead of a photographic reference.

  • Draw the overall head shape of the person or animal. Use quick, fluid pencil strokes. If the subject has a square or pointed jaw, wide forehead or large chin, exaggerate those features in your cartoon’s head shape.

  • Draw two shapes to represent the eyes of your cartoon subject. Since eyes come in a variety of sizes and shapes, avoid drawing simple ovals or circles. Stick with the overall shape of the subject’s eyes. If you are creating a different expression, change the shape of the eyes to represent surprise, anger or another expression.

  • Sketch your subject’s eyebrows in an exaggerated fashion. For example, if your subject has heavy eyebrows, make them even heavier in your cartoon.

  • Draw a vertical line from one eye corner and extend it into a rounded curve at the bottom to represent a nose. If the subject has a large nose, or is an animal, draw the nose how it really appears but exaggerate it. Think rounded edges and swift, clean pencil strokes.

  • Sketch the mouth of the subject. The mouth shape can be a small circle to represent surprise, a simple one- or two-line smile, or a more complex, exaggerated version of the subject’s real mouth.

  • Add the ears to your cartoon. You can draw nondescript ears simply as half-ovals at the sides of the cartoon’s head. If your subject has large ears, make them even larger in the drawing.

  • Draw the hair in a similar style to the subject’s real hair, but do not draw every single strand. Instead, draw the basic outlines of the hair and add a few line strokes to the inside in the direction of hair growth.

  • Sketch the body of your subject in a rudimentary fashion, focusing not on exact curves or muscles but on a simplified version of the subject’s real body. Add simple clothing to the subject. Don't worry about erasing pencil lines “underneath” the clothing.

  • Trace over your cartoon with an ink pen. Do not trace over the lines of the body that appear “underneath” the clothes. Allow the ink to dry for 10 to 20 minutes, then erase over the image to remove the original pencil lines.

Tips & Warnings

  • Add “whooshes,” which are heavy lines that show the movement of an object such as a ball, to your cartoon.
  • Draw a “wiffle,” which is a vertical squiggled line, over the subject’s head if they are supposed to be angry or if you are drawing an object that is supposed to be hot.

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References

  • Photo Credit Cartoon Eye image by hellotim from Fotolia.com baby girl cartoon image by Edyta Anna Grabowska from Fotolia.com Japanese Animation Eyes image by Infs from Fotolia.com rugby fending blue cartoon style image by patrimonio designs from Fotolia.com cartoon snowman image by Stephen Coleman from Fotolia.com superhero image by Clarence Alford from Fotolia.com It... Cat! Cartoon. image by Andrey Khritin from Fotolia.com
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