Styles of Cartooning


Cartooning is the art of creating cartoons---or images that are humorous, exaggerated or otherwise unrealistic---for magazines, newspapers, animated television shows and movies, websites and other forms of media. The cartoon art form has evolved over the centuries from static doodles and illustrations that adorned caves and manuscripts, to moving, 3-D images that occupy 3-D cartoon worlds. Some of the most common styles of cartooning include editorial cartoons, anime, American animation and CGI animation.


  • Editorial cartoons are comic strips or illustrations that make social or political statements, most often criticisms. The traditional style of editorial cartooning is based primarily on the work of the German-born cartoonist Thomas Nast, who rose to fame drawing for "Harper's Weekly" during the Civil War. According to Economic Expert, all variations on the traditional editorial cartoon style share a few common elements. These include depicting caricatures of politicians or political symbols (such as the Democratic donkey and the Republican elephant, which Nast created), making visual metaphors (such as representing freedom as the Statue of Liberty) and being black and white instead of color.


  • Anime is a type of Japanese animation that is characterized by its highly stylistic imagery, still-screen shots and continuous storylines (meaning that installments are intended to be watched in sequence). The cartooning style is also well known for depicting violence, sexuality and other explicit content. According to Anime News Network, the artwork in anime is based primarily on manga, which is a comic book style that became popular in Japan following World War II.

American Animation

  • According to Anime News Network, American animation, as opposed to anime, is more inclined toward being fantastical and childish, and---when it comes to television programming---is often presented in independent storylines.
    Some of the prototypical American cartoons that characterize the style include Felix the Cat and Mickey Mouse. In the early 20th century, American cartoons were often shown as animated shorts or featurettes, but would later go on to become half-our television shows and feature-length films. The 1990s saw the rise of more adult-themed American animation, with shows like "The Simpsons," "South Park" and "Family Guy."

CGI Animation

  • CGI (computer-generated imagery) animation is the latest wave of cartooning, and has been popularized by movies like "Toy Story" and "Shrek." Using CGI, cartoons are not drawn by hand but created with 3-D computer graphics. This means a cartoonist's imagination will not be limited by the restrictions of paper size. Many cartoon shows also use CGI to add style (and fast rendering times) to their 2-D animations.

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