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Great Cartoon Drawing Tips

     I don't claim to be the master of drawing. I don't have my own show where I paint "happy trees", but these are tips that have helped me over the years.

Simplify Everything

If you are a perfectionist this can certainly take some getting used to. Its easy to spend hours and hours trying to get all the details. I spent many hours getting all the muscle sinew right in my drawings. Until I slowly realised that the effort I was expelling was not paying me back. This is especially important if you are working to a deadline. Just keep the lines, shapes and shadows nice and simple.

You are not providing an anatomy lesson so don't give one. It is just a cartoon after all. Lots of people fall into the trap of adding detail to every strand of hair on someone's head but loose some of the overall shape. Just keep the shapes simple and concentrate on the big picture view. Keep the shadows as one flat tone rather than lots of different shades. Later on you can always add highlights if you think its necessary.

Draw Through Objects

I can hear you wondering 'what is he going on about'. It may sound like I am talking about some kind of super power that allows you to pass through solid materials. No, I'm actually talking about drawing underlying guidelines and shapes to show form for the person or object you are trying to capture. For instance, in a human, you can't see the bones or the muscles, but you know they are there.

Think of it like building a house. You don't build the roof and then the walls. You build the frame, then add all the exterior details. Think of your sketch as the blueprint for the final illustration. Although you're probably going to simplify things for a cartoon, having an anatomy book as reference is a good idea.

Exaggerated Lie

When you were a kid, your mum probably told you not to lie. Well thats one way to look at it but maybe you should consider this quote from Picasso which says "Art is a lie that tells the truth". The drawing or illustration you produce is merely a representation of reality and cartoons are an exaggeration of reality.

Cartoon characters having three fingers is a good example. I had a client ask me why my characters only had three fingers and I said it just looked better. Think about what elements should be exaggerated to have your drawing make more sense. What things aren't important or should be down played. Sometimes a little lie isn't so bad.


The aim is not to get to perfection on the first go. Redraw things and move stuff around. This will give you a better idea of the drawing or composition. In my eyes, illustrators are in fact professional tracers because of the number of times you redraw, tweak and trace. Break your drawing down into little pieces and do those parts separately before you bring everything together. You can take these smaller tracings and when you are happy, trace them onto the main sketch. Using a light table will really help you to achieve this.

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For more information on whiteboard animation check out this article on how to upgrade your business using whiteboard animation

Posted on 2013-04-28, By: *

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