Introduction: How to Draw Cartoons on the Computer for Beginners

About: Hello! I'm George fullick. A 16 year old which will be a college student soon enough and hopefully a good one too! I've been teaching my self photoshop and digital art recently because I loved drawing and dood…

Welcome to my entry on the graphic design contest! My name is George AKA: PVT skittles and I'm here to show you how to do simple, low budget digital art for starting digital artists :D.

What I'm doing is trying to create digital cartoons using minimal tools you would find in free softwares like Microsoft paint and making art out of it. I love creating cartoon animals, monsters,aliens and robots that either look super cute or super scary, just like in the title. I'm going to show you how to create a cartoon shark (shown above).

What you will need:

- Computer (how would you make digital art with out one? :P)

- Drawing tool e.g.. digital pen and pad, mouse (if your working low budget, a mouse is a great start!)

- Drawing software e.g.. Adobe Photoshop, MS Paint, manga comic software (I'm using Adobe Photoshop elements 12 but only using tools you would find in free softwares like MS Paint)

Step 1: Doodles!

Before starting on the main image of your art work, being digital artist, painter, 3D works, clothing designer etc. you need to plan out what you going to do and choose what designs you like most. In making a cartoon, start off by creating certain limbs and features off the bat, draw different types of mouths, eyes, limbs, hands/claws until you have a favourite of each feature. (I don't normally save my doodle pages but I managed to find one :P)

You may think you have what you want, but there is no limit to how many doodles you can do! Before that shark design I made, I had several pages of doodles of different features of the shark from its mouth to its tail :) ( one of the pages I saved is shown above). You can doodle either on paper or on computer! I suggest doodling on paper because its more natural to you before you start working on digital art. However, you will have to either digitalise the work or re-do it on computer if you want to trace it on to your work.

I've used my computer to doodle so I can get used to digital art a lot more. I recommend you doing that too if you are new to digital art. Just go ham with the doodling and have fun! (To those above the age of 16, to 'go ham' means don't hold back!)

Step 2: Drawing

The main step to completing your cartoon drawing! :D

From the doodles you have drawn, you can choose your favourites and put them all on one page. It's best to choose more than one favourite for each feature you are drawing. For example, I created a curvy tail and a sharp tail but I love both, so I tick/circle them both. so I can use a technique I like to call merging. If you go back to the doodle page from the first step, you can see I merged two types of mouths to see how they would look, I also added the back part of the mouth to my first design and that's what I went with. Never stop doodling until you get what you want!

Now once you have your favourite features it's time to put them together like a puzzle, just like I did! (shown above) Draw your character, cartoon, animal, monster etc using the features you have. If you have software like Photoshop, you could easily drag the features you have drawn onto the main "body" of your cartoon. I won't be doing that because it might not end up like how you wanted it to be!

Connect the features, limbs and designs together to create your cartoon! If you are drawing a cartooned version of something in real life like a shark for example, you could get a better understanding of the image, size, shape and body language by looking up quick pictures and videos (2:18) of said shark :D. I found a video of a shark swimming downwards, I saw its tail staying upwards when it went back into swimming forwards for a short while, which is the pose my shark is in!

Step 3: Colour

Probably the easiest and second most fun part of the design! As I'm limiting myself to standard tools for this project, the main weapon you are using for this awesome monster of a drawing is the paint bucket. If you didn't know, its a tool that fills in white spaces and patches with the colour you choose. It's an easy advantage compared to paper drawings. When filling in certain parts of your cartoon, it's good to remember what colours certain things have (yes I know I coloured my shark red but bear with me! :P) For example, The inside of a mouth would be a fleshy, red colour rather than a full hot pink, black or keeping it blank. If I were to give that sort of colour to the mouth of my shark it would look a lot more realistic for red sharks. Features like teeth don't always have to be white, one could be gold or they could have a grey tinge to it, just to give it that final push.

You don't really have to, since this is a cartoon and making everything bright and rainbows is part of cartoon culture. But I recommend looking up pictures of what you're drawing (again) and look into what colours they are, or even better! look up cartooned versions of what you are drawing and see what other talented artists like your self have considered when drawing that fine piece of work! :D

Step 4: Detailing and Finishing Touches

The final and one of the best steps to your awesome work! Having just one colour for each feature of your cartoon just won't cut it. "But I don't have the right tools for the job!" you cry to me in a panicked voice.. Its ok! using tools found in easy to use free software like MS Paint for example, or any other, normally have a standard paintbrush tool. This is normally used to draw the outline of the design, you probably used this or the pencil tool to do that. :)

First things first, use the "colour picker tool" to pick out the colour of the feature you will be detailing. Click on the colour and you should find a colour pallet, turn the opacity of the colour downwards so its a slightly darker colour from the one you got from the colour picker. We will be using this to detail the outlines of the feature and add minimal shading to the cartoon you are creating.

Imagine an invisible sun somewhere on the page of your design, I tend to place it on the top right of the screen, drawing one yourself might help. The colour you just made will go in the opposite direction of where the sun is facing, just like real shadows! Slowly go around the design being as close to the outlines as you possible can, it doesn't matter if you go over or even past the outline, because you can rub it out and go over the outline again in whatever colour you are using for it.

Delete the sun (or leave it there if you want) and the design should come to life as the paint brush shadow drawing should make the design have a little 3D effect to it. I know I didn't use this tactic when drawing my shark, because I thought it looked nice without it. But I used it in the title and the picture/instruction thing shown above to make it up for you :).

Step 5: Thank You So Much!

This is my very first instructable's instructable! I decided to do this when I started making pictures shortly after I got Photoshop. Becoming a digital artist/cartoonist is my dream job and I can't wait to become one some day. This has been very fun and very useful for me to patch up on my art making skills :3. I hope it was very useful to you too!

I decided to do my first instructable for a contest because I would love to know what the professionals have to say about my instructable. Speaking of what people have to say, please tell me in the comments section or contact me at or on steam (Same as my username: PVT skittles) or on Xbox 360 (username: DOUBLEDEVIL666) I was 11 when I came up with that don't judge me :D

Thank you for reading and drawing with me and listening to me blabber on about cartoons. :)

Links to what I used to make this awesome Instructable a reality:

- Adobe Photoshop elements 12

- Wacom Intuos pen and touch small

-Lenovo Ideapad laptop


-Awesome people! :D

~PVT skittles, George Fullick

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