Learn to Draw a Cartoon Character




Say goodbye to stick men forever! This Instructable will teach you basic principles that can help you draw your own impressive cartoon character. Depending on how comfortable you are at drawing, mastering this simple character can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 45. But remember, EVERYONE can draw and draw well. Some people just need a little more practice than others.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

As previously discussed, the key to drawing a successful cartoon character is lots of practice.
So, we'll need:
  • a clear workspace
  • plenty of paper
  • a pencil
  • an eraser (hopefully we won't need this too much)
  • time and patience

Step 2: Think in Three Dimensions

The basic cartoon character is made up of basic shapes. These are THREE-DIMENSIONAL shapes, not two. So begin by practicing some simple 3-D shapes:

1. Practice drawing a box, a sphere, and a cylinder like the ones pictured above. Keep practicing until you feel comfortable drawing in three-dimensions.

2. Once you feel comfortable drawing these shapes, begin experimenting with them. Stretch them. Bend them. Twist them.

hint: Be confident. Keep your pencil strokes loose and keeps your hands moving fast. Continue drawing lines on top of each other until you draw one you're happy with and try to stay away from the eraser!

Step 3: Master the Flour Sack

Now that you know how to manipulate simple shapes, you can begin to combine them to make more complex shapes.

1. Place a cube on top of a sphere and smooth out the lines connecting the two shapes. You now have one shape that should resemble a flour sack.

- The flour sack shape is one of the most important shapes to master in order to draw a basic cartoon character. But you'll learn more about that in step number four.

2. Animate the flour sack by slightly manipulating the simple shapes that make up the sack. Squish them. Stretch them. Bend them.

Step 4: Add Limbs

Now that you're a master flour sack-drawer, you can begin to draw your cartoon character. As you can see in the image below, the flour sack just happens to be the same shape as the basic cartoon character's torso (I bet you're glad you practiced manipulating that flour sack so much).

1. Draw a torso (flour sack).

2. Add arms, legs, and a neck using these tips on placement and sizing:
  • Arms should come out of the top corner of the torso and should be as long as about two torso widths.
  • Legs come out of the bottom of the torso and should be about as long as the height of the torso. Make sure to keep the legs wide-set and drawn towards the outside of the torso.
  • The neck can come straight out of the top of the torso.

hint: As shown in the second image, arms and legs should be drawn as two separate cylinders, not one. The two cylinders connect at the elbow or knee.

3. Draw hands and feet using these blocking techniques:

  • Hands are made out of a simple block or box shape. The thumb comes out of the side of the block, near the wrist. The fingers (I only draw three) need to extend out from the top of the block.
  • The cartoon foot can be thought of as two simple shapes, a box and a cone as the toes.

Step 5: Add a Head

It is helpful to think of a cartoon head as consisting of two basic shapes:

1. Draw a sphere on top of the previously drawn neck.

2. Add a second sphere to the bottom part of the first sphere. This sphere should be flattened to almost half the height of the first sphere.

- It should be noted that in profile, the neck connects to the head BETWEEN the two spheres, not to the bottom of the jaw. This is shown in the first image.

Now that you know how to make the basic shape of the head, you can add details such as eyes, a mouth, a nose, and ears. Let's start with the eyes.

3. Choose which way the character is going to be looking and lightly pencil in an oval over the sphere facing that direction (refer to the second image).

4. Draw two ovals for eyes, staggering the light line you just made and add two black dots for pupils.

- When drawing eyes, make sure to curve them along the light pencil line. This will make sure your character looks like he's looking in the intended direction.

5. Draw in an oval nose and two circular ears, all along the line between the two original spheres.

6. Draw a curved line for a mouth under the nose.

- For a more open mouth, you can choose to add a third oval to draw the mouth on.

Step 6: Practice Manipulating Your Character

Way to go. You know how to draw a basic cartoon character! But don't stop there. Continue to experiment with him. Try repositioning the basic structural shapes of the cartoon to make your character move, dance, sleep, jump, or whatever else you can imagine. You can also bend, stretch, and twist these shapes to add even more interest to your character.

Just remember, you're not expected to be a pro after simply reading this short tutorial. You need to keep practicing. If something looks funny, try again, this time changing things up a little. Eventually your confidence will grow along with your skill level. Before you know it, you'll even be adding hair and clothes to your character, developing your own set of unique characters.



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    16 Discussions

    Maybe you should also try to make your own character.Then maybe you'll know how to make them rather copying it from another's book.Atleast make your line confident.

    1 reply
    God 707Uyoginder.aggarwal.1

    Reply 6 months ago

    could you tell me the site where this is from? ive been looking all over for it


    7 months ago

    Hey guys, good to be connected. I'm an architect turned cartoonist/animator so I need all the help I can get. :-)


    Reply 1 year ago

    I'm Ambidextrous (Left & Right Handed)!


    1 year ago

    Instructions unclear i got my pencil stuck in my toaster.


    2 years ago

    thanks :)


    2 years ago

    can you show us how to draw a cartoon step by step


    5 years ago

    Sweet I'll be using this a lot.