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Cartoon Drawing Tips
by Chris

Drawing of a sheep playing a guitar, by Chris Hayes copyright


Practice makes perfect

Always try to draw as often as possible, the more you draw the better your work gets, it becomes more refined, less scruffy, and you end up slightly changing your style until you've got something maybe even years from now that looks great. Also one of the best things to practice are things that you don't know how to draw, of course no one expects you to know how to draw everything but it's good to have experience in drawing a lots of things.

Drawings of Chris as he evolved over time, by Chris Hayes copyright.

Trying something new

When drawing something that you haven't got much experience in, such as a car or something, get an old car magazine, or something else with pictures of what you want to draw in it, and study the picture for while then try and draw what you see. Often cartoonists are special because they draw what they "think" they see which is different, but when mastering a new object try to draw it exact and then later you'll change it around as you refine it to something that works for you, however that will be done much later probably without you even realising you're doing it.

Chris's first sketch of one of the cars used in the Wheels on Meals drawing, by Chris Hayes copyright.

To see the wheels on meals picture that this car was used in Click Here.


Let there be colour

Things often look ten times better once they're coloured in, so don't fret if you've made a few small mistakes on something that you plan to colour in.

Lightly does it

When sketching ideas down for the first time use a pencil and do it lightly (just like the teacher says), then when you're happy with it and you've done most of it go over it deeper. Then go over it with a fine pen. After that if you want you could try to remove the pencil with a rubber but you'll often end up smudging it a lot and rubbing the pen off it. Really you need a very good quality rubber and even then I have know idea if you'll be able to pull it off.

The art of sketching

Sketch Pad
Doodling is an art that when you master it you can doodle almost anything and it will look fairly good even though it didn't take you long and you only had a blue ballpoint pen to do it with.

How to mimic

If you like a cartoon so much that you really want to draw it well, video the episodes and (this only works if you've got a very good VCR) pause it when it gets to the parts that you want to draw. If you have a DVD of the cartoon characters like if they have done a movie (Pokémon) or if they do DVD collections of their episodes (The Simpsons) you could use that instead, normally a DVD's pause is high quality I think.

Let there be light

I couldn't live without my "light box" it's a box that has a light in it so that if you put two bits of paper on it you can see through them, I use it a lot. I often go through up to 30 copies to get the cartoon just right, without any errors on it, hopefully ;-)

Light boxes are used in the photography profession, that's how I got my hands on one because my dad used to be a photographer. A clean window during daylight could theoretically be used as a makeshift light box however it of course would be much harder to use.

Drawing of a light box, by Chris Hayes copyright.

Less is more

People (newspapers in particular) want what sells, don't add too much detail, because it'll end up looking like a gigantic black blob, believe me. And on the same point, even if it doesn't look like a massive black (or another colour) blob people still won't like it if it's not simple and neat most the time.

Comic strip tip

Cartoon strips are hard, you can't say much in three to five frames, so you'll end up constantly changing the original idea of the comic to make it fit right. You'll also end up turning down many ideas. Comic strip stories are also quite hard to think up. When you do think of one you might look at it a month later and say that it's stupid even though it was fantastic the last time you looked.

Artist's Manikins

Artist's manikins are extremely valuable for getting joints where they should be and making sure body parts are the right size. Also once you get it in your head about where all the joints and stuff are you'll end up not using it so much too, either way it is a very good tool third to only good pens and the light box. Oh and imagination!

Drawing of an artist's manikin, Chris Hayes copyright

The bottom line

Your arts quality will grow tremendously in time and some days when you've been practicing extra hard for a few months you might see a real change. Art is one of the few things where you can escape the normal boundaries of life and do whatever you want with it, and that has to be the best thing about art.

Drawing of dragon breathing fire by Chris Hayes copyright.

To see the poem that the dragon was drawn for. Click Here.

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