Children are the main audience when referring to the cartoons. A good cartoonist is one who can extract the main details of an object or a human being and simplify in shapes so that a child can recognize and be attracted to what they’re looking at. Was studying infant perception that masters like Walt Disney, Hanna & Barbera, Chuck Jones, Jim Henson, Walter Lantz and many others have enchanted the world with its magical and eternals characters.
My role here is to make you understand the proper way to assemble this puzzle and definitely learn how to build any character from the techniques presented. I guarantee you will be shocked at how easy it is to create a cartoon expression that children (and adults) will adore!
Understanding Human Perception
The human-being has a very interesting feature: We can synthesize the details that make up a structure or an object in very complex ways into very basic and simple ones. This way we can represent any type of thing through a few curves and geometric shapes.
Can you tell me if the two images below represent the same object?
Create Our First Character
The basic cartoon shape is a circle. Circle Is All You Need (besides Love, of course). It’s from the circle that you define the basic proportions of your character’s head.
Once the circle is ready, it’s time to trace the face axis. Draw a vertical and horizontal line intersecting at the center, like in the image below:
To make the eyes, draw an oval shape with a slight tilt to the side at the top. Repeat on opposite side. It is important to leave a gap between them of approximately the same size as an eye. As we are in the drafting phase, you can draw another eye in the center to serve as a measure.
At the top of the circle, slightly thicken the trait that will be the eyelashes of our character. Place the eyebrows a bit above the eyelashes to spend a sort of a surprise expression. The eyebrow form is free and with practice you will adjust to your own style.
Draw both pupils directed to the center (this is a very effective tactic used by major cartoonists whose sole purpose is to make our characters look cuter).
Tip: To give more life and “realism” in our eyes you can draw a small line below them to simulate a kind of wrinkle. This is another very interesting tactic that adds a special touch to our facial expressions.
We arrived in the most creative freedom of the whole course. Think of it this way: In cartoon style designs, the main structure of a face is the skull and the eyes of the character. It is at that stage where you define the identification with the external world, IE, it is already clear to people that you’re drawing a character.
Now that we come to the jaw, we will decide if we want a fat character or a thin one. Could be old, young and so on. My character will be a young one. So, let’s design a proper jaw for him.
When designing a nose being seen from the front, it is common not to use many details. If you draw only its tip, it is likely that already achieves a convincing effect. It is also very common detailing to draw only one side of the nose, from the idea that this is the opposite side of light.
Let’s put the correct nose on our character.
As our character is a child, we will make a cartoon mouth: something simple just to represent an expression of innocence.
Notice that when drawing a little child’s mouth, the lips shouldn’t be drawn! In cartoon style, children, regardless of gender, have quite simple mouths. A good and expressive trace already does the job.
The ears are seen from the front side view (because our character is facing the camera), so that the internal cavities will not appear. Then we will do just a simple shape using some basic perspective (more on that later).
The shape of our skull is already defined by the circle we did at the beginning, right? So we just need a very simple and childish haircut to give life to our boy. Let’s do it now.
I Don’t Know How to Draw Hair! Help!
Easy, easy… there is nothing to fear. Nobody needs to be stylist or fashion designer to make the perfect hair. There isn’t a right way to draw hair, so you’ll need to try until you create the ideal haircut you want. Just remember that the hair is responsible for defining the personality of our characters. Oddly enough, the hair can express age, rebellion, conservatism… incredible, isn’t? Speaking of which… what is your hairstyle?! Oh, never mind.
An accurate and fast way to drawing cartoon hair is to seek photo references on the web! I do this all the time: grab a fashion magazine or try a Google search. After finding the ideal style, put the image as a reference next to your drawing board (or tablet) and start making a cartoon and simplified version of it.
Well, it seems we completed our character successfully! Congratulations!
Now let’s play a bit more and create a completely different character leveraging the same template we used for little Tommy (yes, I created a name for him).