Learning how to draw cartoon people takes a lot more practice than people think. You can’t just pick up a pencil and scribble – well, you could but it would take a lot of practice nonetheless to make something visually pleasing from just doodles. The basic premise of drawing cartoon people is to make something visually appealing using very simple shapes and lines.
Understanding the Concepts of Drawing a Cartoon Person
That is why the most successful cartoon characters are the simplest ones. They are very beautiful to look at but when you come down to it they only require three or four basic shapes. Just look at Mickey Mouse: his entire silhouette can be done with three circles. Just look at SpongeBob SquarePants, Mickey Mouse, Aang, and other famous cartoon character – they all share the same traits.
When drawing a cartoon person the best idea is to start with circles. Use a circle for the head, the eyes, the ears, hands, and feet. Edit your circles and turn them into oblongs or bean-shapes if you want to draw a cartoonish body and lips.
If you were going for a more serious type of cartoon person then you have to focus on two aspects of drawing: simplicity and emphasis.
Simplicity and Emphasis
A very common cartoon style of drawing people is the Japanese anime or Japanese manga style of art. This is also a good style that utilizes simplicity and emphasis to great degree. Just look at any Japanese anime show and the way people are designed. They use simple lines for the noses, lips, and the lines in their clothes but there is a lot of emphasis on the large eyes, breasts, and hair.
Steps to Draw a Basic Cartoon Person
- Start with the basic outline using simple shapes. A cartoon head is often made with two circles – one circle for the upper half of the head (hair and forehead) while the smaller, lower circle is to emphasize the mouth and cheeks.
- Use a bean shape for the body. You don’t have to draw the arms or legs yet, just simple eggs or circles for the hands and feet. Connect these to the body using lines depicting their pose.
- Again, use basic shapes for the features. Cartoon people tend to have large eyes so use circles for the eyes instead of small almond shapes. For the nose and mouth, sometimes all you need to do is draw a small arrow for the nose and a line for the lips.
- The rest is all about decorating the skeleton outline that you have. If you used an HB pencil for the basic outline it is time to whip out the 2B and 4B pencils to add layers. Erase the original outline as you go. This is the most elaborate step because this is where you add all the little details like the pupils in the eyes or the shirt and gloves over the hands you shaped with a circle.
- Adding colors is optional. The simplest way is to scan your drawing and use Adobe Photoshop to add colors. Others like to keep it traditional and use ink pens to manually add colors. This is how it used to be done for comic strips in the newspaper. Remember to use simple colors.
A cartoon person should be appealing but easy to make. You should be able to draw the cartoon figure in front of a few kids in just minutes before they lose attention. Don’t try to put too much emphasis with cross shading or elaborate lines. Most cartoon people use just two kinds of line – the dark outline and then the fainter inner line for detail.