Cartoon Figures: Part 2

Cartoon Figure Drawing

Let’s get started on our next set of cartoon figures…

Knees, Elbows, and Details

In the part 1 exercises we were focused on creating relatively simple figures inspired by the rubber-hose style of animation created in the 1920s. With this next set of figures we will abandon the noodle like arms and legs while attempting, to a certain degree, to reference actual human anatomy.

Exercise 2.1: Two Figures, Mirror Poses

Materials: Newsprint Pages (2+) , Pencil

Complete: 1 Half Page Thumbnails on Newsprint, 1+ Pages of Figures on Bond Paper

For this exercise we will be drawing two figures that will mirror the same pose. For my drawing, I decided I wanted to do an active ‘floaty’ pose featuring two magic users. I had recently seen a great exhibit at the Getty Center on Alchemy (it runs until 2/12/2017) and decided that I wanted to use elemental symbols featured in the exhibit.

For your drawing, consider what type of characters you would like to portray and what you want them to be doing.

Video Overview: From Pencils to Inks

Image Overview

Start generating at least half a page of thumbnails on a piece of newsprint. I was focused on trying to create a dynamic floaty pose of a character wielding spheres or circles of magic:


After you settle on your favorite thumbnail pose recreate the pose larger on a piece of bond paper. Make sure you leave enough room on the paper to fit the pose on twice:


How do we get the mirror image of the pose on the other half of the paper? Since I was drawing digitally I simply copied the drawing to another layer and flipped that layer. When drawing on paper with pencil we can use the tried and true transfer method (I’ll demo that in class).


Now, let’s focus on one of the characters:


Drawing with moderate pressure, begin to lay in details:


Continue to build your details:


Continue this process with both figures:


When you feel that you’re ready, start inking:

img_0438-1 img_0440 img_0441

At this stage I add in the elemental figures I gathered during my reference and research phase:


After inking you have options for finishing off the drawing:

  • Use pencil to shade in or hatch/cross-hatch
  • Use colored pencils to color
  • Do you have markers that you’d like to use? Go for it.

Additional Demonstrations

I’m a bit behind on creating drawing demonstration videos in an orderly and organized fashion so the rest of this post will be an assortment of videos old and new.

Head Turnaround:


When I drew in blue that was my rough underdrawing, while the read was the clean-up layer:

You’ll notice that at various points the drawing flips into a mirror image. This is a helpful trick when you’re drawing digitally. By flipping the image you can immediately see anything that is off balance and can correct it. This trick has been around forever IRL: just hold your drawing up to a mirror.

Two Characters from Last Year:

Veteran students might remember these characters I made for the comics project last year. I was still getting used to drawing on an iPad Pro when I made these.



Sam Video:



Rocki Video:

Bo Peep the Mutant Sheep Hunter: