A great way to learn how to draw cartoon characters and add life to them is through studying some classical animation techniques. You don’t have to want to be an animator, but you should want to be willing to learn some valuable lessons that can potentially liven up your drawings with animation techniques such as squash and stretch, anticipation and exaggeration. Think of Disney and Pixar as examples. Have you ever seen a poorly developed character from these studios? Animators have to draw a character over and over hundreds if not thousands of times to get the movement down just right to show weight and personality. One reason is, to animate a character, the character’s design had to be able to convey the right message in its movement. If a character was poorly drawn then it would animate poorly, which would be unacceptable. The animators had to be able to animate and move the characters around in as easy and efficient manner as possible to capture the audiences attention. Pretty amazing for something as simple as a line drawing.The importance of a well drawn cartoon character was one of the crucial first steps in achieving their goals.
OK now, you can implement 4 steps for this process. Step one, learn how to draw basic shapes and turn them into a three dimensional counterpart, for example: a circle to a sphere, a square into a box, etc. Once you are able to do this (with practice), then you can move on to step two which is, manipulating the shape by twisting, squashing and stretching it into various forms and easily create many types of characters by combining shapes together. Next (as always) practice drawing constantly and consistently. You cannot skip this step and expect to grow as an artist and draw appealing characters. Once you are able to draw a basic character shape using the techniques described above you can easily expand and alter the shape(s) to your liking. The world is yours! Always remember to also draw from life as it is the greatest teacher, giving you the ability to draw realistic movement that will transfer into your character.
Visit the world of classical animation to see how you are able to use some of those techniques to enhance your cartoon character drawing. There are plenty of online resources as well as books available to help you, so remember to keep a sketchbook with you at all times. Sometimes, when drawing cartoon characters, you have to look outside your field of interests to help develop a skill and through the fabulous world of classical animation we can gain a lot of valuable inspiration, knowledge and insight.
Andre “Dre” Saunders attended Bowie State University in Bowie, Maryland as an art major. He started freelancing as a designer and illustrator and has worked on projects for such clients as Dupont and the Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children as well as creating several covers for a small book publisher.
He is married with four children (two boys and two girls) and is currently working on several projects including a comic book series, a short film, a stage and screen play, a graphic T-shirt line and preparing several characters for licensing and merchandising.