Part ONE – Drawing Cartoon People In Motion
“You have been drawing stick figures the wrong way your whole life!” Is usually the first thing I say to begin this lesson before showing them how to turn a simple line into a fully fledged cartoon person. I use this simple drawing guide and activity sheet that you can download below.
Printable Activity Sheet Download
There are many ways other artists draw cartoons, and there are “proper” ways of achieving the same thing, however this is the method I have come up with, and how I personally teach and draw cartoon people.
I like to make this a very interactive lesson by getting them to call out the answers, volunteering their funny positions for us to draw and getting them to try drawing on the board too. You can draw your person doing anything, just by changing the shape of the original line. You can make him sitting, running, walking, dancing, lying down, bending over, your choice! Just find the ‘center line’ and go from there.
1. Find The Line of Motion
Drawing a simple line and dividing it into 5 equal parts, will allow you to draw your person in every position. Each point will mark the Head, Shoulders, Bottom of the Ribs, Waist, Knees, and Feet.
2. Draw your Stick Man – The Skeleton.
You can draw the shoulder line, Rib line, and waist line first. Then connect the outer points to make the torso. Most kids had trouble with this part and always forgot to draw the rib line, and ended up drawing an ‘hour glass’ torso, or a body with an itty bitty waist! After you’ve draw these 3 horizontal lines, you can add the limbs and a head.
Things to remember:
- When drawing the head, remember to leave some space for a neck.
- Shoulders come out past your ears so remember to draw them wide enough. (But not too wide unless you’re drawing a big wrestler or rugby player!)
- Make sure the elbows are in line with point number 3 – All my students, no matter how often and clearly I show and tell them, tend to make the elbows way too high up, making their stick men have really tiny arms.
- Same goes for the knees. make sure the knees are in line with point number 5
3. Feed Your Stick Figure with Sausage Links – Adding Flesh
Next, you’ll give your stick figure some flesh by drawing ‘sausage’ shape ovals around the arms, legs, hands and feet. And round out your torso shape.
Things to remember:
- Overlap all ‘sausage links’ this will create the illusion of elbows and knees, and prevent your person from looking like a puppet.
- Make the leg sausages bigger than the arm sausages.
After you’ve given him some flesh and bones, you’ll outline the outer edge of the entire drawing, and then erase any inside pencil marks.
5. Dress ’em up!
Now your person has really taken shape, well done! It’s time to give them some clothes!
Now, all he’ll need is a face! Check out Part Two – Drawing Expressive Cartoon Faces