3 Ways to Draw Cartoon Characters - wikiHow (2024)

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1Drawing a Cartoon Person or Creature

2Imitating Your Favorite Cartoon

3Perfecting Your Drawing

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Co-authored byRenée Plevy

Last Updated: March 17, 2024References

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Drawing a cartoon character can be a fun way to pass the time. You can even create your own characters and start drawing a comic strip or work on animating a film. Cartoon drawing isn't that different from drawing humans; you need to focus on the overall shape and proportion of the character while exaggerating certain parts to make it more interesting. This wikiHow will show you how to draw cartoon characters.

Method 1

Method 1 of 3:

Drawing a Cartoon Person or Creature

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  1. 1

    Start by creating a head for the cartoon. The person's head can be a circle, a flat top with a curve underneath, pear-shaped, oblong-shaped, or any number of other shapes. For a simple shape, start with a rounded square that you adapt as you add details to your drawing.[1]

    • To make a rounded square, create something between a circle and a square. It should have noticeable sides, but the corners should be rounded.
  2. 2

    Create an outline for the rest of your person. Use ovals, circles, and lines to create a rough sketch of the person. For instance, you might use 2 overlapping circles or ovals to create the chest and stomach area. You might exaggerate the belly on a heavyset person or the chest on someone with large muscles. Add lines for limbs, placing ovals where the elbows and hands should be.[2]

    • This is similar to what you'd do if you were drawing a realistic human figure so keep basic proportions in mind. If you're having trouble, look at a photograph of a person standing in a similar position. However, keep in mind that in cartoons, some areas may be exaggerated while others are underplayed.


  3. 3

    Incorporate a line of action along at least one side of the body. A line of action doesn't necessarily refer to movement. Rather, it's a curvy line you incorporate into the figure to give it a sense of dimension. Typically, the line curves in starting at the top of the head, then out around the body, then in again at the bottom. Draw this line on at least one side of your person, using it to guide the details you add in.[3]

  4. 4

    Add in guidelines for different parts of the body. Guidelines help you decide how to cover the body and fill in details. Add vertical center lines to the face shape and torso shapes. However, depending on how the person is standing, the center line may be a curved arc pushing out slightly to the left or right. The curve helps you add dimension to the drawing, as people aren't flat figures but 3D.[4]

    • Horizontal guidelines may curve upward or downward, depending on where the person is looking and the shape of their face. For instance, you may draw a horizontal guideline across their face to determine the eye and nose placement.
  5. 5

    Fill in details for the head, starting with the eyes. Consider what you want your character to express and use their face to create that emotion. Set the eyes on the horizontal guideline and the nose close to the crossing point between the horizontal and vertical lines. The mouth should be below the main horizontal guideline. Use circles or ovals for the eyes, a small hook or curve for the nose, and a curve up or down for the mouth. Add hair with straight or curvy lines, bringing it in around the head.[5]

    • Close-set eyes that are tilted down toward the center with eyebrows that match can indicate anger. Big eyes that are ever-so-slightly cross-eyed can make a character seem cute and innocent. If you want a character to look surprised, try lifting the eyebrows a little higher in an arc and use wide-open eyes.
  6. 6

    Sketch in the torso and the limbs. Round out the limbs using straight lines for the upper arms and round lines for the lower arms. Try straight lines for the thighs, and if the calves are exposed, round lines for the calves. Add in basic details for the hands, like a closed fist: a rectangle with 3 lines in it to create the fingers, along with a thumb out to the side.[6]

    • A pear shape often works well for the torso and stomach. If you want a character with lots of muscles, try an inverted pear shape.
  7. 7

    Add the finishing touches like clothes and shoes. These don't have to be elaborate. You can just add a line halfway down the arm to create a sleeve, then make the fabric come out a little bit around the arm at the top. Use a curved line for a basic collar. Then, draw a line curving down around the waist for where the shirt ends and the pants or skirt begins. Make a basic shape for the pants, skirt, or shorts by adding horizontal lines on the legs then making the shape expand slightly outside the leg line.[7]

    • Add in basic rounded shapes for shoes.
  8. 8

    Fill in the sketch with a pen or marker. Once you're happy with what you have, color the lines with a dark pen. Be careful, as these lines will be permanent. Once you've added them and the marker is completely dry, erase your guidelines and other pencil marks.[8]

  9. 9


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Method 2

Method 2 of 3:

Imitating Your Favorite Cartoon

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  1. 1

    Find a picture of the character online. It's easiest to copy a cartoon character if you have something to work with! Look up a detailed picture of your favorite character, and use that to guide your drawing.[9]

    • You can even look up tutorials on how to draw specific characters to make life easier.
  2. 2

    Start with the basic shape in pencil. Sketch in circles, ovals, and rectangles to help get the figure in the correct perspective. Look closely at the face, for instance, to see if it's more of a circle or oval, then sketch that into place. Maybe the torso is more of an oval shape, so make a light sketch for that. Add rectangles for the limbs, including ovals or circles for the arms.[10]

  3. 3

    Add in the hands, ears, and feet. If your character has unusual ears, such as Mickey Mouse's round ears, sketch those in. Similarly, add in ovals or circles for the hands, depending on what the character's hands look like.[11]

    • Don't forget to add shoes or feet!
  4. 4

    Put in guidelines for the face and torso. Add a curving center line for the face, going vertically. The line should curve in the direction the character is facing. If the character is looking straight ahead, it can go straight down the face. Similarly, add a vertical line along the character's torso, curving the direction the character is turning.[12]

    • Add in horizontal guidelines for the face and body. The face guidelines should curve upward or downward depending on whether the character is looking up or down. The torso and stomach guidelines should show how the area rounds itself out in 3D.
  5. 5

    Fill in the basic details of the body. Connect up the lines along the limbs and joints, and fill in any lines along the torso and body that aren't in place yet. Use the curves on the picture to guide how you add them to your character.[13]

    • For example, some characters will have very skinny arms and legs, while others will have more defined curves.
  6. 6

    Add in the clothes and facial details. Incorporate the eyes, nose, and mouth, using both the guidelines and the original character as a guide. Pay close attention to the proportions, meaning how big or small things are in connection to one another, including how far apart things are. Then, add in lines along the limbs to create sleeves and pants or skirts as needed.[14]

    • For hair, create a flattened v-shape to indicate a part in the hair. Add curving or straight lines to make the hair, depending on the character.
  7. 7

    Finish the character with a pen. Draw the character in with a dark pen or marker, making sure you follow the final lines. Let the pen dry, then erase any guidelines or other pencil marks left on the character.[15]

  8. 8


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Method 3

Method 3 of 3:

Perfecting Your Drawing

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  1. 1

    Draw in light pencil strokes. If you try to draw in pen from the beginning, you won't be able to correct mistakes as you go. Plus, when you start out, you want to create guides for your drawing. At the end, you erase those guides, so they need to be in pencil.[16]

    • Light pencil marks are important because if you draw too heavily, you'll leave indentations in the paper.
  2. 2

    Look at the skeletal and muscle structure if you have trouble with proportions. Most art students have trouble with proportions at some point! A way to help with that is to study how an animal or human is built based on their basic anatomy. Try looking up anatomical drawings online for what you're drawing and sketching those as practice.[17]

    • A figure drawing class would also be helpful in learning how to draw cartoons.
  3. 3

    Exaggerate the parts you want to stand out. Cartoons are meant to be exaggerated because they tell a story just by the way they're drawn. If your character is angry, you may want to exaggerate their head with an angry expression. If your character is fierce, you may want to exaggerate their muscles or armor. To achieve this, make these portions slightly bigger or overdone in comparison with the rest of the body.[18]

  4. 4

    Adjust the drawing as needed. As you draw, don't be afraid to make changes to the shape of the character. Erase the outer lines and draw in new ones if they don't look right or continue to adjust the shape of the face to make it look sharper or cuter.[19]

    • You're drawing in pencil so you can make changes throughout the picture. Plus, as you draw, you'll be able to see the shape you want your cartoon character to take.
  5. 5


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Community Q&A


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  • Question

    Is it okay to draw cartoon characters from a series or movie?

    3 Ways to Draw Cartoon Characters - wikiHow (28)

    Community Answer

    It is okay to draw cartoons from other shows, etc. as long as you don't publish them or claim them as your own design. Drawing them for fun is fine, but be careful not to copyright them.

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  • Question

    How can I draw a 3D design that no one would ever think is bad?

    3 Ways to Draw Cartoon Characters - wikiHow (29)

    Community Answer

    No matter what, there is going to be someone who thinks it's bad. Just try your best and you'll get better with practice.

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    Thank you for your feedback.
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  • Question

    Can I still draw a comic even though I have no experience with drawing?

    3 Ways to Draw Cartoon Characters - wikiHow (30)

    Community Answer

    Yes, there's no one stopping you. The more you practice, the better your drawings will be.

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    Thank you for your feedback.
    If wikiHow has helped you, please consider a small contribution to support us in helping more readers like you. We’re committed to providing the world with free how-to resources, and even $1 helps us in our mission.Support wikiHow


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      • Studying with an art teacher is a great way to improve your anatomy skills—we have a tendency not to actually see what's in front of us, and a teacher can help you see what you're missing.


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      About This Article

      3 Ways to Draw Cartoon Characters - wikiHow (38)

      Co-authored by:

      Renée Plevy

      Portrait Artist & Educator

      This article was co-authored by Renée Plevy. Renée Plevy is an Internationally Acclaimed Portrait Artist from New York/Palm Beach who has painted The Grand Dames of Palm Beach and various celebrities and community leaders. With over 50 years of experience, Renée specializes in painting realistically in oil and capturing the soul of the person. She has studied under internationally renowned portrait artists John Howard Sanden, David Leffel, Robert Beverly Hale, Clyde Smith, and Leonid Gervits. Renée is featured in over 68 shows and galleries including a one-woman museum show at the Paterson Museum. She has garnered numerous awards including “Artist of the Year” from The Bloomfield Art League and First Prize from the Boca Raton Museum Artist’s Guild. Renée has even painted a portrait of celebrity, Vanilla Ice. She also teaches at the Boca Raton Museum Art School - formerly at SVA in Manhattan. This article has been viewed 558,425 times.

      36 votes - 57%

      Co-authors: 49

      Updated: March 17, 2024


      Categories: Featured Articles | Drawing Cartoons

      Article SummaryX

      To draw a character in a cartoony style, start by sketching in the basic shape of the head. You can make the head any shape you like, but it’s easiest to start with a circle or a square with rounded edges. Next, fill in the basic shapes of the body. For example, make a large oval or a pair of overlapping circles for the torso, and use circles or ovals to indicate the hands, feet, and joints. Connect the shapes with straight or curved lines to make the limbs and neck, and fill in details like the character’s fingers and the outlines of their body. Next, add guidelines to help you figure out where to sketch in the facial features. For instance, draw a vertical line through the middle of the face, then add a horizontal line halfway down to show where the eyes should go. Draw in two more horizontal lines under that to mark where the nose and mouth will go. Sketch a pair of circles for the eyes, a sideways curve or c-shape for the nose, and a slightly curved horizontal line for the mouth. Now, it’s time to get creative. Fill in any details you like, such as the character’s hair, eyebrows, clothing, and any other special features or accessories you want to add. When you’re done, fill in the outlines with ink, then erase the guidelines and any other stray pencil marks. If you want, you can color in your drawing. Keep reading to learn how to draw specific styles of cartoons, like the ones you see on South Park!

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