How to Draw Cartoons: Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Fun and Expressive Characters

How to Draw Cartoons: Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Fun and Expressive Characters

Are you interested in learning how to draw cartoons but don’t know where to start? Look no further! As a professional cartoonist and content creator, I have years of experience in creating fun and expressive characters that capture the imagination of audiences of all ages.

In this step-by-step guide, I will share with you my tips and tricks for creating your own unique cartoon characters. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced artist, this guide will provide you with the tools and techniques you need to bring your cartoons to life.

Why Learn to Draw Cartoons?

Cartooning is a fun and rewarding art form that allows you to express your creativity and imagination. Whether you’re interested in creating comics, animations, or simply want to improve your drawing skills, learning how to draw cartoons is a great way to develop your artistic abilities.

Additionally, cartoons are a popular form of entertainment that are enjoyed by people of all ages. From classic cartoons like Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny to modern favorites like Adventure Time and Steven Universe, cartoons have a timeless appeal that continues to captivate audiences around the world.

What You Will Learn

In this guide, you will learn:

  • The basic elements of cartooning, including character design, facial expressions, and body language
  • How to create dynamic poses and action scenes
  • Techniques for adding depth and dimension to your drawings
  • How to use color and shading to enhance your cartoons
  • Tips for developing your own unique style and voice as a cartoonist

So what are you waiting for? Let’s get started on your journey to becoming a skilled cartoonist!

Materials Needed

Before you start your cartoon drawing journey, you need to make sure you have the right materials. Here are the essential materials you’ll need:

Pencils and Erasers

You’ll need a set of pencils with different lead hardness, ranging from 2H to 6B. The harder pencils are used for sketching and light shading, while the softer ones are perfect for darker shading and creating texture. Make sure to also have a good eraser on hand to correct mistakes and clean up your drawing.

Paper and Sketchpad

Choose a paper that’s suitable for your drawing style and the type of coloring materials you plan to use. For pencil drawings, a smooth paper like Bristol board or sketch paper works well. If you plan to use markers or watercolors, choose a thicker paper like watercolor paper. A sketchpad is also a great option for practicing and experimenting with different techniques.

Coloring Materials

If you plan to add color to your cartoons, you’ll need coloring materials such as markers, colored pencils, or watercolors. Choose high-quality materials that blend well and have vibrant colors. You can also experiment with different textures and effects by using different types of coloring materials.

Essential Materials
Materials Recommended Brands
Pencils Prismacolor, Faber-Castell, Staedtler
Erasers Pentel Hi-Polymer, Tombow Mono
Paper Bristol board, Sketch paper, Watercolor paper
Coloring Materials Copic markers, Prismacolor pencils, Winsor & Newton watercolors

cartoon character sketches

Step 1: Brainstorming Your Character

Before you start drawing your cartoon character, you need to identify their personality. Think about who they are, what they like and dislike, their quirks and habits. This will help you create a more well-rounded and interesting character.

Identify Your Character’s Personality

Start by brainstorming adjectives that describe your character. Are they funny, serious, shy, outgoing, brave, or cowardly? This will give you an idea of their overall personality and help you make decisions about their appearance and behavior.

Next, think about their backstory. Where did they come from? What are their goals and motivations? This will add depth to your character and make them more relatable to your audience.

Sketching Ideas

Once you have a clear idea of your character’s personality, it’s time to start sketching. Don’t worry about making it perfect at this stage, just get your ideas down on paper.

Try different poses and expressions to see what works best for your character. Experiment with different shapes and sizes to find the right proportions. Keep in mind that your character’s appearance should reflect their personality.

Make a list of all the features that make your character unique, such as their hairstyle, clothing, or accessories. These details will make your character stand out and be more memorable to your audience.

Overall, brainstorming your character is an essential first step in creating a fun and expressive cartoon character. Take your time and have fun with the process!

Step 2: Basic Shapes and Proportions

Head and Face

When it comes to drawing cartoons, the head and face are the most important features to get right. To start, draw a circle for the head and a smaller circle for the snout or muzzle. Next, add two circles for the eyes and a curved line for the mouth. For the ears, draw two triangles or half-circles on top of the head. Keep in mind the proportions of the features, such as the distance between the eyes and the size of the nose and mouth, to create a balanced and expressive face.


The body of a cartoon character can vary greatly, but it’s important to start with basic shapes to establish the overall proportions. Draw a rectangle or oval for the torso and add smaller circles for the joints. For the arms and legs, draw long ovals and add circles for the elbows and knees. Remember to keep the limbs in proportion with the torso and to add details such as fingers and toes as needed.


Limbs can be tricky to draw, but starting with basic shapes can make it easier. For the arms, draw a long oval for the upper arm and a thinner oval for the forearm. Add circles for the elbow and wrist joints. For the hands, draw a rectangle for the palm and ovals for the fingers. For the legs, draw a long oval for the thigh and a thinner oval for the calf. Add circles for the knee and ankle joints. For the feet, draw a rectangle for the sole and ovals for the toes.

Proportions Cheat Sheet
Feature Proportion
Distance between eyes One eye width
Nose length Half the distance between eyes
Mouth width Half the distance between eyes
Arm length Twice the length of the head
Leg length Three times the length of the head

cartoon character details

Step 3: Adding Details

Now that you have the basic shape and structure of your cartoon character drawn, it’s time to add some personality with facial features, clothing, and accessories.

Facial Features

The eyes, nose, and mouth are some of the most important facial features to consider when drawing a cartoon character. Experiment with different shapes and sizes to create a unique look. Don’t be afraid to exaggerate certain features to add more personality to your character.

  • For the eyes, try drawing them larger or smaller than normal, or adding unique shapes like hearts or stars.
  • The nose can be long and pointy, or small and round.
  • The mouth can be a simple smile or frown, or you can add teeth, a tongue, or even a unique expression like a smirk or raised eyebrow.


The clothing you choose for your cartoon character can say a lot about their personality and style. Think about the time period, location, and situation your character is in when deciding on their outfit.

  • Is your character a superhero? Try drawing them in a cape and mask.
  • Are they a student? Draw them in a school uniform or casual clothes.
  • Do they live in a specific time period? Research clothing from that era and incorporate it into your design.


Accessories can add a finishing touch to your cartoon character and make them stand out even more. Consider adding items like hats, glasses, jewelry, or even a backpack or purse.

Accessories Ideas Description
Hats Try drawing your character in a baseball cap, beanie, or top hat.
Glasses Draw your character in sunglasses, round glasses, or even goggles.
Jewelry Add some bling with earrings, necklaces, or bracelets.

Remember to have fun and experiment with different combinations of facial features, clothing, and accessories to bring your cartoon character to life.

Step 4: Inking Your Drawing

Once you have finished sketching your cartoon character, it’s time to start inking it. Inking is the process of outlining your drawing with a pen or marker, making it more defined and ready for coloring. Here’s how to do it:

Using a Pen or Marker

When choosing a pen or marker, make sure it’s waterproof and won’t smear your lines. You can use a fine-tip pen or marker for thinner lines or a thicker one for bolder lines. Start by outlining the main shapes and features of your character, such as the head, body, arms, and legs. Then, add details such as the eyes, nose, mouth, and clothing.

Erasing Guidelines

After inking your drawing, wait for the ink to dry completely before erasing the pencil guidelines. This will prevent smudging and ruining your inked lines. Use a soft eraser and gently remove the guidelines, making sure not to erase any important lines.

Remember, inking your drawing is an important step in creating a polished and professional-looking cartoon character. Take your time and enjoy the process!

Step 5: Coloring Your Character

Coloring your character is where the fun really begins! In this step, you can bring your character to life and make it stand out. Here are some tips on how to choose your color scheme and use coloring techniques to make your character pop!

Choosing Your Color Scheme

The color scheme you choose can have a big impact on how your character is perceived. Here are some things to consider when choosing your colors:

  • Think about the personality of your character. If it’s a happy-go-lucky character, you may want to use bright, cheerful colors. If it’s a more serious character, you may want to use darker, more muted colors.
  • Consider the setting. If your character is in a bright, sunny environment, you may want to use warm colors like yellow and orange. If it’s in a dark, moody environment, you may want to use cool colors like blue and green.
  • Think about color theory. Certain colors can evoke certain emotions, so consider what emotions you want your character to convey.

Coloring Techniques

There are many different coloring techniques you can use to bring your character to life. Here are a few:

Technique Description
Flat colors This is the simplest coloring technique, where you simply fill in your character with a flat color.
Cell shading This technique involves adding shadows and highlights to your character to give it a more 3D look.
Gradient shading This technique involves blending colors together to create a gradient effect.

Experiment with different techniques and color schemes to find what works best for your character!

cartoon character creation


Learning how to draw cartoons can be a fun and rewarding experience. With this step-by-step guide, you can create fun and expressive characters that will bring joy to yourself and others. Remember to practice and experiment with different styles and techniques until you find your own unique approach.

Start by gathering the necessary materials and familiarizing yourself with the basic shapes and proportions of the human body. Then, move on to sketching and refining your character’s features, expressions, and personality. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes or try new things, as this is all part of the learning process.

As you progress, consider studying the work of other cartoonists and artists for inspiration and guidance. Attend workshops or classes, join online communities, and seek feedback from peers to improve your skills and develop your style.

Remember that drawing cartoons is not just about technical skill, but also about creativity, imagination, and storytelling. So, let your imagination run wild, and have fun creating your own unique characters and worlds.

Thank you for reading this guide on how to draw cartoons. We hope it has been helpful and inspiring. Happy drawing!

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