Cartooning for Kids: Getting Started


In this tutorial I’m going to teach a bit about cartooning for kids and beginners, the way I do it.

I’ve been teaching art to kids for a few years now. We’ve drawn and painted lots of amazing things. We’ve painted beautiful 2000-year-old Roman portraits, so alive that they could be your neighbours; Ancient Egyptian murals of solemn animal-gods in muted desert colours; embroidered characters from the Bayeux Tapestry on their way to battle – and we’ve painted food and drink from vintage ads that haven’t been available to buy for 80 years or more. It’s all been lovely and the children each have a precious sketchbook (the same type I use) in which they keep all their paintings, and they’re very proud of their sketchbooks – and of themselves.

A little while ago I decided to show the kids I teach how to draw their own cartoons. They loved these new lessons. They’re all very good at drawing – the classes have given them tons of confidence, which is over half the battle – and now that they are pretty expert with their watercolours, it’s no trouble to them to paint the characters they’ve drawn. As for making up stories and characters, it comes as second nature to children. Even if they say “I don’t know what to draw” at first, the slightest nudge has them creating some crazy character, and once they start they go on and on. There’s a lot of “good” versus “bad” characters – the world they create may be very colourful, but on another level it is always very black and white! My students must be a very funny bunch as their cartoon strips are hilarious, and there’s always a lot of laughter as they look at each other’s work.

I decided to show them some tricks to help them get the look they’re going for with a cartoon. Now, I must point out that I draw cartoons the old-fashioned way – that is, I draw them by hand. I like to colour by hand too. Other people’s cartoons that I enjoy today are invariably hand-drawn – with the exception of no one. I like to make as few “steps” between my idea and the page as possible, to retain the freshness and energy.

Let’s begin!

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