Illustration & Drawing Tips : How to Create Your Own Cartoon Character
How to Create Your Own Cartoon Character
Bugs Bunny? SpongeBob? Betty Boop? Minnie and Mickey Mouse? Do you also love comic books? Do you still wake up early to watch cartoons on the weekends? Are your favorite shows animated? If so, then you may have a lot of fun coming up with your own cartoon character. Read on for some great tips on how to come up with ideas for a character and how to bring it to life on paper or the computer screen.
Coming Up with Character Ideas
Think about the characters you like.A good way to come up with your own idea for a new character is to begin by identifying the ones you like and thinking about their characteristics.
- For example, are your favorite characters all heroes? Do you always root for the under-dog? Do you sympathize with the villains? Do you love animal characters?
Identify your other interests.What are your favorite sports and hobbies? What kinds of movies, books, and stories do you like best? Finding the answers to these questions could point you in a fruitful direction.
Free-write.If you'd like to come up with an awesome cartoon character but have no real solid ideas, begin by free-writing or free-drawing for a short period of time. Allow yourself 15-30 minutes to jot down any and every idea you have.
- Refrain from censoring yourself or judging your ideas at this stage. Instead, just capture any idea that passes through the mind and get it down on paper.
- You can write character descriptions, or if you feel inspired, you can draw or sketch the beginnings of your ideas.
Brainstorm with a friend.If your well of ideas is currently dry (or if there's only a drop or two in it), you may benefit from brainstorming with a creative friend who is also interested in comic characters.
- Take turns being the recorder, and bounce ideas off each other. Write down everything, no matter how ridiculous or boring your ideas might seem. This isn't the stage for judging or tossing out ideas.
Play a word-association game.Place a series of random words in a hat. For example, you could choose nouns like candy, lollipop, or fax machine, or you could include adjectives like purple, powerful, or innocent.
- Draw a word from the hat, and then challenge yourself to create a character based on that word. You can create a character out of the object itself (for example, an animated fax machine or toaster), or a character which is characterized by that thing.
- Repeat the exercise several times until you get good at coming up with ideas quickly and until you stumble upon something intriguing that you think you can develop further.
Model your character on your friends and family.Many of the best characters are based on real people, and you could already be in close contact with next great character. Think about your circle of friends: is anyone particularly hilarious or unique? You may be able to create a character based on your friend's persona.
Be careful about how closely you make your character resemble your loved one.You don't want to cause embarrassment, offense, or hurt feelings if that person sees your character and thinks you are making fun of them. Thus, you may want to base your character on just one aspect of your friend and disguise the character in other ways.
- For example, you might find your friend Molly's clumsiness a source of humor, but you might want to switch up the gender of your character to protect the real Molly's feelings.
- Of course, if your character is going to be a hero or heroine, then your friend may be flattered to be represented in your character!
Pay attention to the other people in your life.Do you have (or have you had) a terrible boss? Are you a server? If so, who was the worst customer you ever had? Think about the people who have really stood out to you, and you may find that you've got a new character idea in front of you.
Sketch the random people you see on the street.If you've got a free hour or two, plant yourself on a bench in the park or grab a seat on the bus. Get out your notebook, and then discreetly sketch (or just describe) the interesting people you see. You may be able to turn one or more of them into a promising comic character.
Model your character on you.You might not think that you are interesting enough to serve as the model for a cartoon character, but don't sell yourself so short. This is the chance for you to reinvent yourself or draw yourself in your best light.
- You can model your cartoon character on you as you are now, as you hope to be in the future, or you can draw yourself as a kid.
- Think about what your best, worst, funniest, most embarrassing, or memorable experiences are. You can draw yourself in those moments, and you can take liberties: for example, do you wish you had reacted differently when you were bullied in the second grade? If so, draw the eight-year-old you as the champion of the bullied.
Judge your ideas with a critical eye and mind.Once you have a good list of ideas to work with, it's time to sort through it to find the most promising character idea. Consider the following questions to help you out:
- Are any of your ideas too similar to current cartoon characters?If you want to create something truly original, you will want to avoid copying someone else's character and ideas.
- Which of your ideas really pop out at you as being interesting or intriguing? Do any of the characters already suggest a story-line? If so, consider starting with them.
- Would you prefer to work with a character that is realistic or modeled on someone you know?Do you think you'd have more fun with a fantasy-based character. Select the characters that match up with your answers to these questions.
Making Your Character Come to Life
Create a history for your character.Once you've made your selection, you should spend some time fleshing out the back-story of your character. This is sometimes referred to as finding your character's “motivation”. For example, Bruce Wayne became Batman because his parents were murdered in front of him.Ask yourself:
- What drives your character? What does your character care about? Your character should have goals and dreams, and it should also have character strengths and flaws.Having an idea of all of this will help you as you begin to try to give your character a form and shape.
Think about the other “people” in your character's life as well.While you might not be ready to fully develop or draw these other secondary characters, your character's persona will be influenced and created in part by the other people or characters in their world. This will then be reflected in how you draw your character.
- For example, do you think your character have a family or is she an orphan? Does your character have an enemy? Thinking about that now will help you visualize your character more fully.
Research and deconstruct the technical aspects of other popular characters.You may already have an initial sketch of your character, but before you flesh out your drawing completely, it may help to study other comic characters that you admire or that you'd like your character to resemble. Pay attention to the following:
- How would you describe the character's personality? How is the artist able to express this through their artwork? Has the artist given the character any distinguishing features?
- For example, if the character is heroic or brave, see if you observe the use of strong lines. Perhaps the artist has given the hero a square jaw, or has chosen strong, bright colors for the hero's outfit.
Think about your audience.As you begin to develop and draw your character, you will want to think about your eventual audience. Your lines, shapes, and color choices will be affected by your intended audience.
- For example, if you are drawing for children, you'll want to keep your shapes simpler, use stronger lines, and select a brighter color palette (perhaps all primary colors).
- If you are drawing for adults, or if you are drawing political commentary or satire, you may want to create more complex, darker, “uglier” characters.
Keep it simple.When you begin to draw, you'll most likely have better success if you draw with clean lines and create easily readable features.
- Don't allow yourself to become overwhelmed by trying to capture all of the details of your character in this early stage of making him or her come to life.
Exaggerate key features for personality.The best way to portray a character's personality is through their facial expressions and body language.
- For example, if your character is naive and innocent, you may want to give him large, round, imploring eyes.
- If, on the other hand, your character is malicious and evil, you can portray this by giving her a hunched figure, thin lips, and squinty eyes.
- When you've gotten their personalities, make sure you have given weak points and strong points. You can't create a character that's completely perfect, or completely bad. A character could be nice, yet a bit selfish.
Make the character distinctive.You want your character to stand out and be memorable. Think of ways that you can make your character unique. For example, the Simpsons cartoon characters are immediately recognizable by their bright yellow color (or think particularly of Marge Simpson's crazy high blue hair).
- Experiment with unexpected color or proportion choices, or by giving your character unusual-looking facial features.
Vary your lines for different effects.As your character starts to come to life, play around with different styles of lines to portray different character traits.
- For example, using thicker softer lines when you draw will help you convey to your audience that your character is approachable and trustworthy.
- If, on the other hand, your character is highly energetic on perhaps untrustworthy, then you should work with uneven, sketchy lines.
Choose your colors carefully.If you choose to use color in your drawing, you'll want to think carefully about your color choices and what emotions or attributes they suggest.
- For example, dark, murky colors are usually associated with villains or with characters who have something to hide, whereas softer, lighter colors can suggest innocence. Additionally, bright primary colors are often associated with heroes or with characters aimed at children.
Focus on facial expression to portray emotion.Small changes in your character's expression can portray big differences in his or hers emotions or reactions.As you draw your character, experiment with drawing different versions of the same character with different facial expressions.
- For example, try to capture your character in a sad moment, and then again in a hopeful moment, changing only the facial expressions in the different drawings.
Give your character swag.We express ourselves through our clothes, our toys, our accessories, and our gadgets, and comic characters are no different. Once you have a basic picture in mind, don't forget to focus on the details of what sets your character apart.
- Does she have a distinguishing outfit or favorite color to wear? Does your hero need a disguise? Does your hero carry a back-pack or carry any tools or weapons?
- Sort out the answers to these questions and then get drawing!
Use models.As you begin to draw, make sure to pay attention to real-life models of both people and objects.
- For example, if your character is wearing a skirt, then either wear one yourself and study yourself in the mirror or have a friend model one for you. Pay careful attention to how it hangs and shifts as you move.
- As another example, if your character will wield a sword then find a toy sword (or something with the basic shape, such as a bat), and study how your hand looks as you grip it, note the angle of your arm as you raise the “sword,” etc.
Keep at it.If you're not able to recreate the picture you have in your mind on paper (or on the computer screen) at first, or if you think that your final result is boring or looks amateurish, don't get too down on yourself. The creative process only progresses by making lots of false starts, and learning to draw and develop nuanced characters is a skill that takes practice.
Keep your rejects.Even if you're convinced that your first (or first few) attempts at creating a cartoon character are abysmal failures, stash them away in a drawer or in a computer file, and revisit them in a few days or weeks.
- You can then study them with a more careful eye to see what you don't like about them, or you may find that something about the drawing was a success, in which case you build upon it in your next attempt.
QuestionWhat does physical features mean?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerPhysical features are a person's visible characteristics, like height, weight, hair color, facial shape and eye color.Thanks!
QuestionI've been drawing cartoons ever since I was a little kid. Do I even need to use the tool box?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt is recommended. Even if you have a great amount of experience, it is always good to look for ways on how the characters can be improved.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if I want our character to have only a strong side, would it make a big difference for the story?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, even a strong character should have flaws and weaknesses to be more believable and relatable to the reader.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if I am not good at drawing?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTry your hardest until you succeed. Don't give up and always stay motivated. Practice makes perfect!Thanks!
QuestionHow can behave like the cartoon character?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerPick the character you want, since a lot of cartoon characters have different traits. If it's want a funny one, then act goofy and funny, for example.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I add personality?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThink of personality traits you like. For example, is your character loyal to their friends? Are they silly? Are they heroic? It's your character to do what you want with.Thanks!
QuestionIs attention to detail essential if I want my character to be as alive as possible?Ruben Van DijkhuizenCommunity AnswerDetail surely is important, but it is not your main priority, especially when you've just started drawing the character. What makes your character alive is mostly the dynamics. For example, when your character walks, his clothes will move around a bit. Adding lines on the side of the moving object or shading it will improve depth and dynamics.Thanks!
How do I create my own cartoon character with external and internal features?
- Give them special features as well! For example, you could add professor glasses to your character. Anything you want!
- Use already made cartoons to inspire you.
- When creating your second character, think about how you want the characters to react with each other.
- When creating a character, try to base them on people you know. But don't give them the same name.
- If you draw your cartoon character on paper, you'll want to protect your drawings and store them where they won't get wet or torn.
- Make your own character have special detail. For example: snuffy smith has a circle nose. If you don't understand my example look up how to draw Snuffy smith. Always remember to look for detail!(It doesn't have to be snuffy smith).
- You may want to scan your finished drawings into the computer so that you have a digital file.
- Once the drawing is converted to a digital format, you can play around with it using drawing software to add expressive lines and color.
- You can create your character from scratch on the computer by using software like Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator. These often have built-in tutorials, or you can see how related wikiHows on and how to use Adobe Illustrator.
- Don't create a perfect character, it makes them boring. Weaknesses are very important.
- Be careful with your equipment, pencils are sharp and can poke you/someone elses eye out. Paper can cut you/someone else.
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Video: Create Your Own Cartoons! | Interview with Rebecca Sugar | Cartoon Network
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