How to Draw Cartoons > Tools for Drawing Cartoons

The first tool you need is a drawing board. Any drawing board will do. If need be, you can tack heavy paper on a breadboard to make sure the surface is smooth, then tilt the board against a table. You cannot draw on a horizontal surface.

In order to get proper proportions as you work, you must be comfortable. If you are not, your work will show it. Your arm, up to the elbow, should rest easily on the board as you draw. Have plenty of light coming from over your left shoulder, if you're right-handed. When you work at night, use a full-spectrum bulb.

Rough-in your drawings with soft pencil-B, 2-B or even a 3-B. You will find it useful to form the habit of using thin tracing paper for your original drawings. It makes drawing simpler, more fun, and more accurate. Here's the way you do it.



Make your sketch on tracing paper. Make all the necessary changes on more tracing paper before you trace it to the final good drawing paper. You need not waste tracing paper. You can use very tiny bits of it and make it last a long time. For instance, suppose you were drawing a man digging in a garden. You are satisfied with your tracing-paper sketch, except for the position of the right leg. It's too short and not turned as you want it. You erase the right leg, tear off a bit of fresh tracing paper, and lay it on the spot where the right leg was. Now you draw a better leg - many if necessary - until you get just the position you want. Shift the tracing paper, laying it underneath the drawing, to see just how you want that leg to go. With tracing paper you can easily change the direction, shape, length, et cetera, of any part of the body without losing the original freshness of your drawing.

When you have a satisfactory tracing-paper drawing - even if it is in two parts - head on one bit of paper and body on another. Trace it carefully onto good drawing paper. A hot-pressed or smooth surfaced paper should be used for pen-and-ink or brush-and-ink work. It pays to use good papers for finished work. A two- or three-ply is best for cartoons.

When tracing a drawing, never use carbon paper. It smears and often leaves lines you can't erase. Instead, make your own carbon by blacking a piece of scratch paper with a soft pencil. Rub off the excess graphite with a cloth.

Use a pen or brush, as you prefer - or both. Ballpointed pens are often used in cartooning, especially where an even, heavy line is needed. Ballpointed pens are usually best for lettering. Many cartoonists use a fine copper flexible pen. Many use a brush exclusively. A number 1 or 3 red sable brush is best for fine outline. You can use a less expensive larger camel's-hair brush for filling in large black areas.

Good black waterproof drawing ink, thumbtacks to tack your paper to your board, scissors, metal-edged ruler, eraser (kneaded or artgum) will probably complete your first drawing kit. Keep it in a box, ready for use.

You must always be sure to clean your tools carefully. Never leave waterproof ink on a brush or pen, even for a few minutes. Have a cup of water handy. Dip your brushes in it the minute you lay them down. Wipe the pens with a soft cloth. Waterproof ink hardens the brushes and eats at the pens very quickly if they are not taken care of promptly. Your work will show the kind of care you take of your tools.

As you develop in your professional art career, you will soon want a metal T-square, transparent triangles of different degrees, Chinese white for making corrections, or for drawing white on black, a brush for dusting off your drawing paper from time to time as you work, ruling pens, compass, dividers, and a great number of wonderfully interesting drawing papers. But, at first, it is best to keep it simple.


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The fun of drawing cartoons


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