Drawing, Drawing Ideas for Kids, Illustration

How to Draw Cartoon Animals

May 29, 2014

By Alina Bradford

There are many ways to draw cartoon animals, depending on the style the artist wants to achieve. Fortunately, there are a few rules that can help make the process easier for the beginning cartoonist.

Mr FrogHow to Draw Cartoon Animals Using Basic Shapes

Every animal can be broken down into simple shapes such as cylinders, circles, ovals and rectangles. This can make drawing them much more simple, especially if the artist is drawing cartoon characters.

For practice, the artist can print out some reference photos of animals and trace the basic shapes they see on top of the image. Limbs are usually stretched out cylinders, bodies are usually ovals and the head is usually a circle with smaller circles as features.

What identifies the cartoon character as a particular animal is the shape of the ears, the type of tail and how the facial features are put together. Here are some basic animal characteristics that can be used when adding identifying detail to an animal:

  • Monkeys ears are C-shaped and are placed on the sides of the head. The muzzle area is an oval the covers the lower 1/3 on the head. See: How to Draw a Baby Monkey.
  • Cats, donkeys and horses have ears shaped like upside down Vs and are placed at the top of the head. For cats the mouth is a W-shape with a triangle on top for a nose. Donkeys and horses have a line on the U-shape of their noses.
  • Dogs have either upside down Vs for ears or U-shapes. The heads can be drawn as an inverted triangle with a circle overlapping the point of the triangle.

Humanizing the Cartoon Animal

humcat and fish drawingIn many comics and cartoon shows, animals are drawn in human form. Artists can achieve this look by stretching the proportions of a real animal so that they match human proportions.

The average human is 7 1/2 head lengths tall, meaning, if you divided the human’s height by the length of the head, you would get around 1/7 of the person’s total height.

To translate this into cartooning, the artist should draw the head of the animal, then measure it and multiply the answer by 7.5. The answer will be how long the animal’s body needs to be to look like human a human body.

Once the body length is determined, the rest of the body will be easy to determine using these guidelines:

  • Shoulders will be approximately 1 1/2 head lengths wide on a female and 2 head lengths wide on a male
  • Hips will be around 2 head lengths wide on a female and 1 head length wide on a male
  • Hands are generally as long as the measurement from the bottom of the chin to the hairline

Of course, all of these measurements can be exaggerated and deformed to make the character more cartoonish and less realistic looking. Take a look at the third illustration below for an example of a cartoon animal drawn with human proportions.

These tips are the building blocks towards drawing successful cartoon animals. With a little practice, new cartoonists can turn these basic cartooning tips into a unique style.

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