Cartooning: can you do it without being able to draw properly?

Sources, drawn from my own attempts, paired with my own total inability to master the art of drawing anything even slightly realistically or consistently, point to no.


So I’ve been trying to get this blurry little geezer nailed for a while. I’ve about mastered his proportions, so that his arms and legs won’t, hopefully, shrink and grow all over the place unless it’s for Looney Toons effect (rather than just my inconsistency). I mean, as you can see from the picture, I’ve mastered what they ought to be.


And I figured out early on that faces more complicated than some dots in an oval were going to end up looking terrible. I’ve already managed to muck up his antlers there too.


And any time I try a more adventurous pose I lose my courage, knowing full well that, drawing straight into pen, I will make a horrible mess, but beginning with pencil I’ll become unnecessarily fussy. Sometimes “know thyself” isn’t much help without the knowledge of how to change thyself.


Theoretically providing some kind of narrative context ought to help, but this is me, and it mostly just illustrates the problem with my handwriting.

Colouring, now, I can do:


Well, colouring I can do digitally. Or I could do, until wild driver drama and inconsistent micro USBs of an older generation meant I couldn’t connect my WACOM to any of my machines any more, jerking me back to the unthinkable Stone Age of track pad colouring, and while The Resident Australian’s felt tip stash is impressive, I’m not really a traditional media person. Too easy to screw it up.

So I’ve tried widening my focus with other nascent characters:

bear1 bunny1

… maybe not …

Or even abandoning this style altogether and just crapping out a sequential story as smoothly as I can to prove to myself that it can be done?


(Click to embiggen this if you are enough of a masochist to want to do that).

Again, not what you’d call A Roaring Success. I have twelve pages of this script and it takes me all night to draw six panels.

My guess is that learning to draw Properly teaches you how to draw a consistent line that goes in the direction you intended it to, for one thing (a writing analogy: I have quite frequently tried to make a story go in one direction only to find that it has no interest in that, or that the person I thought was the protagonist was in fact not, or that the person I thought was telling the story was being told it); just as in writing you’re encouraged to learn how to write about events by writing endless tedious accounts of things that have Really Happened with different perspectives and different styles (and gosh did I resent that at university), in art I guess the value is in continually sketching, from every direction.

So I’m pretty impressed by the people who apparently have the time for both.



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