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LinkedIn Learning

Animation Foundations: Drawing Cartoon Characters

via LinkedIn Learning


Learn to draw cartoon characters for classical cel animation, digital animation, comic books, or just for fun.

Learn to draw cartoon characters for classical cel animation, digital animation, comic books, or just for fun. In this course, Dermot O' Connor reviews the basics of character drawing and the principals that underlie effective characters: silhouette, exaggeration, squash and stretch, asymmetry, texture, line weight, and more. Then he focuses on drawing individual body parts—eyes, mouths, hands, and hair—as well as different types of animals, creatures, and objects. Finally, watch Dermot take a drawing from start to finish, creating a memorable character ready for handoff to animators.

Follow along with your favorite illustration program, your Wacom tablet, or paper and pen.


  • Welcome
  • Understanding the exercise handout: Print it out!
1. Basics Overview
  • Body types, proportions, and construction
  • Gesture and attitude drawings
  • Thumbnails
  • Composition and camera angles
2. Understanding Drawing for Animation
  • Line of action/reversals
  • Silhouette and negative space
  • Counterpose/torque
  • Exaggeration
  • Squash and stretch: Understanding volume
  • Straight vs. curves and parallels
  • Breaks on curves
  • Vary shapes, asymmetry, and texture
  • Point of origin
  • Open and closed areas
  • Tangents
  • Materials and drag
  • Line weight
3. Drawing Body Parts: Detail
  • Understanding anatomy
  • An introduction to drawing eyes
  • Eyelids, eye blinks, and eyebrows
  • Drawing realistic eyes
  • Drawing cartoony mouths
  • Drawing realistic and stylized mouths
  • Drawing the nose
  • Drawing ears
  • Adding details to build character in a drawing
  • Drawing hands
  • Drawing hands: Details, touching hands, and fine points
  • Drawing hand styles
  • Feet
  • Hair and beards
  • Drawing clothes and flowing materials
  • Drawing animals
  • Drawing creatures
  • Drawing cartoon effects for animation
  • Drawing objects
4. Bringing It All Together
  • Bringing it all together
5. Full Drawing: From Start to Finish
  • Starting with a rough construction
  • Tie down
  • Cleanup
  • Troubleshooting and plussing
  • Model sheet and turnaround
  • Advice on drawing in different styles
  • Adding color to your drawing
  • Next steps

Taught by

Dermot O' Connor

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