How To Make a Picture into a Drawing or Cartoon Style Artwork

As an artist, you have at your disposal various methods into how to translate a photograph into a work of art. One of the creative things you can do with a picture is to copy it but make it into a cartoon style artwork. Rather than copying it exactly as you see it on a picture, why not exaggerate some features and play up notable characteristics to make it funny, unique and fun? If you get the important features just right, it will still be a dead ringer for the person you are trying to draw.

Here’s how to make a picture into a drawing or carton style artwork.

Choose your photograph. One trick to make this work is to find a picture where you can clearly see the features of a person that you can focus on when you draw. If you’re copying a landscape photograph, find something that is visually interesting to you. However, pictures of people and animals are still the best to render in cartoon style drawing because it shows personality and it becomes easily recognizable to the people looking at the drawing.

Prepare your materials. You’ll need sheets of clean copy paper or a sketchpad, a pencil, an eraser and an inking pen. You may want to use various point sizes for your ink pen, depending on if you want to shade with it and the amount of detailing you want done. If you’d like to go all the way, you can choose to color the picture using watercolor or some colored pencils.

Do a rough sketch. Do a basic positioning of the elements of the picture you are copying. If you’re doing a person, don’t worry about not getting it proportional. Very lightly draw on the paper so you have an idea where to place certain features on your drawing. This is so you know how you will use the space on your paper. If you want to put a slight background in your drawing, then you know you need to leave some space for it.

Exaggerate the features. Now that you have a basic form, it’s time to play up features. Think of anime and manga drawings. The eyes are enormous, the lips are mere slits, the hair goes on forever and the heads of the characters are drawn out of proportion to the rest of the body. This is what marks cartoon drawing. In cartoon style drawing, the body is never proportional. In fact, the more exaggerated it is, the more interesting the drawing becomes. If the picture on the person has a lot of hair, do a dramatic version of it on your drawing. If the person has full lips, make it even bigger so that it almost overwhelms the face.

Color it. Once you have finished with the pencil sketch, trace the lines with your blank inking pen. Keep your hand strokes light so that the drawing looks spontaneous. Once the ink has dried, you may fill in the color. You don’t have to keep it true to life. Remember, this is a cartoon like drawing.

You can try doing this for a birthday card for someone, or as a framed picture to give to someone on his retirement. It’s a fun and quirky way to capture someone on paper.


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