How To Draw a Cartoon Character Outline

Cartoon characters are a big part of any person’s life. You don’t even have to be a kid to enjoy cartoon characters. Cartoon characters have such an effect on our lives that we don’t really outgrow them. Rather, a lot of people find it interesting to have collections based on their favorite cartoon characters. These find their way in our everyday lives, such as in the desktop wallpapers we choose, the paper stationery we buy, or in the lunch bags or school bags we buy our kids.

Drawing a cartoon character outline can be a great way to hone your skill in drawing your favorite characters. There are generally three ways of drawing cartoon character outlines: the eyeball method, the grid method and the trace method.

Eyeball method

  • The eyeball method involves “eyeballing” or glancing at your source material every now and then. This involves having a copy of the actual cartoon character you want to make an outline of.
  • Place the print or source material in front of you, a little to the left or right (depending on your dominant side).
  • Place a drawing pad directly in front of you. Make sure you can easily glance at the source material while you work on the drawing pad with a pencil.
  • Start sketching the outline of the cartoon character with a soft pencil. Sketch in the character’s clothes and shoes.
  • Use a sharper and harder pencil to fill in details on the cartoon character’s face and clothing. Take a glance at the source material often so you can keep things in proper proportion.
  • You can shadow some areas of your drawing for added dimension. You can hold and rub the pencil sideways. You can also lightly color with colored pencils.

Trace method

  • You will need a thin and light tracing paper for this purpose. Or, you can use a light box or draw against the window so you can trace effectively against your source material.
  • Tape or attach your source material over a light box. Or, tape or attach it over a window during daytime. Then, tape or attach a piece of tracing paper or a white sheet of paper over the source material.
  • The light behind the original material should help you see the outline of the cartoon character.
  • Use your pencil to trace the outline of the cartoon character, its clothing and its shoes.
  • Take the pieces of paper away from the light box or window. You can use a dull pencil to fill in shadows and to add some details on the outline you have traced.

Grid method

  • The grid method involves separating the original material into different grids, and copying it over piece by piece to a new drawing paper.
  • Using a pencil and ruler, mark equal-sized gridlines on the cartoon character print.
  • Mark the same number of gridlines on your drawing paper. This can be larger or smaller, depending on whether you want to enlarge or reduce the size of the cartoon character.
  • Copy the image one square after another, focusing on the outline portion of the image first.
  • Erase the gridlines on your drawing paper.
  • Use a sharp pencil to draw features. Use a dull shading pencil to add shadows and to improve depth.


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