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How to Draw

New Retro-Style
Characters
Christopher hart
Watson-Guptill Publications New York /
Publishedin2005byWatson-Guptill Publications
adivisionof VNU BusinessMedia, Inc.
770Broadway
NewYork, NY 10003
www.wgpub.com
ExecutiveEditor: CandaceRaney
Senior Development Editor: AlisaPalazzo
Designer: BobFillie, Graphiti Design. Inc
Senior ProductionManager: EllenGreene
Inksover pencil: RichFaber
(pages99. 103, 105, 106, 107. 109, and110)
Copyright 2005Art Studio, LLC
Libraryof CongressCataloging-in-PublicationData
Hart, Christopher.
Cartooncool; howtodrawthenewretrocharacters
of todayscartoons/ Christopher Hart.
p. cm.
Includesbibliographical referencesandindex.
ISBN0-8230-0587-9(pbk. : alk. paper)
1. Cartooning--Technique, I. Title.
NC1764.H342005
741.5--dc22
2004024844
All rightsreserved. Nopart of thecontentsof this
publicationmaybereproducedor usedinanyform
or byanymeans--graphic, electronic, or mechanical.
includingphotocopying, recording, or information
storage-and-retrieval systems--without thewritten
permissionof thepublisher.
PrintedInUSA
23456789/ 131211100908070605
THE SUBURBANDAD
HOME ONTHE RANGE: THE BARBECUE
A DAD, A BATHROBE, ANDA CUPOF COFFEE
DADSWITHGLASSES
MORE DADSHAPES
THE PERSISTENCE OF DAD
THE BASIC RETROMOM
MOM HEADPROPORTIONS
DANGERMOMATTEMPTINGTOBE COOL
PERKY MOM
SHOPAROUNDTHE CLOCK
WALK-ABOUT MOM
THE SADISTIC OLDER SISTER
YOUARE SODEAD!
DOLLSANDPAJ AMAS
THE BRINGER OF BADCHEER
THE KNOW-IT-ALL SISTER
EVIL AT HOME, EVIL INCLASS
THE YOUNGER BROTHER
MORE BOYS
RETROKIDSANDSPORTS
Introduction: Lets Go Retro!
Retro Basics
The Retro Family
Cool Retro Action Poses
The Retro Family Pet
Cool Retro Teenagers
Pretty Retro Women
Cool Retro Scenes
Index
4
58
9
60
6
59
6
56
57
11
62
10
61
12
63
15
64
14
64
29
72
30
74
32
83
82
81
80
79
78
77
76
76
18
65
33
84
34
86
49
102
50
104
51
106
52
107
53
108
54
111
55
112
43
95
47
98
45
97
48
100
46
98
35
87
42
93
36
88
37
89
38
90
39
90
40
92
41
94
22
66
26
70
24
71
27
73
28
75
44
96
23
69
THE RETROHEAD
MORE HEADSHAPES
ENLARGINGTHE UPPER J AW
DRAWINGFLAT CHARACTERS
EYES
LIPS
FACIAL EXPRESSIONS
RETROBODIES
PROPORTIONS
BODY SIZE
THE IDEALIZEDCARTOONFIGURE: TRADITIONAL VS. RETRO
THE NECK ANDSHOULDERS
BUILDINGTHE BODY SECTIONBY SECTION
MOLDING THE TORSO
THE FEMALE TORSO
THEATTRACTIVE FEMALE FIGURE STEPBY STEP
RETROHANDS
FEET
TRADITIONAL VS. RETROACTIONPOSES
INTROVERTEDPOSES
THE MEGAPUNCH
FLYING
THE RETROTAKE
MOREACTIONPOSES
THE EPIPHANY
THE CARTOONDOG
PUPPY DOGEYES
COMMONHOUSEHOLDDOGBREEDS
MUTTS
CATSASPETS
BASIC CAT HEADSHAPES
THE SIAMESE CAT
SURLY CAT
BIRDSASPETS: POPULARTYPES
TROPICAL FISHANDAQUARIUM PETS
SERIOUSTEENAGE BOY
CAREFREE TEEN
PRETTY TEEN
STYLISHTEEN
COOL CAT
HANGIN AT THE MALL
LOOSEY-GOOSEY TEEN
THE GIRL NEXT DOOR
SCHOOL SCENE
THE REBEL
POSTURE
BASICTEENAGE STANDINGPOSTURE
POSEANDEMOTION
THE FACE
THE VOLUPTUOUSFEMALE FIGURE
MIDRIFFSANDLOW-CUT PANTS
COOL CHICK
CANT BUY ME LOVE
NOTESONDRAWINGATTRACTIVE POSES
PRIMITIVE BEAUTY
NO, YOU GOFIRST
SECRETAGENT CHICK
GALACTIC MEDAL OF VALOR
SHH! SECRET MISSION
J EWEL THIEF
MY HERO!
HERE MONSTER, MONSTER
BYE FOR NOW: A CLOSINGNOTE FROM CHRISHART
5
t's everywhere you look, in animated
television shows and comic books. It's
the new retro style. What is retro? It's the
biggest thing to come along in cartooning
in decades. It's a style of illustration
loosely based on the animated TV shows of
the late 1950s and early 1960sa time when
everything had a flat, graphic look, and the
sly humor didn't play down to children.
Retro is also based on character types--
character types influenced by the popular
family sitcoms of the early to mid-'60s, when
everything looked nice on the surface: brownies
and milk, moms in the kitchen, and fathers who
never yelled. Yet there was always lurking a
sense that these families were too good to be
true and were repressing some truly bizarre
personalities and behaviors. Add a modern
look, bring those bizarre personalities to the
surface, ratchet up the pace to a fever pitch,
and you've got retro. As a cartoonist, you owe
it to yourself to stay current and learn how to
draw this growing, popular new style.
Interestingly, some of the retro-style
drawing principles are the exact opposite
of the principles used for drawing traditional
cartoons. For example, retro-style action poses
are drawn so that the figures seem to conserve
energy rather than expend it (which would be
the look of a more traditional cartoon).
Retro characters are so nerdy they're cool.
The retro style is, in fact, the coolest style of
cartooning on the planet. Retro-style animated
TV shows have completely stolen the thunder
of hand-drawn, animated feature films. While
the popularity of the hand-drawn, realistic style
of animated movies has waned, retro cartoons
are proliferating all over television. And even
the most heroic comic book characters and bad
guys have been redrawn by publishers and
studios into modern, retro versions. But retro
is about more than just style; it's also about
laughs. It's truly wacky stuff. The characters are
quirky, perky, and just a little bit warped. Their
break-neck pacing and hysterical characters are
generating legions of fans of all ages.
This book is packed to the brim with easy-to-
follow, step-by-step instructions and loads of
special hints. Anyone, at any level, can benefit
and can improve his or her skills by using this
book. You'll be shown how to create retro-style
heads and bodies from basic shapes, making it
easy and fun. You'll learn how to create the
basic cast of characters that make up the
bizarre retro family unit, including retro pets.
You'll learn how to caricature action poses in
the unique, retro style, with examples that
compare the new way to the traditional way of
cartooning. Retro facial expressions and body
language are illustrated clearly and in detail.
And at the end of the book, you'll be guided
through an exciting section on how to draw
scenes with multiple characters. Are you ready?
Let's go retro!
I
Simpleshapesarethekeytocreating
today's"newretro" look, andthere's
noshapesimpler thanacircle. It's
perfectlysymmetrical andhasno
sides. But paycloseattentionI'm
definitelynot talkingabout theold-
fashioned, start-with-a-circleapproach
tocartooning. I'mtalkingabout aself-
consciouslyroundcartoon, inwhich
theshapeof thecircleisnot just the
startingpoint but thewholepoint. To
emphasizethecirclefurther inthe
front view, don't openupthecircle
at thechinasit crossestheneck;
keepit aclosedloop.
Tilt the eyes, in tandem, to one side. This
is a cartoonist's trick that adds more zing
to the character. Big irises (the colored
parts of the eyes) are the favored look
in Retroland. The nose is tiny and petite,
letting the oversized eyes dominate by
way of contrast. And, the lips are full
and curvya caricature of female lips.
The hairstyle should never be carefree
or natural looking in retro cartoons.
Instead, it should look stiff, not soft.
Draw a thin neck that's so
skinny it would never really
support the weight of that
head. Exaggeration is the
key to cartoon humor.
Now draw small, dark pupils inside
the irises. The eyelashes should look
like little spikes that could kill
(which makes them funny). And you
can add striations to the interior of
the hairstyle, to give it more flair.
believeindrawingthefunstuff
right out of thebox. So, we'regoing
tobeginwiththebasicretrohead.
Asyougoalong, there'll belotsof special
hintsthroughout thebooktohelpyou
understandtheprinciplesof character
designandtoprovideyouwithoptions
for creatingvariationsonatheme.
7
Indent the
forehead
lip detail
Theoval isalsoapopular shapefor retro
characters. Noticethat theoval shapeis
thedominant featureof thisfigure.
The eye is quite
oversized, which is
a popular trait in
retro-style cartoons.
Notice how big the hair is
another retro trademark. Also,
you can't keep the outline of the
oval completely closed in the side
view because there's no chin to
obscure the neck. So, open it up
where it attaches to the neck.
Start with the oval
tilted on its axis.
The tilt gives the
pose more energy.
8
Nowlet'smodifythebasicshapeabit moreso
that it'ssomewherebetweenaneggshapeandan
upside-downteardropshape. Thisisacommon
shapefor teenagersof about 14yearsof age. The
faceisstill roundbut showssignsof elongation,
especiallyinthejawandchin. Yet thefaceis
somewhat soft, asshownbyitsroundedsides.
Here'sanother character
withacrystal-clear shape
for her head. Not evenher
chin, cheek, or hairline
createssomuchasabump
intheoutlineof thehead,
whichisasimpleoval. It's
averypleasinglook. The
eyeisdrawntosimple
shapes.
Keep the features simple,
big, and clear, with no
subtlety. Eliminate all
facial creasesyou don't
need them, and they take
away from the clean look
of the character. The ears
stick out conspicuously on
retro characters so that
they're funny looking!
(Only one ear shows in
this angle, though.)
Start with the basic shape.
Note that boys' necks get
thicker as they grow.
Sketch in guidelines.
Add the hair,
and thicken
the eyebrows.
Retro cartoons are based more on design
principles and less on drawing principles.
It's like fitting together cool parts to create
a snappy character. Sometimes artists try
to do too much with their drawings. bo less,
not more. Concentrate on the overall shapes,
not on the interior features.
9
Anybasicshapecanbeturnedintoaretro-
typecartooncharacter. Givethesethreeatry.
The back of
his head is a
continuation
of the jawline.
The ears droop on sullen
and glum characters.
Jazz up basic head
shapes on female
characters with
creative ponytails.
Tomakeyour character standout more, trythiseffective
technique: enlargethetopof themouthor upper jaw(themaxilla),
andleavethelower jaw(themandible) unchanged. Thiswill
immediatelyaddagoofylooktoanycharacter.
Top extends
Bottom remains
the same
Bottom
remains
the same
Top extends
1
0
Thekeytodrawingretrocharactersisto
makethemlookflat. Thisprobablygoesagainst
everythingyou'velearnedabout howtodraw,
whenthewholepoint istomakethingslook
real andthree-dimensional. But theflat lookis
indispensablefor drawingthisnewretrostyle.
Herearesomeimportant tipstokeepinmind.
A bold, simple, andclear outline
isall-important increatingaflat
look. Tocreateaflat character, the
outlineof theheadandbodyshouldbe
emphasizedsothat theoverall shape
isunmistakable. Maketheoutlinethick
andmakethelinesfor thedetailsinside
themainoutlinethin. That'sthegeneral
rule, althoughyoucanbreakit
when, for example, onepart of
thebodyoverlapsanother.
Start bydrawingthe
entirecharacter in
aregular, thinline.
Don't thickenthe
outlineasyougo!
Then, chooseonly
onesideof theline
onwhichtoadd
width. If youadd
widthtobothsides
of thelineat the
sametime, youend
upwithamishmash.
thin line
Ears
stick out
Tummy sticks
out in a
cute way
Main pencil line
is quite thick
Lower lip
shows thickness
Cheek
protrudes
Forehead
curves in
Shoulders
slope
amiably
Eyebrows
are thick and
are visible
through hair
as if sitting
on top of it
Hair has
striations in it
Back is
straight
for s stiff
and flat look
Front of head
is a single,
unchanging curve
right
wrong
(
(
)
)
1
1
Sincetheeyesarethemost expressivefeature
of theface, matchingthecorrect eyestyletothe
character typeisessential. Whenever I beginto
drawthefeaturesof theface, I start withtheeyes.
If theydon't comeout just right, I erasethem
andstart over. I just can't get thefeelingof the
character, andgoontocreatetheexpressionand
posture, unlesstheeyesareworkingfor mefirst.
There'snowastedeffort indrawingeyes! (And
certainlynowasteindesigninganddrawingthem
first.) All of your effortswill paydividends.
Style, andlotsof it, isthenameof thegamein
drawingretrocartoons. Andthat'sespecially
important for femaleeyes.
This is a classic. Circular eyes with attached eyelashes
and large pupils. Very popular, very funny, especially
for cartoon moms.
Here's another favorite for cartoon moms that can also be
used effectively for perky teenage girls. The eyelashes curve
upward. The eyes are vertical elongated ovals. Note the use
of a two-toned iris and pupil area here.
This eye type can be used on an attractive character,
a mysterious character, or a sinister character equally
well. The eyelids are shaded to indicate eye shadow. The
eyeballs have pupils, and the eyelashes curve down.
(Note the thick eyebrows.)
Another appealing, goofy look. The eyes press together,
the pupils are small, and the eyelashes "float." (See page
74 for more on floating.)
Pretty severe, eh? She's evil, you betcha. Apply that eyeliner
like shellac.
These are for attractive female characters only. The half-
closed eyelids always indicate an alluring character. The top
eyelid is always drawn darker. The eyelashes are bunched
into a single, thick lash that sweeps up at the end.
These kooky eyes are shaped like rounded rectangles. For
an even more stylized look, place the pupils in the center
of the eyeballs, instead of close together. It will give
your character a weird, vacant stare.
She's the girl next door. Innocent characters have big
eyes with big shines in them. The overall form of the eye
is almond-shaped. To make her sexier, tilt the eyes up
slightly at the ends.
1
2
1
3
For malecharacters, too, there'sawidevarietyof eye
typesfromwhichtochoose. Althoughmalecharacters
don't haveeyelasheswithwhichtoplay, their eyebrows
arefar morevariedthanthoseonfemalecharacters.
This is the classic retro look, good for almost any male
character: round eyes, with medium-size pupils (and no irises).
An appealing, quirky look. The eyes are oval and spaced apart,
with small pupils floating in the middle and thin eyebrows.
The eyes stand up, vertically, with small pupils. Good for
worried and high-energy grown-ups.
Isn't this one a riot? He's either a mad professor or an evil
scientist. Heavy eyelids and bags under the eyes, with only
slits for him to see through. Tiny beady eyes peer out at us.
The eyebrows are thin, crooked, and delicate.
Intense and mean characters (drill sergeants, phys-ed
coaches, and the like) often sport heavy eyebrows that
sit right on top of the pupils. Add a little touch of
shading under the eyes to add intensity.
A good type for boys ages 8 to 12. Huge pupils dominate
the eyes. The eyebrows are small.
This is the overworked dad type. Note how the eyelids
slope down at the ends. Bags form under the eyes, and
the eyebrows are thick and angular. This is how you
will look at 40. Trust me.
Almond-shaped eyes always indicate innocence and lack
of guile on boys. The pupils must be large, which is also
a sign of honesty in a character.
1
4
Here'swherealot of beginnersaswell as
experiencedcartoonistslosetheir wayandendup
withlessattractivecharactersthantheyhadhoped
for. Men'slipsaresosimplethat theydon't even
requireseparateexampleshere. You'll learntodraw
themeasilyjust byfollowingthestepsfor themale
charactersinthisbook. It'swomen'slipsthat you
needtopayspecial attentionto.
Actually, attractive, women'slipsaresomeof
theeasier thingstodrawif youknowwhichtype
of lipsyou'redrawing. Theproblemisthat many
cartoonistsdon't decideontheliptypeandendup
withanuncomfortableamalgamof realisticlips
andcartoonylips. Tossout therealisticversion.
Instead, makethemhighlystylized, whichsimplifies
themandmakesthemmuchmorefun.
Upper lip slants
inward in profile
Tip of top lip
overlaps
bottom lip
in profile
This is the classic overbite. It's attractive, some would even
say sexy, for the upper lip to be longer than the bottom one.
The indentation in the center of the upper lip, resulting in a
Cupid's bow shape, is simple and doesn't require any subtlety;
it can be used to make a character more voluptuous.
This is a good type for pouty cartoon characters. Both
the upper and bottom lips are of even length, but they're
short widthwise and tall heightwise.
Here's the overbite without the Cupid's bow shape. Generally
speaking, the more attractive the character, the bigger
the upper lip.
The dipping lip is usually used for attractive female
characters. It's the same as the first lip style, except that
the middle of the upper lip dips down and the bottom lip
widens slightly to accommodate this.
These are the simplest lips you con draw. They work well,
and they're funny. No Cupid's bow shape, not much of an
overbite. Give it a try.
The big bottom lip isn't that commonly used but can be
effective in creating a unique character.
1
5
Upset eye
variation
Thesolidshapeof thefaceitsoutlineisso
important onretrocartooncharactersthat it doesn't
squashor stretchtofit aparticular expressionthe
wayit wouldinatraditionallydrawncartoon. Most
of theactionoccursintheeyesandtheelastic
mouth. Here'sasamplingof themost popular
expressionsyou'll needtoknow. Notehowthe
basicoutlineor shapeof theheadremains
unchangedfromexpressiontoexpression.
Theeyeballsmust
becut off bythe
eyebrows. Themouth
issmall andtaut.
Oneeyebrowgoesup, the
other down, andbotheyes
arehalf closed. Thisisa
muchmoresophisticated
expressionthanonewould
expect tofindonaboyof
thischaracter'sage. But
that'swhat makesit funny.
Teethusuallyshowwhen
acharacter isangry.
Bright eyes, tongue
firmlypastedon
upper lip. Yum!
The tongue in the
middle of the mouth
indicates that the
character is talking
1
6
I lovethisone. Showingthe
lower eyelidsinanexpressionwas
verypopular in1930scartoonsbut
went bythewaysideuntil recently.
Nowthistechniqueisusedall over
theplace. Notethat thegrinmust
risewayupintothecheeks.
Closedeyesshowconfidence.
Combinethemwithabiggrin
andyou'vegot aknow-it-all.
A surprisedexpressionis
displayedbyshowinglarge,
roundeyeswithtinypupils.
Thepupilscanactuallychange
sizetofit theexpression.
Notethebody
language. Insteadof
eyebrows, usebig
foldsof eyebrow
musclestocurl up
over theeyes. The
mouthgetssmall.
Scrunchall of the
featurestogether inthe
middleof theface. The
eyescrushdownand
themouthpushesup.
CONCERNED
MOUTH
VARIATION
BIGGER SURPRISED LOOK
1
7
Sympathyisanimportant emotion
togivecharacters. It humanizes
them. Combineasmilewithworried
eyesfor alookof sympathy.
All youngcharactersneed
tohavethislookintheir
repertoireof expressions.
GodknowsI lookedlikethis
enoughwhenI wasgrowing
up! Tilt theheaddown. The
posewon't beeffectiveunless
theheadisbowed. The
character needstobelooking
upfromthecorner of theeyes.
Keepthemouthtiny. This
expressionisoftenfollowed
bytheSheepishoneon
thepreviouspage.
Combineascrunched
smilewithevil eyesfor
aneffectivelook.
TaketheeyesfromtheSuperior
expressiononthepreviouspage,
flip'emover, andyou'vegot the
eyesfor alaughingcharacter.
Themouthopenswide, but you
don't necessarilyhavetoshow
teethor atongue.
Theaffablesmileis
just abiggrinwiththe
eyebrowsraisedhigh.
It helpsif youcan
positionthepupilsin
acorner of theeyes,
asthismakesthe
expressionsharper.
Evenonabreezy,
pleasant expression
likethis, it'sgoodto
exaggeratesomething,
whichinthiscaseis
thecurl of thegrin.
1
8
Ponytails float
for added style
J ust liketheheadshape, theretro
bodyespeciallythetorsomust
bebasedonasimpleandclear
shape. Don't softentheedges
tomakeit subtler. That'safine
approachfor traditional cartoons,
but it won't giveyouthat retrolook.
Youngcharactershave
headsthat arelarge
comparedtotheir bodies.
Thisdoesn't usuallyhold
truefor adult characters,
but inretro-stylecartoons,
theheadisusuallybig
evenonadults. Still, let's
start withkidsanyway,
becausethey'recompact
andeasier todraw.
1
9
Sincewe'reconcentrating
oncreatingasingle, basic
shapefor thebody, the
outlineof thedressitself
will becometheshape
of thebody. Inretro
cartoons, youdon't want
toseethestressmarks
that result fromthebody
tuggingonthefabric. Thereare
nocreasesor foldstocomplicate
thedrawing, whichmust remain
simpleandslickinorder to
bepleasingtotheeye.
Notetheabsolutelyflat tops
of theponytails. Thiscouldnever
happeninreality, but again, we're
tryingtoemphasizeshapes.
Thereareonlytwowaystodo
this: either flattenthingsout or
makethemround. Combiningflat
shapes(thetopsof theponytails)
withroundshapes(thetopof her
head) addsalivelycontrast.
2
0
Thelabcoat isaclassicfor evil characters. Notethe
excessivelylongbody, combinedwithabighead. This
tellstheaudiencethat thecharacter reliesonbrainpower,
not brawn. Thebowtie, whichistight enoughtostrangle
thisguy, indicatesthat he'stightlywoundandbarelyable
tomaintainasociallyacceptabledemeanor inpublic.
Intraditional cartooning, you'dfirst outlinethebody,
sketchinginthelegsastheywedgeintothehipjoints,
andthenyou'ddrawthelabcoat over it. But that would
beamistakehere. Here, thelegsaremeant tolookpasted
ontothebottomof thecoat. Thefact that
thereisn't asinglehint or indicationof the
underlyingbodystructureiswhat gives
thiscartoonitssought-after flat look.
2
1
Sweater to
combat poor
circulation
Skinny
upper arms
Bushy eyebrows
Perpetually
bent knees
Flat feet
Theolder acartooncharacter gets, the
simpler thebodyshapebecomes. The
neckdisappears, andsodotheshoulders.
Thekneesareperpetuallybent. Thelimbs
areskinny, andthebodyisthick.
Whenyou'retryingtodepict an
attractivecharacter'sbody, you
havetodrawaslightlymore
complexshapefor thetorso.
It'ssort of amangledfigure
eight, but youcanstill simplify
it sothat it hasaclear outline.
Youcansquash, bend,
flatten, andstretch
thetorsoshapeany
wayyoulike.
2
2
Thecommonmethodof comingupwiththeproportionsof
acharacter isto"stackheads." Thestandardapproachhas
alwaysbeen: theyounger thecharacter, thefewer headstall;
themorematurethecharacter, themoreheadstall. But with
retrocartoons, thisisn't necessarilyso. Thisretro-style
Kewpie-cloll bombshell isonlythreeheadstall, whereasmost
traditional adult cartooncharactersarefour tosixheadstall.
The body is a third
of the width of the
head. This is what
gives this figure her
diminutive, cute look.
1/3 1/3 1/3
2
3
Super slender or onthewideside? Or, how
about splittingthedifferenceandchoosing
abodytypedownthemiddle?Today's
cartooncharactersaresopliablethat you
cangivethembodytypesthat wouldhave
previouslybeenconsideredtoothin.
Thesuperthin
bodytypeisa
goodchoice
for theretro
look, especially
for brainykids.
Intheretrostyle,
theaveragebody
typeisstill thinbut
not will-o'-the-wisp.
Thelarger lookisyet another
variation; it makesclotheslook
likethey'reswimmingonthebody,
whichisagoodlookfor kids.
2
4
Manycharactersespeciallyteenagers, heroes,
andactioncharacterspossessidealizedcartoon
versionsof thehumanbody. Andmanyof those
characterswear tight clothingthat revealstheir
form. So, theycan't haveabodythat lookslikean
oval, becausewhoseideal wouldthat be? Still, to
beretro, thebodyhastobebasedonbold, simple
shapes. Comparethefiguresbelowandoppositeto
seehowtocreateananatomicallyviableidealized
model for retro-stylecartoonpurposes.
Thisisaperfectlygood
drawingof acartoon
character'smuscles
andanatomy. But it's
nogoodfor retro
cartoonsbecauseit
goesagainst thebasic
retrotenet: simplify,
simplify, simplify!
2
5
Insteadof focusingonindividual musclegroups,
asinthetraditional exampleopposite, concentrate
ontheoverall shapeof thebody. Focusingonthe
overall shapeismuchmoreimportant thanknowing
wheretherectusfemoris(middlethighmuscle)
beginsandends. Thelegsarehighlyexaggeratedin
stylizedcartoonsof thissort. Noticethat developed
thighmusclesaresuggestedexclusivelybythe
curvedoutline; nointerior muscledefinitionis
necessary. Andthecalves, whicharethemost
exaggeratedbodypart of all, curveoutward
severely. It'simportant todrawthemwith
"musclepeaks," otherwisethecharacter will
lookbowlegged. Notethesimplicityof thechest
musclesandalsohowtheelbowjointsmake
thearmswider inthemiddle.
Muscle peak
Muscle peak
2
6
A
B
B
A
Nuh-uh. Thisdoesn't workfor
malecharacters. It makes
themlooktenseandunnatural.
SLOPING
SQUARE
SLIGHT CURVE UP
ROUNDED FLAT WITH A SLIGHT SLOPE
Thisiswherethingscanget trickybut theydon't haveto!
Don't thinkof theneckandshouldersastwoseparateareas.
They'refusedtogether tocreateonesectionof thebody
theneck/shoulder regionandit helpstothinkof them
that way. Whether theshouldersslumpor areheldsquarely
hasahugeeffect onacharacter'spostureand, hence, his
or her personality. Note: Femalecharacterscanhavemore
variationsof theneck/shoulder regionthanmalecharacters.
You probably think that
men have square shoulders
but that women's shoulders
should be given a softer
treatment. Oh, how
wrong you are, my friend.
Square shoulders are a
very attractive look for
any female character.
Emphasizing the width
of the shoulders is
attractive. Burn this
into that cartoonist's
brain of yours.
This can be on attractive
look, especially with
outfits that reveal
bare shoulders.
The collarbones (A) act like a shelf,
giving the top of the chest its square
look. The main neck muscle (B) (the
sternocleidomastoideus for all
you guys who simply have
to know what to call it)
appears on each side
of the neck and travels
from the bottom of the ear
to the pit of the neckand it's
accentuated in many poses.
This is the typical approach
to drawing male shoulders.
This is a highly stylized
version in which the
shoulders are actually
pointed up. It's a sharp,
effective look for
bombshell characters.
Rounded shoulders that begin
above the base of the neck can
make a guy seem very powerful.
2
7
Trapezius
Collarbone
Notice that the
neck isnt placed on
top of the trapezius
muscle but, instead, is
surrounded by it. The
collarbone gives the
shoulders their width.
The torso is a rectangle,
and the hips are shaped
like a bowl. Stack all three
elementsneck/shoulders,
torso, and hipstogether.
The legs attach to joint
sockets inside the hips. Note
that the legs usually don't
attach to the bottom of the
shirt but to the hip area.
When you draw the figure
this way, stacking the three
sectionsneck/shoulders,
torso/hips, and legs
together, you don't lose
any of the flat angularity
that makes this type of
character so appealing.
Teenagers, someadults, andactioncharactersoften
needmorethanasingleshapefor thebodybut
not muchmore. Thetorsoisstill arectangle, which
canbepulledandstretchedintomanyvariations.
But youalsoneedtoaddaneck/shoulder section,
aswell asasimplehipsection. Assemblingthe
partsasblocks, at least until youget usedtothe
process, makesthefiguremucheasier todraw.
2
8
Youcanmoldtherectangular torsoshape, twisting,
stretching, andbendingit likeapieceof
aclay. But keeptheshapesimple, with
nomuscledefinition. Inthispicturethe
trapeziusmuscleintheshouldershas
beeneliminatedfromview. If it werebuilt
up, it wouldmakethecharacter looktoohusky.
Back of
shoulders is
not built up
The use of circles to
indicate the joints is a
common technique that
artists use to remind
themselves that the joint
areas have moss and
volume and to not draw
them too skinny, which is
the temptation among
less experienced artists.
Theeyescanworkindependentlyof eachother.
Here, oneisopenedwidewhiletheother is
squinting, whichcreatesinterestingexpressions.
2
9
Round off
Round off
Round out
Round out
Round in Round in
Theadult femalebodyisamorecomplicatedpieceof work
thantheadult malefigure, duetotheshapeof thetorso. It's
not just becauseof all thecurves, but becauseof thecontrast
of thewideshoulders, thinwaist, andwidehipsall ina
relativelysmall amount of space. However, after youget
thispart down, everythingwill fall easilyintoplace.
The female torso is
basically a very simplified,
rounded diamond, so start
with a simple diamond shape.
Place the modified
diamond-shaped
torso on top of
a squashed oval.
The oval represents
the hips. Make sure
the torso is placed
slightly down inside
of the hip area (see
drawing at right).
Note that the bottom of
the torso shape is quite
thin. This is important!
There should be no gradual
widening from the waist
to the hipsit's a sudden
shift in shape. That
abruptness, that lack of
subtlety, is what you're
looking for. It gives your
cartoons that retro look.
The thighs wedge deeply up
inside of the hip area and
fill out all the room the
hips can give them. This is
true not only in cartoons
but in real life.
The first thing to do is shave
off the bottom tip of the
diamond to create a surface
that fits into the hips. Then its
simply a process of rounding off
the outline as labeled above.
The final female torso
looks like this. It, too, can
be stretched, thinned out,
or adjusted in any way
according to your own
taste and inspiration.
3
0
Inatraditional-stylecartoon, theendsof ponytails
wouldbecarefreeandruffled. For theflat, retro
look, sliceoff theendsof theponytailswithacrisp,
cleanandunnaturalline. Thisaddsmorestyle.
Traditional
hair ruffles
Traditional
hair ruffles
Nowthat you'refamiliar withhowthemajor sections
of thebodyareassembled, youcanput it all together
tomakeafinishedfigure. Withthisfemalecharacter,
I'veseparatedthetorsofromthehipsjust abit on
theconstructiondrawingtostretchthemidsection
slightly, becauseshewearsclothingthat emphasizes
that area. Thisisjust oneof themanywaysthat you
canmakesmall adjustmentsintheconstruction
of acharacter totailor it toyour needs.
Above is the basic
torso/hip construction.
Above left is the
adjusted torso/hip
construction with
the torso separated
slightly from the
hip to accentuate
the midsection.
3
1
Drawingamaturefemalefigureinaside
viewrequiresadifferent approachtothe
legtreatment. Createthefront of thelegs
withasinglesmoothline, whileusinga
bumpylinefor thebackof thelegsto
indicatetheupper thighandcalf muscles.
Thigh
muscle curve
Smooth line
Calf muscle
Leave space
for the high
heels when
roughing out
the character.
Joint at base
of thumb
sticks out
Joint at base
of thumb
sticks out
Protruding wrist bone
kid
teen adult
middle-Aged adult
female
senior citizen
/
Pudgy and short.
Not too angular
or bony.
Slender with thin,
tapered fingers. Nails
are unnecessary.
Palms get wide, fingers
curl, and bones protrude.
Although the hands are
large, they are also skinny.
The palm has two basic areas: the heel (A) and the thumb
muscle (B). The heel section is longer, but the thumb
section is wider. You can draw all the fingers at the same
length, or you can vary them. I choose to make all of the
fingers the same size, except the pinky, which remains
shorter. The thumb has a fat joint at its origin where it
sticks out. bont leave this out of your drawing!
Likepeople, handshave
personalities, andyou'vegot
todrawthemtoreflect their
owners! Pleasefollowalong,
andnotalkingwhilethe
demonstrationisin
progress. Thankyou.
3
2
3
3
Ankle
bracelet
Pointing big
toe up adds a
bit of humor
In front and 3 4
views, balls of
feet show
Balls of feet
can be seen from
underside, too
Wiggling toes are
always funny no
one knows why
Main ball of
foot appears
under big toe
Heel
Side of
foot has
padding
/
(
)
There'sthetemptationtorushwhen
drawingthefeet because, typically,
they'rethefinal thingtobedoneina
drawing. But whyrobyour drawing
of afinishingtouch? Feet arefunny!
So, put someeffort intothem. Here
aresomeuseful examples.
When drawing feet in high-heeled shoes,
first draw the bare foot with the heel raised.
Make sure the bridge of the foot descends
at a steep angle. Then add the shoe.
Fuzzy slippers are a
must for middle-class
family types!
Womens
Shoe
Tennis
sneaker
Womens
Shoe
Tennis
sneaker
T
hekeystoneof somanyfunnycomic
strips,animatedTV shows, and
comicsbooksisthestrangely
dysfunctional familyunit. Theretrofamily
isariot. Thinkof it asthequintessential
1960ssitcomfamilybut witheach
member sufferingfromAttentionDeficit
Disorder. Eachfamilymember isaturbo-
chargednerd, self-centeredintheextreme
but withaweirdpatinaof sugarcoating.
Thecast of charactersgoesasfollows:
theretrodadandmom, whoarealways
annoyinglyenthusiasticandclueless
about everything; theretroolder sister
(youknowher type: thesadistic
babysitter); andher younger
retrobrother, whoisoftenthe
most likable, creative, and
inventiveof thebunch.
3
5
Let'sstart withtheparental units. Howabout
thetitular headof thehousehold: theaffablebut
totallyobtusedad. Whydodadsalwayswear
shortswithlong, blacksocks? Isthereafashion
part of thebrainthat getsdamagedasaresult of
becomingafather?Wemaynever fullyunderstand
thecauseof thismysteriousailment. TheHawaiian
shirt, off therackfroma"superstore," isalsoan
essential characteristicof thefashion-challenged.
Thelegsareskinny, andthetrunkshowsahint of
middle-agedpaunch. Thenoseisalmost always
sharpandangular, andthechinusuallyjutsout.
3
6
Thesuburbanretrodadiskingof the
barbecuegrill but almost nothingelse. The
funof thisbodytypeliesinthecontrast of
veryroundlinesalternatingwithstraight
linesonoppositesidesof thesamelimbs.
Andasalways, dadsportsalargechinand
embarrassinglylongsockswornwithshorts.
Top-heavycharactersarefunnybecausetheir
torsosaremuchlonger thantheir legs.
3
7
Somethingsjust seemtogotogether. I don't knowhow
manydadsactuallywear bathrobesandslippers, but
retrocartoondadscertainlydo. J ust aswiththedadat
thebarbecuegrill, youneedtofindthestereotypical
propsof amodest suburbanlifeinwhichall iswell and
shoppingfromtheright catalogbringsjoyandharmony
tothehousehold. Thebulkybathrobemakesanice
contrast todad'sskinnycalves, wrists, andneck.
3
8
Don t draw
side of head
through glasses
Open part
creates an
interesting
graphic

Oversizedeyeglassesareacommonthemefor retro
dadsbut not for retromoms. Glassesmakedadslook
wonderfullygeeky; whileonmoms, glassescanhave
theoppositeeffect, makingthemlookstylishand
youdon't want that. Theframesof theglassesbecome
theoutlinefor thewhitesof theeyes. All youhaveto
doisdrawthepupilsor thepupilsintheirises.
3
9
Skinnydadsarejust the
oppositeof athleticdads,
withtheir legslonger than
their torsos. (Notethe
different styleof glasses.)
Thisnewfather still hassome
of hisathleticbuildintact. J ust
givehimafewmoreyears!
What makeshimfunnyisthat
histrunkislarge, whilehis
armsandlegsaresoshort.
4
0
Youcantakethedadout of theofficebut youcan't
taketheofficeout of thedad. Thefunpart about these
wackyretrocharactersisthat theynever change! You
canput theminanyenvironment, anywhere, dress
theminanytypeof clothing, andstill, it'sdad, 24/7.
Waist must
be small
Right
Soft line
Wrong
Basic cartoon
mom torso shape

Hard line
Ahyes, theresheis, thehappilyfulfilledhomemaker.
Sheisfrequentlyseenwearinganapronandovenmitts.
Her real marriageistoher kitchen. It'severyfeminist's
nightmareandsolackinginpolitical correctnessthat
it'shysterical. Nonetheless, youcanbesureof one
thing: her linoleumfloorsarealwayscleanandshiny!
Thischaracter'shead, whichisloadedwithexpression,
isalwayslargecomparedtoher body. Andshehas"big
hair" that hasyet tobestyledbyahairdresser from
thiscentury. Her bodyisthebasic"mom" bodyshape:
rather small andunderstated.
Note the overlapping lines
on the elbow: with the arms
akimbo, the forearm appears
closer to the viewer than the
upper arm and, therefore,
overlaps the upper arm.
Youcandrawthetwo-
tonedeyetwodifferent
ways: withahardline
aroundtheirisor witha
soft linearoundtheiris.
Botharegood, but I
prefer thesoft line.
4
1
4
2
Heresheisagain, strollingbackfromthesupermarket,
just beforeshegoescrazy. J ust kidding(but barely).
Again, noticehowwideandoversizedtheheadis. It's
agreat techniqueonmoms, becausetheheadthen
contrastsnicelywiththesmallnessof her features, like
her noseandmouth. Likemost retrocharacters, her eyes
staybig. Also, her clothesarenever stylishbut, instead,
lookliketheycameoff therackat adiscount store.
Back curves
outward to
absorb weight of
grocery bags
The leg extends for
a purposeful walk
(when the dynamics
of the legs must be
convincing, its a
good idea to "sketch
through" the dress
to get the position
correct, as in the
next drawing).
NORMAL LID HEAVY LID
Heavy eyelids resting on top of
the pupils give her a weary look.
4
3
Ohyes, somemothersjust cannot resist tryingto
fit inwiththeyoungstersandusingthelatest lingo.
Don't youjust want tocringewhenyouhear amom
say, "Hi, homeys!" Thereshouldbesomesort of
corporal punishment for that.
Anyway, heresheis, helpingtoleadthescout
troopandenjoyingthewoodsmuch, muchmore
thanthekids, whojust want toget theheckout
of thereandplayvideogames. Her appearanceis
alwaysneat andtidy. Thesmileusuallyresultsin
squintingeyes; thisisagreat lookfor thischaracter,
makingher annoyinglycheerfulwhichiswhat you
want. Playuptheoversizedeyelashes, which, in
thiscase, arefloatingoff theeyes.
4
4
The waistline is
always higher on
female characters
than on male
characters.
The knees bend
backward slightly
when the legs are
locked. (This only
works for thin
characters. Heavy
characters dont
exhibit this trait.)
This is a good
side view of
the typical
"mom" torso.
Don't soften the
point of the cheek
this angle makes
the retro look.
Manyretromomsaretypifiedby
arelentlessbrandof perkiness.
Makethembright eyed, withtheir
eyelashesat attention. Theposture,
too, needstobeupright, reflecting
abubblypersonality. Evenher hair
isspunky, for cryingout loud!
4
5
Yes, she'sashopper, but it'sonlytokeepthefridgestocked
withall sortsof great-tastingcheeseproductsinacan. And
lotsof greenJ ell-O. Thoseheadbandsareubiquitousonretro
moms. A headbandstandsfor "I'msobusy, I didn't have
timetowashmyhair today." Andshedoesn't needtoeither,
becauseher hair shouldalwayslookthesame, nomatter
what. Not onehair out of place. Andhere'sonemore
important noteabout theretromom: her upper bodyis
alwaysshort comparedtoher legs, andthisholdstrueno
matter what typeof personalityyour retromomhas.
Cartoon moms
have big bottoms!
Pants with high
hems (known as
Capri pants) are
a popular look.
4
6
Hair upinabun, sleevelessshirt, and
sandals. Thisisanother goodtreatment
for amomcharacter. Thisisthewalking-
about-townuniformfor moms. You'll
noticethat eventhoughher lower legsare
skinny, they'renot drawnasstraight lines
(atemptationamongnewer artists)the
calf musclesarestill givenshapeand
volume. Andnotethebigfeet: Characters
whoaredaintyhavesmall feet. Characters
whoaregoofyhavelongfeet. Don't hide
thefact that she'sgoofyflaunt it with
apair of flip-flops!
Center line
helps locate
middle part
for hair
4
7
Nowweturntothecharacter typethat everyonelovesto
hate: thecruel, older sister. Sheshouldhavejust come
intoher tweenageyears(1012). Andshehasbut one
missioninlife: totortureher younger brother. Thereis
absolutelynothingher younger brother candothat will
not makeher mad. Shehatesbeingforcedtobabysit when
shecouldbeout havingfunwithher friends. But, she
doesn't hateit asmuchasjunior does. J unior doesn't dare
complaintohisparents, becausesnitchesaredealt with
extraharshlyinprison, er, I meanhome. If sheshoots
her littlebrother aboldI'll-get-you-for-thisglareacross
thedinner table, their parentswill never noticeit.
Tothem, sheisalwaystheir littleangel.
The younger the
character, the
deeper the curve
of the forehead
When two characters make
eye contact, its imperative
that the line of vision between
them matches up. You should
be able to draw a line from one
characters eyes to the others.
4
8
Look at how
tight her little
mouth is
Note the
upturned
pug nose
For a brooding
expression, the
eyeball should
be cut off by a
heavy eyebrow.
Yes, it'ssisterlyloveat itsfinest. Thisstareletsyouknowthat you'reprobably
goingtobethesubject of anevil experiment inthepretendsciencelab. It'sa
well-establishedcomedictechniquetotakeonetypeof character anddress
her intheoppositetypeof costumefor her personality. Themalevolent sister,
therefore, isdressedupinaprettybowsandringlets, whichdon't doathingto
softenher! Quitethecontrary, thecontrast heightensher crabbinessandmakes
her all themoreamusing. (Noticethat thebowonher headdoesn't havesoft
roundededges, but sharppointyanglesinsteadjust likeher personality.)
Shoulderstensed, armsakimbo, andadirect stareat thereader isagreat
shot touse, whether themediumisanimation, comicbooks, comicstrips, or
sassygreetingcards. It directlyinvolvesthereader andheightensthemoment.
4
9
Themeansister hasdollsthat sheplayswith, just
likeanyoneelse. But whenshe'sangry, shealso
punishesthem, whichiskindof weird. Still, she
hastohaveanoutlet, at least until her little
brother getshome. Giveyour littledictator teddy
bearsandother sweet playthings. Teddybears, in
particular, canreallytakeapunch. Pajamas
remindthereader that thischaracter isreallyjust
alittlekid. Her outsizedpersonalitysometimes
makesusforget that. "Feetypajamas," thekind
that cover thefeet andstart everyyoungster off
withher first caseof eczema, areperfect because
of their cozyappeal, whichagaincontrastswith
thischaracter'swonderfullywickedpersonality.
Push pull: when
nose points up,
mouth goes down
Ridiculously
oversized bow
Big eyes
combined
with tiny
nose
Skinny neck
Clothes
slightly
oversized
Oversized
head
Funny ears
No shoulders
Big hair
/
5
0
It doesn't matter howwell thingsaregoingor byhowmuchher
teamiswinning, thesmallest, most innocuousthingher little
brother doeswill set her off, bigtime. For example, hemight
begtheir parentsnot totakehimtoseehisbigger sister's
cheerleadingcompetition. But thecluelessparentswouldinsist
that thewholefamilygotosupport her or she'll feel bad. Of
course, shefallsflat onher derriereandblamesit all onhim.
You'll alsonoticethat thischaracter typeisnever goodlooking.
One shape for
upper body
Ears stick out
substantially and droop
slightly for a sassy look
Its always good practice to
draw the upper body as one
shape first. belineate the
blouse from the skirt later.
In a 3/4 view, sneakers
need arches! Make sure
to add them, even if the
character has flat feet.
Sneaker
arches
5
1
Thisone'satightlywrappedpieceof work. She'sgot hair
braidedintight, unlovelypigtailsthat areknottedsotight
they'reindanger of cuttingoff thebloodsupplytoher scalp;
oversizedglasses; andteethsobigthat at anymoment she
might mistakenlyswallowher ownchin. Her outfit shouldalways
betidy, but embarrassinglysquare. Her know-it-all expression
requiresclosedeyesandasmile. And, brainycharactersalways
havehugeheadscomparedtothesizeof thebody. (The
exceptionistheadult madscientist, whocanbetall andskinny.)
All of the features
are gathered in the
middle of her face.
Hairline doesn t
travel through
glasses
Drawsmall, horizontal rectanglesontheteeth; theseareconnected
tooneanother byonehorizontal linerunningthroughthem. But no
matter howyoudrawbraces, themost important thingtoremember
istodrawgiganticteethfirst. If theteetharen't big, you'll never see
thebracesclearly, theteethwill lookcluttered, andnoonewill
knowwhat that stuff isthat youdrewonthem.

5
2
What better placetoplot your
revengethanseatedbehindyour
victiminclass. It'sasif thebackof
hisheadiscallingtoyou, begging
youtopastea"KickMe" signon
hisback. Whendrawingaseated
character, there'sareal advantage
todrawingthechair first andthen
thefigure. It'sjust somucheasier
tofindthecorrect placement of
thecharacter that way. Also, a
goodapproachistoshowthat
youngcharactersall but disappear
behindthedesk. Makesurethe
feet dangleintheair.
Pointy ponytail ends
reflect her sharp
personality
5
3
Theyounger brother isasympatheticcharacter. He
canbequirky, nerdy, speciallygifted, or neurotic.
Heshouldbefunny, unthreateninginnature, and
affable. Readersshouldlikehim. Hehashisownlife
toleadbut iscontinuouslydistractedbytheneed
tododgetheambushof hisevil sister, thestring
beancasseroleservedbyhismom, andthe
campingtripsplannedbyhisdad.
Thisyounger brother typegetsasemicool
haircut andapair of jeans. Hehasabright-eyed
look. Thinlegsworkwell incombinationwith
oversizedjackets, but makesurethejacket looks
puffy, not tight. Onewaytodothisistodraw
thejacket asif it weresewninsections, likeski
jacketsfilledwithgoosedown. Overstuffed
backpacksareafixtureonyoungsterstoday, who
havetohaul fiftypounds' worthof textbooks
ontheir backseight hoursaday. If thecountry
hasanepidemicof scoliosisoutbreaksinthe
next decade, you'll knowwhy.
Admit it, he'safunnycharacter. But
theimportant thingtoaskyourself
is, Whydoeshestrikeyouasfunny?
It'sthat retrolook: theoutlineof his
bodydominatestheentirecharacter.
That roundoval of abodyhasnot
beenmodifiedtogivehimmore
convincingshouldersor hips. He
remainsagraphicdesignbasedon
anoval. Also, hisproportionshave
beenincrediblyexaggerated: he's
onlytwoheadlengthstall.
5
4
A character whose neck
slopes forward usually
looks better with a
slack jaw and no chin.
No!
YES!
Never show the neck of a rich character.
Cover it with either a turtleneck or an ascot.
Thistypeof character isnever namedJ immyor
Billy. He'saChipor aFenton. Neatlygroomed
andnattilydressed, he'safunnysupporting
cast member. Maybehe'safriendof the
younger brother. Hecouldevenbetheboy
theolder sister hasacrushon. Thosehalf-
closedeyelidsgivehimaperpetuallyhaughty
demeanor. Heonlywearsgrown-upclothes,
suchasthisjacket. Heshouldlookasif he
weredressedtololl aroundthecountryclub.
Andnoticethosesneakers: they'rethetype
usedfor walkingonthedeckof ayacht, not
for shootinghoops. Playsports? Gads, no!
Youcantakethistypeof character asfar
asyoulike. Youcancast himasagood
student; abrilliant scholar; or, withthe
correct expression, aworld-domination-
desiringsupergenius. Heshouldhave
averybigheadfor theextraroomhis
skull needstohousehissuperior brain
(noticehowthebackof hisheadbulges),
apunybody, andlargeglasses. Andhe
hastodresslikeanerd(noticethewhite
socksandregular shoeshedoesn't
ownapair of sneakers).
5
5
Thestar of aretroanimatedTV show, comicbook, or
comicstripisnot agiftedathleteandisnever goingto
be. That'saruleinretrocartoons. Thegiftedathletegets
thegirl andmakesthemaincharacter feel just twofeet
tall (althoughheonlystandsthreefeet tall asit is). To
bethestar of ashow, acharacter needsobstacles
manyof them. Problems, burdens, challengesthat'sthe
stuff your character hastobattleandovercome. It'shis
inventivenessthat'Il get himthere. That'swhat makesa
winningcharactersomeonewhocansummonhisinner
strengthandmakeanidiot of himself anyway. A star
athlete, ontheother hand, hasit all goingfor him
already. He'snot interesting. He'sone-note.
He'sajock, period. Therefore, your
guyhastolookalittleoutclassed
inhissportsuniform. Note: The
samephysical ineptitudeisequally
endearingfor femalecharacters.
Note the
different
directions the
outline of the
face takes.
T
here'salot of actionandmovement
incartoons. Actionposesheighten
thelevel of intensityandcan
behilariouslyfunny. Traditionally, a
cartoonist will drawacharacter inaction
withlotsof movement, completewith
flailingarmsandlegs. Nothingisspared
or conserved. Everythinggoesfull out.
Themovementsarefluid.
But thisisnot thecaseinretrocartoons.
Insteadof workingtogivethereader thefeeling
of action, retrocartoonsareonlyinterestedin
humorouslycaricaturinganactionmakingfun
of it, stereotypingit. Often, thisleadstostiff
poses, whichareveryfunnybecausetheymake
theactionslooksillyandcolossallyineffective.
The knee is
deeply bent
Actionposesareusedintwocircumstances: first,
whendepictinganaction, suchasrunningor
punching; andsecond, whenanemotionisso
strongthat it callsfor astrongpose, suchas
laughinginsanely. Thefollowingtechniquesfor
creatingcaricaturesof actionposesarereallyat the
heart of what retrocartoonsareall about, andthis
iswhereyou'll most likelystart toget theessence
of thestyleat agut level. Thenameof thegameis
toconservemotionandstiffenthepose. Toseehow
thisappliestoactualsfigureinmotion, let'sstart
withatypical example: throwingaball.
Thearrowshowshowtheentire
figureistravelinginthedirection
of thethrow. Asina"walking
pose," onearmisforwardand
oneisback; onelegisforward
andoneisback. Everythingisin
motion, andasaresult, thepose
isquiteconvincing.
Here, aslittlemovement as
possibleisused. Onlyonearm
isshown. Thelegsmirror each
other, conservingmotion. The
throwingarmisstraighter (stiffer)
thaninthetraditional approach.
Speedlinesareusedtoadda
feelingof motiontothethrow.
Tuck legs and feet underneath, making them
useless for adding power to the throw
Evenasimplemotionlike
reachingfor somethingcanbe
madetolookretrobylimiting
themovement. Inthetraditional
style, thecharacter goesall
out toreachfor something,
pullingthebodyoff balancein
theprocess. Thearmstretches
inlengthasit reaches.
Intheretroversion,
thecharacter'sposture
remainsstiff ashereaches.
5
7
Introvertedposesthoseinwhichthe
character drawsintohimselfmakeexcellent
retroposes. Inclassical cartooning, welearn
that thesearenot goodposesbecausethey
wouldbehardtoreadassilhouettesand
that'strue, for classical cartooning. But in
retrocartoons, theclosed-inball of afigure
isfunnyand, therefore, effective.
5
8
Wealwaysthinkof thepunchasafull bodyaction:
everythinggoesintoit. And, yes, evenretrocartoon
charactersneedabighaymaker towinafight against evil
mutant aardvarksandother extraplanetaryscum. But the
approachisquitedifferent fromthetraditional style.
Again, the"walkingpose" is
themodel for thepunch: one
armisforwardandtheother
isback; onelegisforwardand
theother isback. Thebody
leansintothepunch, andone
foot isoff theground. It
works, but we'veall seenit
before, many, manytimes.
Nonpunching arm stays
pasted to body
Small speed lines
trail from heels
Theall-out retropunch
isasstiff asaboard!
There'sactuallyno
momentumbeing
generatedbyhisbody
posturewhatsoever! He's
flyingthroughtheair,
horizontally, withanarm
out, andyet, it'ssogoofy
that it works. But, it's
necessarytoturnthe
backgroundintoacanvas
of speedlines, otherwise,
he'dlooklikeastatue
frozeninair.
Pulling toes up
makes a pose funnier
5
9
We'reall usedtotheclassicposeof an
actionherochargingupintotheair tosave
aworthlesscityfromanevil monster who
might actuallygentrifytheplaceandmake
it interesting. Howdoyousimplifythe
posetomakeit moreretro?Takealook.
Onearmisup; the
other isheldout for
balance. Onelegisup;
theother isdown.
Bothlegsarepasted
together, conservingenergy.
Thetrailingarmispastedat
hisside, too. Remember: the
closer thebodycantuckinto
itself, themoreretrothe
posebecomes; looselimbs
arefor traditional cartoons.
Downward-tilting feet
reflect wind drag
6
0
Thecharacter'sform
doesn't stretchat all!
Instead, thecharacter
isdrawnonatiltedaxis,
withahypnoticswirling
background. Very
coolandfunnier.
Youknowwhat a"take" is. It'swhen
acharacter goes, What theheck? andthen
looksstartledwithanextremereaction. It's
usedmanytimesinall sortsof cartoons.
There'saverycool waytoshowatakein
theretrostylethat'sdifferent from
anythinginclassiccartoons.
Thefigurestretchesandthins
out asthetakeoccurs. All the
limbsstraightenouteven
theearsstickout! Thisisa
lot of bodymovement, and
thefigurewill thenendup
bouncingback(recoiling)
toitsprevioussize.
6
1
Conservemotionby
eliminatingtheswinging
armmovement that you
seeintraditional cartoons.
Traditional
retro
Tilt hands backward at
wrists for a funny look
Traditional
Traditional
retro
retro
Evenaposeasbreezyas
leaningagainst asurfacecan
bedoneinafunny, retroway.
Again, conservethemovement
andbringthebodyinward.
A karatekickwill beretro
if youfocusmoreon
theattitudethanonthe
techniqueof thekickitself.
Lookhowmuchlessmotion
thereisintheretrokick
thaninthetraditional one.
6
2
Thisisperhapsthemost intenseactionposeof
allandit requiresabackgroundtoreflect the
character'sstateof mind. Thiskidhasjust hada
brainstorm, andliterally, anelectrical stormis
occurringbehindhim. Althoughhislimbsare
outstretched, they'restiff, andthere'snodirection
tohismovement. Thinkabout it: ishegoingup,
down, or sideways?Actually, hisbodyisfrozenin
air. He'snot movingat all! He'sjust floatingabove
theground, havinganintensemoment. Thisaction
posehasactuallyeliminatedeveryhint of action!
That'sretro.
6
3
ll retrofamilieshavea
retropet togowiththeir 2.3
children, 2cars, andchocolate
fudgebreakfast buns. Petsmakegreat
supportingcharactersandmust be
drawninkeepingwiththestyleof
thefamilyunit asawhole. Themost
popular petsaredogs, cats, birds,
andfishinthat order. If thepoint of
acartoondogistoappear lovable,
thenthepoint of aretrocartoondog
istoappear solovableit'sweird.
Thesearepetswhoneedtherapy.
A
Let'scomparetheregular
dogtotheretrodog.
Thisisasimplifiedversion
of ananatomicallycorrect
pooch. Noticethat the
headdipsat a45-degree
angleinarelaxedstance.
Pointy back of head
Front end of snout is
fatter than jaw area
No bump in shoulders
Big, round rump
Sagging
tummy
No dew claw
creating a
sleek leg line
Pronounced heels
Thisiswhat happens
whenadoglearns
tooperateacan
of cheesespray.
Whendogswant something, they
generallystareat youmercilesslyuntil
youtossthemascrap. Cartoondogs
takethat onestepfurther. Their eyes
actuallychangeshapeandsizewhen
theypull onyour heartstrings.
Two-tonedeyes.
Add floating eyelashes
and three shines
Sadeyesarepuppy
eyesat their absolute
largest. Nomatter
howevil thisdoghas
beenjust asecond
before, themoment it
turnsonthewater
faucets, it'scurtains
for anyhuman.
Nobodycanstandup
tothistreatment. It
simplycan't bedone.
Theblackeyeballs
takeupalmost all of
theroominsidethe
eyes. Theshinesare
huge. Tearswell up
onthebottom, as
onedroplet squeezes
out ontoacheek.
Theeyesget larger, andthe
irisesareeliminated. All
that'sleft aretheselarge,
blackpoolsof glistening
puppyeyes. Inorder tomake
themglisten, you'vegot to
addtheglistenpart: make
theeyesasdarkaspossible,
andstuff multipleshinesinto
eachone. Also, eyelashes
shouldsuddenlyappear.
Exaggerate ear
length in this pose
6
5
Here'stheever-seriousbeagle. Thebeagleisahound
withaperpetuallyfurrowedbrow, asmall framewith
alargehead, andacompact body. Thisbreedlooks
likeapuppyat anyage. Notethemarkingsonthe
legs, whichlooklikeapair of tall whitesocks.
Spine curves out in
seated position
Give dogs cheeks, like humans
The beagle has a high crown
It's more interesting,
visually, to draw the
bottom of the ears
on a diagonal.
6
6
Add crazy spikes
Themost commoncartoondogisthebulldog, which
ischaracterizedbyitsbigjowls, largechest, tinywaist,
andinward-facingfront legs. Thisbreedisownedbythe
antisocial next door neighbor andhisbullyson. Notethe
constructionof thebulldogbody: There'sahigh, arching
back, but arelativelyhorizontal linefor thetummy. Thelegs
shouldlookridiculouslysmall for thebody. Theringsaround
theeyesshouldmakeit lookasif thedoghasn't slept for
weeks. Thecollar isusuallyinsanelyaggressive. I have
floated" theearstogivethedrawingatouchmorestyle.
6
7
Thisdogisownedbyafamilythat hasto
havejust theright typeof dogtomatchthe
windowtreatmentsinthehouse. TheAfghan's
headisfrozeninthe"up" positionsothat the
doghastolookdownitsnoseat everyone.
Tomaintainthisaristocraticappearance,
makesuretherufflesonlyappear at the
bottomof thecoat; thetopissmooth.
The top of the
nose curves down
slightly, creating
an air of disdain.
The shoulder
and chest bumps
should be visible
protrusions, even
under the coat.
Shoulder bump
Chest bump
6
8
The higher the smile
rises on the face, the
goofier the character
will be (this principle
applies to humans, too).
When the tummy hangs low
to the ground, there needs
to be a cast shadow on the
ground underneath it.
A sway back
is goofy
Thebighonker isagreat lookfor asillymutt. It immediately
telegraphs"Not apurebred." Addanuncoordinatedtongue
drippingwithsalivafor anextrahelpingof silliness. Skinnyears
andteenyfeet contrast well withthat bigbelly. Sharpteethwork
better thanflat onesfor retrocartoons; flat teethhumanizea
dog, whereassharpteethgivethecharacter anedgier look.
Don t forget
ever-present
puddle of drool
Chest area
overlaps rump
in this pose
Thecrossedpawsareagood
lookfor adoglyingonits
tummy. Notetheoverlapping
shapesthat makeupthe
body. Forward-hanging
earsareanicevariation.
Cartoonmuttsaregoofy, hungry, andlazy. "Youthrew
it, youget it," istheir ideaof agameof fetch. They're
verypopular cartoonpet typesbecausethey'rethe
everymanof thecaninespecies. They'rethecanine
equivalentsof humanunderachieverssmart but
never fulfillingtheir potential.
6
9

7
0
Bump
Dip
Cartooncat personalitiesvarywidelyfromcuteto
evil, withalot moreemphasisonevil. Their looks
alsovarywidely: someareroly-poly, othersare
slinky, andsomearejust lovablelittlefur balls. Cats
havelooser skinthandogs, andtherefore, their
anatomyismoreconcealedtobeginwith. Because
Noticethat thecat'schest is
smaller thanitswaistlineor
rear. Thelegsarethin, andthe
kneesareperpetuallybent (just
thethought makesmewant to
rubonsomesportscream!).
Thetail hasthesamethickness
throughout. Theneckislong,
andtheheadistiny, where
it housesanevil brain.
of this, whenthey'reexaggeratedandturnedinto
cartoons, greater libertiescanbetakenwiththeir
form. So, youdon't needpayasmuchattentionto
their correct anatomical construction(thewaytheir
jointsbend) asyoudowithdogs. Thisfreesyou
uptocreatehighlystylizedversionsof cats.
Line of back is
simplified
A closer look
shows the "thumb"
near the wrist of
the cat's foreleg.
You can make a clear
marking across the wrist.
Thecartooncat isasimple
constructionlikeafootball with
legs. Thejointsinthelegshaveall
beensimplified. Theneckhasbeen
eliminated(except onskinnybreeds,
liketheSiamese, whichwe'll get toina
fewpages). Thewidthof thetail varies.
Bump
7
1
Therearetwobasiccat headshapes: roundor withpointy
cheeks. Andwithinthesecategories, therearemany
variations. Inaddition, youcaninvent asmanydifferent
shapesasyoulikebystretchingandsquashingthehead.
Theoutlineof thefaceiscompletely
intact (below). A fewhairsareadded
tothetopof thehead. Strandsof
hair aredrawnaslineswhereas
ruffles(right) aredrawnasspikes
that havethickness.
basic round
shape
basic pointy-
cheeks shape
Withretrocartoons, noneof
therufflesshouldappear soft.
Instead, sculpt eachrufflelike
apointypieceof plastic. The
rufflesgenerallyappear onthe
cheeksandonthetipof thetail.
Eventhoughreal cat cheeksnever
puff out intoapoint of anykind,
for reasonsknownonlytothe
cartooninggods, audiencesexpect
toseetheir cartooncatswithpointy,
ruffledcheeks. Thisworksespecially
well whendepictingsoft, fluffycats
andkittens. Kittensall havetiny
noses. Beingyoung, thesecharacters
haveeyesplacedlowonthehead, as
well. Theearsandtail canbesmall
or large, but I prefer tinyearsanda
big, fluffytail. It makesthemseem
morepampered. For aretrolook,
keeptheeyestwo-tonedwith
eyelashesstiff andat full-alert.
7
2
Noticethat there'snever aSiamesekitten. That'sbecause
kittensaresupposedtobecutebut there'snosuchthing
asa"cute" Siamesecat. (NowI'mgoingtoget hatemail from
someonewithacuteSiamesecat. Okay, pal, I didn't mean
YOUR cat, I meant everyoneelse's, all right?)
Thesecatsarealwayssinister andslinky, withheartsof
darkness. Theymust havetrue"cat eyes"almond-shaped
eyesthickwitheyeliner. Siamesecatshavelong, thintailsthat
curl instrangeways. Notethetypical Siamesemarkings: not
blackspots, but areasof gradual blackeningonanotherwise
smooth, grayish-beigecoat. Givethemlongwhiskersasign
of cartoonvillainy. I liketomaketheir earslarge, asif they're
alwaysreadytooverhear somethingthat'sbeingwhispered.
Elegant inanevil way, their legsarethinanddelicate.
Trailing streak
Theeyeof theSiamesecat
shouldlooklikeit hasbeengone
over several timeswitheyeliner,
withatrailingstreakoff theend.
7
3
Thiscat isunhappyandgladabout it. Thewrinkled
browremainsnomatter what theexpression. All of
thefeaturesarecrumpledtightlytogether at the
center of theface, resultinginanot-too-cheery
countenance. Thelower eyelidshangheavily, which
istheoppositeof bright eyes. Andthepawsbecome
chubbylittlefingers. Noticethevastlyoversized
headthat characterizesmost retro-styleanimals.
Real cat headsareactuallyquitesmall.
Cat ears tilt out at
a 45-degree angle
Note the
furrowed brow
Whiskers down for
evil and grumpy cats
Whiskers up for
friendy cats
7
4
Householdbirdsaresoretro. If youcan't
haveapinkflamingoonthefront lawn,
thenafeatheredpet inastandingcageis
thenext best thingfor kitsch. Birdsare
verycompact littlecreatures. Sincethey
don't havebucketsof personality, they
havetobehighlystylizedinorder to
createpersonality. Youdothisbymaking
themchunkyandcreatingdesignsfor,
rather thanliteral representations
of, their feathersandbeaks.
Incartoons, thecrownof feathers
isthemainthingwiththisbreed.
Under that punkfeather-do, he's
just alittleguy(eventhoughin
reality, thecockatooisalargebird).
Parakeetsareverycute. And
althoughtheyresembleparrots,
their headsarenot asbigin
comparisontotheir bodies. They
arechestier, smaller insize, and
moresqueezable.
floating
small bird foot
Unlikemost smaller
householdbirds, parrots
havethick, uglyclawsthat
needtobecaricaturedwhen
drawnfor cartoons. The
feet of smaller birdscan
bedrawnassimplelines.
parrot foot
Thisisprobablythemost popular of
all pet birds, soherearethreevariations
toget youstarteddrawingyour own
versions. Whereasthecockatoo, parrot,
andparakeet all havefull bottombeaks,
thecartooncanaryshouldhaveverylittle,
if any, bottombeakfor apetitelook. The
upper beakdoesnot hookover. They
aresmooth, gentlelittlecreatures.
Note that I've "floated"
(detached) the tail to
give it an extra-graphic
look (above left). You can
float anything you like on
a character. Just look at
the baby chick above, on
which I've floated an eye,
an eyebrow, and the hair
on the top of the head.
Theparrot hasmuchmorebeakinrelation
toitsheadthanother domesticbirds. Since,
inreality, birdshaveoneeyeoneither sideof the
head, youwouldonlyseeoneeyewhentheyare
inaprofileor 3/4positionlikethisone. Andthat
limitstheir expressiveness. Therefore, I liketo
groupbotheyestogether onthesamesideof
thehead. It resultsinagoofier look.
7
5
Eventheaquariumsget intothepet act.
They'resoirresistiblybanal. What'sthe
point of beingafishinatankanyway? For
aseahorse, what makesit agoodday
versusabadday? Cartoonsget pretty
deep, philosophically, if youthinkabout
it. Okay, enoughDescartes; backtothe
fish. Herearesomecool typesfor ya.
eenagersarepopular characters
whodividetheir timeequally
betweenfamily, school, social
life, andsavingtheworldfromthe
forcesof evil. Their facesaregenerally
sleeker, andtheir bodieslankier and
longer-legged, thanpreteencharacters.
Eachteenagecharacter must have
aspecificpersonalitytype. It'snot
enoughtojust drawateenager. What
kindof teenager? Isshethepopular
kid? Ishethecomputer geek? Ishethe
classclown? Isshetherebel? If I can
leaveyouwithoneimportant lesson,
it'sthis: you'renot drawingcartoons;
you'redrawingcharacters. Some
artistswill decideonthecharacter
typebeforetheybegintodrawsothat
they'll haveaclear visionof where
theywant togo. Other times, it may
workbetter tostart sketchingfreely
andthen, onceacharacter beginsto
emerge, start refiningit alongthe
linesof aspecificpersonality.
Here'sapopular, intense
character typewhoisgreat
for action-comedyshows.
Thefirst thingtonoticeis
that thechinislonger and
moreangular thanit ison
younger characters. The
entireheadhasaleaner, less-
roundedlook. (Onfemale
teens, however, theround
lookcanstill bemaintained;
seepage79.) But thenose
shouldstill beupturned
asignof youthfulness.
Theteenhairstylemakesa
fashionstatement. Noticethe
hair fallingdramaticallyover
theforehead. Theeyebrows
showdetermination. Teens
areoftenintense.
T
7
7
Theheadis, again, sleeker and
moreangular thanit isonyounger
characters. Thickeyebrowsare
used. Theeyeshaveanopenstyle
(inwhichthelinesindicatingthe
shapeof theeyedon't meet at the
cornersbut remainopen). Thisisa
popular lookfor comicbooksand
adventure-styleanimatedshows.
Theupper eyelidneedstobe
slightlydarker thanthelower one.
A fewlight sketchmarksunder the
eyesbringtheillusionof color to
thecheeks.
Keepinmindthat retrocartoons
deal primarilywithyoungteens, so
thesecharactersarenot yet fully
maturedphysically. Thisshowsin
theneck, whichisnot asthickand
muscular asit wouldbeonanolder
typeof hero. Older teensand
twentysomethingsarebetter suited
toamangaor classicAmerican
comicbookstyle.
7
8
Noticethedirectionof theposehere, whichchangesat
thehips. Thisisamorematurestancethat childrenand
tweensnever assume. Plus, teenagelegsaresignificantly
longer thantheupper body. Theeyeshavetakenonan
almondshape, replacingthecirclesthat characterizethe
eyesof younger characters. Theeyebrowsaresleekand
closetotheeyes, andarenot thestiff, funnylinesused
for younger kidsandtweens. And, thelipsaremuch
fuller thanonyounger characters. Thenose, however,
staysjust assmall asbeforeand, insomecases,
getsevensmaller.
Draw uneven lines-parallel
lines are boring
Compare the version of this character drawn with a thin
outline to the one drawn with a thick outline and jazzier clothes.
I think the thicker outline adds more punch to the image.
Capri pants
can flair out
for style
7
9
Hair is smallest at origin of ponytail
Hair is thickest at
end of ponytail
Theteengirl canhavearoundface, just likeyoung
childrenandtweens, but her featuresmust appear
higher uponher head. Alwaysshowtheeyebrows
andeyelashesthroughthehair becausetheyadd
thenecessarydegreeof femininitythat teenagegirls
require. Clothingisall-important toteenagegirls.
I believethat inorder tocreateaneye-catching
character, youmust dressher asif sheshopsat a
boutiqueonMelroseAvenueinWest Hollywood,
not at agiant discount storeinasuburbanmegamall.
Andthisholdstruewhether you'redrawingateen
girl withatastefor grungefashionor onesimply
injeansandatanktop.
Lookfor opportunitiestocreatefemininehandposes.
Thisisanexcellent onefor arelaxedhandgesture.
Pinky up;
all other
fingers
pasted
together
Hand bends
down at the
wrist
8
0
He'sacaricatureof the1950sjukebox/malt shopteen
turnedintoapresent-daycharacter whobopsaround
withalittleextrabounceinhisstep. Thesetypesare
reallyfuncharacterstodraw. Givehimamodified
Elvishaircut andtight-fittingjeans. Leavehisshirt
untucked, withthecollar up. Thelong, thinneck
repeatsthemotif of hisskinnylegs. Notethethicker
eyebrows, whichgivethefacealittlemoreimpact.
8
1
Onceagain, weseethat teenagegirlsareveryput together,
withexpensiveoutfitsthat arebleedingtheir parentsof
their retirement savings. Thisisanexampleof anoft-used,
cartooningtechnique: placingsuperlargeheadsonvery
thin, longbodies. Thisisdifferent thanputtingverylarge
headsonveryshort bodies, asisdoneeffectivelywith
children. Theultraslender bodyemphasizesthat she'sstill
not amaturecharacter. It'salsoimportant that youmaintain
thehairstyleof ateenager, suchasthisponytail. (Notethe
eyeshadow, whichaddsglamour totheeyes.)
8
2
Hair falls in
front of face
Note the outward
bump of the forearm,
which shows some of
the muscles of the
character without
making him appear
muscular.
Thisisacool lookfor ateenager and
iswornbylotsof teenmovieidols. It
featuresacenter part, withthehair
croppedinasharplineat thebottom.
Whenhe'solder andintheworkforce, he'll have
totuckinhisshirt, roll downhissleeves, button
hiscollar, andtightenhistie. But until then, he's
still akid. Long, thinlegs; longarms; andabit of
aganglyneckarethehallmarksof ateenager.
8
3
Thisisaverycleanandwholesomelook, but the
character isalsoattractiveandstylish. Gonearethe
dayswhenthegirl next door lookedlikesomething
your mother hadtobribeyoutoaskout onadate.
Makeher bright eyed, whichmeanseyelashesthat
standupstraight, rather thantrailingoff witha
stilettolikeflair. Teenshavethesameaccoutrements
asgrown-ups: purse, earrings, makeup. Thestrands
of hair infront of theearsisalookborrowedfrom
manga, whichisgrowinginpopularity.
Heel
juts out
8
4
Thisisyour typical hallway-roaming, cafeteria-chatting, football-playing,
math-class-snoozingteenager. Schoolscomeready-madewithgreat
charactersandlocalesfor stagingscenes: cliqueygirlsgatheredat the
lockers; richkidsbeingdrivenbylimopast thekidsat thebikeracks;
studentschoosingglow-in-the-darkfoodgroupsfromthevendingmachines;
evil teachersinvolvedinsecret projectsinthesciencelab; geekswith
delusionsof grandeur inthecomputer rooms. Younameit, it'sthere. And
thisforcessocial interactionsandgroups, whicharegreat for comedy.
8
6
Fists turned
out are weak
Fists turned
in are strong
Hair is tossed loosely
Heavy eyebrows
provide an added
look of intensity.
TeencharactersinactioncomicsandanimatedTV
showsarecharacterizedbytheir readinesstofight
for what theybelievein. Teensrelatetofeelingsof
heroism, nobility, andtriumphingover struggle. And
sincegrowingupasateenis, infact, astrugglefor
everyone, thismakesfor anappealingcharacter.
8
7
Your character canstandat attention, canstandimpatiently, or can
standnervouslybut youdon't want your character tojust "stand."
Youhavetoput aspinonit. Postureistothebodywhat expressions
aretotheface(except that your momnever tellsyour facetostop
slouching). Postureiseither highenergyor lowenergy, extroverted
or introverted, basedonthecharacter'sthoughtsat themoment. In
fact, acharacter canstandinoneplacebut changeposturemany
timesinresponsetoaseriesof thoughts. Andwhileacharacter's
facemaytrytoconceal athought or feeling, thebodydoesn't lie.
A well-positionedbodyreflectsanattitude, thought, or emotion.
Legs apart Surprise
You can
exaggerate
all poses to
the point of
silliness!
Legs wider apart Strength
Knees in Weakness
Front arm reaches
out with opened hand
Arms and legs in
walking position
Toe points
A shadow is necessary to
show foot is off ground
Over-the-shoulder
look Flirtatious =
=
=
=

8
8
Supposethat your character entersaroominwhichthere'sadiscussiongoing
on. Shefirst hastolistentowhat'sbeingsaidbeforeshecanreact toit. Thisis
whenshe'll assumeaneutral pose, of whichtherearethreebasictypes:
Notehowthebackwardcurve
of thelegsaddstothenice
sweepof thepose.
Thehangingarms
makethisafunnypose.
Thisisveryflat. Noone
standsthiswayinreality.
All of usslumpalittle.
8
9
Eachposereflectsadifferent stateof
mind. Asyougaindrawingexperience,
you'll addyour ownuniquetwist toeach
poseandcomeupwithentirelynew
posestorepresent avarietyof moods.
Bigeyesandbiglipsareyour one-twopunch
whendrawingafemaleknockout. Theeyesare
elongatedalmondshapes, not circlesor ovals.
Andtheyshouldbepointyat theends. The
upper eyelidsmust bedarkandthick. Addeye
shadowtofurther accent theeyes. Giveher
long, thickeyelashesat theendsof her eyes.
ThelipscomedirectlyfromCollagen
Central. Sheneedstohaveamajor-league
overbite. Whenthebridgeof thenoseshows,
useasinglelinefromtheeyebrowtothenose
tocreatethebridge. Cover upmost of the
foreheadwithbangs, unlessyour character
wearsher hair back. Showher shouldersand
alongneckwhenever possible.
rettywomenhaveawayof lighting
upascene. Theymakesharp, eye-
catchingcharactersthat youwant
tosee. But becausetheyaren't broad
andgoofy, theycansometimesposea
problemfor newer artistsbecauseof
thedifficultyinachievingthenuances
necessarytomakeacharacter look
attractive. Retrowomen, however, are
easier todrawbecausethereisn't a
wholelot of nuancegoingonwiththis
style, whichiswhat makesit somuch
funandsobroadlyappealing. Thinkof
drawingprettyretrogalsasgoingfor
ultraexaggeratedfemininity.
It'sabsolutelyessential totilt theeyesintheright
directioninorder tomakethecharacter pretty.
Neutral (eyes
horizontal with no
eye tilt) is bland.
Always draw a heavy
upper eyelid and eyelash
for sexy characters.
Lifting the ends
up is an attractive
and sexy look.
Vertical eyes can
be a pleasant look
or perky or goofy
but not sexy.
Even in a
side view, the
collarbone sticks
out slightly, like
a tiny ledge.
P
9
1
Dipthechinslightly, andshowthecharacter lookingup
under heavyeyelashesfor aseductiveor alluringlook. On
prettyfemalecharacters, it'spossibletoget awaywithout
drawingthenoseat all. Inthosecases, glamorouseyes
becomeevenmoreimportant. Notethedetail intheeyeball.
Theglamorousfemale
eyelooksdifficult to
draw, but it isn't if
youbeginwiththe
entireeyeasawhole.
Don't drawtheeye
first andtheeyelid
second, hopingto
fusethemtogether.
That'showpeople
get intotrouble. Start
withthealmond
shape, whichincludes
theentireeyelid, and
thenstart defining
theinterior parts.
Leavetheeyelids
half closed, resting
onthepupil, for a
mysteriouslook.
9
2
Thesearetheimportant thingstonote:
Thecloser
together the
knees, the
sexier the
pose.
Long neck
Wide shoulders
Large
rib cage
Wide hips
Narrow
waist
Full thighs
wedged high
into hips
Slight
knee
bend
Deeper
knee
bend
Tapered legs
Leg gets
thinner at
knee joint
Shapely,
but not large,
calf muscles
Leg gets
thinner at
ankle joint
Foot sweeps away
from body in an attractive
pose, led by the toes
Knees
touching
(
)
9
3
Thisisa'60shippie-chiclook, withbell-bottomsandarmcuffs.
Thebackward-leaningpostureisacool, slinkyposefor thin(as
opposedtovoluptuous) characters. Notethat theheadremains
straight upanddown, evenwhenthebodyleansback. It'sa
natural counterbalancingreaction; otherwise, thebodywould
fall over everytimeapersonleanedinadirection.
Thisisalsoagoodexampleof anattractivefemalecharacter
withshouldersthat curveupward, whichisasharpstylistic
choice. Althoughwerefer tothemas"squareshoulders," what
we'rereallytalkingabout istheshapeof the . collarbone
Collarbone
9
4
A prettygirl insunglasses
andaragtoproadsterdoes
it get anybetter thanthat?
Whenyoudrawacool chick,
giveher ablankexpression,
asif shewereamodel posing
for amagazinecover. Hey,
youcandrawher withabig,
toothysmileif youwant, but
thenshe'll lookmorelikethe
girl next door, not likethe
heartbreaker sheis.
Even though the wind is
blowing, her hair maintains
its forward-facing "do."
This is the line of the
bottom of the car where the
paint and/or chrome ends.
The chassis, which is black,
drops down a bit further
between the wheels than
the bottom of the car.
9
5
Oversized
clothing is
outstandingly
trendy
It'samazingthekindof awardrobeyoucanput
together for only$12,000if you'reresourceful
enough. Andfor drawingfashion-platecartoon
females, here'stherule: thericher theyare, the
thinner theyare. Althoughweliketomakefunof
fat richpeople, it'sthethinrichpeoplethat we
despise. Andthat'sbecausetheymakewealthlook
sogood. That haircut alonecostsenoughtofeed
aThirdWorldvillagefor aweek. Youdon't have
todrawher drippingwithdiamondringsand
necklacestomakethepoint; asimpleset of
oversizedearringsdoesthetrick. Garishisn't
attractive. ThinkItaliandesigners. And, fashionable
Euro-clothingdoesn't havetofit snuglytohave
style. It canswimonher, andshestill looks
fabulouslychic.
9
6
Hereareafewinsightsthat tookmeyearsof pain
andthousandsof crumpleddrawingstolearn.
Tilt the collarbone for a
little added body action.
Try to add at least one
bent-elbow arm poseit's
always a good choice for
an attractive character.
Thick Line
Thin Line
Avoid making the arms appear muscular
or even athletic. Remember, this type of
character goes to a spa for a facial, not
a workout. Therefore, draw the interior
line of the arm as a straight line. Draw
another straight line for the exterior line
of the upper arm, and draw a rounded line
for the exterior line of the forearm. Also
create one long sweeping line from the
top of the hips to the tip of the shoe.
Asmentionedat thestart of thebook, theretrocartooning
styleandthickpencil linesgotogether likeHMOsandthe
refusal toreimburse. However, whenyou'redrawingattractive
characterswhosesexappeal isfront andcenter, it works
equallywell touseathinline. It'struethat athicklinewill
flattenout thecharacter, givingit moreof aretrolook, but a
thinlinewill makethecharacter lookatouchmorefeminine.
9
7
If youdon't haveafewgrandtospendona
blouse, youcouldalwaystravel toanuncharted
tropical islandandfindagreat deal onsummer
outfits. There, you'll findstunninglybeautiful
cartooncharacterswearinghandmade
clothes. Primitivebeautiesarealways
drawnwithcurvaceousfiguresandfull
thighsontaperinglegs. Theclothesare
alwaysformfittingandskimpy. There
arealwayslargeearrings, stacked
neckrings, animal skinclothes
withstitching, fur-linedboots,
andbracelets. Shoulder and
thighbandscompletethelook.
Thigh bracelets
are attractive
Wouldyouenter acavelikethat? Meneither.
But theywill. They'recartooncharacters.
Andthisiswhat theydo, darnit.
Bothcharactersexhibit thesamebody
language: leaningbackinfear. Theyareboth
lookingat thecave'sinterior. Notethat you
don't needawholelot of propstocreatea
spookyenvironment. Nocobwebs, nospiders
or half-buriedskullsintheground. J ust one
good, demoniclampdoesthetrick. Of course,
it helpsthat thisisanighttimescene, with
afull moon. Also, thecraggytreeinthe
backgroundwithitsdead, blacktrunkisan
ominoussignandanecessaryone, otherwise
theforest wouldlooktoopristineandpastoral.
owit'stimetotakeeverything
we'vecovered, put it all together,
andcreatecool sceneswith
multiplecharacters. All thesame
principlesstill apply, but nowwe're
creatingscenesbasedonconcepts.
Asaresult, thecharacterswill be
morefocused. If it soundsharder, it
isn't. You'll havefunwithit. It'swhat
retroisall about: creatingscenes
wherethesparkscanfly. Sokeep
everythingsimple, bold, andflat.
N
1
0
0
Typical of actionshowsisthesingleheroine
(or hero) pittedagainst agreater number of
badguys. Danger isher onlyfriend. Giveher a
slinkybodysothat shecanmovelikeafoxto
outwit her enemies. She'sbeautiful but tough,
asshownbyher intenseeyes, tight lips, and
short-croppedhair. Keepingtheshoulders
highisagreat posefor stealthycharacters.
Add a
deep curve
to small
of back
Draw through
overlaping shapes
to maintain correct
placement
Important!
Add a shadow
under left foot so
that it looks as if
it s making contact
with the wall

1
0
2
To add humor, give both characters flat feet
Add a shine to the glass
to make it appear solid
Out
Out
Out
Out
In
In
Thisone'sfor killingthegiant-cockroach-mutant-
invadersfromplanet Zonk. I think. Thesetwoburly
charactersareabout thesameheight, andboth
havejuttingjaws. So, it becomesimportant to
createnoticeabledifferencesincostumeand
hairstyle. I'vealsogiventhepilot ontheleft extra-
longarms, whilethecommander ontheright gets
shorter ones. Andhere'sanoteabout character
designfor youtofileaway: onacharacter witha
bigmanlyjaw, thenoseshouldbesmall soasnot
tocompetewiththerest of theface.
Nowtakeanother lookat thesespacecharacters.
They'restandinginprofile. A profilerequiresthat
youshowthecurvesof thespineasit travelsfrom
thehead(remember, theneckispart of thespine)
tothefeet.
1
0
4
Pardonmeif I whisperI don't want tofoul them
upandriskthesurvival of thefreeworld. So,
hereweare, deepinthebellyof asupervillain's
undergroundlaboratory. Noticehowthecharacters
walk: gingerly, soasnot toalert anyguards. Inthis
way, youcreatearelationshipbetweenwhat the
charactersaredoingandtheenvironment they'rein.
Whendrawingtwocharacterswalkinginsingle
file, makesurethat their feet areonthesamelevel,
that onefigureisn't higher thantheother. This
helpscreatetheillusionthat they'rereally
walkingonsolidground.
Normally, inanimationandcomics
(but especiallyinanimation), youavoid
havingonepart of thebodytouching
another, asit makesthefigurelookflat.
Thespot wherethishappensiscalleda
tangent. But sinceretroissuchaflat look
anyway, it'snot necessarytoavoid
tangent. Tangentsareour friends.
To create comfortable standing or walking postures,
tilt the chest and hips in opposite directions.
Tangent
Contrast rounded heads with flat
heads for added interest
Hips
tilt down
Chest
tilts up
1
0
6
What'ssillyabout thispicture? Lookclosely.
It'sher necklaceandearrings. What thief
wearsapearl necklaceandearringstoa
burglary? But it'sfunny, andit addsglamour.
It'sgoodtofindwaystoaddhumor and
glamour toyour jewel thief scenes.
For acrouchingpose, theheelstuck
directlyunder her bottom, not beyondit. Her
armsareoutstretchedinoppositedirections
toprovidebalance. Her eyesdart tothesides,
ever waryof danger. Longbootsandaction-
figure-styleglovesalwaysprovideagoodlook
andcanbequitestylish, too. And, likeall
master jewel thieves, shewearsall black.
Straight line
Straight line
Note the curving
line of the thigh,
which goes deep
into the knee joint
when the legs are
compressed against
themselves.
Her hands must
be placed on the
outside of the
building, to give
the scene a sense
of urgency.
Raise the tip of
the front foot.
The rope should vary
in thickness to look
as if it is being
stretched to
the limit.
Put a cloud in the sky to make it
seem like he's way up in the air.
Draw it long, vertical, and thin
so that it will look right when
you rotate the final drawing.
I hatetotell himthis, but thefire
isintheother building. Todraw
acharacter scalingawall or
building, turnthedrawingpaper
sothat thefigureappearstobe
upright. Thendrawthefigureina
walkingstancewithkneesdeeply
bent, leanthebodyback, andraise
thearmsandshouldersupsothat
theycover part of thechin. Now
turnthepaper backtowhereit
was. That'sall thereistoit!
1
0
8
He'sbrave. He'sdetermined. He'scompletelyclueless.
Not all heroesarebright. Somearejust persistent.
Retroevil monstersshouldbebigandshouldtower
over their victims. But theyshouldalsobegoofy. Keep
thestyleconsistent, evenfor badguys. Maybeyoucan
drawaseriouslyscarycreature, but that'snot thefeeling
of thissceneor of theretrostyleingeneral, whichis
oneof humoreveninactioncomics. Also, besure
tostylethegunssothat theydon't lookdangerous.
Theyshouldlookliketurbo-chargedwater pistols.
And, takealookat thebackgroundinthisillustration.
I loveagoodretrorocket shippoisedtotakeoff fromthe
planet surface. It'sthe"pinkflamingo" of sciencefiction.
W
ell, hereweareat theendof
thisbook(unlessyou're
readingit inHebrew, inwhich
case, "Welcome!"). It hasbeendelightful
keepingyoucompanyandwatchingyour
creativejuicesworkovertime. Thereare
threeessential ingredientsnecessaryto
becomingagoodcartoonist: practice,
technique, andabagof chips. Two, if
youleaveout thepractice. Somepeople
just practiceandnever improvebecause
they, unlikeyou, don't bother toget
moreinformationoncartooning
techniques. Somepeopleget theinfobut
don't practice. Andsomepeoplenever
buyadecent bagof chips, optinginstead
for pretzelsor porkrinds.
Don't feel asif youhavetogothrough
thisbooklikeaclassassignment, with
your nosetothegrindstoneuntil you
candraweverythinginhereperfectly.
WhenI wasfirst startingout, I got loads
of booksondrawing, lookedthrough
themall, andcreatedamini libraryfor
myself. ThenI begantodraw. WhenI
got stuck, I reachedfor oneof mybooks
toremindmeof theprinciplesI had
learnedor togivemyself abit of
encouragement or inspiration. I believe
that'sthebest waytodoit: Get all of
theinfoyouneed. Enjoyit. Let yourself
digest it inyour subconscious, whereit
will evolveandcomeout later inoneof
your drawingsasaburst of inspiration.
Your creativemindisworkingevenwhen
you'renot practicing. It reallyis. Trust
that process. Trytolearnnewthings.
But thenjust forget about everything
elseanddraw. That'swhat youwere
borntodo.
Until next time!
1
1
1
actionposes,
56-63
adults, 20, 21, 32
affableexpression, 17
Afghanhound, 68
angryexpression, 15
angrypose, 89
aquariumpets, 75
assemblingfemalefigure, 29, 30-31
athleticnewdad, 39
attractiveposes, 96
averagebody, 23
backwardslump, 88
barbecue, 36
barefeet, 33
bathingbeauty, 21
bathrobe, for dad, 37
beagle, 66
beggingdog, 65
big-nosedmutt, 69
birds, 74
body(ies), 18-21
buildingof, 27
bodysize, 23
bone, mutt with, 69
boys, 53, 54, 76
braces, 51
brainykid, 54
breeds, dog, 6668
brooding/schemingexpression, 16
brother, younger, 53
buildingbodies, 27
bulldog, 67
canary, 74
carefreeteen, 77
cartooncat, 70
cartoondog, 64
cartoonfigure, idealized, 24-25
cats, 70-73
cheeks, pointy, onkittens, 71
cheerleadirigsister, 50
circles, asjoints, 28
class, sister in, 52
cockatoo, 74
concernedexpression, 16
confident expression, 15
cool cat, 80
cool chick, 94
cool mom, 43
cool type, 21
cupof coffee, for dad, 37
dads, 35-40
diamond-shapedtorso, 29
dogs, 64-69
dolls, for sister, 49
eager pose, 89
emotion, poseand, 89
enlargingupper jaw, 10
epiphany, 63
evil adult, 20
expressions, 15-17
eyetilt, 90
eyes, 1213, 28, 41, 42, 91
cat, 72
puppydog, 65
face, 90-91
facial expressions, 15-17
family, 34-55
familypets, 64-75
fashion-platefemales, 95
fearful pose, 89
feet, 33
parrot, 74
femaleeyes, 12, 91
femalefigure
assemblingof, 29, 30-31
voluptuous, 92
femalehands, 32, 79
femaleshoulders, 26, 93
femaletorso, 29
figure
cartoon, idealized, 24-25
female, 29, 30-31, 92
fish, 75
flat drawing, 11, 30
flirtatiouspose, 89
floating, 74
flying, 60
forwardlean, 88
galacticmedal of valor, 102-103
girl next door, 83
glamorousfemaleeye, 91
glasses, dadswith, 38
hairstyle, for teenageboys, 82
hands, 32, 79
hangin' at mall, 81
head, 68, 9
cat, 71
headtilt, 91
hero, 107
hips, 27, 30
idealizedcartoonfigure, 24-25
introvertedposes, 58
jaw, upper, enlargingof, 10
jewel thief, 106
joints, circlesas, 28
karatekick, 62
kids, 18, 32, 53, 54, 55
kittens, pointycheekson, 71
know-it-all sister, 51
larger body, 23
laughingexpression, 16
leaning, 62, 88
legs, 27
line(s)
of sight, 47
thicker, 11, 78,96
lips, 7, 14
loosey-gooseyteen, 82
low-cut pants, 93
maleeyes, 13
maleshoulders, 26
mall, hangin' at, 81
megapunch, 59
middle-agedadult, 32
midriffs, 93
moldingtorso, 28
moms, 41-46
monsters, 108-109
mutts, 69
neck, 26, 27
officedad, 40
older sister, sadistic, 47-52
oval, for head, 9
pajamas, for sister, 49
pants, low-cut, 93
parakeet, 74
parrot, 74
perkymom, 44
persistenceof dad, 40
pets, 64-75
playful pose, 89
pointycheeksonkittens, 71
pose(s)
action, 56-63
attractive, 96
andemotion, 89
posture, 87, 88
prettyteen, 78
prettywomen, 90-97
primitivebeauty, 97
profile, 7
proportions, 22, 42
reaching, 57
ready-to-eat expression, 15
rebel, 86
regular kid, 53
retro, 5, 6-33
richkid, 54
ridiculousshoestyles, 33
roundshapes, for cat heads, 71
running, 62
saddog, 65
sadisticolder sister, 47-52
scalingwall, 107
scene(s), 98-111
school, 84-85
secret agent chick, 100-101
secret mission, 104-105
senior citizens, 21, 32
seriousteenageboy, 76
sexystances, 92
sheepishexpression, 16
shoes, 33
shoppingmom, 45
shoulders, 26, 27, 93
Siamesecat, 72
sister, sadisticolder, 47-52
size, body, 23
skinnydad, 39
slumping, 88
sneakers, 33
snorkelingdad, 40
spookyenvironment, 98-99
sports, kidsand, 55
square, for head, 9
stances, sexy, 92
standingposture, 88
stare, of sister, 48
stylishteen, 79
stylizedshoulders, 93
suburbandad, 35-40
superior expression, 16
superthinbody, 23
surlycat, 73
surprisedexpression, 16
sympatheticexpression, 17
take, 61
tangents, 104
teacher'spet, 53
teenagers, 19, 32, 76-89
thicker lines, 11, 78, 96
thinlinesvs., 78, 96
throwing, 57
tilt
eye, 90
head, 91
torso, 27, 28, 29, 30
triangle, for head, 9
tropical fish, 75
uhoh! expression, 17
upset expression, 15
vacationingdadinLatinAmerica,
40
voluptuousfemalefigure, 92
walk-about mom, 46
whiskers, cat, 73
wickedexpression, 17
women, pretty, 90-97
women'sshoe, 33
younger brother, 53
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112pages. 8 x10(21.75x25.5cm).
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*Source: Bookscan
Cover design by Bab Fillie,
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Watson-Guptill Publications
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PrintedintheUSA