Susanna McLeod, Lessons in Cartooning on The Web

6 August 2004

   Have you been thinking of trying your hand at cartooning, your fingers just itching to doodle, but you’re not quite sure where to start? Perhaps one of the links listed below is just the thing you need to get going, with downloadable practice sheets and loads of inspiring ideas. A few sites for kids, others aimed at political commentary, all are inviting and delightful for new cartoonists.

    The Newspapers in America site has an indepth, enjoyable editorial cartoon section featuring printable lessons entitled “Cartoons for the Classroom”. Aimed at an audience interested in political cartooning, the page discusses symbolism, pop culture, politics and much, much more. There is an archive of past lessons plus a history feature. The mission of the site is to give aspriring doodlers “an understanding of the cartoonists' techniques, a knowledge of history and critical thinking skills.” It is a great site.

    Cartoon Connections provides free downloadable sheets to practice cartooning details, to get those hands or facial expressions just the way you want them. Scroll down on their page to find the link to The Kids’ Pages and lessons on drawing a cartoon cat, a dog and a section of “tooning tips”.   

If you prefer step-by-step advice on drawing cartoons, check out Cartoon Critters.Com. With a wide selection of characters to choose from, it is a budding cartoonist’s heaven. Get your pencil moving with Winnie the Pooh, SpongeBob SquarePants, Bart Simpson, Bugs Bunny or try some of the eleven basic cartooning lessons. A great site for kids and adults alike, the lessons make creating popular characters simple and enjoyable.

    Interested in animation? Cool Toons.Com has a series of eight lessons by Klasky Csupo, creators of Santo Bugito, Rugrats, Wild Thornberries and more. Starting with the creation of characters from basic shapes, on to turnarounds (drawing the characters from all sides), then to movement, animation and backgrounds. The website gives a brief but fascinating insight into the animation realm by demonstrating the rough sketches, the notes on details and creative processes.

Lessons in Tooning 1

    Elementary Themes, located at is a site jam-packed with cartooning links. Divided into areas of Drawing Basics, Advice from Experts, Cartoons in the Classroom and Visual Literacy: Resources for Teachers, there is enough to give a new artist a good, solid foundation on the essentials of cartooning.

    For a short overview on the basics of cartooning, the creative process and marketing, see:
The site expresses a don’t-give-up attitude that aspiring cartoonists always need to hear.

    Getting back to an editorial or magazine style of cartooning, Alan Muir shares 10 lessons on cartooning, starting with practice on heads and eyes. Lesson three covers stick figures in action, then on to interesting faces, animals, texture and shading in the next lessons. Lessons eight and nine cover perspective and caricatures, and lesson 10 discusses ideas and the creative process. It is a good overview of magazine-style cartooning, uncomplicated and inspiring.

    If you’ve tested out all of these links, your doodling hand must be getting pretty sore by now. Did you feel new ideas tickling the back of your mind about your own cartoons? You don’t need to have them in print, just find something that makes you chuckle and have fun cartooning!

© Susanna McLeod 2004  
(Originally published in The Cartoonists on