Monday, May 11, 2009

How to Draw Stupid

I was recently talking to Bill White who was one of the instructors for the cartooning class I took. He highly recommended, "How to Draw Stupid" by Kyle Baker. Of course I had to have it. After reading it twice I decided to take some notes. What follows is the list of the best bits I gleaned from it.

You have to ACTually draw something, even if it is bad.

Doing stuff wrong is how you learn to do it right.

Cartoons are all about using exaggeration in the service of communication.

It’s the characters personalities that people respond to.

The body is composed of three basic sections, head, rib-cage and pelvis. You should have all the sections oppose each other.

Two priorities in cartoon design: emotion and clarity.

In cartoons the eyes are where the characters live.

A good cartoon character should be easy for everyone to draw (i.e., Peanuts, Sponge Bob).

Simplify by eliminating details and also by exaggerating contrasts.

Leave nothing in the art that is not story information.

Streamline designs for clarity and easy repetition.

Every element of the cartoon should communicate.

Not using reference pictures is lazy.

Characters are defined by what they do.

People respond to characters not dialogue.

The purpose of entertainment is to manipulate emotions.

Antics are the moves that precede and anticipate a bigger move that follows. Antic is short for anticipation.

Avoid the “Hand of Death.” Most people don’t stand around talking with their hand just held out or floating in space. Have the characters hand doing something.

Stupid people are safe to ridicule, because they always think you are talking about someone else.

The eyes show what a character is thinking.

If you are drawing a strip with a stupid character, show the character thinking before doing something stupid. It makes them seem even more stupider.

Try to generate at least two conflicting emotions. Funny with a sad ending-romance with comedy-excitement with fear-depression with uplift.

Have your characters display a specific emotion state that’s specific to the situation and is played in character.

"How to Draw Stupid" is a great book packed with helpful tips for the cartoonist. If you are interested in drawing comics or cartoons you should definitely pick it up.

Kyle has a blog you should checkout, .
In addition to Kyle's blog, you must stop by Bill's, . He updates it quite frequently.


Bill White said...

Thanks for the plug. Love the Robbie cartoon! After K9 and B-9, he's my favorite robot!

forcryeye said...

Danger Will that right? I almost called it a Dalek, I would like to see you make one of those. How about some Star Trek ships, loved the movie btw. How about some Spock?Kirk charachters...I can't spell.

Timaree said...

"Stupid people are safe to ridicule, because they always think you are talking about someone else" and people with big egos. They wouldn't expect to be depicted in such a low medium as a cartoon!

Sounds like you really enjoyed the cartoon class.