Drawing arms

When sketching arms, think of them as tubes, or cylinders (see Figure 7-18). Although arms are divided into upper and lower sections, with the bend at the elbow, cartoon characters typically don't have overly detailed arms with lots of muscle tone and definition. Keeping the arms simple doesn't distract from your overall character design.

Figure 7-18:

Arms start out as tubes or cylinders and should fit the character's body type.

Figure 7-18:

Arms start out as tubes or cylinders and should fit the character's body type.

Cartoon Drawing Straight Male Arms

When drawing a basic arm for your character, follow these steps:

1. Draw a line that starts at the top of the shoulder and comes down along the side of the torso.

This line can be straight or curved, depending on how the character is standing and what the arm is doing. If the character's arm is just hanging by his side, the line should come straight down and end about waist level.

2. Draw another line the same length next to the first line.

Now your arm has two sides.

3. Draw small ovals at the top between the two lines and at the bottom between the two lines.

Make sure each side of each oval connects to each line. You've created a tube or cylinder as a basic guide for your arm, as shown in Figure 7-19a.

4. Draw another tube that forms a V-shape, or bent arm, as shown in Figure 7-19b.

5. For the hand area, sketch out a small, fist-size circle, like in Figure 7-19c.

6. Using Figure 7-19c as the basic shape for an arm that's flexing its muscle, fill in the details like the fist with thumb and fingers (see Figure 7-19d).

If you bunch up your own hand into a fist, you notice details like the thumb covering the fingers and the thumbnail being visible while the fingernails are tucked away in the fist. The knuckles should be on the top of the fist, depending on the direction of the hand. The middle finger usually has the biggest knuckle.

Hand positions can express certain emotions and are part of your character's body language. Unlike the arms and feet of the average character, hands are points of interest and can do a lot to communicate to readers.

You can draw hands and fingers in a variety of ways. You may choose the more cartoony approach — like the Mickey Mouse style — or a more realistic approach. The style you choose is based on what kind of character you want to draw. Feel free to add as much detail as you want.

Hands typically flow from the arms and upper torso; if you draw a large upper torso and arms, the hands will usually be large, with thick fingers. By comparison, if you have a skinny body type with thin arms, the hands will be long and lanky, with long, skinny fingers.

Like most things in cartooning, however, no hard and fast rule dictates how you design your characters. Use your own imagination and creativity. If a huge scary guy with dainty hands and pinky rings fits your story line, or a cute little baby with large, grasping hands adds flavor to your cartoon, who's stopping you?

Figure 7-19:

The evolution of the arm, from tubes to a finished drawing.

Figure 7-19:

The evolution of the arm, from tubes to a finished drawing.

Tonal Drawings Examples
Freehand Sketching An Introduction

Freehand Sketching An Introduction

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