Introduction

■ # ou may think cartooning is just for kids, but that's far from the truth!

Cartooning is a highly lucrative enterprise. Cartoons influence the way people look at political and world events, they make people think, and they help people laugh at themselves. Cartooning is more than just funny characters telling jokes — it's a snapshot of real-life situations where you, the cartoonist, can share your opinion about life and its endless interesting situations. Being able to draw is only one facet of being a good cartoonist. Being able to get across a compelling point with just a few pen strokes and to add the details that make your cartoons stand out from the pack is equally important. This book shows you how.

About This Book

This book is for people interested in drawing cartoons, whether they're novices unsure where to start or pros who want to improve their art or find better ways to market themselves. Every top-selling cartoonist in the world started out as a beginner. It takes time, practice, and some talent to become a successful cartoonist, but it also takes determination and the desire to stick to it until you become good at it.

More important, this book can show you how to create your very own cartoon characters in a fun environment. I give you step-by-step instructions on how to create not just human cartoon characters, but others like cars, animals, and other creatures. You may even decide to make an unusual inanimate object your main character! And because cartooning is more than just drawing, I also give step-by-step instructions on how to come up with ideas and color your cartoons.

Conventions Used in This Book

Every For Dummies book has certain conventions to make it easier for you to get the information you need. Here are some of the conventions I use in this book:

✓ Whenever I introduce a new technical term, I italicize it and then define it.

✓ I use bold text to highlight keywords or the main parts of bulleted and numbered lists.

✓ The Internet is a wealth of information on everything from the history of cartooning to great sites to buy expensive supplies for less. Web sites appear in monofont to help them stand out.

What You're Not to Read

In today's busy world you may be juggling a full-time job, your better half, kids and pets, friends and family, and a wide assortment of other responsibilities. You don't have much free time. In aspiring to improve your cartooning abilities, you simply want the essential info to help you. If that's the case, feel free to skip the sidebars — those boxes shaded in light gray. Sidebars present interesting (I hope!) supplemental info that helps you gain a better appreciation of the topic, but the info isn't essential to understand the topic, so you won't miss anything if you skip them.

Foolish Assumptions

In writing this book, I make a few assumptions about you:

✓ You want to know more about cartooning in general.

✓ You want to know how to draw some common cartoon characters and make them interesting.

✓ You want to know how to liven up your cartoon backgrounds and settings.

✓ You may be interested in a career as a cartoonist.

Note: If you're looking for a complete art course, this book isn't for you. Although I give specific, step-by-step examples of how to draw basic characters and backgrounds, I assume you already know how to pick up a pencil and draw basic shapes. You also won't find a complete art history here, although I do give quite a bit of cartoon history throughout the book.

How This Book Is Organized

For Dummies books are written in a modular fashion. This format gives you the option of reading the book from beginning to end, or alternatively, selecting certain parts or chapters that are relevant to your interests or experience. I organize this book to start with the basics and build up to the more advanced concepts. The following describe each part in more detail.

Part I: Drawing Inspiration: Getting Started with Cartoons and Comics

Part I is all about getting familiar with the nuts and bolts of cartooning. What art supplies do you need to get started? How can you set up a workspace that's efficient without breaking the bank? Can you draw cartoons at the kitchen table with nothing more than a number 2 pencil? What's the first thing you do when you sit in front of a blank piece of paper?

This part answers those questions and then leads you into the harder questions: What types of cartoons are you interested in drawing? How do you develop your characters? And the oft-asked and hard-to-answer question: Where do you get your ideas?

Part II: Creating Cartoon Characters

Part II is all about drawing and developing characters. The chapters in this part teach you to draw your characters starting from their heads right down to their toes, whether your characters are people, animals, or inanimate objects. I also look at the fine art of satirizing the political landscape with editorial cartoons.

Part III: Cartoon Designs 101: Assembling the Parts

Cartooning is much more than talking heads and word balloons. Creating a background perspective that adds detail and interest, deciding how to letter your cartoons, and setting a scene that enhances your cartoons without interfering with your main point are all part of what I cover in this part.

Part IV: Cartooning 2.0: Taking Your Cartoons to the Next Level

Part IV goes deeper into the cartooning world. I look at the impact computers have had on the cartooning world, and I describe tools and toys available today to help you fine-tune your work, like Photoshop. If you want to make this your life's work, this part gives you the tools you need to evaluate your work and find out if you have what it takes to make it in the big time.

Part V: The Part of Tens

All For Dummies books contain the Part of Tens section, which gives you fun, helpful information in easily digestible chunks. In this part I review ten steps to creating a finished cartoon, from first pencil stroke to final product. I also help you launch your new career with ten steps to breaking into the cartooning world.

Icons Used in This Book

Throughout the book, I use icons in the margins to highlight valuable information and advice. Here's what each one means:

This icon points out something that's important to remember, whether you're a novice cartoonist or a more experienced one.

This icon indicates helpful hints, shortcuts, or ways to improve your cartooning.

I use this icon to alert you to information that can keep you from making big mistakes!

The text associated with this icon goes into technical details that aren't necessary to your understanding of the topic but that may appeal to those who want more in-depth information.

The info that this icon highlights isn't essential, but I hope these anecdotes about the world of cartooning help you appreciate just how rich that world is.

Where to Go from Here

If you want to know every single thing about cartooning, start at the beginning of the book and read straight through. However, you don't need to read the book in sequence. You may be looking for specific info on certain aspects of cartooning, in which case you can refer to the table of contents or the index to find the subject you want. Each chapter is meant to stand alone, and the info each contains isn't dependent on your reading previous chapters to understand it.

If you're brand new to cartooning and aren't sure where to start, Chapter 2 helps you understand the different cartoon genres and choose the genre that best suits your interests. If you're a beginning cartoonist and need some drawing pointers, jump into Chapter 4 and start with the drawing basics. If you're already drawing but want to improve your characters, check out Chapters 6 and 7.

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Learn to sketch by working through these quick, simple lessons. This Learn to Sketch course will help you learn to draw what you see and develop your skills.

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