How to Draw Cartoons:
Create Your Own Style
I was recently asked how to draw cartoons with style, a topic that is really worth spending time on for anyone who is serious about their cartoon drawing and wants to push it to the next level.
Drawing cartoons in the same style is one of the things that takes the most time to learn, but once you start seeing the results of your hard work, you’ll have the reward of feeling like an accomplished cartoonist.
Finding Style Reference
I would suggest that you look in your local newspaper or bookstore for different cartoon character examples and start off by copying them. Just copy them directly - don't worry at this point about being too creative, just copy exactly - you're still learning how to draw cartoons right now. Get used to drawing these characters in different poses as they appear in the comic strips.
Once you are familiar with that style of drawing, start to experiment and change the details to match your friends. Because you are familiar with the style already it shouldn't be too much of a stretch to change the hair, body shape (fat, thin, muscular, short etc) to fit different types of people.
I know you may feel like a 'hack' doing this, but don't worry - you're still learning right now, and copying is totally fine.
Expanding your Cartoon Style Library of 'Tricks'
Once you are able to draw your friends in that particular style then it's time to look once again at other examples of different styles of cartoons. You should by now have a good grasp of drawing characters in all kinds of different poses, as well as adapting the characters to match people that you want to draw in the real world like your friends.
From these new examples of cartoon styles, pick and choose different parts that interest you. Perhaps you like the style of the eyes in one strip, and the way another artist draws hands. Start experimenting with mixing and matching these different parts together to come up with your own original style.
Keep experimenting over and over, and try to push yourself by referencing other styles of comics and try to draw your characters and incorporate new elements. Don't stop until you start to get satisfied, and don't be afraid to ask opinions of those around you for some of your new styles that you think are promising. Always keep in mind that you're still learning how to draw cartoons and developing your own style so don't worry too much about any criticism you may encounter - just keep drawing!
Tip: I suggest that you do all of your drawings in one sketchbook so that you can go back and reflect on the progress that you have achieved, but also so that you can see patterns emerge. These patterns should be a good indication of two things: you are good at drawing in that style, and that the style is pleasing to you on a subconscious level and that's why you keep drawing that way. If you're happy with the patterns that you see then start to run with it - you may have just discovered your own 'style.'
Refining your Personal Drawing Style
Keep practicing and drawing and refining your style. This happens both conscious and subconsciously. The more you do, the better and quicker you'll become.
Don't get frustrated with this how to draw cartoons process - it's not something that happens over night, but depending on your drawing skill you might be able to achieve this in a few weeks.
Tip: I usually draw while I watch TV. I got a large drawing board (any flat piece of wood will do) and sit comfortably and then just draw, draw, draw. I find that I don't miss much of the movie since I hear all of the parts, and I can always look up if there's a cool explosion or tense scene that I want to see. I find this a good way to keep drawing every day, and I don't need to miss out on any movies or TV time that I also enjoy.