Learning How to Draw… Made Easy?

When drawing cartoons, it is!

By Jeff Scarterfield | Posted 12/18/08 | Updated 8/28/23

"Imagination is more important than knowledge." — Albert Einstein

So you want to learn how to draw? Excellent news!

My name's Jeff and with zero restraint, let me just say — I LOVE DRAWING!

Ever since the day I was able to hold a pencil, drawing has been my favorite thing to do. From animals to people to well… you name it!, the desire to draw is something that came naturally to me at a very early age.

How about yourself? Is drawing something you'd love to be able to do? Is it something you'd like to improve at? And what kinds of things are we talking about here? A cat? A person? A tree or a house? How about a dragon!

Whether you're just starting out or looking to improve, here's a little bit of advice for making the 'learn to draw' process a whole lot easier...

In the title of this article, I'm sure you noticed the "Made Easy?" part, along with the mention of 'drawing cartoons'. Well, by simplifying your approach, learning how to draw can be made easier to do. And yes — that's where the 'cartoons' part comes in.

Truth be told, anything and everything we could ever wish to draw can be broken down into a simple arrangement of basic shapes. And because cartoons are simplified versions of things we see in real life, they make the perfect launch pad for learning how to draw!

To give you an idea of what I mean, here are a few examples:

First, let's take a look at something really simple — a tree. All it takes is a circle and a rectangle arranged like so...


And then, how about a person? Sure it's a little bit more complex, but even still — the 'shape first' idea helps to get the job done!


And yes… a cat, a house — dragon too!… can all be drawn as simple cartoons using this same basic principle.

Cat, House, Dragon

It's true, when it comes to drawing — getting your creations to look the way they're 'supposed to' look, is important. We want people to say after viewing our work, "Yes, that's definitely a cat!" or "Hey, cool dragon drawing!"

So when just starting out, or again — even if you're looking to improve, achieving proportion ahead of time is ideal. And just like in the cartoons above, once figured out — you can put more energy into creativity, yielding original drawings that are uniquely yours!

In each example — tree, person, cat, house and dragon, a simple arrangement of shapes help to keep proportion by achieving structure and maintaining form. I call it 'the framework', serving a similar purpose as the skeletons do in our bodies or even the rigid cell walls that make up a plant.

Can you imagine how they'd look, minus a framework?

Minus the Framework

Not how they're 'supposed to' — that's for sure!

Without structure — that which makes a person a person and a plant a plant — neither could exist in the form that we know them to. And the same is true with drawing. In order to draw something to form and look the way it should, we've got to pay attention to structure, or again — the framework.

Anyway, when learning how to draw, I really do think that cartoons, accompanied with the use of a framework — really is a great way to go about it.

In time, through practice and repetition, your drawings will gradually become better and better, whether it be simple cartoons or their more realistic counterparts. Also, 'drawing from memory', without the help of a framework will be easier to do!

Well, I hope you enjoyed this introductory article about making the 'learn to draw' process more simple in approach and easier to follow through with.

For sure, come on back soon for another!

©2008 by Jeff Scarterfield. All rights reserved.

Jeff ScarterfieldJeff Scarterfield is an art instructor who creates drawing lessons aimed at making the learning process both simple and fun.