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Cartoon

Fundamentals:

How to Draw
Children

The difference between the drawing of an adult and a drawing of a baby, a child or a
teenager is directly related to their anatomical proportions. But in cartoon style, it isn't
only that which defines your character. There are a number of specific behaviors and
mannerisms at this phase of life that allows your character to have a bigger appeal in
relation to the public.
Today I will explain what these secrets are so that you can easily draw that beautiful
baby (or that impish child!).
It's important to be aware that an adult (over 18 years old) measures about eight heads.
Take a look at the image below:

From these ratios, we know exactly where the arms must be positioned or where the
legs begin and so on. Well, when you create drawings in cartoon style (exaggerated
and intense), such ratios don't work as it should, right?

Such calculations are quite complicated in cartoon! My initial tip is that you try to draw
loosely and go adding the necessary features according to the character's needs. So,
first of all, I would like to encourage you to practice your sketch skills as much as
possible, so you will not have to make a series of guidelines on a piece of paper
whenever you draw a cartoon character (because - let's be honest - it's an extremely
boring task!).
With that been said, proportions are still an extremely important guideline to know (even
if it only works in your own particular world). Let's take a look at the image below:

Co
mparison of proportions between the main ages: The little child; the teenager and the adult.
As you can see, it's easy to define the approximate age of each character using the
technique to measure its proportions. Note that, the more you get older, your head stays
at the same size, but your legs grows, your chest becomes wider and your neck
becomes stronger. In cartoon, little children can have even bigger heads than the
adults. The shoulders are almost the same size than their head's width and the legs are
pretty much the same size as the arms.
Let's take a closer look into the essential features to draw cartoon children with the rules
I've learned along the way (which works pretty well!)

The Child Basics


Rounded Heads and Tiny Chins

One of the most important techniques I learned when designing the head of a child is
that they should be large with less definition. This means that the bones of the face are
less apparent than the adult head. Note the image below:

Another thing you should be aware of is in relation to the chin: is far less protruding than
the adults and often almost invisible. This is because children have naturally smaller
jaws than the adults in comparison to the skull size. This technique allows the face to
look more fluffy and the cheeks more protruding.

Big, BIG Forehead!


If you search the Internet for any X-ray image of the head of a child, the thing that will
instantly catch your attention is how big their heads are in relation to the jaw! Notice
below that the forehead should be projected more upfront than the adult forehead. Let's
take a look at the image below in profile view:

Once children have bigger foreheads, their eyes should also been positioned below the
imaginary line used to set the height of the eyes of an adult:

Speaking of eyes...
Play with the spacing between the them! This stays most apparent in babies (more
on this below) but in cartoon drawing, children of any age tend to have a wider space
between the eyes. This is not a rule by no means, but there are good chances in getting
great success using this concept.
Keep in mind that these concepts may vary according to your drawing style, culture, and
so on. These are just tips that work if you're seeking some kind of shortcut to create an
immediate identification with the viewer.

Big Ears and Small Nose


It is very common for older people have very big ears and giant noses. In cartoon these
traits are slightly accented to create a distortion of reality and provide greater visual
interest in the character. However, a common feature in children is that they have big

ears also projected forward, but with tiny noses. The use of this techniques is almost
unanimity among cartoon artists.

These are only artistic ways to take advantage of the natural growing process of a
child's body: They are still in the development phase and some members grow with
different sizes in different time intervals. When they become teenagers until they
reached an adult age, the majority of them look kind of awkward too. Know how to take
advantage of those features in favor of your character.

Giant Hair
Another technique widely used in cartoon drawing is to play with the size of the hair.
Again, an almost unanimity among artists, is to draw children with big hair, usually with
a lot of movement and life of its own.

Wit
h advancing age, men lose hair. In childhood, it's common to have fuller hair - and sometimes
kind of rebellious - with a cool fringe.
Hair is an extensive subject. Again, they may vary according to racial, cultural, and style
features. Some artists prefer to draw several detailed lines to represent the character's
hair while others do just the main outlines around the head. It's your choice which style
to follow.

The Overall Body and Babies


As already said in my previous tutorials, the cartoon bodies follows a convention called
the pear-shaped body (or bean-shaped body, if you prefer). The success of your
characters will depend on your artistic ability in combine these features with rounded
shapes.

As already mentioned before, the proportions of the human body changes drastically
from birth to adulthood. Little babies - especially newborns - are pretty strange: they
have no neck, their heads are huge, they have no teeth and their arms and legs are
practically the same size.

Ba
bies with only one tooth (or none) helps to create identification with the viewer.
Notice that fragility and innocence are the focal points of this period of life. Babies crawl,
they don't know how to stand up, they don't eat alone and do not go to the bathroom on
their own. They are - basically - dependent on adults. However, when dealing with

cartoon, nothing prevents us from exaggerating expressions and create distortions of


reality:

Ba
d baby... What's he's planning now?!
Babies are full of folds, simply because they has more skin available to cover the bones
than adults. This makes them appear to be chubby and cute (and a bit wrinkled too).
When drawing babies, try to sketch with more circular lines instead of the straight ones:

While babies have very small and closed eyes in real life, in cartoon they are very
expressive and giant, in order to create a better harmony with the big head. This
technique works with any character which tries to pass the impression of being cute, so
it's more a matter of style and taste rather than a rule.

The more you invest in different forms to give personality to your characters, more
efficient and diversified your art becomes. So, always look for creating subtle
differences between characters, even if they have the same age.

Clothes, Behavior and Personality


Clothes are not only an indispensable item for your character but also helps to
emphasize different characteristics between the genders. Ensure that the clothes of
your character are also suited to their personality:

Car
toon craziness: Little boys commonly wear big shoes while behaved girls have small feet.
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Going Even Further


Unlike adults, older children, and especially teenagers, are still under statement phase.
They are trying to find their place in the world, they like to test their popularity (whether
in school or inside the house), they want to be accepted in social groups (whether in the
real or virtual world) and have their personality basically split between: extroverted,
introverted and rebels. This is due to the transition between childhood and the
adulthood and the result of this process is characterized by severe changes in both the
physical and social status.
To express the characteristics of this phase is essential that you observe how these
children behave in real life: What type of clothes they like to use most? What kind of
music they are listening to? Which groups they like to belong? What are the main
differences between genders? And this process also involves the cultural and temporal

analysis: Nowadays there's a whole market of utensils and accessories geared for
children and early teens. In the past, things were different and it was very common to
see children using adult clothing (take a look at the old photos of your grandparents or
great-grandparents). Therefore, we can affirm that drawing children also involves the
investment of your time in research. This will differentiate you as a professional. Be sure
of it.

Try
to tell a story with your drawings: Who is your character, anyway? Can you show that to others
without using any text? Great... You've just gained several points!

Final Thoughts
While drawing kids is a great way to go back and being one of them, creating them with
the correct appeal takes practice, time and lots of observation. Notice how their bodies

react to external stimuli, how their emotions are expressed and how they see the world
differently: With innocence, sincerity and intensity. This is the biggest secret of all.
As a last word, it is extremely important that you store in your head the rules of
proportions presented in the outset, in order to avoid that your character is always
based on measures of "heads". That way you avoid a mechanical design and makes it
more fluid (and you also gain more time to draw, as a reward). Remember: Children
have small legs, heads with the same width as the shoulders, big forehead, tiny chin,
and very little neck. If you can keep these basic rules, you're in the right path in
developing your own cute characters. Have fun!