Cartoon Fundamentals: How to Draw a Cartoon Face Correctly
You’ll learn how to draw cartoon characters in this simple cartoon drawing tutorial. A good cartoonist can extract the main details of an object or a human being, with the goal of a child recognizing the drawing and being drawn to what they’re looking at.
Understanding Human Perception
Before we get into cartoon face drawing, let’s go over some fundamentals of human perception. Humans have an interesting ability to synthesize the details that make up a structure or an object in very complex ways into very basic and simple ones, allowing us to represent any type of thing with just a few curves and geometric shapes.
1. How to Draw a Cartoon Face
Let’s start with cartoon face drawing. A circle is the most basic cartoon shape. It’s from the circle that you define the basic proportions of your character’s head. Once the circle is ready, trace the face axis. Draw a vertical and horizontal line intersecting at the center, like in the image below:
How to Draw Cartoon Eyes: Step 1
To make the eyes, draw an oval shape with a slight tilt to the side at the top, then repeat on the opposite side, leaving a gap of approximately the same size as an eye between them. Since we’re in the drafting phase, you can draw another eye in the center to serve as a measure.
Draw both pupils directed to the center (this is a very effective tactic used by major cartoonists whose sole purpose is to make our character look surprised). Place the eyebrows a bit above the eyelashes to create a sort of surprised expression. The eyebrow form is free, and with practice you will adjust to your own style.
Think of it this way: in cartoon style designs, the main structure of a character’s face is the skull and the character’s eyes. It’s at this stage where you define the character’s identification with the external world, i.e. it’s already clear to people that you’re drawing a character. Now that we’ve arrived at the jaw, we’ll decide if we want a fat character or a thin character.
When drawing a nose from the front, it’s common to use few details; if you just draw the tip, you’ll probably get a convincing effect; it’s also common to draw only one side of the nose, based on the idea that this is the opposite side of the light. Let’s put the right nose on our character.
Because our character is a child, we’ll make a cartoon mouth: something simple just to represent an innocent expression. Note that when drawing a small child’s mouth, the lips should not be drawn! In cartoon style, children, regardless of gender, have very simple mouths, and a good and expressive trace already does the job.
The ears are seen from the front (because our character is facing the camera), so the internal cavities aren’t visible, and we’ll just do a simple shape with some basic perspective (more on that later).
Because the circle we drew at the start has already defined the shape of our skull, all we need now is a very simple and childish haircut to bring our boy to life.
How to Draw Cartoon Hair! Help!
You don’t need to be a stylist or a fashion designer to make perfect hair; there isn’t a right way to draw hair, so you’ll have to experiment until you find the perfect haircut for you. Just remember that the hair is responsible for defining the personality of our characters; it can express age, rebellion, conservatism… incredible, isn’t it?
Here are some more cool cartoon characters to draw. As usual, let’s start with the eyes. This time, we’ll draw faster, adding wrinkles, eyebrows, and eye pupils. Notice that we haven’t changed much; we just expanded the eyebrow a bit. Older men have thicker eyebrows, occupying more space on the forehead.
This time, we’ll raise our chin a little more, like this. Our character already has a unique “look” to him! This is fantastic, and we’ll move on to selecting the best nose for him.
Let’s continue with the nose, but this time I’ll make a completely different nose. Notice how the ends of the nose are very close to the bottoms of the eyes. This is a good technique to use when designing larger and wider noses.
Instead of drawing the mouth, I’ve decided to use a different technique: instead of drawing the mouth, we’ll simply draw a big mustache to give our character a better persona. Done! A big and exaggerated mustache for our old friend!
Remember how I said that hair can help to represent age and personality? Check it out. We’ve just added some side hair and left him bald on top. It’s amazing how much of a difference it makes, isn’t it? Also notice that I used the same ear from Tommy, our beloved boy. That’s the advantage of working on templates. That’s the magic of cartoon!
3. How to Draw a Female Character
Let’s try some more simple cartoon drawings. I don’t know… I think Tommy needs a sister! He’s been lonely out there. Let’s make a sister for him now, as if by magic: Hey!!! How did you do that so fast? Very simple… Women tend to have more delicate facial structures. Here’s a female cartoon face drawing step-by-step guide: Thin eyebrows Larger and expressive eyelashes Small chin
4. How to Draw Characters With Different Facial Expressions
Emotions and facial expressions should come to mind when thinking about cartoon characters to draw, and we’re now ready to add more emotions to our dear Lucy (yes, that’s her name). Let’s draw her after receiving the news that the school holidays are over… Once again, we achieve something completely different just by adding two things: the tears and the new shape of her mouth! Isn’t it amazing?
5. How to Draw a Profile View
Draw the template below again. Now we’ll learn how to make Tommy and Lucy from a profile view: Notice how the ear stays in the center of the circle in profile. When comparing them side by side, be aware of the main structural differences.
6. Play With Angles in Cartoon Face Drawing
Eyes, noses, mouths, ears… all the details that make up the face change shape when viewed from different angles. It’s very common to see cartoon characters looking in every possible direction with different camera angles, because they will need to react to situations and objects around them, which helps them come to life!
Easy Cartoon Drawing Exercises
Let’s put everything we’ve learned so far into practice… Below is a basic cartoon face drawing template (only circles and directional guides) where we can practice our drawing skills in various positions: Let’s mark the eyes in different directions for each of the circles… Now, let’s add some random jaws, with different sizes and shapes… It’s up to you now.
7. How to Draw characters With Different Ethnicities
As we near the end of our cartoon face drawing tutorial, I’d like to encourage you to keep experimenting with facial expressions and, whenever possible, to invest more time in studies of the face. Learn how the eyes and mouth react in various situations. Look at different ethnicities and the key features. For example, those of African ethnic origin tend to have a slight chin.
You’ve Learned How to Draw a Cartoon Face!
Take what you’ve learned here and apply it to your first characters. You can earn a nice side income selling your character designs on Grasshopper.com. There’s plenty more to come, and this is just a small portion of the cartoon drawing tutorials I’ll be presenting to you.
Discover More Cartoon Drawing Ideas and Tutorials
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on how to draw cartoon characters. Do you want to learn more about drawing? Here are some helpful tutorials and resources: Remember to check out our complete guide: Learn How To Draw.
How do you draw a cartoon face for beginners?
- Draw a nose and two small eyes.
- Begin the hair line above.
- Draw the sides of the head.
- Add a long chin below.
- Draw a smiling mouth.
- Add ears on the side.
- Finish the hair, start the neck.
How do you make a simple cartoon?
Here are a few easy steps to help you make your own animated cartoon video!
- Step 1: Create an animated video with a powerful animation maker.
- Step 2: Select an animated video template.
- Step 3: Animate and synchronize.
- Step 4: Add a music track or voice-over.
- Step 5: Publish, share, and download your animated video.
How do you draw a boy?
- Draw a large U shape on top.
- Add a cap of hair on top.
- Draw the face and hair details.
- Continue with the neck and shirt.
- Add shorts below.
- Draw legs and feet under the shorts.
- Add simple arms.
How do you make cartoon characters?
[For Non-Illustrators] 5 Simple Ways to Create Your Own Cartoon Character
- Character builders.
- Tools for turning your photo into a cartoon character.
- Outsource to designers or illustrators.
- Modify stock cartoon characters.