Cartoon Sketching: Combining animal and human into anthropomorphic characters

Learning how to draw anthropomorphic characters, which are a combination of human and animal features, is a lot of fun.

Because this type of cartooning really rests on your imagination more than your current drawing level skills, anyone can do it, young and old.

I was introduced to the subject by Carla Sonheim and her book, Drawing and Painting Imaginary Animals, which taught how to see imaginary characters by identifying eyeballs in surfaces like cement, tree bark, and rusty metal, then imaginating the related body. I spent a year doodling these, then branched off into creating humanized animals (or animalized humans). These are fun to create and entertain others.

To stimulate your imagination and start drawing, look through photos to find an animal and person in a pose of interest.

To find two photo references, I visited

Next, I placed the dog’s head on the woman’s body. This can be done manually on paper via “cut-and-paste,” or through a computer art program, which is what I used.

Using the existing images, I manipulated the woman’s right hand to suggest she was holding a cell phone. Again, this type of manipulation can be done on paper or through a computer.

While my finished cartoon character didn’t faithfully reproduce the references, those references stimulated my imagination to produce the following image–a dog-like figure who is stuck on a boring phone call.

The secret to creating humorous cartoons is in conveying emotions through the eyes and eyebrows. Experiment by making a single cartoon figure, but without eyeballs and eyebrows, copy it, and then draw the eyeballs in each copy, but in different positions.



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This article was written by Karen Little as part of an ongoing series of blogs on Cartoon Sketching. Published on February 10, 2020.

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