How to draw a cartoon child

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Create an adorable cartoon child using simple shapes and great digital effects ...  all this in just a few basic steps! You know how it is today. Kids (and adults too) are literally glued to their cellphones, Ipods or tablets. Let's draw a cute cartoon character holding such a device and surfing on the internet (just like we are doing right now!) Below you can see the version of the cartoon character we are about to draw. Ready? Let's begin this tutorial immediately ... :)

step 1 - drawing a few basic shapes

The first step we need to do is sketch a few basic shapes to create a guideline (or a template if you prefer) to help us locate the character into the working area and create accurate proportions. You can start by adding a large head using and oval shape and create the body using a rectangle. Both arms are made from smaller rectangles and the hands are made from small circles. Complete this step by drawing two more shapes to illustrate the legs and feet.

step 2 - Let's draw this cartoon child!

Now that we have drawn a few basic shapes to create our template, it's time to work on the character itself. In this step, we only need to draw small (or long) curved lines and a few straight ones to create the head, the body, the arms and the legs of this child.



Notice the hairstyle of the character (but you can draw another one if you prefer), the hands and the fact that the character is standing from a side view. When you are done illustrating this young boy, you can erase all orange shapes created earlier.

step 3 - Working inside the head

The facial expression is the most important part of this tutorial. Indeed, creating a nice and relevant emotion can be tricky using just a few basic lines. First, you can start by drawing the eyes and the pupils using circles. Then, you can sketch eyebrows using small rectangles made from curved lines. The mouth is also made from a small curved line.

step 4 - small details to complete the illustration

On top of the head, you can draw a few hair using small pointed lines. Then, sketch another small curved line below the mouth. Some texture is added below the neck (on the shirt) as well as inside the right arm. You can complete the cellphone by drawing another rectangle inside the object and add lines inside the hand located on the right of the picture.

step 5 - colors to bring the character to life!

Let's use a few basic colors (bright and saturated ones) to make this illustration even more appealing. Notice how the eyebrows are darker than the hair (for better readability) and how the arm on the back is darker than the arm in front. The cellphone is grey while its screen is filled with a bright blue color. 

step 6 - Using gradient fills to enhance the character

One easy technique we can use to add more volume and depth to this cartoon child is to play with gradient fills. Indeed, by adding a second color to each shape (usually a darker version of the color already found inside the selected shape) we can create a nice effect that is visually appealing and very simple to create (if you are using a vector application that is).

step 7 - more shadows drawn manually are needed

Another simple way to create more volume inside a cartoon illustration is to draw more shadows manually using new shapes filled with dark colors. As you can see below, these new elements are added below the eyebrows, between the hair and the head, under the eyes and the nose, on the bottom of the head, the hair as well as in some various areas inside the shirt and the pants.

step 8 - adjusting the opacity of these new shadows

Shapes drawn earlier to create more depth and volume are quite beautiful, but the result was way too dramatic since all these shapes were dark and loaded with saturated colors. What we need to do is play with the opacity of these new shapes to end up with a more subtle effect. As you can see on the illustration below, once transparency is applied inside the shadows (and set around 20%), then the result is much subtle and appealing compared to the previous step.

step 9 - reflections to increase the depth of the character

Let's go one step further and let's draw a few basic shapes colored in white on top of the hair, near the nose, on the screen of the cellphone, on both arms, inside the shirt and on the pants of the cartoon child. Unlike the previous shapes that were drawn mostly on the bottom of the body parts to create simple shadows, these new shapes are sketch on top of the body parts they are located in to create some nice reflections.

step 10 - once again, transparency is needed

Just like we did previously, transparency must be applied inside these new shapes to create a realistic effect. See how the shape added on top of the hair is barely visible (but quite important to create a believable cartoon character)? Excellent! One last step is needed to create the perfect cartoon child that everyone will love! :)

step 11 - Adding colors on the strokes (outlines)

Black lines are fine, but it can be boring when applied on the entire character. Why not use colors to create a more appealing image? This technique is rather simple: simply select a darker version of the color found inside a body part and use this one to color the outlines. For instance, the green t-shirt will be created with strokes that are filled with a dark green color. That's it!

Hope you enjoyed this lesson on how to draw a cute cartoon child.

Were you following all steps from this lesson while holding a cellphone inside your hand? Ironic, don't you think! It's now time to draw more cartoon children like this one using your own style and your own preferences. Create new textures, new haircuts, new clothing or even new shapes. Just be creative and enjoy the moment! :)


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