Learn how to draw a cartoon sound effect that looks exactly how the word should sound like. In this case, I will show you how to illustrate the word "Boom" while making sure that this one represents a nice and beautiful explosion. No need to add tons of digital effects to end up with the desired results. Just a few shadows and reflections are needed to achieve our goal. :)
First, we need to sketch the explosion found behind the word using a bunch of curved lines. Then, you can add all four letters and the punctuation as shown below. For better flexibility and to create a more dynamic result, all letters are added individually (if you are using the text tool in your vector application).
In this step, you can crop all letters of the cartoon sound and change the position of all remaining pieces to add even more dynamism to the illustration. For this example, most letters are only chop two or three times. If you have more time and want to make the whole concept even more appealing, feel free to cut letters even more.
Just remember that the more pieces you end up with, the harder it could be to read your illustration. That's why I prefer to use just a few cuts on the letters and keep the whole concept easy to read.
Inside the explosion located behind all letters, add some color gradients so that the middle of the shape is yellow and the rest of the shape mostly orange. All letters can also be filled with a bright red color and a darker version near the bottom. That's it for this step!
First, let's duplicate the shape used to create the explosion inside the cartoon sound. Place the new shape behind the original one and make the color darker. Finally, move the shape slightly to the left and towards the bottom (seen with a temporary pink outline). Next, duplicate the original explosion a second time and make the new shape darker. Reduce the size of the new shape and make this one transparent on top (seen with a temporary green outline).
Inside all pieces found inside the explosion, draw smaller shapes using the original ones (but smaller). All these new elements must be filled with a light orange color. Use transparency to partially hide the bottom of most shapes. You can also use the shape created in the previous step (the copy of the explosion ... the smaller one located inside the shape) and copy this one. Our goal is to add reflection on top of the explosion using a bright yellow color.
This is the result once all digital effects are added. The addition of shadows and highlights as well as the beautiful mix of warm colors (like red, orange and yellow) are all that is needed to end up with an appealing cartoon illustration like this one.
These are all steps needed to illustrate this fun effect. You can use the same concept and draw more cartoon sounds like "Splash", "Pop", "Splat" or "Crack" using the same technique. Unleash your creativity, play with words and have fun! :)