Learn how to create a simple laughing cartoon character that is visually adorable and loaded with emotions and expressions. For this lesson, instead of drawing a whole man laughing, let's concentrate on the face and the head. Our goal is to make this character as expressive as possible without using hands, feet or the body to put emphasis on this fun expression. Ready? Let's draw ... and laugh! :)
First, we can work on creating a nice shape for the head as well as adding some important elements on the face. Eyes are made from circular shapes and the nose is done using a long pointed lines with small curved on the bottom. Another line is used to form the ear. Don't forget to draw large lips and a long tongue. For now, the hair is done using a couple or curved lines that are not connected to each other.
On top of the head, you can draw line to create more hair. Eyebrows are also sketch using long and thin rectangles. Eyelids are made from curved lines and teeth are created using small squares. We are creating cartoon images, so don't hesitate to draw a large mouth, long teeth and curved eyebrows. Exaggeration is the key!
On the forehead, draw a few lines to create a more expressive face. Small lines are also added below the eyes, the nose and inside the ears. One long curved line is needed in the middle of the tongue and a second one must be drawn below the mouth. Finally, some tears are visible on the left side of the illustration.
It's now time to add plain colors inside this laughing cartoon character. In this case, a subtle brown color is used inside the hair, the mouth and the eyebrows. The teeth are white and the tongue must be red. You can also change the color of all outlines and strokes. For instance, all lines used around the face, the hair and the eyebrows are brown (but darker). This is more interesting than using a dark black color all over the character.
In order to give more volume to our laughing cartoon character, we can also use color gradients on most elements visible in this illustration. By doing so, all shapes will be darker on the bottom and brighter on top. That's an easy technique to create depth quickly and easily.
As you can see below, the eyelids of the man are darker on the bottom. Inside the mouth, we can see that the right side is much darker too. Teeth are also brighter on the bottom (and slightly grey on top).
Let's exaggerate this fun expression even more by adding cool shadows in strategic places. You can draw new shapes on the forehead (below the lines), behind the eyebrows, around the hair and inside the ear. You can also draw shadows around the eyes, below the nose inside the mouth and on the bottom part of the face. Make sure all these new shapes are partially invisible so that all shadows can look natural and realistic.
Highlights and reflections are also important to create depth and volume inside a cartoon image. Instead of sketching dark shapes, now we need to draw white shapes that must also be partially transparent. These new elements are added on top of the head, on the nose, the eyes and the ear. You can also draw more shapes on the bottom lip and the tongue.
No doubt, this guy is having the time of his life. Using exaggerated features, dark shadows, color gradients are fun reflections, this cartoon illustration seems alive. Although the picture was created with 2D tools, the result feels almost like a 3D object.
You can see all steps required to illustrate this adorable character above. Feel free to try new emotions using the same tips and the same techniques. Just be creative, have fun and don't hesitate to unleash your creativity while working on more interesting characters like this one! ;)