Many new artists who are trying their hand at drawing and sketching ask me similar questions. One of the most common questions has to do with the topic of how to draw 3D cartoons.
Most often they are frustrated that they cannot produce the type of drawing that does not look flat or stuck to the page. This concept is something that new artists often struggle with so you are not alone. I have compiled a few tips for you to help bring those cartoons to life and look more three-dimensional.
The most important thing that creates a 3D object is shading and highlighting. Doing this creates valleys and peaks of dark and light values. This tricks the eye into thinking it is seeing something that is not flat.
In order to create this effect, you have to first figure out where your light source will be coming from. You can place the light source anywhere you want! It could be the sun, a lamp, or even a flashlight. You don't have to draw the light source, just establish where it will be coming from. See the cartoon here where the light source is at the top and the shadows fall at the bottom.
Once the direction of light is established, then you should be able to imagine where your shadows will fall.
For example, if you want to have a sun overhead on the right side, the lower left side of the object will be shaded. Let's say that the cartoon in question is a teddy bear. The bear will cast shadows under his chin and snout on the left side. Small shadows can also be present on the left side of its body, depending on the height of the sun.
To create the cartoon in a scene, you would draw a shadow that the bear would cast on his left side on the ground.
Highlights would be in places that are being directly hit by the light. These are usually small areas in the cartoon. The bear's head on its right side would be the place most highlighted. Even still, you should not be heavy with highlighting: Just a touch will do!
When creating shades in color cartoons, it is best to use a color that is a shade (value) or two darker than the original. For highlights, use a lighter shade of the same color.
If it is still hard to imagine the concept of 3D cartoons, you can demonstrate shading for yourself doing a real life experiment.
Grab an object and place it into the line of a light source. You should make sure that there is only one light source present because more than one will make things more difficult for you. Take a close look at the item that you chose.
The light will create shadows and highlights on the object. After observing this, you should be able to understand the points of the object that the light hits and does not. Try moving your object and your light source to make different shadows and take mental notes of where the light is located. Light usually at the top and dark at the base, including shadows.
Follow these tips and you will be drawing cartoons in no time! Don't forget to practice, practice, practice! When you’ve done that, practice some more!
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