Close-up of eyes with big eyelashes and rosy cheeks.

Just “Eyeball” It!

Who is that mysterious woman peering out of the headline of this week’s post?  Read to the end to find out—she has a little magical treat for you!

In this week’s post, I invite you to try your hand at cartooning.

Wait! Keep reading! I promise anyone can do this kind of cartooning!

This activity can be done anywhere, with nothing put pencil and paper.  Plus, it’s just about guaranteed to make you smile!

Cartooning is only hard if you start with an idea for a cartoon and try to come up with drawings that capture the right expressions and gestures.  It’s SUPER-EASY if you start with one facial feature—like a pair of eyes—and then add features one at a time and go with the flow.

Seriously! I know you can do this! Just “eyeball” it!

Start with a pair of dots for eyes . . .

Two dots for eyes.
Just a couple of eyeballs—you can do this in your sleep!

And then add a line for a mouth. Nothing fancy . . .

Two dots for eyes and a line for a mouth.
There’s nothing to it, but it still conveys a feeling. There’s a reason emoticons work!

This next one looks surprised.  Instead of starting with an idea I want to convey, I just start with some eyes and add features until an emotion or mood “emerges”.  If I’d set out to capture “surprise”, I would probably have made it way too complicated and hard.

Two eyeballs with eyebrows and a little "o" for a mouth.
Another one. This takes NO drawing skill!

If you make a page where you doodle these when you are bored or tired, you’ll have a whole repertoire of faces to use on pages where you want to use a little cartoon to express how you feel. Instead of struggling to figure out how to convey boredom or confusion or annoyance, you can just look through your “eyeball drawings” and find a face that works.

Series of cartoon faces starting with drawing the eyes.
A whole page of “eyeball drawings” to use when I need a cartoon figure.

Hmmmm . . . what about bodies and hair and stuff?  If you want to explore that, read on.

If you’re out of time for this week, or just want to get started making some eyeballs of your own, you can come back to read about adding more to your cartoon faces later.

But please scroll down to the end of the article for a goofy little surprise. I just know it’s going to make you laugh.  (I know most of you are going to skip down there right now, so go ahead . . . I’ll just wait patiently here for those of you who want my secret special tricks for giving your cartoon faces some cartoon bodies, arms, legs, etc.)

Did my little surprise make you giggle?

I hope so! Now, on to cartoon bodies . . .

Secret trick #1 for cartoon bodies: just like the face, don’t start out with an idea and try to draw the body to match. instead, just add one feature at a time, as before, and see where it takes you.

Secret trick #2: Cartoon figures don’t have to be anatomically correct. They can have rectangle bodies and rectangle arms and legs. Or triangles, or trapezoids, or whatever your favorite geometric figure is. You can just make a neck and some shoulders.

They can have a long column for a body with some feet sticking out and no arms at all. They can have a big oval body with stick arms and legs. They can be stick figures. They can have a big face with arms and legs and no body at all!

Hands and feet can be just lines, or little geometric figures, or blobs, or just left off entirely.

Cartoons with triangular and columnar bodies.
Some different cartoon bodies.

Secret trick #3: Start with a stick figure and “flesh it out”.  If you draw your stick figure with pencil, you can erase it after you have a more developed body.

Rememer, don’t set out to convey something particular! Just do whatever comes to mind and discover what it conveys. I guarantee your brain will come up with a “story” for whatever sort of figure you draw, provided you start with the simplest thing possible and add one thing at a time, instead of trying to draw something predetermined.

Cartoon face with stick figure body.
Step 1: I’ve added a stick figure to my cartoon face.

Okay, now let’s add some clothes:

Stick figure with jeans and a t-shirt. Plus, some really simple "blob" hands and feet.
Now my stick figure has jeans and a t-shirt. Plus, some really simple “blob” hands and feet.

I got in a hurry and started erasing my pencil lines before the figure was dry, making some smears, so I turn them into suggestions of “motion”. One thing led to another and I decided I had to add a banana peel for her to slip on.

Cartoon figure slipping on a banana peel.
If I’d set out to draw someone sort of disgruntled over slipping on a banana peel, I would have failed miserably. Instead, I just let the character and the story emerge, one feature at a time.

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to just add one feature at a time and see what happens! 

Adding one feature at a time pretty much guarantees everything will work together. Trying to start from a preconceived idea of how to convey a feeling, character or story is much harder.

Although you’ll get good at it, if you draw enough of these little “discovered” cartoons!

Here’s one more for you. (I bet you already peeked!)

It’s the Art Fairy, flitting over to your house to drip her special blessing of Messy-Magic on you!

Fairy figure with drippy paintbrush wand.
The Art Fairy, here to drip her potent Messy-Magic all over you!

So there you go—the Art Fairy has blessed you! You can’t possibly go wrong!

So, go “eyeball it” and have some fun!

(If you’re a new subscriber—or if you’re just now finding time to really get into your journaling—click here for a handful of my favorite activities to get you started.  And welcome to the group!)




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