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Cartooning is so much more than simply drawing a few figures – without good writing, the best of artwork has no value.
And similarly, if the characters aren’t expressive enough, even the wittiest of one-liners and jokes fall flat.
Drawing cartoons isn’t just about exaggerating a few facial features or comedic timing. Every artist has a style of their own, which they display in their stories and characters and their perspectives on the goings-ons of the world around us.
Such a complicated craft requires a deft master and someone you can look to for advice. If you have to reach the top, you have to stand on the shoulders of giants first.
Best Books On Cartooning
- Best Books On Cartooning
- Cartooning | Philosophy and Practice by Ivan Brunetti
- Cartoon Faces | How to Draw Heads, Features Expressions by Christopher Hart
- The Mad Art of Caricature | A Serious Guide to Drawing Funny Faces by Tom Richmond
- Cartooning the Head and Figure by Jack Hamm
- The Cartoonist’s Big Book of Drawing Animals by Christopher Hart
- How to Draw Cool Stuff by Catherine V. Holmes
- Modern Cartooning by Christoper Hart
- Humongous Book of Cartooning by Chris Hart
- Related Articles
If you’re new to the game and you don’t know where to start, this is it. This book isn’t exactly a step-by-step guidebook rather, it’s about the art of cartooning itself and what it’s all about.
- Ivan Brunetti
- Publisher: Yale University Press
- Edition no. 0 (03/29/2011)
- Paperback: 88 pages
This book takes an in-depth look at how storytelling works, what’s most important when conceptualizing characters, all the types of media and tools you can experiment with. But it also delivers solid knowledge on all the fundamental elements of comic book design.
This is the best book for forging your personal style and discovering your own design and virtual language. In the beginning, you’d be in dire need of some perspective, and there’s no better person to learn from than Ivan Brunetti, who has been featured several times in the NY Times and the New Yorker.
Ivan Brunetti presents 15 distinct lessons on cartooning and it’s progression through the ages. All these lessons are very wittily worded and have a lot of detail on common terminology, popular techniques, helpful tools, and of course, theory.
Brunetti’s own illustrations make this a very lively book -and you will start with spontaneous drawings and then move to single-panel strips and ultimately, complicated multi page stories. Simple exercises and assignments will help you move past your fears and will help you become more confident in your skills.
Everything about a cartoon begins at the face -all emotions are conveyed through the face, and the comic panel starts with a character’s facial expressions.
- Cartoon Faces How to Draw Heads Features Expressions
- Christopher Hart
- Publisher: Drawing with Christopher Hart
- Paperback: 144 pages
This book focuses on all the elements of a character’s face and how it can be painted to elicit certain emotions from the characters and the readers. Christopher Hart is one of the best in the business when it comes to writing art books, and this one is no exception.
If the last book on our list was about getting an overall perspective, this one is the step-by-step guide.
This book is the ultimate tutorial on the head, face, and expressions. This book has detailed sections on the eyebrows, mouths, and eye shapes so that you can cover a wide spectrum of emotions.
If that’s not enough, there are also chapters on both male and female faces, from newborn babies to adults, in differing shapes and sizes.
It’s not enough to know just how to draw a face, you will also need to learn how to turn that face in different directions, all the while maintaining the visual integrity of the character. There is also a chapter on shading the face and a bonus chapter on how to draw body parts conforming to the face.
This book is geared towards absolute beginners who have no background in art but have a knack for coming up with comic situations and witty words.
The caricature is the only form of comics which have real-life people as their inspirations. Most celebrities and world-renowned people have a unique set of facial characteristics, which are then exaggerated to comic effect.
- Deadline Demon Publishing
- Tom Richmond
- Publisher: Deadline Demon Publishing
- Edition no. 1 (11/01/2011)
It can be hard to teach someone to distort facial features while still keeping the rest of the features proportional. Thus it can only be taught by someone like the award-winning Tom Richmond, who draws on three decades of experience as a caricaturist, in various fields such as books, advertising, video games, film, television animation, an even MAD magazine.
Every chapter focuses on something different, and it will teach you how to notice subtle differences in everyone, and then you can decide on what to exaggerate.
You’ll be taught how to observe faces and people and then what to exaggerate to make for a successful caricature. You’ll learn about all the different types of caricature depending on what you’re drawing for.
Put simply, “The Mad Art of Caricature!” is the Holy Grail of drawing caricatures. It is the most comprehensive and complete book on the art of caricature to ever be published with over 500 illustrations, laid out in a very reader-friendly way.
This book is regarded as one of the classic art books and is one of the most popular cartooning books available for sale online. If Cartoon Faces only covered the face, this book provides a more holistic and all-round approach to drawing cartoons.
- Jack Hamm
- Publisher: TarcherPerigee
- Edition no. 0 (11/01/1986)
- Paperback: 120 pages
This book is targeted to everyone regardless of age or artistic talent or experience. The only requirement is that you are a fan of doodling and you want to get better at it.
It’s hard to find a book which simplifies things to a greater extent than this one. The whole human anatomy is broken down into a series of very easily realizable shapes. It has over 3000 illustrations, to teach you how to draw everything from facial muscles to postures to motion.
The best feature about this book is that it is designed in such a way that you can go at your own pace from one chapter to another. You can also very easily pick up where you left off, even if you took a months-long break.
However, the only drawback is that the painting style feels like the Sunday comics in a newspaper. It might feel a little dated and old-school, but it is still an excellent book for beginners.
This is the second book by Christopher Hart that’s on our list. Anthropomorphizing animals is nothing new and has been around since Tom and Jerry. Early MGM studios and Disney did a lot to make animal cartoons popular.
- Christopher Hart
- Publisher: Watson-Guptill
- Paperback: 224 pages
This book regularly makes the top 50 Art Books lists and is super popular online, in no small measure due to its immense simplicity and the sheer number of different animals you will learn to draw with the help of this book.
This book is divided into chapters depending on the kind of animal you wish to draw. Each of these chapters has in-depth information on how to capture every different emotion and how to draw each body part for that animal like faces, paws, feet, wings, and tails. In total, this book numbers more than 200 pages.
All the popular animals are present – which includes cats, dogs, horses, lions, penguins, bears, tigers, and elephants. Apart from that, you also have all the sidekick animals like pigs, kangaroos, giraffes, turtles.
Simple, guided tutorials show you how to portray every emotion from cutesy-sweet with the huge eyes to begging to scheming with malicious eyes. There are similar instructions for drawing animals which fit certain roles like baby animals to villains to the completely clueless animals and much more.
Leaving the generic title aside, this book does have a lot of cool stuff in it. At its heart, it is a very simple drawing book aimed at teachers and students. As a result, it’s mostly suited for children and early beginners.
- Library Tales Publishing Incorporated
- Catherine V Holmes
- Publisher: Library Tales Publishing, Incorporated
- Paperback: 254 pages
If you’ve got some amount of experience as an artist, it’s better to buy a more advanced book. In fact, this is a series of books. If you want a more advanced book, you could consider purchasing the other, more focused installments in this series.
Each chapter of the book starts off with a small introduction on technique, fundamentals, and how to start your paintings with an end-goal in mind.
However, right after, it wastes no time diving right into step-by-step illustrations. This book teaches you the basic principles of illustration by showing you how to draw simple shapes which eventually turn into complex drawings.
The best feature of this book is that, at the end of every chapter, there is a series of fun and hands-on exercises. These exercises will help you look at an object or a figure as an artist would – as a series of interconnected lines, shapes, and other elements. Also, these exercises will ensure you retain whatever you learned in that chapter.
From hyperrealistic portraits to holiday themes and tropes to drawings of tattoos, How To Draw Cool Stuff makes everything a cakewalk and explains everything as you would to a 5-year-old, literally.
This is the third book by Christopher Hart on our list and is one of his best-known titles. This one takes an in-depth look at character creation for illustrators.
- Christopher Hart
- Kindle Edition
Creating a likable and engaging character is the most important facet of creating a cartoon character. Before you get started with telling your stories, you first have to make up an enigmatic character.
This book takes away all the guesswork and uncertainty when it comes to creating a character by simply providing the reader with a very fresh and easy approach. This book is highly influenced by the most popular cartoon characters of our times and aims to show certain similarities among them.
It’s s 160 pages long and is full of lively illustrations which provide a guided approach for conceiving and creating interesting characters. Chris’s guides are super detailed, and he teaches the reader to observe a drawing and then improve upon it with their own ideas.
This book is chock-a-block full of useful tips and hints, and it will give you all the help you need to let your imagination run riot.
All the other books on this list either focus on certain types of cartoons, like faces, people, animals, etc. or they are beginner’s guides to getting started.
- Watson-Guptill Publications
- Christopher Hart
- Publisher: Watson-Guptill
- Edition no. 0 (09/22/2009)
None of them are complete or all-around books, though, which cover every aspect of creating cartoons. This book aims to accomplish the hardest task of all – give the reader an artistic vision so they can give their cartoons their own distinct style and shape.
It’s the most all-round cartooning book you can buy, which has a huge amount of depth and covers almost everything in today’s world of cartoons, making it great value for money.
This book has over 200 pages and teaches you how to draw most everything from fantasy characters to background designs to common pop icons.
This book has step-by-step guides on how to draw cartoon people and cartoon animals, retro-style “toons’,” and even robots like Wall-E. These guides are detailed and complete in every respect from the design to the composition to explaining exactly what is appealing about the cartoon.
The Humongous Book of Cartooning isn’t just big, it has a huge number of tips and hints that Chris is famous for. The eye-catching characters and extensive visuals pack with them more instructions and guidelines than any Chris Hart book before it. In short, if you want to buy one book that covers most of everything about drawing cartoons, this is it!
Well, that’s it from us today. We hope you enjoyed our list. Cartooning, like all other art forms, might seem a little intimidating at the beginning, but it gets a lot easier.
You just need a lot of practice and just a little bit of help on the way. We hope some of these books can provide you that help.