Evolution of a Cartoonist – Post 2 – How to Draw Cartoons – The Two Essential Dimensions of a Cartoon.


If you are a serious reader who wants to follow this book through all the posts, I recommend that you start with the first post:

  1. Evolution of a Cartoonist – Post 1 – How to Draw Cartoons – Introduction, Working Definition, and Three Examples.

Continuing…
A cartoon has two important dimensions:

  • The Visual Dimension
  • The Conceptual Dimension

The Visual Dimension

This dimension is fairly easy to understand. It’s right there for the reader to see and comment upon. It is what first catches the attention of the reader. It sends out a subtle message to you that this won’t take a lot of your time, it’s something that’ll give you a quick shot in the arm – and either make you think or laugh. When you look at the works of some of the best cartoonists in the world, you realize that the visual dimension plays not one but three important roles.

  1. It attracts the reader’s attention.
  2. It simplifies the story being told by removing all the extraneous visual details and focusing only on the relevant objectives.
  3. It uses the characters and their expressions to sharpen the teeth of the idea it conveys.

The Conceptual Dimension

The conceptual dimension or simply the “idea,” is the soul of a cartoon. There cannot be a cartoon without an idea that has one of the three characteristics mentioned in the definition. It has to be CRITICAL of something, or it should be SATIRICAL, or it must be HUMOROUS. If the idea is weak, you could kill yourself working on the visual dimension, but you’ll have a weak excuse of a cartoon. Perhaps a beautiful illustration, but not a cartoon. Remember that illustrations don’t evoke feelings in the reader, cartoons do.

Cartoonists are people who have some degree of control on both these dimensions. They can draw reasonably well and they can come up with critical, satirical, or humorous ideas. If they can draw, but not come up with such ideas, they are illustrators; on the other hand, if they can come up with ideas that make people sit up and think, they are conceptualizers who could work wonders even with the most basic drawings.

Reflect upon the two dimensions and review your skills, until I return with “Can you Become a Cartoonist?”

PS:

Advance Disclaimer: You will have to excuse the sketches that will accompany the posts, as they’d be scribbles from my notebooks, photographed by a non-photographer (that’s yours truly) and added here in a hurry. My scanner’s still not on, and I am not fretting over it because most of the work that I am doing these days is digital :) 

The next post in this series can be read here:

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4 comments on “Evolution of a Cartoonist – Post 2 – How to Draw Cartoons – The Two Essential Dimensions of a Cartoon.

  1. Shafali, this is useful.

    Though it would be a sacrilege to refer to myself as a cartoonist, I indulge in something that resembles cartooning; largely using mathematical symbols (lines and circles) to depict human beings. Quite unromantic and mechanical, it might seem, to most.

    Sketching isn’t my strong point. I shall be revisiting to pick up some pointers.

    Cheers!

  2. Pingback: Evolution of a Cartoonist – Post 4 – How to Draw Cartoon Eyes. | Shafali's Caricatures & Cartoons

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