This week, I decided I would try a kind of drawing that is almost the opposite of my last attempt at human faces: a cartoon. Cartoons are different from other kinds of drawings primarily because they are not meant to be realistic. Instead, they usually present warped conceptions of reality by emphasizing certain elements of reality while suppressing others, usually for caricature or humour.
My first task was to pick a cartoon character. One of my favourite characters is Kermit the Frog, perhaps because of his acceptance of difficulties in life and an appreciation of how difficult it is being green.
Having learned from my last drawing, I went to the closest arts store before I embarked on this, to get a wide array of drawing pencils, some charcoal, and proper drawing paper (I had learned that the ideal paper isn’t the same kind you might like to write or print on). While I was there being helped by the staff guy, I was unwittingly accosted by an arts teacher, who, overhearing my discussion, proceeded to give a 10-minute talk about what you really need to draw. I ended up purchasing the small pack of pencils, charcoals, erasers, and sharpeners she suggested, along with a sketchbook.
Taking advice from on-line sources, the first thing I had to do was create an outline for the basic shapes of Kermit – many cartoons are composed using geometric shapes – for instance, Mickey Mouse is almost entirely made up of circles and ovals. Here again, I knew the outcome was not going to be perfect, as I have no geometry kit (and this is not something I’m going to buy). For the most part, the shapes help figure out proportion. This was surprisingly difficult – more so than drawing a human face. The result looked like this:
Now I had a framework with which to compose Kermit. I began at the top with his eyes and worked my way down. The first thing I ended up learning is that charcoal is incredibly messy, no matter what grade it is. As you can see, there are black smudges everywhere. I had chosen to draw all the finished lines over in charcoal so that it would have a cartoonish look. I also found, despite having better paper and erasers, that it was much harder to erase some mistakes I had made. It does however unmistakably look like Kermit, and would probably have been even better with some geometric tools. In the end, I thought I did a pretty reasonable rendering of Jim Henson's most famous creation.
Andrew Monro is an editor with an enduring reputation as an impeccably well-dressed individual, and a surprisingly pleasant person to have a beer with. He is an aficionado of web forums, fine wine, modern poetry, and petrichor. He is a native British Columbian, but now lives in Ottawa.