Learning how to draw cartoons in photoshop

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I got this idea in my head that I wanted to draw a comic strip using Photoshop. The initial hours after this idea were spent trying to work out how to turn my touch-screen phone into a graphics tablet for my computer. This provided futile so this tutorial will cover how to draw using a photo of a real life drawing. Some of this first tutorial may be a bit rubbish as I didn’t take photos or notes going along, something I definitely will be more stringent about for the next one.

So the first step in the process was to actually start drawing something. After a while I came up with a few basic drawings from which to work. Here is an example of one of these drawings:


I took a photo of my original drawing and opened this in Photoshop. Unfortunately my photo is a lot larger than the target image size for each frame, so I used Free Transform on a selection around the drawing itself to reduce it to a reasonable size. I then created a new image with a white background and dragged and dropped the layer containing the reduced drawing into the new image. For the next tutorial I will try work out how to get my photos to a reasonable size using a simpler method.

Using the techniques suggested in this tutorial , I used the ‘pen’ tool to draw a layer over each letter and shape in the above image. With much fumbling about I added a layer of pink under the layers with the letters and star and then an additional white layer between these and the layers with the holes of the letters P and O. I’ll rework this properly for the next tutorial with a more detailed description. To complete my image, I applied the gradient tool (right hand of the screen at the bottom of the layers tab) to the background and used the ’rounded rectangle’ tool with ‘1px stroke 0% fill opacity’ to create a border for the frame. The end result looked something like this:


This looks slightly better but a lot of it was playing around with the pen tool. I’m not overly impressed with my ability to use it so will definitely be reworking this for the next one.

After this I started working on the actual cartoon frames. The third one is effectively a copy of the second one with the text changed so I won’t go into any detail on that. For the second frame, I repeated the process above and used the fill effect with each area I used the ‘pen’ tool. In the fourth one, I realised there’s a better way to do this so don’t just dive into it yet. The resulting images were rather basic and a bit odd looking, but I hope to progress from this in the next cartoon. Here are the second and third frames:


For the final frame I realised there was a more logical way to do things. Working from my sketch and the layout of objects in the previous image, I created different layers for each object in the image. I created a sofa layer using the pen tool as before to create my ‘strokes’. I then rasterized the layer so that I could paint the sofa into the colour I wanted. I repeated this working from back to front. Going forward this will allow me to create scenes with surrounding objects already in place from previous images. For the computer, I set up some text and pressing control brings up the functionality to rotate it. I have yet to work out how to skew it so it looks a bit distorted on the screen. The smoke rising from the computer was created again using the pen tool, merging the resulting layers and then erasing the areas I didn’t want. I flipped the face from the previous images and drew the remainder of Ponk’s body over the layer. This currently looks quite rough so I may repeat the process and then create a new version using the pen tool to smooth this out for next time.


To pull it all together, I created a new image of size 1000 x 250 pixels (each frame is 250 x 250 pixels). Copying the background from each saved frame image, I dragged and dropped these into my new image before signing my name and saving the final version. The completed cartoon can be viewed online here.

In the next tutorial I will improve on the processes used above and hopefully create a more professional look.


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