Tag Archives: adobe illustrator

How to Create a Cartoon Post

The question I get asked the most in relation to blogging is definitely something along the lines of, how in the name of pizza do you draw your cartoons?

When Paula posted this on my Facebook page

I was instantly down.

This morning someone asked me where I find the cartoons I include in my posts, because they go so well with what I’m writing about. I was all “No no, silly pants, I draw them!”

So I guess this needs some clearing up. Here we go.

A lot of other people who use illustrations on their blogs use MS Paint (or the Mac equivalent) to draw them (Hyperbole and a Half, for example), but I prefer to use Adobe Illustrator (like The Oatmeal).

(source) and (source)

The end result is similar, but you can see some differences. Illustrator is a little smoother, and a bit more polished looking.

Illustrator is more of a graphic design program, so I’m familiar with it because I use it a lot for work. For doing posters and stuff though…I don’t get to draw random pictures of myself doing stupid things for work. That would be nice.

Well, I did once:

The first “drawing” I ever did. It includes all my coworkers and myself, and it was a gift for my coworker Brian (Lord Byron in the front there. Holding the cheese because he is cheesy.)

Anyway, Illustrator is similar to Paint, but it’s a bit more complicated, and it has a lot of options that Paint does not. Honestly, the reason I use it over Paint is because I find it to be a bit more forgiving. When you draw an image, it’s made up of lines and curves, which can be manipulated. You can fix things easily, and select different things like a hand, or a shoe, and copy and paste them, or move them around.

So if you notice in my drawings, most of the characters are wearing the same shoes because I’m too lazy to draw them again and usually just copy and paste them.

In Paint, you can’t manipulate something you have already drawn, you have to erase it if you want to change it. You can’t copy and paste things. Kind of like drawing in real life…

Anyway, I’m sure no one cares about that, so moving on. It’s basically the same result no matter what program you use.

For a story I’ll usually write it out first, and then draw some sketches and make sure it’s going to work illustrated, and then I get to work.

I start with a blank page.

I select my little paintbrush and my stroke size, and then I just start drawing! If I’m drawing myself, I use the shape tool to make a circle for my face, and then I fill it with colour.

I draw my hair next, using the freehand paintbrush.

(you can see the little nodes along the line. Those are vectors, and can be moved around and manipulated, so I can fix it if it looks off.)

I again use the circle tool to make my eyes, which I colour in. And then I draw my mouth and make it rouuuuuge.

Next I need a body! I use the paintbrush to draw my dress.

And then I fill it in.

But obviously that looks weird in front of my face, so I select my whole face and bring it to the front, but leave my hair in the back.

There. Easy-peasy.

Oh, but I need arms, obviously. So I use the paintbrush tool and draw those puppies.


I think crappy drawings are funny, so I don’t try to make them even close to perfect.

And if I want to change the direction of one of my arms, I can easily select it, and flip it.

And delete my smile and instead draw a frown.

And rotate myself.

And duplicate myself!

Sometimes I will copy and paste my body and head into another drawing of myself, and just re-draw my limbs and facial expressions to save time (again, because I am lazy).

You can draw anything!

Here is a kitty cat.

But his body looks a little small for his head, so let me just adjust that…


And here is a unicorn that I drew.

And here is a cat riding that unicorn.

This is a more complicated drawing I did in Illustrator (for this post):

And what it looks like when everything is selected in the program…

For my subway story, I had to draw a turnstile door. It was a bit complicated, so I looked at a picture of a real subway turnstile door as I was drawing it so it would look like the real deal.

And when it’s selected in Illustrator, here is what that looks like, so you can kinda see how I drew it:

A lot of using the rectangle tool.

I just use the trackpad on my MacBook to draw stuff. No fancy drawing tablet or anything, and I don’t usually use a mouse, even at work.

And that is that! The mystery is solved. So may you go forth and create your own cartoons!

And here is a picture of a cat riding a unicorn into the sunset.

And yes, I drew that.