Drawing Cartoons with Frameworks

When it comes to drawing cartoons (or anything!), using a simple framework is very helpful. A ‘framework’ as I like to refer to it as, is an arrangement of simple shapes that take on the form of whatever it is you are drawing.

In a way, frameworks are like the training wheels on a bike when you’re first learning to ride. In the same way that you learn to stay upright and straight on a bike, you learn to maintain proportion and symmetry when drawing cartoons.

Drawing cartoons of cats birds and dogs

Now – if you’ve arrived at this page from either of the three lessons – cat, bird or dog, in the ‘Cartoon Animals’ section, you’ll know that our focus here is to discover how one simple framework can in fact yield a number of different cats, birds and dogs.

Truly – when it comes to drawing… the possibilities are endless.

Some advice… keep an open mind as you read & practice the drawings on this page. Understand that there is ‘no one right way’ to draw cartoons.

Drawing cartoons (and many other things) is about being creative and coming up with your own unique drawing ideas, while at the same time – maintaining a degree of proportion so that your cartoons look the way you want them to look.

Alright, let’s get drawing!

Framework for drawing cats

Drawing Cartoons: Unique Cartoon Cats

As in the lesson previously, start out by sketching a simple framework of basic shapes.

Looking at the left you can see that I’ve organized the shapes in a certain way. Keep in mind… this is ONLY an example. So long as you get your shapes in – close to – the same position as mine, you’ll be in good ‘shape’ 🙂 for drawing your cats.

Still, don’t change your framework too much. This way, when you go on to draw some other cats using this framework, everything will go nice and smooth.

And so, here are three different examples of cartoon cats – each one using the exact same framework from the previous ‘Cartoon Cats’ drawing lesson…

Drawing of a cartoon cat Colored drawing of a purple cartoon cat

Here, I’ve gone for a ‘mean cat’ sort of look. Actually, at first glance – it kind of reminds me of Dr. Claw’s cat in the cartoon series ‘Inspector Gadget’. See the resemblance? Notice how the my lines maintain a spiky/sharp look while still keeping to the framework.

Drawing of a cartoon lion Colored drawing of a cartoon lion

Sure, a lion would be a bit bigger than the cats we’re drawing here. But even so – a lion is a cat and so you can draw one based on the same framework. Just that you’re final drawing should of course be bigger than that of your everyday house cat!

Notice how I’ve cut in along the back area? The framework is only there to guide you… change your drawing as you see fit!

Drawing of a skinny cat Colored drawing of a cartoon skinny cat

In this final drawing, I’ve almost completely disregarded the original framework. But look closer and you’ll see that it still serves as a guideline. To create a skinny ‘Chihuahuaish’ cat, I’ve changed several lines by ‘cutting in’ from the original framework.

Alright, let’s move on to the birds now…

Framework for drawing cartoon birds

Drawing Cartoons: Unique Cartoon Birds

Just as you did above, begin by drawing a simple framework for your cartoon birds – similar or exactly like the one you drew in the Cartoon Birds lesson.

Actually, with drawing birds in particular – there’s lots of room for deviation from the original framework. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Beaks, wings, feathers, etc. – there’s lots of room to get creative in this example.

OK then, just as we did above with the cats, let’s take a look at how to draw different cartoon birds – each one based on the same original framework. Remember, these are only examples to show you differences…

Drawing of a cartoon parrot Colored drawing of a cartoon parrot

In this first example, I drew a parrot. Note that the position of the wing, tail and beak do not change. The biggest change lies at the back, up and around the top of the bird’s head. Deviating in only certain places is helpful in giving your cartoons that ‘extra unique’ look. Give it a try!

Cartoon drawing of an eagle Colored drawing of a cartoon eagle

Sharper, precisely placed lines in this example – help to give off a drawing of a cartoon eagle. And keeping in line with the position of the eye, the sunglasses are a nice added touch!

Drawing of a cartoon blue bird Colored drawing of a cartoon blue bird

And again – a completely different-looking cartoon bird takes shape by drawing simple deviations from the original framework. Notice how the beak is still in place – just much longer! Great for a stork, or perhaps even a hummingbird.

Well, one set of examples left now… on to the dogs!

Framework for drawing cartoon dogs

Drawing Cartoons: Unique Cartoon Dogs

To the left, you’ve got the exact same framework used in the Cartoon Dogs lesson from before.

And just as above, I’d like to show you some examples of how we can draw dogs of different kinds – each using this exact same simple arrangement of basic shapes… or framework!

Here, I’m going to make some even greater changes than before. The purpose? To show you just how creative you can get, while still keeping proportion in your cartoons. Having already looked at the cat and bird cartoons from above, perhaps you’re ready to really get creative in this example. See what kinds of odd-looking dogs you can come up with!…

Cartoon dog framework Colored cartoon dog drawing

Here, similar to one of the cat cartoons above – I’ve again decided to ‘cut away’ from the original framework. You can see how the back is drawn in and away from the main circle that makes up the body of the dog.

Weiner dog framework drawing Drawing of a cartoon weiner dog

Just like a basset hound, now you’ve got a drawing of a dog with long droopy ears. In this case, it’s a good idea to draw the left ear before the rest of the body as the outer left ear is positioned in front.

Drawing of a cartoon dog framwork Colorful drawing of a cartoon dog

And in one final drawing, a multicolored dog with wrinkly ‘play-dough’ like skin. Strange? Yes… very! But then, that’s a big part of the fun in drawing cartoons and coming up with your own unique creations. And of course, I encourage you to do the same in whatever it is that you’re drawing.

Summary? Get Creative when Drawing Cartoons!

Well, surely we could go on forever and ever drawing different cats, birds and dogs – all based on the same framework. But I’m going to wrap things up here.

When it comes to drawing cartoons, keeping proportion – especially when you’re first starting out, can be a bit tricky. A framework of simple shapes really is helpful in maintaining the form of whatever it is you’re trying to draw.

Whether it be a cat, bird, dog – anything! frameworks help us recognize the simplicity in a drawing. Use them to help you get the form in place. Then, get creative and change your cartoons in which ever way you like…

Drawing of cartoon cats side by side
Drawing of cartoon birds side by side
Drawing of cartoon dogs side by side

Of course, I really can’t stress this enough. Being creative and coming up with your own unique drawing ideas – just like the ones I’ve shown you above, is what drawing cartoons is all about. I hope these examples inspired the creative side in you and that they give you a different perspective about drawing cartoons altogether.

So what now? Practice of course! Why not return to some of the other lessons at this site, and see if you can go about drawing cartoons in different ways – more suited to your liking.

Good luck & Happy Drawing! 🙂