Monday, August 17, 2009

Cartoon College for Free

Hi folks.

I decided to do a private blog for the cartoonists who are really serious about learning to draw funny cartoons.

Obviously I can't give everyone individual notes, but folks like Rex, Mitch, Geneva and others who have shown aptitude and dedication deserve some extra hep when I have time to give it.

If you have been invited, it means you have already shown that you are serious by doing many of the lessons and applying the critiques. It also means I think you are very talented. The combination of natural talent and actual study of real principles will make you functional.

FUNCTIONAL is much more important than mere talent. It means you can get out of your sketch books and into actual cartoon making - with stories and characters and personalities and continuity.

There are certain skills that I need to make my kind of cartoons and here are the main ones:


This is number 1. All other skills will be made easier if you conquer this.

You need to be able to draw characters that can turn around in space and that have perspective.

Line Of Action:

Each character should have a definite direction in his or her pose. The construction flows along the line of action.


This is an extension of construction. It means you have a structured plan for
anything you do - a story - a character -a composition - a song - and then that structure has levels of parts that fit within the structure without contradicting or cluttering the main idea.


Your characters should fit within the background in a way that:

1) draws the attention of the viewer to what's important in the scene,

2) is appealing for its own sake

You should be able to see the overall composition easily, whether you have a lot of detail or only a little.


I like cartoons that look nice, are cute even when they are supposed to be gross or funny.

Part of appeal comes from good construction and drawing skill, part from natural flair and talent. The combination of the 2 is unbeatable.

Style- angles against curves- variety of shapes, asymmetry:

Style isn't drawing flat, like so many cartoon studios today think. It's having control over a variety of types of shapes, contrasts and the other principles of control. When you have control over everything, then your personal style can shine through.

Part of my reason for giving away free training is selfish. The kind of cartoons I make require these skills, and I can't afford to teach them during a production. Cartoon budgets go down every year and so I need people who already understand what I'm looking for and are functional.

I always want to do layouts in my cartoons - it's what separates my cartoons visually from so many others, but layout is mostly not done anywhere anymore. Nowadays, they just design the characters from a couple different angles, take them into Flash and then move the still pieces around like paper doll puppets. I can't make my kind of custom stories and acting using that system.

I need talented and SKILLED people to help. It's worth it to me to help out before a production begins, but it will be up to you to practice and apply and critique yourselves according to what you learn. I will give some critiques and everyone here can learn from each other's studies.

If you wanna be invited to learn all this stuff, then do the lessons that already exist on this blog and if you show lots of talent and dedication, I will invite you to a blog that is dedicated just to lessons and critiques.


Rebecca said...

Just out of curiosity - if we have done or are doing the lessons how do we show you our work? - I'm currently posting scraps of art in a blog at the moment though its early days for me

JohnK said...

Just post a link in the comments.

Joseff said...

Awesome! I'll start a blog right away to post the exercises, thanks for the opportunity!

shisela saeta said...

nice nice nice!!!

Forbidden Hippo said...

I have just recently discovered your blog and it has already had a big impact on me and has inspired me to start drawing.

I have been copying cartoon characters such as Elmer Fudd, Ren and Stimpy characters and Calvin and Hobbes. I must say I have surprised myself with what I am capable of in such a short amount of time. However, I don't fully understand how to use many of the techniques you are always writing about.

I have a vague understanding of construction(i use simple shapes to get the proportions right, then I build on them), line of action (Which as I understand it, is the backbone of all good cartoon characters) as well as many others.

My question is, while I have already gotten much from this blog, I could use a stricter lesson plan to fully grasp these concepts. This Cartoon College you are offering is not for me yet because I am a beginner, but aside from always reading your blog(which I will continue to do) is there a website or book or class you trust that teach these concepts with the beginner in mind?
If so please fill me in. I would love to be able to read what you are writing about and truly understand it all and be able to apply to my own unique style.

Thanks a bunch,
Keep up the great posts

Rebecca Gunn said...

@JohnK : )

@Forbidden Hippo - start from this post: also get the scans of Preston Blair's book at the bottom of that post

Jack G. said...

Well, I'd love to be a better cartoonist.

So here's all my construction posts thus far:

It's wonderful that you want to do this for aspiring cartoonists.

I hope I cut the mustard.

David Gale said...

Hi John,

I've done a few studies here.

Davi Calil said...


I always came here in your blog to try to learn your lessons... but I never done the exercises, I try to apply direct in my work.

It helped me a lot already.. you are a real master Mr. John K. thank you very much.

I will start to do the exercises and show you to see if I can be part of this blog you created.

I want to learn how to draw really funny cartoons, here in Brazil is not very easy to find this kind of orientation.

Internet saves my life.

thanks again,

John said...

Hi John!

I'm very eager to learn this stuff, and I've been studying old comic covers on my blog - you even gave me a critique!

What I'm getting at is, I would jump at the chance to learn more from you.

Please think about it? Thanks!

diego cumplido said...

I'd love to get into your Cartoon College! Check some of my exercises from the label "K" of my blog. There's some other exercises and personal stuff at this other label. If its not enough, please, tell me what else should I do.

James said...

Does the blog have to be private? Because I love reading your critiques, they also seem to point out some of the same mistakes I make.

JohnK said...

I'll still post some of the lessons here. I just can't give individual critiques to every single person.

So the other blog is for the ones who advance the quickest through talent and hard work.

Mateo said...

'Oh boy, oh boy...' that freakin awesome! I've just started to do your lessons few days ago, it's worth of doing this studies for real 'cos I see that it really helps in own drawings!

Now I have to do more, and more to apply! :D

So here goes my recent stuff Mr K.:



Forbidden Hippo said...

*Rebecca Gunn

Thank's for the tips!

Niki said...

So if I want a critique I have to have my copy and the original in the same post, right? cause I posted a Tom and Jerry study and I didn't know where to end it, or where to begin either.

I want you to know that I'm trying as hard as I can right now I'm even trying to do Mary Blair paint studies. It's just that I don't exactly know everything that I could be doing.

El Funzo said...

Excellent, now I have something to work towards getting into by doing these lessons right.

Here's my art blog:

So far it only has the first 2 lessons (somewhat) completed, though I need to finish fixing/redoing them for the proportion lesson and upload the last 2 months worth of art studies I've done.

Do you also want us post a link to each lesson we've done in your relevant blog post?

Bob Probst said...

John, I'd love to add that, while I lack artistic talent and endeavor. I love your critiques. They give me a tremendous appreciation of your craft. If you could, can you make the lessons public so that I can read them?

JohnK said...

Yeah post clickable links and that will make it easier to see more people's stuff.

Rodrigo said...

Hey Mr. K,

I would love to follow your curriculum. I feel like my growth as an artist is suddenly stunted in the confines of a large studio environment, so I would love to continue learning if you'd be so generous with me.


Chris D. said...

I study animation in part thanks to Ren & Stimpy, greetings from Argentina!!

Jake Thomas said...

All right, I will put up all my Preston Blair, Looney Tunes, etc. practice.
But what else would you like to see? Made up drawings where we apply the stuff? Rough doodles showing what we just scribble out? I would love to know everything you want to see so that I can improve my chances to be invited to your learning blog of Cartooning and Awesomeness.

azulo said...

Hi John!

I've been a lurker on your blog for a long time now, and I'm not really sure why, but this post made me want to say a few things.

I'm from Chile, 21 years old, architecture student. Drawing has always been my hobby (not only cartoons though), but just since a couple of years ago, I've been "serious" about it. And just now, since last year, I've realized how much I needed to start studying "autodidactly" if I wanted to see some real progress. This led me to look around for new "teachers" (right now, I'm working with a few Andrew Loomis books, as a start), and that included going back to my childhood heroes. That's how I ended up following your blog. Ren & Stimpy it's one of the few cartoons that inspire me. I've always described it (and defended it, when I stumbled upon someone who didn't like it) as "one of the only shows that, if you hit pause at any moment, you'll always see a GOOD, FUNNY drawing, not just a filler frame".

So I found your blog. And, just now, I'm understating the real art behind being a cartoonist. All your stories about the industry (both here and on your commentaries on Ren & Stimpy DVDs), and the drawing exercises you've done here, have become really useful to me, and really inspiring, on this moment of my life.

I'm not really pursuing a career as a cartoonist (I'd have to start by moving to another country haha), and I understand that what you're doing here is aimed at people who are really serious about it, so I'm not sure if I could expect to be able to participate on your new blog. I think I just wanted to say how much I appreciate all you've done here.

Maybe you could grant access to this new blog to most your followers, even if you're going to individually teach only a few of them (maybe some kind of read-only mode to the general users? don't know if blogspot has such option...). Just by reading someone else's critiques, there's a lot to learn for everyone who's reading it.

Daniel said...

Here's some I've been working on. I will work hard for the invite in the future. I realize I have no side by sides to reference from and my construction lines don't show that well, but that is definitely something I'll be sure to include in my next posts. Thanks for the opportunity John. It means a lot.

MikeL said...

Well, I was planning on something similar, looks like I need to adapt my plans to try and gain entry to this sweet mystery blog of goodness.

ArtF said...

this is a very awesome idea John.

Davi Calil said...

I created this blog to post my studies.

Just began... but I will practice very often and came here to let you know.

thanks again for the opportunity.

ps:I will learn how to make the clickable links, sorry.

Charles H. said...

Count me in too! I always wanted to know if I can really cut the mustard in cartoons.

Here's a couple of studies I've posted so far:

There's alot more, I'll post them as soon as I'm through scanning.

Niki said...

Here ya go

HemlockMan said...

No matter the claim of selfishness, I think what you're doing is amazingly generous.

Alex_M said...

wow. thnks John. This will deffinitely motivate me to study a lot more and actually post my work for a chance at an invite to your critiques. :)

:: smo :: said...

here's some drawings from a couple years ago based on your post about training the eye to get proportions exact. here i'd scanned my images and put them over my reference to see where i messed up. i'll do some new blair studies and post them as well.

Kelly Toon said...

You're tops, Mr. K!

Please check out my blog Kellytoons for some of my recent personal sketches.

Annie-Mae said...

Worth a try but sometimes with real school coming around for some of us, posting consistently to your blog or ours can be hard.

Anyway thanks for opening up your knowledge to us. Really special.

Mat Barton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Larry Levine said...

Here's my link: said...

I want to participate.
I'm doing the lessons and soon I will post the links.
Thank you John!

Pilsner Panther said...

Mr. K., you, sir, are the Art Blakey of animation.

Even if you don't know anything at all about Art Blakey, consider that a major compliment.

Jeff Cook said...

One from me.

... And one more here.

The Mobile Sponge said...

I haven't really ever posted much of my art online, and I haven't shown much, if any, of my construction studies

But I am going to be in this, I will post my work, and I will become of high enough recognition to get into Cartoon College

I Swear it John K!

Christine Gerardi said...

I'd love to participate, Mr. K., I'll just post my exercises on my blog.

Iron maiden said...

Hey John I really want to participate

heres my blog:

Im really learning on your blog to use construction on my drawings and now Im trying apply the principles you listed into my work.

Desiree Cassidy said...

I just wanted to say that I think what your doing is great and I wish more experienced animators would share their expertise and experience with young fledglings :)
Two thumbs way up!

Michael Gilbert said...

John I'd be very interested in taking lessons from you!

I feel I would learn all the things I always wanted to learn when I was in college..I was very interested when you had discussed clean up theories and would love to have some guidance on how to improve!

My work can be seen Here

Pilsner Panther said...

Whatever else happens, this educational effort on Mr. Kricfalusi's part won't be boring, and I can't wait to see the results in some completed films, no matter how long or short they might be.

For starters, how can he put a charming Mickey Mouse picture right next to a totally repulsive caricature of the totally repulsive Josef Stalin by Basil Wolverton, and expect anyone to find a "middle ground" between the two drawing styles?

Well, let's find out. In music, there was Henry Brant (possibly still alive?) who wrote a work called "Kingdom Come," which pits a full symphony orchestra against a heckling jazz-vaudeville combo complete with 1930's cartoon sound effects, each at either end of the concert hall— the large orchestra on stage and the small group in the balcony. The audience sits in the middle of all this "organized chaos," and before they bought their tickets, let's hope that they knew what they were in for.

There's a CD of "Kingdom Come," but unfortunately it's out of print.

Arnold Schoenberg meets Carl Stalling—? An absurd and even insane idea. But even so, they did both live and work in L.A. in the 1940's.

So as a somewhat older, artistically untalented, but still intrigued observer, I'm very interested in what "You 'thar youngin's" might come up with.

I'm part of your audience, guys and gals, so I expect to be entertained, eventually.

Even if it takes ten years... but with such a teacher, you're off to a fine start.

chrisallison said...

check out my blog HERE

i'd love to be able to participate and learn.

DarkShadow8181 said...

Hey John, here's some of my artwork and such.

I don't use blogs often, but I probably should. I hope you enjoy my art, there are plenty of hidden gems here and there.

James E. Daniels said...

Here is an example of my cartooning style on my blog John:
Thanks for your time!

metal blog solid said...

Hi John, I've been closely following your lessons and advice on here for a long time (and am a big fan of your work). The lessons have really helped advance my skills. I will post a link as soon as possible with some examples of my studies, but as yet don't have a website. I would greatly appreciate an invite for the new blog, it would mean the world to me. Thanks for your time, Nick.

Aleksandrova said...

I shall try to make lessons in yours blog! I very much would like to study at you

Rajvi said...


I would like to be part of your i am very much interested in drawing funny cartoon. As by profession I am software Engineer. Yeah i am ready to do home work and exercises soon I ll be post my home work on blog.

Nicolas Martinez said...

Hi John. Here's all my stuff on my blog if you want to take a look.

afdumin said...

I can understand you wanting to make the new blog private in order to create a more intimate atmosphere for teaching, but please tell me this won't mean you'll be posting less on THIS blog!

J C Roberts said...

I've posted a link or two before but it caused bubkis to happen so far, but here's a few recent study sketches sitting at the top of my blog. I haven't figured out how to get a "live" link, though.

Bigger versions are at my flicker page.

Iggy K said...

Hope to get a call back:


Preston A. Brigham said...

Your comprehension of good cartooning principles is so impressive. Your blog has unlocked a new interest in the good/old cartoons for me. There were some real talented cartoonists in the past that have so much to teach. Thanks for resurrecting that talent and sharing it with everyone. I'm definitely going to attend class!

Rodrigo Cifuentes said...

Hello John I'm a young artist from Mexico, and I just found your blog, what is funny is that I actually just made a drawing about one of your characters, hope you will like this little tribute.

Paul B said...

Here are come of my tries








warren said...

Hey John,

I think I'd like to play, but I'm having trouble sifting through the blog to find the assignments. Can you point me to the main ones, or just assign a new category to them or something? Been ages since I drew a proper cartoon...

Rita said...

Hi John,

I think we're all happy learning how to REALLY draw funny cartoons!

I just posted my drawings of the 1st lesson on my new blog, here.


Anonymous said...

Hey John, Recently i became a statistic having been made redundant from my position as animator at Cartoon Network UK. It was an amazing and fruitful experience but without doubt i have learned more from you than from all my trawling through the CN art library! Heartfelt thanks for acutely skewing my learning curve. Your blog is priceless & your benevolence unparalleled. Please accept my donation of english bacon coming to you soon via paypal.


ComiCrazys said...

Hope you get this far in checking out drawings. I've posted before and received favorable feedback on your blog. I wanted to show my own work from my sketchbook that shows more combination of principles than a single character.

Thanks for looking.
Chris Lopez

Leo Beaudry said...

I'd love to show my work but I don't have a scanner.

Mat Barton said...

(Sorry, I'm reposting this because on of my links wasn't working)
When I first read your blog I was working on a comic strip (you can view it here). After reading your posts I realized how much I still had to learn. I practiced hard for about a year and redid the strip (you can view the new version here). I think you'll get a kick out of how much it's changed. I still have a lot to learn and look forward to more posts from you. Cheers.

Idyllopuspress said...

Hi, my name is H.o.p. and I'm 11 years old. I'm an artist and I want to be a good animator like the classic cartoons. I don't know what to say to an animator because I'm too shy but I love the new Mighty Mouse and I watched it over and over when I was young until we lost the videotape. My favorite episode was Me-Yowww! I'm doing your lessons because I want to learn how to draw better. My mom got me the Preston Blair book a couple years ago but I didn't pay attention to it. My mom showed me your blog yesterday where you were 11 and started drawing from the Preston Blair book and I'm 11 years old right now so I want to try it. I draw with my pen and am not used to a pencil yet. I've done a few animations too and have them on my own blog. I'm using my mom's mail account and I'll let her finish.
* * * * * *
Lesson 1 (a)
Lesson 1 (b)
This is H.o.p.'s mom. I perhaps should post H.o.p.'s links in the comments of the original lessons? Just thought he ought to comment here first. He wanted to write and let you know he doesn't know any cartoonists or animators and is excited about the lessons and is going to try his best. I've looked around a little and seems most of those following are older than him but I figure this is good exercise. We don't expect individual critiques, know you're quite busy, but I think he'll enjoy this opportunity to feel a part of a community of learning artists.

Anonymous said...

What do you think of these modern disney comics?

*~Barbara Miller ~* said...

Thanks so much for doing this John!!

Nate said...

hey john - i'd like to apply. i posted a resume of drawings on my blog.

the link is

(also dropped you an email.)

this is a great idea and I'd love to be a part of it.

thanks buddy

jeremy said...

Here are a bunch of cartoon studies I've done since following your blog:

I hope you continue to put lessons on this blog -- they are both educational AND inspirational.

Tuna Ertutar said...

Thank you very much for this awsome opportunity.

J C Roberts said...

I really should know how to do this already. Another try at clickable links


El Funzo said...

Here are the two lessons I've done so far:

Lesson 1

Lesson 2

ComiCrazys said...

A few more studies, John.

Mickey Mouse

Baby Huey

Bugs Bunny 1

Bugs Bunny 2

Porky Pig

Jack G. said...

So here's all my construction posts thus far:

Hope I got the clickable link thing.

Blacks in Animation & Visual FX said...

Thank you for sharing.

J C Roberts said...

This is for the benefit of the other posters here who don't know how to make their links live.

The line you type in the comments window should look like this:

*a href="LINK HERE"*TEXT*/a*

Important: The above line needs to be in between direction arrows (pointing outward) such as you see just below the comments window. If I used it in the example the system would treat it as a link, so I replaced them with asterixes), but you'll need to bracket the line with them to make it work. The text line also needs arrows (pointing inward). I hope all that substitution doesn't just confuse everyone, but I can't use them in the example or it'll be seen as a bad link.

Replace LINK HERE (but not the quotation marks) with the URL you want to link to. Replace the word TEXT with whatever word you want to appear as the link.

So you'd want somthing that looks like:
*a href="your url"*check it out*/a*
In this case, you'll end up with the phrase "check it out" apearing in blue as a live link when apears online. Just replace the outer quotes with left/right arrows

I hope that helps some people. Having to copy and paste the text string into the address bar over and over isn't something we want to waste John's time with,after all.

I guess the self serving approach would be for me to do nothing and let the people posting text addresses get screened out and reduce the competition, but I'm not rollin' that way. I didn't know this one until yesterday, but I'm passing it along.

Pedro Vargas said...

Hi, John! I'd like to participate in the Cartoon College and learn a lot from a true professional.

Here's some studies that I've done in the past...

Preston Blair studies

Tom Oreb studies

Bosko study 1

Bosko study 2

And the Howie Post study that I posted at the blog on top.

I haven't done too much, but I'm going to try out the toy studies and do some frame grab studies. Getting back to these I think will help me out a lot. I don't think I'm quite there yet when it comes to cartoons (I feel like my stuff needs more control), but I think this will totally help me out on staying more focused when I draw.

J C Roberts said...

Already I'm feeling embarrassed about the weak batch of incomplete sketches I posted. Makes it look like I don't finish things and put less thought into them. I

I did this one after getting home about a hour ago. The proportions are drifting too much, though.
I'd include the source image but macs can't take screen shots off DVDs. I'm guessing you've seen this scene.

what do he say?

And have you seen this? I grew up with it around, so I've been at this a while now. You're doing a better job, of course:
Draw with Woody

ALS said...

Thanks for doing this! I would love to get some of your feed back on my stuff.


rad sechrist said...

This is so cool. I'm self taught, and already working in the industry, but I wish I could do this. I work at dreamworks, and some of the best artist I've seen here used to work on ren and stimpy.

Frowny said...

Thanks for this great opportunity, John! I will start doing all these early exercises as soon as possible.

John Pannozzi said...

I don't have the best drawing skills yet, but maybe in a few years I'll improve.

Katya said...

I hope to be and draw some day with John soon. I and love to draw this lesson.

Here are my draw:


cartoonmonkey said...

I make wrong link:

Thank you,

SibbSabb said...

Here are some older lessons I've done so far. I'm currently working on hierarchy and laying out a scene.

I would love to be invited to the blog.

Dennis The Menace Construction

Dennis the Menace-merged with original

Bugs Bunny - clean with construction

Bugs Bunny - construction merged with original

John said...

Hi John,

Just stumbled across this site, and wow, so much great content here!

I hope to start getting some of the exercises done and then just maybe, get an invite to the private blog.

OK.. lesson number one. here we go!

jimenalores said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I put up some Fleischer roughs on legal paper, they're pretty stiff yet though.

I'll have to prowl the blog for more great examples of design in foreground, mid-ground and background.

JP said...

Is this still going on? I'd love to give it my best shot.

Brandon Lyon said...

hey John, if you're still doing the private blog of guidance, i'd love to be a part of it. here are some of the lessons I've followed..

hanna said...

very nice post hahahaha

funny pics

Matthew N Rhonda McDaniel said...
Preston Blair Practice