Introduction to Cartoon Making for Beginners

By Jody S. Ginther Copyright © 2016 - All Rights Reserved

How to Make Cartoons?

anime style girl animated gif Making cartoons can be fun or a nightmare. In the old days, every cartoon was made by individual drawings. We won’t get into a detailed history of cartoon making in this lesson. But, you should know some of the history of cartoon making to understand where we are now. In the past, every movement of a character had to be drawn as a separate drawing. It may take hundreds or even thousands of drawings to make a cartoon do some things as simple as waving his hand! These drawings were put together as frames of a movie to create the illusion of movement. Thank God! In modern times, software has been developed to do the in between drawings for us. This process of making the in-between drawings for you is called, “tweening.”

Some programs provide “bone” tools that will allow you to add bone-like references to your drawings. You can choose what part of the drawing or character will move by choosing the bone assigned to it. In this way, you can get much more realistic body movement for a character. You can create movement in animation software by moving bones, points in the drawing, or by moving entire layers. “Layers” are just as they sound. They are like sheets of paper on top of each other. Creating great looking cartoons depends on the ability to apply layers. If you want your character to walk in front of a tree, your back ground must be on different layer than your character. It is like drawing the sky on one piece of paper and drawing a cartoon character on another piece of paper. If you cut out the cartoon character and lay it on the drawing of the sky; you have two layers. All of these concepts will taught in detail in future lessons if this page and topic is supported. See the footer for ways to show support for this topic.

Things You Must Understand Before you Begin:

  1. What's the difference between comics, cartoons, and animation?
  2. What kind of cartoons do I want to make?
  3. What software should I choose to make cartoons?

What's the difference between comics, cartoons, and animation?

People generally use the term “comics” for artistic, (or not so artistic), drawings created to entertain. Comics will be discussed in detail in future lessons. “Animation” refers to anything that moves. Animation can be referring to animating or moving things on a webpage, animating letters, or making realistic movie effects. “Cartoons,” in modern times, generally refers to animated cartoons. They are comics that move and come to life. This lesson will focus on helping the beginner get involved in making animated cartoons.

What kind of cartoons do I want to make?

There are many kinds of cartoons and animation to think about. You can make 2D animated cartoons, 3D animated cartoons, Anime, Manga, classic style, or your own freestyle cartoons.

Oop cartoon 3D animation or choosing styles of animated cartoons are deep topics that will also be discussed in future lessons. For now, we will only introduce the difference between 2D and 3D animation. 3D animation is referring to 3 dimensional art or objects that look a little more realistic. We will learn more on that later. 2D is what you see on a plane surface; like on a piece of paper. 2D animations would include; Tom and Jerry, Spongebob Squarepants, and Pinky and the Brain. Do you have to be a great artist to make cartoons? No! Look at Spongebob Squarepants. The great thing about the different styles of cartoons is that you don’t need to be an artist to make them. If you don’t want simple looking cartoons, software can also help you make professional looking art. See our 2D Animated Gif Tutorial page to learn about making 2D animated images. Sometimes a cartoon is far more humorous if the artwork is bad. A cartoon artist may choose to draw bad art to create a certain style or effect. An example of a cartoon intentionally made with simple art is our It Thing and Oop cartoon. You can download episode one of our free cartoon, "It and Oop."

What software should I choose to make cartoons?

This depends on how deep your pockets are and what kind of animation you want to produce. Also, will you sell your work or do it just for fun? Do you want your skills to carry over to other careers? For example, if you are considering a future in the computer world, many companies need workers with animation skills for their advertisements and websites. Generally, Flash is their number one requirement. If you want to make web pages, or animate logos, simple objects, or letters, learning Flash might be a good choice. You can also create animated cartoons with it. Although it is expensive to go with Flash and it’s related software, it may be an investment if you are considering a career in those areas.

At the time of this article, (the author has researched and been disappointed by), many freeware and open source cartoon programs. The only stable and easy freeware I have found so far is only for creating stickman-drawing animations. It’s called “Stykz.” You can download it for free at It is extremely limited, but may be fun for the beginner to create and learn about some basic concepts of animation. Some companies have even used it to place funny animations on their websites.

An affordable, (and yet functional), cartoon animation software for home use was called “Moho.” Our “It and Oop” cartoon was created by combining Moho with movie editing, and sound editing software. Moho is now called “Anime Studio Debut.” Visit Smith Micro to compare their products: Anime Studio Pro These programs should get you started but only produce output for the web and avi formats. Professional movie and film companies use higher end software. Toon Boom Animate Pro can be used to create software formats fit for film and movies. It has a fairly easy user interface but not as easy to use as Anime Studio. It also has very limited import and export formats limiting compatibility with other graphics software. More details on software will be presented later on our site if this topic is supported. See the footer for ways you can show support. Good luck and have fun!

Beginners guide to animation

Start Here: Animation Tools and Basics

This is the ultimate animation guide book for choosing software and getting started. Whether your goal is making simple animated 2D cartoons for your own use, professional 2D animations like "Tom and Jerry" or professional 3D animations for film and cinema this is the guide for you!

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