Learn How Geometric Shapes Can Help You Draw Cartoon People

How to Draw Cartoon People

Photo & Art: Margherita Cole | My Modern Met

Have you always wanted to learn how to draw cartoon people but weren't sure where to start? If you look at the world around you, you'll find that everything—including humans—can be broken up into different geometric shapes. By using circles, squares, and triangles, you can not only create stylistic proportions but also give your characters distinct personalities.

This tutorial will show you how geometric shapes and simple linework can help you draw a variety of cartoon people. All you'll need is a pencil, eraser, pen, and some paper. Ready to get started? Great! Let's draw some people!


Learn how geometric shapes can help you draw cartoon people.



How to Draw Cartoon People

Photo & Art: Margherita Cole | My Modern Met

First, let's get acquainted with the forms we'll be using: circles, ovals, squares, rectangles, and triangles. Most of the time, when you are trying to render the head and body of a figure, you'll be using some combination of these shapes. Since these forms will be the basis of most of your drawings, you should be comfortable drawing them over and over. There is no need to make them “perfect,” just as long as you convey the structure.


What can you do with circles and ovals?

How to Draw Cartoon People

Photo & Art: Margherita Cole | My Modern Met

Circles and ovals are very versatile. For example, by placing an oval inside of a circle you can create a simple cartoon eye. Likewise, an oval can serve as the basis for a head facing the front, or an oval and circle together can create the form of a head in three-quarter view.

While you can use circles and ovals to create just about anything, it's important to keep in mind that rounded shapes will give your character a softer appearance and demeanor. You'll typically find that friendly protagonists, children, and women are made up of these shapes.


What can you do with squares and rectangles?

How to Draw Cartoon People

Photo & Art: Margherita Cole | My Modern Met

Just as circles and ovals will make a character look cuter, squares and rectangles will make them look stronger. Boxy shapes are particularly helpful for creating solid forms like torsos, legs, and hands. A square, for instance, is fairly similar to the shape of a person's palm, and fingers can be simplified to a rectangle. So, you can create a stylized hand by attaching rectangle fingers and a thumb to the square. Likewise, you can make a fist by dividing a square horizontally and sectioning the top rectangle into four fingers. Then, you can add a thumb on the side by adding three conjoined rectangles.

If you use these shapes to render the heads and faces of your characters, you'll find that they will come across as more stiff. That is why they're often used for more severe kinds of characters.


What can you do with triangles?

How to Draw Cartoon People

Photo & Art: Margherita Cole | My Modern Met

While squares and circles will be your usual go-to shapes when drawing cartoon people, triangles also have their uses. For instance, they can be simple noses for your characters. This can be done either by sketching a triangle and then erasing one side or by using the entire shape.

Additionally, triangles are effective shapes for creating feet or shoes from a variety of different angles. Try sketching an isosceles triangle and filling it in with details to make it a sneaker or a flat.


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How to Draw Cartoon People

Photo & Art: Margherita Cole | My Modern Met

As useful as each shape is, they're more powerful when applied together. So, if you've ever been intimidated at the thought of sketching the body of a person, try building it through different shapes. This strategy will help you understand proportions on a fundamental level and make it easier to adjust before you are at a more advanced step.

Starting with the head, sketch a circle or square. Then, attach a short rectangular neck to the bottom. From there, try adding a torso using a rectangle, triangle, or oval. (The shape you choose will depend on what kind of body type your character has and what clothes they are wearing.) Then, attach rectangles to the torso to create the arms and legs.

It will take some experimenting to see what kind of shapes suit your characters, and that's okay. By trying different combinations you will discover what you like and don't like and eventually develop your own style based on these factors.

Hopefully, you've learned a few tips on how to draw cartoon people. Now, all that's left is to practice what you've learned. Good luck!


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Margherita Cole

Margherita Cole is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and illustrator based in Southern California. She holds a BA in Art History with a minor in Studio Art from Wofford College, and an MA in Illustration: Authorial Practice from Falmouth University in the UK. She wrote and illustrated an instructional art book about how to draw cartoons titled 'Cartooning Made Easy: Circle, Triangle, Square' that was published by Walter Foster in 2022.
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