Creator’s Corner: Exercises in Cartooning: Week 4

I’m a writer, not an artist. But for the next 7 weeks, I’m going to be a cartoonist.

And you can join me on this journey–not only by seeing what I do, but by completing the exercises I do along with me.

*Note* To see Week 1’s adventures, click here, to see Week 2’s adventures, click here, and to see Week 3’s adventures, click here.

The great cartoonist Ivan Brunetti, also a teacher of comics/cartooning, has a book that publishes his course; it is a 10 week “class” that has a few exercises for each week, some of which I might even use in my own graphic novel class.

I thought it’d be fun–especially since I’m a writer and need to challenge my skills as an artist–to run myself through his course and post each of my exercise on here.  So without further ado…

Exercise 4.1

Part 1:

Create a basic design for a character and draw from it from a few angles.  I created a robot character with a wheel instead of legs.

Then, brainstorm a location to set your comic with this character and a verb, an action for this character to do.  I set it in a factory and wanted the robot to hug someone/something, to add some pathos and emotion to this character.


Part 2:

Create a page with 8 evenly divided panels.

For panels 3-6, draw the character doing your brainstormed action in the preset location.   Avoid shifting perspective too much, but when needed, shift and use the angle character study you created.

Then, draw 2 panels (panels 1-2) to show why the character is doing this action; add closure by drawing the consequence(s) of this action in panels 7-8.

Here’s what I came up with; I’ll do a postmortem analysis of my choices and cartoon after it–good luck with yours!

cartooning exercise week 4

While I like the simplicity of the robot design, I did find it hard to have him “act”, which might explain why some of what he’s doing is a little unclear. The first panel, for instance, is the robot hugging his boss and coworker, but that isn’t clear. It actually looks more like he’s assaulting his boss then hugging him.


Specifically, though, these were the parts that made it hard for him to act and in turn possibly made it hard for his hug and other actions to be understood by a reader: the boxy arms and hands; the stationary wheel; the lack of legs. If I were do do a similar comic and character, I would have the arms be more flexible and fluid, and I would have the wheel attached to some sort of legs or leg-like appendage.


On the positive side, I do think I was able to make the robot, the boos, and the assembly line worker emote with few facial details; they also were relatively different–in the way their faces were drawn but also in their figures–which made them easier to distinguish.


Another positive: the action and storytelling were pretty clear with what was being done by the factory machine (the one that looks more like a claw a kid uses to grab a stuffed animal in an arcade game).


A positive and negative: I do a good job streamlining setting details to a minimum, making the reader focus more on character, actions, and storytelling. The one point where I went too far with this minimalism, though, is the fourth panel, when the robot has gone through the doors into the factory. I’d like to add another machine or two, along with a worker or two, so that the factory seems busier (and so that the setting is clearer, that it is in fact a factory).


Well, that’s it for this week’s cartooning exercise and model. Check out previous week’s in the above links, and I’ll see you for Week 5!