How to Create a Cartoon Post

The question I get asked the most in relation to blogging is definitely something along the lines of, how in the name of pizza do you draw your cartoons?

When Paula posted this on my Facebook page

I was instantly down.

This morning someone asked me where I find the cartoons I include in my posts, because they go so well with what I’m writing about. I was all “No no, silly pants, I draw them!”

So I guess this needs some clearing up. Here we go.

A lot of other people who use illustrations on their blogs use MS Paint (or the Mac equivalent) to draw them (Hyperbole and a Half, for example), but I prefer to use Adobe Illustrator (like The Oatmeal).

(source) and (source)

The end result is similar, but you can see some differences. Illustrator is a little smoother, and a bit more polished looking.

Illustrator is more of a graphic design program, so I’m familiar with it because I use it a lot for work. For doing posters and stuff though…I don’t get to draw random pictures of myself doing stupid things for work. That would be nice.

Well, I did once:

The first “drawing” I ever did. It includes all my coworkers and myself, and it was a gift for my coworker Brian (Lord Byron in the front there. Holding the cheese because he is cheesy.)

Anyway, Illustrator is similar to Paint, but it’s a bit more complicated, and it has a lot of options that Paint does not. Honestly, the reason I use it over Paint is because I find it to be a bit more forgiving. When you draw an image, it’s made up of lines and curves, which can be manipulated. You can fix things easily, and select different things like a hand, or a shoe, and copy and paste them, or move them around.

So if you notice in my drawings, most of the characters are wearing the same shoes because I’m too lazy to draw them again and usually just copy and paste them.

In Paint, you can’t manipulate something you have already drawn, you have to erase it if you want to change it. You can’t copy and paste things. Kind of like drawing in real life…

Anyway, I’m sure no one cares about that, so moving on. It’s basically the same result no matter what program you use.

For a story I’ll usually write it out first, and then draw some sketches and make sure it’s going to work illustrated, and then I get to work.

I start with a blank page.

I select my little paintbrush and my stroke size, and then I just start drawing! If I’m drawing myself, I use the shape tool to make a circle for my face, and then I fill it with colour.

I draw my hair next, using the freehand paintbrush.

(you can see the little nodes along the line. Those are vectors, and can be moved around and manipulated, so I can fix it if it looks off.)

I again use the circle tool to make my eyes, which I colour in. And then I draw my mouth and make it rouuuuuge.

Next I need a body! I use the paintbrush to draw my dress.

And then I fill it in.

But obviously that looks weird in front of my face, so I select my whole face and bring it to the front, but leave my hair in the back.

There. Easy-peasy.

Oh, but I need arms, obviously. So I use the paintbrush tool and draw those puppies.


I think crappy drawings are funny, so I don’t try to make them even close to perfect.

And if I want to change the direction of one of my arms, I can easily select it, and flip it.

And delete my smile and instead draw a frown.

And rotate myself.

And duplicate myself!

Sometimes I will copy and paste my body and head into another drawing of myself, and just re-draw my limbs and facial expressions to save time (again, because I am lazy).

You can draw anything!

Here is a kitty cat.

But his body looks a little small for his head, so let me just adjust that…


And here is a unicorn that I drew.

And here is a cat riding that unicorn.

This is a more complicated drawing I did in Illustrator (for this post):

And what it looks like when everything is selected in the program…

For my subway story, I had to draw a turnstile door. It was a bit complicated, so I looked at a picture of a real subway turnstile door as I was drawing it so it would look like the real deal.

And when it’s selected in Illustrator, here is what that looks like, so you can kinda see how I drew it:

A lot of using the rectangle tool.

I just use the trackpad on my MacBook to draw stuff. No fancy drawing tablet or anything, and I don’t usually use a mouse, even at work.

And that is that! The mystery is solved. So may you go forth and create your own cartoons!

And here is a picture of a cat riding a unicorn into the sunset.

And yes, I drew that.


31 responses to “How to Create a Cartoon Post

  1. WOW. Seriously that is so cool!! I’m not artistic at all so I probably couldn’t even do this haha. I love your cartoons. They are awesome!

  2. I was sooo curious about this, I was just too afraid to ask you how you did it! So I am over the moon excited that you explained it. And even if you think they are crappy, I think they are brilliant b/c I can hardly even draw an arrow. love them.

  3. Wow, it sounds so complicated…give me a pencil and a white paper sheet, and I’ll give you a cartoon. I only use computer for text on my comics, but that’s all I can do.

    I like how much thoughts and time you put in every post!

  4. I use Illustrator at work, too… but this is awesome. I knew how you did it, but now I KNOW.

  5. Yay! Ok, I read this BEFORE going to the gym instead of after. How bout them apples? I’ve done some stuff in Paint and it’s super annoying that you can’t copy stuff so it takes me forever. Illustrator is a pretty expensive program like Photoshop, right? I know the graphic artists at work use it for certain projects. I’ll have to say, I was seriously impressed with your drawings in your blowing across the lake post.

    • I love that you suggested this post. Beautiful idea.
      yesss, it is expensive. That is annoying. You should get the graphic designers to transfer it over to your computer 🙂
      I have tried using Paint and I wasn’t really a fan. Everything looked all choppy, and I really hated how if you made a mistake you had to erase it. I much prefer Illustrator!

  6. Ah, I love this post. The cat riding a unicorn KILLED me. Hilarious…and oh so very informative! I wanted to be able to draw digitally, but I found it really hard. MS Paint looks a lot easier than it is, and although I have a tablet, I don’t find it much easier to use than a mouse. I’m intrigued by Illustrator!

    • haha, I just love cats and unicorns.
      I find Paint so hard! I was discouraged when I tried it. Sometimes I wish Illustrator didn’t make everything look so polished, but it automatically does it. I do love the program though!
      Good to know about the tablet! I am intrigued by those though, I gotta say.

  7. this is awesome! I wish I had the patience to play with illustrator or paint, but I just don’t. I’m not very talented when it comes to drawing in general, though, but I LOVE your cartoons!! Your posts are always the most fun to read 😀

  8. OMG this is so interesting and Im glad you shared, and you are obviously awesome for doing all of that to entertain us (I love it!!)

  9. This is awesome, that’s all.

    Actually no, whats more awesome than this post is a cat and unicorn riding into the sunset together, touche!

  10. My question is, how long did that subway post take you to complete, for example? Looks like it may have taken you a few hours, easily.

    • Hours, for sure. It’s hard to say exactly how long…I did the entire thing over a week or so. Maybe 6-8 hours in total? The cartoons really are time consuming. But I really LIKE doing it, so it doesn’t feel like work or anything.

  11. Dude, your drawings rock and are always hilar. Awesome skill to have, that’s for sure. Thanks for the tutorial. I especially love the cat riding the unicorn!

  12. You know, I love your cartoons (I know, join the club)..and I’ve thought..hmm..that might be fun to try for myself one day…now that I’ve seen the behind the scenes and all the work…I think…Yep, I love that Lindsey does cartoons…I’ll stick to occasional photos!
    Great cat and unicorn!

  13. Haha…too funny! I don’t think I have the talent or patience to make such cute and funny cartoon posts, so more power to you!

  14. I just found your blog today, and LOVE your cartoons. We use CS at home, and I hate it when I am at work and have to use paint or Pixlr. I miss PS and AI 🙂

    LOVE LOVE LOVE the cat on the unicorn riding in to the sunset. HA HA HA!

  15. Thanks, this was great! I have been using MS Paint for about a month now, and love it. I was hand drawing before and it was killing my time. Your blog is super awesome!

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  18. Ha very cool! I use paintbrush (mac equivalent of mspaint) and this kinda makes me wanna try more polished stuff in illustrator! I mean, it definitely looks a lot easter to manipulate..

  19. Alejandra Quetzalli

    Haha! Awesome! I was just doing some research for a simple cartoon I was drawing for a Spanish blog that I just started hosting, and came across this gem! Totally made me think of Hyperbole and a Half!!! 😀 Keep up the awesome work!!

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