A cartoon giraffe is a fun exercise that looks to challenge what an artist can do with deforming an animal that already has such a unique shape. This chance to be creative with new forms and ideas is a problem solving skill to be developed and one that is useful anywhere.
For kids and adults that ever had the privilege of being able to see a giraffe in person, it is a special moment. Just the sheer height is enough to garner amazement and curiosity. It also helps that they are approachable and docile animals.
In art and drawing, we tend to focus on unique characteristics to really bring out a subject. How do we retain the essence of the giraffe while making it into a cartoon? The giraffe makes this easy with its long legs and neck.
That is, with those tall features, there is little chance to mess up the core form, and is a great confidence booster in life when successfully solving this creativity problem. Just see what possibilities arise when working through the picture. Everyone is different and this drawing will help bring out that creative side.
Breaking down the cartoon giraffe into its core components is a skill in itself. Ask a few questions regarding the form: What shapes comprises the main body? How long should the neck and the legs be? What characteristics of the head can be simple suggested using simple shapes?
In the cartoon, start with answering these questions and filling in the drawing with the necessary shapes that makes up the giraffe. These will be the building blocks that will be analyzed to be rebuilt into a different cartoon form altogether.
The next step would be to duplicate the sketch and then deforming it as necessary to create a cuter form of the giraffe. Some may like to just keep the form as it is. Others may like to shrink the neck and legs only. It isn't just shrinking either: how about enlarging the head and the hooves?
This is exactly what it means to have a whole picture and work backwards. Just like many situations in life, it's a benefit to break down a large picture into its specific parts to get a better idea of how to proceed with getting the right outcome.
While the sketch is rough, it does highlight the key areas to be refined. Aside from the long legs and neck, there is a hump at the back connecting the neck with the body. Furthermore, the angle of the back is slopped downwards, which makes the front legs longer than the rear legs.
As for the head, there are three bumps: two for the horn and one central on in the middle of the forehead. The ears are curved inwards and forward facing. The snout is also shaped like a triangle. This is to help the animal reach in between leaves.
To get the cartoon style, duplicate and merge the layer multiple times to get the lines as dark and thick. Then, just use the regular drawing tools to finalize the form and the features. After that, erase into the drawing to get rid of those extra lines created from the circles.
The overall line drawing can be cleaned up to have all these featured refined into a deformed cartoon while maintaining all these core features. The problem solving step should now be complete. It may look different from the above drawing but embracing different creative results is a positive thing.
Flat colors are a great way to fill in the line drawing just to make it come alive. The best method would be to fill in the drawing with a neutral color first that plays well with lighting and darkening of that value. For example, a flat orange can be bright or dark.
This will give the artist enough room to draw in a light source as well as shading. The challenge is to fill in the shape of the line drawing. The quickest way is to isolate the blank area inside the line drawing using some sort of a selection tool and then fill it in with the flat color on a different layer.
Next, the adding of simple shading will give the cartoon some more added weight. Lock the layer down for this step. There will be some shading around the limb areas, the eyes, and parts of the underside starting from the neck leading up to the rest of the face.
This ability to prepare the drawing for revisions is a skill to practice as drawings will sometimes require churning out multiple assets depending on the circumstances. It's a positive skillset that leads to greater productivity and time saved to be used for more important things.
Noticed that the spots are done last as these are simply details only important near the finishing stages. Everything before this step is more concentrated into getting the cartoon looking right based on the initial sketch.
When ready, draw very large blocks of color on a different layer to show the position of the spots. Since the cartoon giraffe has cubed like spots, erasing into these blocks to separate it into smaller blocks will work really well.
The main point, when doing the spots, is to have multiple sizes. The larger patches are near the rest of the body while the smaller patches are near the face and the legs. However, since the face is much larger on this cartoon giraffe, the spots are also just as large.
When that is done, the final step would be to adjust the colors a bit more. Use global options to brighten up or create color contrasts throughout the entire drawing all at once. For example, adjustment masks is Photoshop is an excellent one-step tool to do this. Though, it will be up to the artists' familiarity with the drawing software they are using.
That's pretty much it! From the logical breakdown and rearranging of information, it's a great feeling to have the drawing completed this quickly. What other new cartoons or drawings can these techniques be applied to? There is no limit to creativity!
There is quite a bit to gain after finishing the cartoon giraffe. Aside from having a finished product, the benefits are there: creatively thinking through a drawing allows for freedom to take risks, engage others, as well as using time for something productive worth sharing.
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