There's no other way to describe a panda cartoon other than a series of circles and ovals arranged in a way that is cute and adorable. There are no complexity involved other than the imagination in creating the most charming cartoon panda possible.
As if a panda isn't already captivating in real life, a panda cartoon just elevates this status even more. Plus, it's easy to draw. No complicated shading, no dealing with proportions, and no complicated colors.
From an artist's perspective, only developing the cartoon lines is the real challenge. The shape of the panda cartoon can be built immediately through a rough sketch in the begining or it can be built automatically as the drawing progresses.
The latter is using a specific effect in Photoshop's layer styles system called a 'outer glow' or 'stroke'. This effect automatically sets an outer rim of color. When set to black, it creates that cartoon effect. See how it works in this tutorial.
In the beginning, sketching the form is important. Draw the five circles that make up the face. There are two for the ears, two for the eyes, and one for the head. A little triangle will round out the nose and the rest of the snout. No need to be picture accurate.
For the body, there is on large circle for the main body. Then, follow it up with four long cylinders for the limbs. As for the paws, draw four circles designating its position. So far, so good! The body is about the same ratio as the head.
Now, fill up the sketch with a neutral color. This is done on a different layer. The only reason is to get a nice solid object to apply the layer style in later steps. There is no need to worry about accuracy at this point. It will be refined soon enough.
Ok, now merge both the sketch and the solid grey layer together so that the entire sketch is easy to manage. In the meantime, draw in the dark patches on the ears, eyes, arms, parts of the legs, and the section going across the chest as rough references.
Now that the general shape of the panda cartoon is done, it's time to separate it into the head and body sections. With the head, cut or duplicate just the top half containing the head into a separate layer. Now, turn on the 'outer glow' option.
Almost by magic, there is an outline of the entire object that is drawn so far. Changing the color to black will automatically add the cartoonish effect. So what's next? The cleanup, of course! Simply use the erase to erase a complete outline of the head.
Why is the eyes done on separate layers? It's very simple: it allows work to continue on the fur areas underneath the eye layer. As well, locking it can easily add in little reflections in the eyes without impacting the rest of the head.
Take a step back and look at the drawing. Are the proportions cute enough to continue or is there more that can be done to make it more adorable? When done deciding, copy the layer style to the body layer. Essentially, the same thing will be done to the body layer.
Like always, clean up the body into the outline that works for the composition. Is the posture of the panda cartoon matching the head? Adjust the body accordingly before continuing on with adding the details.
If ready to proceed, lock the layer down again and start drawing out the limbs. Using a chalk brush or a chalk brush to hard smudge in the sketch lines, draw everything into recognizable arm and legs. For the paws, add in some claws if needed.
To link up the position of the head with the rest of body, assuming there is some overlapping, considering using a layer mask. For example, the hands are cutting into the face. Rather than sections of the head to reveal the body underneath, use a layer mask to 'erase' into the head to reveal the arm while preserving the pixels in the head.
Finally, draw in the dark patches for the eyes, ears, limbs, and the light patch for the rest of the body. For any other cartoon lines, manually draw it in as the layer styles can only work on the outline and not in it to separate the limbs (unless the limbs are done as a separate object).
At this point, group everything together into a nice folder. Then, duplicate the folder and change it to its own image. That way, there is a panda cartoon layer to work with as well as all the original layers in a neat folder that can be hidden!
For this newly duplicated layer, bring out the whites and blacks accordingly using any possible contrast options. The easiest way is to use an adjustment mask. Continue to use any particular layer styles to bring out the colors more like a color gradient.
How does the panda cartoon look? Are the details too much or it is too simple? Most importantly, is it cute enough? This is why the original layers will need to be preserved! For situations that still require editing, always duplicate the drawing whenever possible.
What about bending the perspective a little? In Photoshop, there's an option to warp the layer to a predetermined shape. Adjusting those values can alter the drawing's proportions automatically to make it look more deformed. It really is up to the artist's imagination and software proficiency.
Although excessive, the cute little panda cartoon was done with a lot of tools. This is just one of many ways to draw. Should simplification be required, just a line art and filling it in with the right colors is normally enough.
That's usually enough to draw any simplified cartoons. However, with this method, it's always gives a good piece of mind to know that it can be edited at a future date at a fundamental level since everything is preserved in its own individual layers!
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