Doodling Funny: Finding Cartoon Ideas Through Sketching | John McNamee | Skillshare

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Doodling Funny: Finding Cartoon Ideas Through Sketching

teacher avatar John McNamee, Cartoonist and Comedy Writer

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Project: Doodle Sheets


    • 3.

      Draw Anything


    • 4.

      Build Your Drawings


    • 5.

      Make Your Drawings Funnier


    • 6.



    • 7.



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About This Class

Sure we all want to make comics like the cool kids, but where do the ideas come from? In this class, cartoonist and comedysmith John McNamee will walk you through his process for brainstorming cartoons and getting the most out of those ideas.

This is the perfect class for any aspiring or veteran cartoonist who would like to add to their brainstroming toolbox, or just a fun new way to play around with drawings. This class is also a great companion piece to my other class Improvising Comics. Take them both for MAXIMUM results. 

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

John McNamee

Cartoonist and Comedy Writer


John McNamee is a comedy writer and cartoonist living in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the New Yorker, Mad Magazine, the Onion News Network, and Clickhole. John's comedy has been featured on CNN, IFC, McSweeny's, TV Guide, the Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, Gawker, and numerous other sites. He has studied and performed improv and sketch at the UCB theater in Los Angeles, where one of the founders once made fun of his pants on stage for like 2 minutes. John had it coming.

John has also been a comic maker and reader since he first figured out how to ride his bike to the comic book store at age 8. He's drawn the comic strip Pie Comic since his freshman year of college and doesn't see any reason to stop now.

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1. Introduction: Welcome to doodling. Funny, I'm John Mack Me. I'm a comedy writer whose work has appeared on the Onion and Click hole and McSweeney's and I'm the Artist behind the comic strips Pie on Go Comic and cluster Fudge online Web Dune A while back, I published a class on here called Improvising Comics, teaching you how to make a comic on the fly. Today I'd like to focus on the hardest part of comic making, though the initial idea. I have to crank out a lot of comics every week. So I've developed a number of strategies to help me keep exploring new areas and not get stale in this class. I'll teach you how to draw without overthinking and then build those drawings in tow richer and fuller ideas and to make those ideas funnier and finally to generate variations on the ideas you've already come up with. So let's dive right in 2. Project: Doodle Sheets: for your assignment. Today you will be making 12 side in doodle sheets. And what is a doodle should think of it as a cartooning playground where you can try out and explore a whole lot of different ideas before you sit down to do a comic. Yeah, I make a lot of these things. The biggest difference between these and save the doodles in your school notebook is we're going to focus on always be drawing something, which means no aimless scribbling. And if you draw a transparent cube, it better be a funny, transparent cube. Also, make sure you don't draw too big or you won't be able to fit many ideas on that page. First applies, all you'll need is a piece of paper and a drawing utensil, some kind, a pen, a pencil. I like doing in Crans because I'm crazy. Like that project should take about half a Knauer 30 minutes per side. The more you slow down, the more you'll tend to overthink these drawings, and they'll lose that sense of spontaneity. As with my previous class, the number one role is to have fun, more fun. You have drawing the more fun will probably all have looking at your drawings later. All right, let's get started with our first lesson 3. Draw Anything: first step in making your doodle sheets is to just start drawing anything. So I want to take out your piece of paper and just lay out a simple line. Don't worry about making it drawing yet. Now I want you to look at that line and try to find the picture inside of it. Right off the bat. I can see a bunch of pictures in my lines. It could be a Dracula, a fire extinguisher, a dinosaur or even a guy playing fetch with a dog. A few words of warning. I think we'll save you some trouble. Try to not make that initial line too complicated is that could make it really hard to find a picture in it. Basically, any shape will look like a face if you put two eyes and a mouth on it. So pick a more interesting thing to draw than that. Don't be afraid to get messy with these drawings, either. We're just trying to capture ideas, not create finished products. Just because we're starting with the simple line doesn't need that line. Can't be a shape. I've started thousands of doodles off with this circle, and I'm pretty happy with how some of them turned out. If you're still having trouble figuring out what to draw, tried drawing from your interest. Some of my interests happen to be stories and myths, old sayings and expressions and animals, so I draw them all the time. So here a few takeaways from this lesson. One. Just start drawing. Don't wait to be inspired. Get inspired by what you drop to. Don't be afraid to get messy. You're going to have a lot more fun and produce better drawings if you're not agonizing over every little thing. Three. Find your favorite shapes and draw them over and over again. And four draw from your interests. If you draw things that excite you, you're going to produce much more exciting drugs. 4. Build Your Drawings: Now that you have some drawings, we're going to look at how you can build those up into something you can use later. First technique To do this is to add action. Let's consider the example of the vampire drew in previous lessons now that vampire was just standing there, not doing much of anything and didn't really lend itself to becoming a comic later. But if I simply gave that vampire the action of, say, fighting someone's neck, you see how the picture becomes much more dynamic and you could turn it into something very easily. Character can also add another dimension to your drives. And even though there many sides to character will be looking at three in particular emotion, desire and attitude. Let's think about the pig from the previous lesson. Now that pig like the Vampire was pretty boring and not really doing much banking. But let's try adding one of those three traits to it. First of all, emotion. If we just take that pig and turn it into an angry pig, it's already a much more dynamic, exciting drunk or a desire so we could take that pig and make it want very passionately. to eat an apple that's in front of it, and you see how that could leave to a comic later on. Lastly, there's attitude attitude is similar to emotion, but it more refers to an overall outlook on the world. So here will take this pig and take it from a normal every day big and turn it into a cool Paige. A quick look at this page and you can see how much the three drawings with emotion, desire and attitude have more character than the one that got less. Feature will look at that you can add to your drawings. Is relationship now like character relationships can be very complicated, but we're going to focus on three simple types of relationships that are especially useful for comic strips. The first type of relationship will look at is a status based relationship. Status refers to a social pecking order where one person is of a high status and has control power or influence over the other character who is up a low status. Take, for instance, a father scolding his son. In this situation, the father is in control, so he is of a high status the sun. He's at the whim of the father, and so he is of a low status. However, those statuses could be reversed in a different situation. Take, for instance, a father trying to get his son to get dressed here. The fathers of a low status because he is at the whim of the son who is in the high status Sun has the choice of whether or not to get dressed. The next type of relationship is the crazy and the straight man relationship. This is where one person has a very extreme point of view and the other person has a more grounded point of view. Let's take a look at one of the most famous examples of Sherlock Holmes and Watson. Sherlock Holmes is obsessed with solving crime. Where's Watson as a normal person would react to all of Sherlock's craziness and highlights it for the viewer. The last type of relationship is called peas in a Pod thistles when two characters shared the same point of view. This is great because whatever strong emotion or weird perspective that one character has, the other one can reflect it back and amplify it. A great example. This and comedy is dumb and dumber, where each character is trying out dumb the other and lends itself to a luck of Greek funny times. Alright, so to review action and character super important, even if what you're drawing is not a human out. Careful to spatula, it should be doing something and it being a specific person. And if you have more than one character drawing, make sure there's a relationship between them. 5. Make Your Drawings Funnier: Now that we've built some drawings, let's look at some ways we can make some funnier. The first way is with irony. Now, even though irony is notoriously difficult to define, we're going to go with the definition of deliberately being contrary to expectations. Here's exam. Here I start off with a drawing of a pyramid. Now it's often thought a little bit about what do I expect about periods? Well, I expect them to be in Egypt. I expect them Teoh have dead pharaohs in them, and I expect them to be very large. So I seize upon this last detail of them being very large. And I create Ironi by subverting that, making this a very tiny pyramid. The next technique is exaggeration or amplification to the point of absurdity. Let's look at that pyramid again here. I'm going to take the same fact that pyramids are very large, and I'm going to ample find that until this pyramid is so big, it's basically the size of the earth. Next, let's talk about silliness. Now. Silliness can mean a whole lot of things, but the definition I'm going to use is the playful disregard of rules. For example, Let's think of the phrase me talk, you silly. Now the phrase me talk you silly now is silly because of the way it disregards the rules of grammar. Or let's look at another pyramid now to make a silly pyramid. I'm going to throw away the rules of gravity and architecture, and I'm going to build a pyramid upside down. And as you can see, that would be a very silly pyramid. The last way we're going to look at of adding funny to drawings is justification. Justification is just what sounds like it's justifying the absurdity and drawing for comedic effect. So let's take a look at that upside down Pyramid again. Now, this isn't quite a funny idea yet, but it can become one if I just explain why that pyramid is upside down. Maybe the architect was accidentally holding the instructions upside down, and now we've turned it into, ah, mildly funny idea. So just to review these four moves, there's irony, which is being deliberately contrary to expectations, exaggeration, amplifying something to the point of absurdity. Silliness playfully disregarding rules and justification, explaining the absurdity. Try these on your own drawings. I think you'll have a lot of fun and some real success with them. 6. Variations: in this next section will be looking at how you can take drawings that you've already made and create variations on them to generate new ideas. First method is called expansion. This is where you taken idea. You already have and explore further. Take, for instance, the tiny pyramids. I felt I could get more mileage out of that idea. So I thought about the world of a 20 pyramid and what the consequences of a tiny pyramids might be. And after thinking about that for a while, I added a very uncomfortable mummy. The next variation technique is translation or changing the specifics of an idea, for instance, the tiny pyramid again to translate that into a different idea. All you'd have to do is change the pyramid to say Stonehenge. And if you did that, you'd actually end up with the joke from this Is Spinal Tap. There are less jobs than you think. The next technique is called inversion. This is where you change what the unusual part of the drawing is in most funny drawings there. One thing that's weird. For instance, in the tiny Pyramid one, there was a tiny pyramid next to a normal person. So if I want to invert that I would have a normal pyramid next to a person that was weird in some way, maybe they're a triangular person. And that's how you invert. Ah, funny picture. The last technique for variation is called the Masher thistles, where you take two of your ideas and put them together to create a new idea. For instance, I have my idea of the pyramid, and I also have a pig that I had so much fun drawing. So if I combined those two, I might get something like a mummy pig or a pig. If you remember these four variation techniques, expansion, taking an idea you have and exploring it Further translation. Changing the specifics of drawing to make it into a new idea. Inversion changing what the weird part of withdrawing is and the mash up combining two ideas into a new one. And if you use these techniques, I think you'll find the ideas you have will become the rocket fuel you need to fly yourself to more idea. Planet 7. Conclusion: Yeah, Another class done who you are now ready to make your doodle sheets. Here's a few things to keep in mind while you're making one. Always be drawing something, no aimless doodling or zigzags or want not make sure you're drawing a thing to draw from your interests. If you like history, draw Henry the eighth. If you like bugs, draw some butterflies. Three. Action, emotion, desire, attitude, relationship, thes air the things that will make your drawings interesting even if it's a spatula. A spatula in love with a kitchen knife has a story to tell and four variations. The more ideas. You have more ideas. You'll be able to have mixed him up. Change him around. You don't have to just settle with the first idea on a subject. I know I threw a lot of terminology and ideas at you, so to help you keep track that made a little print out that you can keep next to you while you're working. It covers most of the definitions that were in this class. So what do you do once you finished your doodle sheets? Well, one thing you can do is you can take your ideas from there and turn them into fully developed comics. You can check out my other class for more details on how to do that. Or you could just take one. Those drawings, fish it up and do a single panel where on its Or you could just put them in a closet and let them sit. Sometimes I've had ideas that needed to ferment for months before I figured out what I wanted to do with them. One last friendly tip. If you ever get stuffed with your doodling or just bored, try switching the color that you're working in. You'd be surprised how doing an ordinance drawing is very different from doing a black drawing. That about wraps it up, get toe work, upload your doodle sheets both sides here, and I can't wait to see them. Thanks for taking the class.