This week at Cartoon Club online art classes for kids we were “Going on Safari”. What would imagine? I especially liked drawing the lions and tigers. I have a thing for big cats, I think they are so majestic and simply amazing. I only drew this leopard in one of my online art classes but kids and adults alike seemed to really liked him and I think he was my favourite characters this week.

I’ve just posted up a new video on my YouTube channel showing you how to draw and colour this little leopard cartoon. I thought I’d share how I did one character, so if you missed our online art class, you can have a go and cartoon now. In this how-to-cartoon video I focus quite a bit on playing around with the colours which is a lot of fun. This character really lends itself to that.

There’s always a new topic to doodle on in Cartoon Club online art classes – something that will not only improve our drawing abilities, challenge us to come up with new and creative ways of solving problems. It was challenging to draw all the features on the map but this is a pretty fun character to doodle yourself so have a go and let me know what you think in the comments.

Here’s what you will need:

  • Pencil (I use my friend the 4B Faber-Castell Jumbo here)
  • Paper
  • Black marker or fine-liner (I’m using a Uni Super Ink fine marker here)
  • Eraser or rubber (it just for erasing AFTER you have inked)
  • 5 pencil crayon colours (My favourite are Faber-Castell polychromes or Prismacolor but whatever you have will do just fine. Here I break my rule and use 5 colours: Deco Yellow, Spanish Orange, True Blue, True Green, Violet Prismacolors)

How do I draw a cartoon Leopard?

Good question! Head on over to my YouTube channel and you can watch the tutorial where I step you through How to draw a cartoon Leopard from the online art classes with the kids. But before you begin….get your creative thinkingcap on…

Can doodling a leopard help you think more creatively? YES! Here’s how…

Each week I’m bringing you #CreativeThoughtThursday – a concept I’ve been pondering, which I hope will help you think more creatively not just Thursday, but everyday.

Let’s focus on the idea of REPRESENTATIONAL

The fun thing about cartooning is that there’s no right or wrong because a cartoon does not need to be (and probably shouldn’t be) realistic. The fun of it is that it’s often representational of a animal, person, or in this case leopard, in real life.

In the case of this cartoon leopard, there are a few key characteristics that make him look, well, like a leopard. There are the obvious spots, but there’s also the shape of his face and the look of their nose and muzzle.

I’m quite used to drawing more realistic looking animals from doing my greeting cards – my challenge in cartooning, is to stear myself away from drawing as realistically, and instead use the key characteristics in a more creative way to make the drawing fun and well a cartoon!

Here for example, I’ve drawn two strong vertical lines from his nose to the top of his head, obviously not how a leopard looks, but this represents the bridge of his nose and emphasises that focal point you get when looking face on at a leopard. Something luckily I’ve never done in real life as I’d want to be in fully body armour if I was actually on safari!

The next thing I do is subtle, but I put in eyebrows. These look almost like his spots. I do this because if you look at a leopard you can kind of imagine two of his spots being eyebrows and it does really add to the characteristic look of a real leopard. I also colour these to draw your attention to them and show his expression, but again in a more subtle, representational way. 

Next, when I colour his spots, I don’t just colour them black. In fact there’s no black used at all. I colour and blend and layer green, violet and blue to create his spots. See the spots are the key characteristic, so to draw attention to them, I colour them unlike what you’d expect. It’s a representational way to exaggerate this feature of the leopard. It makes him more fun to look at, and more fun to create. 

So when you are drawing in a key feature of a character, consider doing something fun to play up that feature. Show the key feature in a more representational way like here with the leopard. 

You can have a go with this idea on your own. Play around with all kinds of ways to colour this leopard. Any money no matter how many funky colour combinations you use, he still looks like a leopard. Hey there’s a good challenge. I’ll post up this leopard as a FREE PDF download and let’s see how many fun ways we can colour him! And of course you can do this with your own drawing.

You will wind up drawing a different picture than I did in our online art class with the kids. That’s great! That’s the entire point. Ready… Let’s get creative!

Step 1 – Draw Lightly! Let it Flow

I begin with my biggest shape that is going to create the main feature of my cartoon. This one is a simple circle for the leopards head. But I don’t just draw one circle and leave it at that; I draw lots. I play around with the head shape, and exaggerate his jaw somewhat.

This light drawing time is key creative time – I get something down on the paper, warm up my right brain, and start to get a feel for how my character is going to orient on the page. This is my most important thinking time.

Step 2 – Experiment for Expression

Next I lightly sketch in the other features. I ask myself lots of questions and experiment with light sketchy lines. I try out various placement, size and orientation of the rest of the lines and smaller shapes that will form my character. This is my chance to play around and see how I can make this cartoon expressive.

Step 3 – Ink with your Instincts

Now I grab my pen. But of course you can outline darker in pencil. I almost always start with the eyes and/or nose. Here the eyes, nose, muzzle and bridge of the nose are very important to his look. This is going to give my character expression so this is where I begin. I have lots of sketchy lines on my page, but I use my instincts to commit to which will look best for my cartoon. Here I trust my taste.

With my pen, I continue to outline the rest of my character.  I exaggerate the lines that give the feeling I am looking to express. And of course I add spots!

Step 4 – Colour your Cartoon to Life

I usually colour a cartoon with just three or four pencil crayons. This is just enough variety of colour to give my character interest while still maintaining harmony. Here I break that by using five colours.  I want to showcase his spots so there are three colours just for my leopard spots alone. In some areas I blend and layer the colour while in others I apply it on it’s own.  This is also why I use pencil crayons to colour – because I can make it as simple or complicated as I like.  I add emphasis and contrast of colour at the end, according to my taste to liven up my cartoon. Voila!

Please share your cartoons

Please share your cartoons when you are done. I LOVE seeing everyone’s art work and drawings. It’s so inspiring! If you are on Instagram please tag @sjvickery and hashtag #cartoonclub or find me on Facebook @sarahjanevickeryart

Grab a FREE PDF or watch another art class tutorial

I also have lots of Free Worksheets and Colouring Pages for anyone who wants to get creative. To see all my videos and tutorials head on over to my YouTube channel.

Online Art Classes

for Kids and Adults who love to Doodle!

Are you always doodling? Do you love to create cartoons? These are the art classes for you! I've created a small, friendly group that works together in our online art class. We’re open to anyone who likes to sit, doodle and dream up cartoons. There are drawing classes for kids (ages 8 - 12), young children (ages 6 - 7) and even adults.

Cartoon Club for Kids Online art class for kids to learn to draw
online art classes for kids
online art classes for adults