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Demonstration by Danny Byrne, 8 May 2009

Visit him at www.dannycartoons.co.uk

Danny last visited us on 26th September 2003 and so we were very happy to welcome him for another demonstration of his humour and skill.

He had been drawing cartoons since he was a school and it did not take long for him to realise that he could make a living at it.

Calendars, books, greetings cards and jigsaws probably fill enough of his time but he could almost moonlight as a stand-up comic.

The first phase of any of his cartoons is to start with " Pencil Roughs" - he may do perhaps ten before he is satisfied.
For cartoons, you can forget all your worries about proportion and perspective. He would normally start with the "stage" (the background scenery) and then add the figures.

These, for people or animals, he starts with the head: drawing a circle (which may be drastically distorted), then an oval (ditto) for the nose and two smaller circles with dots in, just touching the nose, for the eyes.

Try making these features tiny for babies. Ears are then tacked on. The mouth can be almost any mark. Eyebrows, almost more than the mouth, define emotions.
The contrast between the pencil and the black marker makes the pencil almost invisible here but you can just see it in one or two of the examples.

You don't HAVE to use circles for heads - you will see that great liberties have been taken (below, one group of three, for example, is a pencil, ruler and rubber).

Ear shapes, a healthy black nose and appropriate fur and whiskers are all that you need to make an animal head instead of a human one. The basic starting point of head/eyes/nose circles stays the same.

You would normally attach very under-sized bodies and limbs to the head with a thin neck. Arms and legs are first 'pin men', then rough cylinders with hands and feet sticking out. Clothing is then added.
Don't forget, though, that you should still collect reference material - not just so you have records of what characterises things but also because you can sometimes be criticised for technical mistakes that most people would never notice (like the wrong shape for an engine).

However, it is important, for humour's sake, to exaggerate important characteristics (like the stuff in the shopping bags, left) and not to forget the little dashes and speed marks to indicate motion (see the reindeer's hand below).

Each artist will have a style and practice is the only way to find what's best for you. Use large sheets of paper and try all sorts of shapes until you find some that appeal to you. Then into the real thing with ink (black felt pen, here), using the pencil lines only as a very rough guide.

Finally Danny did caricatures of Jason Crandley and Fiona Hunt (apologies for the blurry photo, Fiona, you'd just started to move and I didn't think it showed until I got home). He made it all look so, so easy - as if anyone could do it - but his technical skill came through in the last few minutes when he did the caricatures.

A super evening.
Notes by Sam Dauncey. . . . . .and some more examples of Danny's 2003 cartoons

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