Art Lesson Plan: Cartooning - Graphic Design

Comic Book Design

Submitted by: Jennifer Auble, Westfield Middle School, Westfield Indiana
UNIT: Cartooning - Graphic Design
LESSON PLAN: Comic book or comic strip design
Grade Level: Middle School (Jennie did this with 8th grade) TIME LENGTH: 1 -1 ½ weeks



Design an original cartoon character.

Understand the creative process and development of a cartoon from brainstorming to final draft.

Use the correct terminology associated with cartooning.

Recognize the different kinds of cartooning including a gag comic, comic strip, caricature, and a comic book.



Scrap paper, graph paper,.Drawing Pencils., Kneaded Rubber Erasers., Colored Pencils.., Washable Markers., final draft paper, templates


Instructional Resources:

Assorted cartooning videos, comic books, Sunday and weekday comic strips, cartooning books

Vocabulary: gag, caricature, strip, comic book, panel, thumbnail sketch, plot, point of view, cropping, rule of thirds, caption, bubble, narrative.


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Click images for larger views



Activity TV: Cartooning Expert. - Draw along with cartoonist Bruce Blitz as he shows you how to create awesome cartoon characters. For experienced artists, these easy tutorials teach you techniques that real cartoonists use, like facial expressions, action poses, and the ghost effect!


Blitz Cartooning Video Library : 5 VHS Set. - A total collection of Bruce Blitz's instructional videos in one Library Set! Approximately 5 hours of running time. A complete course on cartooning and drawing. Includes 5 Videos: How to Draw Cartoon, Learn Basic Drawing, Draw Your Own Comic Strips, How to Draw Cartoon Doodle Tricks, How To Draw Cartoon Animals



Action! Cartooning. - Written and illustrated by a former Marvel Comics' artist with brilliant hand-done images throughout, this graphic handbook of cartooning is without equal. It's simply larger, better illustrated, and more in depth than any similar title on the market.


Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Cartooning but Were Afraid to Draw (Christopher Hart Titles). - Author Christopher Hart covers everything a cartoonist needs to know to tell a joke visually, from the effective use of layout, light, and shading to the techniques of conveying emotion. There are lessons in drawing characters in reaction shots and "takes," indicating specific settings such as underwater and nighttime scenes, and depicting various weather conditions.


Cartooning: The Ultimate Character Design Book. - Character design is the key to success in comic books and animated films, and with this clear step-by-step guide, it's a skill that can be quickly learned.



Brainstorm favorite cartoons (include TV, comic book, movies, comic strips)

Look at main characters and analyze personality, plot, and characteristics of comic character

I.e.: hero, clutz, nerd, shy, boastful, popular, cute, brave, funny

Brainstorm possible character types for original cartoon character

I.e.: animals, babies, teenagers, elderly, teachers, athletes, aliens

Look at displays and sample cartooning ideas.



Write out a written description of the original character. What is the characters name? What type of character will it be? Describe the personality and what type of events or circumstances the character might be involved in. Will the character have a supporting cast or a side-kick? Will the character have props or a special environment that they live in?


Begin making thumbnail sketches of what the character might look like. Take one idea and continue to develop the character showing both a frontal and side view. Include the full body and any props the cartoon will need. Add color and detail. Turn in 2 view character drawing for approval. This drawing will be used as the standard for both the comic and the sculpture so it will need to be returned to the student for the next steps.

Choose either the comic strip or the comic book cover assignment.


Panel – Look at different layouts of a comic strip. Create a rough draft template with a minimum of 3 action panels and a title panel. Below or above each panel jot down the ideas for the action or spoken plot. Sketch ideas in each panel. Think about point of view, size, cropping, and the rule of thirds when designing each panel. Turn in rough draft for approval. Transfer rough draft to final draft paper. Draw lightly in pencil. Add lettering, detail and color. Finish with a fine point marker outline.


Comic Book Cover – Look at the different sizes and shapes of comic books. Create a rough draft book. Include the title, character, background, props, captions, etc. Think about point of view, size, cropping, and the rule of thirds, and a border when designing the cover. Turn in rough draft for approval. Transfer ideas to the final draft. Draw lightly in pencil, add color and finish in marker. The final cover design should include details such as a bar code, price, and other details found on a real comic book cover.


Share comic book or strip with the class and create school display.
Prepare for 3-D sculpture project.


Evaluation: teacher rubric, self evaluation

Cartooning Unit Self Evaluation

Name ___________________________________________ Period _____

1. All parts are turned in

_____ Original writing, thumbnails, rough drafts

_____ Original character in full color – 2 views

_____ Comic strip or comic book full color

_____ This self evaluation!

2. Your character's name _____________________________

3. Describe the personality of your character or any special powers it has:




4. Do you feel your cartoon character is original and creative? 5 4 3 2 1

5. Do you feel you cartoon character took some effort and challenged you? 5 4 3 2 1

Comic Book or Comic Strip – which one did you do? __________________________

6. Book – Circle any you did:

full color, marker outline, detail, border, background setting or situation for you character, supporting cast of characters or side-kick character, cool title lettering, realistic book details.


6. Strip – Circle any you did:

Title panel, 3 or more additional panels, full color, marker outline, detail, backgrounds, supporting cast of characters or side-kick character, bubbles or narrative captions.

7. Craftsmanship 5 4 3 2 1

8. Effort and Creativity 5 4 3 2 1

9. Use of class time 5 4 3 2 1

__________ Extra credit – did both book and comic strip



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