As promised, this morning when my little girl woke up coughing and I had to put her back down, I stayed up and worked on a few sketches for a post about drawing Boynton. I had so much fun working on these, although they were definitely not as easy as I first anticipated. I mentioned author and illustrator Sandra Boynton in my last post, Board Books for Infants and Toddlers – she is phenomenal, and I highly recommend her books, both for their illustrations and their rhythmic stories. Kids love them! You should also visit her Facebook page to see new drawings and adorable posts to lift your spirits.

This drawing tutorial would be a great afternoon project for older kids, and I thought it could be the beginning of a fun home school unit in cartooning. What other illustrators would the kids like to try imitating? You could combine it with a literature unit about the value of cartoons and how they tell a story, compared to a poem, a short story, etc. At the end of this post, I’ve included a few discussion questions for incorporating this tutorial into a home school art curriculum, if you choose to do that, including a homework (or project) assignment.

Here are the step-by-step instructions for drawing three of Boynton’s illustrations. If you’re a little hesitant or not sure about your drawing skills, try starting with the last character, a front angle of the duck. He was the easiest for me. Enjoy!

Sketchbook or blank paper
Pen, pencil, eraser (might be fun to try Sharpies after you have a little practice)
Boynton book to look at

Here’s what I started with:

I quickly realized after a few attempts that a pen was not working for me, and I switched to a pencil and a BIG eraser. This is the first little guy I drew:

Starting with the eyes seemed to work best for me on all three of these drawings. Make the duck’s eye and beak:

Add his belly,

his back,

and his tail.

Now he needs a foot

and another.

Now the best part – his hair! Add the tufts at the back

and the ones on top! Now you’re finished. How adorable is he?

Next, I chose this horse:

Again, I started with the eyes and mouth. I seemed to have the best luck that way.

Next, add the belly.

And I had to add his ear before I could add his back, because they are connected, and I needed the ear for placement. Here’s the ear

and back.

And now one leg at a time:





Until we add the belly, so we can add the fourth leg.


Now, add the tail in three parts (right side, left side, bottom).



Let’s add the top part of the mane, and his other ear. I still didn’t think he looked much like a horse until the last part of the mane, so hang on til the end.


And the last one is the cute duck from before, this time from the front. This one was way easier than the other two; I wish I had started with this one.

Start with his eyes. One is kind of oblong.

Add his beak.

Now his wings,


and feet, one at a time. Now you’re done!


If you enjoyed that, vote in the comments about who you want to draw next! I like this cow, funny dog with the green collar, tiny cat, and comfortable sheep.
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A few questions for discussion while those kids are busy working on their drawings:

  1. Why are cartoons fun to read?
  2. Why are cartoons fun to draw?
  3. How are cartoons different from other kinds of drawings?
  4. Can a cartoon be funny without words? How?
  5. What are some of your favorite cartoons or comics to read? Why?
  6. Who else do you know of that drew cartoons or comics? Why do you think they became famous?
  7. How does a cartoon tell a story?
  8. Why is it different than a book or short story? A poem? A play?
  9. Do you think both kinds of storytelling are important? Why or why not?
  10. HOMEWORK: Choose your favorite cartoon or comic. Rewrite the story being told in short story format. (Follow up: rewrite the story again in poem format, and then rewrite again as a play.)

To extend the unit, or incorporate history (I am a fan of interdisciplinary learning), add in a few days of biographical information on famous cartoonists. There is probably also a display at an art museum close to you on cartooning, if you want to do a field trip. You could also compare to graphic novels. If you want to do a whole semester on it, read some of the novels that influenced these cartoonists; study the political events of their times and how they might have influenced their work. Did characters from other comics make appearances in cartoons?