How To Become A Cartoonist: A Step-By-Step Guide
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published 17 April 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Cartoonists convey humour, a story or a message through cartoons. Cartoonists can be self-employed professionals or may work in the film, television, newspaper or publishing industries. If you have a talent for drawing and an interest in pursuing a career in this field, it is beneficial to know the steps to become a cartoonist. In this article, we examine how to become a cartoonist, the qualifications required to become one and the different job opportunities available.
What Does A Cartoonist Do?
The duties of a cartoonist may vary based on the industry they work for. Their responsibility revolves around creating cartoons and producing the final version as per a company's or a client's needs. The specific duties and responsibilities of a cartoonist are:
Brainstorming ideas for drawings
Designing and outlining comics and cartoons
Generating commission-based work
Creating personal projects
Sending comics and portfolios to publishers
Communicating with clients and customers
Collaborating with other artists, such as writers and producers
Marketing their work through advertisements or social media
How To Become A Cartoonist?
Knowing how to become a cartoonist may be the first step to take towards becoming one. An interest and the skill to visualise and make cartoons is a basic requirement to become a cartoonist. Artistic talent, creativity and the ability to tell interesting stories are some other requirements to become a cartoonist. Follow these steps to become a cartoonist:
1. Pursue a degree related to arts
Students from any 10+2 stream can pursue a bachelor's degree in arts. But for a master's degree, colleges may specify a bachelor's degree in arts or a related subject as the eligibility criteria. A formal degree in an arts subject can train you in disciplines like design, illustration, animation and caricature. It can also teach you how to use technology to enhance your skills.
You can find work opportunities in domains like graphic design, multimedia, animation and digital illustration. Cartoonists may not necessarily require formal education to practise, but earning a bachelor's degree related to art may benefit you if you intend to search for a job. A degree can also equip you with technical skills and provide industry-related knowledge. If you want to become a cartoonist, consider pursuing the following degrees:
BSc (Bachelor of Science) in Gaming and Animation
BSc in Animation
BSc in Animation and VFX
BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) in Animation, Graphics and Web Design
BA (Bachelor of Arts) in Animation and Graphic Design
BA in Digital Filmmaking and Animation
BDes (Bachelor of Design) in Animation
MSc (Master of Science) in Gaming and Animation
MSc in Animation and VFX
MSc in Animation
MFA (Masters of Fine Arts) in Animation, Graphics and Web Design
MA (Master of Arts) in Animation and Graphic Design
MA in Digital Filmmaking and Animation
MDes (Master of Design) in Animation
2. Join a diploma or a certificate course
Diplomas are short-term courses that teach specific skills and workflows relevant to a career field. Diploma courses can last between six months to two years. Some advanced diplomas may require a bachelor's or master's degree in a relevant field. After procuring a bachelor's degree, you can join a post-graduate diploma course to enhance your skill set and improve your employability. Certificate courses are highly specialised and may last anywhere between two weeks and three months.
Certificate and diploma courses are usually career and industry-specific courses. They also expose you to the practical application of concepts that you learn in your degree program. If you are keen on pursuing a diploma, you can consider the following courses:
Diploma in 2D and 3D Animation
Diploma in Screen and Media Animation
Diploma in 3D Modelling and Animation
Diploma in Animation and Visual Effects
Diploma in Cartooning and Animation
Certificate in VFX
Certificate in 2D Animation
Certificate in 3D Animation
Certificate in Graphic Design
Certificate in Computer Graphics
3. Build a portfolio
A portfolio is an introduction to an artist's published and unpublished work and their most important accomplishments. A portfolio can also contain evaluations, recognitions, testimonials and feedback from professionals, art critics, teachers, peers and employers. It can include the cartoons you have drawn as part of your college, diploma or certification programme.
For an artist, their portfolio is as crucial as a resume for professional growth. You can also create a website or web page, add selected work and accomplishments, and create a digital portfolio. If you do not have a formal art-related academic qualification, a portfolio can interest a potential employer and draw their attention to your artistic capabilities.
4. Learn multiple cartooning styles
Cartoonists may have unique styles for drawing and rendering. You can practise and develop your proficiency in multiple cartooning styles. You can use a variety of approaches, techniques and styles to expand the content of your portfolio and your body of work. There are about 25 popular cartoon styles, including traditional, modern, noodle, minimalistic and anime. Using technology and digital illustration styles, you can create unique styles and also patent them through online platforms. Learn more styles to improve your employability.
5. Acquire relevant technical skills
Cartoonists can draw their designs by hand or use digital tools to create characters, backdrops and other elements. The use of technology in this professional domain is on the rise. A cartoonist can familiarise themselves with relevant technical skills to improve their output, increase productivity and add value to their resume. If you want to become a cartoonist, consider mastering these tools:
6. Develop soft skills
Though your artistic talent becomes instrumental in becoming a cartoonist, you can also equip yourself with the right soft skills to become successful in this line of work. Combining artistic talent, technical skills and soft skills can help a cartoonist find sustained success. Some essential soft skills for a cartoonist include:
Creativity: A company may assign a cartoonist to work in multiple genres or styles, and being creative can help them create good quality projects in diverse domains.
Written communication skills: Cartoonists may write captions, dialogues and titles for their cartoons. Incorporating humour, wit and satire, and creating engaging captions is crucial to a cartoonist's work.
Emotive communication skills: Cartoonists communicate with their audience through their cartoons. Developing an ability to communicate emotions effectively helps them to connect with their audience better.
Organisation skills: Cartoonists may work alone or with a team. They may also work on multiple projects simultaneously with strict deadlines and staying organised is an essential skill that helps them maintain productivity.
Self-motivation: Experimenting with new ideas can often help cartoonists stay motivated in their line of work.
7. Practice basic techniques routinely
A 30-minute practice session on a routine basis can improve your drawing. Create a character using a visual reference or draw a character from memory. Keep building and improvising on your characters. Watch videos and tutorials from experts to learn new professional techniques.
8. Identify the type of cartoons you want to make
There are many types of cartoons and cartoonist careers. Since cartoonists can create cartoons in more than one style, you can identify the type of cartoons you want to create. You can create political cartoons, comic strips, web comics or web toons. Some common job roles for cartoonists include:
Once you know the type of work you want to create, you can focus more on that specific area and explore relevant opportunities for work. This understanding can also help you work on the specific formats of cartoons, including:
Video game packaging
9. Become an intern
Gaining professional experience is very important for an artist's career growth. Internships can give you the opportunity to work with professional cartoonists early on in your career. You can look for paid or unpaid internship opportunities with organisations that employ cartoonists, and look for full-time opportunities there after you gain some entry-level experience. If you want to work as a freelancer or a part-time cartoonist, internship opportunities can help you understand industry requirements. You can look for internship opportunities in the following organisations which employ cartoonists:
Film and television production houses
10. Apply for open positions
Once you have developed the required skills and gathered relevant qualifications, you can start applying for open positions. You can contact the placement cell of your institute or browse job search websites to know about the most recent job opportunities. You can also prepare a short list of companies that hire cartoonists and check their websites regularly to look for open positions.
Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.
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