Monday, July 16, 2007

Cute Kids Are Tough to Draw!

I had to draw some cute kids today for an assignment and let me tell you, after nearly twenty years of doing this professionally I still can't draw cute kids.

Its actually something that's come up a few times among my circle of illustrator friends... how come our kids always end up looking like horribly distorted little adults?

So I thought it might be fun to take a look this week at some classic illustrations of cute kids - some that work really well, some that maybe don't - and throw 'em out there for your inspection, analysis, criticism, comments - whatever. Why does this one work so well while that one doesn't? What are your theories or advice on how to draw cute kids? Any horror stories from your personal experiences having to draw kids?

This week, in an effort to make this blog a little more "interactive" I pose the question: "how do you draw a cute kid?"

Inquiring proportion-challenged illustrators want to know.

Determined to get a closer look at these scans? Go to my new Cute Kids Flickr set.


  1. Mark Harris5:25 PM

    Kids ARE tough. I needed this TI last week.
    Can anyone recommend a good book on this?

  2. Speak of the devil - here's one of my pals who shares my trepidation about drawing cute kids. Sorry Mark - I'm hoping the readers share their secrets with us all this week - 'cause I too could use a magical book on how to draw cute kids! ;-)

  3. Anonymous5:52 PM

    A great illustrator (who did photorealistic illustration) once told me the secret was the head- larger in proportion to the body, larger eyes, etc.

  4. I agree Leif-- I used to draw a comic strip with kids, and I quickly realized that they have no facial lines, bone structure or shadows that make an artist's job easier. After looking around in desperation, I found that Wally Wood and Will Eisner had figured it out: little spindly arms and legs, like toothpicks, a great big head with huge eyes, protruding cheeks and an upturned nose. Works every time. Also, Mort Drucker is great with kids, but he is great with everything.

  5. Bob-O9:22 PM

    Yes, cute kids can be a struggle, its a fine line between cute and creepy/disturbing. My advice: make the eyes a little larger, and keep them low on the head.

  6. can't believe i haven't found this blog before. excellent artwork! drop by mine for something along the same lines. i'm going to add you to my links.

    sincerely, superflywebpimp, genius.

  7. carolita8:08 AM

    Biggish heads, big eyes set low in head, small nose (basically smaller lower part of face, but not too skinny). Soft features. Just think of why puppies are cute, or kewpie dolls. Get a kewpie doll and draw it. There's nothing cuter.

  8. There's actually an academic field that deals with an issue related to this called neoteny, which describes a phenomenon whereby adults of a species retain juvenile characterics (and hence, become more attractive). Stephen Gould, of all people once wrote an essay on neoteny in Mickey Mouse and how he went from feral to cute (because his eyes got bigger).

  9. tris mast7:38 PM

    Pete Hawley did some great kids. Big craniums and features low on the head are key cuteness factors. Eyes can be small, too, like in Nancy and Sluggo.

  10. Dang! You beat me to the punch on Pete Hawley, tris mast. Drop by on Thursday when I'll be featuring the Pete Hawley's I had saved up for this week! ;-)