DIY: How to Paint a Cartoon on Canvas

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This post outlines an easy DIY project you can do with your kids: how to outline, sketch, and paint a cartoon in canvas. 

One of the easiest ways to spruce up your kid’s room is to decorate it around their favorite cartoon characters. My three-year-old is very fond of the Disney character, Winne the Pooh and his buddies Tigger, Christopher Robin, Rabbit, Eeyore, Lumpy, Kanga, Roo and Piglet.

But he is at such a age where his liking for the fantasy characters is short-lived.

A while ago, he doted on Noddy, and around the second birthday, he was quite crazy about Barbie (if only, for a brief while like two hours during which he felt she wasn’t quite her kind of fun),  and now, it’s Winnie and Spiderman.

Winnie has being going steady for nearly a year going by the Pooh accessories we have at home now – wall stickers, piles of books, soft toy, a deck of fun cards, and a towel. Anyways, while I wanted to do up a wall of his room around Winnie, I didn’t want to put up a permanent theme on the walls by painting which would make it difficult to change.

So, I got started on a acrylic on canvas portrait of Winnie The Pooh.  It took me about three hours to finish the project from start to finish, including shopping for materials.

DIY: How to Paint a Cartoon Character on Canvas
Winnie The Pooh

What you’ll need to paint a cartoon:

1. Canvas

2. Acrylic paints

3. Tracing paper

4. 4-5 sheets Carbon paper

5. Paint brushes and palette

6. Self-sticking tape

7. Hooks

8. Varnish

Total Cost of the Project:

Under Rs.300

Steps – How to paint

  1. If you’re good at freehand, then draw the character directly on canvas. But if you’re like me who needs help with drawing, you’ll first have to find a picture large enough of the cartoon character. Look around for posters or stickers in stationery shops. Or if there’s a real nice picture of a smaller dimension, enlarge it on your computer and print it out.
  2. Once you have the original image ready, trace the outline and the details by placing a tracing paper on top of the image using a pencil. Clip the corners of the tracing paper to the original image so that it doesn’t move.
  3. When you’re done, compare it with the original to see if you’ve captured all the lines and curves.
  4. While tracing papers are available in various sizes, carbon paper comes in a standard size. In order to cover the entire canvas surface, use many overlapping carbon sheets and stick them lightly to the canvas. This will make tracing easier.
  5. Transfer the design on to the canvas by drawing along the lines.Take care not to exert too much force to void smudges and a dark outline on the canvas.
  6. Using acrylic colors, paint the canvas. To cover large surfaces, use a flat, bigger brush between point 8 and 10. I used the Fevicryl acrylic colors. You can use any brand such as Camel, Faber Castell or Camlin.
  7. As acrylic colors are thin, give two coats for a uniform finish.
  8. Seal it off with layer of varnish to protect the painting from dirt.
  9. And, we’re done. Attach a picture hook to the canvas, drill a hole and hang it on the wall.

Here’s the finished piece in its original setting. It fits somewhere  in the middle of those wall stickers I put up sometime ago.

How to paint a cartoon on canvas


I intend to fill in the gaps with images of Pooh’s buddies and a wooden mural of Hundred Acre Wood at the top.  The last thing would be to give a fresh coat of paint for this dull wall.


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