Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design - learn more

Online Cartooning Course

Cartooning and Sequential Art

The great cartoon artists know how to tell a story with one image. In this online cartooning course, you'll explore concepts for visual storytelling. Working with a veteran cartoonist, you'll discover how master cartoonists tell stories simply and effectively and apply what you learn in practical projects that help you grow your sequential art portfolio. Course topics include panel transitions, time and motion effects, character studies, speed drawing, and polishing and presenting your work to publishers.

Onine cartooning course image 

Develop your storytelling skills in cartoon art

Instructor-Led Course

Feedback from design professionals

Creative Projects

Stretch your skills, grow your portfolio

Learn at Your Own Pace

Self-paced and scheduled programs available

Course Outline

1 - Generating Visual Ideas

We will explore the beginning stage of developing ideas for scenes. I'll show you my process for getting ideas on paper and discuss some of the drawing tools and materials you can use for this course.

2 - Telling a Story With Multiple Panels

In this lesson we are going to focus on how to connect one panel in a cartoon art project to the next. The technical term for this is panel transitions. We will define six different types of panel transitions you can use, show you examples of each type, and break down how it all works.

3 - Working With Time

In this lecture, we're going to work on the concept of manipulating time even further. As we'll discover, time can be stretched in a single panel in multiple ways. Doing that effectively can add drama and storytelling power to each frame that you create.

4 - Creating Believable Characters

Here we'll look at how to develop your characters from a psychological standpoint, and discuss how the psychology of your characters affects their design. We'll look at several examples of "character bibles" to see how artists develop their character designs over time.

5 - Picking Your Shots

In this lecture we'll examine a couple of ways you can make your stories clearer. We will explore 21 classic shots used by cartoon artists (and they are classics for a reason.) And we'll examine how drawing quickly can actually make your compositions and shot selections more effective.

6 - Finishing Touches and Presenting Your Work

In this final lesson we'll explore some of the finishing touches for making your work look professional, including speech balloons, lettering, and inking.

Course Outcomes

Students in this course can expect to learn to:

  • Generate interesting visual ideas for cartoon art through brainstorming.
  • Use an online image search as reference material for your drawings.
  • Create character studies through live sketching in a public space.
  • Use the six typical panel transitions in an effective and appropriate manner.
  • Develop short psychological profiles for your characters.
  • Apply concepts and techniques for expressing time and motion.
  • Basic ability to polish and ink your cartooning work for presentation.
  • Develop a basic character bible style reference sheet showing characters with a variety of poses and emotions.
  • Create side-by-side proportional drawings of a set of characters.
  • Create stories through quick, effective composition choices.
  • Utilize speed drawing techniques as a way to generate ideas for more polished artwork.
  • Make effective use of speech balloons and consistent use of lettering.
  • Promote your cartoon stories through the selection and presentation of your artwork.
  • Create a compelling cartoon project pitch with a project title, description, character bible, two representative scenes, and three stories.
  • Exhibit skill in visual storytelling through character sketches, panel transitions, time and motion techniques.

Course Registration

Interested in this course? Scheduled enrollment options are available. Ask Admissions about taking this course as part of a degree program.

Course LevelClasses startRegistration FeeTuition
Degree course
3-credit course, 15 week
Jan, Apr, Aug$200$510/credit
* Registration fees are nonrefundable after 5 days from enrollment. All tuition includes a digital materials fee for updates to course or program content.

Software and Supplies

To take this course you'll need:

  • Computer with Internet connection.
  • Adobe Illustrator CS6 or CC.
  • Various drawing supplies as desired.
  • Basic experience in drawing and the above software.


Who’s Teaching

Course developed by Bill Drastal

Getting Started

Enrolling online is easy and convenient.

Chat with our knowledgeable admissions staff to select course and program options.

Complete your registration entirely online.

Related Programs

Did you know? You can take this course as part of an award-winning certificate or degree program.