The 1-2-3 Draw Cartoon books by Steve Barr are a wonderful complement to a homeschool art program for children ages 6 and up. I reviewed Cartoon Animals, Cartoon People, Cartoon Aliens and Space Stuff, and Cartoon Faces ($8.95 each). These are just a few of the excellent titles available in the 1-2-3 Draw series. The idea of the books is to break down the character or item to be drawn into the simplest shapes, and then walk the child through the drawing step-by-step. For example, a wonderful cartoon fish is drawn mostly with simple ovals and circles. After the basic shape is drawn, unnecessary lines are erased and the picture can be shaded with colored pencils or any other medium. In a few simple steps, the budding artist is able to draw some adorable critters. The company’s website (www.drawbooks.com) displays samples from the books so you can see if the level and style is appropriate for your child.
There are many things to love about these books! First and foremost, they are very creative and easy to use for even young children. The instructions are clear and understandable, and the illustrations provide just the right amount of help. My family thought the animals and characters were charming, with loads of personality! The tone of the books was also very positive and encouraging, particularly in helping children develop their own style of drawing by experimenting and using their own creativity rather than just copying someone else’s style. Each book contains about a dozen projects with various additional information, such as, adding facial expressions or movement in different ways. It was amazing how small changes sometimes made a drawing look very different! Each book ends with a fun certificate for the child as a “Cartoonist’s Apprentice First Class”. I think these books would be an excellent supplement for teaching even reluctant kids a bit about drawing. Budding artists could learn many new and helpful techniques, while novices could create delightful drawings with just a little bit of practice!