DrawTogether with WendyMac
DrawTogether with WendyMac
The Secret to Drawing People

The Secret to Drawing People

With a little help from our favorite cartoonists, Lynda Barry and Ivan Brunetti
Hello! Wendy here with a big welcome to everyone joining DrawTogether for the first time. A quick overview for newcomers: new eps of the DT podcast for kids drop Fridays. These are free (though expensive to make.) On Sundays I send out the Grown-Ups Table (aka The GUT) to subscribers, including our weekly drawing assignment. The GUT community (aka the best creative community on the internet) gathers to share our artwork and chat in Substack’s app. How do we do it all?? YOU. $6/month gets you a seat at the Grown-Ups Table and the good feeling knowing you’re supporting DT for kids. Just $6! A drop in the bucket compared to the butterfly effect of goodness you help create.

Hello friends. I have a very important question for you today: why are people so hard to draw? Is it our wonky shoulders? She shape of our eyes? The funky curves of our ear? Or our weirdly formed hands and feet?! Answer: YES.

One solution is to just let go of the idea that we need to draw people exactly as they appear. That’s the secret Lynda Barry uses. Lynda, aka “Professor Chewbacca”, aka “The Near Sighted Monkey”, is one of my all-time favorite artists/cartoonist/writers, and today, we’re lifting up her wisdom in a quest to move beyond that voice that says things need to be perfect. Things like drawing people.

Lynda Barry in her home studio. Photo courtesy of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Lynda has written dozens of books, and every single one is wonderful. The exercise in today’s episode comes from her book Making Comics which is full of helpful ideas for what to draw when your brain feels stuck and uncertain. The first thing we do is learn to draw some super silly wiggly people, in the Lynda/Ivan style.

Attendance card exercise from Making Comics, by Lynda Barry

“We begin by drawing ourselves in a style identified by Irvan Brunetti. It’s a good alternative to stick figures which can’t do a whole lot besides stop and get frisked. Kids draw this way naturally: a big head area, a shape for the body area, noddle arms and legs, rudimentary hand and foot shapes, rudimentary features, and things that show it’s you, like glasses, a hair tie, keyes around your neck, a pattern on your shirt, and object you have with you.”

(Lynda is referring to an approach to drawing comics the great cartoonist Ivan Brunetti teaches in his incredible book Cartooning: Practice and Philosophy - it’s a great place to learn the basics of visual storytelling, too.)


The great thing about drawing people this way is that it opens up the possibilities for storytelling. Instead of laboring for hours over the curve of the ear, we’re ready to put send our characters off on adventures! And that is exactly what we do when we do Lynda’s assignment in today’s pod.

Four drawings in twelve minutes exercise, from Making Comics by Lynda Barry

Once we get over our fear of messing up (FOMU), the skies open up and the story drawing possibilities are endless.

If you want to hear more from Lynda Barry on her philosophy and her practice, check out this video Lynda made with the folks at the Macarthur Foundation.

THANK YOU LYNDA for our drawing exercises today. If you want more like this, go grab her book Making Comics pronto!

I cannot wait to see your Lynda Barry/Ivan Brunetti inspired people drawings. If you want to share them with us on Instagram, be sure to tag us at @DrawTogether.studio - and you can tag Lynda Barry at @TheNearSightedMonkey as well! I know she’d love to see what you draw, too.

Do YOU have a favorite way or special trick for drawing people? Leave it in the comments. There is no one way to do anything, and we are all always looking for new tricks. Everyone would love to hear yours!

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Thanks for drawing with me, friends. Say it with me: Everything is better when we DrawTogether.


wm and the DT Pod crew (Amy, Liz and Arjuna - woohoo!)

DrawTogether with WendyMac
DrawTogether with WendyMac
The world's first drawing podcast! Drawing teacher Wendy Mac offers a bite-sized, no-experience-required interactive art adventure - all you need is a piece of paper and pen. We learn about art and artists and some drawing skills, while building curiosity, confidence and connection. For kids (of all ages.) https://club.drawtogether.studio