Throughout the early 20th century, Andrew Loomis was a cartoonist working in advertising for some of the biggest companies at the time.
After a stint teaching at the American Academy of Art, Loomis began putting together material combining his talents as a cartoonists and teaching techniques he learned while teaching.
This material would eventually become a series of drawing instruction books ranging from basic construction to cartooning and anatomy.
The first book in the series that Loomis released was called Fun With A Pencil.
- Format: Digital, Hardcover
- Author: Andrew Loomis
- Publisher: Titan Books
- Edition: 1st Edition(Reprint)
- Original Published: 1939
- Edition Published: 2013
- Page Number: 120 pages
- Book Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.7 x 12.3 in
- Languages: English
- ISBN-10: 0857687603
- ISBN-13: 978-0857687609
Fun With A Pencil is not so much a book on learning how to draw as it is a book on learning how to draw specifically cartoons.
While several of Loomis’ other books delve deeper into the subjects of things like figure drawing(and while Fun With A Pencil touches on the subject briefly), this book is mainly focused on teaching construction for drawing cartoons.
Everything is boiled down to the basics in Fun With A Pencil. The first few lessons in the book just start with drawing a ball and slowly adding details until you get a face.
Things get a little more complex once you get a bit deeper into the book but not terribly so.
Some people may be put off by the seemingly simple-looking exercises but they’re made to give you a good understanding of construction.
I was a little skeptical at first as well but once I began going through the book and getting into the different facial expressions and head angles that Fun With A Pencil throws at you, I found myself going back a practicing the earlier lessons a little more before continuing onto the later lessons.
I guess that serves me right for being impatient and trying to cruise through the book like a hotshot!
What Fun With A Pencil really excels at is giving you the ability to simplify the human face to be able to begin drawing cartoons.
I always had trouble taking the things I had learned in figure drawing classes and simplifying and exaggerating them to create a cartoon.
Now with the help of this book I’m starting to get the hang of it.
While Fun With A Pencil does not primarily focus on anatomy or the body in general, there is a section of the book dedicated to the construction of the body.
Constructing The Body
As stated above Fun With A Pencil has an anatomy element to it, but it’s fairly limited as you can see in the above picture.
Sure the basics are there but not enough I believe to call this an anatomy book. It gives you the basics for constructing the body.
That being said, things such as the “head trick” shown in the photo above are good little rules of thumb that you can use once you get better acquainted with anatomy.
There’s surprisingly a good amount of time put into talking the gesture of a drawing as well.
I’m not sure why, but when I think of cartooning I don’t think of gesture as much as I do when I think of animation. But in reality it makes just as much if not more sense.
An animator has the added benefit of movement on their side while a cartoonist only has a few or even just one shot at conveying a gesture to the audience.
Something worth mentioning is that Fun With a Pencil comes with a bunch of different examples and references that you can look back on if you’re having trouble with a specific concept.
Trying to draw a little kid but can’t quite get it right? Look at the reference. What about hands? There’s something for that too.
I’d say there was a reference in this book for most of the basic face shapes and some other body parts that will you use when practicing cartooning.
This is great because it means you’ll have a use for this book even after you’ve read completely through it.
Fun With A Pencil is a great choice for artists looking to get into cartooning and even animation.
Author Andrew Loomis boils everything down to the basics to teach artists the fundamentals of constructing the face.
The book gives you many lessons featuring different expressions and angles to make you get the basics.
While there are some aspects of anatomy mentioned in Fun With a Pencil, artists looking to read more in-depth on the subject may want to take a look at Loomis’ Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth or the Anatomy category on this site.
There is a good amount of gesture-related anatomy in this book, which was a bit surprising for me but a good surprise nonetheless.
There were also a bunch of references that you can come back to after you’ve read through the book which I believe gives it a lot more value.
Fun With A Pencil may have been originally written in 1939 but the information in this book is priceless. I’d recommend the other books by Loomis as well if you want everything this master of the pencil has to offer.