Whittlesea cartoonist publishes new book, a step-by-step guide for kids of all ages

By Aleksandra Bliszczyk

Doreen-based and Whittlesea-bred cartoonist Brett Cardwell has released his new book – a 40-page guide to cartooning basics for beginners.

Mr Cardwell has been running cartooning workshops in schools and communities for 15 years and has been illustrating books professionally since he was in year 11, but this will be his first self-published book.

“This one I’ve had in the back of my mind for the last five years, and I eventually got there, but I think the technology and the timing for me is right,” Mr Cardwell said.

“I just thought it’s time for a revamp and to share the joy of cartooning.”

Ready to Draw Cartoons will be the first of a series of instructional books, which is designed for young people who want to give cartooning a go.

It will cover expressions, hands, animals and how to bring it all together, with QR codes throughout the book linking to video tutorials.

“It’s quite easy once you know which shapes and lines to use, and that’s the whole joy and fun of it, that people who thought they couldn’t draw, suddenly find that they’re drawing cartoon expressions with a few lines and squiggles,” he said.

“Cartooning, I guess the purpose of it is just to bring a smile to people’s faces, so just have some fun, that’s what it’s all about.”

Mr Cardwell has been drawing for as long as he can remember – his mother, also an artist, guesses he started around age two.

He said his family and teachers fostered his talent and encouraged and supported him in his passion, which he said has profoundly impacted him.

While working with a group that ran workshops in schools and community groups in remote outback communities, he unearthed a love of both illustrating and storytelling in real time before people’s eyes.

“When I was young I just loved drawing things really quickly and I developed this really simple cartoon style that I now teach in schools and cartoon workshops,” he said.

“Drawing fast was a really great tool to have as a communicator. You could tell the story visually and change the expressions as you went.

“I just really hit me the power of cartooning – telling a story in front of people like that.”

His new book was released in time for Mr Cardwell’s upcoming free cartooning workshops at Whittlesea Community Centre, in partnership with the City of Whittlesea, slated for August 25 if restrictions permit.

Mr Cardwell will host two workshop sessions, one at 5.30pm and one at 7.30pm, which are open to adults and children, and will form the basis for a community art project he plans to execute in spring.

“I’d like to teach [attendees] some skills and then encourage everyone to go out and practise their drawing for a month and think of things and people around Whittlesea and try to depict them in cartoon form,” he said.

The project could include local shop owners, friends, family, Whittlesea landscapes, or simply cartoons of a pet dog, cat or horse.

“In a month’s time I’ll be asking everyone to take photos of their work before we meet back … and then I’ll put everyone’s artwork on a banner that will hang in the main street. It’ll be so cool,” he said.

Ready to Draw Cartoons will available at Whittlesea Cartooning Project workshops for $15 and registrations of interest can be made by emailing brett@cardytoons.com.au. Books can also be purchased online at cardytoons.com.au.