The Da Vinci Cartooning Course
Learn how to draw outstanding cartoons (even if you can't draw a straight line)
Wouldn’t you like to draw cartoons to liven up your website, blog or presentations?
Wouldn’t it be great if you could draw your own cartoons instead of having to depend on someone else—or worse, buy some ill-fitting clip art?
And what if you can’t draw a straight line?
We all say it without thinking about it. When someone says: “Can you draw?”, we answer the question in an almost identical fashion. We all admit, we can’t draw a straight line.
Well that’s good news, because if there’s one place you don’t have to draw a straight line, it is in the practice of cartooning. You can draw wonky, shonky, monkey lines—if you have to draw lines at all. And in a few months (yes, just mere months) you’ll find yourself far more confident drawing. And strange as it may sound, people will come up to you and ask you: “Are you a cartoonist?”
So can you be a cartoonist?
Is it just an inborn talent? Or can anyone draw? The interesting fact is that anyone can draw and draw well. And you don’t have to believe me. You can go to any school on the planet and find a class where there are five-year olds.
Walk into that class and ask the class: “Who can draw?” And watch as every single hand goes up. Then if you have the chance, go back to that class after ten years, and ask the same question. And only a hand or two goes up.
So what’s happening? Did everyone lose their talent? No they didn’t. At five, every child knows how to draw and knows nothing about maths, history and science. At fifteen, every child knows maths, history and science—and has forgotten how to draw.
The Da Vinci Course brings back those memories
You can be five years old again and have a blast! And interestingly you’ll start drawing like a five-year old but soon progress to the state where people will indeed come up to you and ask: “Are you a cartoonist?”
What if you can't even draw stick figures?
Would Wiz Withers really become a cartoonist, considering he’d been struggling with stick figures? Clients who go through the cartooning course are stunned at the progress they make and go on to become accomplished cartoonists, much to their own surprise.
Introducing the Da Vinci Cartooning Course
If you've ever looked over the shoulder of another artist and wondered if you too can draw, well, the answer is yes. This course will take you from an absolutely raw beginner (even if you can't draw stick figures) and turn you into a cartoonist that others admire.
Once you're able to draw, you can create your own artwork, whether it be for business (e.g. a website/blog) or for your own personal joy. Participants feel the sheer pleasure of having a superpower they never knew existed. That's what the Da Vinci Cartooning Course is all about—an entry to a whole new, amazing world.
How the Da Vinci cartooning course is designed
There are three core elements that make this course effective:
- Element 1: A teacher who's a ‘student'
- Element 2: A system that's based on getting things ‘wrong.'
- Element 3: Sheer practice
Element 1: A teacher who's a ‘student'
In the year 2010, I went for a watercolour course. The class was held once a week and lasted three months (I think), and cost me about $400. And guess what? I learned a bit. And the others on the course learned a bit. But that was it. A bit was all we learned. And the reason why we go about learning only little bits, is because ‘once a week’ is not the best way for the brain to learn anything.
Besides, my watercolour teacher wasn't a student. He was a teacher. Or should I say ‘demonstrator'. He demonstrated how something should be done. And we followed. And that's not the kind of teacher you need. You need a teacher that's hungry to learn. That teacher is always playing ‘student'.
And when I say playing ‘student', it means they are always keen to learn how to teach you better. And in doing so, that teacher improves their teaching and their skill as well. A teacher that's a demonstrator has no incentive to do anything than just show you what you need to do. So first, you need that ‘hungry' teacher. But that's not enough. You also need a solid system in place.
Element 2: A system that's based on getting things ‘wrong.'
Almost every educational course follows a system. Yet, the system is largely based on getting things right. This is a problem, of course. If you're only focused on getting things right, you go into freeze mode. You criticise yourself. You think your work is terrible. And guess what?
Your work gets worse and then you can't draw (let alone learn any skill). But a system that's well-designed takes the fear out of the student. This is mostly done by getting things ‘wrong'. And then fixing them. When your assignments are built around getting things wrong, the fear goes away. And you ironically, get things right. Once the brain freeze goes away, the playful brain comes to the forefront. And then, magic happens.
Element 3: Sheer Practice
Anyone that tells you that you need 10,000 hours to be good at something is a total idiot. You need 10,000 hours or more to be an utter genius at something. But imagine someone telling you, you needed 10,000 hours to be good at driving a car? So you can be good at something in a relatively short time, but yes, you need to practice.
And this course enables you to practice, five days a week, making you more confident and polished with every assignment.
It's also a ton of fun, because you're drawing cool cartoons. Instead of some boring skill, you're learning something that makes you (and the people around you) feel good. Best of all, you can do this at your dinner table and don't have to shut out the rest of your friends and family.
What's involved in this course?
There are some ground rules. There is a method to the madness and it is best that you follow the system. Those who want to do their own things usually end up going around in circles. And since I'm hoping you are going to draw circles (and not go around them) you'll need to follow the rules, bizarre as they are.
The second thing is that you need to do the practice five days a week. Every week you get two days off. But hey, this is such a fun activity that most of us love to draw every day of the week. The third point is to suspend any belief that others will be better than you. If you do follow the process, you’ll get exceedingly good, so just make sure you have fun and do the work five days a week.
But what if you're already good at drawing?
It doesn't matter whether you're already good or not so good. You are going to find parts of this course utterly insane. You'll wonder what you're doing, or why you're doing it. And yes, if you plan to be a rebel the whole time, you're better off not joining the course.
The system we use is not a Western system of teaching. The Western system of teaching is based on ‘WHY'. Everything the student does needs to be explained by a reason. The Eastern system is not like that. The system is based on the apprentice system (ironically used a lot during the Renaissance, which created the greatest works of art). In this system, the apprentice does what they're told, always trusting they will be the Leonardo or Michelangelo of the future.
If you think you’re going to buck the system and do your own thing, or if you think you’re already good then it’s best to leave your ego and your existing learning at the door, at least for the duration of the course. If you do, you’ll enjoy the fruit of your frustration. You’ll be reasonably frustrated at first, but as time goes on your work will improve dramatically. We get results for those willing to listen and follow along.
Have a look at the prospectus
The prospectus takes you on the journey of how the DaVinci Course came about, and then it moves into how the course will be conduct. Click here to read this tiny document.
1) When does it begin and what is the duration?
2) What materials will I need?
3) How is the course conducted?
4) How much time will I need to practise every day?
5) Is there a money-back guarantee?
6) Are you pretttttttttty sure I don't need skills to do this course?
7) What does it cost? And do you have an installment plan?
8) How do I join? Where do I pay?
1) When does it begin, and what is the duration?
The course starts on 15 August 2023. And it will be for six months.
Here are the details: (Tentative Dates)
Phase 1 — (18 weeks)
15 August – 18 December 2023 (18 weeks with Rob Middleton)
19 December – 29 January 2024 ( Holiday break)
Phase 2— (6 weeks)
30 January- 12 March 2024 (6 weeks with Rob Middleton)
2) What materials will I need?: Ideally, you'll need a pencil or pen and paper. However, later in the course, you may need some inexpensive pens or brushes or nibs (they're all very inexpensive). If you have a Wacom tablet or some sort of stylus and want to draw on your computer, that's fine too.
3) How is the course conducted?: Click here to read the prospectus.
The course is conducted via our Psychotactics Training Forum. All your assignments will be given to you through a forum. Don't worry if you've never been on a forum before we will take you step-by-step through the process in tiny increments.
4) How much time will I need to practise every day? It depends. You should budget 30 minutes each day. Some days you’ll be so engrossed you’ll draw for longer. But in just 30 minutes a day, you will achieve an enormous amount. Cartooning is a matter of practice. But unlike something terrifying like learning some foreign language, cartooning is a whole lot of fun. So it's more than likely that you'll spend time because this will be your special time every day. In fact, you'll start looking forward to drawing cartoons when you realise your rapid progress.
5) Is there a money-back guarantee?
This course has been running for many years and the results are more than evident, hence there is no money-back guarantee on this course.
What if I can’t attend the course and wish to opt-out?
If you have to opt-out of the course because of an emergency, you will be given your money back PROVIDED someone on our waiting list takes your place.
6) Are you pretttttttttty sure I don't need skills to do this course? Yup! Here's some of Renuka's work (Renuka is my wife, but she gets no special tuition). She did the course with everyone else and you can see the results for yourself. Renuka didn't consider herself to be a cartoonist before. She does now!
7) What does it cost? And do you have an installment plan?
Please scroll a bit to see the current price. There is also a 4 month installment plan.
8) Why get on the waiting list for 2023? Once you are on the waiting list, you will be given first preference, before we open the course to the entire Psychotactics list. However, if you are a 5000bc member, you will be able to join a few days earlier. If you would like to go on the waiting list for 2023, click here.
“In this course you are never expected to run before you can crawl. The basic concepts build and build, until you have developed a skill. But once you've learned it, you will move forward too. You have to practice, practice, practice. This is a good thing. It's the only way to learn.
From a business prospective when I post a cartoon to my Facebook page, our views increase by the hundreds. People are clearly responding to the cartoons. Again, wow.”
I had two specific expectations.
• To have fun. Achieved! This course was fun. Oh sure frustrating, demanding and all that too but mostly fun.
• To learn how to draw cartoons that could be used for my business. Achieved! I now use cartoons on my Facebook page and will soon branch out to using them in our printed curriculum, website and more.
I loved that the course was actually for beginners.
No assumption about what we did or didn't know already. We all started from square one. That was refreshing. No one could critique my circles as “wrong”.
Then suddenly other students were getting gold stars and I wasn't! My competitive side was awakened. But my philosophy about competitive feelings is that they indicate a lack in me. So I re-read all the instructions, re-watched every video and read every post in the forum. Yep, it took some time.
What did I discover? Well, it wasn't a secret, I needed to focus on circly-circles and practice, practice, practice. Just like the instruction said. The assignments were not about doing my sketches “as good as someone else”, it truly was about letting go and making those circly-circles.
Once I figured that out the course became much, much easier.
It is difficult for me to remember the transition from Phase 1 to Phase 2.
But I do remember feeling very, very fortunate that we had the opportunity to continue. The learning definitely escalated with more challenging assignments. Once I started to feel completely comfortable with a character or technique, here would come another challenge. It was impossible to stagnate.
Being “good” enough. A silly fear but a powerful one. Part of overcoming it was that I personally was in a great space to be a student. So I kept reading and re-reading those instructions. And if all else failed I would tell myself, “Wax on, wax off, baby!”
How did I overcome them?
Making a commitment was the best method. Having a specific length of time for the assignment was super helpful in the beginning. Posting on Facebook where my friends became an additional group for accountability helped. I have a very supportive and occasionally pushy husband who assists me to complete tasks. And ultimately, I just did it because I fell in love with cartooning.
Even still with that commitment and love affair, it was really hard to take both the Cartooning Course and the Article Writing Course at the same time. Although my learning and practice times on the Cartooning Course were reduced I'm pleased I stayed with it.
You are never expected to run before you can crawl
The basic concepts build and build until you have developed a skill. But once you've learned it, you move forward too. You have to practice, practice, practice. This is a good thing. It is the only way to learn. If you are not good at drawing—no problem. You'll learn everything you need to right here. It all starts with a circle and not even a perfect circle, just a circle.
My recommendation for anyone who wants to do this course
Anyone who wants to draw cartoons regardless of current skill level.
Why? Because it is a system/method that works.
I admit that I'm continually surprised how people I rarely see have shared:
“Your cartoons are the only reason I even visit Facebook anymore. I love them.”
“I love your cartoons. They make me happy. I look at them every day.”
Both of these statements were made to me when I saw acquaintances that I hadn't seen for a long, long time and figured they never, ever even looked at my Facebook posts. Wow, to know that my little cartoons had a positive emotional impact on others, I was literally overcome both times. It was an unexpected bonus to bring others happiness with cartooning.
From a business prospective when I post a cartoon to my Facebook page our views increase by the hundreds. People are clearly responding to the cartoons. Again, wow.
Personally I loved the structure of this course along with the relaxed attitude
Some of Debra's work
Initially I didn't really enjoy speed work. Then I “discovered” Snoopy's occiput (base of skull). After that I couldn't wait to see what speed work would reveal to me! It was a break-through moment.
I just loved cartooning The Pink Panther. Peculiar because I was never a big fan of his. But drawing him was completely different than just looking at him. His playfulness was infectious.
This one so perfectly captured my emotions and people responded enthusiastically. I named it “The Homework Monster” and it became a series chronicling some of my experiences in The Article Writing Course.
This was the cartoon when it all became okay that I didn't draw perfect hands!
The HUGE response to this one on Facebook sorta stunned me. It was the moment when I realized that I could achieve my goal to use cartooning professionally.
And this is one of my earlier drawings (when I just started the course)
The “bear” assignment at the start of the course
Ad Words Consultant,
Washington D.C. USA
“The problem in many of today's websites and written materials (white papers, case studies, etc.) is the over-reliance on stock photos. Proper graphics add so much, but it's so easy to get them wrong.
And so many of the graphics used are overdone. I want something unique, without having to hire a cartoonist every time I want something. So many times I've thought: “all I need now is a cartoon that shows ___.”
I wanted the ability to draw that cartoon. When I was at a recent workshop, a number of folks asked me how many years I had been drawing. When I answered “about 7 months”, they looked as though they thought I was kidding.”
1) What were your expectations when you joined the course? What did you hope to achieve?
My primary reason for participating in this course is to be able to illustrate my written work. When I read “The Brain Audit” I was just as fascinated with the cartoons as I was with the written material. What a terrific way to dress up a manuscript – unique, yet adds to the message. I really want to be able to do that for my own writing, and also for my business partner's work as well – something unique, that no one else can copy.
What I REALLY wanted to achieve was the development of a “signature” character – like Cuatro is to Sean D'Souza. When anyone in Sean's audience sees Cuatro – they know it's Sean. I was looking to develop my own character.
The problem in many of today's websites and written materials (white papers, case studies, etc.) is the over-reliance on stock photos. Proper graphics add so much, but it's so easy to get them wrong. And so many of the graphics used are overdone. I want something unique, without having to hire a cartoonist every time I want something. So many times I've thought: “all I need now is a cartoon that shows ___.” I wanted the ability to draw that cartoon – nothing fancy, but not something like a toddler would draw.
2) Can you describe the journey through the first part of the course? (First three months—Starter Phase 1)
The first part is essentially the fundamentals – learning the building blocks of sketching. We found out quickly that as adults, we learn just like kids do: by copying. Many of our early assignments consisted of copying well-known (and not so well known) cartoon characters. Some of them were fun to draw, but there was one that was a real chore for me. Nevertheless, I kept at it.
After several weeks of copying, we had an exercise that seemed to make no sense – “making mistakes”. The exercises focused on speed at the expense of accuracy. Initially these were a challenge for me, since I kept wanting to slow down and get the details right. But I was amazed that, after a week of “speed work”, my speed drawings were almost as good as my “slow” drawings. That was a big “aha” moment for me.
In addition to learning the fundamentals, we were also learning habits – the idea of sketching every day (or almost every day). Sketching became part of the daily routine. I had to experiment a bit to find the best time of day, but I found a routine that worked.
After the initial three-month period, we started learning more advanced concepts: composition, line quality, daily diaries to name a few. At this point, the course went through a noticeable change. We weren't just putting together simple drawings anymore – we (or at least I) had to spend some time thinking about what the drawing was going to be “about”. I was no longer just sitting in a chair, sketching out the first thing that popped into my head. Now my cartoons were starting to communicate ideas. Cartooning was still fun – but there was a higher level of “work” involved now. We were taking the next step toward becoming professional cartoonists. It was exciting, but a little overwhelming at times.
3) What were your fears as you tackled the assignments? How did you overcome them?
Going in, I didn't think I had any “fears” per se. I admit that, at the very beginning, I was concerned about letting other people see my attempts at drawing. That quickly evaporated when I realized that many of us were in the same boat. Besides, it's hard to mess up circles! So we had fun.
As the course got more involved, though, I began to get concerned at the time commitment. I was sketching, inking, scanning, importing – all of which took time. It was not uncommon (for me) to spend a total of 2-2.5 hours on a single assignment. It wasn't a high-pressure situation, but I was starting to wonder if I would keep up the pace. I was constantly reminding myself that I was taking this course for a purpose. Also, when I saw the quality of work my fellow classmates were posting, I was determined to keep up. They inspired me to keep going – and a couple of them told me that I inspired them. So: focusing on the end result, plus accountability to the group – that's what kept me going through the busy times.
Probably the closest thing to a “fear” was when we were encouraged us to start sketching in public places. Heretofore, the only people that had ever seen my sketches were my wife, Sean, and my classmates. I didn't rush right out to begin public sketching (I work out of my home, and I live in a rural area, so I'm rarely at a coffee shop or a café). I did start posting some of my work on my Facebook page, and also sketched a bit at some workshops that I attended. Today, I really don't care who watches me as I sketch – not because of the quality of my sketches, but because my confidence level as a cartoonist is much higher. I still consider myself a relative beginner, and I have a lot to learn – but I no longer am concerned if someone sees my “less than perfect” work.
Some of Wiz Withers' work
4) Can you talk about the method you used to make sure you got your work done?
For me, it was always about two things: 1) making cartooning a priority, not an after-thought; and 2) establishing a routine. Initially I began cartooning in the evening after dinner. In the early weeks of the course, when the assignments were simple, this was easy to do. However, as things got a bit more demanding, I knew I needed more emotional energy – so I switched to drawing early in the morning, before my workday began.
That routine has been the most successful for me. I sketch, post, and comment in the morning – then I'm done with my assignments for the day. I still may sketch for fun later, but I made sure that my homework was completed and posted before I began work (as much as possible).
As I said earlier – one of the biggest reasons I made sure I completed my daily assignments was the group accountability. Everyone had the same time issues – yet we all managed to post our daily assignments. Knowing the group expected to see my work was a big motivator to keep going.
5) Can you talk about the experience with your group?
This was my second Psychotactics course, so I was already aware of the importance of the group. And they didn't disappoint: they were encouraging, inspiring, and occasionally critical when they needed to be. Originally, we were divided up into smaller sub-groups – but as folks started fading away, we were left with a core group of about 12 people. For the second part of the course, this core group stayed fairly intact.
For me, the group serves as motivation to get my work posted. I know they'll be checking on me, so I want to make sure I've done what I committed myself to do. Additionally, our group includes several folks who have some experience as artists and designers. They're a great source of tips and tricks to make learning faster and more fun. They're also a great source of ideas to try. And they're great people to be around, too! (At first, the experienced artists intimidated me a little – but they were some of the most encouraging members of the group.)
6) Can you describe how the course is conducted
It's not a Western education teacher/student philosophy. It's more of the Eastern master/apprentice – relationship. On the very first day he posted the familiar “wax on – wax off” videos from the “Karate Kid” movie – it was our assignment to watch them.
I will caution you – it's one thing to watch “wax on, wax off” and understand it intellectually. It's quite another to experience it and accept it internally the first time (or at least it was for me! ) Over time several members left the course – in part because of the reluctance to accept this philosophy. Once you do accept it, though, the magic happens!
“Process” and “effort” are far more important than “results”. This often takes time for students of Western education systems to comprehend and accept – I know it did for me!
7) What would you say to someone who says they're not good at drawing?
That's exactly what I did say in the beginning. I really didn't think I could draw at all. I couldn't even play the game “Hangman”, because I couldn't draw the stick figures!
But the question then becomes – do you want to learn?
Specifically, do you want to learn to draw cartoons? And for me, the answer was a resounding “yes”. If you're willing to trust the process, and willing to put in the daily practice, you'll be amazed at how quickly you'll be drawing. But you have to put in the work.
8) Who would you recommend the course to, and why?
Literally: anyone – adult or child – that wants to draw better cartoons. Kids take to this like a duck to water – I was amazed at some of the work that the kids in our initial group were doing. However, as I said earlier – if you really want to get good at this, you have to put in the daily practice. It's not hard, and for the most part, it's not super-time-consuming. Because of that, though, it's easy to say, “Oh, I'll get to that later.” And if you get in the habit of putting it off, the group continues without you, and it's just that much harder to get restarted.
So if you want to really want to learn to draw cartoons, the course has to have some level of priority. It's all up to you.
9) Can you tell us of how friends, family, kids, strangers have reacted to your cartoons?
I'm amazed at the feedback I get from family and friends who have seen my sketchbook, and especially the feedback on my Facebook page. Everyone say the same thing: “I never knew you were an artist!” (Before the course, I never knew I was one, either!) One person published one of my cartoons on her blog (with my permission) – she offered to pay me, but I was so surprised I just gave her permission (I won't do THAT again! )
When I was at the DC Uniqueness Workshop, a number of folks asked me how many years I had been drawing. When I answered “about 7 months”, they looked as though they thought I was kidding.
However, the most special moments for me are these: Every year my wife and I give each other cards at the usual times. And each time the cards get placed on the mantle for a week or so, and then get thrown away. Since I've started cartooning, I've given my wife a cartoon for our wedding anniversary, for Valentines Day, and a couple of other occasions. Unlike normal cards, she hasn't thrown the cartoons away, but rather has placed them on her desk and other locations in her office. She's not a “collector”, and hates clutter. So the fact that she has kept these means a lot – and tells me the value they have for her.
10) What else would you like to add?
1) Pick up a copy of “The Talent Code” and study it. Just do it. Get it and read it. At the start of this course, I picked up the book and read it. I wish I had done so two years ago! The teaching philosophy is based on this book – so if you really want to understand the “why”, this is where you'll find those answers.
2) Do the exercises daily. Don't sit down once/week and do a whole bunch of work at once – better to do a little bit every day. It may help to schedule time in your calendar. But if that's not your “thing”, just keep a pencil & paper handy wherever you go. You don't need to go to an art store and buy fancy pencils, pastels, sketchbooks – just keep a notebook and pencil nearby, and when you have a few moments to yourself, sketch. Sketching daily will be a lot easier to accomplish, and will make it feel much less like work.
3) Don't be intimidated by technology – specifically, posting drawings online. Picasa, Facebook, your own site – there is no “right” answer. Just pick a method that works for you and learn it. We had several folks in our class that, at the start, had no experience with this sort of thing – now they're Facebook/Picasa experts. If you have a question about technology, don't wait – ASK! Someone – will walk you through the process.
4) Don't be intimidated by the other students. You're all coming into this course with various backgrounds and different levels of experience in sketching. Some of your fellow students may look like accomplished artists. Some barely can draw a stick figure (me). Doesn't matter – everyone will be doing the same exercises. Remember – it's not the results so much, but the process. The “experienced” artists will be just as excited for you as you are – so don't let that worry you.
5) Perfectionism is just an excuse to NOT do something, and it takes all the fun out of it. We all want our work to be perfect. We'd love to have others say – “Wow! You must be a professional (X)!” And so when the results of our efforts fall short of where we want them (or where we think they should be), it's easy to blame ourselves. “I don't want anyone to see this until it's perfect!” And that attitude will stop you in your tracks every time. Some of the exercises are designed for the expressed purpose of making mistakes. That's hard to get used to at first. But once you release the “it's gotta be perfect” mentality, you'll get a lot more accomplished, and you'll have a lot more fun.
6) Speaking of which, remind yourself to have fun. We're not writing a business plan, we're drawing cartoons! Sometimes we allow our days to be so full that this becomes another chore. This isn't work – it's an “escape” from work. You will occasionally remind us to “Be 5” – as in, draw like a 5-year-old. Sketch because you love to do it, and don't get hung up on what the sketches look like.
My first “cartoon”.
Your trainer: Rob Middleton
The DaVinci Cartooning Course 2.0 will be mentored and trained by Rob Middleton. Rob is an excellent cartoonist with decades of cartooning and well as teaching experience. He's kind, courteous and well-loved by students.
Rob will be using the system that turns complete beginners into accomplished—and confident—cartoonists in a few months.
P.S. He does love to play the trumpet too. Not sure whether the neighbours approve. 🙂
The DaVinci Cartooning Course 2023
|DaVinnci Cartooning Course||Regular||Premium|
|Phase One: 18 weeks
15 August – 18 December 2023 (18 weeks)
19 December – 29 January 2024 (Self Study break)
|Phase Two: 6 weeks
30 January- 12 March 2024 (6 weeks)
|Option 1: Single Payment (Save over $100)||US$3250||US$3450|
|Option 2: 4 Monthly Installment Payments||$838 x 4||$887 x 4|
Some more examples
And because there's really no space left, here is a partial portfolio. Some of Renuka's work (to begin with).
Renuka's first cartoon: Day 1.
You can see progress, can't you?
Some perspective shows up.
And a comic strip develops.
The HUGE response to this one on Facebook sorta stunned me. It was the moment when I realized that I could achieve my goal to use cartooning professionally.
Foreground, background, and a lot more detail and control.
No one gets the chocolate!