The Cartoonist Emily Flake Demonstrates How to Draw a Child

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[upbeat music]

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I’m Emily Flake and I’m a cartoonist for The New Yorker

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and today I’m going to show you how

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to draw a kid.

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I am a cartoonist,

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a writer,

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an illustrator, teacher,

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performer person.

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I had a child seven years ago.

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Her name is Augustine and yeah,

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it sort of immediately changed both

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the content of what I was drawing

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and how I drew them.

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It is funny though,

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’cause I feel like historically figuring out

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how to draw kids is presented as a conundrum

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for many cartoonists.

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I mean before he just does the like giant headed kids,

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Charles Schultz’s early versions.

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They look so weird.

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I really like especially before I had a child,

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and you know was just looking

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at them all the time,

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a lot of my pre-kid children look like little adults.

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So we have some examples of how you’ve drawn children

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in the past.

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Let’s talk about those. Must we?

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[women laughing]

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So these are examples of some cartoons

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that I did featuring children

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before I had a child.

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[upbeat music]

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I actually use this cartoon a lot

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in teaching because I’m like here is how not to do this.

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It’s a father and son at a playground.

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The father is saying son if you can’t say something nice,

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say something clever but devastating.

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And the father has taken a knee,

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has his hand on the son’s shoulder.

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But the son’s legs are very long.

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Listen there’s are a lot of problems with that kid.

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The kid’s legs are very long.

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The kid’s head is grownup proportion pretty much.

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He just looks like a tiny man,

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he does not necessarily read as a child.

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You really start to understand how big a child’s head is

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in proportion to their body

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when you have to like cradle it

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in your hand so it doesn’t break its own neck.

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So the first thing is body proportion.

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When you draw a grownup,

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let’s say this is a grownup.

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A grownup is roughly seven

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and a half heads high.

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But a child is more like three

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or four heads high.

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Their heads are much bigger in proportion

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to their bodies.

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Also the slide behind them is

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an absolute death trap.

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[woman laughing]

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[Emma] Goes straight down.

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[upbeat music]

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So the other one is a mother holding her child

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and she’s also holding a glass of wine

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and she is saying. It’s a magic potion

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that makes everything you say interesting.

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I stand by the sentiment.

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But the drawing, again,

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the child’s sort of,

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in my mind I was like

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what would a rich child wear?

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And I sort of dressed her– As a Victorian ghost.

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Yeah,

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rich children dress like Victorian ghosts.

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She has like a full grown bun.

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Yeah like a beautiful bun,

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yeah like I have never had a ballet bun.

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There’s a lot happening with that child but none

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of it is making it look like she’s a child.

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That was another real,

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real child fail.

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There is the face of an adult.

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Eyes are like about half way down.

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A child’s face generally generally tends

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to have bigger eyes,

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lower down.

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This helps them stay cute and the fact

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that they’re cute is what keeps us

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from murdering them. Hey!

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[upbeat music]

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That is how you draw a child.

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So after I had a child and had a real visceral sense

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of just how big a child’s head is supposed to be,

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I started really paying more attention to

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the drawing 101 of a child’s head is bigger in proportion

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to the rest of its body.

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So an example of

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when a newer one where

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the kid looks very kid like is a couple

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and they are with a real estate agent

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and the husband is saying to

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the wife who’s holding their child.

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I know the schools are great but is this really

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the house we want to ride out

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the apocalypse in? Maybe it was

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just having held a child

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in that position for a long time.

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I feel like I was a little more successful in making

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a believable child.

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I didn’t measure how many heads high she was

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but I feel like it’s a little better

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than the other one. And she’s not a ghost.

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And she’s not a ghost, yet.

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[woman laughing]

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[upbeat music]

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