Part 1: Origins

Exercise: Drawing from History


Choose one of the artist from Research Task 1 and make a drawing based on their artwork.

Selection of Artist

I was unsure whether to attempt to use Charles M. Schulz or Marjane Satrapi as inspiration for this exercise. The style of these artists appealed to me the most from Research Task 1. I did also consider Hergé. In the end I decided to try and replicate the style of Charles M. Schulz. The decision was also influenced by my current access to a limited amount of art tools and equipments, which I plan to expand on as a I progress (as suggested in the Course Handbook).

Research of Style

I decided to carry out some more in-depth research into the way Schulz drew the characters in the Peanuts comic strip. I found it very impressive (and a little intimidating!) how easy and fluid he made it look in the videos below. The fact that Schulz often used ink and no pencil outlines added to my high regard for his ability:

I also looked at some other artists methods for drawing the characters:

The main points I picked up from the research carried out from both Research Task 1 and watching the above videos reiterated Schulz’s mantra of ‘only what’s necessary’, i.e. keep it simple and loose.

Choosing the Image

I selected a photograph from the free-to-use website Pixabay. I wanted to find a fairly simple image to use for this exercise, as I hoped to focus on Schulz’s style and not overcomplicate the task.

Chosen image for exercise. Source: Pixabay

Replicating the Artist’s Style

Although watching the artists drawing the characters was informative, it also made me a little nervous in how to approach my attempt. I decided to start by trying to draw some of the Peanuts characters from the Peanuts website. I began by using a 2B pencil as ink would have been slightly overwhelming at this stage.

Drawing Peanuts characters (click on image for larger version, opens in new tab)
Drawing Peanuts characters (click on image for larger version, opens in new tab)

I then moved onto using a black gel-pen. I found it challenging getting the heads the right shape and did not make the body short and squat enough.

Drawing Peanuts characters (click on image for larger version, opens in new tab)

I also made a rough sketch of the boy from the photograph in the Peanuts style. After several attempts, I decided to have him standing still rather than in motion as I could not get the legs to look right.

Drawing Peanuts characters (click on image for larger version, opens in new tab

Developing Final Drawing

As I now had a rough idea of what I wanted my final drawing to look like I explored different versions of the character design. I liked the overall look of the first one (below), but then realised he was too long in the body, legs and feet.

First version of drawing

The second attempt (below) was less successful and the head was far too long and I also realised the proportions of the head and body were incorrect – the Peanuts characters’ heads are about the same size as the body.

Second version of drawing

I had one more go (below), which I felt had better proportions. I wanted to end up with a blend of this attempt and the first.

Third version of drawing

Final Drawing

I used a 2B pencil to draw the first version of the final drawing. I was quite pleased with how it turned out. I looked again at examples of Peanuts comic strips to see how Schulz draw leaves, grass and trees.

Pencil version of final drawing (click on image for larger version, opens in new tab)

I chose to use a light-box to make a black gel-pen version of the drawing as I would not have been able to replicate it free-hand. I thought the drawing looked much better in this format.

Black gel-pen version of final drawing (click on image for larger version, opens in new tab)

After putting it off, I decided to finally have a go using a nib pen and black ink as Schulz did. As I did not currently have cartridge paper available, I used some acrylic paper instead, which seemed to work quite well with the ink.

Black ink version of final drawing (click on image for larger version, opens in new tab)

Final Thoughts

I enjoyed this initial exercise. It was inspiring to see how effortlessly Schulz apparently managed to create his characters. As previously stated I was quite apprehensive about getting started, but was pleased with the final outcome.

Although I should have tried to create the final drawing without having any pencil lines for guidance and used pen ink straight away in order to replicate Schulz’s style, I did not feel confident enough at this stage. Using pen and ink was a new experience for me, but I was genuinely surprised how much I liked the feel of it. I have become so used to working in digital formats whereby I can amend lines fairly easily, or a pencil and eraser, that using pen and ink was quite intimidating, but also freeing. It is certainly a technique I hope to explore further and grow more skilful at.

Reflection After Tutor Feedback

As suggested by my tutor, I returned to this exercise to consider the decisions made in developing the final outcome.

I was clearly trying to replicate the simplistic, ‘imperfect’ line quality of Schulz, which adds to the child-like appearance of the character – giving it a sense of friendliness and playfulness. The minimal line, for example in the facial features, reflects the innocence of childhood (which Schulz was able to utilise with his witty and philosophical commentary), but it is also easy for the reader to instantly understand the character’s nature and emotions.

I also strived to find the visual balance in terms of body proportions – an extra large head emphasises that the character is a child. The stance/body language of the character is placid and non-confrontational – it has a sense of innocence about it (although he looks as though he may well be about to kick up all those fallen leaves…).


20th Century Studios, (2015). The Peanuts Movie | How to Draw Charlie Brown [HD] | 20th Century FOX. (video) Available at: [Accessed: 5 June 2021].

Chatzakis, V. (2017). Charles Schulz Drawing Peanuts. (video) Available at: [Accessed: 5 June 2021].

Peanuts, (n.d.). About Peanuts. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 5 June 2021].

Pixabay, (2015). Child Autumn Cute. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 5 June 2021].

Snoopy, (2011). Charles “Sparky” Schulz Draws Charlie Brown (Official Video). (video) Available at: [Accessed: 5 June 2021].

Snoopy, (2020). How to Draw Charlie Brown. (video) Available at: [Accessed: 5 June 2021].

Threadless, (2015). Get an Inside Look at the Making of Peanuts!. (video) Available at: [Accessed: 5 June 2021].

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