The toonlet Production Process - Pt 1 - from paper to PC


toonlet is very pleased to announce that toonlet art packs can now be made by anyone! And that means you!

The whole process is quick, simple and fun. All you need is a printer to print out a few copies of the toonlet template that best matches your style , some normal printer paper, a pen or marker, and a scanner.

Here's an overview of how to get started making your own toonlet art pack. It covers the basics on:

-         Elements and Layers

-         The toonlet templates

o        Standalone Template (ST)

o        Character Template (CT)

-         Drawing Techniques

-         Scanning Tips



Toonlet characters are built from lots of little parts, or elements. Examples of toonlet character elements are things like the nose on the character’s face, or the shape of their head, or the eyes, or the hat, or the torso, or… well, you get the picture.

Each toonlet element lives on it’s own layer. This ensures that each element on a character behaves the way it should. For instance, you wouldn’t want to move parts around on your character and suddenly find that the head is the foremost element. If that happened, you wouldn’t be able to see the nose, eyes, mouth and other facial features!

At the end of this document is a list of all the toonlet layers, including some handy tips on how to draw them to ensure you get the best results. You can also see the layers, ordered front-to-back, in the layers pull-down menu of the character tool on the site.




There are essentially two ways of making a toonlet art pack. One way is almost like a game, while the other focuses specifically on character creation.


Both templates use a light grey arc, representing the top of the head, to provide a frame of reference for all your drawings.


Let’s discuss the first method a bit, the Standalone Method.

Standalone Template


Question: How do you draw billions of characters in a matter of hours, without ever drawing a single character at all?


Answer: The Standalone Pack!

The Standalone Template is for patient people who like a pleasantly surprising ending. The ST is a sheet of 20 boxes. In each box is the aforementioned grey arc. Using the ST, draw one element at a time in each of the boxes. On one page, you might draw 20 noses, and draw 20 eyes on another, and so on. Please make sure to only use one square of the template per element (e.g. don't draw a head-shape, and eyes in the same square).


Now draw! Draw like the wind! Good!


We didn’t say stop. Keep drawing!

Okay. Now stop.


That’s it. Your first toonlet pack! Yay!

Character Design Template
For artists more accustomed to traditional character design, we have another template file geared towards that. These templates, designed by toonlet mainstay Surlyben, contain a small area for the artist to sketch out an overall design, and then additional areas for the individual elements.


There are also guidelines, or connectors, outside individual areas for all the elements that show the typical width of a head. You can use these to make sure all your elements are sized relative to one another.


Using the Character Design Template, just make a little doodle of a character for the torso upwards in the central box of the template. Then, use that as a basis for recreating the individual elements in the spaces provided on the template. Or just throw caution to the wind and wing it. It’s your call.


Please be aware that there are horizontally and vertically oriented versions of the CDT. Choose the one that best suits your drawing style.






Scan everything at a minimum of 200 dpi in grayscale. Do not scan in color or 2-color black and white.


Then, await further instructions. Seriously. We need to set up a place for you to upload your files, so it’ll take a little time for us to prepare that.



There are 17 toonlet layers:

-         Right arm

-         Zazz

-         Prop

-         Left Arm

-         Hat

-         Hair

-         Eyebrows

-         Glasses

-         Eyes

-         Nose

-         Moustache

-         Beard

-         Mouth

-         Ears

-         Head

-         Hairsnip

-         Backgrounds


Toonlet packs contain six core layers:

- hair

- eyes

- nose

- mouth

- head

- torso

These core layers should contain as close to 35 elements each as possible (e.g. 35 noses, 35 hairstyles, 35 torsos etc). The other layers are up to you.


Artists may feel inclined to tweak parts of the process to better suit their needs, and that's fine  with us, as long as the final files we receive are formatted correctly.

All artwork, if it faces to a side, should be facing to the right.

Simplicity in your artwork is highly prized at this point in our development. Simple line-work works best with the tool right now, and ensures smaller file-sizes.

Please limit your work to black ink on white paper, or black-and-white or gray-scale digital files.

RIGHT ARM - you'll really only need to draw one set of arms rather than both left and right. We'll just flip arm elements in code to produce both right and left variants. Also, please note that we've changed the arm requirement from a partial forearm (like you see in 'toonlet beta pack 1') to the full forearm, all the way down to the elbow. 

EYES, EYEBROWS, MOUTH – these are special parts because they are so crucial in conveying the emotional state of a character. Therefore, we’d like you to make a few variants of each set of these elements, according to the core toonlet moods (which we blatantly stole from Scott McCloud):








TORSO - If you choose to draw arms on your torsos, only draw the tops of the arms, down to the elbow. This is so they can be easily paired with the right and left arm layers. Also, please note that all torsos should be just slightly shorter than the height of the template square. The torso heights in 'toonlet beta pack 1' are not a good example of consistency, in this regard.  Later ones are, like Surly Ben’s packs.

OBJECTS - objects can be anything you want, but they should be something that is sized relative to the template, so that characters can easily interact with them. For instance, a car or a plane or a boat is not a good object choice, since they're all much larger than character would. Think more along the lines of things your characters can hold, like pens, and mugs, and bats and so on.

BACKGROUNDS – we don’t have support for backgrounds yet. But if you want to make some for us for future use, we won’t complain. Your call.