The central focus of our software (scroll down to read the tutor’s profile)


Before I begin, could I talk about chess for a minute.


If I were offering chess lessons here, and you were an adult and/or a beginner at chess, you would probably appreciate that I was taking the time to explain things carefully.  But any references to ‘child’, ‘children’ or ‘teachers’, when I talk about cartooning, does not mean that my approach is only relevant to kids, I am simply pointing out that it is cognitively available to kids from about age 10.  Think of cartooning like chess – it can be taught to very, very young kids and also to adults.  Same rules, same board, same pieces.  The only difference (I guess) is the sophistication of the strategies.  Same with cartooning.  My goal is to introduce beginners to a range of skills and new information.  How you apply these, how much time you spend practicing, is up to you. Younger kids will produce more simple ideas but I would expect adults to produce more sophisticated ideas.  Same rules, same board, same pieces.


The core information in our software, which includes a 48 minute video presentation of key principles, offers a foundation in:


1. How to Draw Smart, Not Hard ‘


Smart’ drawing is a collection of the professional tricks of the trade, the things that professional cartoonists do to make their job easier. In more formal terms, ‘Smart’ drawing gives you a foundation on which to develop your own drawing style. If you’re practising, why not practice effectively? And teachers and parents, it’s also an observable thing, so that when you look at the work of a published cartoonist, you can see what aspects of ‘Smart’ drawing they’ve used. In other words, without being able to draw, you can recognise ‘Smart’ drawing techniques in any published cartoon. The drawing component is in the video, available within the software.


2. Thinking of Jokes


A strategy is clearly outlined, and presented in a task-driven format to show you a logical method by which cartoonists think of jokes (and generate humor for any application). This is the main focus. In more formal terms, our software shows you how to engage societal information in a different way; how to employ the techniques of linear, lateral & divergent thinking; and, how to manipulate information. These activities are also critical to the development and appreciation of effective strategies for creative thinking.  Cartooning is shown to be accessible to everyone, and not confined to perceived artists.


3. Advanced


Expands on the previous part to harness the techniques to generating humor on any subject. Learn a method for thinking of your own jokes and establishing your own story-lines. But more importantly, you will also be developing:


  • New ways to process information;

  • Skills in visual thinking;

  • Creative thinking skills;

  • A method for generating humor for any application;

  • Valuable techniques in linear, lateral & divergent thinking;

  • New ways to “manipulate” information.


All the concepts contained in the tuition packages described here are developed by Ian Dalkin, a senior professional cartoonist with a long history of publication in Australian newspapers and magazines. Ian currently operates a studio in Blackheath, NSW specializing in cartooning, cross-platform software development and anything else that’s clever.


In 1990, Ian produced a video on cartooning techniques that was later to form the foundation of the National Cartooning Competition (NCC) and two consecutive Olympic Arts Festival events. In the NCC, it was negotiated that Australian Real Estate identity L. J. Hooker conduct the NCC through its franchisees who donated a copy of Ian’s video to participating schools.


The resulting gag cartoons were judged by the Australian Cartoonists’ Association and the winners in each division were awarded a Junior Stanley Award, the ‘senior’ version of which was awarded to the cream of the professional cartooning industry in Australia. Although the NCC ran its course and was wound up in 2003, it enjoyed a run of 10 years, making it the largest structured entry by cartooning into education anywhere in the world. The benefits in education extended far beyond a simple ‘drawing’ exercise. The video, and a later version on CD Rom (also distributed through the NCC) were very successful at helping kids as young as 9 produce single panel gag cartoons. It succeeded because it did not concentrate on developing drawing skills in students but instead concentrated on the development of ideas for gag cartoons. This simple combination of a single drawing containing a single gag idea allowed students to participate in cartooning without any advanced drawing skills – the ideas were considered most important.


Ian Dalkin remains the longest-serving tutor in Charles Sturt University’s Youth Enrichment Program for Gifted and Talented Children. The entire Gifted & Talented program was dissolved in 2008. A case of CSU knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing if you ask me. Destroying things is easy – building things is hard.