“Dammit! That still looks like a kangaroo!!”

“Dammit! That still looks like a kangaroo!!”

Well, I did, in fact, draw the head of a kangaroo from my vast mental catalog of cartoon characters without consulting photographic reference. When the client asked for an alpaca to be their product spokesperson, I thought I could wing it.  They both look sort of like huge mice, in a cartoonish sort of way.

Just look . . . I can’t tell the difference.





Be honest now. Which is which?





OK. I’m messing with you, but you have to admit, they’re pretty similar.

The client didn’t agree.

I should have known I was in for trouble when it was pointed out to me, “Alpacas are cute, with fluffy fur and long eyelashes. Kangaroos are nasty creatures that can disembowel a man with one kick.”

As always, my goal is to have a happy and satisfied client, so I regrouped and did what any professional illustrator would do. I consulted Google Images. As far as heads go, alpacas have the ears that point in and the kangaroo has ears that point up. Otherwise, same animal.

The client initially wanted glasses on this guy and a slightly more realistic, edgy style. These are very weird.  A bit of psychedelia going on here. Shades of Andy Warhol with maybe a touch of Melvin Belli. The glasses are becoming too dominant and these characters are just plain freaky.

Phyllis Diller? Not sure where these odd ones came from, but I was enjoying using a pen and India ink on vellum. The nib is very flexible and creates a nice line. Most of the others were done with the WACOM tablet.

Here we are giving this spokesman more personality, making him more friendly, more appealing. He is somewhere between a semi-realistic drawing and a cartoon. Anatomically, he’s pretty close to the real thing. Alpaca or kangaroo. Take your pick. (The letters are for the client’s reference.)


Then the client decided to go for less realism and less edginess. I made our spokesperson more cartoonish. Here’s where I think I crossed the line between kangaroo and alpaca!




This bunch looks a bit “sheepish.”


Personally, I like this bold, sort of nervous line.

These were done with a pen and then scanned into Adobe Illustrator. It was fun to play with some color too.


I think I exhausted the client with too many choices. To make a long story short, he trashed the whole ‘alpaca with glasses spokesman’ thing. That’s just how it goes sometimes. No worries. I got a kill fee and a series of character development sketches to blog about.

SPECIAL BONUS for aspiring illustrators:

This an easy way to do large cartoon mammals. The eyes and the nose are pretty much the same. With only a slight flick of the wrist, you can make almost any animal. Warning: Doesn’t work well with fish or birds. I’ve tried.

Maybe it was this shortcut that got me off on the wrong foot with my client?



6 Responses to ““Dammit! That still looks like a kangaroo!!””

  1. Mikey P says:

    Think I need to go home and change my jeans. Haven’t laughed so hard for ages, however I could kinda see what was coming from your tone of voice, choice of words.
    Clients, you gotta love them, and the fish.

  2. Addoley says:

    My favorite are the “sheepish” ones.

    And you are so right! I never realized how similar alpaca and kangaroo are.

    Gotta love the specificity of “young puma”


  3. Amy says:

    Ok, I too thought this hysterical and instantly recognized the beast as an alpaca, before even scrolling down the page. I am wishing I could leap into the page and join in all the fun that seems to be occuring amongst all those creatures, as they seem immersed in some hysterical comedy.

  4. Mark Smullen says:

    I love these alpaca / llama drawings. They’re funny and full of character. As an alpaca farmer I recognized them right away. Great job.

  5. John Selling says:

    I’m still wondering why you removed the udders from the cow in the previous work…

  6. Joy Manné says:

    I’m awestruck. And you are so casual about being amazingly gifted.
    The four that follow ‘freaky’ are already characters who have stories.
    You’ve drawn a goldmine.
    well done

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