I need to relate some information to some graphic designers and I want to tell them that I don't want imagery that is "cartoony," or "cartoonish."

How do I tell them this in their own lingo (and without sounding racist against cartoon-folk like Jessica Rabbit or Bob the Builder, et al)?


  • This questions makes absolutely no sense to me and if it weren't for two people already answering it I would close it as completely unclear. Downvoted until an edit is made with you somehow explaining what you consider cartoony to be. Providing two completely different style of characters doesn't offer any sort of explanation to me.
    – Ryan
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 4:26
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    – Vincent
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 11:08
  • Possibly you don't like cel shading? Primary colors? Or is it the actual design that bothers you, and you are in favor of realism?
    – Jongware
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 23:54

3 Answers 3


If you can pin-point what exactly it is about "cartoony" that you are trying to avoid, then you might be able to come up with a more clear goal for your designer (though, I think most designers would know what you mean by "cartoony" and wouldn't find it an offensive term).

Some examples (but this will be up to you to ultimately determine) could be that you are trying to avoid things looking:

  • Too childish
  • Casual
  • Funny

Or, maybe you are looking for illustrations that are:

  • Sophisticated
  • Refined
  • Professional

I don't see anything wrong with using "cartoony". It's clear, effective, and to the point. If someone approached me for an image and said "I don't want anything too 'cartoony'." I'd have no problem with that and would immediately know what they meant.

It may also be a good idea to provide examples of styles, such as -- "I'd like something along the style of Archer rather than South Park or The Simpsons. Or something closer in style to Black Dynamite as opposed to Rick and Morty or Bob's Burgers."

Now, if you are trying to convey to someone that what they've already created falls into a too "cartoony" category, and you are trying to not be offensive, you might use different phrasing, such as.... "This is a bit too playful." Or "I'd prefer something more realistic without feeling like an animated character." Or "I'd like to go in a more life drawing direction rather than comic or animation."

  • 1
    Downvoted because of your first paragraph. I don't have any idea what cartoony means to any one individual, and don't know how anyone could. Particularly, but not exclusively, because of the examples being Jessica Rabbit and Bob The Builder.
    – Ryan
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 4:28
  • 1
    Okay..... :) Not sure how you can down vote the fact that I understand what 'cartoony' means... but okay. I guess you're free to down vote anything other people understand and you don't @Ryan
    – Scott
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 4:32
  • 1
    I downvote any idea that the word "Cartoony" on its own is clear, effective, and to the point. Even reading your second and third paragraph I don't think you believe that. On its own its meaningless. If someone said "I'd like an illustrated mascot for my business but nothing to cartoony" you'd want them to explain with examples or words like playful, realistic, more lifelike, etc.
    – Ryan
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 4:38
  • 2
    @Ryan Editing my comments because they point out that the down vote was purely because you can't comprehend how someone else could possibly understand something which you fail to understand is abusing your power as a moderator. A down vote has never meant "i disagree" At least that's not what the guidelines state when I review them. Down votes are for "not helpful". So you're saying this answer is not helpful.. okay.... You must have special guidelines.
    – Scott
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 5:19
  • 3
    Scott I edited your comment because the language you used was rude towards me. Its that simple. I asked network-wide mods that were on and they all agreed, one went as far as saying he would suspend you. For the DV - what does Cartoony mean? So far Raf and Vicki say it needs to be pinpointed, only you say it stands on its own... except you don't say what this universal meaning you feel all designers have of cartoony means. I believe thats the case because the question itself is bad and only stands to produce bad answers. You think its clear on its own, then tell me what it means to everyone.
    – Ryan
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 13:14

I thought it was easy to answer but it is not. It is an interesting question but it lacks of context. This could be a comment but it is too long for one.

"imagery" What kind of images? Do you want a vector portrait? https://www.google.com.mx/search?q=vector+portrait It is almost impossible to have a vector portrait without a level of "cartoony"... that is why is an ilustration and not a photo.

Do you need some kind of infographic person? https://www.google.com.mx/search?q=infographic+person the same. The trend is to have very childish look.

Talking of childish... the 9th simphony of Beethoven and the cubist Picassos were considered childish.

The deformation of the faces, caricature, https://www.google.com.mx/search?q=caricature could be asociated. And this can be vector based or just deformed photos.

Cosplay have an element of cartoonish too: https://www.google.com.mx/search?q=cosplay

Probably you need to post an example of what you mean.

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