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Workshops & Events | COPETOONS.COM

Workshops & Events


My Teaching Philosophy:

I love encouraging people to draw and be creative! Cartooning is an engaging and accessible art form that allows artists (kids, teens & adults) to not only communicate their ideas, but also generate true emotional responses in their audience—whether its joy & laughter or more challenging feelings. Cartooning is also a wonderful hands-on educational medium, allowing students of any artistic skill level to explore the creative process while developing their drawing/design and storytelling skills. Most importantly, cartooning can be lots of fun!

Animation, in particular, is a wonderful form of cartooning for inspiring creativity and fostering an appreciation for the arts because it has a magical quality. Most of my students are familiar with what animation is, having seen it on TV, in movies, the web and video games; however, many have never created their own hand-drawn animations. My workshops provide them with a unique learning experience that includes access to the required animation tools/technology and a knowledgeable teacher to help guide them. There’s a magical moment when a student sees their own drawings come to life on-screen. Regardless of their drawing skills, they discover that they can successfully create the illusion of life. And though they may not pursue animation as a career, my students develop an appreciation for the art form and the creative process involved.

Teaching Experience & Qualifications:

Since 1996, I’ve facilitated hundreds of cartooning & animation workshops to thousands of students ranging from preschoolers and their parents to professional educators. The majority of my workshops are for children ages 7 and up (kids/tweens/teens) and are hosted at public libraries, schools and community centres. Since 2006, my cartooning workshops have been a regular part of the Hamilton Public Library’s TD Summer Reading Club program. I have taught weekly, open evening courses in cartooning & animation, as well as facilitated professional development sessions for teachers/educators.

In recent years, I’ve been honoured to receive multiple arts education grants from the Ontario Arts Council for my “Drawn to Life: Cartoon Animation” workshops, hosted at the District School Board of Niagara’s Walker Living Campus at Woodend Conservation Area, and was a finalist for the 2017 Ontario Arts Foundation Artist Educator Award based on the success of my program. I was previously nominated for the 2016 City of Hamilton Arts Award in Arts Education & Community Arts.

My post-secondary education includes a Combined Honours BA in Multimedia & Anthropology (McMaster University), an Art Fundamentals Certificate (Sheridan College), 2-years of Classical Animation (Sheridan College) and a Bachelor of Education in Communications Technology (Brock University).

I’m a professionally trained educator and certified member of the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT). I’m also a proud member of the National Cartoonists Society (NCS)—the world’s largest and most prestigious organization of professional cartoonists.


  • Adult Basic Education Association (Hamilton, Ontario)
  • Brock University, Faculty of Ed. (AQ/ABQ Guest Instructor)
  • Caledon Public Library (CPL)
  • Camp Steel-Away (ArcelorMittal Dofasco)
  • City of Hamilton (Parks & Recreation)
  • District School Board of Niagara (DSBN)
  • Farmer’s Dell Co-op Preschool (Binbrook, Ontario)
  • Food4Kids Hamilton (Registered Charity/No Charge)
  • Hamilton Public Library (HPL)
  • Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board (HWCDS)
  • Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB)
  • Grimsby Public Library (GPL)
  • Kenosha Festival of Cartooning (Kenosha, Wisconsin)
  • McMaster University (Teaching Assistant & Animation Camp Instructor)
  • Mohawk College (Summer Camps Guest)
  • Ontario Early Years Centres (Hamilton & Stoney Creek)


Below is a list and descriptions of the different cartooning workshops I currently offer. Most can be adapted/modified to suit children, teenage or adult audiences. All of my cartooning workshops are designed to be fun, interactive and hands-on, meaning audience members are encouraged/expected to be active participants. For school visits, teachers are always welcome to participate along with their class, so they can enjoy the learning experience together with their students. More formal presentations of my work can also be available for post-secondary classes or guest speaker events.

New Artists / Preschool & Kindergarten

Ages: 6 and under (Preschoolers & Kindergarteners)
 30-minutes to 1-hour
Maximum # of Participants: Unlimited (Single Class or Group Presentation)
Materials Required: Crayons or Coloured Pencils + Blank Paper (larger sheets ideal)

In my New Artists / Preschool & Kindergarten workshops, we identify and use shapes and letters of the alphabet to create cartoon characters (ex. human facial expressions and animals). For each drawing, we follow a step-by-step approach, but I include examples and suggestions along the way on how each student can make their own drawings unique (ex. varying the size and placement of facial features, adding patterns and textures). Children at this age are still developing their fine motor skills, so my accessible drawing activities set each child up for success, providing them a unique opportunity to develop their drawing skills and abilities to express themselves creatively. I have facilitated this workshop multiple times at Ontario Early Year’s Centres and it’s a great bonding opportunity for parents to participate along with their children. I always encourage the parents to continue drawing/doodling with their kids at home. Cartooning is a fun and accessible art form and kids have unfiltered and uninhibited imaginations, so it’s always fun when the adults learn to reconnect with their inner child.

Cartooning / Cartoon Drawing

Ages: 7+ (Grades 1+)
Suitable For: Kids, Teens, Adults
Maximum # of Participants: Unlimited (Single Class or Group Presentation)
Learning Tools Provided (Topics Vary): Faces & Expressions (worksheet), Character Design (worksheet), Animal Models & Funny Animals (worksheet)
Materials Required: Pencils + Blank Paper (approx. 4-5 sheets per student)

In my Cartooning / Cartoon Drawing workshops, we can cover a variety of topics including: faces & expressions, cartoon character design, anthropomorphism (“funny animals”), perspective drawing (characters and background drawings), and more. It all depends on the age, drawing skills and artistic experience level of the students. Cartooning is a visual storytelling art, so I always encourage students to think about the emotions and story they are telling through their drawings. All of the drawing exercises are interactive, hands-on and open-ended, allowing each student to use their own imagination to express themselves artistically. Upon request, I can usually customize some content to complement a current theme or topic being studied in the classroom or promoted in the library. For school classroom presentations, I can also incorporate a multimedia slideshow with samples of my own work that demonstrates the creative process from idea brainstorming and rough pencil sketches to final art (see “My Creative Process” Multimedia Presentation below). A fun way to complement and meet Visual Arts Curriculum expectations!

Creating Comics / Sequential Art & Visual Storytelling

Ages: 9+ (Grades 3+)
Suitable For: Kids, Teens, Adults
Maximum # of Participants: Unlimited (Single Class or Group Presentation)
Learning Tools Provided: Anatomy of a Comic (worksheet), Comic Strip Template, Draw in the Blanks (activity sheet)
Materials Required:
 Pencils + Blank Paper (approx. 3 sheets per student)

In my Creating Comics / Sequential Art & Visual Storytelling workshops, we focus on literacy and storytelling via sequential art (ex. comic books, comic strips, graphic novels, etc.). As a class, we learn about and identify the basic elements of a comic (ex. panels, gutters, dialogue/speech balloons, caption boxes, characters, backgrounds, sound effects, etc.). We discuss and draw examples of different types of dialogue/speech balloons, demonstrating how varying the shape and size of our lettering can tell our audience/readers the manner and volume in which our characters are communicating. We also draw examples of different camera shot types (ex. wide/establishing, medium, close-up) and discuss the strengths and purposes of each from a visual storytelling perspective. If appropriate, we can discuss tips on how to write for comics. For school classroom presentations, I can also incorporate a multimedia slideshow with samples of my own work that demonstrates the creative process from idea brainstorming and rough pencil sketches to final art (see “My Creative Process” Multimedia Presentation below). An ideal workshop for introducing (or concluding) a graphic novel study unit!

Dip Pens & Ink

Ages: 10+ (Grades 4+)
Suitable For: Kids, Teens, Adults
Duration: 1-hour
Maximum # of Participants: 30
Learning Tools Provided: Dip Pens (penholders, pen nibs), Drawing Ink, Worksheets + Blank Paper for Inking
Materials Required: Pencils + Blank Paper, Protective Surface for Tables is Suggested (ex. plastic tablecloth, newsprint or craft paper).

In my Dip Pens & Ink workshops, we learn about & explore cartoon drawing with traditional dip pens and ink media. We begin with a demonstration that covers safe use and proper tool & equipment care. During the demo, I introduce students to the drawing exercises on my custom designed inking worksheets, which each student is provided. Together, we focus on dip pen drawing techniques such as varying the width of a line (i.e., “line weights”) and rendering styles (ex. cross hatching). In cartooning and creating comics, inking is often done directly over rough pencil sketches to give the drawings their crisp dark outlines (i.e., “line art”). The inking worksheets provide students with a few “rough pencil” sketches of cartoon characters to simulate this creative process. Students are also provided with open-ended opportunities to express themselves creatively via their ink drawings. This workshop has follow-up sessions available that focus specifically on creating comics. In the second/third session(s), we practice inking lettering (dialogue, captions, and sound effects) and create comic strip and comic book art.

Cartoon Animation (2D Traditional)

Ages: 12+ (Grades 6+)
Suitable For: Tweens, Teens, Adults
Duration: Minimum 2-hours (4 to 5 hours ideal)
Maximum # of Participants: 30
Learning Tools Provided: Storyboarding worksheets, Animation Peg Bars, DSLR Camera & Photography Stand, Video Editing Computer with Licensed Stop-motion Software (DragonFrame), 3-Hole Paper Punch, LED Lightbox/Tracing Pads, and more!!
Materials Required: Digital Projector/SMART Board, Pencils + Blank Paper

In my Cartoon Animation (2D Traditional) workshops, we learn about and explore the magic of hand-drawn animation. We begin with a fun, hands-on drawing activity that introduces students to “The Persistence of Vision”—the optical illusion that makes animation possible. Each student’s goal for the workshop is to animate a very short sequence (approx. 6 to 24 drawings), preferably a “cycle” animation—an action that can be repeated indefinitely. Students are provided with all the required tools and materials, including wooden animation peg bars that I custom made for these workshops. Under my guidance, students follow the creative process, from idea brainstorming to thumbnail/storyboard sketches to final animation drawings, which we photograph using the professional-level equipment I provide. I encourage my students to draw what interests/inspires them, always promoting individual creative expression. After the workshop, I edit together a class compilation video that features all student work.

Please note that the minimum 2-hour animation workshop is intended for class sizes up-to 15 students. The ideal workshop duration is 4 to 5 hours and can accommodate a maximum of 30 participants. Depending on location, my Cartoon Animation workshops can be a one-day event or take place over a series of sequential dates.

Time permitting, we can also stretch our legs for some fun animation experiments using a technique called “pixilation.” Students pose for a series of photos like stop-motion puppets, so we can demonstrate different animation principles and technical concepts (ex. “frame rate”). We also do some neat camera tricks like ice-skating without ice! Students actively explore how to create the illusion of life through a series of individual pictures.

VIDEO (above):“Behind-the-Scenes” Video from my Ontario Arts Council supported animation workshops.

“My Creative Process” Multimedia Presentation

Ages: 7+ (Grades 4+)
Suitable For: Kids, Teens, Adults
Duration: varies (approx. 15 to 30 minutes)
Maximum # of Participants: unlimited
Materials Required: Digital Projector or SMART Board + Speakers/Sound System

The “My Creative Process” Multimedia Presentation is a workshop add-on that provides students with a unique “behind the scenes” look at my creative process used on various cartooning projects from idea brainstorming and rough pencil sketches to final art (ex. comics, illustrations and animation). During this presentation, I demonstrate how my cartoons are created and evolve to meet different project (or client) requirements and expectations. Students will see how some ideas and sketches get abandoned to make a project better, but more importantly, that you don’t need to start with a perfect idea or drawing. Overall, this presentation will help students gain a sense of appreciation for the creative process. Questions from the audience are always welcome and encouraged.

Fees & Rates (costs/pricing):

For cartooning workshops hosted at public libraries and schools in the Hamilton-Niagara region and Greater Toronto Area (GTA), my Artist Educator/Teaching Artist Fee is $60 per instructional hour for an average class size (approx. 20 students). I do have experience presenting to larger audiences at schools, special events and festivals—my Guest Speaker/Group Presentation Fees start at $250 for up to 1-hour of presentation that includes interactive, hands-on drawing lessons and a “My Creative Process” Multimedia Presentation. In all cases, a nominal Materials & Equipment Fee is charged based on the number of participants and workshop type (ex. Cartoon Drawing, Dip Pens & Ink, Cartoon Animation). This fee covers expenses including: worksheet printing costs, drawing materials and class preparation time. Depending on the venue’s location, Travel Expenses may also apply. To receive a quote, please feel free to contact me via email or phone (see Bookings & Inquiries below)…

For bookings & inquiries, please provide the following:

  • your name
  • name & location of your school, library, event or venue
  • your job title/position
  • age/grade level of participants/students (classes can be customized for adult learners)
  • number of participants/students
  • workshop(s) of interest (see list of Workshops Offered below)
  • preferred date(s) & time(s)
  • budget (if applicable)

You’re welcome to contact me via email: mikecope@copetoons.com or phone: (289) 808-4843.[/vc_column_text