The unimaginative came about as a result of copying the work of a friend of mine years ago. A budding fashion designer, she had become rather adept at drawing young girls in fab '60s attire. Taking her style I was able to produce reasonable facsimiles, though my range was most assuredly limited. A couple of different hairstyles, or a change from bellbottoms to a mini-skirt and go-go boots were the only alterations.
The fact that I could copy them I see in retrospect proves that she was not exactly a major talent either, though. But at that time, to a young teen with limited exposure to people with artistic ability, this was pretty cool. All I saw was a blank piece of paper transformed by a fairly accurate depiction of a person. That there was a rather cartoon-ish flare to the work was irrelevant.
Nowadays, few people probably use pencil and paper to create cartoon illustrations. Photoshop has resulted in a new breed of artist and artistry. The easel is a computer, the palette software, the art digital.
How it's done can be practised with help from these great tutorials.
40 Cartoon Character Illustration Tutorials
Create a Nice Cartoon Using Photoshop
Photoshop Cartoon Effect in 5 Minutes
50 Great Photoshop Cartoon Tutorials