Cartoons for an Instruction Manual 📖

Cartoons are excellent at keeping the attention of the reader and getting your message across in a fun way. They’re completely customisable and you can create scenes that would be expensive or even impossible to set up for a photo shoot.

This is a series of cartoons I completed for a user manual for a road repair system. The Roadmaster® is a “Spray Injection Patching machine which fixes all types of road defects crazing, cracking, fretting and potholes”, invented and manufactured by Archway Products. The brief was to make some the user manual interesting and engaging to the user, so the client wanted relevant cartoons interspersed amongst the text and tables.

Archway Roadmaster
The Archway Roadmaster

The cartoons were to be based on several important technical themes from the manual: the “journey plan”; developments in the field of road repair; affinity between the materials; the importance of good calibration; the machine operator; “fatting” (a term term used to describe a patch which contains too much binder); machine maintenance; and finally contact details for the helpdesk.

I created a series of pencil roughs based on the client’s ideas and when they were happy the cartoons were capturing what they wanted to communicate I moved on to the completed versions of each.

The Journey Plan:


This cartoon was based on the interior of the Roadmaster and features the operator keying in the Spray Injection Patching (SIP) “journey” into the sat nav.

What Not to Do!

rodeo road repair cartoonThis was a simple fun image of an operator using a different system as a rodeo rider!


calibration roadmaster cartoonThis cartoon was to get across how important proper calibration is to the proper use of the machine.

Good Affinity:

good affinity roadmaster cartoonThis cartoon was to reinforce the importance of the mix between the aggregate and binder materials in the machine.

The Operator:

operator the nut behind the wheelPretty self-explanatory!

Fatting Up:

bird looking at reflection cartoonWhere there’s a bad mix between the materials a process called “fatting up” occurs where the binder will float to the top in warm weather resulting in a black shiny surface.

Machine Maintenance:

machine maintenanceThis was to encourage the user to keep on top of machine maintenance in a timely fashion using the right parts.

The Helpdesk:

roadmaster helpdesk contact detailsI used the Archway centaur logo as the basis for the help-desk operator. If you look closely you can see the logo on the mug on the desk!

I’m cartoonist Allan Cavanagh and I have been creating unique cartoons for brochures, manuals and posters for over 20 years. If you’re looking for visual aids to get across the ideas of a project please get in touch for details of my completely original bespoke cartoon illustrations!

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