How to draw a football – A Fun & painless football drawing tutorial for 2022!

How to draw a football

Welcome to how to draw a football!

Hello and welcome!

In this how-to-draw, we’ll be learning how to draw a football using shapes, forms, and lines.

American football uses a very differently shaped ball compared with other sports. It is more oblong and looks a bit like a short drum with cones attached to each end.

Its odd shape can make football drawing a little awkward, but I’ve come up with a couple of useful tricks to keep our football drawings from looking wobbly. I’ll go over the basic shapes and forms of footballs and show you the basic construction steps.

I’ll show you how to draw a football step-by-step, how to create a football drawing in perspective and talk about some of the ball surface details.

As always, let’s start by learning a little about what we’re drawing. The better we understand what we’re drawing, the better our football drawings will be.

Let’s learn about footballs!

American football is hugely popular in the United States and Canada. Cheering for your favorite team and tossing around a football with the kids is a lot of fun. And who doesn’t enjoy those creative Superbowl ads?

Where it’s most popular, a football is also known as a “pigskin” and used to play gridiron football. There are 32 teams in the American National Football League (NFL), with each team using 11-player teams. In the Canadian Football League (CFL), teams feature 12 players.

For the professional collegiate leagues, footballs are most often made of brown tanned cowhide leather and stamped with a pebble-grain texture for easier gripping. Balls for average recreation or youth leagues may also be made of composite rubber, plastic, or rubber.

Construction of each football requires four panels of leather or plastic, and two of the panels are laced together. Each ball weighs about 14 to 15 ounces.

If you’d like to see how footballs are made, check out this helpful Youtube video:

Drawing a football is almost as easy as watching it, so let’s explore its shapes and forms. This will help us learn how to get a football shape so we can draw an easy football (and learn how to draw a football for kids, too!)

Exploration and study: Football drawing focused on shape and form

When I’m learning how to draw something, I begin by looking for references. It’s always helpful to create your own reference board to help with creating your exploration and study sketches.

If you need some help learning how to create your own reference board, I made a video guide to show you how.

A good reference board is really important because it helps us learn how to understand and draw our subject. The ref board I created for this how to draw a football tutorial is below.

Feel free to use it for your sketches!

If you’d like some extra help with wrapping your mind around the fundamentals before “tackling” a football drawing, check out my article Top 5 Art Fundamentals for Beginners.

Once I have all my refs, I begin my study sketches.

During this phase, I use pencil, pen, and colored pencil on a sheet of paper to break down the major shapes and forms of a football. I observe the location of the curve lines, stripes, laces, and stitching along the middle and center of the ball.

I visually measure the length and size of the curved lines, middle circle shape, and all the other lines and elements to see which are the same length and where each lives on the ball’s surface. Each of these things serves as a marker that helps us with our football drawing.

This is my messy phase, and it’s a lot of fun! 😁

I encourage you to let yourself make a big ‘ole mess on your page as you learn how to draw a football. Here are my first wobbly, messy sketches:

One of the first things I noticed as I began sketching for this how to draw a football tutorial was how awkward the transition from the middle of the ball to its tip is. Visually, it looks normal. But when I started to connect my shapes and forms to create that area, it felt odd and wobbly my first several tries.

At first, it seems like a simple circle is enough to define the center shape of the ball. I started that way before going on to connect the ends, but more often than not it made my football drawing come out funky, bumpy, and wobbly–which is totally fine at first! This is the phase for making a messed up messy mess as you learn how to draw a football. Don’t despair at your wobbles and bobbles–It’s all good! This is all a normal part of the learning process, I promise!

When I run into this kind of thing at any point, I take some time to re-evaluate my shapes and forms and look for ways to improve my form construction process.

How to draw a football: form construction

After a bit more sketching exploration, I came up with a solution I like better. I added a cylindrical drum shape to help firm up my construction, which helped keep my football shape from turning wobbly.

After several more sketches, I found that using more construction lines, shapes and forms helped a lot when it came to getting my football drawing to have that recognizable football shape.

Adding more structure to a drawing you’re having a challenging time can go a long way toward helping you understand and draw your subject better.

Shape breakouts and variations

Normally, at this stage of my how-to-draw tutorials, I like to give examples of the natural shape variations that occur in the subject, but…that’s not really a thing with footballs 😜

Unless they are deflated, deformed, or damaged in some way, the overall shape of a football–and any sporting ball, really–remains the same. The variations we see with a football are found in the materials it’s made with and its surface designs with things like logos and coloring.

Other variations that might interest you as you learn how to draw a football can be found in how the ball has evolved over time and how it compares to other sports’ balls, such as a soccer ball (which the rest of the world calls a futbol).

There is some speculation that the ball of choice for America’s Game started out as an inflated pig bladder, but that is hard to verify–though I did a search and found some fun pictures from places like The Smithsonian Magazine and Scoutlife.org!

I don’t own these images, but I’ve credited their sources as best I can. For more information, and to see the source of each photo, just click on the images below.

how to draw a football_how footballs have changed over time
Evolution of the American football
how to draw a football_inflated pig bladder football
Inflated pig bladder football.
how to draw a football_football vs soccer ball
American football compared to World Futbol (soccer)
how to draw a football_ball from 1874
A football from 1874.
how to draw a football_american football vs rugby ball
American football vs Rugby

How to draw a football step by step tutorial

Now that we’ve found our references and done some sketching, let’s jump into how to draw a football step-by-step!

how to draw an easy football_how to draw a football for kids_step 1

How to draw an easy football, Step 1

First, draw a line guide on your page. This line represents the unseen middle of the ball from tip to tip. This kind of guiding or action line helps orient the rest of your curved lines, shapes, and forms.

how to draw an easy football_how to draw a football for kids_step 2

Step 2

Next, draw another line perpendicular to your first guiding line. This second line helps you start to place the round center area of the ball.

how to draw an easy football_how to draw a football for kids_step 3

Step 3

Now, connect each line point to create a diamond-shaped envelope. This establishes the basic area where your ball will “live” in your drawing.

Remember, these are construction lines. We won’t keep all of them, but they help us develop a solid drawing.

how to draw an easy football_how to draw a football for kids_step 4

Step 4

Begin rounding off the overall football shape inside your envelope by drawing curved lines near each corner as shown.

Here, I started with rounding the center area of the ball.

how to draw an easy football_how to draw a football for kids_step 5

Step 5

Next, I drew small circles on the ends of my first and longest guiding line. This helps with making the ball’s tips rounded instead of pointy, and gets us closer to a football shape.

how to draw an easy football_how to draw a football for kids_step 6

Step 6

Use more curved lines to start defining the shape of your football drawing.

how to draw an easy football_how to draw a football for kids_step 7

Step 7

Now, you have a football shape!

The line and shape guides helped keep it from going all wobbly πŸ˜‰.

how to draw an easy football_how to draw a football for kids_step 8

Step 8

Add some stripes to help your drawing look more like a real football.

Be sure to use curve lines as you go around the surface. Making the stripe lines too straight will make your drawing feel flat.

These surface details help us identify our object. This is a good stage to add any other designs or personal touches you’d like for your drawing.

how to draw an easy football_how to draw a football for kids_step 9

Step 9

Some finishing touches with a marker or pen help the football drawing stand out.

how to draw an easy football_how to draw a football for kids_step 10

Final step

Erase your construction lines and, tada!

A completed football drawing!

So, how was it? Not too bad, huh? These steps came from my how to draw a football exploration and study phase. I came up with a couple more versions for this how to draw a football tutorial in case you could use some more structure help as I did.

Football drawing in Perspective

Knowing how to draw a football in perspective will be helpful if you’re drawing from a game you just saw played or from your imagination.

Here are some examples of how to draw a football in one and two-point perspectives.

The Details of footballs

Another part of learning how to draw a football is understanding how to construct the stitches and laces that make the ball so recognizable.

The next group of images will visually take you through the steps of how to draw a football’s lacing and stitching details.

Thank you & Farewell!

Hey, look! You made it to the end of this how to draw a football tutorial! There are a lot of choices out there, so even if you just took a few seconds to scroll through my article to find the bits you need, I appreciate you stopping by!

I’m always working to improve the quality of my content and to make sure I’m creating content that helps artists like you on their art journey. I’d love to hear from you! If you have any feedback, questions, or comments for me, please leave them in the comments section below! If there’s an art topic you’re looking for guidance on, please feel free to message me in the comments or email me at cecely@cecelyv.com.

If you liked this article, please share it! Sharing helps us all grow together as artists.

Stay safe and healthy, and Happy Drawing!


How to draw Scales (Coming soon!), 2022

Welcome All about Scales Making reference boards Exploration and study Observations Shapes, forms, and construction Natural variations How to draw Scales step by step Rendering scales Materials Light Colors Creatures with Scales In our world, there are a …
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How to draw wings (Coming soon) 2022

Welcome to my how to draw wings drawing tutorial! Let’s learn about wings! Exploration and study: Drawing wings focused on shape and form Shape breakouts and natural variations How …
Read More

How to draw a Donut: Delicious donut drawing made easy for 2022

how to draw a donut

Welcome to my how to draw a donut tutorial!

Hello and welcome to how to draw a donut on cecelyv.com! In this how-to-draw tutorial, we’ll discuss and demonstrate how to make a tasty donut drawing and learn about the shapes, forms, and variations of a donut.

If you’re familiar with any of my other how-to-draw articles–like how to draw a snake or how to draw a mushroom–then you know I like to emphasize form and structure. I’ll cover the basic shapes and forms that help us create a donut drawing, and I’ll explain the distinction between the donut itself and its delicious topping details.

First things first, let’s make sure we understand what we’re drawing a bit more.

Let’s learn about donuts!

A donut (also spelled “doughnut”) is a sweet treat food made from leavened fried dough. Donuts are popular, yummy to taste, and have a world full of variety, with just about every country and culture, from A to Z, having its version.

Donuts are most often deep-fried from a flour dough, with the two most common types of donuts being the ring donut and the filled donut. The ring donut has a circle shape with a hole cut out of the center, and filled donuts are injected with fruit jelly, cream, custard, or other delectable fillings.

Donut toppings vary wildly, from icing and glaze to sprinkles, frosting, chocolate, powdered sugar, cinnamon, and fruit. The hole from the center of a ring donut is often cooked as a donut hole.

Other shapes include twists, balls, buns, and thick and flattened small loaves. Donuts are also divided into cake and yeast-risen types and can be purchased everywhere, from grocery stores to cafes to donut shops and gas station convenience stores.

The History of Donuts

A cookbook published in 1485 gives us the first mention of fried dough cakes (as far as we know), so donuts have been around for quite some time. If you’d like to learn more about the history of the donut, here are a few sources to check out:

How Donuts are made

We like to eat them, and we’re making donut drawings, so we might as well look at how donuts are made, right? It’ll give us another good visual and insight for our drawings, and that’s always a good thing πŸ‘πŸ½.

Time to make some donut drawings!

Okay! You’re probably like, “Finally, she gets to the point!” 😜😁

I know it can seem like a lot of extra stuff, but how can we draw what we don’t understand?

Now, let’s learn how to draw a donut and have some fun!

Exploration and study: Donut drawing shapes and forms

We know enough about donuts and their variations to make some drawings, so let’s start with reference boards and sketches!

If you need help making your reference board, I have an article and a video to help.

Donut reference boards help us sketch!

By studying references, we can develop a good idea of the basic shapes and forms as we begin making sketches and drawings. I like to do this for each of my drawing tutorials. Shapes and forms give us structure, and structure is vital.

How to draw a donut – My exploration and study sketches

It’s essential to do all the study sketches you feel necessary to be comfortable with your subject.

Donuts have relatively simple structures, so most of the drawing work is in the details of toppings like coloring, glaze, icing, sprinkles, shadows, and light, whether you put it on a drawing of a plate or with fruit in the middle, etc.

Here are my study sketches from my how to draw a donut explorations:

Compared with study sketches in my other tutorials, this one is pretty light on drawings–and that’s okay. If the subject is simple, it is easier to understand and draw.

Shape breakouts and variations

By studying my reference boards, I delivered the outlines and edges of an entire list of common donut varieties for us to draw. These outlines and shapes give us the basis for the forms we need as we learn how to draw a donut, and the form provides us with the structure we need so the delicious icing, glaze, and coloring have something to live on top of in our donut drawing.

Next, let’s have some fun with forms by tackling the form construction for each of these shape outlines.

How to draw a donut: basic form construction

To learn how to draw a donut, I started with the most common and recognizable type–the ring donut.

For beginners, I recommend starting with the most basic shapes and forms. Starting from simple shapes will help you grasp each edge, oval, circle, and line as you make your sketch.

This approach works for everyone from kids to hobbyists and professionals and can be applied to any medium from pencil and paper to crayons, colored pencils, or a digital format. Of course, if you need to trace at first to get started, that’s okay too!

Let’s have fun with donut forms!

How to draw a donut – more form construction!

I mentioned earlier that I identified more than one example of common donut shapes. Whether there’s a wavy line, curved lines, or straight lines, each shape gives us an example of how to start building our donut drawing forms.

It’s essential to my mission to emphasize form and structure in all of my drawing tutorials, so I created visual form construction examples for several of the common donut types to help you learn how to draw a donut of any style you choose.

To practice these form construction steps and learn how to draw a donut in different ways, follow the visual form construction steps below!

When in doubt, remember to lead by drawing an entire shape, like an ellipse, circle, oval, etc. It serves us better than individual lines or edges when we have a whole shape.

The twist type is less round than a basic/traditional donut, so I start with a box shape to capture its overall soft boxy form.

The churro is very tubular in its construction, essentially made of one long cylinder.

Learning how to draw a donut that is a cake type is a little more complex, but we can handle it! The cake types tend to be the ones with more complex top forms and toppings, so it makes sense that their form construction is a little more involved.

How to draw a donut step-by-step tutorial (from my sketches & Imagination!)

Next up in how to draw a donut, I will go through the “official” step-by-step tutorial for drawing a basic ring-type donut.

What you saw earlier with all the form construction was essentially a collection of visual step-by-step tutorials. I wanted to make sure I shared multiple ways of how to draw a donut with you so you can choose for yourself which type of donut you want to create.

Follow along with me, and you’ll have a realistic donut picture, complete with a slight indication of shadows. I won’t delve too deeply into the shadows and light or details in this tutorial because that crosses into the realm of painting and rendering, and we need a solid drawing to paint on top of first πŸ˜‰.

This step-by-step should work for kids, too. So let’s get to it!

how to draw a donut_step-by-step tutorial 01

How to draw a donut, Step 1

Start with a horizontal oval, also called an ellipse. Extend two lines straight down from each end of your oval.

how to draw a donut_step-by-step tutorial 02

Step 2

Connect the straight lines you extended with another oval/ellipse.

You’ve created the form for your donut hole!

how to draw a donut_step-by-step tutorial 03

Step 3

Now that we have the empty middle of the donut, it’s time to construct the ring donut itself.

Add two large circles on the horizontal ends of the donut hole form you finished in step 2. Make the circles as large and as round as you’d like.

how to draw a donut_step-by-step tutorial 04

Step 4

Connect the outside bottom edges of the circles with a large ellipse as shown.

This creates the bottom plane of your donut.

how to draw a donut_step-by-step tutorial 05

Step 5

Draw another ellipse to connect the outside top edges of the circles. This creates the top plane of your donut where all the toppings will live.

how to draw a donut_step-by-step tutorial 06

Step 6

Now, it’s time to erase some of your construction lines to prepare for the next stage of drawing some tasty toppings.

It helps to emphasize the inside edge closest to you in your drawing. When drawn next to your donut hole, it adds a sense of depth and three-dimensionality.

how to draw a donut_step-by-step tutorial 07

Step 7

Sketch in some ellipses around the ring of your donut to help you visualize how the form turns.

This will give you a guide to help make your toppings look more realistic.

how to draw a donut_step-by-step tutorial 08

Step 8

Sketch in the basic shape, size, and directionality of your toppings.

I chose a simple icing with light sprinkles, so here I blocked that in here with a different colored pencil.

how to draw a donut_step-by-step tutorial 09

Step 9

To make room for the detail shapes and forms, I took some time to erase my construction lines more carefully.

how to draw a donut_step-by-step tutorial 10

Step 10

I continued the detail phase’s block-in step here by adding the shapes and forms of each sprinkle.

I made the sprinkles out of tiny circles, 3D curls, and itty bitty cylinders. They may be small, but they still have form and mass!

I also added a little bit of color to the bottom of the donut. Using brown, I decided to make this a chocolate donut with icing and sprinkles on top!

how to draw a donut_step-by-step tutorial 11

Step 11

To make the drawing clear, and to keep from accidentally erasing my work during clean-up of my construction lines, I went ahead and did a trace of everything in black marker.

how to draw a donut_step-by-step tutorial 12

Step 12

The last step is color, shadow, and light!

I didn’t want this how to draw a donut tutorial to turn into a painting tutorial, so I didn’t do much with the light or shadows.

Still a slight indication of shadows under the icing is enough for our purposes here.

Congratulations! You’ve completed my how to draw a donut step-by-step tutorial!

The Details and coloring of donuts

Now you know all about how to draw a donut!

I want to offer a little more clarity on what constitutes “details,” so I created a short video to explain (COMING SOON!)

A warm farewell with encouragement

Thank you for visiting my site!

I hope you enjoyed my how to draw a donut tutorial, and I hope you had fun making donut drawings with me!

Remember, it doesn’t matter how many times you need to erase, or whether you need to trace or start again on a new piece of paper several times. It doesn’t matter if your donut drawing is round or if the donut hole you drew is a little wobbly. Learn the process, find your way of drawing. Keep at it! Art isn’t about being “good”, it’s about how making art makes you feel.

Try this with crayons and other media, try it with kids–or other kids if you are a kid!

Have fun and keep drawing! The rest will come.

If you enjoyed my how to draw a donut tutorial, please share it! I’d love to hear your feedback, so if you have a comment or question for me please leave it in the comments section below! If you didn’t like my how to draw a donut tutorial, please tell me that, too! Part of my site mission is to help as many other artists as I can with my content, so I’m open to feedback that helps my content improve.

How to draw a circle: A thorough exploration of a simple and subtle shape 2022

How to draw a circle

Welcome to my how to draw a circle drawing tutorial!

Hi and Happy drawing to you all! πŸ˜‰

Welcome to my how to draw a circle article!

The first thing to know about a circle is that it’s a tool. Each of the two-dimensional shape tools and lines we learn to recognize and draw as kiddos are the foundation for all other forms, patterns, and designs.

In my Understanding Form in Art article, I go into this concept of shapes and lines as building blocks a bit more.

The most common building blocks for everything we draw are the circle, the square and rectangle, and lines. Most other shapes can be created from these base shapes, similar to how each color can be mixed with the base colors of red, yellow, and blue. The only elements simpler than any of the base shapes are the line and the point (or dot).

Without getting too technical, let’s explore what a circle really is.

Let’s learn about circles!

A circle is a shape whose points are all equally distant from the center.

When points are not equally distant from the center point, you will get something different. This is where we find the main difference between a circle and its team of similarly round shapes: the oval and the ellipse.

Circles have been a known shape since before the start of recorded history, and the study of circles in mathematics helped the development of other disciplines such as geometry, astronomy, and calculus. Thankfully, we don’t need to get into the weeds of circumference, diameter, radius, distance, etc in order to draw circles.

Now, let’s look at some examples of natural and man-made circles.

Exploration and study: Natural & Man-made Circles.

A circle is an easy thing to find. Here are a couple of reference boards I created to demonstrate how prolific circles are in our lives.

Shape breakouts and natural variations (ovals and ellipses!)

Normally at this stage of my how to draw articles I like to cover the explorative study sketches I create, and break out all the naturally occurring variations in shape and form, but…that’s not really a thing with circles πŸ˜….

The ways of how to draw a circle are so simple and subtle, and a slight change to any point on a circle brings you into different shape territory. So, let’s all agree that you guys don’t need me to break down or dissect an already simple shape πŸ˜‰. We’ll just agree, as the intelligent and sensible people we are, that circles are circles, and when you stretch them out a bit they become ovals and ellipses.

How to draw a circle step-by-step: Several methods and tutorials

There are several different methods for how to draw a circle. There are a few that I don’t find terribly practical, such as the paper clip, string, and compass methods. Nevertheless, I’ve created or found an example for each method to offer you a variety to choose from.

PSA for this article: I am not teaching you how to draw a perfect circle. Why? Because it’s not practical or necessary. If perfect circles are your goal…this probably isn’t the best drawing tutorial for you. The wonderful search services of Google will get you to content all about ways to draw a perfect circle, but I’m not the one–sorry πŸ˜….

Okay, moving right along! Let’s get into my how to draw a circle tutorials! I have come up with several methods of my own, and I will cover a few of the others I’ve come across (like the string, paper clip, compass, and rubber band methods). Each of the methods that I came up with emphasizes how to draw a circle freehand.

In my humble opinion, when you’re sketching and pulling out ideas, it’s cumbersome to need an additional tool for simple shapes. Plus, a sketch isn’t meant to be perfect; it’s a vehicle for your expression and problem solving.

I will now jump off my soapbox and list the methods I’ll be covering for how to draw a circle.

Methods for How to draw a circle

  • Square method
  • Crosshairs or ‘X’ method
  • Parallel lines method (my favorite!)
  • Shapes method
  • String and paper clip methods, and more!
  • Rubber band method
  • Compass method
  • Rectangle method (for ovals & ellipses)

The Square Method

The square is pretty straightforward and freehand. We use a square as a bounding box to help us learn how to draw a circle. Here are some step-by-step visuals for this learning project.

how to draw a circle_square method step 1

Square Method, Step 1

Draw a square as your first step. I like to find the middle point on each side of the square and mark it with a line or a spot/dot because it’s helpful in the following steps.

how to draw a circle_square method step 2

Step 2

Next, begin drawing your circle by connecting those middle points with curving lines/arches, as shown.

how to draw a circle_square method step 3

Step 3

Once you’re happy with your circle, begin darkening it.

how to draw a circle_square method step 4

Step 4

Lastly, erase your square leaving only your completed circle.

The Crosshairs or ‘X’ Method

Using crosshairs (like a plus ‘+’) or an ‘X’ to practice how to draw a circle is another super simple method, and it also allows you to vary the size of the circle as much as you like–and still draw freehand!

how to draw a circle_crosshairs or 'x' method step 1

Crosshairs or ‘X’ Method, Step 1

Begin by drawing a simple plus sign (‘+’) or ‘X’.

how to draw a circle_crosshairs or 'x' method step 2

Step 2

Next, begin connecting the end points of your ‘+’ or ‘X’ using curved lines/arches.

how to draw a circle_crosshairs or 'x' method step 3

Step 3

Continue connecting the end points.

how to draw a circle_crosshairs or 'x' method step 4

Step 4

Complete your circle by connecting the last end point.

how to draw a circle_crosshairs or 'x' method step 5

Step 5

Erase your crosshairs or ‘X’, leaving your completed circle.

The Parallel Lines Method (my favorite!)

This method is my favorite for line work and circle/ellipse drawing practice. The parallel lines offer just enough support while leaving plenty of freedom for practice and experimentation.

how to draw a circle_parallel lines method step 1

The Parallel Lines Method, Step 1

Begin by drawing a series of straight parallel lines with a ruler, as shown. Varying the distance between the lines helps you practice drawing circles, ovals, and ellipses of different sizes.

how to draw a circle_parallel lines method step 2

Step 2

The parallel lines act as guides for placement of the top and bottom of your circles/ovals/ellipses.

Staying within the lines, freehand draw as many circles/ovals/ellipses as you can fit onto each line, as shown.

how to draw a circle_parallel lines method step 3

Step 3

Fill up all your parallel lines with circles, ellipses, and/or ovals. This is excellent line work practice, and a great warm-up exercise.

Here are a few videos to help make this how to draw a circle method more clear:

Using my trained right hand πŸ‘πŸ½. A ruler works, but any straight edge will do.
Using my mostly untrained LEFT hand, Eek!
If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section below or in the comments section of any of my videos!

Shapes method

This is essentially the same concept as the square method. The point is to use your chosen shape as a bounding “box” from which to create your circle. Shapes create a contained space, so most of them lend themselves quite well to circle drawing. The simplest to use are the square and the triangle, but other shapes can be used just as well.

how to draw a circle_shapes method step 1

The Shapes Method, Step 1

Draw any shape to create a bounding “box”. Here, I’ve used triangles and trapezoids. It helps to mark the midpoints of each side on all the shapes.

how to draw a circle_shapes method step 2

Step 2

Using curving lines/arches, connect the midpoints of each side.

how to draw a circle_shapes method step 3

Step 3

Erase your shape bounding “boxes”, leaving only your completed circles.

String & Paper clip methods, and more!

I found a helpful YouTube video from DaveHax that demonstrates several examples of how to draw a circle, so I’ll share it here:

Rubber band method

Here’s a YouTube video from DrawingWithDeeArtist on how to draw a circle using the rubber band method. The idea behind all these “hacks” for drawing circles is to get perfect circles, not freehand circles.

Compass method

This next YouTube video comes from Lorri at Sunshine22854. In it, she’s kind enough to cover how to draw a circle using a compass.

Rectangle method (for ovals & ellipses)

Once again we’re utilizing the bounding box concept for how to draw a circle–we’re just using a longer box to create ovals and ellipses instead of circles.

how to draw a circle_rectangle method step 1

Rectangle Method, Step 1

Draw rectangles of any width and length you’d like, and mark the center point of each side (or at the corners for angled ellipses).

how to draw a circle_rectangle method step 2

Step 2

Connect your sight marks with curving lines/arches, as shown.

how to draw a circle_rectangle method step 3

Step 3

Darken your lines once you’ve achieved the oval/ellipse you want. Here, I also used this method to create a tear drop shape.

how to draw a circle_rectangle method step 4

Step 4

Erase your bounding boxes, leaving your completed oval/ellipse.

Drawing circles in Perspective

Learning how to draw a circle in perspective involves first learning how to draw planes and boxes in perspective. In this next video, I’ll demonstrate how I set up boxes in 1-point perspective and draw circles on the planes of each box.

Since circles are flat shapes, the process for drawing them in perspective doesn’t change, even when the perspective changes.

Drawing a circle from Imagination!

Drawing circles as part of your line exercises or warm-up is important training that is beneficial to do regularly. Then there are times we just need fun and interesting–and there’re other ways of practicing how to draw a circle.

In these last couple of videos, I demonstrate a few simple ways of practicing circle drawing by adding depth to transform circles into forms/objects, and by dissecting some forms built from simple ellipses and circles.

Thank you!

Thanks for hanging in there with me! I’m sure you came across lots of choices in your search, and I appreciate being the author whose content you chose.

I hope I’ve been able to do my part to help you see another side to drawing circles, and I hope my article has helped your art journey.

I’d love to hear from you, so if you have any feedback or questions for me please leave them in the comments section below. I hope we can meet each other again for another “how to draw” article!

Take care, stay safe, and Happy Drawing! 😊


More how-to-draw articles on CecelyV.com:

How to draw a cube

How to draw a sphere

How to draw a mushroom

How to draw a banana

How to draw a pumpkin

How to draw a snake – Draw dynamic snakes with this easy-to-use tutorial! 2022

How to draw a snake

Welcome to how to draw a snake drawing tutorial!

Thanks for being here!

In this how-to-draw, we’re talking about how to draw a snake!

At first glance, snakes look pretty simple. They don’t have the most complex shapes and forms in their anatomy, but there’s plenty of drawing excitement within the snake species’ natural variations.

To learn how to draw a snake, I’ll share some image references and go through my exploration and study sketching process to demonstrate how studying snake shapes, forms, and anatomy helps you create your own awesome snake drawings.

Next, I’ll cover how to draw a snake step by step, followed by drawing snakes in perspective. Then, we’ll use our references to explore the color and detail varieties in the snake species before sketching some snakes from imagination.

This will be a lot of fun, so I hope you’ll follow along and enjoy learning how to draw a snake with me!

Let’s learn about snakes!

We’ve all seen a snake at some point, right? They’re long, limbless, and covered in scales. They come in a staggering number of color and pattern combinations, and there are about 3,000 species of snakes! Snakes can eat prey much larger than their heads, allowing them to swallow their food whole–unless they’re venomous, in which case it’s fangs out first!

Snakes are found on every continent except Antarctica, and sea snakes are a real thing. 😳 Yikes!

Thankfully, most snakes possessing venom use it to kill or subdue prey rather than for biting us when we unwittingly scare them, and most snakes aren’t venomous, which is a relief. The nonvenomous snakes swallow their prey alive or squeeze it to death. 😱

We’re bigger than snakes…mostly…so, I think we’re okay. I hope πŸ˜….

Snakes generally have a negative reputation, but they are wild animals with very sharp fangs and dangerous venom, sooo…I’m gonna say their reputation is deserved.

Still, there is a lot more we can learn about snakes, but for learning how to draw a snake we need to study its shapes, forms, and variations.

Regardless of their hunting and eating habits, snakes are pretty cool and gnarly looking, which makes them fun to draw! Let’s get into our references and start exploring how to draw a snake.

Image reference boards

Each curved line, point, shape, and form we practice in our exploration and study phase adds to our own personal tutorial for learning how to make snake drawings. So, our first step must be to gather references.

I created several reference boards to deliver the information needed to complete your snake drawing. Below you’ll find visual information that will inform you of each step, line, and curve that we need and where they all go proportionally.

You’re welcome to use the reference boards I made, but I encourage you to practice making your own as well. Out of respect, and due to copyright protection, all the references I create for my tutorials are limited to what I can find for free commercial & creative use, create myself, or purchase (which isn’t really a thing on a shoestring budget πŸ˜‚).

For guidance on making your own reference boards, please check out my Art Reference board tutorial.

Snake body reference images

In keeping with best practices, let’s begin with the largest shapes and forms, which, in most cases, means studying the main body of our subject first.

Here in how to draw a snake, we begin with the snake’s body:

Looking at each reference image of a snake body, what are the first things you notice?

The first things I observe are the curved lines of the body, the forked tongue, the mouth and jaw, the body forms and lines, and the extremely wide variation in coloring, patterns, and head shapes.

A snake’s body is a simple, tapering cylinder. The way the width, length, and scales vary from head to tail and across snake species is what adds interest, variation, and complexity to the body design.

If you’d like a deeper dive into forms and forms and shapes, check out my Form in Art article. This variation linking across the world of snakes gives us lots of fun shapes to use in snake drawing.

Next, let’s continue learning how to draw a snake by taking a look at the second-largest shape/form on a snake: its head.

Snake head reference images

The head shape, scales, and patterning of a snake hold nearly all the creature’s design interest and variation. In this how to draw a snake tutorial, I’ve intentionally focused more on the head because a snake’s head offers more room to play and invent than its body.

Knowing where most of a subject’s interest lies helps our design. When you make a snake drawing, you’ll know from your study that the head is where you ought to put most of your shape and form details to draw your audience’s attention.

Snake skeleton

A snake’s head and skull give us clues about how its mouth opens and closes, the shape and direction of its scales, and its size. A snake skeleton reference image is useful and necessary in this area.

Even a brief study of snake anatomy is very useful for constructing realistic, chilling snake head designs. Understanding a bit about a snake’s bone structure helps us ground our snake drawing in reality by connecting the dots between design and believability–and the same can be said about snake fangs, underbelly, and tails.

More snake shapes and forms: fangs, belly, and tail

If we look closely, we can see that snakes often have a completely different look and feel to their belly scales. The departure from the look of the rest of the scales is important to note before you work out the scales part of your design.

It might seem like I’m trying to spam you with each reference image, but studying and exploring from reference and from life will ultimately benefit your snake drawing immensely.

Exploration and study: Snake drawing focused on shape and form

Once you’ve gathered all your references, it’s time to draw from them.

Eventually, you’ll establish your own version of this study and exploration process. I will take you through mine to offer a springboard, so to speak.

Snake head studies

As I mentioned earlier, the head of the snake holds most of the shape and form information. So, for this how to draw a snake tutorial, I decided to focus my studies on the head–especially since the body of a snake is quite easy in comparison (at least, until you get to the scales πŸ˜…).

Notice that each study includes not only a sketch of the snake head I was referring to on my boards, but also a rough sketch of the overall shape/form envelope. By understanding the larger forms that create and support the head, it becomes much easier to build smaller forms like eyes, horns, scales, etc on top.

Shape breakouts and natural variations

Once I felt comfortable with my understanding of the basic anatomical forms of a snake, I was able to break out the most common natural variations. I complete this step in each tutorial because when we understand what we’re drawing we can draw it much better, and invent from imagination more easily.

How to draw a snake: body form construction

Even though a snake’s body is a simple tapering cylinder, it’s important to practice all the basic forms of our subject and try to understand its variations.

As shown in my shapes breakout sketches, there are some slight natural variations in the cylindrical form of snakes. As I was working out how to draw a snake body, I kept those variations in mind and tried to have some fun with it as well.

Here are a few of my sketches for the snake’s body forms:

The example above should help clarify the process of how to draw a snake body. Even though it’s a simple form, clarification on construction always helps.

The process for both of these examples was exactly the same. The only difference was my use of different shape language. This second example of how to draw a snake body offers more of a sense of design and detail, and I achieved that simply by tweaking the overall shape used to create the body’s form.

This is something you can do in your design as well, so have fun with it! Try some sharper shapes for a more aggressive-looking snake, or softer ones for a cute-looking snake.

It helps to put your sketches side-by-side for comparison to see how the altered shape language changes your design.

How to draw a snake step-by-step tutorial

Now that we’ve explored each shape and visual bit, we’re snake ready to draw! A bit of an odd turn of phrase, I know, but I had to give it a try. Okay, next up here in how to draw a snake we’ll dive into drawing a snake step by step.

To be clear, this is my own imagination and it’s a finished sketch not a rendered image. I encourage you to follow the process explained within each step. It is not necessary for your snake step by step drawing to look like mine. This how to draw a snake tutorial is for you, so draw your way. Do you and enjoy!

how to draw a snake_step 1

Drawing a snake step 1

I started with a gesture line to define the snake’s pose.

A gesture line gives us a starting-off point by essentially offering us two dots or points for the start and end/top and bottom of our subject.

It’s also a long curve, with a second curve at the end for the tapering tail.

how to draw a snake_step 2

Drawing a snake step 2

After placing the gesture line to indicate the pose, I began building the shapes and forms for the head.

My selection for each line, form, and curve of the head is informed by the lines I remember from my study sketches.

Before you start roughing in the head, decide on its basic shape. It will be most helpful if you drew from your studies and reference boards.

how to draw a snake_step 3

Drawing a snake step 3

In this step, I began filling out the body form.

My goal in this step was to roughly match the thickness and length of the body to the head forms I’d created.

It’s okay if it’s not quite right immediately. Remember, it’s a sketch to get your ideas out. As you’ll see, I made some adjustments further along in my process.

how to draw a snake_step 4

Drawing a snake step 4

In this step, I decided I need to elongate the main body. The length and detail in the head I’d created needed balancing, so I made adjustments to the body.

I decided not to show the tongue, but I had fun giving my snake a ridge-like nose.

I also continued refining the head forms in this step.

how to draw a snake_step 5

Drawing a snake step 5

This step is about continuing to develop all the forms we drew.

As you can see, there are plenty of places where I erased and redrew my lines to make adjustments and changes.

Remember, it’s a sketch which is basically like a workout–you’re working out the design, the shapes, forms, lines, curves, etc. If you’re not happy with it, start another sketch and keep going!

how to draw a snake_step 6

Drawing a snake step 6

When I reached the point that I was happy with how I’d developed all my forms, I completed my sketch by darkening my final line work.

I do this last step to help make the sketch more readable online, but it’s not a necessary part of the how to draw a snake process.

Snake drawing in Perspective

When we learn how to draw a snake, we need to know how to put it into any perspective our image or story needs.

Next, you’ll find a video covering the process of how to draw a snake in one-point perspective.

The most commonly used perspectives for drawing are one and two-point perspectives, so up next in how to draw a snake I’ll go over the two-point perspective process.

The Details and colors of snakes

While each line and curve helps us define our forms, the world of snakes is very well known for several other features–especially their scales, forked tongue, and patterns.

The scales and patterns are designs unto themselves and so a bit too much to add to this how to draw a snake article (we’re almost done, I promise!). I’ll create a separate article all about drawing scales and designing patterns, but we can still talk a bit about the commonalities in these areas.

Snake scales

Collectively, snake scales are known as snakeskin. Scales serve a variety of functions, which I explore in my article How to draw scales.

The range of variety in scales is amazing, going from these:

…all the way to this:

The image above is from a Dragon Snake. Isn’t that one of the most gnarly things you’ve ever seen?! It impressed me anyway πŸ˜‚. This volume of possibility, and the fact that far more creatures than snakes have scales, means I need to treat How to draw Scales as its own thing.

As I was learning how to draw a snake, I did a research overview of their patterning, and, oh boy! Lots of variation, but without any particular rhyme or reason beyond identifying snake species. This is helpful for us because it means you can design your snake’s skin any way you want πŸ‘πŸ½.

A lot of scientific pigmentation language is involved with explaining snake coloring, and you can find one source for that here. For our how to draw a snake tutorial, we don’t need the science. Snakes present with just about every color there is along with iridescence, so choose whatever color scheme suits you.

How to draw a snake from Imagination!

Process: Curved lines, shape, form, and drawing through

I mentioned earlier that I chose to focus on snake heads for my demos, so what I have next is a video showing the entire process of me drawing a snake’s head from my imagination. It’s not a cute snake or a particularly good design, but that wasn’t the point πŸ˜‰. The point was to share my thought, creative, and imaginative process with you.

A warm farewell and finishing touches

Congratulations! You drew some fun snakes today! I hope you feel good about the new knowledge and practice you drew from this article.

Snakes really are pretty simple to draw in a basic sense, and I hope this how to draw a snake tutorial helped you with your snake-drawing goals.

I’m always happy to hear from my readers, so pretty please leave your questions and comments for me below. I’d love to hear what you think about this article and answer any questions that may have come up for you.

Stay safe and Happy Drawing!

How to draw a palm tree: Awesome easy-to-use drawing tutorial 2022

How to draw a palm tree_featured image

Welcome to my how to draw a palm tree tutorial!

Hi!

Welcome to another article in my how-to-draw series. This article is all about palm trees and how to draw them! If you want to add more beach and “fun in the sun” feel to the ocean and sand of your art, draw palm trees! A simple palm tree, coconuts, and some tropical fruit can create moods for your drawing that say “vacation and Mai Tais” or “building sandcastles with the kids.”

As you go through this article, you may notice that I’ve changed my format a little bit this time by leaving out the lighting (shadow and light) part. I’ll clarify that choice toward the end here, but, first, let’s focus on learning how to draw a palm tree!

Once you learn to draw a palm tree with all its parts and detail–from the silhouette to the curved lines of the tree trunk, and the round crown to a palm tree’s leaves–you can render your finished drawing however you choose: realistic, cartoon, anime. You’ll be covered by what you learn how to draw here!

First, we explore and study all the shapes and forms that make a palm tree look like a palm tree. Then, we’ll start constructing the basic shapes and forms, move into practicing with palm tree silhouettes, dig into some step-by-step palm tree drawing tutorials, and draw a palm tree in perspective.

I’ll cover the basic shapes, forms, & silhouettes of palm trees and all their parts, including the palm tree trunk and palm tree leaf. Our first step is the same as always: references!

Let’s learn about palm trees!

Palms, including palm trees, are from the family Arecaceae. They are a family of flowering plants with several growth forms, all commonly known as palms.

Most palm species, characterized by large evergreen leaves called fronds, are found in tropical and subtropical environments.

As one of the best known and most cultivated plant families, palms show extensive diversity in physical characteristics that allow them to inhabit nearly every kind of habitat. Being so well cultivated means palms, from their wood to their fruits, have several uses in human society, including palm wood, carnauba wax, palm syrup, dates, oils, jelly, and coconut products.

Exploration and study: Discovering a palm tree’s basic shape

Study sketches help us build our design process. In this step, we must take the time to understand the “thing” we’re drawing. Without this step–or without spending enough time with this step–drawings and designs will likely fall flat.

Since we’re not interested in polishing turds, let’s learn about the shapes and forms that make a palm tree!

Shape breakouts and natural variations

Palm trees have fairly basic overall shapes. To begin an amazing palm tree drawing, choose a few simple shapes and forms.

I started outlining the basic shape breakdowns first because it communicates our goal in this step more clearly. However, it’s important to note that exploration doesn’t start with the shape breakdown sketch you see above; it starts with a messy and thorough exploration of your subject with all its parts and variations.

Here are my exploration study sketches:

First, I explored all the parts of the palm tree: palm leaves, the palm tree trunk, the different directions of the fronds, and individual leaf construction information for several types of palm leaves.

The challenge and complexity arise when it’s time to draw all the details and textures–a lot of small and irregular shape details– that give palm trees that recognizable feel and character.

My hope and encouragement for you are that you don’t forget or skip the exploration drawings stage before jumping straight into the palm tree step by step tutorials coming up.

Trust me, your step-by-step practice will level up much further the more you study palm trees through sketching exploration.

How to draw a palm tree: form construction

Completing our palm tree exploration sketches gave us a decent grasp of the parts of the palm tree. We have a solid idea of the lines, outline, silhouette, and edges that we need to create our own palm tree drawing.

Our study into how to draw a palm tree allowed us to wrap our minds around where we need to be drawing curved lines vs. horizontal lines or a straight line and showed us which basic shapes and forms we have to work with.

As we continue to learn how to draw a palm tree, let’s jump into practicing the tree’s form construction.

The bulk of form construction on a palm tree lies in drawing the trunk while drawing a palm leaf–called a frond–calls for drawing slightly curved planes without much volume apart from the palm frond base.

Most of the trunk is a simple long cylinder, but the portion at the top that resembles a fat cylindrical drum (and sits between the leaves and the trunk) has much more volume and thickness from the forms of dozens and dozens of pruned/shaved fronds.

If you could use more help with drawing forms, please check out my Form in Art and Art Fundamentals for Beginners articles.

A word about research…

Looking up palm tree drawings or palm trees on Google images gives the impression that most palm trees are just long and skinny with a few floppy fronds and a sprinkling of coconuts. This impression is mostly true of young palm trees or palm trees that have been more heavily pruned through shaving.

To learn how to draw a palm tree, I took a look at how trees get that shaved, skinnier look:

Here’s what I see around my neighborhood:

The point I’m trying to make here is: Always do your research and then find the best references you can because a basic search will only get you what everyone else has drawn, and that’s never the whole story of all that’s available for your designs.

Palm tree silhouette

I mentioned at beginning of this tutorial that I’d changed my format a bit for this article, and here’s why:

When you start exploring palm tree drawing (or any tree…or hair…or fur…really any highly textured thing, you get the idea πŸ˜…πŸ™ƒπŸ€―), it quickly becomes clear that drawing the leaves of a palm tree one at a time is a huge pain in the butt!

The studies alone that I drew showed me the last thing I wanted to do was draw the fronds one at a time. So, when the shapes are small or many and squished or layered, what tip can we use to save us pulling out our hair? Introducing, Silhouettes!

How to draw a palm tree with silhouette, step-by-step tutorial

There isn’t one right way to draw silhouettes. What I’m showing below is only one way to approach it. Please approach this in the most intuitive way for your drawing process.

Here are a few I drew by hand during my exploration stage.

Drawing with silhouettes helps us visualize our overall subject and its gesture without allowing us to get bogged down in details.

Since most of what we see of trees is their general silhouette and light effects on their shapes and forms (small shapes make textures!), using silhouettes to draw palm trees gets us further along without all the hair-pulling πŸ˜‰.

Once we’ve experimented with a few silhouettes (they should totally be messy, not precious at this stage!) and chosen what we like, we can flesh out the internal shape and form information by drawing over our palm tree silhouette.

Palm tree silhouette draw over, step by step

To do this digitally as I have:

  1. Create a new layer over your silhouette and fill it completely with white, and then lower its opacity until you can clearly see your palm tree drawing silhouette enough to draw and trace over it.
  2. Create another new layer on top of your white trace layer and begin sketching the internal shape information over the top of your silhouette, including texture information.
  3. Use as many layers as you’d like to experiment with as many interior shape designs as you can. Simply hide the layers of your other design iterations to help you focus on the current layer’s work.

If you started traditionally on paper, you can also complete this step by photographing/scanning your drawing for your base palm tree drawing layer and then follow the steps above.

To do this traditionally:

  1. Get some tracing paper and overlay it onto your drawing.
  2. Begin sketching the internal shape information over your drawing onto the tracing paper. I recommend using pencils for this so you can easily make changes as you sketch. It’s also fun and useful to have multiple pieces of tracing paper for trying different interior shape designs.

A light box, if you have one available, is also a useful tool for this step when you’re working traditionally. Here are a couple of options from Blick & Amazon.

I found this to be one of the most interesting and enjoyable steps for how to draw a palm tree, and I encourage you to work loosely and have a blast with it.

Easy steps palm tree drawing

Now, we come to the how to draw a palm tree step by step parts of this tutorial. This is the easiest version of this tutorial. I plan to create a more advanced and involved version in the future.

how to draw a palm tree_step by step-thumbnails

Step 1

Since the planes and lines of a palm tree can get overwhelming quickly, I break the drawing process down into lots of digestible steps.

First, choose the simple shapes you want for your leaves and trunk and create a simple silhouette as shown here.

If you want to add some fruits, like coconuts, now is a good time to add their shapes as well.

how to draw a palm tree_step by step 01

Step 2

Next, we begin to construct the forms from our thumbnail.

Here I drew the middle “drum-like” part that sits between the fronds and the trunk.

how to draw a palm tree_step by step 04

Step 3

Draw the long trunk attached to the “drum-like” part.

how to draw a palm tree_step by step 05

Step 4

Draw the overall container or “envelope” shape you want for the palm tree leaves. This step helps you begin blocking in the gesture and direction of your leaves.

how to draw a palm tree_step by step 06

Step 5

Overlay the palm leaf gesture lines onto your envelope shape. This gesture line step helps you place the tree’s leaves in the position and direction you want them.

how to draw a palm tree_step by step 07

Step 6

On top of the gesture lines from the last step, draw your leaf shapes.

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Step 7

Begin adding texture details to your leaves by using lines to “cut” into the edges/contours of each leaf.

how to draw a palm tree_step by step 09

Step 8

Next, I added simplified oval shapes to represent the shaved/pruned fronds on the “drum-like” part of the tree.

More texture adds to the palm tree feel of the drawing.

how to draw a palm tree_step by step 10

Step 9

Almost done!

Before cleanup, add some texture to the trunk.

The highly textured feel of a palm tree trunk comes from lots of frond leaves that were pruned/shaved as the tree grew.

how to draw a palm tree_step by step - Final

Final Step

Once you clean up your lines and edges, erasing where there is some overlap of shapes and lines you don’t need, you’ll be all done!

Palm tree drawing in Perspective

Knowing how to draw a palm tree in perspective is useful for placing your trees in any scene you want. Below is a quick visual demo for drawing palm trees in two-point perspective.

Color and light and palm trees

I know there’s a lot more to cover to help you understand how to add color and light to a palm tree, but that’s a whole other discussion trust me. I will write another article to cover the color and light area on its own so it’s not confusing πŸ˜‰.

In the meantime, if you’d like to add some light to your tree, please try out my Fundamentals of Light article. It will help you get started with the basics of light and shadow in art.

More details and coloring of palm trees

Without getting into the weeds too much, I thought it would be useful to do a quick visual once over of the textural details palm trees possess.

Here you’ll get an idea of the other textures and some very useful references for your drawing! For quick color experiments, I recommend using colored pencils or pastels.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I do not own these images! I found them on Google Images under the “Creative and Commons” usage rights filter.

Palm tree trunk dissection reference

Palm tree trunk texture reference

Palm fruit reference

Fond wishes and a warm farewell until next time!

I hope you found this to be one of those easy drawing tutorials, and I hope the art and explanations here have helped you digest the more difficult aspects of how to draw palm trees.

Thank you for spending part of your day with me learning how to draw a palm tree! I appreciate you stopping by, and I’d love to hear your feedback. If you have any questions or ideas for improving this article, please leave them for me in the comments below.

Stay safe, and Happy Drawing!


How to draw a basketball: Fantastically fun step-by-step tutorials, 2022

How to draw a basketball

Welcome to my how to draw a basketball tutorial!

Two teams meet with one ball in the middle, and today our focus is on basketball. In this basketball how to draw tutorial, we’ll focus on the ball itself. Its current design is quickly and easily recognizable, with its view of four lines that join at each end of the ball.

First, I’ll go over a little bit of the ball’s evolution because a bit of history is always helpful to our process. Then I’ll show you how to draw a basketball by breaking down its design to demonstrate that those lines we see are three shapes.

I’ll cover how to construct a sphere, the form of a basketball, and then take you one easy step at a time through drawing the shape, form, and curved lines to create your basketball drawing.

Let’s learn about basketballs!

Basketball was invented in 1891 and began with a soccer-like ball, which wasn’t dribbled. Basketball didn’t receive its ball design until 1894, getting a brown four leather-paneled ball with stitching similar to a football. The dribbling technique was introduced into the game in 1897, and by 1937 basketball was popular enough to have its own league, which began as the NBL–The National Basketball League.

With its growing popularity as a sport, basketball needed a redesigned ball because fans had difficulty following a brown ball on a brown court. So, around 1950, the ball was redesigned to be the orange color we’re all familiar with today. Then, in 1971, the NBA redesigned the basketball again, evolving it from four leather panels to eight leather panels which improved players’ ability to grip and dribble the ball.

I’ve included a helpful video I found below. If you’d like to see how the basketball design has changed over the years, and if you’d like to learn more about basketball’s history, click here.

In this drawing tutorial, we’ll focus on how to draw a basketball with its current design.

Exploration and study: Basketball drawing sketching

Whenever I draw something new, I start with study sketches to help me understand my subject’s shapes, forms, lines, and other features. Since this is how to draw a basketball, I did a few sketches to learn what makes a basketball look like it does, and as always, we start with a few references to help us get familiar with basketballs.

Typical basketball features: Curved line and horizontal line

Each curved line on a basketball is part of three shapes. First, it appears to have a vertical and horizontal line bisecting its middle, but they’re vertical and horizontal circular bands around the ball.

How to draw a basketball: form construction

A basketball is a hollow sphere made of eight leather panels. To learn how to draw a basketball, first, we must understand how to draw circles and spheres.

Help with drawing a circle or a sphere can be found here: how to draw a circle and a sphere article.

Here are a couple of videos for a quick recap:

How to draw a circle
How to draw a sphere

Now that we understand the basketball’s sphere form let’s briefly look at its insides with form dissection.

How to draw a basketball: Form dissection

I mentioned earlier that basketballs are hollow. So if you need to draw a deflated or cut open basketball, it helps to practice dissecting a sphere.

Here are some step-by-step images for sphere dissection. In addition, I have more on how to draw a sphere, and here is an example I created for a hollowed-out sphere half.

How to draw a basketball step by step instructions

Now that we’ve covered the essential part of how to draw a basketball, its form, we can move on to the other most recognizable feature: the lines, pattern, and texture.

As mentioned earlier, what appears to be a curved line or a set of lines is three shapes: one verticle circle, one horizontal circle, and one that resembles insect wings or a band-aid.

Drawing a realistic basketball

A simple circle is clear enough to draw, and we covered that in a previous step. Keep in mind that the circles needed for the pattern must go all the way around the ball, create thickness, add depth, and take on much darker shades. The other shape that wraps around the ball and resembles a wing takes more effort and concentration.

I’ve created a video to demonstrate how I draw each from two simple views to clarify this shape.

Basketball drawing step-by-step

Next, I’ve created a set of step-by-step images for how to draw a basketball. It helps to remember that the curved lines that create the shapes and patterns have depth. They are not level with the rest of the ball’s surface but instead make a slight depression. It’s important to indicate this for a realistic basketball drawing.

Drawing a cartoon basketball

Cartoon basketball drawings need to emphasize lines and shapes more because they are the opposite in their execution to a realistic drawing in that they don’t focus on three-dimensional form. Of course, some form will still be indicated because of the way the line will curve around the body of the ball, but overall it will still have the “flat” cartoon look.

For cartoon basketball drawings, it’s also helpful to include an outlining contour and emphasize the orange color and cel-shading method of applying light and shadow. Here are some examples of cartoon basketballs on Google Images and a few step-by-step images for how to draw a basketball in a cartoony way.

The significant difference between how to draw basketball realistically vs. as a cartoon mostly comes down to depth, texture, and handling of light and shadow. The cartoon style starts with a circle, is fun, quick, and purposefully simplifies realism. It lends itself very well to exaggeration and stylization and can be appealing to all ages.

The texture and colors of basketballs

I’m not gonna lie; drawing the texture on basketballs with pencil and paper, even if it’s just a sketch, is a tedious pain in the butt. However, digitally, it’s easy-peasy. If you prefer to learn how to draw a basketball in a hyper-realistic way, you’ll need some texture reference. I’ve included some below and a trace (more imprinting) image to offer a clearer idea of the small shapes that create the ball’s texture.

How to light a basketball

I made a basic lighting example for how to draw a basketball for light and shadow reference with a pencil (graphite) and paper. The ball is drawn the same as in the earlier steps, I just added basic lighting.

Lighting a cartoon basketball with Cel shading

The steps for lighting a cartoon basketball are simple as there’s no need to blend with cel-shading. Using a curved line or two helps create a guide for placing the flat tones that create the cel-shaded look.

Basketball drawing in perspective – start with a sphere!

To learn how to draw a basketball in perspective is the same as drawing a sphere in perspective. As long as you make sure you have a cube rather than a rectangular box in perspective, you’ll get a nice round sphere to start creating your basketball from. After that it’s just a matter of practice, practice, repeat!

Thanks for joining me to learn how to draw a basketball!

Thank you so much for stopping by my how to draw a basketball article! I hope you found this helpful and fun. I’m always happy to hear from my visitors and readers, so if you have any comments, questions, or feedback for me please leave them in the comments section below.

Take care, stay safe, and happy drawing!


How to draw a cube: A creative and comprehensive look, 2022

How to draw a cube with CecelyV

Welcome to how to draw a cube!

Happy drawing, everyone! I hope you’re all doing well and ready to learn how to draw a cube with me today 😊 .

Cubes are one of the five basic forms. Drawing cubes freehand and in perspective are important skills to build on your art journey. Every form you need, for anything you want to draw, can be carved out of or built from a cube.

I’ll be demonstrating a few different methods for cube drawing here with step-by-step images and videos. I’ll show you how to draw a cube freehand, as well as cube drawing in perspective.

Learning how to draw a cube is simple and straightforward. It gets challenging when you need to turn them in perspective, but that’s a bridge to cross later πŸ˜‰. For now, let’s take a look at what cubes are.

Let’s learn about cubes!

The most helpful description I found of a cube comes from a website search on Kiddle:

“A cube is a block with all right angles and whose height, width and depth are all the same. A cube is one of the simplest mathematical shapes in space.”

https://kids.kiddle.co/Cube

The main thing to understand is that a cube is a three-dimensional shape, meaning it has Volume. While a square has width and height, it has no depth–no volume. A cube, and all other three-dimensional forms, have width, height, and depth.

The sides of a cube (also called faces) are squares. Each side is connected to the others by straight lines (called edges) and by corners (called vertices). Each of a cube’s corners is at a right angle. A cube has 6 faces, 12 edges, and 8 corners.

If you’re interested in a more mathematical explanation of what a cube is, you can find it here.

You might have heard people refer to all kinds of boxes as 3D cubes, especially when they’re talking about drawing in perspective. Technically, not all boxes are cubes, but for drawing purposes, it really doesn’t matter one way or the other πŸ˜‰.

Exploration and study: Natural and man-made cubes

Interestingly, there aren’t a lot of examples of naturally occurring cubes. Since it’s such a basic visual building block, I thought that was a little surprising, but πŸ€·πŸΎβ€β™€οΈ. Naturally occurring cubes are found primarily in rock, mineral, and crystal formations, and it’s super easy to find examples of man-made cubes in almost anything.

Here are a couple of reference boards I created to illustrate both natural and man-made cubes.

Shape breakouts and natural variations

Normally, I would make a bunch of exploration and study sketches of my subject and break out all the different shape and form variations. But…cubes are pretty simple, so that’s not really a thing for this drawing tutorial πŸ˜….

The shapes on a cube are just squares, and the variation is limited: we’re either drawing a cube or a rectangular “cube” (box). When we learn how to draw a cube, those are our base options. But simple is good, right?

Okay, let’s dig into this how to draw a cube business. I’ll go over a few freehand methods I came up with, and I’ve included a few video demonstrations about drawing cubes/boxes in perspective and showing the drawing process for the methods.

How to draw a cube step-by-step tutorials

I made up names for the freehand cube drawing methods I came up with 😁:

  • The basic method
  • Upside-down L’s
  • The Headless stick figure
  • Connect the squares method

The basic method

This way of drawing a cube is one that I learned early on in my art journey. It begins with a simple square shape and builds into a cube by adding depth with additional lines.

how to draw a cube_basic method step 1

The basic method, Step One

For the basic method of how to draw a cube, step 1 is drawing a simple square of any size you’d like.

how to draw a cube_basic method step 2

Step Two

Next, start creating depth by drawing lines out from each corner. This begins to give you the edges of the cube.

(I missed the bottom left corner here, but I’m sure you’ll rock it πŸ˜‰).

how to draw a cube_basic method step 3

Step Three

Begin connecting the edges of the cube you drew in the previous step. The goal here is to create each square face of the cube, so each complete connection should give you a square face.

how to draw a cube_basic method step 4

Step Four

Connect the last edges and vertices, and you will have completed your 3D cube.

Upside-down L’s

This is just a spin on the basic method that allows us to shift our thinking a little bit. Instead of starting with a familiar shape, we begin with an upside-down letter ‘L’. This way we start out thinking in terms of edges and vertices rather than shapes and faces.

how to draw a cube_upside-down L's step 1

Upside-down L’s, Step One

As its name suggests, step 1 is drawing two upside-down capital L’s. Their size and how far you space them apart will determine how your cube looks.

how to draw a cube_upside-down L's step 2

Step Two

Connect the two L’s to complete the first face of your cube.

how to draw a cube_upside-down L's step 3

Step Three

From the two bottom vertices of the square face, draw edges back in space that each run parallel to the tops of the original upside-down L’s, as shown.

how to draw a cube_upside-down L's step 4

Step Four

Begin connecting the ends of each of the edges you added in the previous step to create additional faces for your cube.

In this example, the bottom and left faces were created.

how to draw a cube_upside-down L's step 5

Step Five

Finish connecting the last three vertices to create the last three faces of your cube and voila! You now have a completed freehand cube!

The Headless stick figure

This how to draw a cube method is straightforward like the others. We begin with the back corners of the cube and work our way forward in space until the cube is complete, and starting with a headless stick figure gives us that back corner start as you’ll see in this next demo.

how to draw a cube_headless stick figure step 1

Headless stick figure, Step One

We have five edges and two vertices. If we were to add a circle at the top, we’d have a stick figure. Without the head, we get the back corner of our cube.

how to draw a cube_headless stick figure step 2

Step Two

Connect the “arms” and “legs” of our headless stick figure to get the first two planes of our cube, as seen here.

how to draw a cube_headless stick figure step 3

Step Three

Connect the top two outside corners with straight edges to create the top plane of the cube.

how to draw a cube_headless stick figure step 4

Step Four

Drop an edge down from the front-most corner of the top square plane. This sets us up to complete the last three planes of the cube.

how to draw a cube_headless stick figure step 5

Step Five

Connect the two bottom outside corners to the end of the vertical edge you dropped earlier and boom! You have a completed cube πŸ˜‰.

Connect the squares method

The focus of this how to draw a cube method is connecting corresponding points (vertices) of the squares. This way of drawing cubes is a lot of fun and opens up possibilities for more interesting cubes and boxes.

how to draw a cube_connect squares method step 01

Connect the squares, Step One

Drawn any size square you’d like to begin.

how to draw a cube_connect squares method step 02

Step Two

Draw a second square with roughly the same dimensions as the first, and consider its position in relation to your first square since you’ll be connecting them.

Here I chose to overlap them slightly to make the connection a little more intuitive.

You’ll notice my second square is a little smaller than my first, and that’s okay. The point is to understand and practice the process.

how to draw a cube_connect squares method step 03

Step Three

Choose a square corner to start with and connect it to its matching corner on your second square with a straight line (edge).

how to draw a cube_connect squares method step 04

Step Four

Continue connecting the matching edges of both squares to each other.

how to draw a cube_connect squares method step 05

Step Five

After connecting the last corner, you’ll have a completed freehand cube drawing!

How to draw a cube medley!

To make this how to draw a cube tutorial more clear, I created a couple of videos to demonstrate the process for each method shown above. Establishing our processes in our work is extremely important, and my goal is to make the processes I use as clear as possible to help you decide on your own.

How to draw a cube: 3D cube drawing.
Cube drawing by connecting squares.

How to draw a cube in Perspective

Perspective can get a little hairy and confusing when you try to explain it with words and images alone, so I think the best approach for this particular art fundamental is a video demonstration.

To be clear, I didn’t make this video to explain drawing in perspective point by point, but the setup and process stay the same whenever you’re drawing basic forms in perspective.

How to draw a cube: 3D cubes in perspective.

You may have noticed from the video that I did the entire demo on a 3-point perspective grid–meaning a three vanishing point setup. For practice like this, it doesn’t matter which perspective you use so long as you have each vanishing point you need. I find it helpful to work from a 3-point perspective grid even when I’m not drawing in that perspective because it gives me the option of drawing in three different perspectives without having to change my paper format.

As long as you use the appropriate vanishing point, or points, for the perspective you intend to use on your object/form, then you’re good to go! πŸ‘πŸΎ

How to draw a cube: Form dissection

Normally, at this point, I would go over how to draw a cube with a dissection demonstration that dives into interior forms. However, with basic cubes and boxes, which aren’t representing anything specifically, there aren’t any interior forms to explore.

Still, a demonstration on cutting into/cutting away/dissecting the cube form is still helpful and useful, so that’s what this next video shows.

How to draw a cube: 3D cube dissection.

More cube drawing – building other forms

As I mentioned earlier, all manner of forms can be built from or carved out of cubes and boxes. Here are a few simple examples to demonstrate what I mean:

Freehand forms from cubes.

How to light a cube

Rather than get into an entire discussion on the fundamentals of light, I decided to show a few photographic examples of lighting on a cube. With a few simple art supplies and wooden 3D shapes, I photographed some images to use as a visual tutorial for how light falls on a cube.

This first set of images were taken in my make-shift still life box. It’s an old diaper box whose inside I’ve covered with black butcher paper. I cut out a couple of holes on each of the short sides and partially cut away the top so I can control the lighting. The cube in these images was lit with white light from a spotlight.

These next set of images demonstrate the light on a cube from my overhead studio light. It’s a small ceiling fan with a light kit, which essentially functions as a large diffused light source for these examples. Once again, you’ll notice that the shadow gets longer as the cube moves further away from the light–however, the shadows (shading) are different with a different light source. There are multiple shadows because the light source is composed of 3 light bulbs.

This gives us multiple shadows that are also brighter and quite soft.

In this last set of lighting/shading reference images for how to draw a cube, I used a candle–a much smaller, but quite bright, light source–to light the wooden cube. A candle would be a point light source, and it makes for much darker and more crisp shadows.

For some of these, the candle (point light) was low and closer to the cube, while at other times it was positioned above the cube. As usual, the closer the cube is to the light source, the sharper and darker the shadows are.

Here are a couple of examples of how to light a cube and place the cast shadows using a traditional medium, graphite pencils.

How to draw a cube from Imagination!

Let’s practice how to draw a cube from imagination 😊.

There isn’t really much to explain or guide you through here. Just grab a pencil and some paper, and let your imagination fly! I chose to draw some everyday objects to keep things simple and clear, but the sky is the limit with cubes. Go for it!

How to draw a cube from imagination – demo.

Happy cube drawing!

Well, that’s everything I have on how to draw a cube for now.

Thank you so much for hanging in there with me! It’s my goal to write for beginners, students, experienced artists, and hobbyists alike on this walk of art life, so I hope you found the content of my cube drawing tutorial helpful.

I truly appreciate the opportunity to be a guide and participant in your artistic journey, and I hope I’ve helped you make your cube drawing pop! I know you have a lot of options when you search the web, so thank you for spending some time on my little side line of the internet ❀. I hope you enjoy your cube drawing!

I’d love to hear from you, so if you have any feedback or questions for me, please leave them in the comments section below!

Take care, stay safe, and happy drawing!


More how-to-draw articles on CecelyV.com:

How to draw a circle

How to draw a sphere

How to draw a mushroom

How to draw a banana

How to draw a pumpkin

How to draw a pumpkin (A full and balanced tutorial for 2022)

How to draw a pumpkin featured image

In this “How to draw…”

Welcome to another “How to draw…” adventure! Today we’ll explore how to draw a pumpkin! There is a lot of variety, and a pumpkin can be more than you’d think. So in this drawing tutorial, please explore and learn with me, step-by-step, how to draw pumpkins and other squash.

First, we’ll take a brief look into what a pumpkin is, so we know something about what we’re drawing, then we’ll dive into exploration and study sketch activities with reference images.

What is a pumpkin?

My interaction with pumpkins happens during the fall, the time of year when we see many a Halloween pumpkin decorating neighborhoods all over the country. But, interestingly, the word “pumpkin” covers much more than a kiddo’s Halloween pumpkin.

A pumpkin is one of many cultivated species of winter squash. Pumpkins are native to North America and are one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world. We tend to think of the pumpkins that are round, smooth, orange ones with a ribbed pattern on their skin and a thick shell housing seeds and pulp.

These familiar pumpkins are part of the Cucurbita pepo cultivar, just one of the five cultivar categories of squash:

Many squash varieties look wildly different from our traditional Halloween pumpkin and are still called “pumpkins,” which gives us artists so much more to work with. πŸ‘πŸ½The word “pumpkin” is interchangeable with the terms “winter squash” and “squash,” including summer squash. Botanically speaking, all pumpkins (even the Halloween ones πŸ˜‰) are winter squash, and all are fruits because they are seed-bearing structures from flowering plants.

The fifth cultivar category, Cucurbita ficifolia, is biochemically different from other cultivars and more closely resembles a melon. While it looks and grows similarly to pumpkins, it is visually more melon-like, so I didn’t include it in this drawing tutorial. However, the process for drawing melons isn’t much different from pumpkins and other squash, so you can still learn how to draw the more melon-like squash with this tutorial if you’d like.

The uses for pumpkins and squash are quite broad, ranging from cooking and eating every part of the pumpkin to pressing its seeds for pumpkin seed oil, decorative and medicinal uses, competitive growing, and other competitive sports such as Pumpkin chunking.

Pumpkins frequently appear in our stories, such as Native American and Irish folklore, as well as in Autumn, Halloween, and horror-themed stories such as The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, The Runaway Pumpkin, and Christopher Pumpkin.

Pumpkin drawing: Understanding structures

We now have a decent idea of what a pumpkin is and what family, friends, kids, and all kinds of people do with them. With our background research done, it’s time to study the shapes and forms of a pumpkin and other squash.

Exploration and study

Our first step in studying a pumpkin is to gather some references and create a reference board. Some search time on Google is the simplest approach, but feel free to use mine if you’d like. The first image on the right here is of the Cucurbita pepo cultivar group. We can see quite a variety of shapes, proportions, surface textures, tones, and colors. For example, we can see spheres, ovoids, smooth textures, bumpy textures, pear-shaped, deeply ribbed, shallow ribs, ridges, and more.

The next group, Cucurbita maxima, includes the same wide variety of features and the unique Turban squash.

Turban squash

In the Cucurbita moschata group, we see squash varieties having more cylindrical, long goose-necked, and super bumpy surface texture qualities. In contrast, the Cucurbita argyrosperma group includes some very tear-drop shaped varieties.

This last reference I created focuses on the stem portion of a pumpkin. When your subject has multiple “parts,” so to speak, it’s helpful to have references for your study of each.

If you have live pumpkins and squash to practice from life, use those! Drawing from life is an essential skill and one of the Art Fundamentals.

Once you’re all set with references, start drawing what you see to get familiar with the natural variety of shapes. It doesn’t matter which reference you start with, and none of your sketches need to be rendered or “finished” in this step. The exploration and study of how to draw a pumpkin are all about seeing the common natural shapes and forms, their variations, and understanding how all the different forms are put together. The best way to train your eye to see these things is to draw what you see.

It’s beneficial and encouraged to begin with the most simple shape you can see for each sketch. We build forms from shapes and lines, after all. If you’re unfamiliar with forms, my Form in Art article goes in-depth on just that.

Time to put pencil to paper! Speaking of paper, I do most of my sketches by hand with a pencil and a sketchbook to keep things simple and clear.

Here are my exploration and study sketches for how to draw a pumpkin:

Normally, I’m not this neat in my sketchbook 😜. I clean things up, so it’s nice and clear for you guys, but I rather enjoy making an unholy mess in my sketchbook 😁.

You’ll notice that I drew the flat basic shape first to get an idea of the forms I’d need to construct, and then I went about constructing them–but even during construction, I still start with a 2-D shape and build from there. Then, once I have the basic shape, I begin to understand how the form construction needs to go.

For example, with the “traditional” pumpkin I started with at the top left of the first page of my sketches, it was initially challenging to learn to draw the ribbed forms we all recognize pumpkins for. It took some practice to get a feel for that particular how to draw a pumpkin step. Still, after a few sketches, it became clear that I had to 1) understand the shape and form of the “rib” first, and 2) understand how the “ribs” are positioned relative to the overall shape and proportions of the pumpkin.

The “rib” forms are essentially curving upside-down triangles–kind of like a puffy pizza slice wrapped around a sphere. During construction, that translates into wedge or talon-like forms of varying thickness and length wrapped around a sphere or bowl form. Here’s an example of what I mean:

It helps to line up the top and bottom of the “ribs” using ellipses, which is why you see plenty of ellipses, bowls, and circles in my sketches. The exploration and study process is intended to help you see the “bones” of the subject. When we know the primary shapes and variations, we can begin to design and construct with less reliance on our references.

Shape breakouts and natural variations

As I studied how to draw a pumpkin, I found common shapes for drawing any pumpkin or squash are:

  • a circle
  • an oval
  • a rectangle with rounded corners
  • a rounded crescent
  • a teardrop

We can start constructing and combining forms now that we have a shape profile to work from. I like to create a quick reference guide to the primary profiles and variations that I hope you find helpful as you learn to draw a pumpkin.

How to draw a pumpkin_Shape breakouts and natural variations

It’s straightforward when you compare it to the reference images. By studying my ref boards, I’ve paid close attention to what the distinct shapes and shape variations are and then draw each one. Next, it’s time to understand the common forms and construct them.

Construction

Form construction is about beginning to put the pieces of what we studied together. The slideshows below will walk you through a few how to draw a pumpkin construction demos.

How to draw a pumpkin - Step-by-step form construction demo 1

How to draw a pumpkin – Step-by-step form construction demo 1

This example features more of an elongated shape, but that’s okay. We can use whichever shapes we want πŸ˜‰πŸ‘πŸ½. I always try to begin with a gesture line to add a sense of movement and character. Next, drawing from my reference guide, I add the basic shapes on top of the gesture.

The next step (second slide) is to connect them and then add contour lines (third slide) to add a sense of depth and volume. Lastly, I erase my construction lines and darken my drawing.

How to draw a pumpkin - Form construction demo 2

How to draw a pumpkin – Form construction demo 2

The process for the next demo is the same, and only the shapes are different. Once you understand your subject and the process, you can begin playing with the profile, silhouette, lines, angles, sizes, and proportions until you land on something you’re happy with.

I took this last form construction demo a little further to help segue into form dissection and interior forms in the next section. Like the other slideshow tutorials, the steps are the same, but I have added a couple.

You’ll find that as you add more complexity to your forms, the steps are repeated, and the only thing that changes is the size and nature of the information you’re adding.

We begin with the largest shapes to build the primary and largest forms first, and from there, we repeat the process with the next largest (or medium-sized) ones on top.

How to draw a pumpkin - Form construction demo 3

How to draw a pumpkin – Form construction demo 3

This final how-to draw a pumpkin construction demo gives you a brief look into how the process repeats. After step 3, a simple form has been built, and it’s ready to be added onto.

In steps 4 and 5, I repeat the same steps, adding simple lines and shapes on top of my initial form to add another layer of complexity and interest that gives a better visual description of the pumpkin’s form.

In step 6, I add the contour lines that give me divisions in the form that I can then cut away for step 7, drawing a rough indication of the interior.

Form dissection and interior forms

At this point, we know how to draw a pumpkin! But do we know how to draw a pumpkin on the inside? πŸ€”

Not to worry! We still have our trusty ref boards with images that give us an idea about what’s going on with a pumpkin’s interior. I didn’t do a super in-depth rundown of the interior, but the process is still the same as above using the seed interior body information we find in the references.

Here are my examples of form dissection and a little bit of fun with the interiors.

A word about details

All the most fun and interesting things to draw have plenty of details that give them their character and make them look really cool. But, for all that they add, details only make up about twenty percent of your drawing–and they take up about eighty percent of your time.

That’s one of the reasons they should be left for the end.

Plus, no matter whether you’re learning how to draw a pumpkin, a mushroom, or anything else, all details (smaller forms & patterns) sit on top of larger forms that must be worked out first.

I don’t count light and shadow or color as details, and they are each their own thing and deserve dedicated articles to explain and demonstrate what they entail.

For clarification, I’ve included some sketches as an illustration of the difference between primary forms and detail forms.

Pumpkin drawing tutorial: How to draw a pumpkin step-by-step

How to draw a pumpkin_Step by step 01a

Step 1: Thumbnails & Gesture lines.

Start with some small thumbnails, and then, just as before, add a gesture line and shapes.

Thumbnails of the simple shape combinations you want to use offer a helpful roadmap for your form construction. After that, a gesture line (also called a “line of action”) will help add a sense of movement and life.

Remember, you’ve studied pumpkins and squash, so play around and enjoy!

Feel free to follow along and copy my sketches to get started, but I encourage you to take these examples and apply them to any design you want! You’ve got this!

How to draw a pumpkin_Step by step 01b

Step 2: Another Gesture line!

It felt necessary to add a second gesture line for the top area.

There are times it feels more dynamic to have an additional gesture armature to build on.

How to draw a pumpkin_Step by step with callout 01c

Step 3: Add the basic shapes.

These will be the basis for our largest form, the pumpkin’s body.

Compare what we have now to our little thumbnail in the upper lefthand corner, and you’ll see we’re quite close to the idea there.

How to draw a pumpkin_Step by step with callout 01d

Step 4: Shape adjustments.

Here I added another circle and ellipse to adjust the overall contour in the front and back of the form.

The green ellipse will add a “rib” bump in the rear that we can see from the front, and the orange circle in front will add more depth.

How to draw a pumpkin_Step by step with callout 01e

Step 5: More shape adjustments.

I jumped the gun a little bit here and started filling out the stem formπŸ˜… , but we can roll with it!

The orange ellipses show where I added the top and bottom planes, and the green lines in the middle show how I connected them to create the stem.

How to draw a pumpkin_Step by step with callout 01f

Step 6: Contour tweaking.

No matter how you start, you can always tweak and adjust things to suit what you want them to look like.

I decided my overall form looked a little too round and soft for my taste, so I decided to use a few divots and curves to create more interesting plane shifts.

How to draw a pumpkin_Step by step 01g

Step 7: Clean up & darken.

At this point, my sketch felt finished, so I cleaned it up a bit and darkened the lines I wanted to keep in the design.

I didn’t erase all of the construction lines this time. Sometimes, when you’re not adding light and shadow, contour lines, or a lot of detail, leaving light indications of the construction lines can increase the sense of depth.

I decided to make this how to draw a pumpkin article a little more robust since there are so many varieties out there. More variety means more practice! So here is another how to draw a pumpkin step-by-step tutorial!

How to draw a pumpkin_Step by step 02a

Step 1: Gesture line!

Don’t worry; I practice what I preach! The thumbnail sketch for this how to draw a pumpkin example is at the top right in the 1st one above. Take a peek; you’ll see πŸ˜‰.

How to draw a pumpkin_Step by step with callout 02b

Step 2: You know the drill! Add those shapes!

This is still how to draw a pumpkin, and the process goes on like a good beat.

I added the ellipses for the top and bottom planes of the stem and a narrow trapezoid shape to act as an envelope for the shape I’m after.

How to draw a pumpkin_Step by step with callout 02c

Step 3: Motto, motto!

Next, I put in circles to continue building the form.

How to draw a pumpkin_Step by step with callout 02d

Step 4: Building out other forms.

We know there’s a stem, so let’s get it in there!

How to draw a pumpkin_Step by step with callout 02e

Step 5: Connect!

How to draw a pumpkin_Step by step with callout 02f

Step 6: Build more on top.

I added the “ribs” for more form complexity and interest and to bring home the “pumpkin” feel.

How to draw a pumpkin_Step by step with callout 02g

Step 7: Contour tweaking.

I wanted to change the overall contour, so I did that here.

How to draw a pumpkin_Step by step 02i

Step 8: Clean up and darken.

At the risk of OD’ing you on step-by-steps, I created a few that go through the same process with the stem forms.

Don’t worry; I know you’ve got this how to draw a pumpkin stuff down by now. I’ll put the rest in as simple visuals so you can peruse them at your leisure πŸ˜‰.

Another how to draw a pumpkin stem demo–this one is more fun!

One more, and then I promise I’ll be done with the how to draw a pumpkin stem stuff.

How to draw a pumpkin from Imagination

Guess what? Except for the exploration and study sketches, most of the pumpkins from my demos have been drawn from imagination!

I used my references for inspiration, but the rest came from my brain 😎. It’s an awesome feeling, and I bet you’re experiencing it, too! You’ve seen the process many times by now, so keep drawing and experimenting!

How to draw a pumpkin in Perspective

I know I’ve drilled this process into you ad nauseam at this point, so I won’t pile on with the more technical practice of Perspective. Instead, I’ve included a visual walkthrough.

Here are some 1-point perspective examples:

Here are some 2-point perspective examples:

How to draw a pumpkin from imagination: Sketching in Perspective.

I drew all these perspective sketches from my imagination. Now, for my 3-point perspective example, I decided to push things a little more fun.

Light and shadow: How to light your pumpkin

Light & shadow, like Perspective, is a whole other conversation on its own. So in my Fundamentals of Light series, I’m covering all the stuff and gubbins of light and shadow (slowly though, cuz it’s huge!)

In the meantime, here’s a lighting demo for the sketch I did above in 3-point perspective.

A word about color

Later…

I did say, “A word.” πŸ˜‚

In all seriousness, I prioritize solid drawing skills before painting and using color because those things must live on a solid drawing with solid forms.

Playing with pumpkin drawings: Exploring shape language and style variations.

Drawing is fun! So have fun and draw some funky pumpkins!

Here are a few of mine. I gave some of them a body, a face, a mouth, a nose–oh, my! I made pumpkin characters and even a cartoon pumpkin or two 😊. See? Fun!

Now, you try! πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘ŠπŸ½

How to draw a pumpkin teacher, signing off!

Thank you so much for having the patience and intestinal fortitude to stick with me to the end! I appreciate you spending some of your time with me and my how to draw a pumpkin drawing tutorial. I know it was long, and I hope you’ve found it helpful.

If you have any questions or feedback for me, please feel free to leave them in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you guys, and I hope you’ll join me for another “how to draw” adventure!

Take care of yourselves and happy drawing!


More how-to-draw articles on CecelyV.com:

How to draw a circle

How to draw a cube

How to draw a sphere

How to draw a mushroom

How to draw a banana

How to draw a mushroom (A clear and complete tutorial for 2022)

How to Draw a Mushroom_Featured Image_June 2021

In this “How to draw…”

Welcome to the first of my “How to draw…” drawing tutorials!

In today’s “How to draw…”, we’ll talk about how to draw a mushroom! I’ll cover everything you need to create your own mushroom drawing and explain the different kinds of forms your mushroom drawing will need, like mushroom caps, stems, and rings.

I’ll cover how to draw a mushroom from basic shapes to form construction, from imagination, in Perspective, how to light your mushroom, and more.

Just a heads up, this is not an easy drawing tutorial. It’s not difficult, but it is technical. I’m a professionally trained Designer, Illustrator, and Concept Artist, and my explanations tend to be technical and thorough. There is more than one step-by-step guide here. My goal is to teach you to create a different kind of mushroom drawing–your own! I want to teach you to draw every different kind of mushroom you want, in various sizes, so your mushroom drawing looks like whatever you want it to.

I’d rather not give you a static template to copy. Where’s the fun in that? Also, I don’t think it counts as teaching if I say “copy this,” you know? After this drawing tutorial, you won’t need another step-by-step guide.

If you want easy drawing tutorials, this may not be the article you’re looking for. If you like a thorough step-by-step guide and drawing tutorials that teach you to draw whatever you want, I got you! It’s a different kind of drawing tutorial, and I hope it works for you. πŸ˜‰

There’s a lot to get into, so let’s get started!

What is a mushroom exactly?

It may not seem obvious, but it’s important to know what you’re drawing, and that means learning a bit about your subject. After all, it’s impossible to draw something you know nothing about. So, let’s talk about what mushrooms are.

A mushroom is β€œthe fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus, typically produced above ground, on soil, or its food source” (from Wikipedia). When we refer to mushrooms, we’re usually referring to those with a stem (or stipe), a cap (pileus), and gills (lamellae) on the underside of the cap. The gills produce spores that help the fungus spread.

There are over 50,000 mushroom species globally, and they tend to be grouped into four general categories: edible mushrooms, toxic mushrooms, psychoactive “magic” mushrooms, and medicinal mushrooms.

Mushrooms represent food, a hobby (mushroom hunting), or fantasy entertainment as part of stories like Alice in Wonderland, characters like Toad from Nintendo’s Super Mario, or part of the deliciously drawn food in anime series’ such as Food Wars!: Shokugeki No Soma. Fantasy allows us to play with what a mushroom could be.

Before we play in possibilities, let’s explore and study the structures that give mushrooms their character.

Mushroom drawing: Understanding the structures.

To draw a mushroom from imagination, we must first study the shapes and forms that create its structures. Once we understand the basic anatomical structures, we can draw mushrooms in any way we choose. Let’s begin by gathering references to study.

Exploration & study

The first step in exploring and studying a subject is to find or create references to study from. For this step, I recommend creating a reference board.

Here is the reference board I created:

How to draw a mushroom-Reference board

I create my reference boards in Photoshop, but I imagine it works in any digital painting application. A reference board is essentially a collage of images. It can also be created with a Google image search (or books), a printer (or copy machine), scissors, poster board, glue, and plenty of patience.

As you follow along here to practice how to draw a mushroom, please feel free to use my reference board.

To learn how to draw a mushroom, we need to really observe what mushrooms look like naturally. First, look for repeating shapes and consistent characteristics, like how a mushroom’s cap is always on top of the stem. Then, look for naturally occurring variations in the shapes, like how a mushroom stem can be long and thin or short and thick, etc.

Step 2 for learning how to draw a mushroom is to draw several from reference (or from life) to understand the shapes and forms that make up its anatomical structures and how they are put together. Again, it helps to keep your earlier observations in mind as you draw.

Here are my exploration and study sketches for how to draw a mushroom:

How to draw a mushroom_Exploration & study sketches

It’s helpful to draw the flat shape combinations you see literally. As you can see in my sketches, I drew small flat versions next to each study. This helps me get an overall grasp of which shapes are present in the subject.

The major structures of a mushroom are:

  1. Mushroom cap
  2. Stem
  3. Ring
  4. Gills

There are other areas to note, such as the margin and scales on the mushroom cap, but it’s easy to tell that these are much smaller shapes–which makes them details, and we leave those alone until we get toward the end of our process.

Two more forms grow underground, the Cup (Volva) and Mycelial threads, and they look cool–but if it grows underground, it’s less likely to be visible. If it grows underground, we don’t often see it and are less familiar with it–so it’s less likely to make it into your design. If you’d like to study these forms, you can find references here.

Here are a few more of my mushroom studies:

How to draw a mushroom_Exploration & study sketches 02
How to draw a mushroom_Exploration & study sketches 03
Skirt up and Oyster mushrooms! (That’s what I call them anyway πŸ˜‚)

Remember, these are studies to help you understand mushroom shapes and forms. So I encourage you to let loose! I mean that literally–draw loosely! These are for your learning, so they should be whatever you need them to be. I make a hideous mess in my sketchbook when I’m trying to understand something, and that’s fine.

I had to clean things up to make them clear for this tutorial, but otherwise, my sketchbook looks like a messy sanctuary of notes and funky drawings. I love it πŸ˜‹

Your sketchbook is where you can think out loud on paper and be yourself. There is no need to censor yourself. ❀

Shape breakouts and natural variations

After drawing several mushroom studies, you’ll understand how to draw a mushroom well enough to begin breaking out the shapes and natural variations of major mushroom structures. I like to think of it as visual tinkering. 😊

Let’s ask ourselves: what are the basic shapes and shape variations for those structures? Let’s have a look:

How to draw a mushroom_Shape Breakouts & Variations

Each mushroom structure has a limited variety of shapes. For example, a mushroom cap appears most often as either a lima bean, a half oval or ellipse, a fat crescent, cone-like, or an upside-down and rounded trapezoid shape.

A stem, the second mushroom form of import, has a box or rectangular shape (which makes a cylindrical form) and can vary in length, width, and proportion. A mushroom ring (annulus) is usually a conical skirt shape, and in some cases, can look like a tube wrapped around the stem near the base of the cap. Lastly, mushroom gills resemble exposed fish gills, but it’s simpler to see them as a pattern of lines or skinny wedge shapes for drawing purposes.

I know this sounds technical and nuanced. That’s intentional. My goal is to help you draw mushrooms any way you want. I’d rather offer you wings than limit you to a static template to replicate.

Our next step is to construct mushroom forms using the shapes we observed from our studies.

Construction

Form construction is essentially the process of connecting shapes with lines and other shapes. Beyond that, advancing your drawing involves adding movement and volume with contour and cross-contour lines, gesture, and light & shadow. It sounds like a lot, but with practice, you’ll get the hang of it! πŸ‘πŸ½

Let’s build some mushroom forms!

Below I’ve demonstrated the form construction process using the knowledge and shape information from my study sketches. Now I can create mushrooms that look any way I want, and so can you!

How to draw a mushroom_Construction - Shapes to forms 01

I started with the standard white mushroom you can find easily in a grocery store and constructed a cap slice.

Step 1 was to draw the shapes that help define the overall form.

In step 2, to create the lima bean form with depth and volume, I drew another set of the same shapes on top but slightly shifted down and to the right. This creates the space between the shapes that give us the illusion of depth and volume once we connect everything.

Adding contour and/or cross-contour lines helps reinforce the sense of depth and volume of the form.

How to draw a mushroom_Construction - Shapes to forms 02

In my second mushroom form construction demo, I chose a cone-shaped mushroom cap and repeated the process. Again, I began by drawing in the form’s major shapes: a circle first, then an exaggerated arch, connected by an ellipse.

Once again, I used contour lines toward the end to add to the illusion of depth and volume. I also added a circular “lip” on the views that show the very bottom of the cap. This gives a sense of thickness, which aids the illusion of volume.

How to draw a mushroom_Construction - Shapes to forms 03

For this mushroom drawing demo, I chose a slightly oblong half oval shape. The process remains the same. I used two different sized circles to create the oblong feel of the shape and enclosed them with lines to connect them. To create depth, I added an ellipse at the base that connects the two corners of the oval. Next, I added a smaller ellipse to create an opening for a stem and a plane change boundary for the gills.

I constructed a few mushroom stem forms with the same process. The stems tend to be cylindrical, but sometimes they look almost completely round.

As a rule, I like to create my demos in traditional media because 1) it’s best to start learning with traditional media and get really familiar with sketching in your sketchbook, and 2) I don’t want anyone to think they need digital tools to learn how to draw. You do not need digital tools to learn how to draw a mushroom or anything else. I have suggestions about tools for beginners, but digital can be a later thing.

That being said, I created this next sketch on the fly digitally (as I was writingπŸ˜…) because I felt there should be a construction demo that included both major mushroom forms: the mushroom cap and the stem. The very bottom of the construction demo section seemed like a good place for it, too.

How to draw a mushroom_Construction - Shapes to forms 04

These demonstrations are of basic form construction. Additional shape information can make the forms more complex add detail, but I strongly encourage you to make a habit of first getting comfortable studying and constructing the larger forms. Details and complexity live on top of major foundational forms. They don’t exist on their own.

A word about details

Details are a treat for the eyes and can be fun to draw, but for as much attention as they command, their place in the process is toward the end.

Here’s an example along with the original reference:

I’ve shown the major forms for the mushroom cap, the stem, and the plane for the gills in my sketch. The mushroom on the left of the sketch is an example of the major forms without details, and the mushroom on the right has some of the details drawn on top of the major forms. Details add fun, interest, and more information–but we can still tell the drawing on the left is a mushroom without them.

I highlighted the details on the right-hand side mushroom and then broke them out independently. When details are the focus, they give very little information about what the actual subject is.

Sometimes additional details are necessary for clear visual communication. For example, when you’re drawing the inner portion or the dissected view of your subject. However, since mushrooms already have a large variety of possible surface texture shape information, I chose not to dive into inner portion or dissected view drawings for this drawing tutorial.

How to draw a mushroom from Imagination: Invention and Experimentation

At this point, you know how to draw a mushroom! Congratulations!

Let’s tackle how to draw a mushroom from imagination! Don’t worry; the process is still the same! The only difference is that now you choose the gesture and shapes your mushroom drawing will have. You’ve got this!

I find it helpful to play around with shape combinations before settling on a shape design to construct. Time to use what you’ve learned and using it to develop your own ideas! Booyah! πŸ‘ŠπŸ½

Here’s an example of my ideation and playing on paper:

If you want to try more adventurous shapes with your sketches to get a different kind of look, go for it! I kept it a little low-key here to ensure everything stayed clear, but I encourage you to try whatever variety, character, and zest you want!

Once you’ve developed an idea you like, follow the same process to build your forms. I’ll demonstrate with one of my sketches from above by going through how to draw a mushroom step-by-step.

How to draw a mushroom Step-by-step

Step 1:

With your rough sketch next to you, lay down a gesture line (curved line) to start building from. Since my mushroom is upright, I used mostly vertical lines. The gesture line will add a sense of movement and character to help your drawing feel more dynamic.

How to draw a mushroom_Step-by-step 02

Step 2:

On top of your gesture line, add the basic shapes that make up the form you’re building. Here I’ve added a circle at the top for a rounded tip, two curved lines for a curvy cap of the mushroom, and a circle at the bottom for the base of the stem.

How to draw a mushroom_Step-by-step 03

Step 3

Next, it’s time to add the illusion of volume and depth by connecting the basic shapes. I’ve added an ellipse at the mushroom cap base and connected the ellipse of the stem base with the circle at the top of the mushroom cap.

How to draw a mushroom_Step-by-step 04

Step 4

With all the major shapes and forms roughed in, now is a good time to build in the form information for smaller structures like the mushroom’s ring. If you want more shape info for your mushroom drawing, like scales on the mushroom cap, this is a good stage to begin blocking those in.

How to draw a mushroom_Step-by-step 05

Step 5

At this stage, with most, if not all, of your forms roughed in, it’s a good time to start “truing up” or darkening the lines of the major forms for your final mushroom drawing.

How to draw a mushroom_Step-by-step 06

Step 6

I lightly blocked in the mushroom gill pattern. Following the gesture established earlier, I used vertical lines to create the gill pattern. You can do this step earlier than I did if you prefer. I made it a separate step for clarity’s sake.

How to draw a mushroom_Step-by-step 07

Step 7

I darkened the gills and added some thickness to the bottom margins of the mushroom cap and ring.

How to draw a mushroom_Step-by-step 08

Step 8

As part of the finishing stage, I erase the construction lines.

How to draw a mushroom_Step-by-step 09

Step 9

I used cross-contour lines to add depth and give more plane-change info. You don’t have to do this, but it does come in handy when you add light & shadow.

How to draw a mushroom in Perspective

Don’t worry; I’m not going to squish an entire lesson on Perspective drawing into a how to draw a mushroom tutorial. Perspective is its own thing, but I thought some examples of a mushroom drawing in perspective might be helpful.

Start with a horizon line, a vanishing point (VP), and some squares to set up boxes of various sizes in one-point perspective.

How to draw a mushroom_in one point perspective 04
Divided boxes in perspective

Once I’d drawn my boxes, I divided them to match my mushroom design proportions. This made constructing my design in perspective a bit easier.

How to draw a mushroom_in one point perspective 05
The process of constructing forms stays the same once you’ve set your perspective.

I begin constructing my forms with the same process as before. The only difference is that shape placement needs to happen within the bounds of the boxes and planes to maintain the perspective.

How to draw a mushroom_in one point perspective 07
How to draw a mushroom in perspective, complete!

The process for how to draw a mushroom doesn’t change for two or three-point perspective, but the set up for the perspective does change. I’ll cover perspective in separate articles, but I wanted to visually demo the process for you.

Here’s two-point perspective:

And here’s three-point perspective:

How to draw a mushroom from Imagination: Sketching in Perspective.

I thought it would be fun to demo how to sketch in perspective briefly. So I created my own perspective grids in Photoshop, printed them, and sketched on top of them. The basic idea is that your lines need to go in the same direction as the grid lines, and from there, you construct forms. I chose two-point perspective for this demo.

Light and Shadow: How to light your mushroom

Now that your sketchbook is overflowing with fabulous mushroom drawings & designs, of course, you’ll want to pick your favorites to take to finish! That means adding light and shadow.

I created a visual step-by-step demo below for how to light your mushroom design. For more in-depth info on light, please check out my Fundamentals of Light series.

A word about color

It was tempting to break out the colored pencils after this light and shadow demo, but…I firmly believe that Color & Light, like Light & Shadow, are their own thing. Using colored pencils here would certainly add another dimension to the sketch, and if that’s your jam, then go for it! I prefer to dive into that separately to help all my readers build a solid drawing foundation, and I think whipping out the colored pencils would distract from that. So, that’ll be a “later later” thing for me. 😜

Fun with mushrooms: Exploring shape language and style variations

I thought it would be fun to show other types of shape language examples to wrap things up. My default is representational drawing, but that’s not everyone’s jam. Plus, we have to speak different shape languages, so here are some fun sketches I came up with to play around with different kinds of shapes in various sizes.

How to draw a mushroom_shape variations_anime-manga style

Anime/manga shape language

The shape language for anime and manga seems a little more “realistic” to me in how characters and other subjects are drawn, but just like other cartoons, it’s also very light on detail. It’s also exaggerated, of course.

This is my version of an anime/manga style set of mushrooms.

How to draw a mushroom_shape variations_cartoon style

Cartoon shape language

The shape language for cartoons tends to be pretty flat, with very exaggerated shapes to fit the story’s tone. As a result, you can really stretch believability, experiment with different kinds of designs, and have a lot of fun.

This is my version of a couple of cartoon character mushrooms.

How to draw a mushroom, signing off!

Well…I’m exhausted, how about you? πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‰

That was a lot of stuff, I know. As always, Thank you so very much for hanging in there with me. There are so many options out there for drawing tutorials. You could’ve chosen any drawing tutorial, easy drawing tutorials, but you chose mine and hung in there with me. Thank you.❀ You are awesome!

I sincerely hope you found this article helpful and that you now feel more confident about drawing a mushroom. Please remember to have fun with it! This is your art, and it’s about you. Enjoy it! ❀

If you have any questions or feedback, please leave them in the comments below. Thank you again, and happy mushroom drawing!


More how-to-draw articles on CecelyV.com:

How to draw a circle

How to draw a cube

How to draw a sphere

How to draw a banana

How to draw a pumpkin

Art reference: Create your own stunningly useful art reference boards in 2022.

Art reference_How to create your own awesome art reference boards

Hello fellow artists, and welcome to my article about art references!

Access to useful art references, learning where to find them, and knowing how to create and use them are essential aspects of our art craft.

I’ll try to cover all the bases, including:

  • What art references are.
  • Why it is artists need and use references.
  • How artists’ options and use of art reference have evolved.
  • Sharing the way I learned to create reference boards.
  • A few alternative ways for creating your own references.
  • How to use references.
  • Where to find art references.

What is art reference?

Art reference comes in several different forms, but it’s essentially a tool to help us study and understand our subject’s shapes, forms, and other characteristics.

As a tool, art reference comes in two forms: three-dimensional or two-dimensional.

We can always draw what’s in front of us (Yay! πŸ‘πŸΎ).

Drawing from life is an essential skill and one of the art fundamentals. Having physical access to our subject–being able to touch, hold, and see it from different angles, gives us the best opportunity to understand all of its forms and characteristics.

But, let’s face it, much of what we draw is make-believe or not easily accessible. For example, I don’t know about you, but I’ve never caught any dragons, cyborgs, or fairies hanging out in my neighborhood. Likewise, when I needed to learn how to draw a pumpkin, I couldn’t just pop down to the store and easily buy one because it was springtime in Texas–not a pumpkin in sight (but plenty of lovely bluebonnets).

This is where two-dimensional references come in.

When I was learning how to draw a mushroom, creating my own reference board allowed me to study and learn about many different kinds of mushrooms I didn’t know existed. Another benefit of reference image hunting is that it allows us to see our subject through the eyes of the people who took the photographs, and that often inspires ideas we might not have thought of on our own.

To be clear, I’m not discouraging drawing from lifeβ€”quite the contrary. If I had a woodland forest with creatures galore in my backyard, I’d happily hike there for hours to draw the references I need from there–but…I live in the suburbs, so that’s not a thing. 😜

Why do we use art references?

Early in my artistic journey, I heard foolishness and dribble around using art references for drawing. Many people believe the rather silly notion that all artists should draw with nothing more than their “innate” skill, a few tools, and imagination.

Poppycock and utter nonsense!

Can we draw from imagination? Of course, but there’s so much more to being an artist. Our imagination and desire to create are the starting point and our sustaining thread. However, just because I can flip on a light switch doesn’t mean I’m qualified to perform electrical work. Likewise, buying food at the grocery store doesn’t mean I can cook edible meals. I’m sure you get the idea.

If you have no experience or familiarity with a subject–if you haven’t even seen it–how could you possibly draw it? Being naturally inclined or gifted at something doesn’t magically bestow omniscience upon us–we must still earn the knowledge, do the work, and use the tools. Art references are essential tools that help us create.

A necessity, not “cheating!

You may have also heard that using references is somehow “cheating” at art. πŸ™„

That is a load of hooey and rubbish! I call shenanigans!

We use books and other visuals to help us learn literally everything. When you cook a new dish for the first time, do you wing it from your imagination? Probably not. I bet you use the lovely cooking reference called a recipe, right? I don’t think anyone believes they’re “cheating” at cooking because they use a recipe. I used DIY YouTube videos to learn how to install a toilet myself and save money. That’s not “cheating” on home repair.

If anyone has ever dimmed the light of your confidence by suggesting it would be “cheating” your art to use a reference, I hope this puts your mind at ease. If you’re using references to help you study, practice, and create, you’re doing right by yourself and your artwork. Keep it up!

The evolution of art reference

We’ve all seen the paintings, drawings, and period pieces that give us an illustration of what it was like to be an artist in centuries past.

There were no smartphones, computers, or internet for easy access to online drawing tutorials. The creation of artwork couldn’t rely on stunning photo references in books, websites, or an app. Everything was analog and by hand for every person and every kind of job. When royalty or a noble family commissioned a portrait, they did not send a photo or two to the artist. Instead, they had to stand or sit, for hours at a time over several days or weeks, to acquire their likeness from an artist’s brush.

The two types of art references still existed even then, but artists couldn’t always create photo references to use in the studio. Leonardo Da Vinci mastered anatomy in the 15th century by dissecting more than 30 corpses and meticulously studying what he found through drawing. Two-dimensional reference had to be created through study from observation first and then taken into the studio and combined with the artist’s skill and memory. I’m sure imagination played a role, but that creativity was undeniably and greatly supported by robust study and drawing practice first.

The proliferation of the camera, and the use of the Camera Obscura as a drawing aid, didn’t come until after Da Vinci’s time. More widespread and commercial use of the camera began with the Daguerreotype and calotype processes around 1839. Still, it wasn’t until the invention of photographic film and the Brownie camera in the late 1900s and early 20th century that artists’ ability to create and access photo references really began to take off.

Since the first 35 mm cameras were made available to the public in 1913 and 1914, there has been a prolific expansion of photography and images. In addition, photographic device technology has advanced dramatically, taking us from the 35 mm camera to camera phones in less than a century.

Since the 1980s and 1990s, artists have had amazing access to make, find, and use reference photos. With the creation of Photoshop in 1988 and Google in 1998, we’ve gained an ever-growing and evolving slate of options for image access and manipulation.

I have found the Photoshop and Google combination particularly helpful and convenient. In addition, there are several ways to create reference images, and I’ll get into that below. But, first, I’d like to share with you the process I learned for making reference boards.

How to create your own art reference boards

With the extraordinary amount of information available globally and through the internet, you would think a simple Google search would provide an extensive library of DIY reference creation tutorials. Unfortunately, it turns out that’s not the case, so I decided to make my own.

More ways of creating reference materials

Reference boards are a great resource for the needs of our artwork, and they are only one of many ways to create and access reference resources.

You’ll remember earlier I mentioned there are two types of reference, two and three dimensional. So let’s talk about the avenues available to us under each type.

Two-dimensional art reference

From collage and studies from life to digital media, there are many 2D reference creation options.

Studies from life and figure drawing

Making drawings of subjects from observation is our most foundational and vital skill as artists. While it’s our most accessible and low-tech reference creation method, it is also, sadly, limited by our location and means to travel.

I live near a major American city, but it doesn’t boast high a high-quality zoo, aquarium, or natural history museum–ideal places for life drawing. Like most artists, my access to a live human model is modest at best, and requires that I drive a good distance from my home, pay a nominal fee, and hope I arrive early enough to get a good spot due to limited seating (and parking).

What we’re able to study from observation in our own neck of the woods depends greatly on the nature and infrastructure of the area and our own circumstances, schedules, and means.

Thankfully, the gaps in reference access can be successfully bridged in other ways.

Photography and found images

These days, it’s a relatively simple thing to get a disposable or one-time-use camera to take reference photos–though it’s also much less necessary now that most people have a camera and mini-computer in their pocket with smartphones.

With touchscreen technology and high megapixel cameras, our phones help us create reference photos at all the different sites we travel to throughout our days. Still, no one’s neighborhood has enough references for creating all their artwork. Found images, primarily from magazines and books, and the Google image search tool come in handy here.

Images can be studied directly from books and magazines to create drawings and studies–and nowadays, we even have e-books and digital copies of magazines, making things quite convenient.

If you’re on a budget (aren’t we all?), there’s always the option of visiting the library to study from their materials, take photos of the reference materials with your phone, check out the materials to borrow for a while or even make photocopies.

Collage (old school)

However you choose to create your reference photos, a useful way of compiling them is to create a collage–a one-stop-shop for all the images you’ve gathered to help your artistic vision.

It’s a little messy and time-consuming, but with a large piece of drawing paper or poster board, a pair of scissors, and some glue or tape, you can easily create a helpful art reference board the old-fashioned way.

Digital collage

The demonstration in my video above shows how to create your own digital collage using Photoshop and Microsoft Paint 3D. Other applications will allow you to do the same thing, like the site Canva and other digital painting apps (especially those that use layers).

3D modeling software

It probably seems odd to put “3D” anything on a list of two-dimensional reference resources, but hear me out. Technically, everything we do on our computers is flat and 2D. It’s all “real” but still rather intangible and amorphous. This is true of the models we can create in applications like Zbrush, Blender, Maya, and 3D Studio Max.

These tools give us the illusion of depth to manipulate data in the form of digital clay, and that is extremely helpful when it allows you to create your own “3D” reference. It’s a step up from a photograph because you can virtually rotate the model and view it from any angle, and that is immensely helpful. The drawback, of course, is that there’s quite a learning curve to sculpt anything useful in these applications, so, depending on your needs, it may or may not suit your process.

Here are a few examples from a Maya build I did to create a digital illustration.

Three-dimensional art reference

Let’s get “real”! Anything you can touch and feel, move around, and manipulate with your hands is three-dimensional. I know what you’re probably thinking, “Thank you, Captain Obvious! πŸ™„” I’m nothing if not thorough, and I know that can be annoying sometimes. Would you mind bearing with me? πŸ˜‰

Nature, models and found objects

These are all self-explanatory. You know what nature is. Models = the live human or animal variety. Found objects are…the random stuff and gubbins that help us practice drawing.

Sculpture and maquettes

These two are also self-explanatory, though I did have to look up maquettes for a better visual. Maquettes are the small preliminary sketches, or models sculptors create before beginning on the final sculpture.

Sometimes making a representation of your subject helps your drawing–it doesn’t have to look good or be accurate so long as you have the major forms where you need them. You could use Play-Doh. It doesn’t need to be fancy.

How to use your reference photos and studies from Life

Step 1: gather references.

Step 2: Draw all the shapes and forms you can see in said references.

Step 3: Keep doing step 2 and become awesome sauce. #sketchdaily.

Reference in the entertainment art world

All artists benefit from using references. So whether you’re an illustrator, a comic artist, a concept artist drawing characters, or a creative influencer on social media like Twitter, reference photos and materials are your best friend.

If you’ve ever seen behind-the-scenes footage for film and video games, you’ll know that artists who work in entertainment art frequently travel to draw on location for the project’s creative development. How cool is that?!

Where to find the stuff: Websites, social media, tutorials, and videos.

To help you build your image library, I’ve included a list of a few useful sites on the web that have stock photos and other reference photo resources. There’s a lot here for figure drawing, human anatomy, and body parts to build your library. Sadly, there isn’t as much for animal anatomy. Tips in that area seem more confined to books, but there are still plenty of images to be found in this list.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thank you so much for stopping by my site to read this article. I hope you found the tips in my video and the list of resources helpful, and I wish you good luck on your reference photo hunt.

If you have any questions or feedback for me, please leave them in the comments section below.

Take care and happy drawing!