A lot of people say ‘Oh, I can’t draw’, but if you can make a rudimentary mark on a piece of paper, then technically you can draw.
I know, I know, that’s a pretty low bar, but we’ve gotta start somewhere, and I don’t want to scare you off.
So, with that in mind here’s a few tricks to take your pathetic primitive scrawls and make them marginally better. (again, let’s not raise the expectation bar too high)
Oh, before I go on, this is essentially a ‘Part 2’ of this article explaining how it’s surprisingly easy to draw comics. Although this could also be Part 1, so it doesn’t really matter what order you consume them.
Okay, let’s do this.
Now go get a pen…
A Good Pen.
First of all, your drawings probably look rubbish because you’re using an old biro that happened to be laying around. Nobody’s used one of these since cassette tapes stopped needing to be fixed, so throw that in the drawer full of batteries, twine and assorted electrical tape from whence it came.
Instead, go thicker. Go felt tip. Go a marker if that’s all you got. Because if your drawing skills aren’t very good, going thicker is always a good way to hide this fact.
See? A thicker pen really helps to hide mediocrity. Trust me, I’ve been doing this for years and nobody seems to have noticed yet.
Make Everything Three Dimensional!
As I said, I’m going to keep this nice and simple, so we’re going to start with one of the all time classics:
The good ol’ Square. The nerdy right angled work-horse of the drawing world.
I told you we’d keep it easy.
So, once you’ve got your square, the next step to making things Three Dimensional is super easy.
Just draw a diagonal line in the same direction from every corner…
And then join them up and WHOA! THREE DIMENSIONS! Look at you manipulating the laws of time and space.
‘But Chaz’ I can hear you annoyingly bemoan, ‘How is this in any way useful?’
I’m glad you asked. First of all, it’s not. Second of all, you can do this with all kinds of shapes…
…and then make them 3D too….
Now all you need are few black squares put in the right place and….
…you got some sweet buildings!
Right, that’s enough of that. On to the next thing!
The Dark Arts…
That’s right, it’s time to utilise the shady art of uh.. shadows.
For a start, let’s draw a cube again. (Or use the one from before, whatever)
Now, time to get a bit technical…
In your mind, imagine taking the the bottom of this cube…
…and then dropping it down a smidgen like so…
Then it’s just a case of colouring in the part that won’t be obscured by the cube…
And like I said, you’re now a master of the dark arts, having used a bit of black marker to magically make your cube float in thin air!
That’s just one of many shadows you can use to make stuff look better than it really is. Here’s a few more for you…
Again, that’s all just a case of mentally shifting that dotted square outline around and them colouring it all in black. Hours of fun to be had here.
Right! What’s next?
Not like a police outline, but rather Trace Your Own Drawings.
Even now (as a guy who supposedly does this professionally) when I have to draw something more complicated than a stick figure (or for that matter a 3D cube) I find it completely overwhelming. I don’t know where to start, and if I did I wouldn’t know where to go from there.
Take for example, a croissant.
How the hell do you draw a croissant? (I often ask myself this while wide-awake at 4am)
The answer? Start big, and broad, and basic.
See? I told you this would be easy.
Now that you’ve got big, broad and basic done, it’s time to get it a bit more messy. Start refining that shape a bit like so…
Just keep going over and over this thing until a shape you’re happy with starts to emerge.
Then start putting in some of those croissanty pastry folds.
By the way, make this as messy as you like. None of this really matters. I mean… Croissants matter, but not this drawing of one.
Now at this point, we’re looking pretty good, although…
It needs to be a bit fatter on the left, and maybe the right end needs to fold around a bit more…
Don’t worry about that though, just do more drawing over the top of everything!
OK! Look at you! You’ve got a big messy vaguely croissant looking shape!
This is where the tracing part comes in. Get a new sheet of paper and start fresh with your rough approximation visible underneath.
I don’t know about you, but suddenly the idea of drawing a croissant is a whole lot less intimidating when all you need to do is trace along your thickest, most confident lines below.
OH WHAT?! It’s almost looking like a croissant.
Only problem is, I kind screwed up the ‘stepping down’ of the pastry folds, you can see here where one of mine steps back up for some reason:
Who cares though! Because now you can just start drawing over the top of this one to fix it…
And then, put another piece of paper over it and start the process again, and…
You got yourself a basic croissant! Well done.
What now you ask?
How about utilising some of your new shadowy skills…
I’ve done this fairly messily, but the effect it still the same. That croissant looks like it’s sitting somewhere. Amazing.
Next up, I’d add in some flaky pastry details (mainly as a neat trick to make it look a bit more voluminous — drawing texture is good like that) and you’ve got yourself the croissant you never realised you could draw!
…and yes, I coloured in the one I drew at the top with Photoshop (which is a whole different how-to article), but if you’ve got some coloured markers or some pencils, you know exactly what to do now.