How’d You Draw That? Episode: 1

I often get asked how I draw things, what decisions I make, which brushes I use, and why. So, I’m hoping to make some drawing videos with step-by-step instructions to help answer these questions. This video doesn’t cover a start-to-finish drawing, but I hope it still illustrates some of the lessons I list below.

How do you start?
For me, the best way to begin any drawing is to quickly draw a very rough version of what I see in front of me, or what I’ve imagined in my head. You want to work quickly to get the idea down before it wanders off. Don’t get distracted by details—they can come later. Instead, try to focus on the general shapes of what you’re drawing, and how and where they fit on the page.

Why shapes?
Shapes can help you manage all the elements of your drawing. For example, if I want to draw a dog, I usually start with a circle that will ultimately make up the top of the dog’s head. Some more examples: Eyes = circles; Nose = circle; Neck = Rectangle; Legs = long skinny rectangles, and so on. The more you try to lay out your object by looking for shapes, the more you will understand how everything fits together.

How did you make the dog look so fuzzy?
A little texture can go a long way towards making your image feel more alive and finished. In this video, I drew three lines that connect at one end, over and over again to create the illusion of shaggy fur. If I left those details out, the dog would appear to have short, fine hair. This part of the drawing can take time, and it’s hard to imagine what it will look like at the end, but sometimes it’s worth the risk. Try playing with patterns and small, simple marks that overlap to give things in your drawing that should have texture—like fur, or clothing, or grass—the illusion of texture.

How do you choose your colors?
When I’m coloring in a drawing, I tend to use one color to fill in the whole image. In this video, I used a golden brown to color in the whole dog, and then I went back with some darker browns to show shadows and add some depth. Again, take your time. Think about what colors go well together. If you aren’t sure of what colors to use, try testing color combinations on another piece of paper before adding them to your drawing.

Which brushes do you use?
I get this question a lot. Using a specific brush does not guarantee that your work look the way you want. The best way to reach your goals is to practice and be patient. There are some amazing brushes in art stores and in programs like Procreate and Photoshop, but I often find that they don’t help me achieve the look I’m hoping for. In this video of the dog, I drew every line that made up the dog’s shaggy fur. By drawing every line, I managed to give the fur a random, shaggy feeling. If I relied on a brush to do the work for me, it would look too repetitive and, possibly, less attractive. Don’t shy away from taking the time to do the details yourself.

I hope this helps answer some questions. I’ll try to post more videos of my process in the future.

Happy drawing!

– Tom