Hi and welcome to the Junior Car Designer’s Easy Car Drawing Guide!!!
This minicourse is about learning the basic techniques of car drawing. This means you won’t learn how to draw specific cars, like a Chevy Corvette, a Ford Mustang or a BMW M5. What you will learn here is to draw different types of cars so you can understand the general concepts, thus, allowing you to draw any car you want.
Before you start you must know that car drawing requires a lot of patience and dedication because results don’t come overnight. I recommend you go through each lesson and practice what you´ve learned before moving on to the next lesson.
Another very important thing, more than I can say, is that car drawing can get very technical at times. This means that some steps require very specific drawing methods so be prepared to put some extra effort into it if you want to do it right.
Also, don’t try to be perfect, it’s okay to erase a little bit here and there, we´re all beginners here. Actually, you´ll be making errors well into the future when you are more experienced. I know I still do (a lot L). I’ve seen professional designers erasing some lines they didn’t like and stuff like that. Perfection is no the goal, having fun is.
One last thing: The drawings in this course were made in a program called Sketchbook Pro, which is what I use in the regular free tutorials.
Well, because it ´s easier for you to understand what is happening. As I said before, this can get really technical so it´s a bit messy sometimes and on top of that I have a messy drawing style.
Another reason for this is that I can highlight what I just did in each step, a request ( complaint ) I´ve been getting a lot from you guys in the free tutorials. And I must say it´s a perfectly reasonable one because it´s is so logical.
So now, go draw a car. Any car you want. Keep the drawing in a safe place and at the end of the course draw that same car and compare both drawings so you can see your improvements.
Let´s begin then. It’s very important not to skip any steps.
The basics of drawing
You can’t just jump into car drawing and expect results the first time. You must know first the fundamental techniques. It is mandatory to practice these as often as you can. If you skip these your progress will be very, very slow.
The first technique you must get familiar with is to draw the most basic things:
Draw circles, ellipses, and lines.
What I like to do is to set a timer for about 3 minutes and sometimes 5 minutes and practice drawing each element until the time runs out and then move to the next.
All of these you should do at medium speed. If your stroke is too fast it’s harder to control and if it’s too slow it looks shaky. Draw without moving your wrist nor touching the table with your arm. Make the strokes with your shoulder, unless you’re making very short and small strokes. It sounds counterintuitive and it takes some time to get used to it but it’s the correct way.
So that’s 5 minutes each for a total of just 15 minutes, ideally, daily. That´s not a lot of time for the technique that will help you the most. Good line quality is very important.
Drawing circles and ellipses will help you draw better wheels.
Draw each circle and ellipse about ten times without stopping and then do another.
When it comes to drawing lines I place two dots about seven or eight inches from each other and then try to hit them both with a line. You can start with five inches if you want. To improve your precision draw on top of those lines a few times.
To maximize my practice time and space I try to unite every dot on the right with every dot on the left. This is actually quite messy (I told you I was) but it doesn’t matter, it´s just practice. And after I finish on one sheet of paper I turn it over and practice on the other side as well.
Draw also curved lines. This is a little bit trickier because you have to hit more dots with the same line, three or four dots most of the time. This one is actually quite hard at first. I know it was for me. As you can see I still don´t get it right every time.
When it comes to materials use whatever you feel most confident with; pencil, pen, marker, even crayons if you feel like it.
You can also use a ruler and stencils if they´re available. Try not to use them too much though, it is very important to build your free-hand abilities.
A quick and simple definition of proportions could be the following: The size of the different elements of an object and the relation between them.
The latter is my lame definition, not the official one.
Up next I´ll explain it in car drawing terms:
Every car has different form and sizes and to draw these correctly we need a reference. That reference is the car’s own wheel.
The image below shows the car´s wheels in black. The red circles are the same size of the black wheels and we will use these to measure the different car elements, this is what I meant by “reference”, the wheel is our unit of measure.
The car elements we will measure (image below) are:
1 Ground clearance: Is the distance between the ground and the floor of the car.
2 Wheelbase: Is the distance between the front wheels and the rear wheels. In this tutorials, we’ll use three wheels in every case. Why? Because it works for most car types.
3 Overhangs: This is the part of the body that goes beyond the wheels on the front and back of the car.
4 Beltline: This is the overall height of the middle part of the car’s body.
5 Roof line: The roofline is the total height of the car.
VERY IMPORTANT: These proportions are not fixed, they are DIFFERENT IN EVERY CAR AND CAR TYPE, these examples only help illustrate what proportions are all about so you what the idea is. After understanding these ideas you will be able to draw any car by analyzing the proportions for that specific vehicle.
Four Door Family Car
Here are the general proportions for a family car (the front pointing to the left) :
1 Ground clearance: This is about half a wheel but it can be lower.
2 Wheelbase: Of course three, but since there are many types of four-door cars the wheelbase can be very long, almost four wheels in some case like in big luxury cars. This is more of a mid-size car.
3 Overhangs: At the front is about half a wheel and at the back can go from half up to one full wheel depending on the truck space.
4 Beltline: This is about half a wheel.
Finally, notice the light blue vertical line behind the front wheel. By drawing this line you can have a reference to where the windshield starts, or rather the base of it. Of course, it´s different for all cars but I put it at about one-third of a wheel because I like the long hood look but you can put it closer.
Big Truck/SUV Proportions
Proportions for pick up trucks and SUVs are very similar. In fact, many SUVs share a platform with a Pick-up truck.
1 Ground clearance: Three-quarters of a wheel.
2 Wheelbase: Three wheels work fine unless you’re drawing a crew cab truck (four doors are big cabin) if that’s the case the wheelbase can grow to four wheels.
3 Overhangs: Half a wheel at the front and up to one wheel at the back. For SUVs, the rear overhang isn’t quite as long, maybe three quarters at most.
4 Beltline: Two-thirds of a wheel.
5 roof line: One wheel and a half but it can be a little more if you want.
The light blue line for the windshield is closer to the front wheel. Pick-up trucks don’t have long hoods (or bonnet).
Sports Car Proportions
1 Ground clearance: Since this cars are very short the ground clearance is minimal. About one quarter or less. Actually, the lower, the cooler the car looks, most of the time.
2 Wheelbase: In this case, this three-wheel length is quite accurate for the average sports car. There are just a small bunch of cars that have a longer wheelbase, most of them super high-performance cars, like the Venom GT.
3 Overhangs: In sports cars, the front overhang is usually longer. About one wheel. The rear overhang is short, about half a wheel or less. But take a look at some cars, like the Jag XJ220 or the Saleen S7 and you’ll notice that the rear is very, very long. This is to accommodate a big diffuser.
4 Beltline: This is about one-quarter of a wheel, more than that and the car looks very weird. Low belt lines look better in sports cars.
5 Roof line: The roof isn’t usually more than one wheel.
In this case, there´s no windshield line. Because the cabin in sports cars is very forward in the body, the best reference is the top of the front wheel. So draw the windshield from that point.
That´s basically what proportions are all about.
But I know what you’re thinking: Hey! How come a pick-up truck is almost the same height as a family car?!
The answer is, of course, that they aren´t. The key here is the size of the wheel. In the image below you can see a small hatchback, with its references in green, and in the background, there´s a faded SUV truck with its proportions references. The wheels on an SUV are slightly bigger (sometimes a lot bigger), you can see this at the rear of both cars. This difference in wheel size makes the hatchback evidently smaller.
This is a very important thing to take into account.
How to multiply circles
Learning how to multiply circles can help you a lot!
What do I mean by “multiply circles”?
This means how to draw two or more circles of the exact same size.
This becomes very useful when drawing the proportions guide, which has a lot of same size circles.
You can draw all circles free-hand (recommended) or use this technique:
First, draw a circle and then draw a square around the circle touching its edges. Make the circle as round as you can because the ones that result from the multiplication will be as round …or not round.
Now draw two lines from corner to corner. The point where these lines meet is the center point of both the square and circle. Extend the bottom and top lines too.
You can use this technique to find the center or middle section of any symmetric shape.
We need to find the middle point at the side of the square. We’ll do this by drawing a horizontal line from the center to the side. The arrow indicates the middle part of the side of the square.
Draw another line, now from the top left corner passing through the middle point of the right side (1) all the way to the bottom line (2). This is the line that actually multiplies the circle (and the square).
After that draw yet another line, a vertical one, at the point where the multiplying line touches the bottom. This creates another square that’s the same size as the first. We’ve now effectively multiplied the square and by extension, the circle (wheel).
Draw a circle inside the second square. It should be the same size as the first one. If the first one was not so round the second will be equally not round. XD
Lets do another circle.
We already know where´s the mid-section so just draw a line from the top left corner passing through the middle point of the right side (1) all the way to the bottom line (2).
It looks tedious at first but with practice, it is actually really quick to multiply these shapes.
Quick tip: Draw a few squares using this technique and then do your circle practice inside these. It helps you become more precise.
Car drawing in side view
This lesson is about the finished process of a side view. We already went through the general proportions, now it’s time to make the actual drawing.
We will jump the steps where we draw the car details since this is what we do in the free tutorials and I’m sure you have a lot of experience in that.
Side View Exercise 1: Hatchback
A hatchback car is very similar in size and proportions to a four-door sedan, more specifically in a compact car form. Some four-door compact cars have a hatchback version, like the Ford Focus.
Now draw the general shape of the car.
For hatchbacks, the only thing that’s notoriously different is the rear overhang, which is half a wheel at most. This is because there is no booth or trunk.
Now let’s start defining the design of the car, this is very similar to the regular tutorials.
First the wheels and the body.
Cars are not square boxes, so don’t follow the exact shape of the proportions.
Now draw the cabin, the windows, and the doors.
This is where we jump the detail steps straight to the finished drawing.
Draw as many details as you want on your car.
Paint black the dark areas like the wheel housings and the inside of the rims.
So, from the proportions guide we got the basic shape of the car and from that, we got the specific design.
Lastly, the dark area bellows the car and in between the wheels is its underside and the wheels on the other side. Add this to your drawing.
Look how doing this gives the car a 3D and depth feel compared with the previous image, which looks very flat.
A very simple detail that makes a huge difference on how the drawing looks.
Side view exercise 2: Sports Car
Now, let’s draw a sportscar side view.
Draw a proportions guide (very lightly) and go over the sports car info so you can make the basic shape.
Once you have your basic shape start drawing the wheels and the lower side of the body.
Remember, don’t follow the ugly and boring basic shape.
Now draw the cabin.
In this case is particularly important not to follow the basic shape.
UNLESS THAT’S WHAT YOU WANT TO DO!!!
For example, in this drawing, the actual cabin is a little bit in front of the guideline, but I still have to draw the windshield. So if I were to follow the exact position on the guide the cabin would be pushed back considerably because after the windshield the side windows go next and these would also be pushed back and ruin a little the cabin-forward looks of a sports car.
But that’s just me. Just saying.
It’s you drawing after all. Play with the design.
Draw all the details you want. Remember to draw the underside in black for that 3D look.
And here it is. A proper sports car side view.
Side view notes
This quick note is about the line of sight that we follow when looking at a car from the side.
You may have noticed that in the side view drawings the headlights or tail light are not at the edge of the drawing, instead there’s the grill or something like that.
That’s because cars are not exactly square boxes. Remember the “don’t follow the basic shape” thing?
The image below illustrates the look of a car from above and our visual field.
See how the front and rear are curved and not flat. Hence the lights are not the border of the image, the grill, at the front and an element like the license plate at the back is. That’s why we still see them from the side.
This is also why we draw the windshield and rear windows. They are also curved, not flat.
In the image, the red lines represent the incorrect line of sight and the green lines represent the correct one.
In red, the incorrect edge of the drawing. The green line is the way to go.
This might seem obvious to some but not to all so it would be wrong not to mention it.
Drawing in perspective
What is perspective?
Perspective is the drawing technique used to represent three-dimensional objects on a two-dimensional surface. In this case, a car (3D) on a sheet of paper (2D).
In perspective all objects appear to get smaller the further away they are from the observer (you). Their dimensions also appear to get shorter along the line of sight. This is called foreshortening. Foreshortening does not affect objects across the line of sight.
A few examples of perspective are:
This city street photo. The cars on this street appear to get smaller. The one in the middle looks really small but that’s only an illusion. Also, the wheels on the cars are not circles, they’re ellipse because of the foreshortening effect.
Train tracks. In this photo the trees on the side appear to get smaller the further away they are. The train tracks look like they are coming closer and closer in the distance but we know they are parallel so they never meet. The ties –the wooden bars that keep the track shoulders together- also appear to get closer and closer.
The elements of perspective
Perspective drawing has three main elements represented in the images below:
Horizon line (blue): Is a line across the line of sight that is infinitely far away (in theory). It’s at eye level. It’s the farthest away you can see, like when you’re on the beach, the line where the water and the sky meet is the horizon line. It doesn´t always have a place in the actual drawing or image, sometimes it is just there for reference, like in both pictures here.
Parallel lines (red): Lines that run in the same direction along the line of sight and always keep the same distance between each other. They are the basic guide to draw any object in perspective.
Vanishing point (yellow): A point on the horizon line where parallel lines seem to converge or get together.
One Point Perspective
Let’s get more familiar with 1 point perspective by doing some box drawings. Drawing boxes is by far the best way to learn perspective. Practice this a lot and as often as you can.
Draw a square or rectangle. You can actually place it bellow (bellow eye level), above (above eye level) or at the same height as the vanishing point (at eye level). It works just on all three positions.
This is how to draw a box in one point perspective. The box can be as wide tall and long as you want.
Up next are two other examples of boxes in one point perspective, but now with the box in front and above the vanishing point.
Car in One Point Perspective
Oh yeah! Now we will draw a car in one point perspective.
Draw first a horizon line with its vanishing point and then a proportions guide and the basic shape of a car. This will be an SUV drawing since we haven’t drawn one yet. The proportions are very similar to a Pick-Up truck, only with a slightly shorter rear overhang and a bigger cabin.
I think you know where this is going. J Draw the parallel lines from each corner of the car all the way to the vanishing point. They are numbered in blue. This can get a little confusing from all the lines here.
Now for a tricky part: Establish the width of the car.
This can be done by multiplying the wheel of the car towards the vanishing point but honestly, I don’t do it because it’s way too technical and, for me, it takes away the fun. It is easier to estimate this measure. As you practice you’ll get a feel of how wide a car must be depending on the position of the vanishing point. Draw cars using reference material like magazine photos and soon you’ll get a hang of it.
Now on the lower side.
Drawing the side we can’t see it’s unnecessary, after all, we don’t see it but it helps us understand better what’s going on there. What if you have to draw the wheel on the other side? Like in an open-wheel race car. It would certainly help a ton.
After drawing the wheel arches we can draw the doors. Draw the head and tail lights. Notice how they wrap around the corner of the car and a small part of the grill is visible too. It’s a good time to draw also the rim edges.
Put more details in the headlights and tail lights as well in the hood, a couple of lines to give it some dimension. Design a cool rim look and add it to the car. Don’t forget to draw the door handles.
Now for a step that we should’ve done earlier, but it’s no big deal.
Let’s give some depth to the tires. First, draw a couple of parallel lines from the vanishing point to the edges of each wheel and after that draw the far side of the wheel. Try not to make the wheel too wide.
Finally, trace your drawing to get rid of all the guidelines. This is optional, you don’t have to. I actually like all the background lines, they give a “pro” look to de drawings. Put some shadow under the car to make it pop out a little.
Two Point Perspective
2 point perspective is the most accurate way to represent a drawing in perspective because is how we see most things.As its name suggests, it has 2 vanishing points. Up next we will learn how to draw in 2 point perspective with some box drawing.
This is where it gets very technical so reload your patience reserves. It also may get a little confusing from all the lines you have to draw.
Draw a vertical line. This will be the corner closest to us and it is always perfectly vertical.
Where the red and green lines touch each other goes the last corner of the box. Draw a line (blue) that unites both points. It is not necessary to draw it but I recommend you do it in order to better understand this perspective drawing.
I recommend you practice a few of these before moving to the next lesson.
Two Point Perspective Notes
As in one point perspective, you can place the object in any position you like.
The box above the horizon is placed on the right side and we are able to see more of the left side.
The box below the horizon is placed to the left and we can see more of its right side.
Another thing to take into account is that if you place the vanishing points too close together the box (or car) will look distorted.
On the contrary, if you use the vanishing points very separated you will get a more realistic drawing. Doing this is not that easy because of the size of most drawing pads. Of course, you could draw a smaller car so the vanishing points are separated enough, but this is impractical. The waste of space for one drawing would be unacceptable so learn to estimate the vanishing point’s position as if it was way outside the sheet of paper.
This doesn’t mean that drawing the vanishing points inside the sheet of paper results in an inaccurate drawing. The result is actually a car we are standing very close to and because of foreshortening some of the features of it are, well, foreshortened and we are unable to appreciate them as we should.
The two brick-like boxes look very different because of the placement of the vanishing points. The one on the top looks smooth and the one below looks kind of dramatic. All dough dramatic is sometimes good.
Draw a Car in Two Point Perspective
Now we arrive at the main part of this course: The car in two-point perspective.
But first, you should take a look at how to draw circles in perspective in the next chapter. Use this technique or draw the ellipses freehand. The latter is a great exercise to accelerate your drawing technique.
Very important: At this point, drawing a proportions guide is not strictly necessary. You know what that’s all about already. You know that every car type has certain dimensions but if you use it every time you will always end up with the same car. Okay, use it just to get familiar with two point perspective, but leave it as soon as you get experienced enough.
It is recommendable to use it if you’re drawing a specific car but not if you’re drawing a design of your own.
Car in two-point perspective
We will draw this ellipse. You can skip it if you want. After all, the square gives us what we need, a reference.
Draw the basic shape. This will be a sports car, a different type of sports car. This will be a GT, like a Ferrari F12. These cars are still kind of small and short, that’s why we only need one wheel to measure height.
These cars are low to the ground (ground clearance) about one quarter or less, the beltline is about one quarter too, the roofline is almost one wheel, the overhang at the front is about two thirds, maybe more. At the back is very short, about a quarter.
Now estimate the width of the car.
I say estimate but remember that you can calculate width by drawing circles. It is between three and two and a half circles for most cars. We’ll skip it this time because the drawing gets saturated with tons of lines and it looks very messy. You can go through this proses if you want.
In this case, the overhang needed to be a little longer so we will extend it at the middle. Just draw a line from the vanishing point through the middle of the car but reaching just beyond the initial overhang. These type of corrections will be very common.
Draw the windows and the doors.
Now the challenge is up for your creative side. Draw some cool headlights, grill, and lower air intake. In the middle of the grill, you can see another loose line, this one is a guide to identify the midsection of the car.
Now, this is how you draw cars!
Draw Circles in Perspective
In order to make a good car drawing it’s is very important to draw correctly its wheels. If they don’t look good the whole drawing doesn’t look good. So knowing how to draw circles in perspective is a must.
You’ve been practicing drawing circles and ellipses but now you will learn how to integrate them into a perspective drawing.
Circles and ellipses have two axis: The major axis (red) and the minor axis (blue). They are perpendicular to each other. They always form a 90-degree angle.
In ellipses, the mayor axis goes along the wider side and the minor axis goes along the narrow side. In a circle, both axis looks the same because this shape is perfectly round so there is no wide or narrow side.
Draw a wheel in perspective
How to multiply in perspective
This is basically the same as in the first multiplying technique.
Find the mid-point. The square’s midpoint and the center of the ellipse don’t actually coincide, by a small distance. This is a weird thing that happens when foreshortening starts coming into play. If you draw them both looking at them from the front, these two points will hit the exact same spot.
Draw as many ellipses as you need.
Practice drawing proportions guides using this technique.
Basic Car Design
In the world of car design, there’s a basic idea that rules everything: Form follows function.
This means that the form of an element in a car is determined by the function the car or the element itself must accomplish.
Up next we have some examples:
Family cars must carry four or five occupants (green) with relative comfort. That’s why the cabin must be roomy.
Trucks must be big to carry lots of stuff at the back, obviously. But also they must be able to go through some really rough terrain, hence the ground clearance and the wheel housings (red).
Of course, this is useless if the suspension isn’t adequate to go over rocks or speed bumps. For this to be possible the suspension must have enough travel (green). We’re not going to draw the suspension but it is a good example.
Sports cars must have a good balance in corners, that’s why the engine is at the back (red). Keep in mind that there are front engine sports cars but generally they aren’t as effective as mid-engine cars.
The must manage the air passing around them (blue) better than most cars so they have as little wind resistance as possible. That’s why they are very low and the passengers are closer to the ground and in a more leaned back position (green). This gives them a small frontal area.
So, next time you are making a car drawing take into account what it’s supposed to do and design it from that basis.
Three And Six Spokes
Let’s learn how to draw rims with a fairly accurate geometry.
No draw a line from the center to bottom and divide it in half. This is a guideline so draw it lightly.Draw a horizontal line across the middle of the previous line all the way to the edges of the circle.
Four And Eight Spokes
Drawing a four spokes rim is one of the easiest things ever.
Now do the same thing from side to side. Now we have two more spokes for a total of four.
Draw a line from that mark through the center extending to both ends of the circle. This line is spokes five and six.
Here we have an eight-spoke rim. That was easy. Wasn’t it?
Five And Ten Spokes
The five spokes rim is one of the most common and one of the coolest, and now you know how to draw it.
At first, they might not look as you expect bus his might take some time to get right.
Tire profile (or tire wall) is another very important thing here. It also follows an intended function in every type of car.
For example, on the left, we have a tire with a big wall. I think you can deduce this is from a truck because of the way it looks. The big wall is to help the suspension by using it to cope more easily with the rough terrain. By letting some air out of it the wall also allows the tire to get more traction, sometimes.
On the right, we have a low profile tire. This is for a sports car as you can tell. Since it’s stiffer, the low profile (wall) prevents the car from rolling too much in corners (helping the suspension too) making the car more stable and precise.
One more thing: Tire looks also serves an aesthetic purpose. Big wall tires look tough and rugged, adding to the overall look of a pick-up or SUV trunk. On the other hand, the small wall looks stylish and sporty, ideal for sports cars. Low profile tires are actually being used for almost every type of car nowadays because of the looks they provide.
Finally, spoke design also helps in both practical and aesthetic ways.
Big, thick spokes are more resistant and look tough and rugged too.
Thin spokes weigh less (better car balance) and look sportier. They are designed to let out more hot air from the brakes.
Well, this is it, a complete guide on how to draw cars. If this is not complete I don’t know what is.
I hope you like this course and find it useful.
And remember its all about practice.
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