Sketching Motorcycles with Markers


Sketching Motorcycles with Markers

I’ll tell you a little secret.  This video got me a little scared.  No one likes to sort of  “fail” (though failure is not only inevitable but necessary for eventual success) but I decided to draw something that I am not used to at all.  I don’t normally draw motorcycles but the funny thing about designers and illustrators is that if your foundational drawing skills are solid, then you should theoretically be able to apply those foundational principles to anything.

So I decided to put that to the test.  I have been asked to draw motorcycles and for the longest time I  avoided it only because I am not comfortable with it.  One of my teachers in school always used to tell me that the moment you find discomfort, draw that thing a 100 times!  I thought for a moment and felt, what the heck! I should be able to tackle this and even if it does turn out like garbage…WHO CARES?  I have told so many people to not get tensed up about drawing and yet I found myself a little “tense” to draw the motorcycle.

The one thing I have noticed about myself when posting videos is that the moment I “think” too much about a particular problem, I let irrational thinking enter my mind and convince myself that I cannot handle the task.  I have already mentally defeated myself.

I think that is another reason why I choose to work with permanent markers. It’s unforgiving to mistakes, but trains you go head on and tackle the problem anyway and persevere.  So Let’s start with the following:

Difficulties in Drawing Motorcycles:

Let’s briefly talk about the “fear” and why drawing motorcycles or even bicycles are difficult.  Then I will go through the “Remedy” for the fear.

Problem 1: Motorcycle Tires

Open wheels are very hard for me.  I think it’s really a psychological problem relating to the fact that this tire has to look like….well….”A TIRE” with the right offset in ellipses.

Remedy 1:

Went back to basics.   Think “Cylinders” and not “Tires.” if you change your mindset to think of the object in the most basic and simplistic of forms, it will help to remove the fear. Just get through that first step.  Forget about the tire details like tread ,wheels, spokes, brakes, etc.  Remove it from your mind and only think of a cylinder in perspective.

Remedy 2:

Draw the offset ellipses separately before you even begin to draw the motorcycle.  Practice drawing the ellipses on their own with a chosen perspective line and degree of ellipse.

Problem 2: Drawing the Rider

Though I like drawing people, I always pick views that I am used which is a big mistake.  So drawing a person on the bike itself was hard because the rider is leaning in.


So what I did was to look at the “shapes” of the object, in this case, the motorcycle rider. I first drew the large shapes keeping a close eye on the placement and how it relates to the rest of the motorbike.  Remember the video draw what you see and not what you know?  If you forgot, there is an example of it in the video below:



Sketch Notes:

1.  Choose an appropriate photo reference.  If it is in perspective, try to analyze the perspective and break it down.

2.  Lay down your construction lines in perspective.  Though I used a black marker, consider using a gray marker instead as it will appear somewhat hidden.  You can use a 30% grey marker. Just bear in mind the color of your paper. Newsprint already has a tint to it so you may need to go with 40%.  (I wish I started off with that)  

3.  Determine the proportion and sketch in your ellipses.  Again, you can analyze your photo reference and try adding a grid to both the photo and your drawing.  Space the grid  with even spacing if possible so you can relate the measurement to each “square.”  I started sketching without doing this but when you start off ,be sure to use some form of measuring methodology.

4.  Focus on sketching quickly.  Even if your drawing does not turn out too well….DO NOT WORRY.  Just continue to work at it or draw it over again.  This is not artwork…it’s PRACTICE.

5.  Flesh out the general shape and proportions and then start to add little details.  Be sure to indicate details.  

6.  Gradually build the drawing and add more and more details.

7.  Have Fun as you draw!