Drawing a skull can be an intimidating task, even for experienced artists. It’s a complex shape that requires careful attention to proportion, perspective, and shading to capture its full allure and mystery.
But with the right tips and tricks, anyone can learn how to draw a skull like a pro!
In this article, we’ll cover some of the foundational principles of skull sketching, including how to break down the shape into simple forms, how to use reference images for accuracy, and how to create depth and texture with shading techniques.
We’ll also share some insider tips from professional artists and illustrators who have mastered this challenging subject matter.
Whether you’re a complete beginner or a seasoned artist looking to hone your skills, this guide on skull drawing for beginners will provide you with everything you need to know to start creating compelling and convincing skull drawings.
So grab your pencils, sharpen your erasers, and let’s dive into the world of skull sketching together!
Getting Started with Skull Sketching
As a beginner, learning to draw a skull can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Here are some tips to help you get started:
First things first – gather your supplies!
You will need a set of pencils, erasers, and paper. You can use any type of paper you like, but some artists prefer drawing paper that is specifically designed for pencils.
It’s also worth investing in a set of blending stumps or tortillons for shading. These are tools used in drawing and sketching to blend and soften lines, tones, and colors. They are made from rolled paper or soft felt and come in a variety of sizes.
One of the best ways to begin your skull sketching journey is to break the shape down into basic forms. Start with a circle for the cranium, a rectangular prism for the jaw, and cylindrical shapes for the eye sockets and nasal cavity. By focusing on the basic shapes and proportions of the skull, you can establish a solid foundation for your drawing.
Another crucial aspect of skull sketching is having accurate reference images. Take the time to find high-quality photos or skull models to use as a reference while you draw. Not only will this aid in your accuracy, but it will also give you a better understanding of the skull’s intricate details.
Basic internet searches can provide a vast array of options, including images from anatomy textbooks, medical websites, and photographs of skulls from various angles.
Some specific sites for finding reference photos for drawing a skull include photo-sharing platforms like Flickr or Instagram; online art communities like DeviantArt and Behance; or stock photography websites such as Shutterstock and Getty Images.
As with any new skill, practice is essential. Don’t be afraid to draw multiple versions of the skull until you feel confident in your ability to capture its essence.
Sketching daily and keeping a sketchbook can be a helpful way to gain familiarity with the skull’s anatomy and proportions.
Break Down the Skull Shape
Let’s take a closer look at how to break down the skull shape into its component parts. This technique can be particularly helpful for beginners who are still getting the hang of the skull’s intricate details.
As previously mentioned, one approach is to start with a basic sphere for the cranium and a rectangular prism for the jaw. From there, you can add the eye sockets by drawing cylindrical shapes on either side of the cranium. For the nasal cavity, draw a thin rectangular shape at the front of the cranium, dividing it in half.
Next, you’ll want to add in the zygomatic arches, which are the bones that form the cheeks. They can be drawn as triangular shapes that connect the cranium to the jaw. The mandible, or lower jawbone, can be drawn as a rectangular shape that connects to the cranium via a joint.
Finally, the occipital bone, located at the back of the cranium, can be added as a curved shape to the lower half of the skull.
Remember, this is just one way to break down the skull shape. As you gain more experience, you may find that you prefer a different approach. The key is to experiment and find what works best for you.
Adding Details and Texture
With the basic shapes of the skull in place, it’s time to start adding the details and textures that will bring your drawing to life.
Here are a few techniques you can use to achieve a more realistic and convincing skull drawing:
This is a shading technique where you draw a series of intersecting lines to create depth and texture in your drawing.
To cross-hatch, start by drawing a series of parallel lines in one direction, then layer another set of parallel lines in a perpendicular direction on top of the first layer. By varying the spacing between the lines and the direction of each layer, you can create the illusion of texture and depth.
Another technique for adding shading and texture to your skull drawing is to use a blending tool, such as a blending stump or tortillon.
These tools are used to smudge and blend your shading, creating a softer, more natural appearance. Simply use the blending tool to gently blend your shading, being careful not to overwork the paper.
Stippling is a technique in art where small, distinct dots are used to create shading and texture in a drawing or painting. This can add depth and dimension to an image and is often used in pen and ink drawings.
When you draw a skull, use fewer dots and space them out more to create lighter areas. In areas where there is some light but not a lot, use medium-sized dots and space them out a bit less.
To create the illusion of the skull having texture, experiment with different dot sizes and clusters. For example, you might want to use larger, more concentrated clusters of dots in areas where the bone is rough or porous.
Continue working on the drawing, gradually building up the tones until you have created a fully shaded skull image. Keep in mind that stippling can be time-consuming, so don’t rush the process.
Varying the pressure, you apply when drawing can also help you achieve a more nuanced and detailed skull drawing.
Use lighter pressure for areas that are less prominent, and heavier pressure for areas that are more prominent, such as the cheekbones and forehead.
There are many other techniques you can experiment with, depending on your personal style and preferences.
The most important thing is to keep practicing and experimenting until you find what works best for you. With time and effort, you can create stunning skull drawings full of depth and detail.
Insider Tips and Tricks
Here are some insider tips from professional artists and illustrators who have mastered character design:
- Use Multiple References: Many experienced skull artists use multiple reference photos to gain a better understanding of the anatomy and proportions of the skull. For example, they might use one reference to capture the overall shape and another to depict the details of the teeth and eye sockets.
- Experiment with Different Shading Techniques: Skilled artists often experiment with different shading techniques, such as cross-hatching, stippling, or blending, to find the approach that works best for them. This can help add depth, texture, and interest to their drawings.
- Pay Attention to Geometry: In addition to anatomy, experienced skull artists pay close attention to the geometry of the skull. By understanding the shape and placement of various planes and angles, they can create a more accurate and convincing skull drawing.
- Focus on the Details: The details of a skull, such as the sutures and small crevices, can be easy to overlook but can make a big difference in the final drawing. Skilled artists take the time to carefully observe and capture these details.
In summary, if you’re a beginner interested in skull sketching, the tips and tricks discussed in this article can help you get started on the right foot.
Stippling is a useful technique to add texture and depth to your drawings, and with practice, you can create incredibly detailed images.
Remember to keep experimenting with different dot sizes and patterns to create unique and stunning skull illustrations.
Whether you’re drawing for fun or for a more serious purpose, exploring the art of skull sketching is a fascinating and rewarding journey that can help you connect with your creative side.
Matt Mcgowan is a Marketing specialist and business writer, currently based in Sydney. He has a degree in marketing with over 7 years of experience in company management through the latest technology trends.