Learning to draw a cartoon match might seem like a simple task. After all, this tiny little object is fairly easy to illustrate. However, adding a flame inside this picture can be more challenging. Fire is definitely not something that can be drawn easily. It's an organic entity with strange behaviors made from long curly shapes.
In this lesson, I will show you how to add gradients, highlights and shadows to form an image that will look convincing despite its simplicity. Let's see how we can illustrate a nice match clip art in just six steps using a vector application (or any other tools, it's up to you!).
The match itself is very easy to create. The wooden stick is done using a long and thick rectangle. Notice the little bump near the bottom of the shape. On top of the subject, you can draw the match head using a long curved line. These two parts are separated by a short irregular line made from pointed edges. Since it would be nice to have a dynamic illustration, you can draw the match using a small angle (close to forty-five degrees).
Next, you can draw the flame around the head of the object. This shape is definitely the most difficult one to sketch. Flames can have various shapes and it can be challenging to end up with a realistic version. Notice the little bump on the bottom of the flame. The hole flame should also fit inside an imaginary triangle. The bottom should be larger while the top is almost pointed and sharp. Don't hesitate to use the shape below as a guideline. You can also sketch your own version using more references or your imagination.
Now that the cartoon match and the flame are created, it's time to add colors. We can do that by adding gradients to this image. The wooden stick is filled with a bright beige color. The head of the match is filled with a dark red color. The flame can be orange. Using gradients, you can make the bottom of all parts slightly darker. For example, you can see that the head is darker on the bottom and brighter on top. Nice work! This lesson on how to draw a match is going well.
The addition of a few more highlights and shadows can certainly help improve the picture even more. These new elements can be filled with brighter or darker colors. It's also a good idea to make these shapes partially transparent. Real shadows are often subtle and smooth. These are qualities we are looking for.
For this step, let's add a small brighter shape inside the flame. This new irregular element will be filled with a bright orange color. It's also partially transparent and completely invisible on top. You can see the new addition below (with a temporary blue outline).
Two last effects can be added to this illustration. First, you can draw a bright shape colored in white inside the head of the match. As you can see below, this shape must be invisible near the bottom. A darker shape is also created inside the wooden stick. This one is darker and also invisible near the left.
Great job learning how to draw this match using basic shapes. If you want to improve your drawing abilities even more, don't hesitate to sketch more flames. Like I said earlier, flames can be challenging at times and creating the perfect cartoon fire can be quite rewarding. You can also draw more matches using various angles, perspectives or simply by adding more textures and effects.
Above you can see all steps needed to draw this cartoon match is just six easy steps. Now that we are done with this lesson, you can try more fun objects from the same series here. Enjoy! :)