how to draw a skull

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In this unique tutorial, I will show you how to draw a skull filled with depth and volume using only solid shapes filled with plain colors. Indeed, unlike other similar tutorials from the site (where characters are colored with gradient colors and covered with shadows and highlights), all effects are created from three different grey colors added in various solid shapes. The result is quite unique and visually appealing. Ready? Let's see how we can create the skull below using this simple technique.

How to draw a skull

step 1 - drawing a few basic shapes to get started

Before sketching the final lines for this cartoon illustration, it can be a good idea to sketch a few basic shapes to help us locate the subject inside the working space. You can use a different color for the outlines (in this case I have selected a bright blue color) to separate these elements from lines to come.

First, draw a large circle to form the head of the cartoon skull. Then, draw two more circles (smaller ones) to illustrate the holes near the eyes. A single oval shape is used for the nose. The jaw is created from a rectangle and a circle while the cheeks are made from tiny squares.

How to draw a skull

step 2 - Let's draw our skull!

Using mostly long and short curved lines, it's now time to draw this basic skull. Pay close attention to the particular shape of the nose, the irregular lines used to represent the cheeks and the numerous lines added to create all teeth. Once you are comfortable with your drawing, you can erase all blue shapes created in the previous step. Lines added here were colored in orange (for better readability), but they should be black.

How to draw a skull

step 3 - adding colors inside the nose and eye holes.

Inside both large holes (or the eyes), add three layers of different colors. The bottom of these shapes must be darker while a small (and brighter) oval shape is created on top. Use the same technique for the nose. Above and below the teeth, draw short straight lines as shown in the illustration below. Excellent! This lesson on how to draw a skull is just about to get more interesting!

How to draw a skull

step 4 - a first layer of depth

Now that the skull is drawn and colors were added inside a few areas, let's draw more shapes filled with a dark grey color. These new shapes can be added around the eyes, the nose, near the cheeks, above the jaw and near all teeth. These are all areas that are usually not affected by the light source (probably located on top of the subject).

How to draw a skull

step 5 - working on the second layer of depth

For this step, you can draw new shapes that are all filled with a grey color that must be slightly brighter than the one used in the previous step of this lesson on how to draw a skull. Draw these new elements everywhere as well as on the forehead and on the bottom of the jaw. In most cases, these new shapes must not touch each other, but they can be around or near shapes created earlier.

How to draw a skull

step 6 - a final touch of grey

Once again, select a brighter color and create more new shapes to create the final layer of depth. This step can be a little time-consuming since all areas are filled with small grey shapes (especially around the teeth and on the bottom of the jaw). Remember to leave some white space all over the skull to create areas that are brighter and visually more appealing.

How to draw a skull

The final illustration

This is how the skull should look like once all steps are completed. Of course, shadows will look differently on your drawing compared to this one (and it's perfectly fine), but you get the idea. Having access to a reference like a 3D drawing can help you figure out how to add shadows inside this simple cartoon illustration.

How to draw a skull

Now you know how to draw a skull using plain shapes!

Cool! That was a fun experience! As you can see, you don't necessarily need to use gradient fills, shadows or highlights to create an appealing image. A little bit of creativity just like we used in this lesson on how to draw a skull is all you need to enjoy great results. Have fun sketching and drawing more beautiful skulls like this one and don't forget to visit this page to enjoy more miscellaneous tutorials filled with fun surprises!

How to draw a skull

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