10 Tips: Realistic Automotive Drawings with Markers
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 11 min read


  1. Use the right markers
  2. Practice sketching shapes
  3. Focus on perspective
  4. Add depth with shading
  5. Incorporate reflections
  6. Use a stylized color palette
  7. Draw from real life
  8. Be precise with details
  9. Create textures
  10. Practice consistency

When it comes to putting pen to paper, nothing beats the thrill of creating a realistic automotive drawing with markers. The smooth lines, vibrant colors, and depth you can achieve with markers make them a fantastic tool for bringing cars to life. Whether you're just starting out or looking to perfect your skills, these ten tips can guide you on your journey to creating stunning, realistic automotive drawings with markers.

Use the right markers

First things first, let's get our tools in order. Not all markers are created equal, especially when it comes to creating automotive drawings. For a realistic automotive drawing with markers, you want to select markers that offer a range of colors, have a good ink flow, and provide both broad and fine tips.

Brands like Copic and Prismacolor are popular among artists for their high-quality ink and dual tips. They offer a wide array of colors, which is perfect for capturing the many shades and hues seen in cars. You'll need a good selection of grays for the metal body, vibrant colors for the interior and details, and a few neutral tones for the tires and shadows.

Remember: It's not just about having the right colors, but also the right tip. Broad tips are great for covering large areas quickly, while fine tips allow you to add those small details that make a big difference in a realistic automotive drawing.

Lastly, always test your markers before starting your drawing. The last thing you want is to discover a marker is dry when you're in the middle of detailing your masterpiece. So, check your markers, ensure they're working well, and then you're all set to start creating your realistic automotive drawing with markers.

Practice Sketching Shapes

Let's move on to the drawing part. Think about cars and you'll quickly realize they're made of various shapes combined. Getting those shapes right is the key to a realistic automotive drawing with markers.

Most cars are made up of a combination of squares, rectangles, circles, and curves. The body of the car, for example, can be broken down into a series of sleek, aerodynamic curves, while the windows and doors often have more angular, rectangular shapes. Tires? Perfect circles. Lights? Possibly ovals.

So, before you dive straight into drawing an entire car, take some time to practice sketching these basic shapes. Get comfortable with your markers and how they handle different lines and angles. Practice making smooth, continuous lines for the curves and sharp, straight lines for the squares and rectangles.

Once you've got the hang of it, you can start combining these shapes to form more complex structures, like the chassis of a car or the intricate design of an alloy wheel. Remember, every great artwork starts with a simple sketch. So, practice those shapes and watch as your realistic automotive drawing with markers starts to take form.

Remember: Sketch lightly at first. This will make it easier to make changes or corrections without leaving noticeable marks on the paper. Once you're happy with your sketch, you can go over it with more confidence and start adding those vibrant colors.

Focus on Perspective

Now that you've got your shapes down, it's time to add some perspective. This is what adds the third dimension to your 2D drawing, giving your automotive art a realistic feel. The concept of perspective in art can be a bit tricky, but don't worry—I've got some tips that will make it easier for you.

First off, decide on the viewpoint. Do you want to draw a car from the front, side, or maybe a three-quarter view? The choice is yours, but keep in mind that each viewpoint requires a different approach to perspective.

If you're doing a front or rear view, the car's body and tires will look symmetrical. However, in a side view, the tires closest to you will appear bigger than the ones further away. And in a three-quarter view, you'll need to draw the car at an angle, making one side shorter than the other.

Once you've decided on the viewpoint, it's time to add vanishing points. These are imaginary points on the horizon where parallel lines seem to converge. For a simple one-point perspective (like a front view), you only need one vanishing point, but for a two-point perspective (like a three-quarter view), you'll need two.

Understanding and applying perspective to your sketches will take your realistic automotive drawing with markers to a whole new level. It might seem tricky at first, but with practice, you'll start to get a feel for it. And trust me, it's worth the effort. A car drawn with accurate perspective is a sight to behold.

Tip: Use a ruler or a straight edge to help draw the converging lines accurately. And if you're having trouble visualizing the vanishing points, try this: imagine you're looking at a road stretching into the distance. The point where the sides of the road seem to meet—that's your vanishing point.

Add Depth with Shading

So, you've got your perspective down, and your car drawing is starting to look pretty good. But if you want to make your realistic automotive drawing with markers truly pop off the page, you need to master the art of shading. Shading adds depth and dimension to your drawing, making it look more realistic.

Here's how you can add depth to your drawing with shading:

Step 1: Identify the light source. Where is the light coming from in your drawing? The direction of the light affects where the shadows and highlights will be. It could be coming from above, from the side, or even from below—just make sure you're consistent.

Step 2: Add highlights. The areas of your car that are directly hit by light will be the brightest. Use a lighter tone or even leave these areas white to represent the light reflection.

Step 3: Add shadows. The parts of the car that are turned away from the light source will be in shadow. Use a darker tone for these areas. Don't be afraid to go really dark—contrast is key in creating a realistic look.

Step 4: Blend your shades. To make your shading look smooth and natural, you'll need to blend your markers. Start with your lightest color, then gradually add darker shades, blending as you go.

There's no denying that shading is a game changer when it comes to realistic automotive drawings with markers. It might take some practice to get it just right, but once you've got the hang of it, you'll see your drawings come to life in a way you never thought possible.

Remember: Shading isn't just about making parts of your drawing darker—it's about creating an illusion of depth and volume. So take your time, be patient, and let your shading do the magic!

Incorporate Reflections

What's the one thing that can take your realistic automotive drawing with markers to the next level? Reflections! Cars, with their shiny surfaces, are all about reflections. They can be tricky, but nailing them right will give your drawing that wow factor.

Here's how you can do it:

Step 1: Observe real cars. Notice how the reflections are not perfect mirror images, but rather distorted due to the shape of the car. They follow the car’s curves and bends. The reflections on the car might be of the surrounding environment or the car's own parts like mirrors or wheels.

Step 2: Start small. You don't have to draw a detailed cityscape reflecting on your car. Simple lines, shapes, or color changes can suggest a reflection. Even the sky's reflection on the top surfaces and the ground's reflection on the lower parts of the car can add much realism.

Step 3: Practice. Reflections are complex, and the only way to get better at them is to keep practicing. Use different markers to capture the subtle color changes in reflections.

It's easy to get overwhelmed by the idea of drawing reflections. But remember, the goal isn't to capture every tiny detail. Instead, aim to convey the overall impression of reflections.

Adding reflections can dramatically enhance your realistic automotive drawing with markers. It demonstrates an understanding of how light interacts with objects. Plus, it's a fantastic way to impress anyone who sees your work!

Use a Stylized Color Palette

When it comes to creating a realistic automotive drawing with markers, color plays a pivotal role. However, using colors realistically doesn't mean you have to stick strictly to the colors you see. This is where using a stylized color palette comes into the picture.

A stylized color palette means choosing and using colors that may not be 100% accurate but contribute to the overall look and feel of your drawing. It's about using colors to create mood, emphasize certain parts of the car, or even to make your drawing more visually appealing.

So, how do you choose a stylized color palette? Here are a few tips:

Tip 1: Choose a primary color for your car. This is the main color you'll use for the body of the car. It can be any color you like—realistic or not, it's your choice!

Tip 2: Choose secondary colors. These are the colors that complement your primary color. They can be used for parts of the car like the interior, details, or even the background.

Tip 3: Don't forget about the color of your markers. Different brands offer different shades. Experiment with different brands to find the colors that suit your style the best.

Remember, creating a realistic automotive drawing with markers isn't about copying the real world exactly—it's about translating it into your own style. So, don't be afraid to experiment with colors and create a stylized palette that's uniquely yours!

Draw from Real Life

There's a ton of value in drawing from photographs when creating a realistic automotive drawing with markers. Yet, nothing can truly replace the experience and knowledge gained from drawing directly from real life.

By drawing from life, you're able to capture the true essence of the car — the way light reflects off the surface, the intricate details in the design, and how the car fits within its surroundings. These are details that can sometimes be lost in a photograph.

One practical way to start is by sketching your own car, or if you don't have one, a car parked in your neighborhood.

Tip 1: Find a comfortable spot where you can see the car clearly. Start by observing the car, its shape, its color, and how light interacts with it.

Tip 2: Begin with a light sketch, focusing on capturing the car's overall form. Don't worry about the details just yet. Pay attention to the proportions and perspective.

Tip 3: Once you're happy with the form, start adding in the details. This can be the rims, the grill, side mirrors, or any other distinctive features of the car. Remember, the goal is not to draw every single detail, but to capture the essence of the car.

Tip 4: Finally, use your markers to add color, shading, and texture. This is where your drawing really comes to life!

Drawing from real life can be challenging, but it's a surefire way to improve your skills in creating realistic automotive drawings with markers. So grab your sketchbook, find a car, and get drawing!

Be Precise with Details

When it comes to creating a realistic automotive drawing with markers, it's all in the details. The secret lies not in capturing every tiny feature, but rather in accurately representing the key elements that define the car's character.

It's like baking a cake. You could have all the ingredients, but if you don't measure them accurately, the cake just won't taste right. Similarly, in your drawing, the car's grill, headlights, body lines, and even the smallest screw, all have their own unique characteristics and dimensions.

For instance, a sports car has sleek, aerodynamic lines and a low profile. A vintage car, on the other hand, may feature chrome details and distinctive curves. By honing in on these nuances, your drawing will be more authentic and recognizable.

Tip 1: When you start your drawing, pay extra attention to the proportions. The length, width, and height of the car should be accurate in relation to each other. This will set the foundation for a realistic representation.

Tip 2: As you add the details, be mindful of their scale and position. For example, the size of the headlights in relation to the grill, or the position of the door handles in relation to the windows.

Tip 3: Remember, it's not about drawing every single detail, but capturing the ones that matter. For example, the emblem on a Ferrari is a small detail, but it's one that significantly impacts the recognizability of the car.

Although it may seem like a lot to keep in mind, with practice, these considerations will become second nature. So keep honing your eye for detail, and watch your realistic automotive drawings with markers come to life!

Create Textures

Another vital aspect of making your automotive drawings pop with life is the creation of texture. When you think about cars, they're not just flat, shiny objects, are they? They have different materials and surfaces — glossy paint, rough tires, smooth glass, and more. Let's discuss how you can emulate these textures using markers in your realistic automotive drawings.

When drawing the car's body, you want to replicate the smooth and shiny metal surface. You can do this by using a mix of light and dark shades of the same color. Start with a light base, then gradually add layers with darker shades, focusing particularly on the edges and contours. This technique will give your drawing a glossy look, similar to the sheen of a real car.

Remember: Don't go overboard with the shading. The goal is to create a subtle gradient effect, not stark contrasts.

Now, let’s talk about the tires. They have a rough texture, quite different from the car's glossy body. Here, you can use a stippling technique, where you make many small dots with your marker. This will give the illusion of the tire's tough, grainy texture.

Pro Tip: Use a dark marker for stippling, but be mindful not to make the dots too dense. You want to create a texture, not a solid black circle.

Lastly, for the glass parts like the windows and windscreen, use a light blue or gray marker. Leave some areas white to mimic the reflections and shine on the glass. This will give your automotive drawing an even more realistic appearance.

By playing around with these techniques, you'll be able to create a variety of textures in your realistic automotive drawings with markers. It's all about practice and experimentation, so don’t be afraid to try new methods!

Practice Consistency

Just as in any other skill, consistency is key in mastering the art of realistic automotive drawing with markers. But how can you maintain consistency in your art, especially when you're using markers which can be a bit tricky to handle?

Consistency isn't about making every single drawing look identical. Instead, it's about developing a steady hand and a keen eye for detail. This way, you can create uniform lines and shading, giving your work a professional and polished look.

Firstly, focus on your line work. When outlining the car, try to make your lines as smooth and steady as possible. If you're struggling with this, don't worry! Just like learning to write, it takes time to develop a steady hand. Keep practicing, and over time, your lines will become sharper and more precise.

Remember: Don't rush. Take your time with each line, making sure it's exactly where you want it to be. If you rush, you're more likely to make mistakes.

Next, let's talk about shading. Consistency in shading is all about making sure your light and dark areas match up across the entire drawing. For example, if the light is coming from the right side of the car, the left side should have more shading. This consistent use of light and shadow will make your automotive drawing look more realistic.

Pro Tip: Markers can be tricky to work with because they dry quickly and can't be erased. So, plan your shading in advance. Start light, and gradually add darker shades. This way, you can avoid mistakes and maintain consistency in your shading.

Finally, remember that practice makes perfect. The more you draw, the more consistent your work will become. So, keep your markers at hand and draw whenever you can. Happy drawing!

If you enjoyed learning about creating realistic automotive drawings and want to further enhance your drawing skills, check out the workshop 'A Drawing for a Painting' by David Shepherd. This workshop will help you refine your drawing techniques and teach you how to prepare your drawings for painting, which can be a valuable skill for automotive artists as well.