5 Practical Tips for Developing Your Steampunk Drawing Style
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 7 min read


  1. Study the Steampunk Genre
  2. Practice Drawing Steampunk Elements
  3. Develop Your Own Steampunk Characters
  4. Experiment with Color and Shading
  5. Seek Feedback and Continually Improve

Drawing is an art, a way to express your thoughts, your fantasies. It's even more thrilling when you're developing a steampunk drawing style—an art form that combines history, imagination, and a pinch of punk. In this guide, we'll explore some practical tips to help you hone your skills in this unique world of artistry.

Study the Steampunk Genre

It's like learning a new language—you don't just wake up one day speaking fluent French or Spanish, right? The same applies to developing a steampunk drawing style. It takes understanding, practice, and a lot of passion. So, where do you start? By studying the steampunk genre, of course.

Understanding the Basics of Steampunk

Steampunk is a fusion of science fiction and 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. It's a world where the past meets the future. When developing a steampunk drawing style, you should remember:

  • Historical Inspiration: Imagine the Victorian era—think of top hats, corsets, and gears. A lot of gears.
  • Science Fiction: Add a touch of the future. Flying cars, robots, and all sorts of cool techy stuff.

It's like creating a plate of nachos. You have the chips (that's your historical inspiration), and then you add the cheese (that's your science fiction) to make it deliciously steampunk.

Exploring Steampunk Art

When developing a steampunk drawing style, immersing yourself in the artwork of others can be incredibly beneficial. Here's how:

  1. Look for steampunk art books in your local library or online. Artists like H.G. Wells and Jules Verne are great places to start.
  2. Study different elements in each piece. Notice the colors, shapes, and designs that make up the steampunk aesthetic.
  3. Try copying some drawings to get a feel for the style. Remember, it's not about perfect replication—it's about understanding the elements that make up the art.

Think of it as a trip to an art museum, but instead of just admiring the art, you're also taking notes and learning from it.

Reading Steampunk Literature

Art isn't just about visual representation, it's also about storytelling. Steampunk literature can provide a wealth of inspiration for developing a steampunk drawing style:

  • Visual Descriptions: Authors often provide detailed descriptions of characters, settings, and machines. These can serve as excellent starting points for your drawings.
  • Story Themes: Steampunk stories often deal with themes like rebellion, technology, and societal change. Incorporating these themes can give your art depth and meaning.

So, the next time you're at the bookstore, consider picking up a steampunk novel. It's not just a good read—it's also a treasure trove of inspiration for your art.

Practice Drawing Steampunk Elements

Now that you've dipped your toes into the steampunk world, it's time to wield your pencil and start drawing. But what should you draw? Well, anything steampunk, really. To help you get started, let's delve into some typical elements that are essential in developing a steampunk drawing style.

Mastering the Machinery

In the steampunk world, machinery is king. So, how about we start there?

  • Gears: These are the basic building blocks of any steampunk machinery. Practicing drawing different gear shapes and sizes will come in handy.
  • Steam Engines: They're a staple of the genre. Try drawing them in different forms—trains, boats, flying machines, even robots!
  • Technical Details: Don't shy away from adding wires, pipes, buttons, and dials—it's these details that make your machinery come alive.

Remember, practice makes perfect. Don't be discouraged if your first few attempts don't look like Da Vinci masterpieces. Keep practicing, and you'll see progress.

Getting a Grip on the Garb

Steampunk isn't just about machines—it's also about the fashion. Here are a few elements to focus on:

  1. Victorian Clothing: The corsets, the top hats, the tailcoats—they all scream steampunk.
  2. Accessories: Don't forget the goggles, pocket watches, and parasols. They add the perfect finishing touch.
  3. Textures: Try to capture the different materials—leather, lace, metal. They can really add depth to your drawings.

Think of it as your own fashion design challenge, except your runway is a sketchbook, and your models are steampunk characters.

Creating Captivating Characters

No steampunk world is complete without its inhabitants. Here's what you should remember when drawing steampunk characters:

  • Human Characters: From mad scientists to daring adventurers, human characters add life to your steampunk world.
  • Robotic Characters: Robots with human-like features or completely abstract designs—it's your call.
  • Animal Characters: Ever thought of a mechanical owl or a steam-powered horse? Now's your chance to bring them to life!

Remember, these characters are the heart of your steampunk world. So, let your imagination run wild, and create characters that are as unique as your drawing style.

Develop Your Own Steampunk Characters

After you've practiced drawing different steampunk elements, the next step in developing a steampunk drawing style is to create your very own characters. These characters will be the stars of your steampunk world, so let's make sure they shine.

Create Diverse Characters

The beauty of steampunk lies in its diverse range of characters, each with their own unique story. From rebellious airship captains and innovative engineers to fearless explorers and charismatic inventors, the possibilities are endless. Start by brainstorming various characters and play around with their roles, personalities, and appearances until you find a combination that excites you.

Design Character Outfits

An important part of developing a steampunk drawing style is designing outfits for your characters. Remember the steampunk fashion elements we talked about earlier? Now's the time to put them into action. Mix and match different clothing items and accessories to create outfits that reflect each character's personality and role. Don't forget to incorporate different materials and textures to add depth to your designs.

Add Unique Features

What sets your characters apart? Maybe it's a mechanical arm, a pair of goggles that can see through walls, or a pet squirrel that doubles as a secret messenger. Adding unique features to your characters not only makes them more interesting but also provides opportunities for exciting storylines.

Develop Character Backstories

Every character has a story, and so should yours. Developing backstories for your characters can inspire new drawing ideas and add depth to your steampunk world. Did your character build their own airship? Were they once a royal inventor? Or maybe they're a street urchin with a knack for machinery. The choice is yours.

Remember, developing a steampunk drawing style is a journey, not a destination. So take your time, enjoy the process, and watch as your characters come to life on the page.

Experiment with Color and Shading

Color and shading play a significant role in developing a steampunk drawing style. They help to create depth, atmosphere, and visual interest in your artwork. But how do you use color and shading effectively in your steampunk drawings? Let's dive into it.

Choose an Appropriate Color Palette

The steampunk aesthetic often includes a warm, earthy color palette. Think about shades of brown, gold, copper, and amber. These colors reflect the industrial era that inspires the steampunk genre. However, it's your artwork, and you're free to choose any color palette that speaks to you. Maybe you want to play with cool blues and greens to depict a steampunk underwater city. Or perhaps a mix of vibrant colors to create a steampunk circus. Experiment and see what works best for you.

Understand Light and Shadow

Shading is all about understanding the behavior of light and shadow. It helps to create an illusion of depth and volume in your drawings. Consider where the light source is coming from and how it interacts with your subjects. For example, the parts of your subjects directly facing the light source will be the brightest, while the parts in shadow will be the darkest. Don't be afraid to play with different levels of contrast to create dramatic effects.

Utilize Textures

In the steampunk genre, the use of various materials and textures is prevalent. From the smooth surface of polished brass to the rough texture of worn-out leather, textures can add a touch of realism to your drawings. Try incorporating different textures into your artwork through the use of shading and color variation.

Experiment with Different Techniques

Every artist has their own unique approach to color and shading. Some prefer soft, blended shading, while others enjoy sharp, defined shadows. Some opt for a muted, realistic color scheme, while others love vibrant, exaggerated colors. Try out different techniques and see what resonates with your personal steampunk drawing style.

Remember, art is all about expressing yourself. So feel free to break the rules and create a steampunk world that's entirely your own.

Seek Feedback and Continually Improve

Getting better at developing a steampunk drawing style isn't a solo journey. Others can help shed light on areas you may not see yourself. That's where feedback comes in handy. It can be a goldmine of insights and learning opportunities. But how do you seek out feedback, and how can it help you improve? Let's find out.

Find a Mentor or Peer Group

Having someone who understands the process and genre can be a game-changer. A mentor or a group of peers can provide you with feedback and support, help you troubleshoot problems, and inspire you with their work. So, reach out to people in your local art community or join online art forums or social media groups. You never know—you might make some new friends along the way.

Ask Specific Questions

When seeking feedback on your work, it's essential to ask specific questions. Instead of simply asking if they like your drawing, ask about specific elements or techniques you're unsure of. For instance, you might ask, "Do the colors work well together?" or "Does the shading look realistic?" This will help you get more detailed and useful feedback.

Take Criticism Positively

Receiving criticism can be tough, but it's an important part of improving your artwork. Try to view criticism as a learning opportunity rather than a personal attack. Remember, everyone has different tastes and opinions, so don't let negative comments discourage you. Instead, use them as fuel to improve your drawing skills.

Practice Regularly

Lastly, remember that practice makes perfect. The more you draw, the better you'll get at developing a steampunk drawing style. So, don't be discouraged if your early drawings don't turn out as you hoped. Keep drawing, keep experimenting, and most importantly, keep enjoying the process.

With patience, persistence, and a positive mindset, you can continually improve and develop a unique steampunk drawing style that you can be proud of.

If you're excited to continue developing your Steampunk drawing style, don't miss the workshop 'How to Find your Unique Art Style' by Stefan Große Halbuer. This workshop will help you explore different art styles and techniques, providing you with the tools and inspiration you need to refine your Steampunk illustrations and create a truly unique artistic identity.