How to Draw Graffiti for Beginners: in 7 Steps

In this article I will show you how to draw the Graffiti shown in the image below.

Finished Graffiti sketch with highlights and tags

In the first part I will talk about how I started and give you a first hint how to start out. The second part is a tutorial, which is divided into two parts. The first part contains the steps to your first Graffiti Tag. The second one is about transforming the Graffiti Tag into a Graffiti Piece. Let’s go!

1. How I started to draw Graffiti

Starting-out is always difficult. This is why I want to explain how I did it.
My first Graffiti was “Limp Bizkit” from the album cover from “Significant other”. Do you know it? I loved the band and still love em and decided to draw it because it impressed me. I was lucky and was quite satisfied with my first drawing. So I continued, I bought Graffiti books – back in 2000 – and redrew the Graffiti in it.

So this is my first task for you is:

  1. get a pencil
  2. get a piece of paper
  3. get an eraser
  4. search for a Graffiti you like with Google Image Search, in which you can easily identify the letters. For Instance “simple style Graffiti” could be used as a search term.
  5. and draw it!

Maybe you will need a couple of tries in the beginning. This is nothing to worry about. Noone is a professional right away. So practice, practice, practice, practice! I know you will make it!

2. Graffiti Tutorial: How to draw your first Tag

After you have done your first Graffiti, go to our Graffiti Letters Tool.
Think about a name you want to use as a sprayer. No ideas yet? Just start out with your real name! I provide several designs for each letter.You can search for letters by clicking on the buttons on the top. Create your first Graffiti Tag this way. So step by step:

  1. get a marker * this time; not a pencil; Tags look way better if you use the right marker – I used a Edding 500 Marker * for the example Tag below. The Grog Cutter 08 XFP – Death Black * is a very good marker as well and way cheaper.
  2. get a piece of paper
  3. Go to the Graffiti Letters Tool
  4. Search for the letters for your name
    Example
    I choose the name “Ether”
    E Graffiti Tag LetterT Graffiti Tag LetterH Graffiti Tag LetterE Graffiti Tag LetterR Graffiti Tag Letter
  5. Now you start connecting these letters. At the beginning it is easier not to “design” all of the letters and use regular letters instead. The example below will show this approach. I use a regular second “e”. I also flipped “T” and “H”.Ether Graffiti Tag on Paper
  6. You can optionally add drips, arrows and big serifs as highlights to your Tag like I did.

Attention: If you use markers, you should also use a pad. If you just write on paper, your marker will write through the paper on your desk!

3. How to draw Graffiti: Your first Graffiti Piece in 7 Steps

You have redrawn your first Graffiti? You have created your first Tag? Nice!
So let’s move on!
Graffiti Pieces are very complex. To start out, I would recommend you to take your tag and transform it into a Graffiti Piece.

Every Graffiti Piece consists of the following parts:

  • The Fill-In: colored areas
  • the outline: colored or black line around the fill-ins
  • a 3D-shadow
  • a background
  • a second outline around the whole piece
  • optionally: the tag name of the sprayer
  • optionally: highlights
  • optionally: the year of creation

I use the following materials:

So, let’s dive straight into it:

Step 1: Trace your Graffiti Tag

Tracing the Graffiti Tag
If you used a marker you will probably see through the Graffiti Tag if you put a piece of paper on it. So your first task is it to trace the edges of the lines with a pencil. But leave a little bit of space between the edge of the marker and your new pencil line. So the letter gets bigger. The result should look like the image shown below. Not that bad actually, but we want to improve.

Graffiti Tutorial - First graffiti sketch

Step 2: improve the Graffiti

I didn’t like the size of the first “E” and I didn’t like the second “E” at all. So I went to the Graffiti Letter Tool and chose another “E”. The following one:
Graffiti Letter e
The form of the whole Graffiti is important as well. The “E” at the beginning is bigger than the “R” in the end. So I chose to make it smaller and add arrows on both sides to make it a compact form.(red) I also added serifs or made them  more complex.(blue circles)
In typography, a serif is the small extra stroke found at the end of the main vertical and horizontal strokes of some letters. In Graffiti you often use them to make you Piece more complex.
I also added forms which improve the dynamic of the graffiti and make it more complex.(green circles)
Tutorial - how to improve a graffiti sketch
The result looks like the image below. This step usually implies a lot of trials and errors and takes some time. So don’t be sad if the Graffiti immediately does not look like you want to. Even if you are practised to draw Graffiti, this step will take some time and intensive use of the eraser.
Graffiti Tutorial - improved graffiti sketch

Step 3: Redraw the lines with a Fineliner

The next step is much easier. Take your Copic Markers Multiliner 0.5 * or a Fineliner pen * and redraw your pencil lines.
Wait some time afterwards to let the color dry and then erase all the pencil lines. The result should look like this.

Redrawn Graffiti Sketch with copic marker

Tipp: Copy your drawing at this point. If you are not satisfied with the colors you have chosen, you don’t have to start from the beginning.

A cheap printer with copy function like Canon PIXMA MG3620 * or a similar product should do the work. I use a previous version of this printer series and it works well but there are lots of others which work quite similar.

Step 4: Color your Graffiti Piece

To make the coloring more complex, I recommend you to always draw gradients. In this case i colored the whole Graffiti Piece in one big gradient. If you want to make your piece to look even more complex, you will have to add a different gradient to each letter.
The Copic Ciao markers * are very good for drawing gradients. I have not achieved it with another marker yet.

Which color scheme to choose?

In general I recommend you to use complementary colors for – foreground and background – or – fill-ins and shadows. If you want to use more colors, you should use colors from the color shade of one of the 2 colors or close to them on the color wheel.

You can also just search for a Graffiti in our photo blog or on Google Image search and copy the color scheme. If you are a beginner, this approach might fit well.

Glossary

  • Complementary colors: colors, which are positioned on the opposite of each other on the color wheel
  • Adobe Color CC is an example of a color wheel – colors are placed on a circle based on a color theory. You can also use the Adobe Color CC color wheel as a tool to choose your color scheme.

Colored Graffiti Sketch

Graffiti gradient Fillins Detail view

Step 5: Drawing the shadows

Choose a point below the Graffiti where all the shadow blocks lead to. Like shown in the photo below. Now choose how big the blocks should be. I took 1,5cm (1/2 inches) as length in this case.
Graffiit Tutorial how to draw shadow blocks
Now take a ruler and draw from every corner of the Graffiti a 1.5cm (1/2 inches) long line to the chosen point. Then, connect the lines parallel to the Graffiti outline. The results are blocks, which you can fill with color.
Drawing Graffiti shadow blocks with ruler
Fill the Blocks with black. If you want more complex shadows you can add fake light spots with brighter areas in the middle transitioning to dark areas on the outside like done in the example.

finished colored graffiti sketch

Step 6: Second outline and background

The term “Second outline” describes the line around the whole Graffiti. In this case I choose the complementary color to orange – blue. As a background I added bubbles and drips in the same color.

Finished Graffiti sketch with outline and background

Step 7: Optionally add highlights, your Name-Tag and the year of creation

The gradient as Fill-In maybe is too boring or seems not complex enough. So you can additional add lines and shapes above the Fill-In. Common shapes are bubbles, rectangles, arrows, refelections or outlines of shapes. Usually they are colored in a darker color shade of the color below of them. They can also be added to the background.

To complete your artwork, add your Name-Tag and the year of creation. If you are or will be a member of a crew, then also add the abbreviation of your crew.
Congratulations! Your Graffiti is now finished!!! :)))
Finished Graffiti sketch with highlights and tags

How did you like the tutorial? Did it help you to draw your first graffiti? Please share your feedback in the comment section below! 🙂

Disclaimer: I want to support creativity & drawing and do not anyhow encourage vandalism or any sort of crime.