Learn An Easy Abstract Drawing Technique for Any Medium

Abstract drawing technique finished

I’m a big fan of drawing things realistically, but you know what else is a fun challenge? Making things look abstract! Abstract drawing techniques require us seeing things in a “different” way and using your imagination the fullest, but they can produce wonderful and creative results.

Learn an easy abstract drawing technique you can use in any medium.

Abstract style varies based on your preference. Today, I’m going to show you one method of creating an abstract drawing. I’m using pen, but this technique could be replicated using pencil, paint and even cut paper.

1. “Flatten” your subject

Abstract drawing technique - outline

In abstraction, you aren’t necessarily concerned with mimicking reality. It’s more about feeling or decoration and expressing these things through art. So, one way to do this is to flatten your drawing and make it appear two dimensional. Simply draw the outline of your subject. I have this small cat figurine that I want to abstract, and instead of drawing all of its curves, I am just drawing its outer contour. See how it already looks flat? Include a few more details if you like — I’m drawing the cat’s face — but that shouldn’t be the focus at this stage. And, no shading! Instead, I added a thick outline to the shape.

2. Add decoration to your drawing

Abstract drawing technique  - halfway done

Here’s where the fun begins. While drawing just the outline is a simple form of abstraction, we’re going to take this to the next level and add some decoration. Use your imagination for this part — remember, the sky’s the limit!

Abstract drawing technique finished

Starting with the head, I began adding different floral motifs and lines that travel through the cat’s body. You can have a plan and draw things in pencil, but I think it’s more fun to let yourself create a meandering composition. So, how did I decide to fill this tiny cat with floral illustrations? I added them because it’s something I’m comfortable drawing and that I find myself doodling all of the time. Your work might look totally different than mine. The key is to figure out what you like to naturally like to draw and combine it with different things. Just like I did with my cat!

3. Benefits of an abstract drawing technique

Abstract drawing technique - finished detail

Benefits of decorative drawing:

  • You can take this technique anywhere. A great habit to get into is carrying a small sketchbook with you wherever you go. When you’re sitting in a waiting room or find a quiet moment on a park bench, you can whip out your pen and paper. Practicing drawing is the key to getting better. The more you do it, the more you’ll discover your own unique voice!
  • Since this type of drawing is decorative, you could create a surface patterns that you can turn into different products. A lot of sites, such as Society 6, will turn your artwork into throw pillows, phone cases, and even shower curtains! How cool would it be to have a rug that you designed?
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