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How I Learned to Draw My Little Pony Art

Friday, September 14th, 2012 (12 comments)

When helping other bronies learn to draw in this artstyle, I ended up saying the same thing over and over. So, to save everyone time, here's the path I took and how it worked for me:

When I first looked to learn the style, I found some guides that were helpful, but a little too much like the Spongebob method:

Even the basic shapes and styles they showed were beyond me. I needed a more structured approach. So I decided to create my own guide instead and to start, I studied the official art.

Testing head geometry (click for full size)
Testing head geometry (click for full size)

This first test was based on the idea that cartoon characters are usually drawn from the head first using a guiding circle (or so it seemed to me). In this case, I started to notice patterns: hair attaches at exactly a 2/3rds point in the upper fourth, the three lines of the ear work similarly, and the horn (for unicorns) is exactly at the half-way mark. Doing it this way also helped me position the nose, the eye and any other parts as well.

Next I needed to see how the rest of the body was drawn. I created another similar graphic for that.

All measurements are based on circles the same size as the head and parts thereof (click for full size)
All measurements are based on circles the same size as the head and parts thereof (click for full size)

Keep in mind I realize this is probably way more complex than you might think is necessary, but this is just a starting point. I had to do it the hard way to get the proportions right and place all the parts correctly.

In my opinion, it worked pretty well for me:

I used a coin to draw the circles, I used my guide for the bodies, and I used screenshots as a reference for the hair (click for full size)
I used a coin to draw the circles, I used my guide for the bodies, and I used screenshots as a reference for the hair (click for full size)

My plan was to gain more practice by doing straight shots next. First the guide:

Every character from the front including the kids this time (click for full size)
Every character from the front including the kids this time (click for full size)

And the result:

My drawings based on measurements (click for full size)
My drawings based on measurements (click for full size)

After completing both profiles and front-shots, I wanted practice with the super expressive faces. I collected a ton of screenshots from the show and did faces for each (without any guides, just freehanding now that I had the basics down):

This is just the one I did for Fluttershy, but the others are in my Deviantart gallery (click here to go to my DA page)
This is just the one I did for Fluttershy, but the others are in my Deviantart gallery (click here to go to my DA page)

At that point, I was finally able to start working on comics and plan to do more original art, but the key after getting the basic is to practice! Have a project (for me, it's the comics), but I still use lots of reference images from the show to make sure I'm staying as close to authentic as possible:

Here's one of the vector art files for a comic. It shows many ponies and a few screen clips from the actual show that I use as reference for the pose and sizing (click for full size)
Here's one of the vector art files for a comic. It shows many ponies and a few screen clips from the actual show that I use as reference for the pose and sizing (click for full size)

That's it! Don't be afraid to use a reference or even trace something exactly and make necessary changes. The more you draw and practice, the better you'll get!

And for those that were wondering, no, I DON'T use these guides and draw all those circles and lines anymore. I did it ONCE ever because that's all it took to learn the style. You use training wheels until you get your balance right?

My Art on Deviantart…

…can be found by clicking here

My sketch-overs for other artists

The first one... others are linked at the bottom
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