Quick Tutorial: How I draw abstract shapes and irregular lines

Introducing the Nellie Windmill Facebook Page

Early adopter I’m not. I’ve finally scraped together a Nellie Windmill facebook page, just in time for the mass exodus to Google+. This feels very grown-up and a little scary. So if you’re like me and are hoping our Geek Overlords will fail in their evil attempts to foist yet another social media site on us, and you want to hang out with fellow reactionaries, come on over.Seriously though, I’m kind of excited. From what I’ve seen of facebook pages, they can be a space for conversation, more so than blogs or twitter. I started down this blog/social media rabbit hole because I wanted to find my people, my community and I’ve got my hopes set on this being a major step towards that.

Project Announcement

Cute Owl Sketches

Are you familiar with that strange feeling you get when you’re really happy and excited about something but you don’t quite want to let on how excited and happy you are because other people won’t think it’s that big a deal and will think you’re some sort of loser? That’s where I’ve been for the last couple of days. A couple of days ago, Shivani from My Owl Barn invited me to contribute to the 2012 Owl Lover Calendar project! It’s a truly inspired concept — 30 artists contribute an owlish piece of art, which means people can customise their own calendar by picking and choosing their 12 favourite images and then print it off completely free of charge! If you’re curious you can check out the 2011 calendar. What made it even a little bit cooler for me is that I recognised and am a bit of a fan of one of the artists who contributed last year — Julia Humpfer.

Quick Tutorial

Abstract Shapes Tutrial

I spent all day yesterday sketching lots of little owly guys and I thought a couple of the techniques I was using might make for a nice little quick and dirty tutorial. I often wonder, with a smidge of envy, how artists create deliciously abstract shapes and quirky wonky lines. I’m not at all a naturally abstract kind of gal so I came up with a couple “cheats”, which I thought you might find useful.

Step 1… Draw circles and ovals


With a mechanical pencil, go around and around in circles until you have something that looks like the pic above.

Step 2… Define circles and ovals


Take a close look at the marks on the page and pick out the darkest lines. Go over them with your mechanical pencil to define them more. You’ll find that you have to create some odd angles to make the random lines meet, giving you a pleasantly strange shape.

Step 3… Define more

Draw Abstract Shapes

Now you’re left with some extra lines on the inside, which create an interesting shape of their own. Define the outer edge of these.

Step 4… Colour in

Draw_Colour In

Colour in the space you’ve created, leaving some parts out for added interest.

Step 5… Add some wonky lines

Draw a Wonky Line

Use your non-dominant hand to draw interesting, organic-looking, wonky lines. Still using your non-dominant hand, add some fun little details, such as dots and crosses. Using your dominant hand, go over the lines to define, being careful to preserve the irregularities.


Here are some I prepared earlier:

Abstract Doily Drawing

Abstract Family Drawing

Abstract Drawing_Kebab

Flower Drawing

Modern Tree Drawing

8 Comments Quick Tutorial: How I draw abstract shapes and irregular lines

    1. Katherine

      Hehe, maybe I should have called the post “Unlearning how to draw” — straight lines and perfect circles are so boring these days!

  1. shannon

    this was awesome . .. never have I seen such a step by step linear explanation for something that isn’t linear at all! Love it!!!

    xo, Shannon

  2. roberta

    Great idea. I am enjoying this practice. I am always trying to draw abstractly but I always come back to nature……..I will keep trying though!

    Thanks for the great tutorial!

  3. Lisa

    This is a great tutorial. I am an (excuse me) anal at circles and forms and symmetry. Trying to be looser and more abstract. Using my non dominant hand is perfect. Thank you!


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