Guide: Insects Pencil Drawing

Updated: 03 Jan 2021

Realistic insects pencil drawings

Insects have the largest number of species in nature.

The first step in drawing insects, in a realistic style, is planning (choosing a subject) and composition.

Note:

If you do not have any experience with realistic drawing, you might want to read my guide for realistic pencil drawing first.

Fly

Composition tip:

Although they are easier & faster to draw, in most cases, try to avoid side views:

Flies pencil drawing, side view Uninteresting composition

Note that because I am right-handed, I draw from left to right (so I do not smear what I already drawn):

Drawing a fly from left to right with pencils Drawing from left to right

It is more interesting for the observer to see insects (or anything else) with an angular view.

Realistic pencil drawing of a fly Fly pencil drawing

Problem:

The housefly is attracted to the human food and exposed parts of their body, thereby passing on pathogens that it carries on its body.

Solution:

Window nets.

Aphid & Ladybug

Front or top views are like side views. Meaning, less interesting.

Pencil sketch of two aphids Aphids front and top views

To learn more on composition, visit my guide on how to draw composition.

Basic drawing steps:

To draw any insect, start by drawing its form (structure) accurately.

Tip:

Draw the lines gently, so you can draw over them or erase them. There are no lines in nature, so we do not want lines in our final drawing.

Drawing the outlines first

I usually prefer to draw the background layer first (in this case, the plant stem).

Pay attention to brightness values and edges.

Drawing the background stem

While the body of (most) insects has hard edges, the shadows will have soft edges.

Realistic pencil drawing of an aphid Aphid pencil drawing

Problem:

Aphids are destructive to plants (sap-sucking).

Solution:

Ladybugs prey on aphids.

Realistic pencil drawing of a ladybug insect Ladybug pencil drawing

If you struggle with accuracy, here is how to draw from photos (from observation).

Bee

Problem:

Bees have an important ecological role in pollinating plants but their number is getting smaller and the cause is unclear.

Realistic pencil drawing of a bee Bee pencil drawing

Solution:

Planting flowers rich in nectar and avoiding the use of spraying materials in planters or in the garden.

Ant

Problem:

Ants follow chemical traces left by a scouting-ant when it finds a food stock.

Realistic pencil drawing of an ant Ant pencil drawing

Solution:

Keeping a house clean of breadcrumbs, dirt and scraps of food.

Mosquito

Problem:

The female mosquito, when it needs proteins for its eggs, is looking for a live source to suck blood from.

A pencil drawing of a mosquito Mosquito pencil drawing

Solution:

In the case of an occasional mosquito, it is recommended to use an electric bat.

Electric racket or bat, also called electric flyswatter An electric racket

Cockroach

How to draw transparency?

Some insects' body parts, especially wings, can have different levels of transparency.

To draw that, we look at the brightness value of anything behind the transparent part.

In the example below, the cockroach wing is semi-transparent. The area behind it is quite light except for the leg, which has a darker value.

Cockroach leg seen through transparent wing

In addition, we pay attention to edges located below the transparent surface.

In the example above (and below), the edges (of the leg part that located under the wing) are both soft AND distorted (less defined).

Note:

For insects with fully transparent wings, there may be no distortion to edges.

Realistic pencil drawing of a cockroach Cockroach pencil drawing

Problem:

Cockroaches can live without food for several days to a month, thus even if you do not see them at home, that does not mean they are not there!

Solution:

Ensure the house is clean and, if necessary, spray pesticides in the area in which they are located.

Spider

Problem:

There are too many insects!

Realistic pencil drawing of a spider Spider pencil drawing

Solution:

Spiders (which are not insects) eat many insects.

Most spiders are harmless to humans, so it is best to let them do what they do best.

For the drawing equipment I use, check out my beginners guide to pencil drawing materials.

What is the importance of insects?

Ecological importance:

Economic importance:

Insects as food:

Other:

Summary

Flies and mosquitoes have great ecological importance and are the second most important pollinators after the bees.

Mosquitoes are the most lethal family of animals because they transmit parasites and viruses.

The cockroach has a high resistance to radiation but has no exceptional resistance compared to other insects such as the fruit fly.

Where to go next?

To understand how to use depth when drawing, visit my 15 Proven Ways to Create the Illusion of Depth.

For learning to draw online, check my list of best YouTube drawing tutorials.