Guide: Insects Pencil Drawing

Updated: 11 Jan 2024

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.


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


Composition tip:

In most cases, try to avoid side views, although they are easier and faster to draw.

Flies pencil drawing, side view Uninteresting composition

Because I am right-handed, I draw from left to right (so I do not smear what I have 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


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


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 about composition, visit my guide on composition drawing.

Basic drawing steps:

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


Draw lines gently, so you can draw over them, or erase them.

There are no lines in nature, so you do not want lines in your 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 have soft edges.

Realistic pencil drawing of an aphid Aphid pencil drawing


Aphids are destructive to plants (sap-sucking).


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).


How to draw a single hair strand?

As mentioned above, there are no lines in nature.

When drawing a single hair strand, press harder when you start your stroke and gently release pressure.

That way, you will have both a transition in brightness values (from dark to light), and your mark will taper (from thick to thin).

Correct way to draw a single hair strand

For a group of hair, think of it as areas or clusters of brightness values. You can add a few hair strands, but draw them lighter.

How to draw a cluster of hair

Many insects have hair. For example, a bee.

Realistic pencil drawing of a bee Bee pencil drawing


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


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


How to Draw Fur Texture?

When drawing fur or hair, I usually draw in layers.

I start with a light layer, and gradually add details.

Do not forget to pay attention to the big picture and the value of each area, while adding texture.

Steps for drawing fun in layers


In the example below, I decided to add a thin layer of color with a marker.

I do not recommend using a marker on top of a graphite drawing, because it smudges the drawing and causes loss of details.

Graphite pencil and marker drawing of a moth Moth pencil & marker drawing


Some moths, particularly their caterpillars, can be major agricultural pests.

In addition, some moth larvae eat cloth.


Bats eat moths (and other insects).

Ralistic graphite drawing of a bat Bat pencil drawing

How to draw light fur?

When drawing big, I use a small eraser to draw light fur.

Drawing fur using an eraser

For small drawings, the key is to draw the negative space, meaning the dark areas around the light fur.

By drawing toward the light area (penetrating the light area with dark values), it looks like the light areas are above the dark areas.

Drawing fur with a graphite pencil

If you want to see how I draw different types of texture, visit my texture drawing guide.

Example of book drawing


How to draw a shiny surface?

There are two things to look for.

First, pay attention to edges. Edges are how each area ends, and how two areas are connected to each other.

Some edge types are: hard (1), soft (2), less defined (3), and reflection (4), meaning how an edge looks on a reflective surface, like water or glass.

Different types of edge drawing with pencils

Next, pay attention to contrast.

A shiny surface usually has bright highlights, and a strong contrast.

For a strong contrast, you can draw the dark area darker, the light area lighter, or both.

How to draw contrast with pencils

Now you can draw insects with shiny or reflective surface, like ants, beetles, wasps, etc.

Realistic pencil drawing of an ant Ant pencil drawing


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


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



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


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


How to draw transparency?

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

To draw that, 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, 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).


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

Realistic pencil drawing of a cockroach Cockroach pencil drawing


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!


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



There are too many insects!

Realistic pencil drawing of a spider Spider pencil drawing


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:

White wagtail realistic pencil drawing White Wagtail eating an insect

Economic importance:

Drawing of a bee hive and wax Beeswax

Beeswax is used for making candles.

Realistic drawing of a candle

Here is a review for my recommended markers for artists.

A drawing of honey with markers Honey marker drawing

Insects as food:


Pencil drawing of a larva A larva stage can help determine the time of death


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 the best YouTube drawing tutorials.