Skip to content

So, about those motorcycles…

March 13, 2018

So, I was thinking I was pretty clever, going to the Montreal Moto Show to try and sketch some people for #OneWeek100People2018.

But once we got inside, I realized, yes there are a lot of people here, but – the show is kind of about motorcycles.

And I can’t draw a motorcycle to save my life.


So, the first thing that’s challenging about motorcycles, is you probably don’t know anything about how they’re built. They have an anatomy, but we don’t know it like we know a human skeleton.

When you find yourself in front of something too difficult to draw comfortably – just go back to the basics. I put away the brush and watercolor, and tried to understand these machines with just a ballpoint pen.

I’d start first with the shape of the tank and saddle. Kind of the ‘spine’. Followed by the big pipe of the exhaust. That way you’ve enclosed the small details, inside the larger shape. You can draw any old scribbles where the engine goes, and they’ll pretty much work.

Same with a tire. Sketch the outside circle, and the disk brakes, spokes, and tread become texture on top of the big shape.

I still don’t feel like I can draw Motorcycles! But I’ve taken a few steps closer to a goal :) Which, in a way, is what #OneWeek100People2018 is was about.


24 Comments leave one →
  1. Nancy Cunningham permalink
    March 13, 2018 5:58 PM

    I’m not much interested in motorcycles, but your lesson here is to draw the big shapes and let the “innards” take care of themselves. Can be applied to many subjects!

  2. Frank Bettendorf permalink
    March 13, 2018 6:41 PM

    This is excellent! Thanks for explaining your process because I many times wonder, “where do I start?” I’d appreciate more of this kind of drawing and explanation. Frank B

  3. Max permalink
    March 13, 2018 7:13 PM

    Sure looks like motorcycles to me! :o).

  4. Babs permalink
    March 13, 2018 7:16 PM

    Great explanations, Marc. Outer shape, then inner details. So simple. Your drawings are excellent btw.

  5. Babs permalink
    March 13, 2018 7:17 PM

    One quick question. Any tips for drawing on an angle where you have to foreshorten the subject?

    • March 13, 2018 10:50 PM

      Look for overlap! Like when someone has their feet up, and they’re so big in your view they overlap the face. (For instance).

  6. Bernadette permalink
    March 13, 2018 8:15 PM

    Nice drawings….such expressive line! Thanks for sharing the “how to begin” even when you don’t know how to begin. Looks like starting with the tank and saddle helps to keep things in proportion too. Excellent explanations. Thank you.

  7. Joanna permalink
    March 13, 2018 10:19 PM

    Thank you for sharing this experience with us! For a lot of us who love and admire your work, it was really cool for you to share your vulnerability with us in your blog. I know I assumed you could draw anything and everything :)

    • Randall Laue permalink
      March 14, 2018 5:43 AM

      You just have to start… I am better at fixing than starting.😜

  8. March 14, 2018 2:21 AM

    Moto-fanatic here. The top one is almost certainly a Ural Gear Up; the third one looks to be a Moto-Guzzi of the V7 family; and the last one appears to be one of the many, very popular dual-sport models… Don’t worry, you can draw motorcycles–highly stylized–and well. ;-)

  9. Bob Glazauskis permalink
    March 14, 2018 4:50 AM

    I think it’s fun to step out of your boundaries and to look at things you know little about and try to put it on paper. I am a nearly 4 decade Aircraft Mechanic with a major airline and naval aviation background, so I guess you would say I have a mechanical thinking mind and background. But things I have challenges with and really struggle with putting on paper are cars, motorcycles, and intricate detailed aircraft jet engine plumbing/wiring, valve type things. Though I think those would make great abstract art compositions. I am far more comfortable drawing people, animals, landscapes, still life, urban sketching things which is relatively new to me!

  10. Randall Laue permalink
    March 14, 2018 5:37 AM

    Wonderful!! Wish was there!

  11. Judy Sopher permalink
    March 14, 2018 2:54 PM

    This interests me in that I am trying to just draw/paint cars and even trucks, and having trouble. But motorcycles are fascinating–not to ride tho. (hate them-seen too many accidents) I love the looseness of your lines. And they do look like the real thing.I prefer this kind of loose representation to a tight realistic drawing. Keep posting these drawings. Hope you will do more.

  12. March 14, 2018 3:11 PM

    I like what you say about how they have an anatomy, but it’s not one we’re familiar with. I’d been wanting for a long time to concentrate on drawing dogs (lots where I often walk) but on starting to give it a try quickly realised I need to understand the basics! Especially difficult when they’re moving about and you don’t really understand how they’re put together. So I started studying dog photos on websites, but even this isn’t really helpful because it’s hard to understand the three-dimensional shapes. Which would probably also apply to motorcycles! Nevertheless I’m thinking I wouldn’t mind doing a 1week100dogs. Or maybe 50……..

    • March 14, 2018 3:23 PM

      That would be great – 100 dogs – I can do motorcycles while you do dogs :)

      • March 14, 2018 3:29 PM

        If I think I’ve really got a chance of achieving it I’ll let you know. What fun! (Easier if I had a dog myself….. hmm.)

  13. joantav permalink
    March 14, 2018 9:36 PM

    I don’t think you have a problem sketching motorcycles…and you know the correct terminology!

  14. March 17, 2018 7:23 AM

    Looks like you’d be better at sketching crashed motorcycles.

  15. tallboyone permalink
    May 4, 2018 5:32 PM

    Do you have any tips for improving the … expression… of the abstract “randomness” to the sketch lines? All your “randomness” in your lines (like the motorcycles) is so calculated that it looks so good. I feel I’m about 50% there, I “get it” (I feel it for sure, I know how the randomness emerges out of that feeling of energy of creativity and it just looks GOOD), but I can’t seem to level up past a certain point. It has looked the same for several years. You can make a simple squiggle on paper and the most random shape, and somehow it still just looks BETTER, even though its totally random squiggle

    • May 4, 2018 6:17 PM

      So, I think what you’re describing is something that came out of life drawing. Doing the 0.5,2 and 5 min poses, from the model. I did easily 1000 drawings a year in school. (I don’t know anyone personally that took as much life drawing as I did). A great drawing goes EYE>to>LINE without passing through any conscious thought. That might sound like just one of those fake grand statements – but there’s a state of flow when you look down and you don’t even remember making the drawing. They just work, or they don’t :/ Just keep at it! It’s out there!


  1. Never Fear the Blank Page : CSPWC/SFA Canada/France Exchange | Citizen Sketcher
  2. #OneWeek100People2018: Day One: Metro Sketching! | Citizen Sketcher
  3. Day One : #OneWeek100People 2020 : Eyes on the Prize! | Citizen Sketcher

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: