How to Draw a Cool Robot Step by Step
In this article, I’m going to show you how to draw a cool cartoon robot! This character is called the Party Bot. It was invented for doing one thing and one thing only: Party.
How do you draw a cool cartoon robot? It’s very important to start by designing the robot’s foundation using large, basic geometric shapes. Once you are happy with your design, then it is time to add in smaller details in and around those key shapes.
Oh… and in the event that you need to draw a Party Bot, it is crucial to include these three design elements: sunglasses, headphones and a duck. (Please refer to diagram below)
This tutorial is broken up into three parts:
- the Pencil Sketch – laying down the foundation of our robot using basic shapes
- the Inking Stage – drawing in dark lines for the main shape of our robot and thin lines for the details
- the Colouring Stage – bringing the Party Bot to life with pencils! You can colour in one layer if you want to, but I encourage you to go over your character with two or three layers, as this will make the colours more vivid and richer.
Before we begin, let’s just quickly go over the important traits of our robot design.
Our robot is going to have two main parts,
- a massive, bullet shaped head/cockpit and
- six cool looking spider legs (yes, I know, I’m two legs short).
Okay, at this point it looks a little intimidating, but fear not, it will also have some massive sunglasses and headphones. The ducky in the cockpit will also have sunnies on, cos it takes a real party boy to pilot the Party Bot!
- Paper (Sketchbook or printer paper)
- Pencil (HB or #2)
- Thick Black Pen (I used a Posca PC-3M)
- Thin Black Pen (I used a UNI Pin Fine Line 04mm)
- Coloured Pencils. I used a very limited palette for this cartoon – Red, Yellow, Orange, Purple and Turquoise. I used Faber Castell Albrecht Duhrer Watercolour pencils, but feel free to use any brand which you may have on hand.
Okay, let’s get cookin’! Once you’ve got your materials, it’s time to open your mind and have a good time! Follow along each step – remember don’t be shy, just enjoy the process!
Part 1: The Pencil Sketch
Step 1: Start by drawing the main part of the robot – the head. This is just one giant bullet.
Step 2: Add in some overgrown sunglasses and the front legs (which kinda look like two beans, with their bottoms pointing inwards towards the robot)
Step 3: Now draw another pair of legs behind the front legs – similar in shape, but with their bottoms pointing outwards (it often helps to add a bit of contradiction in your designs – if all four legs were facing the one direction, it would look pretty boring)
Draw another pair of legs at the back of the robot – these should be pointing inwards.
Once you’ve drawn six robot legs, give them a bit of extra length by adding in some cute little toothpicks for the lower legs!
Step 4: At the moment, the robot’s legs aren’t connected to the body, so now add in some little random cogs, wheels and metal bits around the legs and bottom of the head.
Underneath each little toothpick leg, draw in a little ovals – to help it keep some grip on the D floor!
Step 5: Let’s now start drawing in the headphones. There’s no science to this at all, just smoosh together a whole bunch of geometric shapes at each side of the robot’s head.
Step 6: Now connect the head phones with a long semi circular arc going from ear to ear.
At the top point of the head, draw in a circle for the cockpit and pop in a little ducky!
Step 7: Okay! We have done all the hard bits! Now it’s time to add in random details around each shape. Compare the legs in step 6 with the legs in step 7. They have gone from flat looking beans to super stylish contoured 3D objects! Just with a few simple curves. So in this stage, simply add in some curvy contour lines inside the head and the legs (and don’t forget to touch up the sunglasses in this step)
Part 2: The Inking Stage
I just want to quickly talk about line variation – I always find it super duper important to have a good variety of thick lines and thin lines. Thick lines are usually reserved for the main shapes of the character and thin lines are used for all the small details. I highly recommend you try this method in all of your cartoons – you might find that your drawings will look even cooler than before!
Step 8: Alrighty, things are getting serious. Get out your thick black pen and draw over the pencil lines (but leave the countour lines for the thin pen – it’s very important to have a good variety of thick lines and thin lines)
Step 9: Now fill in some solid black shadows. The most shadow will be on the robots undercarriage, so I shaded in that area the most. I also put some shadows on its second pair of legs – this adds to the illusion of depth.
Shade in the sunglasses leaving a strip of white for reflection. Notice how the entire head of the robot is unshaded. This is the focal point of our design so I want it to pop out from the shadows surrounding it!
Step 10: We have now finished with the thick pen and now it’s time to add in details with the thin pen. Draw over the contour lines from the sketch and also add in random shading on the sunglasses, headphones and undercarriage. When shading with the thin pen, simply draw a whole lot of thin lines close together – this will create a medium tone shadow that will look great next to the pure black shadows.
Part 3: The Colouring Stage
Before we start colouring, just a reminder that it is very important to get your colours looking rich and bright (or dark). Unless you are using top of the range, super expensive colouring pencils, you will need to add two or three layers to your drawing. Depending on what brand you’re using, your first layer of colour you put down will see-through to the white paper. If this is the case, simply go over it again with the same colour (it sometimes helps to press down hard with the pencil). Just experiment and see how rich you can get your colours!
Step 11: Time to do some colouring in. I wanted the head and front legs of the robot to be bright, so I mainly used the bright colours in my palette – yellow, orange and turquoise. The second pair of legs and headphones were coloured mainly with red – I wanted these areas dark to create contrast to the light areas at the front.
Step 12: The final step! Once we have coloured in everything, all we need to do now is add in some nice, cool and subtle shading! Get out your purple pencil and just add in some transparent shadowy areas.
For this stage, I often draw the outline of where I want the shadow to go and then lightly colour over the desired area. For the robot’s hind legs, I shaded in the whole area with the purple – a cool shade like purple will not only make things look like they’re in shadow, but it will also make things look further away from the viewer! (Hooray for illusions!)
The thing I love most about drawing cartoon robots is that you can literally do whatever you want to them. Someone isn’t going to look at your robot drawings and go “hey! Robots can’t have 12 fingers and no elbows!” – Yes they can, Joe. Yes they can.
1) Think Big…
I recommend you try some robots of your own – get some scrap paper and start with one big geometric shape for the body. Now build on this shape with other shapes – shoulders, arms, legs, rockets, cogs – whatever you feel like doing.
2) Then Go Small
Once you’re happy with your foundation, put in some detail – pick a big shape from your foundation and draw in a few little patterns, or perhaps some smaller shapes – maybe some little buttons, random wires, etc.
3) Contrast is Your Friend
A cartoon with the right level of contrast is a wonderful thing! Don’t be shy to cast some of your character in complete shadow – you don’t need to have detail everywhere. Take another look at the pure black areas on the party bot – it adds a bit of mystery and also helps the viewer find the focal point!
4) If you want more robots…
We have reached the end of the tutorial – I hope you found it useful! This tutorial has been transcribed from a chapter in my online course Cartooning for Beginners – How to Draw Cartoon Robots! If you’d like to check out some more lessons on how to draw cartoon robots, you can enroll here.