As London-based artist and illustrator Lizzie Mary Cullen explains: “There’s no right way to draw. People draw in different ways, to achieve different purposes. Some people draw to think through a problem, some doodle when they’re on the phone and others, like me, draw for the simple pleasure of attention seeking and showing people how amazing I am at it.”
Whatever your motivation, Lizzie’s Masterclass will take you through the process of how she creates drawings in her signature style of languid swoops and swirls. Even if you have a wildly different style of drawing, this step-by-step guide will give you insights into Lizzie’s creative process to help you improve your compositions in your own style.
Here she details how she created a recent work for The Other Art Fair (theotherartfair.com). The drawing of London’s new skyline-dominated tower, The Shard, measures over a metre long and 75cm across – and took about a week to complete.
Time to complete
Rapidograph pens, Pental FP10 pen
I began by quickly sketching the outline of The Shard, and drew in Guy’s Hospital next to it. I use rapidiograph pens exclusively, but I‘ve found Staedtler pigment liners to be very good in the past.
I left a few gaps in The Shard’s outline at the top. I wanted to add in some clouds later, which would cross over the building.
The most important thing I wanted to convey with this piece was the feeling of vertigo you get when looking up at it. The Shard vaults into the sky, seemingly endless. To get across this huge expanse of sky, I added a plane leaving a vapour trail.
Here I drew some black clouds to cover the tip of the Shard. I also added the sun. I was aware that this is a picture of the Shard at night, but I’m very free with artistic licence.
Next I added the moon, and drew something that resembles moonbeams. I like filling the page with detail, as this is where you can play around with different drawing techniques. I used some cross-hatching and intricate linework to fill in the sky, giving the impression of a clear moon shining in the night.
I started to extend my sky higher up the page. My drawing technique features a lot of swirls and patterns, which I used to get across the sheer beauty of the sky. This was the fun bit, so I just kept adding them.
As you can see, the drawing is starting to take shape. I continued to fill it in, with intricate linework indicating the swirling sky and the stars. It takes a steady hand to do this, but the good news is that the more you practice, the better you get. A steady hand is crucial for the more detailed elements of this Masterclass, and is something you can train your hand to improve.
To add the black background I outlined some stars, so when it came to colouring the sky I knew when to draw round them.
To draw in the background I used a different pen; a Pental FP10. This is a brush pen with a fibre nib, and is really good for block colour and detail.
The key to this type of drawing is not to be too precious about it. The thing I like most about this piece is how free it felt, capturing the essence of the vaulting sky above The Shard.
Lizzie Mary Cullen is an award-winning illustrator based in London. Her work, which is rooted in psychogeography and mapping urban landscapes, has been exhibited internationally in London, New York and Paris. She has also been profiled in The Independent, Wired and by BBC London.
Lizzie’s clients have included Harvey Nichols, HTC and The Guardian. She enjoys slides of cats in hats, playing strip Mario Kart, adding to her denture collection and cleaning her Rapidograph pens.