If you know me, you’ve seen him—that wide-eyed man peering up at you from his ledge, scribbled on the old newspaper on your coffee table, on your cup while you were waiting in the b-room line, or on that wall in your old college house that you let everyone write profanities and weird inside jokes on.
He is my guy, and I’ve drawn him everywhere since I decided I would never draw a true-to-scale, realistic human ever again. It’s been a long time, and frankly, I’m tired of him. Like any relationship (or any I’ve been in), I need out, and I need your help. You get it right? We all get stuck in a rut sometimes. So with this article I am giving you, dear reader, full ownership. I’m handing over the reins, loosening the chains, and kicking him outta the house that is my brain, so to speak.
I teach you how to draw him, you draw him. No contract required. You in? Good. Here’s how.
A few situational constraints you may want to consider:
- Wherever you are, be at least slightly uncomfortable. This guy takes a bit of uninterrupted time, so if you are truly enjoying yourself at a party or a bar, making interesting conversation and new and beautiful friendly friends, I must release you. Only the awkward and introverted, seeking solitude and respite from small talk yelled over loud music, can handle this one.
- Assess your wall space. Chalkboard walls are God’s gift to every cowardly graffiti-artist-at-heart. If you find one, then grab that chalk stick and skip down to point 3. If this modern magic surface is not readily available, however, here are some suitable alternate surfaces:
- Unused Chipotle napkins.
- Plastic cups.
- Mirrors. (If you have a flair for drama, I would not attempt to dissuade you from using lipstick on a bathroom mirror. It would be quite fantastic actually, and I’d ask that you send me a picture, or ‘gram it, and holler at your girl.)
- Any other surface that no one will care if you deface. (This, of course, is a very subjective matter and I will never admit to condoning you to draw on surfaces that do not belong to you.)*
*My lawyer** told me I had to say this.
**By “my lawyer,” I mean my roommate who is a lawyer but does not actually, legally represent me in any way.***
***He told me to say that too.
Always carry a pen (or lipstick). Not ballpoint; never blue. Black ink, please, because black is the new black, and the old black and the only black.
- Ensure proper attire. Let’s err on the side of modesty and say jeans are best, but big baggy hammer pants are even better. Do I sound like your dad or do I sound like your dad? You think you’re ready to draw now? I think so too. Those pants look great on you by the way.
Step One: The Hands
We’ll start with the hands, because this is the bottom of our drawing. The fingers are best placed on an existing architectural element, i.e., baseboards, wall mouldings, surface-mounted shelving, etc. If you have these, great. If not, draw a long horizontal line instead.
The proportions of the fingers should be reminiscent of those tiny delicious hot dogs they serve at parties with toothpicks, only throw out the toothpick and press the end of that baby hot dog down on the table.
Next, we’ll draw the fingernails. Look at your own for reference. Let’s not draw them too long though, otherwise our guy graduates from innocently curious to creepy stalker.
Step Two: The Nose
The nose is the defining characteristic of this dude, and any dude I draw hereafter. It is, quite simply, a long line. BUT BE WARY, dear student. This line may look easy, but there is a subtle proportional art at work here.
Before you start the nose, I want you to think about Grandma. She’s beautiful isn’t she? All old and wrinkly and wise. Hone in on that smile. The years have worn the line of her mouth down, and when resting, the edges of her mouth curve slightly towards the floor. Okay now imagine that smile she gives you—you know the one—when she’s looking at you and thinking about how youth is wasted on the young. Curved up at the ends, yes, but the smile is fake and full of irony so the middle of her mouth remains flat. Can you picture it?
This heartwarming smile of your lovely Gran is the same as the line of this dude’s nose.
I was worried about you on that last step, but I think you got it. Next!
Step Three: The Eyes
Your dude, like most of us, is always tired and slightly overworked, so we begin with the big old baggies under his peepers. The more tired, the better; someone told me once that eye-bags are for holding wisdom, so feel free to load up on those dark circles.
After you feel pretty good about the amount of sleep your dude hasn’t gotten, move on to the eyeballs. When I say eyeballs, I in no way mean spherical white balls with beautiful sky blue irises and deep, dark, black pupil abysses that reflect the goo of the brain. I actually just need you to draw two tiny, well-placed dots that don’t make him look cross-eyed.
Bravo! You’re catching on quick, little cricket. Bored yet? Me too. Let’s hurry.
You can make the brows as thick or thin as you prefer. Personally I dig ’em big and scribbly.
To ear or not to ear? What a terrible non-pun. But seriously, if you want your dude to hear, then slap some on there. I usually don’t like wasting time on all that oddly-shaped cartilage, so I give him a…
This dude likes a cuffed-at-the-end, tight-fitting cap. Don’t try and switch up his style please, he is very particular.
Almost done! Be sure to add a few spastically-drawn, squiggly lines for some nonchalant theatric flair.
Well would ya look at that. You drew a dude. Not so hard right?
Now the final touch is to make sure your name is somewhere on it, and then to promptly send me a picture.
Thanks for doing this for me.
You’re the best, really. I feel better already.
All drawings by Dani Alvarez.