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How to Draw Vehicles: Trucks & HGVs

This post is part of a series called How to Draw Vehicles.
How to Draw Vehicles: Motorcycles
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Trucks are seen by many as the kings of the road and they are very imposing, so for this tutorial we are going to look at how to draw one in perspective, and we'll also compare different types of these big rigs.

1. Establish Perspective

Step 1

For this tutorial, we are going to keep things simple and work in two-point perspective. 

To start with, we are going to draw a horizon line, which is simply a line going straight across the page at a certain point. This is a main guide to place vanishing points which will help us establish our perspective. For this piece, we are placing our line just below halfway down the page.

To start with all we need is a simple straight line

Step 2

You now want to plot out where your points are going to go. For a convincing perspective, I find that vanishing points are seldom placed on the paper itself, and for this particular piece that theory is no different. 

To help you, use your steel ruler to further measure your horizon line off the page, and then take a piece of masking tape and draw your point on that. Do this for both points on the right and left of the page.

If the vanishing point goes off the page this is how it should be marked

Step 3

Then, again using your steel ruler, draw a couple of light lines from your vanishing point on the right-hand side that will establish the width of our truck in perspective. You can have these lines going right across the page if you want to—the choice is yours.

Then once we have our vanishing points come guidelines

Step 4

Now draw in the perspective lines for the left-hand side.

The same for the left side remember to use a ruler

Step 5

Move on to the upper perspective, again using our vanishing points as a guide. Remember that you want the final image to be convincing to the eye, so be careful to draw your perspective lines correctly. Practising on scrap paper may be beneficial before you move on to your final picture.

The lines above the horizon are just as important

Step 6

Now that we have our perspectives, you can draw in lines going upward that will act as parameters for our truck. You do not have to do this if you don't want to, but it is a good idea to at least have a rough idea how far your vehicle will go across or up the page.

Our truck will be setup within these parameters

2. Construct the Body and Wheels

Step 1

If you have completed the previous section correctly, you should not have a problem building on the groundwork you have already done on the truck. We are going to start this section by drawing a tall cube in perspective; this will house the engine.

A simple cube starts our construction for the truck

Step 2

The cab sections are firstly made by drawing a small cube for the front section.

Next comes a taller cube for the cab

Step 3

Then a larger cube is attached to the back of the first, and that will be the driver's sleeping area of the cab.

An even taller cube comes in for the sleeping area of the truck

Step 4

Next, yet another small cube will make up the hitch area for the trailer.

Now the rear cube is added notice the truck starting to emerge

Step 5

We then move to the front again and work in two tall cubes that will be our front mudguards.

Two more cubes will be the mud guards

Step 6

We now move from drawing cubes to cylinders, and we shall start these by drawing a simple small cylinder for the tank on the side of the truck's engine area. If you feel uncomfortable with drawing cylinders, I recommend doing some practice examples on a separate sheet of paper.

Take time to consider perspective when drawing your cylinder

Step 7

Next we draw a taller cylinder that will be the truck's exhaust. European trucks have their exhausts at the rear of the driver's cab, and so they would be hidden.

Again perspective will affect how we view the exhausts too

Step 8

Now we draw two smaller cylinders to finish off the top of the exhaust pipe. Note how the lower exhaust stack on the passenger side will be obscured by the cab of the truck thanks to perspective. This is called overlapping.

Two smaller cylinders finish the exhaust stacks

Step 9

We now move to the bottom of the truck and add a horizontal cylinder, which will be the fuel tank.

Then an angled cylinder makes up the fuel tank

Step 10

Next we come to drawing the wheels of this truck, and I would strongly suggest you practise drawing ellipses (ovals) before you begin the following steps, as we'll be doing a lot them.

If you are not comfortable with ellipses I recommend you practice first

Step 11

Start by drawing the front driver’s side wheel.

Draw in the front drivers side wheel first

Step 12

Then move on to the passenger side wheel, remembering to use your vanishing point to make sure your perspective is properly established.

Then follow this with the passenger side

Step 13

Moving on to drawing the rear wheels, bear in mind that to distribute the weight of a load properly, some trucks will have twin axles and wheels to help spread the load. As our truck will be based on one of these examples, draw in two smaller ellipses for the outer wheels.

The rear wheels come next but remember your perspectives

Step 14

And then two more for the inner wheels—we shall come to putting in the finer detail later.

We will also draw in guides for the inner rear wheels

Step 15

In profile, I have decided to show you the common differences between European and American trucks, and it is clear how different American trucks are built to cope with often heavier loads that have to be transported over the vast mileages of the United States, in comparison to European trucks whose loads are usually lighter and do not cover as many miles.

See the difference between European and American trucks

3. Refine Your Groundwork

Step 1

We are now going to move on to drawing parts of the truck in more detail, going from left to right (if you are left-handed you can do this part right to left). As I am right-handed, I am going to start with refining the bumper/fender.

Take extra care when drawing here as details are all important

Step 2

Then, moving upwards to begin drawing the grille, I prefer to work first on the bars going upwards.

The grille is one of those tricky parts of this drawing

Step 3

Next, I work on the bars going across the grille. Use only a light touch as you draw this step as it is easy to make mistakes. You might want to use a detailed eraser after you have finished, making sure your line work is clear.

It gets more difficult but taking care will see you through

Step 4

We now move on to drawing the front headlamps and the mudguards.

Now we are seeing a proper truck appearing

Step 5

Moving across, we come to working on the hood and all the trim that goes with it.

How many additional parts you put on the hood is up to you

Step 6

Now comes the cab area. Remember that the rear-view mirror protrudes quite a distance outward from the cab itself, which may obscure the side window quite a bit. Getting this part right will help create believability.

The cab can be tricky as many parts overlap each other Use care

Step 7

Then work on the rear section of the cab and, again, you need to bear in mind that perspective means some areas will be hidden by the front part of the cab.

Dont forget to include the windows and doors in the rear part

Step 8

We move on to the rear section of the truck at this stage; here we need to include the hitch plate, which on all trucks sits at a slight angle to prevent the trailer slipping and to lock the tow hook in place.

Most of the hitching gear is hidden thanks to perspective

Step 9

Referring back to our comparison of the different types of truck, you can now clearly see how the ideas are similar between the continents, but in reality they are so different.

Comparing our two trucks the details are coming through

4. Work on the Wheels

Step 1

We already have a guide established for our outer wheel, and now we are going to do the outside of the rim. Using a careful hand, draw a simple oval to establish this, remembering to use your vanishing points to assist you with perspective.

For our wheels we start with the outer rim

Step 2

Now do the same for the inner rim and the hub cap in the wheel centre. Again, perspective affects these ellipses too; note how they are positioned more to the right of the centre of the wheel.

Add more ellipses for the inner rim and hub cap

Step 3

With trucks being such heavy vehicles, none of them have spoked wheels as these types of rims would not be able to manage the weights trucks have to haul around. Instead they have strong steel rims that may have a chrome finish, and they have small circular vents cut in them to clear heat from the brake discs. To create these, we simply draw a small circle; you can make use of your compass here.

You can use a compass or freehand for this simple circle

Step 4

With our truck being in perspective, the other vents, which are also circles, will appear more oval, so we need to draw some small ellipses to make these.

Notice how the further round the vents go the more oval shaped they become

Step 5

Moving on to the rear wheels, we are going to start these by drawing another small ellipse in the centre of both the front and the rear wheels.

Perspective will hide a lot of the details in the rear wheels

Step 6

A slightly larger ellipse needs to be drawn that will create a lip for the outer part of the rim. At this point too, I must mention that the rear wheels do include vents for cooling purposes, but because of the perspective of our drawing, these are obscured. Do be aware that they should be there if you are drawing a truck that is at less of an angle.

Notice many ellipses are drawn during these steps

Step 7

Lastly, to complete our rear wheels, we need to draw in the middle of the tyres and join up our inner and outer ellipses.

Our inner and our rear wheels need to be joined

5. Additional Details

Step 1

Now here is your chance to add any small details that might give your truck its own personality, and for American trucks these touches can be either subtle or very flamboyant. We are going to start by finishing off our tank on the side of the truck's engine compartment, as well as the upper exhaust stacks, which are normally shiny chrome.

Add the tank on the engine and add the upper exhausts

Step 2

Now we can also do the fuel tank. Both types of truck carry two of these tanks, one on either side.

A fuel tank on an American truck is larger to cope with more miles

Step 3

We also need to include the steps up to the cab; remember these mighty machines are very tall!

Then we add the steps remember these vehicles are big

Step 4

As a final comparison, you can see in our profile shots how American and European trucks differ from each other.

American trucks bottom are much more heavy duty to cope with more miles

And We Are Done!

Now, erase your guidelines. If you wish to do so, to personalise your truck you can add your own little touches such as bull bars on the American truck or light clusters on the European one, depending upon the type of truck you are drawing. The choice is yours! 

Thanks for coming with me and looking at this insight into how to draw heavy, articulated trucks. I hope that some basic knowledge of perspective and using some simple shapes can help you draw one of the mightiest machines on the road. Keep on trucking!

Our finished truck rearing to go
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