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How to Draw Vehicles: Motorcycles

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

Motorcycles differ greatly from model to model, especially as there are two main sitting positions on a motorcycle: sitting upright if you are on a cruising or a historic motorcycle, and hunched over if you are riding a sports or superbike. 

In this tutorial, you'll learn how to construct both types of motorcycle from scratch using very basic shapes and methods.

1. Establish Perspective

Step 1

In this tutorial, we are going to 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. In this picture, we are placing our line just below halfway down the page.

First task is to establish a horizon

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 not often 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, marked below with a cross. Do this for both points on the right and left of the page.

If your vanashing points go off the page this is how to measure them

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 length of our bike in perspective. You can have these lines going right across the page if you want to do so.

Then establish the length of the bike

Step 4

Then, from the left-hand side, draw in lines that will establish the width of the bike.

Followed by the width

Step 5

Move on to the upper perspective, again using our vanishing points as a guide, but take into account that you want the final image to be convincing to the eye, so be careful not to incorrectly draw your perspective lines. Practicing on scrap paper will be very helpful.

Upper perspective follows the same routine

Step 6

Now we have our perspectives, you can draw in lines going upward that will act as parameters for our bike. You don't 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.

Then if you wish to do so you can establish some parameters

2. Use Basic Shapes to Form the Body

Step 1

With the two riding positions in mind, we are going to look at both types of motorcycle build. However, for this tutorial we are going to primarily focus more on the sports bike position. We shall begin by constructing the frame, and all we need to do is to draw a simple three-dimensional triangle with the long edge horizontally and the point rising slightly upwards.

Begin your bike frame by drawing a simple 3D triangle

Step 2

Next, draw a second triangle with the long end at the top, next to our original triangle, which will make up the tail of the frame.

Next draw in a second triangle behind our original

Step 3

Then add a cube between these two triangles that will encase the motorcycle engine as well as another triangle at an angle at the rear of our frame that will act as support for the tail of the bike.

Additional cubes and triangles make up the tail

Step 4

At the front of the frame, we need to add a small triangle, point raised upward, which will act as a connection for our steering.

A small triangle will be the connection for steering

Step 5

Moving to the rear of our frame again, we now need to add yet another triangle with point facing downward that will provide a guide for our suspension.

Now we draw in guides for the suspension

Step 6

To complete our sketch of the frame, I find it best to include some guides for the steering and of course the wheels. 

To make these up, simply draw a cylinder at an angle that's attached to your steering and suspension points which we added earlier, as demonstrated in the screenshot. 

For your wheels, it is very straightforward to draw two of these using ellipses (ovals).

Finally we add some rough guides for the wheels

Step 7

Now we have a complete frame for our sports bike. I have also included a complete frame for our cruising bike in a profile view, but you should note that this bike has a very high point for the steering and a low back end to accommodate the upright seating position. 

Also take note of the different wheel sizes on the cruising bike, again to accommodate the different seating and steering position.

Our completed frame guidelines

3. Construct the Body

Step 1

We are now going to move on to constructing the motorcycle body. As previously, I shall also be drawing comparisons with the cruising bike as we go along but, to start off, we are going to draw a simple cube in the middle of our frame.

Like our frame we start with a simple square

Step 2

We then draw in another cube just in front of your first, which will make up the front of the body. This should be pointing upward on your drawing paper/canvas.

Then draw in a rectangle pointing upward

Step 3

On top of your original cube you should draw another smaller cube, which will be the fuel tank.

Next up comes the fuel tank

Step 4

Next, to make a base for the rear of the bike, draw in a long cube, right side pointing upward, attached to the square we have drawn previously.

Another long rectangle creates the bikes long tail

Step 5

You should then add a thin triangle with the long side on top of this cube running from the end of the cube on the right to just over halfway down it.

Notice our tail coming together

Step 6

Draw an additional series of other triangles of various sizes, which will be additional support for the body and dirt guards for the wheels. Note that because of perspective, some of these parts will obscure the rear wheel.

More shapes make up dirt guards and supports

Step 7

For the frame of the windshield, you want to draw a rectangle, again at an angle sloping left. We also need to add some rough guides for the handlebars. So we need to draw a small cylinder coming off the top of the thin cylindrical shafts for the steering in a downward direction.

Now we have a complete guide we can work into detail

Step 8

We should now have a complete guide for drawing our body and technical parts in more detail, and I have once again brought up a comparison of our cruising bike to show you the difference between the two types of motorcycle.

Again body types are different on both bikes

4. Build on Your Groundwork

Step 1

Now that we have a good base for our motorcycles, we are going to draw them in more detail and end up with a complete image. Begin by drawing a basic body—if you have done your groundwork properly, this should not be too hard.

Now we move into drawing in detail

Step 2

Once you have your basic body, draw in the fuel tank on top of the bike, and then the seat, front and rear mudguards, and suspension.

We now have a proper motorbike starting to emerge

Step 3

Now we start moving into drawing more fine details such as the handlebars, the brake handle, and all the dials on the bike's small dash. Take note that with the brake handle, it curves away from the main handlebar so that the rider can easily grab it to slow down. The principle is the same for our cruising bike.

Pay careful attention to fine details at this stage

Step 4

We then come to drawing all the parts for the engine. I have again called upon our cruising bike here to show you the different types of engine for different motorcycles. 

Note how the engine on the cruising bike is much more exposed than on the racing bike and looks more like a car engine. A racing bike often has a smaller engine capacity than a cruising bike, but is much higher geared to achieve racing speeds.

Notice the difference in engine types

Step 5

We are going into finer detail now, as we need to work on the drive wheel and chain for our bike. Be aware that these details are small but nevertheless very important, and I would stress to take extra care when drawing them. I would advise you to draw ellipses for the driving wheel at this point.

Taking care when drawing when drawing difficult parts

Step 6

Then, for the chain, draw two circles close together and link them with a small rectangle. Linking the two circles gives the points on the driving sprocket something to fall into, thus providing drive from the engine to the wheels. 

However, we now need to draw a second rectangle that will act as a pivot to allow our chain to thread around our sprockets and link our circles together.

Drawing the chain also requires great care

5. Work on the Wheels

Step 1

The first step for constructing our wheels involves drawing a basic ellipse. If you are feeling confident enough, you can do this freehand, but don't be afraid to do a few tests first if you need to. Using our rough guideline we created earlier, draw a slightly smaller ellipse than the one we already have.

Simple shapes will again help you with the wheels

Step 2

Now draw a second smaller ellipse that will be our inner rim. Note how it is affected by perspective.

Take great care when drawing ellipses practice if you need to

Step 3

Before we move on to drawing the spokes, we shall draw a small ellipse in the middle of our wheel that will serve as the centre.

This small circle will be our wheel centre

Step 4

Now we are going to focus on the spokes for the rim. I am sure you are aware that there are literally thousands of designs for wheel rims, so which one you choose to do is up to you, but for this tutorial I will be going for a simplistic design. 

To start with, I will draw a simple line that goes to the centre of the wheel, using the centre ellipse as a guide.

It is a simple design for this wheel

Step 5

Then draw a second line that completes the body of our spoke. You will notice the two spokes are starting to converge in the centre of the rim but, unless you are drawing wire wheels (which are consist of many individual spokes), you do not want them to meet completely in the centre. Drawing the inner part of our spokes, which again involves drawing converging lines within our spoke body, this time we want to cut off our lines about halfway in and then do a small line across to finish the inner spoke.

Our spokes converge in the centre of the wheel

Step 6

Now that we have a completed spoke, we can move on to drawing in the rest. At this point I would strongly suggest that you take care when drawing in the additional spokes to make sure they match up with each other as demonstrated in the screenshot. Incorrect placing of spokes can be common and is very easy to do, so taking time to get this right is worth it.

And there we have a complete set

Step 7

Now we need to add the brake disc/s on the wheels. First, draw one medium sized ellipse and then, within this first ellipse, draw a second, smaller ellipse.

A basic circle will help you with the brake discs

Step 8

Next, we want to make a rough guide for the brake calliper that holds the brake pads that stop the bike. To do this, start by drawing a small cube.

The brake calliper body starts with a cube

Step 9

You then need to draw smaller cylinders around each corner of the calliper as this will add to the overall style later. For the back bone of the calliper, a guideline can be made with a small oval.

More simple shapes will help

Step 10

Now that you have a base, you can carefully draw the calliper in more detail. Remember to include drawing in the brake pipe, otherwise there will be no indication of how the brakes will work. Also include on the left of the calliper two circles that are bolts that hold parts of the calliper body together.

Adding the outline to our groundwork

Step 11

To complete your brake disc, you need to draw in holes that act as vents to dissipate heat when the bike is under braking and, if you notice in the screenshot, there is a small pattern of the holes spiralling inward. Retain this pattern around the wheel and you will have made up your disc correctly.

The dots are cooling holes to cool the brake disc

Step 12

I have brought our cruising bike image up again to compare how, once again, bike wheels and callipers can differ so much. It is a fact that superbike wheels will be designed with racing efficiency in mind whereas cruising bikes, which do not have the emphasis on speed, will have wheels that are made more for style and image. Remember to clean any loose lines that you may have remaining once you are finished.

Nearly done but dont forget to erase your guidelines

And There We Have It!

Thanks for hanging around and allowing me to show you how to draw different types of motorcycles. Of course, there are so many customs and kits available for these machines that you can do whatever you wish to do, but hopefully now you have a basic understanding of how these vehicles are constructed.

Have fun drawing until the next time!

Our finished article
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