top of page
  • Writer's pictureKonstantin

The 3 Types Of Emotive Drawing

Updated: Sep 22, 2020

Have you asked yourself, what emotive drawing is? I did. I've researched it and didn't really find a lot of information but what I could find out I will share with you in today's article. Let's answer the main question first.

What is emotive drawing?

In the drawing type called emotive drawing, the main goal for the artist is to depict emotions and feelings. The artist has to master the necessary drawing skills on one side and understanding emotions on the other side. Combining them in a drawing is the true art behind emotive drawings.

The answer is basically pretty short and easy to understand but overall there's a little bit more to it than just that. We'll cover different facets of emotive drawing throughout the following sections and paragraphs.

I. The 3 Main Types Of Emotive Drawing

After many hours of dealing with this topic, I've figured out that there are three different kinds of drawing in which you can use and depict emotions.

What are the three types of emotive drawing?

1. Abstract

2. Portrait

3. Figure

You might have already guessed that you can draw emotions in portraits since the face is the part of our body where we can see emotions most often. Nevertheless, you are also able to express feelings in abstract drawings and figure drawings.

1. Abstract

Abstract drawing sounds like the easiest way to project emotions onto a piece of paper but I can tell you it's harder than it sounds. It is great for drawing beginners who don't have much experience in the area of drawing. That's for sure.

However, you need a much larger amount of emotional intelligence and understanding of your own feelings than you need drawing skills.

Actually, you don't need any drawing skills at all. Letting yourself out emotionally with the help of abstract drawing is a good way to learn more about emotion and to get comfortable with a pencil in your hand.

If you don't have a very high level of emotional intelligence, that's not a reason to let this keep you from drawing abstract emotive artworks. In fact, this can even help you increase your level of emotional intelligence.

You can start attaching emotions to your abstract drawings by following a few very simple steps. With these steps, I let my girlfriend draw her first abstract emotive drawing. Look at this stunning piece of art she has created following the steps.

She didn't really choose an emotion but that doesn't matter feminine or masculine are also possible subjects for abstract emotive drawings.

So, this is how it goes:

Write the emotion down on a piece of paper
Draw related signs, shapes, forms, and lines around it
Fill it until you feel it

If you do these three things you can easily get into abstract emotive drawing. Doing this will be a little rough in the beginning because you need to figure out what signs et cetera are representing certain emotions.

But before you let this stop you from starting I have inserted that first step. This is something your subconscious can't possibly use as a reason to distract you. It is very simple but you are very free in exerting the first step.

The first step is to write down the emotion you want to draw. Choose one particular emotion and not multiple ones for a start in order to keep it simple at the beginning.

You can write it in any way you like. You can write it in any possible lettering type you prefer. There are a ton of ways to write something with your hands. It's not as simple as choosing another font in word but to understand it and to get inspiration check out this website about eight different lettering types. It will open in a new tab.

I, myself, love the vintage lettering style but what I love most is drawing words and numbers freely as they mention on their site at point 7. Drawing the different letters three-dimensionally is the best way for me personally. Try different styles to find your own personal favorite lettering type.

The next step is to draw related signs that can logically be connected. If you want to create an abstract emotive drawing about love you probably would insert a ton of hearts in there. At least this is an easy way for beginners to start with.

If you want to increase the amount of true emotional value in your artwork you have to let go of logic. Read the following paragraphs to understand what I mean.

Another possibility is to not use logical signs and lines but only using your personal feelings about certain movements for example. I know this is not very easy to understand or explain but take a look at this image.

The artist definitely hasn't used any logically connectable signs or forms to a specific emotion that he or she wants to show us. The whole trick about this is to let go and let your intuition move your pencil.

Keep your brain from taking control over it. Closing your eyes and remembering certain events where you've felt the emotion you want to put onto paper helps you with this. It is also being explained on the website where I found this drawing. Check it out here.

The last step is way easier than it sounds. Fill your piece of paper until you don't have to remember certain events to understand a particular emotion better. If you look at your drawing and suddenly feel the emotion you're trying to depict without having to think about it anymore, it's finished.

And of course, then it's also ready to be shared with other people. If you want to impress the Mac H. - Creative community, you're welcome to join our Facebook group and share it with us. I'd love to see what you've come up with following this little guide.

2. Portrait

Moving on from the probably easiest emotive drawing type to the most obvious one as I've already mentioned in the article. Attaching emotions to portraits is easier to learn than in the abstract emotive drawing technique under one particular condition.

The condition is that you know about all of the drawing skills you need to draw satisfying portraits. Basic sketching is a skill every drawing artist should be aware of and of course the theoretical stuff for life drawing. I'm talking about the basic perception skills now.

The link included in the last paragraph both lead to other articles here on the website. If you want to improve your knowledge about these two topics I recommend checking them out. I'm sure you'll get some value from them.

Depicting emotion in portrait drawings successfully can be achieved in two different ways. Either you have a model or at least a reference photo in front of you that is already showing a certain emotion and you can simply copy it or you want to draw from your imagination which is much harder obviously.

Drawing from imagination is already much harder disregarding the fact that you want to create an emotive drawing. You don't need to know about just one topic but you have to master multiple different topics at once to draw a portrait showing and communicating one or more emotions.

Drawing a portrait from imagination is hard.

Drawing an emotive portrait is harder.

It is hard but it is achievable. Just imagine how many people have already succeeded at portrait drawing and are now able to draw whatever face showing whatever emotion they have in mind. You can do that, too.

Understand how drawing from your imagination works with this other article I've written for the Mac H. - Creative blog. Check it out by clicking here.

You now have to fill the box in your mind with knowledge about the topic. There are excellent videos on how to draw emotions and their related facial expressions. For example this one, I've seen during my initial research on the topic.

The instructor in the video even explains the facial expressions comparing two different drawing styles. He shows how to draw six different emotions realistically and also in the cartoon drawing style. I think that is a lot of value you can get out of this one video.

3. Figure

Abstract drawing requires a lot of learning or knowledge of emotional intelligence and communication. Portrait drawing requires practical and theoretical drawing knowledge as well as knowledge about emotional facial expressions.

Figure drawing probably wasn't on your mind as you've researched emotive drawing because portraits and facial expressions are mostly the first things that come to mind when you're thinking about emotive drawing.

However, it is absolutely possible to create emotive figure drawings although figure drawing mostly serves as a means of studying the human body and its proportions thoroughly. Here it is not about facial expressions or about signs and your own feelings.

Emotive figure drawings require a huge amount of knowledge about gestures and a good understanding of how the human posture communicates emotion.

Let's take a look at a few examples.




I think I don't have to say a lot about these art pieces, do I? They basically speak for themselves. If you understand and successfully interpret the emotions these figures are expressing, you only need to learn about figure drawing and you're good to go.

If you couldn't interpret or understand the images above, don't worry about it. There are a lot of ways you can learn to understand human body posture. I found this website to be very helpful in learning to understand body language and gestures better.

Knowing about gestures and body language as well as knowing about the essential drawing skills especially in the area of figure drawing are the two keys to succeeding at emotive figure drawing.

II. Related Questions

1. How Does Emotional Intelligence Affect Your Drawings?

The different components of emotional intelligence are all affecting your drawing progress in various ways. Having a high level of emotional intelligence can be responsible for progressing faster on the learning curve for learning how to draw in general. It also helps with understanding emotive drawing better and faster.

2. What Are The Three Types Of Drawing?

The three types of drawing are the following:

1. Life Drawing

2. Fictional Drawing

3. Design Drawing

3. What Is It Called When You Draw People?

There are different types of drawing focusing on the depiction of humans. Life drawing is a type of art that includes portrait and figure drawing. These two are depicting humans. A mixture of life and fictional drawing is the art of caricature. It also focuses on human faces just like portrait drawing.

3,682 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page