Is it wrong to love a mug? I mean, I’m not going to marry it or anything, but I do truly love my mug. It fits the perfect amount of liquid. It’s heavy enough that it doesn’t spill liquid when I inevitably hit it with my elbow while drawing wildly on my iPad. And it never complains when I’m going on and on about my problems. We’re basically inseparable -- if I’m drawing, my mug is probably only a few inches away.
So naturally, I thought it would be a great time to honor my mug with a portrait. If you have a favorite mug that you spend that special time with each morning as you sip your coffee or tea, join me in this super quick and easy tutorial to illustrate your ceramic friend!
I’ll be using my iPad and the app Procreate to create my illustration, but you could use paints, pencils, markers, or a napkin and pen at a coffee shop. (No shame folks. Even Picasso drew on napkins.)
Pour yourself a nice big mug full of your favorite beverage. (Yes, this step is very important.)
Create a rough geometric sketch of the mug shape. This doesn’t have to be perfect, so don’t agonize over details on this step. We want a super light line here, so if you’re drawing on paper, press lightly with your pencil. If you’re using Procreate, reduce the opacity of this layer after you sketch.
On a new layer, create a slightly more refined version of your sketch. Tip: Use dots and a grid to help you keep the sides of your mug even. Just mark the locations for the top, bottom, and rim with dots, then fill in the lines like constellations. See how much less wonky my drawing is when I use the dots? I also used the Procreate Quickshape tool to create these ovals by drawing an oval, then holding my Apple Pencil still for a moment before releasing.
Once you’re happy with your sketch, create a new layer, get a dark color (with a brush, pencil, or marker) and create some bold ink lines. Don’t be afraid to get a little messy here. Inconsistencies only make it look more handmade! I like going back over the line in some places to vary the width a bit.
Add some pattern. Even if your favorite mug is boring like mine, give it some personality with pattern, lines, dots, or maybe even a drawing of your cat with sunglasses. (Extra points for anyone who does this.)
Give it some color! Use your favorite medium and colors to decorate the pattern. I also like to add a little color to the background to make the cup really pop. Tip: See how I put every single step on a different layer? If you keep each color on a separate layer, you have the flexibility to change colors later.
Add a little grit to the whole piece to dirty it up a bit. Procreate users -- you can use some native Procreate brushes like the ones in the Spraypaints brush set, make your own texture brushes using the process in my tutorial, or pick up Peggy’s gorgeous texture set here. Maybe just do all three because you CAN’T have too many texture brushes!
Try some color versions! Go to your Procreate gallery, duplicate the document a few times, then try a different set of colors on each image. (To do this, select the layer, click on the Adjustments tool, select Recolor, then move the crosshairs to the color you want to change. Now when you choose different colors in the palette, the color on that portion of your drawing will change.
Rinse and repeat with different patterns and mug shapes! This process is so quick and easy, you could turn it into a whole series in no time. Create 4, 9, or 16 of these for the perfect series to share online.
Print your illustration out onto paper and take it outside for a photo. When you share your image online, it’s great to see the digital image, but it’s even more interesting to show it in the real world. People love to see the creator’s hands, so hold your drawing in interesting places for some unique photos to share online. Maybe even hang the series on your fridge so your mug knows how much you truly love it!
Liz Kohler Brown is an artist, designer, and teacher who creates tutorials and resources for iPad artists and designers around the world. She is a Top Teacher on Skillshare, a designation for the top 1% of teachers. She has created 40+ Skillshare classes on iPad Art & Design, and built an online community of artists and designers who share their work, offer support, and provide feedback to help each other improve and advance their creative goals.
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