How to draw a stick insect (not a stick)

Published on: 14 February 2018 Author: Chris Naylor-Ballesteros

Chris Naylor-Ballesteros's hilarious picture book I Love You, Stick Insect tells the tale of Stick Insect, who falls head over heels in love with another stick insect. Unfortunately for Stick Insect, the object of his affections is actually... a stick. Fortunately for us, Chris does know his sticks from his stick insects and he's created a brilliant step-by-step guide to drawing these loved-up little creatures.

So, grab a pencil and give it a go... it really isn't as tricky - or sticky - as you might think. We've even included a little animated film of I Love You, Stick Insect for added inspiration.

Read our review of I Love You, Stick Insect

I Love You Stick Insect cover image

How to draw a stick insect by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros

Stick insects are very easy to draw. They look like sticks with eyes and that's about it.

The ONLY problem with drawing stick-insects is they're long and thin, so you should think about how you'll fit it on the page OR have an especially long, thin, stick-insect-shaped piece of paper (I ran out of paper and couldn't fit his feet on!).

Right. Here we go...

1. The first thing to do is start with a little circle for one of the eyes.

How to draw a stick insect step 1

2. Then you draw an oblong with a pointed top (a bit like a pencil-shape) for the head and draw a half-circle at the side for the other eye.

How to draw a stick insect step 2

3. Now the Very Important Part. You draw all the small but Very Important Extras that make it look like a real person/stick insect with feelings and moods - black dots for pupils in the eyes, a mouth and eyebrows. You can try these in all sorts of different ways to give the stick insect different emotions. The mouth and eyebrows are especially useful for this - try them high or low, pointing up or down, left or right, curved or straight.

How to draw a stick insect step 3a

Stand in front of a mirror and do some happy, sad, angry, surprised or tired faces and look at what your eyes, eyebrows and mouth are doing. If anyone looks at you funny, just say very loudly: 'I'm drawing an emotional stick insect'. They won't bother you any more.

How to draw a stick insect step 3b

4. Then we're on to the body, which is just two more oblongs. Add a few little marks here and there to make it look more stick-like.

How to draw a stick insect step 4

5. Now we add arms, hands and legs. This is very simple - just a couple of lines for each part. There are six in total and it looks nice if they're all a bit different, going up or down, slightly longer or shorter. There's also a kind of tail at the bottom of the body that's like a short, pointy oblong.

How to draw a stick insect step 5

6. You can leave it as a pencil drawing if you prefer but if you want to, now's the time to go over the pencil drawing with ink or felt-tip (I use an old-fashioned nib-pen which can drop huge great black blobs of ink on your beautiful masterpiece at the last moment if you're not careful). Don't worry about getting it perfect, though. Things often look nicer if they're a little bit messy.

How to draw a stick insect step 6

7. Now for a spot of colour with coloured pencils or paint (careful if you've used felt-tip for the lines - it might run). I use watered-down ink, watercolour paint or sometimes watercolour pencils that quite magically act just like pencils until you add a wet brush to the drawing and it magically becomes paint. They're magic. Did I say they were magic? They are. They're magic.

Again, don't worry about being perfect and painting right up to the line or going over the line. It really does look better if it's not perfect.

How to draw a stick insect step 7

I think it's just about done. Hopefully you now have a smiling, waving stick insect.

If you enjoy drawing that, then the next part is to think of some strange or amazing thing the stick insect could be doing (like bouncing on a trampoline, driving a bus, playing football, riding a horse, walking on the moon, making spaghetti bolognaise in a kilt, anything you want...) and try to draw that.

I'd love to see them!

And I promise if you stick with drawing stick insects, it'll stick with you!


I Love You, Stick Insect: the movie

Watch this all-action short animation of Chris Naylor-Ballesteros's brilliant book, courtesy of the lovely people at Bloomsbury publishing.

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