How to Draw Graffiti Wildstyle Step-by-Step

Written by amanda tromley
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How to Draw Graffiti Wildstyle Step-by-Step
Arrowhead embellishments are common in Wildstyle graffiti. (graffiti image by Nath Photos from

Characterised by its thick outlines and abstract look, Wildstyle graffiti has found popularity in recent decades. reports that this style of graffiti emerged around the 1960s in New York City. Nowadays, you can find this intricate and sometimes unreadable art form in most major urban areas, and although “tagging” public property is illegal in most areas, its popularity will likely continuey. Learning to draw Wildstyle graffiti may take several attempts, but keep practicing and you’ll get it.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Bristol paper
  • Pencil
  • Kneaded eraser
  • Markers
  • White coloured pencil

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  1. 1

    Use your pencil to write your text in normal lettering, but provide plenty of space between each character. You could use any sort of paper, but Bristol paper will handle the erasing and markers to come better than most types of paper.

  2. 2

    Use the basic letters as a guide, and sketch the shape of each character. Draw the entire outline of each character, but allow them to touch or overlap. Wildstyle graffiti characters often overlap one another in unexpected ways. For example, the tail of an “R” may thread through the hole in an “O” and partially overlap it.

  3. 3

    Select lines to extend, bend and push. You may choose to lengthen the cross of a “t” or extend the bottom line of an “e.” Your line extensions should bend and meander through the tag. Draw them shooting out from your tag in all directions. You can create as many as these extenders as you wish. Wildstyle graffiti has a distinctively abstract look, so don’t worry if your tag becomes hard to read.

  4. 4

    Add embellishments to your tag. Arrowheads at the ends of lines, drop shadows and three-dimensional treatments are all popular flourishes among Wildstyle graffiti artists.

  5. 5

    Mold your kneaded eraser so that you have a small bit of it between your fingers. You likely have many shapes drawn over each other at this point, and you’ll need to erase certain lines to create the illusion of overlapping shapes. Go over your tag carefully and erase overlapping lines, mistakes and the guide text.

  6. 6

    Trace the lines of your tag with a black marker. For smoother lines, lift your hand off the paper and draw using the motion of your entire arm. Start with thin lines, and then build up to thicker strokes in selective areas. The parts of your tag that you want to appear close should have a heavy line weight, while the areas to appear far away should have thin lines.

  7. 7

    Allow the ink to dry for several hours. Then use your kneaded eraser to clear away all the leftover pencil lines.

  8. 8

    Use markers to colour your tag. Fill in the characters with a light colour. Colour the edges of the characters, near the black outlines, with a darker colour to make the characters appear rounded and three-dimensional. When satisfied with your colours, use a white coloured pencil to add highlights to the letters.

Tips and warnings

  • Study the work of other graffiti artists for inspiration and ideas.

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