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Spitfire Drawing Made Easy: How To Draw A Spitfire in 4 Steps

Curious how to draw a realistic Spitfire? I reveal all the 'ins' & 'outs' of a Spitfire drawing...

Even though a Spitfire drawing sounds relatively straight forward, it’s actually more difficult than you might think. That’s because when compared to your average Jumbo Jet, a Spitfire has a LOT more going on.

Drawing your traditional aeroplane would be pretty simple, as it’s very much like drawing a metal bird. Draw a large fuselage + two wings and chances are you’re 75% of the way there. Whereas with a Spitfire, everything’s a bit more complex. That cockpit for instance, is exposed, usually to the point where you can see the pilot. Then of course there’s that distinctive camo paint-job, which are an immediate signal that this is a Spitfire and not just any old plane.

Heck, even the shape of the Spitfire itself is very distinctive. In fact, during the war it was one of the few ways Joe Public could sniff out the Luftwaffe. So as you can imagine, getting a Spitfire drawing spot on is a ‘must’. With it being such an aviation icon, so many people know it like the back of their hand – even teenagers! In which case, the slightest of errors immediately becomes a picking point. But don’t let that worry you…

You see, drawing a Spitfire can be easy (key caveat) if you know how. So to help you get your Spitfire drawing right first time, I’ve dissected this iconic aeroplane into 4 simple steps. That way you can learn exactly how to draw a spitfire easy. So easy in fact, that I’d be tempted to say that this guide is child friendly! Want to dive into it? Read on…

After something specific about how to draw a Spitfire? Or just curious what a complete Spitfire drawing looks like? Use the menu below to track down all the info you need in 1 click…

Step 1 of a Spitfire Drawing: Sketch out a skeleton

As with any sketch, the first part of a Spitfire drawing is to define it’s key skeleton. By that I mean use a series of lines (like the ones below) to get its rough shape on the page. That way the body of your Spitfire should be nice and even. Try to draw a Spitfire without some sort of initial guidance (like this) and you’ll find mastering the perspective substantially more difficult. Not only that but it allows you to get the core shape correct too. Something that’s essential to securing that all-important likeness.

Thankfully though, for the Spitfire, this is actually quite straight forward. A simple horizontal line is good for the body A slightly curved line at around 45 degrees works well for the front wings. And as for the tail, that’s merely a trio of lines fanning outwards. So all-in-all, not too mind bending. However…

before you put pencil to paper, do bear in mind that these lines are just for guidance – they’re not actually part of the drawing. Therefore you’d be wise to draw them lightly. Press on too hard and you could end up ruining your drawing before you’ve even started. Remember, while rubbers can to some extent work magic, the harder you press on, the more of a chore they’ll be to remove.

Step 2 of a Spitfire drawing: Create the outline

Once you’ve managed to lightly mark out your skeleton, the next step of drawing a Spitfire is a bit more complex. You see, it’s now when the plane truly starts to take shape. So much so that this is arguably ‘the’ most important part of drawing a Spitfire full stop. Reason being that if you don’t quite get the shape right, any drawing you go onto do from here won’t quite look right. Think of this step as building the foundations of a house. Get them right and the end result will be impressive. Get them wrong and you’ll most likely have to start again.

So take it from me – don’t rush this step. Study the outline below and try your best to get your outline looking the same. Proportion is everything with a Spitfire! But, in the case you’re finding it near-ion impossible, you could well ‘improvise’ (cough) cheat. Save the image below & print it off to scale, and you can quickly get an idea of where you’re going wrong. Now just to be clear, I don’t condone cheating, but in the case you’re learning from it, I do struggle see then harm in it. Besides, we all have to start somewhere.

In terms of drawing the outline of a Spitfire, I’d suggest you start with the wings first as they’re the easiest to get right. Then I moved onto the side of the fuselage and began shaping the tail. Only once I had all of this marked out did I then start refining the shape of the nose cone and marking out the cockpit. And even though at first glance the cockpit does look quite tricky, break it down into basic shapes, and it’s reasonably straight forward. Plus, having the rest of the plane sketched out for reference, makes this tricky detail a lot easier to get right first time.

* Still struggling? Study how I’ve structured the Spitfire’s body around the skeleton (Step 1).

Don’t have the time to do a life-like drawing? Let me do it for you!

Step 3 of a Spitfire drawing: Add in the details + decals

This is where your Spitfire drawing gets interesting.

Now that you’ve marked out the basic body shape, the next step is to actually look deeper into the design and start to add in other elements of detail like the camouflage paint-job, decals and of course, the 2 pilots. Looks and sounds pretty difficult, however providing you’ve done the groundwork (i.e. the previous 2 steps), then it should be relatively straight forward. Ask me and the trickiest area is the cockpit.

If you’re struggling with this, zoom into the outline I’ve done below. As I say with all my drawing tutorials, break them down into simple shapes and suddenly everything becomes a lot easier. For instance, the pilots on my Spitfire are simply a couple of circles, squares and semicircles. Other features not to forget are the creases on the body where the wings meet the fuselage, as well as the outline of the flaps in the wings.

Be sure to add all these features and you should start to see your drawing become more ‘Spitfire-ish’. Although it’s the next step where that likeness really starts to shine through.

* Be sure to rub out the Skeleton (drawn as part of Step 1) before drawing on the extra detail. Leaving it on will only make adding the detail more confusing. Plus, it’ll be harder to rub out too!

Step 4 of a Spitfire drawing: Define & add depth

Now comes the most complex part of the whole ensemble: shading in your Spitfire drawing to add depth & realism.

Ask me and the easiest way to go about doing this is to work in sections. I started with the back of the fuselage underneath the trail and worked down towards the front wings, leaving the cockpit til last. Reason being that with the Spitfire being up in the sky in direct contact with the sun, under the tail will be one of the darkest parts of your drawing. And that’s the thing you have to focus on when shading your Spitfire – where the light is going to hit. Get this right and you drawing should really start to POP!

So chances are along the top you’ll need to be very minimal in terms of shade, just perhaps a bit heavier if the camo paint changes to a darker tone. However, if you do press on too hard and you have done your drawing in pencil (not pencil crayon), the don’t forget that you can use a rubber to add in highlights + give the top of the wings a real shimmer. The area you’ll spend the most time is likely to be the cockpit, with it being the darkest and most intricate.

The keen eyed amongst you will also have spotted that up until now, I haven’t added a front propellor. Reason being that due to its speed, the propellor would be blurred, so to mark it out as a shape would only make it harder. In fact, for this drawing I slightly smudged by pencil to give it the illusion of movement. Although, you can get a nice blurring affect with chalk or watercolour pencils too!

Zoom in to see how & where I’ve applied the shade

And there you have it. How to draw a Spitfire in 4 easy steps. Congrats! Thanks for sticking with me.

For anyone who’s particularly fond of your picture, I’d encourage you to share it with me over social media. I’m always interested to see how others interpret my tutorials. Oh and don’t forget to tag me!

Plus, if you found this article useful and want to learn how to draw other iconic forms of transport, people, animals – you name it – be sure to check out the rest of my Drawing Blog and follow me on IG for updates on my latest work

Stay drawing!

Karen XxX

I don’t just draw Spitfires… I’m a portrait artist by trade. Want to work together?

Here’s why you should do a Spitfire drawing… (a few Spitfire facts)

Who invented the Spitfire?

The Spitfire was the brain-child of wartime engineer, R.J.Mitchell.

His fascination with inventing began when in 1917 when he joined Supermarine. And it showed, as in 1920 he was given the role of Chief Engineer, before later being promoted again to Technical Director in 1927. In his time at Supermarine, Mitchell invented a whole host of flying boats, racing seaplanes & fighter aircraft. In 1931 he was awarded CBE for his work on the Supermarine S.6B.

In the same year he also came up with the design for the Type 300 aeroplane. A plane that earned the approval of the RAF and later went on to become the Spitfire.

Why is it called a Spitfire?

Funny story actually, as it turns out that the Spitfire (a plane renowned for being ferocious & battle-ready) didn’t just get it’s name from the fact it could ‘spit’ serious levels of ‘fire’ at virtually anything in its path. As crazy as it sounds, it also owes a lot to the youngest daughter of Sir Robert McLean. Anne’s pet name was “The Little Spitfire”.

So as you can imagine, when the name was proposed in relation to McLean’s daughter, it wasn’t met with the same enthusiasm by the chairman of Vickers Aviation. In fact, he expressed serious dislike towards the name. An opinion that turned out to be quite common; the plane’s designer, R. J. Mitchell, was much agreement, saying it was “the sort of bloody silly name they would give it”. If the decision was left purely up to Mitchell, the Spitfire would’ve likely been named either the “The Scarab” or “The Shrew”.

Why is the Spitfire so famous? What’s SO special about it?

The reason the Spitfire has accrued quite the fan club is no doubt down to how many crucial RAF campaigns it starred in during World War 2. In terms of air combat, the Spitfire really did give Britain the advantage. So much so that it’s almost become a symbol of the war victory itself. Spitfires took place in the Battle Of Britain (1940), the Air battle for Malta (1940-42) & D-Day (1944).

Here’s some quick-fire stats on the Spitfire…

  • The engine of a Spitfire had 1130 horsepower, which gave it a top speed of over 350mph!! (362 to be precise)
  • Each wing was equipped with eight 303 machine guns capable of delivering 160 rounds per second!
  • The Spitfire’s wing design was unique & made it incredibly manoeuvrable. Agility that gave Spitfires a significant advantage over their German opponents.

* The latest Spitfire (the MK IX) is even more gruesome. So much so that it makes the original look a bit tame. A Spitfire Mark IX has over 1700 horsepower & was even better equipped. The MK IX has both 20mm cannons and.50 calibre machine-guns!!

How many Spitfires are left?

In relation to how many were built, the answer is very few. That’s because in the 10 years between 1938 & 1948 over 20 thousand Spitfires were built! However fast forward to the present day and there’s only around 240 that remain. Of these 240, only about 60 are airworthy!

How much is a Spitfire worth?

Just like with exotic hypercars or one-off pieces of art, a Spitfire is really worth what someone is willing to pay. For instance, back in 2015 a Spitfire sold at auction for £3,106,500! So really, it’s hard to put a value on a Spitfire, as its worth in terms of £££ very much depends on how much it’s worth those who have the money to submit a bid. In other words, as long as it remains an iconic, the price should remain equally as steep.

Want to get an idea of the costs involved with owning a Spitfire? Check out this article from Goodwood.

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