Do you want to know how to draw a scary drawing? Well, what makes a drawing scary? As humans, we seek comfort in the familiar. Our brains are designed to notice when something is “off.” Therefore, whenever we encounter something truly foreign to what we may perceive as “natural,” we automatically begin to feel uncomfortable, even scared.

I always tell my children that if there is something that scares them, they should learn more about it. Whether that scary thing is their classmate’s odd habits, or the structure of the roaches that crawl in the walls, challenging ourselves to understand the nature of something that is different is a key way to make it less scary.

So, if you are trying to create something that is scary in your art, the best way to go about it is to create something that will make your viewer uncomfortable by its very oddness, its very differentness if you will. Here are some tricks to make that happen.

How to draw a Scary Drawing in 3 easy steps

Unnatural Distortion

An easy way to create a feeling of “wrongness” is to take an ordinary object and distort it in an unnatural way. Think of the abnormally long fingers of the creepypasta Slenderman or Nosferatu. Our minds recognize when something is mostly normal, but just a little bit off, so that we can recognize the wolf in sheep’s clothing, so to speak.

Removing or changing facial features

Pivoting off of the distortion concept, you can try removing parts of an object or putting them somewhere where they usually wouldn’t be found. For instance, consider the Pale Man from Pan’s Labyrinth, or the Doctor Who episode “The Idiot’s Lantern.” In each of these instances, the artists have removed pieces of the characters’ faces, placed them elsewhere, or entirely erased them. It makes for some pretty creepy feels.

How to draw a scary drawing? Elongate and distort features like the those in this classic Nosferatu look.
Poster of Nosferatu by By logan81 on Adobe Stock

Disparate meshing

Finally, meshing two disparate things together really rubs us the wrong way as humans. We’re uncomfortable when we see the discarded clones of Ripley in Alien: Resurrection. Or when we see the spliced together side show gaffs of carnivals long past. It reminds us of the age-old warning not to play God. Not to make new life. Not to Frankenstein things together lest we get a monster.

Throw these three principles together. Then, add some teeth, some smoke, and some other classically scary items, and you have yourself a frightening image.

Sweet dreams!