How to Draw Wildstyle Graffiti Letters

By Amanda Tromley
Wildstyle graffiti tags are often embellished with arrows.

Perhaps one of the most difficult styles of graffiti to master, wildstyle tags usually appear abstract and virtually unreadable. Thick outlines, interwoven lines and embellishments such as arrows give this style of graffiti its distinctive look. Additionally, some artists give their tags a drop shadow or three-dimensional block-lettering look, which serves to make the graffiti even harder to read. Naturally, this intricate art form takes some practice to get it right.

Write your text in plain letters across the paper. Leave space between the characters for building up the shape of the letters.

Sketch the desired shape of each letter, using the plain text as a guide. Use light pencil strokes so you can erase and correct them as you draw.

Weave the letters together by extending certain lines, such as the horizontal line of an H or the curve of a C. Bend and push your lines so that the letters begin to merge. Allow some letters to wrap around others. Remember that wildstyle graffiti should look abstract and difficult to read. Draw arrows to replace the ends of lines and make them shoot out in different directions. Add a drop shadow or draw lines from the corners to create three-dimensional letters.

Use a black marker to trace the outlines of your tag. Use the motion of your elbow or shoulder to draw smooth lines by lifting your hand off the drawing surface. Make the main outline of your characters heavy and even thicker where lines meet. Rounded lines should also have thicker outlines.

Set your drawing aside for several hours. When the marker dries completely, erase all pencil lines.

Color in the outlines with light-colored markers, and then build up depth by coloring some edges with a darker hue of your base color. Allow the marker to dry before coloring over it with a new color, or else the markers will bleed into each other.

Use colored pencils to draw highlights on your letters after the markers have dried.

Tip

Practice drawing wildstyle graffiti by trying to re-create your favorite tags.

About the Author

Educated at the Elkhart Area Career Center in Indiana, Amanda Tromley has worked as an illustrator and graphic designer for more than 10 years. Additionally, she writes and designs a blog that provides tips, tutorials, and tools for professional and amateur artists. Tromley began writing professionally in 2007 with articles on a variety of topics appearing in print newsletters and popular websites, including eHow.