How to Draw Wind
Wind is something you can’t actually see. It’s a movement of air, which in itself is invisible. This makes wind a hard and intangible thing to draw, and yet in many ways more fun than drawing that which is visible. It’s an exercise in thinking visually and rendering that which can’t be seen through its effects on that which can.
Fire up your favorite drawing program. It doesn’t matter which one, but it’s preferable that it has layers so that you can draw over your rough sketches and move things if need be. I prefer to use Adobe Photoshop, but software such as Corel Painter, GIMP or Autodesk Sketch will also allow you to draw on layers.
Make sure you’re on an empty layer (you might have to create one if you have to (fig. 1,2), select a drawing tool (fig. 3), and let’s make some wind! (I like to use a fairly thin, hard brush without soft edges and maybe 5-10 pixels wide, but you can use anything you’re comfortable with. Your software will give you all kinds of options, so you can experiment and see what suits you best (fig. 3.)
Here we go! It’s about to get windy!
Figure 1: Create a new layer so you’re not drawing on your background.
Figure 2: Make sure you have your layer selected.
Figure 3: Choose your tool and play around with it so that you are comfortable drawing with it.
I like movies and so I think about my scene cinematically. Think of where the wind is coming from and where you want the movement to go through your drawing. I like to actually draw it and then turn the opacity of the layer to 50% or less, so I can use the rough sketch as a guideline.
Make a new layer like before and switch to that one. This is where you will be drawing.
Figure 4: Make sure you have your layer selected
This is the part that is the most time-consuming, but also the most fun.
Think about what happens when a gust of wind blows through wherever you are – it kicks things up, maybe blows things away or out of your hand. Think about the small objects in the environment that’s depicted in your drawing. Maybe it’s fall and the wind will make leaves swirl around, or maybe it’s downtown in a big city where people may have newspapers out or be holding documents.
Once you decide what you want blowing around, you can take these things and draw them swirling about, following the lines that you’ve drawn to guide yourself so that they are following the direction of the wind.
Remember that wind is never uniform. It gusts and flurries, and so it’s best to draw things flying around in clumps and not randomly all over the place. This will show the movement and the irregularity of what the wind is doing.
Now you have some stuff blowing around. Let’s make it interact with our environment! Remember to always think about your wind direction when you draw in people or trees or anything else. Trees will bend with the wind; people’s hair will fly in the direction the wind is blowing. If someone has had something blown out of their hands, it should follow the wind’s path.
In this example, I’m drawing a man who’s had his briefcase blown out of his hand. His tie and his hair are both following the direction of the wind.
You can turn off your layer that is the guideline for your wind and you now have a windy scene! The scene actually doesn’t need any lines to show the wind itself, as everything is following the air movement creating the illusion of wind blowing through your scene. If you would like to be more literal or try for an effect that’s often used in comics, you can draw in some lines similar to the ones you made as guidelines, or wisps of cloudiness to suggest the movement of air. Straight or swirly, it’s up to you, purely a stylistic choice!
Our scene with the sketch of the wind still active.
Without any explicit lines showing the wind now, it still looks windy!
Some simple lines. One good trick is to overlap them over some objects, but make them go under others, to suggest depth.
Or, you can opt to be fancy and have some cloudy swirls suggest the wind.
There you have it. A little drawing of a windy day. Now, you can create a new layer and use colored brushes to add some color to your drawing. Set your layer’s opacity mode to “Multiply” (fig. 5) so that you won’t see the color go over the outlines, and you can draw your color in like in a children’s coloring book.
Have fun with your windy scenes!
Figure 5: Change your layer’s opacity mode to “Multiply” when coloring.