Messing Up a Guardians of the Galaxy Drawing

Guardians of the Galaxy Header

I’m sure I’ve said this in many other posts…but sometimes drawings work out, and sometimes they just don’t happen the way you want. Unfortunately, I ran face first into the latter scenario this weekend! After a fairly successful Star Trek drawing, I decided to take a crack at the Guardians of the Galaxy crew. I’ve been trying to get myself caught up on the Marvel movies for Avengers Infinity War, so I watched the second movie a couple days ago. Much like the first Guardians, I really loved this one. I thought it would be cool to capture these great characters on paper, and dove right into a sketch.

Now, this project started out well enough. The basic sketch was fine I think; the outlines generally looked like the actors. I could recognize Chris Pratt’s Starlord/Peter Quill and Dave Bautista’s Drax for the most part. Zoe Saldana’s Gamora was a bit less distinctive, but I felt like I could make it work once I started shading. And Rocket the Raccoon…well, he looked like a racoon. Actually, Rocket looked sort of like my version of a Billybumbler from the Dark Tower series…I probably leaned heavily on that drawing experience. Here’s how the basic outline looked:


But, there’s something I didn’t even consider before starting this…I’ve never drawn a person with green skin. As it turns out, that was a surprisingly major issue. Natural human skin tones have become easier over time; mix varying amounts of browns, peaches, and white, then drop in some gray for shadows. Blend the entire package, and there you go. Different ethnicities aren’t hard, because you just adjust how much and which variant of brown.

But green skin? Yeah, that’s a totally different ballgame apparently. Here’s the key: with natural human colored skin, I can still see my outline marks. But, after filling in a base coat of green, as with Gamora and Drax, I realized I was turning everything into a blob of color! I completely lost the focus of the characters, and this became a salvage job very quickly. I think I was able to partially recover Gamora; she doesn’t look like Zoe Saldana at all, but at least it’s not distractingly bad. But Drax…oh man, he looks like The Rock now. That’s right, I’ve apparently transformed Dave Bautista into The Rock. So, if you’ve ever wondered what it would be like if The Rock had been cast in Guardians of the Galaxy, here you go.

Just have a look at this craziness:


So, that’s a big swing and a miss on both Drax and Gamora. Peter Quill turned out okay I suppose; he looks basically like Chris Pratt, but it’s not an especially strong drawing. I think because I spent so much time editing our two green heroes, Starlord’s lines seem much lighter. I probably should have darkened him up a bit, to match the rest. And Rocket the Raccoon is just fine, but not anything special either.

The way Drax turned out is a real shame, because Bautista really stole the show in the second Guardians of the Galaxy. He was absolutely hilarious, so it would have been good to capture him properly. Although Drax was a standout, really all of the characters are great in these two Guardians movies. Quill and Rocket crack me up, Dramora is a great character, and baby Groot acting like a cranky child is funny. Also, I really like the secondary characters, especially Yondu. I’d have to say, I think the two Guardians movies are my favorites of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Amdall Guardians brief progression2

So, if I’m so unsatisfied with this drawing, why post it on the website? It’s a good question, and one that I don’t have a perfect answer for. Part of me wants to bury and forget sketches that don’t work out. But ultimately, I think it’s important to share both successes and failures. My hope is that maybe other artists and readers can gain something from another person’s struggles. Of course, if something ends up being just embarrassingly bad, I may have to make an exception. But I’m going to try to continue to share the weaker pieces along with the ones I really like.

Well, that’s all for this unsuccessful Guardians of the Galaxy drawing. I think I’m going to avoid green people in sketches now, because I don’t think it quite fits my skill set!


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  • I like the way you share your failures as well as your successes- it gives the rest of us hope! Not that your drawing is a ‘failure’ by most people’s standards.

    • I appreciate that! I enjoy sharing the bad along with the good, and if I feel like something failed, talking about why and how. Just the act of exploring the difficulties through writing helps me learn.

      And I like the idea that someone might relate to whatever challenge I shared, and it could help in some way.

  • I really love this post! And I totally know what you mean – sometimes drawings just don’t go the way we want. But I actually think this is really strong, especially because there’s a sense of movement here, of the characters being about to do something, and that draws me in.

    Thanks so much for sharing this, and for writing about the process! I get so much out of hearing how other artists work, especially when things take an unexpected turn. Unexpected turns are a big part of the process for many of us, I think, and it’s fascinating and helpful to see how other folks handle it.

    Well done, sir! 😀

    • I appreciate that Akire! I’m glad you enjoyed the write-up and the sketch. As you said, sometimes these things take their own paths – I have an instinct to fight it, if it’s not the direction I intended. But, I’m trying to be better and more flexible about that, and just let drawings flow. I really do think sketches turn out better when I loosen up a bit.

      Thanks for the comment and visiting – I look forward to seeing more from your site as well!

  • Loved your drawings ♥ keep going and sharing!
    You can also check mine on my blog.

  • I think Gamora actually turned out looking really good. It’s always good to analyze the parts we don’t like though. And I mean you have four subjects! That’s a lot of room for error. This is far from embarrassing in my opinion.

    • Thanks Blu, I appreciate that. After letting this one marinate a bit, I think I’m okay with this Gamora too. I still don’t think it looks like the actual actress, but as a stand-alone fictional alien, she isn’t too bad. I’ve still got to give myself a thumbs-down on good ol’ Drax the Destroyer though.

  • On further examination, I think I’m starting to see how Dave Bautista became The Rock. I made his face way too long, and the top of his head is too sharp. That was the biggest difference between the pencil outline and the final color product. I also think I added too much shadow to the eyes, but I was trying to combat the dark green and make the eyes stand out.

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