how to draw a brain

How to Draw a Brain – Learn to Create a Realistic Brain Drawing

Learning how to draw a brain is an interesting exercise as it simultaneously enhances your drawing skills as well as your knowledge about the brain. Learning how to draw a brain is an interesting task, this is because the brain is responsible for the complete functionality of the body. To gain a good knowledge of the brain through brain drawing is a great way to better understand anatomy and its connection to the brain. Understanding the brain through a brain line drawing or a diagrammatic method can also break down the different components of the brain and can help us better understand its complex composition. In this tutorial on how to draw a brain, we are simultaneously learning how to draw whilst simultaneously learning about the brain.



Before We Draw

In this tutorial, we will be learning how to draw a brain in a cross-section. Learning how to draw a cross-section of the brain is the best way to learn about the brain as we learn how to draw the different components of the brain.  As we learn to draw a brain step by step, we will see how the brain is made of various segments. Learning to draw each segment comes with its own set of challenges.

Some areas are more detailed than others, which we will break down into digestible bites!

However complex a brain drawing might seem, you will find throughout this tutorial that this is quite an easy brain drawing. It just requires a little time as you go through each aspect of the brain. With that being said, let us see what materials we will need for this tutorial on how to draw a brain.


Necessary Materials

When doing something complex like a brain sketch or a brain drawing, the best is to use a combination of pen and pencil. Using these tools in tandem can help us achieve the finer details within the brain line drawing aspects of this tutorial. We want to have a sharpener and an eraser to help us through this tutorial, as we will want our pencils sharp and to fix any mistakes along the way.

We will also want some good-quality paper for this tutorial.

Lastly, we will be using a source image, which is linked in this tutorial for reference. Learning how to draw a brain requires having a diagram to guide us along the way as we learn about the different components that make up the brain.  All items can be found online:

  • Pencils
  • Ballpoint pen
  • Micron pen
  • Eraser
  • Sharpener
  • Good paper (200 g/m – 250 g/m recommended)
  • Source material (could be from your phone or a printed image)



A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Draw a Brain

In this tutorial, we will be going through the step-by-step process of how to draw a brain. We will be drawing a brain in a diagrammatic cross-section, whereby we can have a full grasp of the different components that the brain is composed of. We will be using a reference image for this drawing of a brain, guiding us through the process of drawing the brain.

We will begin by forming the brain with our pencils and we will then proceed to add some shading to the brain to create contrast and depth to the drawing. Lastly, we will then shade the brain drawing with our pens, using our pencil marks to guide the pen-shading process. Lastly, the reference image we will be using shows the form and components of the brain without labels.

A good idea would then be to have another image nearby that provides you with labels of each component in the brain so that you do not get confused by the different names throughout the tutorial. Now that we are ready, let us go through this tutorial on how to draw a brain step by step.


Step 1: Forming the Brain With a Pencil Sketch

We want to take our HB pencils and begin by drawing a general light circle on the page which will demarcate the scale of the brain drawing. We will then proceed to make a light sketch of the brain using the reference image to guide us.

Slowly observe the image and see how the different components are situated next to each other.

brain sketch 01 As we go through the different aspects of the brain, some might take a little time to get right. So, keep your eraser nearby as this part of the tutorial requires a little trial and error to get right. For instance, the cerebellum has a branch-like quality to it, so take your time trying to get it right with your pencil as you constantly refer to the source image until you are satisfied.

Taking our time with the brain sketch part of the tutorial is important.

This is because, for one, the brain is complex so we want to slowly and attentively consider each component compared to our source image and where to place each component within the brain drawing. Secondly, these pencil marks will guide us in the pen-shading process of the tutorial. So let us concentrate on getting the pencil marks as accurate as possible.

brain sketch 02 The center of the brain is complex and each component of the brain fits seamlessly together. For instance, the corpus callosum arches over the Massa Intermedia and the choroid plexus. It is not vital you know the names of these components for the drawing, but it will help to have a labeled diagram of the brain with you throughout the process.

This will help you see how each of these components fit together within the brain.

brain sketch 03 The reference image that we are using within this tutorial is a diagrammatic rendition of the brain, however, it does not provide labels for each component. So try to go onto the internet and print out or have aside from a labeled brain diagram if you get confused with the names of different brain components mentioned within this tutorial.

We should slowly begin to finalize the componentry of the brain with a light pencil sketch.

brain sketch 06 We can also give the brain drawing a light sketch, slightly detailing the different shapes and forms of the components. We are not trying to do a hyper-realistic rendition of a brain cross-section. However, we want some slight shading to help describe the form of the brain.

Before we move on to the pen-shading part of the tutorial, consider the form of the brain and how the components are fitting together.

Take a moment to analyze the source image and see how the large portions encompass the smaller components within the center of the brain. We want to make sure we have an accurate representation of our brain in pencil before moving on to the pen shading.


Step 2: Outlining Intricate Parts of the Brain

We are now going to use the pencil marks that we have drawn to guide some degenerate outlining of certain parts of the brain. This is helpful for the more detailed and intricate areas of the brain. Let us begin by taking our Micron pen, preferably a 04mm sized tip, and begin to outline the bottom parts of the brain.

This encompasses the cerebellum, medulla oblongata, and the pons.

brain sketch 08 We will find ourselves underlining various aspects of the brain with a pen to better demarcate areas for shading. However, let us focus on the cerebellum predominantly as it has a unique tree-like structure that needs some clear distinct lines to help guide the shading process.

easy brain drawing 09 We want to have the cerebellum predominantly outlined, as the rest of the components within the brain are slightly simpler in structure and unnecessary to demarcate with outline marks.

However, since we are drawing this brain according to a reference image, we can see that the cerebellum requires a little more attention.


Step 3: Shading the Bottom Parts of the Brain With a Pen

Now that we have our drawing and have demarcated some intricate parts of the brain with a pen, we can now proceed with shading our brain with the pen. Let us begin with the areas we just refined with outlines, as we proceed to shade always refer to the source image for guidance. For instance, we can see these ripple-like qualities around the tree-like aspect of the cerebellum. Around the cerebellum, we can also use our ballpoint pen to add some darker features in between and around the tree-like structure to bring out its form a bit more clearly.

Try focusing on the weird little ripple qualities around the cerebellum as you refer to your source image for guidance.

easy brain drawing 11 Around the spinal cord, pons, and cerebellum are where the drawing is perhaps its most complex. We want to focus on these aspects first and slowly define them using our ballpoint pen. Allow yourself to make soft and steady marks with your pen. Try and pay attention to the amount of pressure that you apply to your shading marks as you go.

Lighter pressure means lighter marks and darker pressure means darker marks.

easy brain drawing 13 Similar ripple-like quality can be seen in the pons as well. The pons has an egg-like shape which means that the lines on the pons slightly curve. Let’s pay attention to how we curve these ripples around the object allowing for the marks to define a curvature within this component of the brain.

Again, refer to an image online for any names that you might not know. 

easy brain drawing 15 Since we have tackled the shading of the bottom part of the brain, we can slowly work our way up the brain, toward the center components within the brain. The parts of the brain, such as the pituitary gland, are quite simple in shape. We can allow some freedom now around shading in these simpler structures.

Remember, when shading in a pen, we want to pay attention to the pressure that we apply to our pen as we go.


Step 4: Shading the Center Part of your Brain Drawing

We can now put some emphasis on the center components of the brain. These components are quite small and require some focus. We can refer to our source image as we shade around the pituitary gland, focusing on the large surface area that surrounds it.

We can also see how this surface area starts to merge with the area in the center of the brain that surrounds the thalamus.

easy brain drawing 17 The thalamus seems as if it is protruding, we achieve this effect by shading the surface area around it, leaving some negative space around it to create the protruding effect. We can also give it some definition by shading the bottom section of its bean-like shape, allowing it to seem more three-dimensional. The area surrounding the thalamus is called the septum pellucidum, which has a rib-like quality.

We can represent this area by creating a series of shaded lines that surround the choroid plexus, corpus callosum, and thalamus.

brain line drawing 20 As we constantly refer to our source image whilst shading, again, we want to be reminded of the pressure that we are applying to the pen as we shade in. Whilst focusing on the center of the brain, consider each component and how they are positioned next to each other. Since our source image is in color, we can also play around with the various degrees of contrast that we apply to our drawing with our pen.

Take some time around the center part of the brain, as it is composed of various parts with different shapes and textures.

You also begin to shade the larger areas of the brain surrounding the center part of the brain, these areas are much simpler to shade as we are simply shading the outer edges of this part of the brain.  As you shade in your image, you can also slowly build up your gradients with overlapping layers of pen marks. You can do this by using cross-hatching techniques.

brain line drawing 21 The corpus callosum is a unique part of the brain, located above the septum pellucidum. This part, according to our source image, has a very ribbed-like quality. Similar to the septum pellucidum, we can achieve this quality by making a series of shaded lines, moving along the surface area of the corpus callosum.

We want to create a ribbed-like quality within this component of the brain.


Step 5: Shading the Outer Regions of the Brain

As you can see, the brain is made up of a membrane that makes up most of the brain. This membrane looks like a single structure surrounding the brain according to the source image, however, it is composed of a few components. These components fall under the cerebrum, which consists of the various Lobes surrounding the brain.

Shading this part of the brain is the easiest part of this tutorial, as we can shade around the lines within the cerebrum.

brain line drawing 22 From this point on, you have greater freedom with how you can approach the shading for this part of the brain. A good suggestion is to simply shade from the lines, creating a gradient that shifts from the dark to light.

Shade darkly where the outer and inner lines are drawn, and slowly fade them as the shading marks meet within the central portions of the tube-looking structure, otherwise known as the cerebrum.

brain line drawing 23 Try to allow yourself to slowly work some darker tones around the outer rim of the cerebrum. However, feel free to be playful with how you shade this part of the brain. The gradient effect will give the drawing a little more depth, giving the drawing a little more nuanced, which will make it seem more realistic.

brain line drawing 24 We can now proceed to follow the same principle of shading as we go through the whole outer membrane of the brain. However, this can take some time so, again, allow yourself to take a break now and then as you shade in the outer part of the brain.

As this is the last stage of the tutorial, we should be left with a relatively well-drawn diagrammatic cross-section of a brain!

brain line drawing 25



Tips to Remember

  • Keep an eraser nearby, as this will help you throughout your drawing process.
  • We want to keep your pencils sharp during the early phases of getting the proportions correct.
  • Spend time on the early stage of getting the proportions correct whilst using a pencil. This will make it easier in the steps when we use a pen for shading.
  • Remember to take breaks throughout the process. This is because the drawing process can be quite strenuous.
  • Pay attention to the pressures that you apply to your pen whilst you shade in the brain.
  • Most importantly, have fun as you learn how to draw the brain, but also as you learn about the brain and how it is formed by various components.


Drawing a simple brain sketch or attempting to do a detailed diagrammatic brain drawing is a great way to enhance both your knowledge of drawing and the brain. This is not necessarily an easy drawing of brain tutorial, but it is very digestible if approached with patience. Learning how to develop a brain line drawing into a well-shaded diagrammatic brain drawing is a cool way to learn how to draw a brain. This tutorial breaks down how to draw a brain step by step, giving you a better understanding of how the brain looks!



Frequently Asked Questions


How Do I Draw an Accurate Brain?

There are many ways to draw a brain. Whether we are drawing a simple brain sketch or trying to draw a complex diagrammatic brain, we should work with a reference image for support throughout the drawing process. Drawing a brain requires attention to detail, so using an image for reference is a great way to create an accurate brain drawing. If we want to make an accurate brain drawing, we need to consider where each component exists within the brain in comparison to one another. As we construct the brain drawing, we need to slowly draw a brain step by step, by first organizing and forming the general shape with a light pencil. We then proceed to refine the shape and place the details into the general form. slowly building the brain drawing. So we need a reference image, we need to concentrate on forming the shape, and then lastly, we need to slowly add details step by step. Most importantly, take your time. 


How to Draw a Cross-Section of a Brain?

A cross-section of the brain is the most helpful in understanding the make-up of a brain. In this tutorial, we go through the various steps on how to draw a brain in a cross-section. We go through a few steps whereby we first construct a brain line drawing with our pencils, keeping the brain sketch light until we are satisfied that we have correctly achieved the form of the brain. We then proceed to refine our brain line drawing with more pencil details, going through the process of how to draw a brain step by step. We then continue by using our pens to go over and give more contrast to the shading of the brain drawing, ultimately creating an accurate representation of the brain within our brain drawing.


How to Draw an Easy Brain Sketch?

This tutorial goes through a more detailed process of how to draw a brain, however, the process is similar to drawing a simpler brain sketch. Using a reference image for drawing a brain just helps to capture the shape and overall form of a brain. Using a reference image of a brain will help guide you in forming the features of the brain that just allows the drawing to clearly define that it is a brain. Otherwise, when it comes to light doodling and sketching, we can keep our marks loose and not worry too much about mistakes. So, allow yourself to explore mediums as you attempt to do a brain sketch. Most importantly, have fun with the process.


Cite this Article

Matthew, Matthysen, “How to Draw a Brain – Learn to Create a Realistic Brain Drawing.” Art in Context. July 13, 2022. URL:

Matthysen, M. (2022, 13 July). How to Draw a Brain – Learn to Create a Realistic Brain Drawing. Art in Context.

Matthysen, Matthew. “How to Draw a Brain – Learn to Create a Realistic Brain Drawing.” Art in Context, July 13, 2022.

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