In this short step-by-step tutorial you’ll learn how to draw a compass from start to finish, including the line art, colouring and shading.

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Step 1: Start with the basic shape

Compasses come in many shapes and sizes. Start by determining how complicated you want yours to be. The next step is to simply put in place the rings the will make up the compass.

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Step 2: Add the main pointers

The main point of a compass is to show you which way is north, east, south and west. Add the four main pointers to show these directions.

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Step 3: Ad secondary pointers

Now let’s add some more pointers. Start by adding some that indicate NE, SE, SW and NW. These should be slightly smaller than the main pointers. Next draw pointers that indicate the direction in between, These should, again, be slightly smaller than the previous ones.

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Step 4: Erase unwanted lines

By now you should have some lines showing through the pointers. You can now erase these lines to clean up the compass.

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Step 5: Add details

Let’s now add some final details to add some shape and texture to the compass and will make the whole thing look more three dimensiona

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Step 6: Flat colors

Time to get started with adding color. The first thing that we need to do is settle on the colors for the compass. Which colors work best depends a lot on what other colors you use in your map, so play around and see what looks best! For this compass I settled on a yellow (f2d78e), light green (c2ba80) and dark green (a3a25a).

Sometimes the black of the line art can look too stark on your map. In this case you may want to change the color of the line art. Take a very dark shade of the original colors and apply it to the line art.

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Step 7: Shadows

Now let’s add shadows to the icon. I have my light source in the top left corner. This means that the bottom right sides of the pointers will be covered in shadow. Also think of how some elements of the compass overlap other elements and cast a shadow. To draw the shadows, just take a darker shade of the original colors.


Step 8: Highlights

In this step we’ll add the highlights. We’ll do this the same way that we did with the shadows, except we’ll be drawing with a lighter shade of the colors. Make sure the highlights are on the opposite sides of the shadows. I usually draw them as thin lines on the surfaces which catch the light.