To celebrate the launch of our own ‘Read + Doodle Book’, which includes the classic Sherlock Holmes story “A Case of Identity”, here is some simple advice on how to draw a Sherlock Holmes easy doodle. So, grab a pencil and have a go at drawing the great detective for yourself. Follow our easy step by step drawing instructions, but also feel free to add your own twist if you feel like it. There’s even a free printable worksheet if you’d like one.
Sherlock Holmes has to be the most famous literary detective of all time. His hugely enjoyable adventures are read by millions around the world. To draw an easily recognizable doodle of him it helps to think about all the elements we know and associate with him. Most obvious is the deerstalker hat, the pipe, the Inverness cape, and perhaps a magnifying glass.
It’s fascinating how a popular image emerges for those who live only in our imagination. “A gentleman who never lived and will never die” as Orson Welles once put it. “There are only a few of them, these permanent profiles, ever lasting silhouettes on the edge of the world.” Sherlock Holmes’ image has changed over the years since he first appeared in print in 1887. It’s credit to his own longevity that new interpretations are still appearing, each adding to his status as the greatest detective. Still, there are many features that have become fixed in our imaginings though. Today we are picking up a few of those for our own easy drawing of Sherlock Holmes.
Let’s get drawing Sherlock Holmes step by step…
Draw some foundation shapes
We’re going to draw Sherlock Holmes as a head and shoulders view. So first we will draw a few simple guide shapes that will help you get his likeness as you proceed. Draw these lightly as they are for your guidance rather than part of the finished drawing.
Step 1 (above):
Start off by drawing a simple circle.
We know from the original Sherlock Holmes stories that he had a “thin, eager face”, and he has often been portrayed that way. Add a triangle guide shape below the circle (see the way I have done this below). It will help you draw the outline of Holmes’ face later. You don’t need to draw the size markers, these are here to help you think about the proportion of the head to the face and chin.
We now draw a sloping curved line across the circle. Imagine it to be a line drawn around a ball. It starts on the left at about half the total height and curves upwards slightly around the head to the right. Next drop a vertical line down from this line to be our guide for the nose. This should be roughly a quarter of the overall height long. Finally draw a horizontal line to mark the position of the mouth.
Draw in Sherlock Holmes’ facial features
Sherlock Holmes is often portrayed with a fairly long nose. In the stories it is described as being ‘thin’ and ‘hawk-like’. Use the guide line you’ve already drawn to position and draw the nose. The curving guide line through the circle is very helpful for then positioning eyes and brows. Think about showing a thoughtful expression with the brow. Perhaps take time to look in a mirror at how your own brows move to take this expression. That curving guide line is also useful for drawing in the cheekbones and also the ear. Put Sherlock’s ear just behind the place where the jaw guide line meets the circle. Finish with the mouth.
We want to give the impression of his long thin face, so draw in the chin which does most to emphasize this. Use the guide line you have already drawn to help you get the position right. In our drawing Holmes’s forehead is hidden under a hat. Define this boundary by drawing two sweeping curving lines to create a brim at the front just above his eyes. He is described as having black hair — “His head was sunk upon his breast, and he looked from my point of view like a strange, lank bird, with dull grey plumage and a black top-knot.” Draw in some hair where it shows behind his ear and below his hat.
Drawing the famous deerstalker hat, pipe and cape
We all know that Sherlock Holmes wore a deerstalker hat, it’s his most famous trade-mark attire! But actually throughout the entire stories it is only ever described once, and then as a “ear-flapped travelling-cap”. Draw in the deerstalker hat, along with its ear flaps which tie up in a bow at the top. Note that the height of the hat extends up above the guide line circle of his head, as it would when you or I wear a hat. With that hat he’s really beginning to look like Sherlock now.
Next comes the pipe. Sherlock Holmes is noted for smoking a pipe, and he appears to have several throughout the stories. He even favors different ones depending on his mood. Oddly he isn’t described smoking a curvy calabash pipe — but that is how he is most often portrayed. So, let’s keep him instantly recognizable and at least draw in a curvaceous shaped pipe for him. Perhaps add a trail of smoke to give your drawing a sense of animation.
We’ll finish him by adding some clothing. Another common portrayal for Sherlock Holmes is the cape. We often think of it as an ‘Inverness’ cape, but more accurately it was an ‘Ulster’. We only need draw a simple representation of this, so add a high collar, shoulders, and maybe a button.
Well done! You have now drawn a fine doodle of Sherlock Holmes.
It’s looking great. Keep that enthusiasm going! Why not add a decorative frame and a Victorian-style name banner? Finally get you pens and paints out to add a nice wash of color to really finish it off.