How to Draw Graffiti Backgrounds


All graffiti artists start in their sketchbooks. Besides learning the art of tagging, backgrounds are crucial to making your patterns pop. Just remember to check local laws, and get permissions from owners before taking your art to walls.

Things You'll Need

  • Pencils
  • Eraser
  • Sketchbook
  • Watercolors
  • Ink

A Platform for Your Words

  • There are two distinct types of graffiti backgrounds, but their objective is the same: to communicate a sense of space that the letters can occupy and say what needs to be said. A concrete background is based on real scenarios, while an abstract background is based on color without many tangible objects. Keep it simple at first and practice the concrete background.

  • The purpose of the concrete background is to bring an urban feel into a piece. Keep the bricks metrical and equally spaced.

  • For coloring, use watercolors in shades of gray or earth tones so that your letters will stand out.

  • Outline the bricks in ink once coloring is done. Add cracks for an aged feel, and any additional shading that will give the bricks a bit of a 3-D effect.

  • Other backgrounds to practice are the classic skyline, and the breakthrough, which is an effect which makes your letters appear to be breaking through the wall.

Abstract Backgrounds

  • Beginners should start with practicing clouds. This is a traditional to graffiti design. Begin with one layer in watercolors with the idea of overlapping shapes, using black for the first layer.

  • The second layer is blue. Continue overlapping with a series of ovals and circles.

  • Further enhancements can include an outline, or adding glow, which are sparkles from a light source.

  • Other backgrounds to practice in the abstract realm are patterns, and color fields, where black and white are treated as actual colors instead of highlights and accents.

Related Searches


  • Graff: The Art & Technique of Graffiti; Scape Martinez; 2009
  • Photo Credit graffiti image by michele goglio from
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