Cartoons frequently make use of the visual cliché of lightbulbs. You can see one arise and start glowing whenever someone has an idea or figures out an answer.
So, there’s no better way to capture the excitement of a “lightbulb” moment than with a drawing. The traditional lightbulb is widely regarded as a symbol of intelligence. Furthermore, even scientists have discovered that seeing a lightbulb, or even just an illustration of one, can help inspire creativity.
Simply put, drawing a lightbulb can encourage creative visualization. As a result, you come up with new ideas and fresh solutions for challenges.
Here I'm going to share six exciting lightbulbs you can use as part of your visual communication. You can incorporate these into your infographics, presentations, or even visual notes for a fun touch.
Why do Lightbulbs make a great add-on to your visual vocabulary?
Lightbulbs are versatile icons. They are an easy addition to your visual vocabulary because of how simple making them is. This can boost confidence as, over time, you'll produce lightbulbs all over your sketch notes with little effort.
In my opinion, lightbulbs are an easy starting point in sketchnoting. You can add a lightbulb over any concept that stands out to you. Consequently, this also helps you understand ideas as you can spotlight those you connect with.
Different Lightbulb Styles
Before we start, I recommend grabbing your favorite marker, pen, and paper. You can draw along as we go through the various steps of drawing each lightbulb. Remembering how to draw them in the future will become a breeze this way, as practice makes perfect!
1. Ashton-style Lightbulb
Start the drawing by drawing the left side of your light bulb base. This is a straight, short vertical line. Then, draw a circle from the top of the base in a swooping motion. This represents the glass body of your light bulb. Finally, add another line where the circle ends, mirroring the left-side line you drew at the beginning.
Join the two vertical lines with a circular line to complete your base. At the bottom of the base, draw up to three layers to create the cap of the lightbulb. These layers can be drawn in various ways, and we'll go through more options further down. But, for this tutorial, add the lines in a straight line to represent the screws.
The outline of your bulb is now complete. Next, add a small box under the lightbulb to represent its connector. You can leave your lightbulb as is, but since I love swirls, I doodle in contact wires on top of two lines going out of the base.
2. Round Lightbulb
This is one of the most effortless lightbulbs you can make. The first step is to draw a circle as the lightbulb's body. Don't worry if your circles aren't perfect in any step. To make the base, sketch in a smaller circle, joining with the base of the initial circle.
Add in your screws at an angle in your base. For even more detailing, you can sketch another take on the filament. It's as easy as drawing two perpendicular vertical lines at a slight angle from the lower edge of the lightbulb body. Lastly, connect them with a little bump to complete your drawing.
3. LED-inspired Bulb
Draw in the circular body of your lightbulb just as you do for the Ashton-style lightbulb leaving the vertical side lines open. Again, remember, this does not have to be flawless. Connect your base with a rounded line.
You can get as creative as possible with the screw lines and other details. For example, for this lightbulb, I chose a point on the side of the base and drew random lines to the other edge from it.
I drew inspiration from the circular inner portion of LED lights for the inside. Start with a small circle roughly in the middle of the bulb. Next, draw a straight line from its edge down to the base to connect it to the filament.
4. Upside Down Lightbulb
Start with a complete circle, but don’t worry if its shape is slightly oval. This time, instead of drawing in the base at the bottom, illustrate a square at the top of your lightbulb glass body. For the screws, draw horizontal lines from the base sides.
Take a look at the filaments you drew in designs one and two. For this lightbulb variation, we'll combine the angled vertical lines from the round bulb and the swirly connector from the Ashton bulb. Since our bulb is rotated, you can draw a wireline to show how it hangs off a ceiling.
You can mix and match various elements from each lightbulb to design your unique version.
5. Long Lightbulb
This is where I'll add a few ways to switch things up and make them exciting. Begin with your Ashton lightbulb glass body, leaving the baselines open. Connect the open ends with a straight line. For the screw, doodle a single thin vertical layer and a second wide layer below it. This should look a lot like an energy-saving lightbulb.
To change up the connector, add a small circle under the screw layers. Additionally, sketch in a wavy line going from the bottom of your glass body toward the top, but not all the way up. Although not essential, you can finish your illustration with leaves and little lines to represent stems to represent growth.
6. Circular Lightbulb
This style is very similar to our round lightbulb. Begin with a circle; however, this time, instead of open lines, join the edges. For the base, doodle in wide circles that look like screw-edges. As you draw in more screws, make them smaller than the one above for an outline that looks like an inverted triangle.
Add vertical lines going up from the base into the glass body for the filament, ensuring they are apart from each other in width. Connect these lines with a swirl.
Draw along with me in this YouTube Video:
Add Color to your Lightbulbs
To find out more about my favorite markers for sketchnoting and illustrations, check out this article. The outliner markers of this set are ideal for drawing lightbulbs because they don't mix in or bleed with other colors.
You can use a broad yellow marker to add inside shadows and other definitions without bleeding. The key is to let the black outline dry out completely. For outer shadows, a broad grey marker works best. Feel free to add shine lines surrounding your lightbulbs to highlight an illuminated idea.
Let me know in the comments below which lightbulb design you like the most or have tried drawing! Feel free to experiment with the ideas above and come up with something one-of-a-kind.
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