How to draw ANYTHING (a quick-start guide) Part 7/10 — Learn to use focal points

Every element that’s placed on a drawing is calling for attention; let them all yell equally loud and the viewer won’t be able to discern what they’re saying (like on the looking for Waldo books). A good way to guide the viewer’s attention through our drawing and increase the readability of it is to set defined focal points and attention hierarchy among them.

To define focal points, just think of what should be noticed first and what should be noticed later, then organize your shapes and lines to create contrast in there. This could be achieved through clearing the surroundings of a shape to make it pop against void space or placing the other elements somehow as lines that point to it.

Our eyes will naturally go to the most “stressful” point of what we’re seeing, that meaning: where something breaks a uniform pattern, gets framed, or where two lines cross.

The best way to emphasize a focal point is to organize everything else in the drawing around it; making everything else to be a support element to it, like a clear statement on a speech to which every phrase leads.

To make a quick check on how effectively we’re guiding the attention we can do this:

  • Get far enough to see our whole drawing and stare at it.
  • Close our eyes firmly for a few seconds.
  • Open them suddenly and pay attention to what our eyes notice first while our vision stops being blurry

That pop up spot is our focal point.

Once we learn how to say stuff with shapes it becomes necessary to say it in proper order. Learning to manipulate the focal point of our composition automatically improves all of our visual communication and offers an overall better experience for any viewer.

If you have any thoughts, opinions or will like to consult me at something you can DM on twitter at @manuelberbin or email me at, if you got here and want to know a little more about me:

My name is Manuel Berbin, you can call me Manbe for short. I specialize in 2d vector cartoon illustration and concept development. I’ve been drawing cartoons my whole life and illustrating professionally at digital media for over 9 years. I was born in Venezuela but I’m currently living in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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I draw cartoons and sometimes animate them. Contact: Portofolio:

I draw cartoons and sometimes animate them. Contact: Portofolio: