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Terrible Artist

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"With your crappy drawings, the comprehensible becomes incomprehensible."
Ichigo Kurosaki (regarding Rukia Kuchiki's "artwork"), Bleach

A subtrope of Stylistic Suck. Whenever a character not already informed or displayed to have any talent with art creates something, it will almost always be a crudely drawn thing that would make a grade school art teacher weep. Expect inconsistencies, weird space and size relations, a lack of perspective, and the coloring (often in crayon) to be both uneven and often go over the lines, while being professionally drawn in other departments. Often, the actual drawing won't be near as bad as the reactions they garner (this is the entertainment industry, after all), making this similar to Hollywood Homely in a sense.

A common payoff is for the terrible artwork to receive gushing praise from a would-be snob who believes True Art Is Incomprehensible.

If the drawing is so bad no one can tell what it's supposed to depict, it's Playing Pictionary.


Often combines with Her Code Name Was "Mary Sue" when in comic form. In some ways the opposite of Fourth-Wall Portrait. When applied to the calligraphy, becomes The Illegible, and when this is applied to music, Dreadful Musician. When combined with a deludedly positive view of their work, the artist is also Giftedly Bad.


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  • Big M. of Happy Heroes is revealed to be terrible at drawing in Season 8 Episode 12, where he has to make his drawings realistic to make them come to life with the magic pen. When Little M. sees that his drawing of a door looks more like a hole, he hires an art teacher to help him improve, and by the time he's done Big M. is able to draw a Fourth-Wall Portrait of a person that's so inconsistent with the show's art style that it doesn't come to life.
  • Mechamato: Amato's peers often comment on his poor drawing skills when he draws, with MechaBot comparing his sketches to chicken scratches. When the latter shows Amato's drawing for an assignment to some preschoolers, they also outcry that it's ugly.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Azumanga Daioh:
    • When Osaka tries to draw a panda, it scares the rest of the group.
    • Sakaki-san's inability to draw anything resembling anything is also pointed out more than once.
  • Bleach:
    • Rukia, who would accompany her explanations with incredibly cheesy drawings (of rabbits) that everybody treats as a lot more horrific than they really are.
    • While Rukia's adoptive brother Byakuya's drawings are somewhat better-made, they're just as cheesy as Rukia's. In one omake, Rukia sees him making a sculpture on the beach, and is in awe of how much better he is.
    • The promotional material for her division, the thirteenth, includes bunny-Ukitake. Apparently, his taste is also questionable, as he writes "Kuchiki, your drawings are good as usual!" on it.
  • When Daikichi is looking for Rin's birth tree in Bunny Drop, he asks Masako (Rin's neglectful mother), who is the only living person who knows where it is. She draws him a map. It's terrible. The fun part: Masako is a published mangaka.
    Daikichi: I thought you were an artist?!?
    Masako: Not the kind that draws maps!
  • Choco and Ando of ChocoMimi are both terrible artists, to the point of Choco's bad art skills being a minor Running Gag. Volume 3 has Ando draw his pet bird on one of the flyers promoting a school café, but it doesn't go well.
    Mimi: Draw something, Andrew! Like Picho!
    Ando: I'm not in class 2-A. [thinking] But I'll draw Picho! Anytime!
    [cut to Ando's drawing of Picho, who has four legs and menacing eyes]
    Choco: You monster! How cruel!
  • Digimon:
    • Tai's "map" in Digimon Adventure. He did not inherit his manga counterpart's artistic skill.
    • In Digimon V-Tamer 01, Rei Saiba asks to see what Hideto Fujimoto's monsters look like, which causes her older brother Neo to inform Hid of how much he sucks at drawing. He is much worse than Taichi at any rate.
  • Pokémon:
    • Yellow's human portraits in Pokémon Adventures aren't really good, but her other drawings are better.
    • Ash also tries his hand in the anime. He's not bad, but his traveling buddy Tracey did kinda set the bar pretty high...
  • The sign for Mr. Satan's brand new hotel featured in Dragon Ball: Yo! Son Goku and His Friends Return!! displays such terrible artwork that he doesn't want to press to take pictures of it. Of course they love it anyway, just like everything else he does.
  • Eyeshield 21
    • Art is the one class at which A-student Mamori doesn't excel, and her bad drawings are a Running Gag.
    • Conversely, Togano of the Ha-Ha Brothers is said to excel at Art, which is in fact the only class he isn't nearly failing... But when we see a few pages of the extremely derivative and unoriginal manga he's working on, the art's incredibly rough and difficult to follow, in what might be an in-joke about Art Evolution.
  • Mirajane from Fairy Tail may be the guild's resident Team Mom, but her drawings are awful. She breaks down crying whenever Gray accidentally brings it up.
  • Major Klaus Heinz von dem Eberbach from From Eroica with Love has a great many skills, but drawing is not one of them. His underlings are greatly amused whenever he has to pick up a pen, and on at least one occasion Agent B (if I remember correctly) was disappointed that the Major only wrote down a description instead of trying to draw the person being described.
  • In GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class, Homura's membership in the Art Club clearly did not improve his drawing skills any.
  • Haruka Nogizaka's Secret's Haruka is good at almost everything... except drawing.
  • In The Heroic Legend of Arslan, Narsus's paintings are (apparently) so bad that they occasionally send other characters in comedic BSODs, a prime example being when he's first introduced to Arslan. Daryun also frequently makes comments about Narsus's lack of artistic talent, and, in the Koei video game adaptation, Narsus's finishing move is painting something so unspeakably awful that it sends his opponent blasting off.
  • Miyako of Hidamari Sketch is a variation. While she is a Ditzy Art Genius, her drawings can sometimes range from demented scribbles to horrifyingly freaky depictions of however the object being drawn appears in her messed-up brain.
  • Subverted in Inuyasha — given that he's the Kitsune equivalent of seven years old and working in crayons, Shippo's not bad.
  • In Part 3 of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Boingo's Stand, Thoth, takes the form of a comic book which tells the future. It's drawn in a childlike, almost surrealistic style. This might be to reflect Boingo's youth.
  • Fujiwara from Kaguya-sama: Love Is War normally excels in the arts, having displayed a great deal of talent in piano playing, singing, acting, freestyle rap, and balloon art. Despite this, her drawing of Hayasaka when they're paired up together in art class is hilariously bad.
  • Kimi ni Todoke's Sawako. Because Sawako is generally so skillful, her friends crack up at the fact she's a truly inept artist.
  • The Kindaichi Case Files: As the "Who Killed the Goddess?" short story illustrates, Saki is downright lousy at drawing a portrait, as Kindaichi and Miyuki discover when they see the portrait itself that Saki draws for a girl he harbors a crush on, which looks more at home in a Picasso gallery, leaving both of them briefly in Stunned Silence. The story ends with Saki trying to show his hand-drawn portrait to his crush, while Kindaichi and Miyuki frantically try to prevent Saki's crush from seeing it.
  • In Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, as shown by the episode in which King Dedede attempts to make an anime, virtually every Cappy is this, along with Kirby and the king himself. Then they all became very sleep deprived and overworked thanks to Dedede having promised Holy Nightmare Co. that it would be ready to air in an impossibly short amount of time, which didn't help.
  • In Love Lab, Maki draws a crude-looking, Gonk man on a body pillow and practices kissing with it, claiming it is a drawing of the ideal man. Riko thinks it looks disgusting. Later, the art teacher gives Maki a "D" and she honestly doesn't understand why.
  • Izumi of Love Stage!! is an aspiring manga artist whose dedication is far greater than his artistic skill.
  • When Konata from Lucky☆Star is asked by Tsukasa why she doesn't join the manga club, she draws terrible pictures of her friends to show that she's not a good enough artist to join, including one of Kagami breathing fire.
  • Michiko from Michiko & Hatchin is a horrible artist who doesn't realize it. Her portraits are incomprehensible.
  • Despite several of the main characters of Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun all being manga artists (and a traditional artist, in Chiyo's case), each of them is terrible at drawing some things. Nozaki is fine at drawing people and objects (though if he doesn't base them on a real-life person they all end up looking the same), but is terrible at drawing backgrounds (he gets Hori to draw them). Mikoshiba can't draw people or animals, but he's a master at floral embellishments. Chiyo's style is the most realistic of the three, but none of them can draw buildings.
    • When Nozaki gets sick, he thinks he can draw through muscle memory alone, but the results are...less than stellar.
    • Nozaki's current and former editors, Ken and Maeno, can't draw at all.
  • Nichijou:
    • Yuuko can't draw worth beans, with her drawing ending up as weirdly deformed versions of whatever she had in mind. She's blissfully unaware of it, to the dismay of her friend Mio, who's a much better artist.
    • Their teacher Izumi Sakurai isn't much better, with her own drawing being too simplistic and childish. She also has weird enough taste in art to consider Yuuko's drawings "cool"; again, to Mio's dismay.
  • Monkey D. Luffy from One Piece is really bad at drawing, although he doesn't seem to realize this himself. His first draft at a jolly roger had Zoro commenting that the flag is meant to inspire terror, and that he was terrified by it.
    • In a hilarious case of his idiocy hitting the spot, Luffy's scribbles of a disfigured carpenter accurately predicted the appearance of their shipwright. Even later, his sketch of what mermaid Nami would look like (a cartoon fish with legs and long hair) is exactly what a fishwoman or mermaid in the background of one shot looked like.
    • One character, Kanjuro, has the ability to bring his drawings to life but cannot fully utilize it due to his horrible artistry. This is a complete lie. He is actually a very skilled artist, but draws with his non-dominant hand in public because he's The Mole and is Obfuscating Stupidity. When drawing normally, his animated drawings are so lifelike and realistic that they're indistinguishable from the real thing.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica:
    • Tatsuya's drawing of Madoka is technically an example; but considering he's a 3-year-old scribbling in the dirt with a stick, it's pretty impressive, making it sort of an inversion. What's even more impressive is that in this timeline, he's never actually seen Madoka, let alone in her Magical Girl outfit. One of Ume Aoki's self-parody comics takes his drawing skills to even more ridiculous levels.
    • When Madoka starts considering the idea of turning into a magical girl, she scribbles a few quick little drawings of herself in her magical girl outfit. These drawings actually look natural for someone with little drawing skills like Madoka; according to the production notes, this was accomplished by first creating a "normal" concept drawing, then having Aoi Yūki — who is not a skilled drawer — doodle these drawings.
  • Ranma ½:
    • Akane and a vengeful doll switch bodies. Akane, now in the doll's body, tries to draw a pictures of herself to convince her pet pig (a transformed human) of this. The resulting picture is less than convincing, but because Akane's sketches are so awful, Ryōga recognizes her. Akane isn't very good at arts and crafts...
    • Not that Ranma is much better. In the manga chapter where they both moonlight as Miko, they try to draw a(n already very ugly) horse for talismans while making him look better. Ranma's drawing is only slightly less awful than Akane's. Played with Ranma in the manga — he's not very good at drawing things when he wants to but is good at doodling.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • In the third episode of Sailor Moon R, Usagi creates a series of pictures using crayon as a visual aid when she is trying to convince an amnesiac Mamoru about their past. The other person present mocks Usagi for being "too old for Fairy Tales" while Mamoru just wanders off.
    • That said, while the drawings are childish, they're downright award-winning compared to the horrible four-panel comic Usagi drew three seasons later in Sailor Stars. It contained what appeared to be a rather diseased and disfigured version of Luna trying to eat a rubber fish. The rest of the Senshi couldn't tell what they were looking at and kept trying to guess what kind of animal Usagi drew.
  • Haruka in Sakura Trick. Her attempts at art are... offputting.
  • Giroro from Sgt. Frog. During the Amateur Film-Making Plot episode, his attempts at drawing his squadmates resemble scribbles not unlike how a kindergartner would draw. Also, it took him over 3 hours to just draw one picture.
  • Sket Dance:
  • Slayers. Gourry draws a picture of Lina. People think he has drawn a monster which, given Lina's reputation, isn't that far from the truth.
  • Squid Girl: The beach nurse Ruka's drawings tend to come up as cutesy, Super-Deformed version of whatever she's trying to draw, to her embarassment. At least they see some good use as illustrations in kindergarten events.
  • Subverted in Strawberry Marshmallow. Miu's manga drawings won't make it into professional publishing anytime soon, but they're still very acceptable for someone her age.
  • In the anime of Tears to Tiara, Ermin writes a badly illustrated book about Arawn's previous adventures. "Whack whack, they defeat the enemy!"
  • Despite her ambitions to be a Sequential Artist, the artistic capabilities of Akane "Ota" Kikuchi in Wasteful Days of High School Girls are... "lacking", to say the least. She has a very loose grasp on the rules of perspective and anatomy, so her characters often end up with weird poses and body proportions, superimposed onto backgrounds that are Not Drawn to Scale. Her drawing skills seem to have barely improved since grade school.
  • In The World God Only Knows, whenever Keima tries to explain something via drawing, the first reaction he gets is usually "wow, you suck at drawing".
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, Gilag draws some manga samples and submits them to a manga artist. They didn't make the cut.
  • In YuruYuri, Chinatsu's drawings, or her attempts at pretty much anything artistic, should not be viewed by anyone with... actually, they just shouldn't be viewed. Oddly, she can do artistic things pretty well... when she's sick.
  • In Zoids: Wild, Arashi's drawing skills are pretty pathetic. By comparison, Battalia has a wide range of artistic talents while Analog draws in a cutesy manga style. Drake is also terrible at drawing, but keeps his stuff hidden more out of maintaining his tough guy facade than embarrassment at his ability.

    Comic Books 
  • Johnny the Homicidal Maniac:
    • Happy Noodle Boy, a "Comic within a comic" about a gibberish-spouting stick figure, drawn by the main character himself. The segments are deliberately done to be so awful, they actually end up extremely funny. The creator, Jhonen Vasquez, also uses them as a nifty way to illustrate Johnny's current mental state.
    • Deliberately invoked by Vasquez with The Bad Art Collection, a collection of art he'd drawn in high school, and done it awful on purpose so his classmates wouldn't bug him to draw stuff for them.
  • Nero: Nero takes up figurative painting in De "Z" van Zottebie and is so awfully bad that a bunch of crooks sign him up to sell his work to them. Unbeknownst to Nero they are actually art forgers and thieves who use Nero's bad paintings to get through customs, so that the guards who see this awful work will assume that all of the collection is the same and won't bother to check the rest, which are stolen or forged art works.
  • The cover of The Powerpuff Girls' second comic book appearance (Cartoon Network Starring #5, October 1999) took on the appearance of the art of a 5-year-old child as the story itself entails the girls' artistic interpretation of how they spent their weekend.
  • Max's scribbles and graffiti doodles in the Sam & Max: Freelance Police comics are crude, but quite stylish and proportionate with decent shading. Averted in the Telltale games, though, where they're convincingly bad drawings — presumably a less artistically-gifted member of the team was drafted in to do them.
  • Suske en Wiske: When Lambik respectively meets Peter Paul Rubens (De Raap van Rubens ("Rubens' pupil")) and Vincent van Gogh (De Kleurenkladder ("The Colour Messer")) by traveling back in time he tries to impress him with his own art work, which is nothing more than abstract messing with paint, typical of the late 20th century action painting. Naturally it shocks them both and they declare him a total hack.
  • The Ultimates: The funeral for the people killed by Hulk includes children's drawings amid the photos. One has Hulk being stopped by a thunderbolt and reads "thanks Thor", and another has a cop and says "Goodbye daddy".

    Comic Strips 
  • Probably Opus, from Bloom County. In one strip, where he was working as a cartoonist for The Bloom Beacon, Milo rejected his strip after he fails to meet his deadline, and replaces it with an ad for a Hoover vacuum cleaner. None of the readers can tell the difference.
  • Played with in Calvin and Hobbes. In a variant of Art Initiates Life, Calvin becomes the scribbly version of his drawings and ends up not knowing what to do because he can't for the life of him figure out what he's supposed to be.
    Calvin: Nobody gets my work...
    Mom: That's what all artists say.
  • The Family Circus has some strips "drawn" — crudely — by the character Billy on a semi-regular basis. This has become more amusing since the real kids have grown up, as the real "Billy" — Glen Keane — worked as an animator at Disney for close to 40 years. He animated (and in some cases designed) such characters as Pocahontas, Marahute, Aladdin, Ariel, Ratigan, Beast, Tarzan, and the cyborg John Silver.
  • Jacky's Diary, a 1959-61 Sunday Strip by Jack Mendelsohn ("age 32½"), was purportedly written and illustrated by a little boy. Part of the reason it only ran for three years was that readers thought it was actually the work of a child (or, worse, a developmentally-disabled adult).
  • Inverted in one FoxTrot strip, where Paige's still-life paintings begin in a very photorealistic manner and eventually progress to the strip's cartoony style. Her parents praise the latter as evidence that her skills are getting better.
  • Stephan Pastis, creator of Pearls Before Swine, frequently jokes about his own lack of artistic talents.

    Fan Works 
  • Alternate Tail Series: Mirajane Strauss is still a terrible artist like in canon. Though due to still having some of her rebellious teen spirit and still having her Satan Souls from the start, she can be terrifyingly pissed if anyone criticizes her.
  • In Forewarned is Forearmed, Akira struggles to draw anything more complex than a stick figure, to the point that 6-year-old Nanako is a far better artist than him. He's hurt when Nanako can't decipher his drawings and quickly admires Yusuke's budding artistic talent.
  • Jerimiah Cross from the One Piece fanfic This Bites! admits to being a bad artist. There was a time once where Cross wanted to be an architect, but he gave up that dream when he learned how much art and drawing is needed because he admits that his own art skills are as bad as Luffy's.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Patrick Bateman's notebook in the film version of American Psycho is filled with crudely drawn illustrations of sex and murder, plus murder-sex.
  • In Ingrid Goes West, Ezra's idea of art is to take pre-existing pictures of landscapes (sometimes with horses) and writing a memetic phrase like "SQUAD GOALS" over it in neon paint. He hasn't sold a single painting despite his wife's insistent praise, one of the first examples of her ignoring an inconvenient reality.
  • Napoleon's bizarre artwork in Napoleon Dynamite. Napoleon covers his notebooks with crudely drawn sketches of monsters and magic. He is apparently oblivious to his art's Stylistic Suck, and he tries to impress Trisha by drawing her picture. Unfortunately for him, the result is just awful. Still Napoleon says "It took me like three hours to finish the shading on your upper lip. It's probably the best drawing I've ever done."
  • Not Another Teen Movie inverts this for comedy to lampoon the Informed Attribute trope. Janey is established to be a "plain" but talented artist. She's played by a gorgeous actress, and when we see one of her paintings, it's a crude, childish drawing you might expect to find in a kindergarten.
  • In The Rebel starring Tony Hancock, the Hancock character is an artist who thinks he's a genius despite having no talent whatsoever. In an effort to prove himself he goes to Paris and shacks up with a genuine art student. His roomie surprisingly swallows all of Hancock's pretentious guff about art theory and decides to copy Hancock's "naive" style. Naturally the roommate's art ends up getting mistaken for Hancock's and Hancock is hailed as the greatest thing since Picasso, while his real art is dismissed for the rubbish it is.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: Scott's horrible sketch when he's trying to identify the girl he met at a party.
    Scott: Do you know a girl with a hair like this? [holds up the most pathetic-looking pink scribble]
    Comeau: [with complete, absolute confidence] Yes, that's Ramona Flowers. note 
  • In We're the Millers, Kenny tries to draw a skateboard, but it looks like a penis. He gets mocked for it.

  • In Artemis Fowl, when Mulch is helping the heroes break into Koboi Laboratories, he makes some diagrams, the crudeness of which Root is quick to comment on. Koboi Labs itself is represented by a rectangle, a fissure leading up to it is a wobbly line, and a foundation pillar ends up looking kind of snake-like.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg describes Rowley as a terrible artist in the first book when Rowley reveals his art style. But that's Greg's opinion.
    Greg: And believe it or not, Rowley's drawing skills are worse than his writing skills.
  • One Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novel has the Doctor attempt to draw a map for his companions. It includes squares which obviously represent houses, but there are also some... other things. Everyone who sees it feels compelled to comment on them, describing them as "trees", "duck ponds", "giant pools of jam", and "puffy shapes". Oddly, in an earlier book, he showed that he's more than competent at sketching.
  • Galaxy of Fear's Tash Arranda writes and provides illustrations for her inter-term assignment. The drawings are crude and appear to be colored pencil.
  • Blake Thorburn, from Pact, desperately wants to be an artist, but is aware that his work is terrible, so contents himself with being a Handyman for his friends, each of whom is a Starving Artist. He later realizes that he can't actually remember trying to make art, just the sensation of failure and disappointment, and realizes that he used to be an artist, but the other half of his Literal Split Personality, Rose, got the actual artistic talent in the split, and all he got was the drive to use it.
  • Peter Grant from the Rivers of London series had originally wanted to be an architect, but discovered in school that his drawing skills were abysmal, so he couldn't pass the Drafting course.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the pilot of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Maria Hill drew a picture of a porcupine under the Social Skills section of Agent Ward's assessment. Coulson however thinks the picture looks more like a "piece of poop with knives in it."
  • A.P. Bio: Throughout Season 1, Jack will draw out plans to screw over his nemesis on the class chalkboard that consist largely of childish stickmen.
  • The Joker tries his hand at Pop Art in the Batman (1966) episode "Pop Goes the Joker."
  • Buffyverse:
    • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
      • Giles is a truly terrible artist. First in "Hush", with his stick figure explanations of the Big Bad that lead Buffy to mime that she doesn't have hips that big and second in a Season 7 episode where he's explaining to the new Chinese Potential what's going on and she freaks out.
      • Andrew spends Season 7 as a "Guestage" in the Summers' home where he creates a whiteboard tracking information about The First which features cartoonishly bad diagrams of what they know.
      • In the series finale, Spike tapes a crudely drawn sketch of Angel to his punching bag after seeing Buffy and Angel kissing.
    • Angel: At one point on the show, Fred as part of her presentation provides a crude drawing of the MacGuffin they're about to steal. Just then Angel, who was quietly doodling on a sketch pad, holds up a much much better more detailed illustration of the MacGuffin than Fred's, sparking jealousy and embarrassment. He also had it when he drew a near photorealistic portrait of Cordelia, while Fred just drew a crude Bedsheet Ghost. Which ties back to Angel doing quite detailed portraits of Buffy, during his time in Sunnydale as Angelus; he's got artistic talent and a habit of drawing rather stalker-esque pictures of girls he likes.
  • In Girl Meets World, Maya is a talented painter. Riley, not so much. She pretty much paints purple cats the way a kindergarten student would, including covering herself in purple paint.
  • On The Goldbergs, Barry tries to make a clay bust of Lainey, inspired by the music video for Lionel Ritchie's "Hello". The results are horrifying, to say the least.
  • When Miley loses her horse, Blue Jeans, during part 1 of the Hannah Montana episode, "Miley Says Goodbye", Lilly draws a sketch of the horse to use for the lost-and-found poster. The horse looks very stick-figure-like, to Miley and Robbie Ray's chagrin.
  • Heroes:
    • Peter absorbs Isaac's ability to paint the future, but not his artistic ability, and ends up doodling a stick figure prophecy. Later, when he tries to finish a painting that Isaac had left incomplete, the lack of detail in his part ends up creating a Prophecy Twist.
    • When Sylar does the same, his paintings are strange and deformed.
  • iCarly: Carly draws a bunny terribly, and is mocked by Sam and Freddie for a brief time.
  • In It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Dee is an utterly dreadful artist. One episode that showed her attempt at designing a dress left many of the characters uncertain as to whether she was drawing a human being or not. The same episode revealed that her brother, Dennis, is a bit better as an artist, though Charlie pronounces him to be superior to the point of mastery — not because his drawings were somewhat more recognizable as human beings, but because they were all pictures of women with grotesquely oversized breasts.
  • In Episode 12 of Kamen Rider Drive, Genpachiro draws a composite by hand of what our hero looks like. Problem is, not only does it look terrible, it is also a Frankenstein-drawing, as he drew Drive's Type Speed's forearms, Type Wild's body, and Type Technic's head, thanks to him being unable to see all of Kamen Rider Drive.
  • Magic x Warrior Magi Majo Pures!: Rin wants to become a manga artist, but she's bad at drawing.
  • In Monk, Monk gets into being an artist, even taking a class for it. His art includes a picture of his assistant, who looks like a pig, and clouds that are drawn as circles ("That's how I see clouds."). The perp only bought his paintings because of the material they were painted on, which could also be used to make counterfeit money.
  • Kira Nerys of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine claims to have been the worst finger-painter in preschool. She also epically fails as a sculptor, creating "a flock of flightless birds".
  • Stranger Things: Dr Brenner tries to draw a dog that, as Ten says, ends up looking more like a cow, and then admits that he "was never much of an artist."
  • In the Supernatural episode "Bedtime Stories", Sam pretends to be a police sketch artist. When the person he was interviewing asks to see the drawing, it looks more like a scarecrow than a person. He says it's a work in progress.
  • Super Sentai: At one point in Episode 16 of Engine Sentai Go-onger, Gunpei draws something that resembles a carp flag more than anything. The other Go-Ongers are baffled when he tells them that it's meant to be a penguin.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Unglued parody set of Magic: The Gathering has the card, Look at Me, I'm the DCI, where Head Designer Mark Rosewater shows off his artistic talents.
  • Tyranny of Dragons has Frulam Mondath, a card-carrying member of a dragon cult, who’s implied to be an awful poet. Most of the non-plot-relevant papers on the tables in her chamber are bad poems about dragons.

  • A subplot in Can-Can revolves around a colony of impoverished artists that includes a sculptor, a painter, a poet, and an architect. In one scene they all insist on displaying their work to a visitor, and they're all terrible.

    Video Games 
  • In Anachronox, a minor NPC (the doorman to Rowdy's bar) will show various pictures he drew to the main character; they range from crude stick figures to bizarre but well-drawn scenes to nonsensical scribblings, finally ending with a blank piece of paper. Most of the time, he'll just comment with "It's not very good" or "I think I'm getting better", but if you approach him with the party's Omnidisciplinary Scientist, Rho Bowman, she will go into art expert mode and they'll veer off into deep and bizarre analysis of each picture.
  • ARMS states all the "weaknesses" of the ARMS fighters during Springtron's route. Mechanica's weakness is apparently her inability to draw.
  • Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance has Killia and Zeroken playing this trope. The "quality" of their art is used for laughs out of universe, but in-universe their "work" is treated as true art. With everything that implies.
  • Duke Luca Abele in Dishonored 2 has a self-portrait he's working on in his room, and it has a very off-kilter face that looks like its two halves were done from completely different angles. Ironically, the Duke's Body Double is a good painter.
  • In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Modryn Oreyn, the Champion of the Fighter's Guild, fancies himself an artist. After being deposed as Champion, he retires to a remote cabin and takes up painting. The result is this.
  • In Final Fantasy VIII, Rinoa's model of President Deling's train wagon was mocked by everyone present. She tried to justify it by claiming that it represents her hatred toward him.
    Selphie: "It's one of the...ugliest things that I've ever seen in my life. You must really hate him."
  • In Final Fantasy XIV Shadowbringers, Alisaie's first attempt at crafting a porxie out of clay looks less like a flying, plump pig and more like a "grotesque parody of reality", as Beq Lugg described it. She is, as she puts it in her words, "no artist".
  • Hyperdimension Neptunia V has Rei Ryghts showing off her drawings to the party. Doubles as an Actor Allusion because this is how real life seiyuu Yuu Kobayashi draws.
  • For someone who expresses her powers through drawing, Naminé's artwork in Kingdom Hearts II consists mainly of abstract scribbles, unless if they're locations. One wonders if she had to work with crappy, fat crayons or something for those, since her colored pencil sketches in the opening video are incredible.
    • The Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories manga implies this is the case. It also shows off the fact that Sora is a terrible artist when he attempts to draw Riku and Mickey.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, you can view Pikango's painting on the canvas he carries around to various locations and it's rather unimpressive for someone who's been a painter his entire adult life. You'll see much better paintings hanging on the walls of various homes and within Hyrule Castle.
  • In Love & Pies, Kate's drawings are what one would expect from a kid: simplistic and not properly colored in.
  • Yusuke Kitagawa from Persona 5 is absolutely not a terrible artist, given what's shown in the game, but his art is considered flawed by various critics until Joker helps him re-discover the joy of doing art for art's sake through the Social Link, and he takes it to mean that he's a terrible artist, once the criticism breaks through his haughtiness.
  • In the Ratchet & Clank series, whenever Captain Qwark draws pictures for plans or otherwise, it's going to be done in a pretty crappy crayon-made style.
  • In Red Dead Redemption II, while Arthur is actually a very capable artist as shown by his sketches in his journals it's shown that John isn't. In the Playable Epilogue where John takes over as the playable character his pencil sketches are much cruder and simplistic. He's also far less eloquent and descriptive as a writer.
  • In Tales of Xillia 2, Ivar proudly displays some wanted posters for Ludger and Julius that he drew himself, done with the level of quality one might expect from a pre-schooler. They don't actually end up using them, however (Unlike the poorly drawn wanted posters present in previous games of the series).
    • Crossing over with Stylistic Suck, one of these is apparently employed across several games, and is responsible for, of all things, wanted posters. While most people are baffled by the drawing, Yuri is merely offended that the reward money is so low.
  • Bowser Jr. of Super Mario Bros. expresses himself by painting graffiti with his Magic Paintbrush, as evidenced by Sunshine and Bowser's Fury. Said graffiti is...not too good, to say the least. Though, to be fair, he is only a child.
  • amiibo support in WarioWare Gold has Wario drawing you a picture of the character whose amiibo you scanned, and predictably the pictures are what you'd expect a young child to draw said character for the first time. The only exception, of course, is if you scan the Wario amiibo.
  • In Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, Adolf Hitler is heavily implied to be the writer of most films shown in theatres in the Reich. The descriptions for all of these films sound terribly awful, preachy and nonsensical. The latest propaganda film about Blazkowicz's capture and execution, "Die Ende Alle Bösen", is full of a Card-Carrying Villain caricature of Terror-Billy loudly and openly announcing his "cowardly" plans to destroy the German people, and reveals an obsession with eroticised rape and murder.
  • In The World Ends with You, the kid shows Neku a drawing of this caliber while trying to explain the Mini-Game to him. Not only was the drawing bad, but it was such a chaotic mess that it's wonder how anyone is suppose to realize it's about said mini-game.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
  • This happens in a2 ~a due~ when Hao draws a picture of Sona to show to strangers, since he's running around town trying to find her and doesn't know any English. It's so bad that Sona even comments on how his doodle (more specifically, the way he drew her mohawk) makes her look like "a weird, mutant hedgehog".
  • Amisia of Hiveswap Friendsim was described in her introductory art with "money can't buy talent but it does buy very expensive lessons". When the player actually sees her paint, it's messy and unclear. As it turns out, that's her first time painting anything; she has spent her life collecting paints and canvases in a fancy studio but never actually sat down and done any painting.

    Web Animation 
  • A few Brain POP episodes (mostly the older ones) have terrible drawings done with crayons.
  • Most of Strong Bad's drawings are like this.
    • But they're nothing compared to brother Strong Mad's crude doodles. One time, he drew a picture of an egg-shaped thing with oval-shaped eyes, a mouth, and stick arms and legs and labeled it "BABBY ALIEN" — it was supposed to be a drawing of Strong Bad when he was little.
    • At the end of the Sbmail "Lunch Special," Strong Mad sends Strong Bad his MS Paint drawing of a brontosaurus eating breakfast via email. Having been unable to receive a picture of a hot girl via email earlier, Strong Bad briefly flirts with the picture before declaring he needs to get out of the house.
    • During the legendary "Dragon" email, Strong Bad first draws a crude dragon with beefy arms and legs, before realising that it sucks and tossing it out. He then proceeds to draw Trogdor the Burninator, who, while no less crude, gets a kickass theme song at the end of the toon. When Strong Bad goes to check on the other students, we find that Coach Z has drawn a dragon that looks even worse than Strong Bad's original attempt, Strong Mad is just carving the word "DAGRON" on the table with a scalpel and Homsar has just scribbled "Taster's Choice" on a piece of paper. Averted with Strong Sad, whose drawing is actually quite good (well, until Strong Bad sets it on fire).
    • Teen Girl Squad, the animation-within-an-animation created by Strong Bad, has this. The characters are drawn crudely and the plots are completely bizarre.
  • Helluva Boss: Blitzø's terrible drawing skills are a minor Running Gag over the course of the show.
    • The Pilot episode has a crudely-drawn disclaimer, apparently drawn by Blitzø, at the beginning warning that the animation is for adults and viewer discretion is advised.
    • In Spring Broken, Blitzø makes crude pencil-sketch drawings of the whole team as he outlines his plan to one-up Verosika. When Moxxie criticises the crudeness of his art, Blitzø complains that art classes are too expensive.
    • In Truth Seekers, Blitzø experiences a particularly nasty Mushroom Samba during which he halluncinates Moxxie giving him a vicious "The Reason You Suck" Speech. Making the effect more jarring is that hallucination-Moxxie's appearance keeps shifting between his real-world appearance and the style of Blitzø's crude drawings from Spring Broken.

    Web Comics 
  • Early in 8-Bit Theater's run, Fighter posted a couple of comics up to the site, beginning here. Although they're technically in the same style as the rest of the comic.
  • From Brawl in the Family:
  • In Commander Kitty, Fluffy delivers her presentation of her and Mittens' plan to fake the crew having a transporter in this fashion.
  • In this Dante Residential comic, Ralph has drawn a crappy stick figure comic that he shows to an unimpressed Torvald.
  • A few Dark Legacy Comics strips have Donald as the artist (and hero). They're crudely drawn and after the 2nd one, Keydar remarks that Donald's never allowed to draw again.
  • Averted with Tedd and Sarah of El Goonish Shive. Tedd once drew a picture of Grace; while the picture was a rough sketch it wasn't a particularly bad sketch. Sarah meanwhile draws in a chibi style that is the same as one of the author's alternate styles; her art is just as good as the author's in that style. Played straight, on the other hand, with drawings by Grace.
  • This page of Gunnerkrigg Court features cartoons drawn by Antimony, Kat, and Mort. The cartoons' shortcomings are revealing about their authors: Annie's has very precise linework, completely devoid of life or movement, in service of a bizarre pun. Kat's artwork, while energetic, is little better than stick figures, and her punchline is impenetrably geeky. And Mort's is actually pretty well-drawn, but the punchline is painfully punny.
  • Homestuck:
  • Parodied in The Order of the Stick when a police sketch artist tries to draw two suspected murderers (Nale and Thog), and the pictures come out looking very realistic... unfortunately the setting is populated by stick figures with spherical heads and no noses, so the Chief fires him for being useless. Another officer asks what "that thing in the middle of their faces" is supposed to be.
  • Men in Hats: Jeriah is usually portrayed as a Giftedly Bad poet, but in one strip, he upgrades to this trope when he shows Sam a drawing he made. After Sam gives it a vicious critique and tells him to take an art class, Jeriah embarks on a quest of self-discovery and improvement. Sam still isn't impressed.
    Sam: This doesn't look like me!
    Jeriah: It's a donkey...
  • One Penny Arcade strip had Gabe creating a character named "Dr. Raven Darktalon Blood" which was a satire of Todd McFarlane and the whole Darker and Edgier concept in general. Later on, there was a short arc depicting an indie comic book produced in a Kinko's following the character (opening with said character saying, "This tomb will be your grave!").
    • One brief series of strips had Gabe and Tycho have a falling out, resulting in each trying to do the comic by himself. Tycho's comic is a poorly drawn version of a Bad Boys of Punctuation strip, while Gabe's is well-drawn but poorly written (consisting of nothing but Take Thats against Tycho).
  • Reid Family. Abstract art? Boo! (Two pages later everyone is in awe over the main character's realistic version.)
  • After the first story arc of Skin Horse, in which the main characters have to talk a genetically engineered lion down from a rampage, said lion decides to start a gaming webcomic about a couple of lions on a couch. Since then, the weekend strips have occasionally been examples of his work-poorly drawn (which is to be expected from a guy with no thumbs) depictions of a pair of lions discussing games and an antelope who is a ridiculous strawman for opinions Leo disagrees with (he's invariably eaten at the end of each strip).
  • Any attempt at imitating the Sonichu art style - Chris draws so bad, it's impossible to imitate his style properly (especially if it's drawn by a talented artist).
  • In Stand Still, Stay Silent, we get to enjoy the contrast between the illustrations of a professionally-drawn document about dog beasts and Emil's child-like rendition of the one he encountered in the previous chapter.
  • Justified and subverted in Zebra Girl: Sandra's comics are pretty well drawn for someone that has ten-inch-long claw-tipped fingers. And then she yields to her demon side, and her drawings become... disturbed.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • Archer: While Ray, Cyril and Archer are on a mission in Turkmenistan, Archer is bitten by a very toxic snake (in the taint), and shortly afterwards, the team is found by a group of tribesmen. Unfortunately, none of them speak English, and making matters worse, the local dictator had changed several words of the country's language to the same name as his dog, including "snake", "bread" and "friday", making communication even harder. Cyril tries drawing a snake, but it ends up looking like a loaf of bread with eyes. Ray takes over and produces a very detailed, realistic drawing of a cobra that gets the point across.
  • Chowder, in the episode "Sing Beans", once literally drew a straw, which ended up looking more like a wobbly vertical line on his sheet of paper. Mung, probably due to general scatterbrain-ness, still thought it was better than Schnitzel's much more realistic drawing.
  • Brittany on Daria; her first major appearance was actually when Daria had to help her draw in three-point perspective. Another episode focuses on an art contest with the theme of "student life;" her entries look like they might have been drawn by a five-year-old, but she wins anyway, presumably because she was the only one who presented a clear, positive message.
  • The Davincibles: Quaba, the Big Bad of the series, is infamous for being the worst artist in the world.
  • The entirety of the Dexter's Laboratory episode "Dexter and Computress Get Mandark!," which suits the audio as it was submitted in by a 6½-year-old boy.
  • An episode of Doug inverts this, with the school bully able to paint an amazing, full color sunset with only blue paint in less than five seconds.
    • Lampshaded:
    Doug: How did you do that?!
  • Fillmore!: Danny O'Farrell is actually a pretty good artist — specifically, a photographer - but when he decides to start sketching impressions of the perp in "The Shreds Fell Like Snowflakes", things do not go well. His first is compared to Tiger Woods on a really bad morning; his second is an oyster without its shell.
  • Almost any time COBRA member Major Bludd's skills are outlined in a GIJoe story, the fact that he writes poetry is mentioned, as is the fact that it's really bad.
  • Lin Chung from Hero: 108 likes to paint, but is a terrible artist in early episodes, despite being The Ace in general. However, the rest of The First Squad don't want to tell him the truth, because they remember a time when he had a Heroic BSoD due to them laughing at his attempted sculpture, so they lie to him about how amazing his paintings are (The Camel King genuinely likes his paintings, though, despite being a better artist). In later episodes, however, this trait is completely forgotten and he becomes a genuine artist.
  • Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius: Carl's drawing of a frog is basically a green blob with a face and limbs. His drawings are even more laughable when compared to Jimmy's designs for an upgrade to Goddard.
  • Kaeloo:
    • Kaeloo's paintings look like they were drawn by a kindergartener.
    • Depending on the Writer, Stumpy can either be horrible or fantastic at art. Though one of the webisodes explained that the main reason for this is that his sketching skills are excellent, but the problem arises when it comes to cleaning up and inking out the drawing.
  • Kim Possible: Any time Dr. Drakken displays his Evil Plan in pictures, it's very bad.
  • Lilly the Witch: "Lilly and Leonardo" reveals that Lilly's art skills are so bad, her mother will outright crumple up her drawings and throw them into the trash instead of putting them up on on the fridge. The end of the episode has her first successful artwork, though.
  • Popeye short "Cartoons Ain't Human." Popeye makes his own cartoon and screens it for his nephews and Olive. Popeye furnishes the voices, music and sound effects during the screening.
  • Possibly the earliest example of this trope would be the Tex Avery Porky Pig short "Porky's Preview", which centers around Porky showing off an animated short he made-only the animation consists of doodles and the film as a whole is incredibly sloppily made. What makes this short even more amusing is that the ending leaves it ambiguous whether it was the skunk that scared off Porky's audience or the horrible quality of the picture that scared them off first. That being said, the skunk was impressed enough to applaud.
  • Similarly, an episode of The Ren & Stimpy Show had Stimpy making his own cartoon, "Explodey the Pup in: 'I Like Pink'" and show it off to eccentric, borderline-senile cartoonist Wilbur Cobb. The cartoon is badly drawn, animated, and scripted, and makes almost no sense, in an endearing sort of way.
  • Wacky Delly, a cartoon show within the world of Rocko's Modern Life. Made by Rocko and his friends, it is a poorly-drawn, poorly edited excuse for animated entertainment, epic in its amateurishness.
  • In an episode of The Simpsons, Chief Wiggum mentions the police can't afford guns anymore, and he can now only carry a crude picture of a gun drawn in crayon named "Daddy's Bang-Bang". Lou thinks it was drawn by his son, Ralph, but Chief Wiggum reveals that he drew it himself.
    • Inverted in "Mom and Pop Art". Homer scribbles on a piece of paper when Moe tells him he can pay with a priceless sketch. Barney asks if he can do the same but is rejected, dropping his copy of Georges Seurat's "Sunday Afternoon on La Grande Jatte". Homer's sketch is not shown.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • SpongeBob's crude drawings come to life in the episode "Frankendoodle". Even Patrick criticizes him on his lack of structure and perspective, and his drawings aren't any better. Made ironic by the fact that SpongeBob in "Artist Unknown" is shown to be an impeccable artist, maybe even better than Squidward.
    • Played with with Squidward, who isn't that bad of an artist and even has quite a bit of technical skill in multiple artstyles and media — but, as Solar Sands points out, other characters find his works unpalatable because they're all tributes to his narcissistic ego.
  • Despite his musical talent, the titular character of Steven Universe cannot draw to save his life.
    • In the episode "Shirt Club", Buck turns Steven's "Guitar Dad" drawing, showing Greg impossibly buff with Cross-Popping Veins all over and meant to advertise his guitar classes, into t-shirts, not for Steven's intended purpose but as an art phenomenon showing how funny and naïve Steven's love for his dad is, much to his dismay.
    • In "Escapism", while in a Watermelon Steven's body, he draws this in the sand to show that the Crystal Gems need backup, leading to nothing but confusion from Greg and Bismuth.
    • It's not just limited to Steven either. In "Are You My Dad?", Steven gives a description of a mystery Gem he saw. Pearl and Connie draw competent sketches based on Steven's description, but Amethyst draws the Gem as a winged horse thing for no reason ("I was going for a feeling") while Garnet just draws a picture of herself.
    • The sequel series, Steven Universe: Future, takes this to its logical conclusion in the episode "Bluebird". Steven assumes the terrible drawings of him laying around the house were left by the titular fusion to mock him; as it turns out, they're Amethyst's best efforts. Understandably, she doesn't take his assumption well.
  • While they might be aspiring cartoon stars themselves, many of the students of Tiny Toon Adventures' Acme Looniversity seem fairly abysmal at making cartoons themselves, as showcased in the episode featuring their yearly film festival (as well as showing kids at home how real cartoons are made). How bad are the films? Shirley the Loon has to electrify the door to the judge's room to keep Bugs, Porky, and Daffy from escaping her pretentious, and 3 days long, entry. Plucky ends up winning despite cheating simply because his entry clocks in at about 3 seconds of footage.
  • In Unsupervised Gary draws pictures of his dad to remember what he looks like. When he shows one to Carol, his step-mom, she doesn't recognize him and remarks that "his mouth looks like an asshole."
  • Brock Samson's therapy artwork in The Venture Bros. is pretty bad, about what you'd expect for a guy with very little artistic experience trying to paint in his spare time, with overly-bright colors, misshapen faces, and weird proportions. According to the artbook, the creators were planning to have a significant buildup to him painting it, revealing that all his artwork looks like that, but they had to cut it for time. (Nonetheless, the gift is appreciated.)
  • Wile E. Coyote's blueprints for catching the Road Runner feature what looks like stick figures.

    Real Life 
  • Periodically, the arts establishment discovers what it chooses to call "naive art". It's their term for the sort of thing the rest of us might do for pleasure and recreation. Its attitude ranges between scorn and patronizing condescension, and "naive art" is generally displayed as a way of marking the turf, of differentiating the territory of the professionals from everybody else. And in a good 80% of cases it isn't too hard to see why. But Sturgeon's Law applies: there's always going to be a residue of "naive art" that's almost good enough to be indistinguishable from the approved, official, variety, and looking at it the observer would struggle to see why it's considered second-rate. Maybe because it's created by people who never went to art school or the right colleges.
  • Young children are, to put it nicely, not the most experienced at making anything more detailed than a stick figure.
  • The marketing team for Spy X Family invoked this by posting redraws of the series' key visuals... as drawn by the voice cast. It quickly became a meme in the fandom, and the author himself drew a picture of Anya reacting to the drawings of Bond, the family dog.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Hollywood Scribbling


Napoleon's Trisha Sketch

"It's probably the best drawing I've ever done." -Napoleon

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / TerribleArtist

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