5 Mistakes to Avoid when Drawing a Soccer Ball

This is it, the pet peeve that drove me to finally get a blog of my own so I can organize all my thoughts and get this off my chest…  

Soccer balls these days come in all sorts of patterns and colours. But if you want to accurately draw that ‘classic’ soccer ball (the one with black pentagons and white hexagons), then this article can help you by listing some common mistakes to avoid.

Does it really matter what my soccer ball looks like?

No of course not. Nine times out of ten it doesn’t matter at all. If you’re making clip-art for that “Be a Team Player” PowerPoint presentation, nobody’s going to notice or care. But maybe you’re a tattoo artist, or making jewelry, or making a video or a web page tutorial on how to draw a soccer ball, then you might want get the details right.

Pitfall #1: Failing to Look at a Soccer Ball

This seems like a good rule for drawing anything really. So yeah, get an actual soccer ball and use those observational skills to see what one actually looks like! Alternatively look at a photo of one (not someone else’s drawing). And just so there is no excuse, here’s one free of charge. Take it and put it on a screen, or maybe import it into a temporary layer of some digital drawing program and then just trace away:


Pitfall #2: Just Throwing a Mishmash of Polygons onto the Surface

Some soccer ball drawing efforts are so unstructured that they’d be better served by writing the word “SOCCER” in big bold letters instead.


The best advice to avoid messes like these is to remember the following:

Black pentagons surrounded by white hexagons

Pitfall #3: Using only Hexagons

Failing to notice that the black panels of a soccer ball are pentagons can result in an all-hexagon soccer ball. An all hexagon soccer ball looks like someone took a circular cookie cutter to a honeycomb.


Pitfall #4: Coloring the Wrong Panels Black

So, you’ve sketched out the panels with care. The pentagons are nicely surrounded by hexagons with precise proportions. Everything looks perfect. Home free right? Wrong! This is no time to let your guard down. Too many people get the hard part right and then blow it by colouring the wrong panels black. Remember: The pentagons are black, the hexagons are white.


Pitfall #5: Not having that Pentagon-to-Pentagon Bridge

This last mistake is rather subtle and the most forgivable offence on this list.  If you look at an actual soccer ball you’ll notice that there are seams that stitch two adjacent hexagons together. These seams are like “bridges” between pentagon islands. Alas, the examples below have missed this point:


So there you have it.  If you take anything away from this post I hope you remember that when you’re drawing a soccer ball:

  • It helps to look at one
  • It’s black pentagons surrounded by white hexagons


And if you see any other soccer ball fails out there in the wild, let me know.


12 thoughts on “5 Mistakes to Avoid when Drawing a Soccer Ball

  1. Very cool Dave. I may try including a soccer ball in my next illustration just for kicks.

    It’s surprising that tattoo artists are missing that attention to detail.


  2. Champions League soccer ball logo is wrong: the central pentagonal star is surrounded by seven stars not five.


  3. It’s the best time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy.
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  4. Lovely article. Now let’s get those who fail to draw a cube using one-, two-, and three-point perspective correctly 😉


  5. Ha! I find this hilarious. I’ve been studying polyhedra lately (@SunDropsShop) and I didn’t realize a soccer ball (i.e. football) is a truncated icosahedron. I too thought it was all hexagons, which I have just learnt is impossible for a regular spherical polyhedron. Fascinating!


  6. My kids have “soccer ball” lamps in their rooms. Whenever I look at them, it bothers me because the pattern falls apart around the edge.


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