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How to draw Horrible Histories The Movie – Rotten Romans

July 28, 2019

Hands up who loves Horrible Histories? Did you know there’s a new film, Horrible Histories The Movie – Rotten Romans – which has just been released?

We were lucky enough to be invited along to a drawing masterclass with none other than Martin Brown, the Horrible Histories illustrator, to pick up some drawing tips and find out how to draw the characters from Horrible Histories The Movie.

Martin is responsible for the instantly recognisable Horrible Histories characters:

Horrible Histories is one of those fairly rare children’s TV programmes that adults love too, isn’t it? It’s gross – so kids love it – it’s funny, it subtly makes learning fun and yep, it’s taught me a lot about history (although the songs are catchier than a cold, including our eternal house earworm of ‘Stupid Death’).

Horrible Histories The Movie – Rotten Romans is the new film from the creators of the TV programme, where Roman teenager Atti is sent to experience life in cold, rain Britain.

Our Horrible Histories The Movie drawing masterclass

Horrible Histories The Movie Rotten Romans drawing masterclass

All the children – and adults – were pretty transfixed listening to Martin talking about how he draws the Horrible Histories characters, with loads practical and also inspirational ideas for the room full of mini artists.

Here are Martin’s drawing tips for kids (and adults)

  1. Think you can’t draw? Everyone thinks that, but you’re wrong – anyone can, with enough practice, and there are books that can teach you technique.
  2. However, drawing doesn’t have to be accurate, and some of the most famous artists are anything but – for example, Axel Scheffler
  3. The most important thing is creativity and expression. Drawing doesn’t have to be technical but most of all it should be FUN.

He talked about how to use photo as a reference, but how to draw the main shape as series of smaller shapes rather than one main outline – for example if you were drawing a wolf, draw the body as sausage shape, with rectangle legs, and then add on the tail, and so on. He also talked experimenting with lots of different styles, as silly as you like:

Horrible Histories The Movie Rotten Romans illustrator Martin Brown

Martin talked about the importance of character design as the building blocks of anything, and how all film and TV characters start off on the – literal – drawing board.

And speaking of film characters, we also met a special guest star from Horrible Histories, Sebastian Croft, who plays Atti (and also played young Ned Stark in Game of Thrones).

Do your children want to draw the Horrible Histories characters? Here is Martin’s step-by-step guide to drawing the Horrible Histories The Movie character of the roman solider:

Horrible Histories The Movie Rotten Romans - step-by-step guide to drawing the characters
 How to draw Horrible Histories The Movie Rotten Romans characters

Will you see the film? We can’t wait.

Horrible Histories The Movie – Rotten Romans is out in all cinemas now (just in time for the summer holidays). More good things to do over the summer – the London Transport Museum, the Horniman Museum and the best London parks


  • Anonymous

    August 4, 2019 at 8:31 pm

    I can draw monsters it’s people I struggle with but so long as I like them that’s all that matters

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