How to Draw an Animal

Drawing animals is difficult to explain without the aid of pictures, but let us try it anyhow.

To learn to draw an animal it is best to start off with an animal you are extremely familiar with. This way you will immediately notice mistakes in your drawing and will be able to correct them.

Before drawing animals you should be comfortable drawing basic shapes and structures and be familiar with shading and shadows. You should understand the basics of giving shape and form to your drawings.

Begin with a good photograph of the animal you wish to draw. Let us suppose you are going to draw a rabbit. Decide if you want your paper to be horizontal or vertical, as to which direction would suit your drawing. You will want to use most of the paper rather than drawing a small object.

Once you have the paper rotated how you should like it, lightly sketch in the basic shapes of your animal, or in this case, rabbit. The body would be one large shape, the head another. Lightly add smaller shapes to represent the ears and limbs.

You will want to pay attention to proportions. You will note that some animals have standard proportions, such as a horses leg is usually equivalent to two head lengths. You can measure the various features of your animal on the picture in this way, and compare to make sure your drawing also has the same proportions.

Once you have the basic shapes in the right proportion and position you will want to create depth. You will want to do this paying close attention to the nature of the animals skin, feathers, or fur. You not only want to show that your animal has form, but that, in the case of our rabbit, it is furry.

Study the direction of the fur and draw your lines accordingly. Adding more lines in the darker areas. Keeping lines short when animals have short hair. In lighter areas you may want to leave the paper white.  Some animals, such as fish and lizards do not have fur but care must be taken to show forms in their scales or skin.

When drawing in black and white, rather than using colored pencils or pastels, you must try to see the animal in your photo as if it were in black and white. Even if the animal is solid black, if you draw it solid black it will just look like a blob. You must pay attention to highlights and if they are not showing in your photo, you must imagine how they would appear. For this reason drawing a black animal is often harder than any other color.

Pay close attention to the animals eye, it should have a reflection spot in the direction the light is coming from. Animals have black pupils which vary in shape according to species. Many animals have rings of lighter color around their pupils, just like people do, so do not color an animals eye solid black, unless that is truly how they appear.

Be sure to add a shadow on the ground beneath your animal.

Click here to see a finished drawing of a rabbit.

Click here to see a finished drawing of an Iguana.