How to Draw Animals – Step-by Step Guides

Elvis Elvis

Many people want to know how to draw animals and birds, I understand this very well – they are some of my favourite subjects too and I always enjoy creating natural history illustrations.

The techniques I share with you in the tutorials below are those I use when beginning my own natural history work. But there is one difference – in natural history illustration the artist has to remove him or herself from the drawing as the drawing must be informative, not personal. For you, however, whilst learning how to draw animals and in your future drawings, you can be as individual and expressive as you want to be.

These tutorials are how-to-draw-animals-tutorials, they are not meant to be a stylistic guide. Whenever we follow step by step guides it is easy to feel that our drawings must look exactly like the tutor’s. Not so! My intention is to give you the tools you need to develop your own style and this will develop as you continue learning to draw.

I’ve tried to keep the instruction as clear and easy to follow as possible, but you will need to be familiar with the following basic lessons: Seeing, Basic Shapes and Making Marks.

Whether you want to create a portrait of your pet or learn how to sketch wildlife, you will find these step by step guides invaluable. I suggest you work through as many of these as feels useful to you then think about drawing from life. If you are fortunate enough to have access to a Natural History Museum you can find subjects who will keep nice and still, if not, take the plunge and start drawing animals from life.

How to Draw Animals   Step by Step Guides

Learning how to draw animals that are moving is a real challenge, but when you do capture the essence and personality of a living animal, the effect is more than worth the effort and concentration. To help you get started have a good look around the Sketching pages. There are tips and techniques as well as a range of exercises, which will soon have you capturing the essence of the personality each animal possesses.

A word of warning though! Learning how to draw animals can become an obsession…

Fur and Feathers

Creating the texture of fur and feathers takes practise. Study the work of a range of artists – do you like detailed, intricate representations? Or the suggestions of texture? Try copying the techniques of those drawings you like to understand how the artist created the effect (this is a standard art school way of learning), then try incorporating those techniques into your own work.

Note – I’m not suggesting you copy another artist’s work and then call it your own, I’m suggesting you learn from others who are more experienced. For example, an artist you like may use free, calligraphic strokes to create the effect of rough, heavily textured fur.

You copy his or her work simply to understand how the effect is achieved. Once you have understood you can begin to incorporate the technique into your drawings. Because we are all individuals, with individual styles, you will make these calligraphic strokes your own.

Also look out for future tutorials on creating textures in the Lessons section and sign up for the ezine. Every month I’ll be taking an in-depth look at a particular artist’s work: their style of drawing, media and mark making techniques.

Pet Portraits – a Few Suggestions

Pets can be both rewarding and frustrating! Best to wait until they’re asleep, though my cat always had a sixth sense even when fast asleep. I would quietly pick up my sketchbook and pen, turn to a page, put in the first lines…and she would suddenly wake and disappear…fortunately not all pets are quite so contrary.If your future aim is to create pet portraits I suggest you sketch as much as possible from life and also take good photographs as well.

This will give you a range of reference materials to work from and a good knowledge of what your subject looks like from every angle. You need this knowledge, no matter what your drawing style as it helps to create the effect of a living breathing creature on the paper.