How to Draw Animals Step by Step

Drawing animals can be frustrating for beginning artists, because animals represent a huge variety of shapes, forms and features. Learning how to draw animals step by step requires learning a few basic concepts of animal anatomy. Eliminating these typical mistakes will improve your animal sketching skills rapidly.

Animal Studies

Before you get good at drawing animal sketches from memory, study pictures of the animals you want to draw. Study live animals any chance you get, too. You want to see how their anatomy works. Try to imagine them as broad shapes, which helps you when you start drawing animals from scratch.

How to Sketch Animals – Basic Shapes

When learning how to draw animals, first look at a photograph of the animal that you are going to draw. Start by sketching the basic outline of this animal, then draw the inner shapes of the creature. Don’t worry about details in the beginning.

Visualize the animal photo in an abstract way. Instead of visualizing an animal in the photo, imagine the animal to be simple geometric shapes like squares, circles and rectangles.

Connect the Shapes

How to Draw Animals Step by Step

How to Draw Animals Step by Step

Connect the basic animal shapes with lines, so the beast’s forms start to become noticeable. The lines you use here should be darker than the basic sketch lines, and they should start to dominate the picture. After you finish this step, the drawn animal should start to take shape.

Add Contrasts in Light and Darkness

Next, look at your photograph and notice the relative areas of darkness and light as they play on the animal’s form. Try to add these contracts to the sketch, getting the right amount of lightness, darkness and medium tones to the drawing.

Shade in the animal, not worrying about mimicking the animal’s features themselves. Once the shading is correct, you are closer to capturing a real image of this animal.

Drawing Details

Finally, once you have finished with the basic animal shape, connecting the animal’s outer lines and the basic shading of the animal, that’s when you should add details and animal features. Most beginning artists want to leap ahead to this stage of the depiction too early.

Instead, build the foundation of your animal drawing first, then getting more detailed as you go. When you draw an animal using this art method, you’re transferring the visual essence of the animal to the page or canvas, then filling in the details later.

Practice Drawing Animals

Remember to focus on the early steps of your animal drawings most. Once you start mastering this drawing technique, put a lot of time into sketching animals. Like any other skill, the more you practice the skill with the proper technique, the better of an artist you become. Mastering how to draw animals step by step, like everything else in this world, requires dedication and practice.


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