Skip to content


Your cart is empty

Article: 12 Basic Steps On How To Draw Animals

12 Basic Steps On How To Draw Animals

Illustrate living creatures can be very challenging for most artists.
However, we have prepared some basic steps that you can follow to draw animals easily!
Created by Petrakonecna_artist |

Being an expert designer or illustration should include a range of skills, including the skill to draw variants of animals. As an integral portion of illustration, capturing a wildlife scene into a canvas is something that is not easy to do. Not only wildlife, but a portrait of pets to a chirping bird in the backyard also was never easy for every illustration. 

One needs particular practice and learning the animal anatomy to paint it perfectly. With a slight brush of practice steps, there is nothing called impossible. So, how do you draw animals? Starting from the anatomy to get more detailed parts, you need to learn it little by little. Here are some of the basic steps that you can adopt for your practice.  

1. Start It With Observation

The trick to draw animals successfully is not far from illustrating humans. The best start and basic step for everyone are to stop and look at the actual subject. In other words, you need to see and witness the real animal. Observing and studying the animal will bring a lot of information, including the shapes, anatomy, pattern, movement, to the fur details. 

At this point, you have to learn and ask many questions regarding the animal's actions. What will they do? How is their anatomy? And what kind of gesture do they make? Sometimes, observing the real animal also helps you capture every detail of it. Such as how they react to the environment or temperature. The basic step will stock you with every needed information. 

But aren't you only drawing the animal? Indeed, you are. But if you can capture every context of the furry friend's actions, it will make your drawing more meaningful. But how do you draw animals if they keep moving? It is easier to illustrate if you observe them. So, you can see and anticipate where and what pose or details next. 

How do the basic steps help you to draw? It is pretty much just looking at them. Sometimes, illustrators need a very detailed and long inspiration to illustrate what they see. It is hard to draw only based on memory. Doing observation will give more vital input. You can observe by looking at animals around you, go to the zoo, or go to the forest for a genuine encounter. 


2. Capture A Picture 

You are down to the observation step, but how if the animal will not stop moving? It is not something rare in the animal kingdom, in which they won't sit still. Capturing every detail in your memory can be tricky, to the point you have to look carefully at every movement and anatomy. It is also hard to draw when your target is suddenly moving up from its position. 

Illustrators tend to cheat their way by taking a mental shot. However, this is not a basic step that a newbie can nail. How to do it? The trick does not put your attention or stare at the animal while you are drawing. When you illustrate a real animal, you need to glance and look away from the page. Why do you need to do the how-to-draw animals step?

The idea is to capture the last image your eyes and brain take about the animal. The changes of point of view help you freeze the image in your mind. It gets better if you can make sketch or drawing that explains your mental image. You can capture the movement, anatomy, shapes, or lining. It will boost your ability to draw fauna.

But how if you are new in doing so and find it would not help? You can cheat the step by taking a picture. When you are in the wilderness, zoo, or simply at your home with your pet, try to take a picture of them. The good thing is that you can use burst photos that take as many scenes as possible; thus, it provides more detail for you to draw and follow the basic steps. 

It can help you understand the anatomy or specifics. At some point, you can also take a video of the animals. It will bring up more movement references for you, so you can draw them as detailed as possible. It even allows you to rewind the footage. The good thing is, it not only helps you to draw still images. You can also draw it to make an animation with anatomy.   

Created by Petrakonecna_artist |


3. Do thorough research

The research and sketch are the basic steps after observing plus capturing mental images. In this part, you will need to make more observations about your target animal. You will get even more thorough about particular animals, such as their patterning, skeletons structure, muscles, anatomy, and characteristics. 

Another information that you need to gather during this step is the environment. No one wants to draw Asian elephants in the American forest. It not only fits the theme but defies realism. However, it is forgivable if you are working in a cartoonish style. Most of the time, the animal kingdom depiction is way off from reality to increase the sense of humor. 

However, taking in the environment also helps you get information about life and habits. The details such as their habitat, routine, and species will save your observation time. You can find them easily in the location and draw more accurately. That is why you need to look for other research information, such as how to draw animals steps.  

Created by also.dibujando |


4. Learn Comparative Anatomy 

One of the advantages of the research is how it gives you more information for the other basic steps. One of the steps that gain a lot of help is comparative anatomy. What is it, and how is it important to learn anatomy? Like human anatomy, every person has a way to move. Women and males can move similarly, but their body structures will be slightly different. 

The information also appears in the animal kingdom and is named comparative anatomy. The term itself refers to a study that focuses on the body structure of different species of animals. It is closely related to evolutionary biology, which highlights the adaptive change as an animal moves. The best example is the difference between a cat and a horse walk. 

Despite having the same body parts, every animal has different anatomy that makes them unique. If you want to illustrate a subject that shows realism, you need to know its anatomy. Do you need to know every detail? No, you are not. How you depict and draw the anatomy is enough to help create a perception of the creature. 

Another fascinating point is that anatomy is just part of the basic step. You will find more advanced steps that include bone structure and body part position. So, if you are a newbie that is looking for how to draw animals, you can do it by separating the body part. It helps a lot if you draw four-legged mammals. This step will aid you in adding actions. 

But again, how did you know about their anatomy? The answer is to go back to step three, in which you did deep research about the animal. The basic steps such as observation also help you see how they move and how their anatomy will differ from each other. Lions, deer, horses, and giraffes will make very comparable anatomy to look at.  

Created by logofarmers_studio |


5. Break Up Their Body

As mentioned in the previous point that you need to start with breaking up the animal body as part of the basic step. So, how do you break part and draw it? The best way to do it is to consider six main anatomy areas for quadrupeds. They are head, neck, body, front legs with the shoulder, rear legs with the hips, and the tails. 

The step might sound very easy. However, it needs observation and research to find the right position. If you know how to do the step, it will eventually help you draw freely. It aids you in creating overlapping effects, clear anatomy, and do other orientations. At some point, illustrators can get further by learning more information about the animal. 

They can learn their anatomy from the bone structure to the muscle build. Some of the information for animal anatomy is mostly available in books or encyclopedias. But again, you can go back to the basic steps that include observing and researching. After you got every detail about anatomy and separate the body, you can start to draw and move to the other step.  

Created by davidbouyouillustrations |


6. Pay Attention To The Proportion Or Detail

After you know that every creature has different anatomy, bone, and muscle build groups, this basic step is to play with proportion. If you want to nail a more realistic and detailed picture, you need to master how to draw animals' steps. The key is to always practice and repeat the process to get the proportion correct. It is also helpful if you can find more data beforehand. 

One thing is for sure; the basic step is heavily relying on your ability to break their body, understand the anatomy and body structure. Underline that many animals in the same group have similar parts. However, most of them are spaced differently, such as tiger's legs are thicker than deer legs. It makes their anatomy unique and makes different movements.

The key for animal proportion is spacing and anatomy. If you know how each body part works correctly, it is almost hard to make a mistake in unbalanced proportion. The step needs a lot of practice, especially to draw organisms in different poses and angles. You have to research and learn the anatomy steps over and over again. 

Created by luciaskultety1 |


7. Draw with Big Shapes 

Another good trick to nail the proportion is shaping. It is one of the basic steps that many illustrators need to use, especially to draw a moving animal or unique pose. Getting too caught up in detail can make them forget about the sense of anatomy and their knowledge in the drawing. So, how do animals draw in big shapes? 

It is easier to catch the position, anatomy, pose, or angle by big shapes. You can draw a lion with a big long rectangle shape for the body, round for its head, and a long cylinder for its leg. Or you can make a big bean shape to draw the elephant's body and use a triangle to represent its head. After you get the right orientation, you can start to draw and detail every shape.  

8. Learn How To Capture Silhouette and depth

The use of silhouette is to make a clear and concise meaning. Most of the time, the silhouette relates to the shadow and light. It is another step that illustrators need to nail. The basic step brings a lot of meaning to your drawing. You can create a silhouette for the animal to emphasize its pose, anatomy, and position. 

However, it is also a great way to create depth. If you learn the step to separate body parts, you will find how easy it is to add overlapping shapes. Overlapping shapes will help you draw the anatomy correctly, add depth, and also create a clear silhouette. In this case, the basic step that you need to do is playing around with shades and shadows. 

Created by artbeatology |


9. Take A Look At Shadow Or Light 

Talking about shadow and silhouettes, your next step is adding a light effect. When drawing an animal, light and shadow can add a dramatic effect to it. Experts tend to use exaggeration to heighten the feeling. How to draw animals and add light effects? The step can opt for a later time, but it also helps to determine the light source to tell the highlight. 

10. Carefully Lay Out The Hair And Fur 

Be careful if you draw an animal with fur and hair. The secret of the step is not about being detailed. There are times that people opt for simple marks to spot the key texture, such as spots where the hair breaks. It is also a great tip to illustrate hair or fur according to animal anatomy. It highlights the use of shapes in earlier basic steps. 

11. Create Drama And Action 

One of the steps that every animal illustrator cannot leave is drama and action. There are many ways to do it. You can draw or add emotion and personality. It does not matter whether you create a cartoon or realistic illustration. You can emphasize personality from expression, movement, anatomy, gesture, or exaggeration. 

To avoid the lack of delivery, you need to know the basic step of anatomy. Drawing a funny elephant sitting will not look real if you make it act like a human. It will lose its impact with the wrong anatomy. The understanding itself will lead you to create more action. It answers how to draw animals that leave an impact question.

Anatomy knowledge helps you notice and learn how to make poses. You can illustrate a running lion, a jumping deer, or a laying down elephant easily. The unconventional position or act will add drama and action to your drawing. It is an anatomy step you need to consider if you want to draw a more impactful illustration.  

Created by vitas_artworks |


12. Practice More With Black And White 

12.1. Sketch 

Since you are new or learning how to draw animals, it is better to start with pencil and paper. A rough sketch drawing is a basic step that leads you to brainstorm and bear in mind some of the tips. To follow the step and cause a more impactful picture, try to get loose as possible. Get down many gestures of the pose without worrying about every little detail. 

The purpose of this basic step is to capture the rhythm of the animal pose and illustrate the line of action. Be free and try to make sure you can nail every anatomy or body separation. You can even start with a shape as the grounding. Taking a look at many references also helps you catch some details for your sketch.   

12.2. Add Shades  

Why do you need to draw in black and white? The basic step helps a lot to know the anatomy, learn about how to create depth, and play around with shades. In this case, you can empathize with the different body parts and overlapping them with darker colors. Use a ballpoint or pen to make darker colors. As you play around with shades, it will make your picture look alive.  

12.3. Add Highlight 

With dark colors laid on the picture, you also need to add highlights to capture the sense of lightning. The detail will bring drama and exaggeration. It works with many basic steps, brings out distinct anatomy, and also makes it pop. How to draw animals and add highlights? Since you are working with black and white, use white markers.  

Created by Petrakonecna_artist |


Final Words

To draw a realistic or cartoon animal, one needs to learn and know the proper detail beforehand. The integral point is to learn anatomy. Doing research and observing the real animal can help illustrators capture every detail. It is also better for illustrators to split the body sketch into chunks, start with shapes, and add more features as time goes. 


Related Articles

The Most Updated Logo Design Trends in 2024 - Kreafolk

The Most Updated Logo Design Trends in 2024

The Beginner's Guide to Illustrate a Children's Book - Kreafolk

The Beginner's Guide to Illustrate a Children's Book

30 Best Viking Tattoo Ideas You Should Check - Kreafolk

30 Best Viking Tattoo Ideas You Should Check

30 Best Abstract Painting Ideas You Should Check - Kreafolk

30 Best Abstract Painting Ideas You Should Check

30 Aesthetic Desk Setups for Creative Workspace - Kreafolk

30 Aesthetic Desk Setups for Creative Workspace

Nike Logo Design: History & Evolution - Kreafolk

Nike Logo Design: History & Evolution

The Complete Guide to Designing Custom Coffee Bags - Kreafolk

The Complete Guide to Designing Custom Coffee Bags

The Essential Guide to Logo Design Grid Systems - Kreafolk

The Essential Guide to Logo Design Grid Systems

The Psychology of Shapes in Logo Designs - Kreafolk

The Psychology of Shapes in Logo Designs

How To Check If Your Logo Is Unique & Unused - Kreafolk

How To Check If Your Logo Is Unique & Unused

Leave a Comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

All comments are moderated before being published.