Learning How to Draw Animal Characters

Learning How to Draw Animal Characters

If you are looking to further develop your artistic skills this resource guide for drawing animals is a wonderful place to start. Whether you want to draw realistic animal portraits or anthropomorphic original characters, learning more about animal anatomy will greatly help you in your journey. Studying from guides created by other artists and learning from your own observations over time is a fantastic way to get better at this kind of art.

Study Guides for Animal Art

Here are some extremely helpful guides for drawing different animals and their anatomy. Each artist has their own unique way of doing things so you can learn a lot by studying the techniques of your favorite artists and adapting them to your own style.

Fur is often one of the most intimidating parts of drawing a realistic animal portrait. Artist Austin Natale shows us their steps for rendering animal hair in this mind-blowing clip below! Using colors in a very deliberate way, the artist is able to make the fur look realistic and striking from all angles.

For drawing predator animals, like a cat or a lion, it can be really helpful to zoom in on places like the mouth or eyes and study them one at a time. In the tweet below artist Owlspark shows us detailed advice for drawing cat anatomy through a series of guides. These guides show us how to interpret a cat face at different angles and also have really helpful sections on drawing the muzzle and paws of the animal.

An animal that should probably get drawn more often is the rat! This style guide for drawing rats made by RoSphix shows us how to capture the thoughtful essence of the animal with care. It is really helpful to get an up close observation of an animal that we don't all often get to experience in that way.

This next set of guides contains a wealth of information; the artist franzanth has published a master thread highlighting a detailed series on how to draw crabs, cephalopods, trilobites, and other sea creatures! Continue in the thread to find so many helpful and detailed charts.

If you find yourself with time to sit down and study for a longer session, you could consider drawing along to this video tutorial by the Youtube creator R.M.Broadwell Atelier. This video contains an artist's advice on capturing the structure and form of many different animals. There are also tips on how to translate these forms into unique poses. On their channel there are even more videos including a series for drawing mythical creatures!

Practice your Skills

Along with reading through guides and watching tutorials, the best thing to do to improve is to practice at your own pace. Continue practicing your skills through exercises, fun drawings, and real world observation!

Study from Animals in Real Life! The picture below shows an example from a series of drawing guides created by Mark Simmons. These drawings were made by studying animals at the San Francisco Zoo! Feel free to check out the rest of the series on his website for further examples of his studies. If you want to continue to improve your skills you could also consider finding a habitat for wildlife in your area and studying from observation. You can even find things to study right in your own home!

2020 • Animal drawing tips for San Francisco Zoo workshop by Mark Simmons

Embrace your Stylization! Studying anatomy is really helpful, because then you will be able to make both realistic and stylized artworks. Everything you draw doesn't have to be completely accurate as long it expresses something or you enjoyed making it! This video below of a cute fox by Ali Lebaschi is a heart warming and adorable example of stylizing an animal in a cute way.

Keep doing what makes you happy, and have fun while drawing animals! Even simple drawings can be really impactful and fun. We share the Earth with so many interesting creatures. Get out and enjoy nature if you are able to! Whether it be a park, a forest, or even your pet frog living in the window, you can study from the animals in the world around you and have tons of fun while doing it!

Finally, here's a truly insightful video by Proko and featuring the artist Aaron Blaise. Aaron Blaise has done character design for many of Disney's popular animated films including Brother Bear. During the video he shows off his sketchbooks and shares memories of the times spent in the wilderness studying bears and other animals. We hope it leaves you with a sense of inspiration to find beauty in the world around you as you continue on in your artistic journey!

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