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Drawing Lesson 41, Part 3 – How to Draw Dogs

Discover How to Draw Dogs

Video Lesson Description

In this video lesson, you will discover How to Draw Dogs in realistic manner.

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How to Draw Dogs From Memory

When it comes to the subject of ‘How to Draw Dogs’, making multiple sketches from memory is a very good exercise. After you have done many preparatory sketches, you will be skilled enough to attempt memory drawing. It is a very necessary skill as your composition, for example, might require an animal in a specific pose or point of view that can be difficult to draw in nature. You can’t just ask a dog to pose for your composition.

Here is some good advice on how to draw dogs from memory:

– Decide first what pose you want to draw; visualize this pose before you make your first pencil-stroke.

– Start with the big shape of the dog’s body. One continuous outline will help you establish the overall proportions and main mass of the body.

– Think about what dynamics an animal’s skeleton has. If it helps, make a matchstick sketch of the dog’s spine, legs, head and tail, if any. Work your drawing from internal axes to external contour, not vice versa.

– Think about the dog’s muscles: what volumes they have and how gravity affects their body shape.

– Draw smaller details; think about their placement, proportions and sizes.

– Make the drawing believable and characteristic to a certain dog’s mood and activity. Add the character. Describe what is happening in your composition through the dog’s pose and action.

Have a sketchbook with you at all times. Practice quick sketches and longer drawings every day. Dogs are a really good subject for this purpose. They will not pose for you long. Such drawings will train your eyes and hands much faster than you think.

How to Draw Dogs with Pencil Strokes

Before marking a pencil stroke on the paper, fine artists need to predetermine what kind of stroke they want to make. The stroke’s thickness and tonal strength, its direction and shape – all those characteristics first appear in the artists’ heads to be expressed on the paper. I have seen some art students making random meaningless strokes in the hope that something will eventually come from the mess of marks. That is not the way you want to learn good drawing skills.


How to Draw Dogs
When drawing with strokes, every line needs to be intentional. Use the form of the subject as a guide for the strokes’ directions. In this way, tonal rendering will illustrate the three-dimensional nature of the object as it describes its shapes and volumes. Do not use straight lines; straight lines are characteristic of mostly artificial and non-organic objects, which are often human-made. Animals, dogs in particular, are organic creatures and their forms need to be depicted with fluid and curved lines.

When drawing a head, make pencil strokes along the ‘head’s shape’, not along the paper.

The good drawing process requires the fine artist to work on the whole picture simultaneously. The classical drawing approach is when artwork gradually develops step by step. Many layers of shading can be applied to achieve the desired tonal values. However, those layers are not rendered at once for a particular area or spot of the drawing. Instead, the whole picture is advanced steadily. Of course, you have the freedom to decide what areas of the drawing to be rendered with more attention and which sections to be left under-rendered.

How to Draw Dogs in Graphite Pencils

In this drawing, I want the dog’s eyes and ‘black mask’ to be the main focal points of the viewer, therefore, more attention to texture rendering is going to these areas. The short nap on the dog’s nose is done in a softer grade pencil. You can go 2 – 3 grades softer from 2B to 4B or 5B for example, to achieve darker tones.

I would not advise using too many grades of pencil for one piece of artwork. There are two reasons for that. First, you want to become a proficient fine artist who relies on their own skills rather than on drawing tools. So learn how to get the most from one pencil before going for another one. On the other hand, a softer pencil might give an unattractive appearance when applied on top of the harder grade. It may also have less grip with the paper’s ‘tooth’ because of the solid layer of harder pencil below which may prevent it.

How to Draw Dogs – Textures

There are various textures on this drawing; for example, longer hair on the dog’s neck and shoulders, short nap on his nose, the dry leather of the collar and a wet nose and glossy eyes. Every element needs to be rendered differently. I am using longer and looser pencil strokes for its longer hair. The nap of the dog’s nose is rendered with short, dark and dense strokes. High contrast is applied for its wet nose and glossy eyes.

All variety of different textures must be imitated in graphite rendering very closely. Diverse textures require different pressures on the pencil and different styles of strokes. Pencil strokes can be shorter or longer, denser or looser, thinner or thicker. The stroke curvature also can be varied to achieve the desired effects.

When making an animal drawing, the fine artist usually makes multiple sketches before attempting a longer artwork piece. The dog will not sit for hours in one pose. It is a good idea to make rapid sketches of animal shapes and poses as well as sketches of various details. For example, on one piece of paper, the fine artist can outline separate elements like the eyes, ears, nose, etc. It is also good to make some shades rendering when sketching. This will help to portray different kinds of textures like fur, nap, skin and so on.

Good results are achieved when the animal drawing goes alongside with its skeleton studies. I understand it can be quite challenging to search for animal skeletons, unless you have an equivalent of the Natural History Museum nearby, as I do in London, UK.

Of course, drawing a skeleton in the museum would be a perfect exercise. The next best thing is to search the Internet for photos and images of the particular animal you are about to draw. Combining sketches from nature and bones study will give the best results.

Drawing in graphite pencil gives only one color – grey. It can be varied in gradation of tonal values from as light as the background of paper is, to the darkest tone achieved in a particular graphite grade.

Depicting colorful objects in graphite pencil requires seeing objects in a matter of tones, not in colors. To evaluate and compare tones in nature, you can squint your eyes to see less colors but more tones.

Despite animals not holding their poses for a long time, making rapid sketches does not mean making super-fast lines. Take your time to think first and make thoughtful and logical outlines and contours that portray the nature of the animal you are drawing. Fast sketches means that you do not need to outline everything. You can leave secondary areas unfinished. Details are not important in quick gesture sketches, make the main proportions and forms; the rest will come later on when you have collected enough knowledge about the animal.

Practicing animal drawings is a good way to acquire good drawing skills.

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