Seeing and simplifying
Elves draw animals as we would draw anything else: by seeing and simplifying.
Seeing means we look at the world around us. Through seeing, we learn how things actually look—as opposed to how we think they look. Simplifying is what comes next. We break down complexity into easy-to-draw pieces.
This is a photograph of our workshop cat, Chloe. (It was taken by our editor elf, Joble, who once lived in The City.) Drawing from a photograph is easier than drawing Chloe live because she does not always stay still or in one position!
Instead of starting at one end and trying to work our way to the other, and most likely ending up getting confused by the texture of fur and spots, we simply break Chloe down into simple shapes. Then, we slowly add detail on top of the drawing.
See, then simplify. Even my first drawing, the one that has almost no lines in it, is starting to look like a cat. We just need to look at the real shapes and work on getting those right.