Drawing Tips | The Story Elves - Help with writing, editing, illustrating and designing your own stories

- Tip -

Your dog in motion


We often want to tell stories about our pets and, just as human story characters need to move, so do animal characters need to move!  We are going to draw a dog that is walking.

If you are brand new to drawing, I would suggest you read this tip and then look through the Drawing Tips Vault and work on some simpler step-by-step tips to get you started!  Take a look at How to draw a horse for instance:  how-to-draw-a-horse.   Also, take a look at this tip drawing-animals-seeing-simplifying which is about drawing our workshop cat, Chloe.

The secret to drawing animals is the same as for drawing other figures:  you look at the shape of the animal and turn it into simple shapes that you can easily work with. Drawing a dog can seem difficult, but you can certainly draw a square, yes?  To draw this dog, we are going to use a lot of squares and rectangles!

The best thing you can do to begin with is find some reference material. If you have a dog, begin by just sitting and watching him as he moves around. If you don’t have a dog, you can use photographs of dogs.  I am going to draw an Irish Wolfhound who is out for a stroll!

Step 1: Using some photos of Irish Wolfhounds that I have found, I am going to construct his basic figure with square and angular shapes. Notice how the legs are just rectangles.  Some are a little wider at one end but the shapes are all just rectangles—shapes that are easy to draw!  Watch out for the proportions.  Look very closely at your reference pictures or your own dog to try to get the proportions right from the start.


Step 2: Now that I have created the body with these simple shapes, I am going to work on my outline to get it looking more like a dog. I look at my photo references to get an idea of what the natural shape of the body looks like, and I use my rectangles to guide me.


Step 3: Here I want to add some tone to my drawing. I want my dog to have dark hair.


Step 4: This is where it might feel tricky. I am going to start working on my details and fur texture. For the fur I use a lot of loose lines scattered about. I can see on my photo references that Irish Wolfhounds have kind of coarse and messy fur, so I let a lot of small lines break through my initial solid outline. I also add a scarf around his neck, just to introduce a little more personality.  Then I begin working on his face. As a story character, I want him to look kind and happy. 

 Again, I make sure to really study all of my photos to find out what the prominent features of this dog look like.

Working on the details and fur texture can be difficult but don’t be shy to erase.  Just keep practicing and you will get there.  Every illustrator elf knows well that it can easily take 10 times to get something right!


One last thing.  If you’re very interested in motion and how to convey motion in your story illustrations, remember to look for references that show motion in detail.  Remember Eadweard Muybridge (characters-motion)?  He took photos of animals, too…

—By Valkiri

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The Story Elves - Help with writing, editing, illustrating and designing your own stories