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Just like a character’s eyes, mouth, and nose, the ears are a defining feature of the face, whether you’re drawing a human, cartoon, or animal. Just think of dogs, for example—the movement and positioning of their ears directly communicate what they’re thinking and feeling. Ears are essential to add personality and depth to your characters. Need some help drawing ears? We show you how to draw ears of every type in the tutorials below.
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- Drawing People: Creating Unique and Dynamic Character Poses in Procreate
- Mastering Illustration: Sketching, Inking & Color Essentials
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- Drawing and Painting Portraits: A Guide for Artists
How to Draw Ears
Ears vary widely—a realistic ear is much different from a cartoon ear, which is much different than dog or bunny ears. No matter what (or who) you’re drawing, we have you covered in the following tutorials.
For a seemingly simple facial feature, the ears contain many complex parts: the helix, antihelix, tragus—and that’s just the beginning. Fortunately, there is a simple method for learning how to draw realistic ears without memorizing the complex anatomy: the C-Y method. As its name suggests, first draw a large C. Within that shape, sketch a Y. Then, draw a sideways heart near the lower right corner of the shape, which represents the ear canal. Together, these shapes form the basic structure of an ear.
Then, simply build upon those simple shapes. With a few more lines and some shading, you can add depth to create a more complex and realistic ear.
Want to take drawing realistic ears to the next level? Vulcan ears are an iconic symbol of the fictional extraterrestrial species from the Star Trek series. And once you know how to draw a realistic ear, learning how to draw Vulcan ones is easy.
First, sketch the outline of a regular human ear. Typically, the helix (the outer rim) of the ear curves around in a C shape. To achieve the classic Vulcan ear shape, simply extend that helix out to a point. Once you have that basic shape, shade in the rest of the ear like you would a regular human ear.
Drawing cartoon ears is all about taking the anatomy of a realistic ear and simplifying it. For example, you can sketch a very simple cartoon ear by simply drawing the letter C. To add a little more depth and complexity, you could draw a large C with a smaller C inside of it. Or, you could create an ear shaped like a question mark, with a few additional lines to represent the ear canal, lobe, and rim.
Amazing Cartoon Faces—No Experience Required
Drawing Faces: A Beginner’s Guide
When illustrating human characters, drawing ears can seem like a small detail. But when you’re drawing animals, the ears can be defining features. Whether you’re drawing dogs, rabbits, or anything in between, ears give many animals their signature looks—so it’s critical to get them right. Here are a few guides for some of the most commonly illustrated animals.
Cat ears are just a couple of triangles perched on the top of a feline’s head, right? Sure, if you’re drawing a cartoon cat, you can get away with using simple shapes for a cat’s ears. However, if you’re aiming for a more realistic look, there are more details to take into consideration when drawing cat ears.
Start with two triangles, but make sure they come to a gentle, rounded tip, rather than a sharp point. Along the outer edge of the ear, draw a thin ridge, similar to the helix of a human ear. On the outer edge, include a little skin fold (referred to as the Henry’s pocket). Finally, add some fur on the inner side of the ear.
If you want to learn how to draw rabbit ears (or how to draw bunny ears, which is essentially the same thing), look no further. Despite how you might picture cartoon bunnies, rabbit ears aren’t just elongated triangles—they actually incorporate more complex shapes.
To draw bunny ears, it can be helpful to think of the base of the ear as a cylinder. The rest of the ear, which is sort of wing-shaped, wraps into that cylinder. That shape gives the ears the structure to stand up so tall—so it’s essential to include that detail when drawing rabbit ears.
Wolf ears are surprisingly similar to cat ears. To learn how to draw wolf ears, start with two triangle shapes with rounded, rather than sharp, tips. On the inner sides, draw a ridge similar to the helix of a human ear. Drawing the ridge only on the inner sides of the ears will help give the illusion that the ears are facing slightly outward from the wolf’s head. Finally, add some fur inside the ears.
Drawing dog ears is especially fun because they come in so many different varieties—long, short, folded, or droopy—and the shape and positioning of a dog’s ears can go a long way in conveying personality and disposition.
Some types of dog ears are similar to wolf ears, with a rounded triangle shape. Others have the same general shape, but part of the ear flops over. To illustrate that, draw a horizontal line where the ear folds over, and draw the tip of the triangle pointing down. For droopy ones, draw a large teardrop shape that extends below the dog’s jaw.
Given the vast number of dog breeds, one of the best approaches is to use reference photos to help you determine the placement and shape of the ears.
Lend Me Your Ears
Whether you’re drawing animals, humans, or cartoons, take the time to draw them correctly—it will go a long way in adding personality and believability to your drawings.
Next Up: Noses, Mouths, and Eyes
Learn How to Draw: Features of the Face