Animal Pencil Drawings: Techniques for Beginners | Cherith Harrison | Skillshare

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Animal Pencil Drawings: Techniques for Beginners

teacher avatar Cherith Harrison, Illustrator and Designer

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Your Class Project!


    • 3.

      Sourcing Your Image


    • 4.

      Preparing Your Image


    • 5.

      Your Tools


    • 6.

      Preparing to Draw


    • 7.

      Textural Explorations


    • 8.

      Drawing the Outline


    • 9.

      Adding in the Fur


    • 10.

      Finishing Touches


    • 11.

      Thank You (and a final tip!)


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About This Class

This class is for beginners so no prior drawing experience needed! If you’re wanting a basic understanding of how to draw animals using graphite pencil then this is the class for you.

You will learn all about:

  • Mark making

  • Scale

  • Creating texture

  • Drawing fur

  • Adding in the finer details

Through regular practise you will become confident in creating pencil drawings of animals and eventually you will start to develop your own style.

Learning how to draw animals is a fun and therapeutic skill to have and you can do it absolutely anywhere, whether you are at home or on vacation. It's also a really cost effective hobby to have as the materials you use needn't be expensive; some pencils, an eraser and a few sheets of paper and you are good to go!

Who knows, you might even be able to make money from your hobby - people will pay a premium to have a drawing of their pet created! 


For this first class all that is needed are some graphite pencils, several sheets of card or paper measuring A4 / A3 in size and an eraser. You will need a laptop or iPad for drawing from. Or a printer if you wish to draw from a print out. 

I will be using:

  • 1x eraser

  • 1x pencil eraser

  • 220gsm card

  • 2x mechanical pencils (0.3 and 0.9)

  • 5x graphite pencils (H, 4H, HB, 4B, 8B)

  • 1x ruler

  • iPad (for drawing from)

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Cherith Harrison

Illustrator and Designer


Hello! Since 2012 I have been satisfying animal and art lovers across the globe since 2012 with my illustrative range of contemporary, wildlife inspired homewares and stationery!

Together with plenty cups of tea, pencils and pens I design everything from scratch in my trusty sketchbooks from my cosy abode in Edinburgh, Scotland. 

My Design Process

Once I know what animal I am going to draw I scour Pinterest, Google and online image libraries for pictures that I can use to draw from. I normally work in graphite but do sometimes use a biro pen. When I have found the images I am going to draw from I make myself a cuppa and get comfortable! 

Once I have created my drawing I scan it in and using Adobe Photos... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Hi there, I'm Judith, and welcome to my first ever skill share class. Since 2012, I've been running my home and gifts ware company, designing and producing illustrator, wildlife inspired gifts and selling online and to retailers across the globe. Each of my finished product all begins life as a humble drawing from one of my many trusty old sketchbooks. Probably right about 90 percent of my drawings have all be done using graphite pencil. Some have been done in biro, but most have been done in graphite pencil. I'm here to show you how you too, can draw animals in graphite pencil too. This class is for beginners. So absolutely no art background for this is necessary, if you have never picked up a pencil before in your life, that is completely okay. It's also quite a useful class too, if you're perhaps used to drawing less organic things or things like architecture, geometric forms. If you're looking to learn to draw something different then this class is definitely for you. In my class I'll be teaching you all about mark making, the importance of scale and getting that correct, joining the far, adding in the finer details and creating texture. By the end of the class, you'll come out of it with so much more competent at doing animals, and you'll be much more likely to pick up a pencil and put your new skills into practice, giving you a chance to hone in on your illustration style. Learning how to draw animals is a really fun and therapeutic skill to have, and you can do absolutely anywhere, whether it's at home or on vacation. It's also really cheap as well. You only need a few pieces of paper, some pencils and an eraser. On that note, go get comfortable, propagate alone, and let's get started. 2. Your Class Project!: Welcome back. Today's class project is to draw a highland cow. Highland cow are lovely, big, hairy, shaggy creatures with tons of character and hair, and I absolutely love drawing them. Despite their scarily look, they're actually really, really friendly animals and I think it's a really, really nice animal to draw, but supporting your project, I not only want to see the finished drawing of the cow itself, I also want to see your illustrative expeditions of a different texture that you see within the cow, you'll learn more about doing that and listen to, but I think it's really important that you complete that step because it will help listen you up and also get your creative juices flowing. By the end of the class, you'll have a drawing of a highland cow done in graphite pencil. You also have some loose drawings or studies of hair, fur, texture that you can keep inside your sketch book and maybe refer to a later day if you decide to draw some more highland cows. 3. Sourcing Your Image: If you're going to be using Google, of course, you can use Pinterest, there's tons of image libraries that you can use as well. But let's just say, you're going to use Google and you search for highland cow. Obviously, head over to images and then out of tip, is you want to find an image that is the biggest in resolution. What you want to do, is head over here to tools, select "Size" and Google "Large". That way Google will pull up all the largest images or larger sizes of images, if that makes sense of highland cows. You want it to be really high risk because you're going to be zooming in obviously on your phone, or your screen, or wherever you're drawing from. You want it to be good quality so that you can see all the details. 4. Preparing Your Image: Once you have find the image you want to draw from, another tip is, if you're going to be drawing from graphite pencil, you may as well can bear the image into black and white as well because graphic painful is black and white. What I'm going to do is, I'm going to show you the image that I got. I am just going to open it up in Photoshop. Of course, you can do this on your phone, in your photo gallery. You can just simply editor and convert it to back white because I'm on my laptop. I'm just going to convert it on my laptop. I just opened up my cow image in Photoshop. I'm just going to head to image here, up the top, go down to mode, grey-scale, sculptural information, and you want to discard like that. Then you want to just save it. Save as. Just going to call it black and white. Then make sure it sit at large male, and then there you go. We are ready to draw. 5. Your Tools: I'm just going to share with you the tools I'm going to be using to do the green cutting mat that is actually not an essential item. I'm just using that because I like to protect my table from any marks and stains. So I'm going to use that to lay my cards on top of. Obviously you're going to need paper or a card. I'm going to be using card. These are about A4 in size or mixed sizes. I just got several sheets here. This is 220 grams, smooth card stock I'm using. So be sure your card can actually part of final edge drawing that I'm going to be doing. I'll be using a slightly larger piece of card of an A3 in size. For the pencils, I just got a bit of selection of five here. I got a 4B pencil, a 4H pencil. This is a 8B pencils, so that's a bit dark. This is a H, so that's quite light, and this here is a HB. Then I also got these two mechanical pencils that I really like. This is a 0.3 and 0.9. You can buy these on Amazon as this are really easy to find, can buy them at any store on High Street or online. Then I've also got an eraser here, just a standard eraser and nothing special about this particular eraser. Then I have here a pencil eraser. This is a tool that I really like. This is quite good for rubbing some really small details. This here is a brush on the end. So it can just sweep away [inaudible]. Last but not least, I'm going to be drawing from my iPad. I see why people like cattle, so I will be printing out my image of this produced on iPad to draw from, of course, you can choose to print out your image on to paper if you like. 6. Preparing to Draw: Before we begin, I just want to tell you that I drew a rectangle here, it's quite faint. This is because I want to mark the area I'm going to be drawing the cave within. It's also the same dimensions will the scale of the image that I'm drawing on the iPad. It's just slightly bigger. But what I did here was, I just measured the image using a ruler directly onto the iPad. Here it's 19.5 by 13. Then I just multiply those dimensions by 1.4 to get slightly bigger, scaled-up rectangle. This will be quite useful when you're just painting the main parts of the cave. It helps you keep things right and fitting with marks in the right position. Let's get started. 7. Textural Explorations: So before we get started on drawing the cow, I want you to spend a little bit of time looking at a the cow and making a visual reference on what you see details-wise. You can use this page to write down some notes as well if you like, but what I want to see when you upload this part of the project into the gallery as a visual reference of the different textures you see. I began by looking at the case frenge, and just observing what to look like and what I see is that it's really long and wispy. I really just drew what I saw making these sweeping marks before moving onto the rest of the body. [inaudible] day in the curly parts of the curves are tufts you see here on texture on the body and the naughty toggy bits of here on the chest area. I should mention that it really doesn't matter at this stage what pencil you use. I have chosen to use a dark pencil like my AB1 because I wanted to make some straw marks on my page, and I think using a dark pencil is really good for doing that. If you look closely, you'll notice here in some sections of the K where it changes. For example, as long and wavy in some part, where in other parts protect currently on the curves are too short, curly and spiky. We have also got chunky big tufts of here towards the case chest and a lovely sweeping frenge. This lesson is not going to be a work of art. It's not meant to look pretty. It really is meant to serve as a gentle warm up and get you familiarized with your subject. I find it an incredibly useful excited too and it really does set you up properly for when it comes to starting your main drawing. 8. Drawing the Outline: So now that we've got our pencil rectangle drawn on our page, I can now start plotting there in the main parts of the cow and getting height line done. You can see here that I am just using my pencil to roughly plot in in the case horn. So by constantly looking back at the picture on my iPad and on my page, I can see roughly where I should position the horn. For the other horn, I'm looking again at my iPad and my page and I can see that the horn is not quite halfway across the page. It's just a little bit before halfway. So you can see I'm imagining halfway lane if you'll take across the image on my iPad. I'm just transferring that onto my page. So the other horn is not quite halfway across is just before. So again, perhaps in that rectangle drawn I can see roughly where it's going to go and see that this horn, it sits just below the other horn, and so I'm just lightly penciling left horn. Also, because left horn is almost vertical as well when it comes down whereas the other horn on its right. It has a bit more of a diagonal too. Can you see? As I start to come round I can see that the cows here begins halfway across. So if you look at the width of the horn, the cows here takes up about half of that. Using my rectangle that I've drawn, I can work out where to plot the start of the cow's tail. Again, I can see where that should roughly stop as well. I know it's hard because you can't see me drawing, but I'm looking more at the picture on my iPad than I am on my page. Again mimicking the height line of the cow's horn and the ear on the iPad. Then copying over onto my page. I think that really helped for doing that. I'm just roughly plotting in a fringe, just getting that down there. But it's not necessarily accurate. I just want to get it down on page. I'm just zooming in on the cow's face and I'm just trying to work out basically the height of it. So looking at that big sweeping mop of fringe that you see, the head is almost double that depth. That makes sense? Now that I've got the nose marked in, I can start adding in the front two legs because I'm using the nose if you like as a perfect guide. As I was looking out I realized that it actually made the cow a bit too deep. So have had to bring up the belly and the chest a bit, but I definitely don't always get things right first time round. I've just made a few markings underneath the belly just to indicate that split. It's quite dark in shadow. So I'm pretty happy with my pencil outline of my own cow. So I'm just taking my eraser and my pencil eraser to erase those pencil markings I no longer need. 9. Adding in the Fur: Now that we have our outline, I am just now marking in areas that will be dark using just a light F pencil. As you can see, the really dark areas are underneath the cows chin, on its chest area, across its tummy, and on the farthest away hind leg. There are also a few dark patches on the cows upper body too. To begin the process of shading in the darker areas. I'm going to switch to a darker pencil like this 8B one. A little tip, when drawing its always handy to have a fresh sheet of paper or card to rest your hand on when you're drawing to avoid any smudge marks. It might be useful at this point to refer back to the different textures you created in lesson two, I'm choosing to use very small, rough and hard pencil strokes because the cows hair here is quite short and almost spiky. The end of the tail is fair in color, I am achieving that by filling in the negative space you see between the hairs rather than use an eraser. Now that the hair on this part of the cow is more longer than the short and spiky hair I've just drawn, I'm taking my pencil and just marking out areas on the cow where the hair changes texture and length. Once I am happy, I will start to add in the hair and pulling the different pencil stroke techniques I created in lesson two. Now that we are starting to see longer hair on cow, my pencil strokes are going to reflect that by becoming longer themselves. I'm also seeing some frizzy bits of hair too and so I am making zigzag like marks on the page to try and imitate that. I'm going to be using my 8B pencil to get into the darker areas, but I'll be switching from that to my HB pencil on areas that aren't so dark. The cows hair in this section is starting to get messy and [inaudible] so at this point I have really relaxed my hand and I am just letting me these almost not scribble lake marks. Right now I'm using my 4B pencil to mark in the hair details from the front feet onwards towards the head. The cows hair in the session, as I mentioned previously, is particularly messy and so by relaxing my hand and holding the pencil halfway up, I am able to create a rough and messy pencils stoke. Probably the darkest bit of the cow so you want to use your darkest pencil. The darkest I have on me as my 8B. I did have a 9B, but that is nowhere to be found at the moment. Sometimes I'm quite hesitant of filling in dark areas on a drawing because I worry about making a mistake and not being able to rub it out or correct it, but sometimes you just have to go for it. Be bold and make that mark, what's the worst that can happen, right? You only get better and more confident with practice. Where you see the light hitting parts of the hair that really make it light in tone, you want to try and achieve that lighter tone by not using an eraser, but by filling in the negative space around it. Here, where the fluffy tufted off hair on the chest is, I'm creating the lightness by drawing the darker hair behind it. Pretty much my favorite part to draw on any animal is its face. Its face is just as hairy as the rest of it's body, my techniques here aren't any different to what I've done already so just keep doing what you're doing. The nose and horns have little or no hair on them, you just want to pay attention to the shading. That is your highland cow. See you shortly for the finishing touches. 10. Finishing Touches: Congratulations, you've almost finished your drawing. All that's left now is to add the finishing touches. At this moment, take a step back and look at drawing against the picture you drew from. Then, if you feel you don't need to add any more detail than that is fine. I personally always find it hard knowing when it's time to stop drawing. Here I am just taking my pencil eraser and I am just going to go and lighten up some of those areas that have made it a little bit too dark. On horns and just on the case fringe, I can just see that I've made it a bit dark there. I'm just going to bring back some of the light baggage, with my pencil eraser, and rubbing some of that out. Once I have finished a drawing and i like to take my mechanical pencils here, I have a 0.30 and a 0.9, so a lighter and darker pencil. I am going to go in and add more detail on the case for simply by adding more lines and make more strokes similar to what I have done already, but with a much thinner pencil. For this part, I definitely need to use that spirit of card because I definitely do not want to risk smudging my artwork. 11. Thank You (and a final tip!): Congratulations on completing your class. I hope you enjoyed it, and thanks so much for joining me. Please remember to upload your projects. I can't wait to see them and I will comment on each one that I see. I want to see member you're textural explanations as well as your finished drawing off your highland cow. But listen, if you've not on a highland cow, if you've drawn a different animal, that's absolutely fine, I'd still love to see it and I will definitely comment when I get my feedback. I'm going to show you what I did. Just to recap. This is my textural explorations page. Remember, I would like to see that please. For the final piece, this is the highland cow. In this class be covered mark makings, scale, and get to mark correct adding in fur, texture, and of course the finer details. I hope you are able to take even just one thing away from it, even if it was just that inspiration to start drawing again or a course just drawing fields talk. So I'm going to share with you one last tip that I have. Normally when you finish a charcoal or pencil drawing, you normally fix it, as you see, with aerosols spray. I've no idea what's actually in the spray, but by doing that, it actually help prevent picture smudging of the picture, so that it doesn't smudge when you brush your hands over it. So what I'm going to do is show you what I do. Now, you can buy fixative from any art store, but you can't just use good old hair sprays. Which is what I do. It can be any brand, don't just do it by the brand I use. It can be the cheapest of hair sprays. But what I'm going to do is I'm just going to give it a good shake and I'm going to hold about 30 centimeters away from the picture. I'm just gonna spray over, just cover the charcoal or the graph, the pencil area that I've drawn. I'm going to do a good job covering like that. I recommend doing in a well ventilated areas. Hey, I'm used to spray a little hairspray right here. So yeah. So just let that dry for a couple of minutes and then it should be good just to top chapter, and you won't smudge it.