“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” – Roger Caras
Dog’s are man’s best friend.
But why is that?
Studies carried out by Bridgett vonHoldt in 2009 showed that dogs have a gene that causes hyper-sociability. Perhaps this gene explains our ongoing relationship with our four-legged friends.
What better way to understand them than to study and draw them?
For the dog lovers out there, here’s how to draw your furry friends.
Techniques for Drawing Dogs
Dogs are among the most frequently drawn animals. Whether you’re training as a biological illustrator or just want to draw your pet, you don’t need an excuse to draw dogs.
When drawing dogs, there are a few rules you should follow. Rules might seem more at home in a maths class than an art class, but they can serve as a practical guide to make your drawings better.
To start, draw a circle. Shapes like circles can help you to plan out where to draw the dog’s features. If you’re drawing a dog from the front, you can draw a circle for the head and then an oval for the body.
You can then add a trapezium. This shape will be used for the dog’s muzzle. From there, you can use triangles for the ears. At this point, your dog will look more like toy blocks than an animal. But this is the best way to start to ensure the proportions are correct. From these shapes, you can draw the dog’s features and add details.
Another mathematical technique you can use is to draw on a grid. You can do this with a single horizontal and vertical line. This grid will help you to draw the dog’s face symmetrically. Finally, you can use more geometry to draw a dog from the side. In this case, you can use cylinders for the construction lines. Of course, each artist needs to choose the medium they like to work with.
Pencils, inks, pens, watercolours? Mixed media?
It depends on your skills and what you like to work with. You might want to later move onto acrylics.
Simple Ways to Draw Dogs
When you’re a beginner, you don’t want to bite off more than you can chew. A failed attempt at drawing a dog will only discourage you or knock your confidence. Start with simple drawings of animals and objects that would feel right at home in a game of Pictionary!
Simple drawings are also good ideas for children who want to learn and test their artistic skills. There are a few ways to draw a dog, but, generally, you can start with a few basic lines and few details. These drawings would probably look alright in a cartoon or a colouring book. Look for really simple video tutorials on drawing dogs on the internet.
The Steps to Follow When Drawing Dogs
If you want to go beyond a simple doodle of a dog and draw something more realistic, you might want to start with the techniques we mentioned before.
Get your geometric shapes like circles and trapeziums drawn with some triangles for the ears. That’s the easy part. From there, you need to start adding the details.
Light and shadow can add depth to your drawing, just make sure that the lighting comes from an obvious source. You can use your pencil to create darker areas. You can also darken the eyes and the nose to give the dog more character. Again, look for video tutorials to follow if you need more help.
The gaze is extremely important. Don’t hesitate to spend a lot of time on it. This will give your drawing soul.
Another area you can spend a lot of time on is the fur.
How to Draw Realistic Fur
Much like human hair, dog fur can be difficult to draw. This is often the area of the drawing that can break the illusion. It’s so much more than a lot of lines in pencil. If you’re doing your drawing with pencils, you may want a range of darker colours for the shading.
Using reference material is useful. Different breeds of dogs have different types of fur. Golden retrievers have long wavy fur whilst huskies have shorter and straighter fur. Depending on your reference, you may need to focus a lot on darkening certain areas. For lighter areas, you may only want to draw a few lines.
You can use darker and softer pencils for the darker areas, of course. Again, look up tutorials on shading and light and shadow.
Drawing Realistic Dog Portraits
A common practice when drawing animals is to do portraits of pets. Some artists even specialise in this discipline and offer photo-realistic pictures of our four-legged friends. They make for nice presents for dog owners.
So how can you get started?
Start by using a grid or construction lines to correctly position the features and begin by placing the eyes and nose. Avoid drawing out the muzzle with lines. You can do this more smoothly and effectively through shading. The muzzle can’t be represented with a single clean line; it needs to be more subtle.
While we’ve provided “rules”, they’re guidelines and there are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to drawing. Whether you’re drawing, cats, dogs, or horses, they can vary a lot from breed to breed. They’re rarely the same size and very few dogs have the same type of muzzle. There are dogs with long hair and others that are practically bald. The key is to observe the dog that you’re drawing and be patient.
How to Get Better at Drawing Dogs
There are plenty of ways to get better at drawing whether you’re teaching yourself or learning through classes.
If you’re teaching yourself how to draw dogs, remember that you need to be thorough if you want to see results. Practise as often as possible is the best advice we can give you.
Look for books, guides, and resources on how to draw and draw as often as you can and make sure you draw at least once a week.
Observation is an important skill for drawing, too. Be patient and look for every detail. You need a keen eye. Don’t forget to look around for inspiration online, too. Instagram and Pinterest are useful resources for learning how to draw and find your style.
Lessons are also a great way to learn how to draw and your teacher can give you advice on how to improve. Whether you learn in an art class, at a school, or with a private tutor, make sure that your art is a source of enjoyment.
If you're interested in improving your drawing skills or just learning how to draw, consider getting help from one of the many talented and experienced tutors on the Superprof website. You can find private tutoring in a wide range of academic subjects and hobbies such as art and drawing.
You can enjoy face-to-face tutoring, online tutoring, or group tutoring. Each type of tutoring comes with advantages and disadvantages so think carefully about which is right for you, your preferred learning style, and your budget.
Face-to-face tutoring is probably what you think of when you think of tutoring. These sessions between a tutor and a single student can be tailored to the learner, their learning objectives, and their personality. Usually, these types of tutorials are more expensive than the others as you're paying for a bespoke service, but they're also the most cost-effective as every minute is spent focusing on your learning.
If you can't find any suitable tutors working in your local area, you can always opt for online private tutorials. As the tutor doesn't have to worry about travelling to their students and can schedule more sessions each week as a result, they tend to charge less per student per hour. In many cases, online tutoring, when done right, can be just as effective as face-to-face tuition.
Group tutorials are an excellent option for those on a budget as the cost of the tutor's time is shared amongst all the students in the class. This does mean the sessions won't be completely tailored to you, but you will have the opportunity to compare your work to the other students and learn from each other.
Don't forget that many of the tutors on Superprof offer the first lesson or hour for free. You can use these sessions to try out several tutors before choosing which one is right for you.